Father's Day is quickly approaching (June 21st, 2020), but there is still time to buy something special for your horse show dad.
Some dads understand that learning to ride is so much more than just learning to ride. They recognize that being around horses and helping at the barn also instills compassion, empathy, teamwork, hard work, coordination, and so much more. These dedicated dads don't mind getting up early or going to bed late so their child can have extra time with their horse. They learned how to tow a trailer and load a horse just so their child can compete in shows. Their dedication and commitment to their equestrian should be recognized regularly but even more so on Father's Day.
What does your horse show dad need?
T-Shirt - Of course no horse show dad would be complete without the obligatory horse show dad t-shirt.
Photo Album - These days, most people store their photos on their phones. A great way to memorialize your time spent with your dad is to get him a photo album of your journey together. This self-adhesive photo album makes it easy to present your photos and mementos. Try this link to order prints from your phone.
Drink Container - All equestrians know that barn time is not the same as regular time. Especially during long hot days at the barn in summer, it is essential to stay hydrated. Get your dad a 26oz Yeti Rambler. I have one of these and can tell you it keeps my drink cold all day long.
Fitbit - If your dad is a fitness freak or just wants to get fitter, a Fitbit is a great idea. He will be able to track his steps, exercise, and calorie intake. They are fun to use and can be synced to a smartphone.
Overnight Bag - Often, showing requires overnight stays. Your dad should travel in style, just like you and your horse. A versatile overnight bag is an ideal gift and a great way to say thank you.
I'm sure that horse show dads are happy with their role and get immense satisfaction from spending time with and watching their equestrian learn and grow. However, it is still important to show some extra love on Father's Day.
This blog isn't really intended for equestrians as we already know and understand that time spent at the barn is very different from time spent anywhere else. This post is meant to help the partners and friends of equestrians who don't understand why a quick trip to the barn can take a good few hours.
Sadly, barn time isn't some quirky time loop that allows us to gain back the numerous hours we spend with our equine friends. It is, however, a vital part of our life that can not be overlooked or underestimated.
In order to understand how barn time works you must, firstly, understand why it is important.
Why Barn Time is Important
I have heard so many people say that the time they spend at the barn is therapeutic. Here at White Rose Equestrian, it is very important that our barn is tranquil and drama free. We have a wonderful barn family who is caring and supportive of each other and for that, I am very grateful.
Being outside and close to nature also helps. Even when the weather isn't cooperating, most horsey people would still rather be outside. It gives a sense of freedom and connection to the earth.
And of course, we can't overlook the calming nature of our equine partner. Horses are majestic, trusting, noble, and know how to keep secrets. The act of caring for another living being is also very rewarding and cathartic.
So, now you know why barn time is so important to us let me try and explain how it works.
How Barn Time Works
How many times have you heard the words, "I'm just nipping to the barn," and know that it means you won't see your significant other for at least two hours (probably more)? Many times I would imagine. You are not alone.
No two days at the barn are ever exactly alike so it is difficult to accurately describe how hours can slip by unnoticed but I will attempt to explain an average trip to the barn.
Arrive and pull our horse out of the field or stable. Tell him how wonderful he is and how much we've missed him as we secure him in the cross-ties. Carefully overlook him to check for lumps, bumps, cuts, and any other mishap he might have managed to get into since we last saw him.
Give him a treat as we begin our regular grooming routine. Pay particular attention to his beautiful face as we meticulously follow the direction of hair growth with the softest brush we own. Detangle his mane and tail applying the more-expensive-than-gold but must-have Cowboy Magic Detangler. Pick-out his feet and apply hoof oil. All the while we are talking to our best friend about our day, our life, our problems. His kind eye and inquisitive ears make everything feel better.
Now it is time to ride. Tack-up slowly, methodically, taking care to make sure our companion is comfortable and happy.
The ride is the highlight of our day. It fills us with comfort, lowers our blood pressure, releases the tensions of everyday life, makes everything feel good again.
Inevitably, it is over too quickly. We untack with the same precision as all your other tasks. Another treat and a quick rub down. In summer we spend a fun time rinsing ourselves and our partner with fresh, cool water.
Our two-legged barn friends are interested in how our ride went so we swap notes and experiences. We take advantage of this time to carefully clean and supple our tack ready for the next time we will be able to squeeze in some barn time.
Maybe our tack trunk needs tidying, or we decide our horse just has to have a bath, or decide to spend just a little more time with our ride and hand-walk him around the greenest parts of the barn. He is grateful and we are content.
All this time we have never once looked at our watch or the barn clock. Time is irrelevant. As we leave we are already looking forward to the next time we can visit the barn.
How do you like to spend your time at the barn?
This post is written from the perspective of someone who boards their horse and visits the barn a few times a week.
I am currently out of the country on family business and have no idea how long I will be gone. As I take one day at a time here, my horses are sitting around at home getting fat. So, I have decided to write a blog about how I plan to bring my horses back into work.
I have been trying to keep myself fit by walking every day but it's not been easy. It is important, no matter what discipline you ride, for your horse to be fit enough to perform adequately without causing him injury. You wouldn't run a marathon without training. Your horse shouldn't be expected to give lessons, canter for an extended period of time, or jump around a course if he has had a few weeks off. Not only is it sensible to bring your horse back into work slowly it could also save money on vet bills.
Each horse is different and training programs should be too. Take into account the age, current condition, health, and expectations of your horse before beginning a training program. You should also consider your own fitness, time available to you, and your climate.
Before you embark on your fitness regimen, make sure that your horse is sound and healthy. Check with your veterinarian if your horse is recovering from an injury.
Start Your Exercise Routine
Start slowly with walking and maybe some trotting. Gradually increase either distance or speed, but never both at the same time. Make sure he is moving forward and lifting his back. Do exercises at each gait that improve flexibility and strength. For example, simple lateral work, transitions, and circles. This also helps to keep you and your horse interested while you also increase the workload.
Be sure to keep track of every time you ride. Wear a watch and note exactly what you do each time. Every ride counts. Even slow work can build stamina and muscles. You can keep a journal or use an app. I like Equilab. It allows you to track each time you ride, if necessary, multiple horses. It tracks how much time you spend at each gait and the total length of time you ride. It's a great tool to help you.
Gradually increase the length of your rides or the length of time you ride at faster gaits. You are your horse's personal trainer. Your horse might need some encouragement to increase the workload each time. Be firm but careful not to push him before he is physically ready. Unless you are very fit already you will also have to work hard.
The length of time you spend at each gait and the rate by which you increase it will need to be customized to each horse. Make sure your horse is well shod or had a recent trim. Whenever possible, ride in a soft (but not too soft) riding arena.
Sample Program to Bring your Horse Back into Work
This program is designed for a horse that has been regularly turned out and walked in hand for a few days prior to the beginning. It is intended that you will ride between four and six times per week. If you are short of time you can add lunging to your program as it can be quicker than riding.
Week 1: 30 minutes per ride with 5 minutes trotting Week 2: 30 minutes per ride with 10 minutes trotting Week 3: 40 minutes per ride with 15 minutes trotting Week 4: 40 minutes per ride with 20 minutes trotting and 5 minutes cantering Week 5: 40 minutes per ride with 20 minutes trotting and 10 minutes cantering
This program is a good beginning and can be built on. However, for some horses, this will be too aggressive, and they would need to go even slower. A good way to monitor your horse's fitness level is to take his pulse. An average horse's heart rate is between 32 - 36 beats per minute. Make a note of his heart rate before and after your workouts. After working, a horse's heart rate should return to normal within 15 minutes. If your horse's pulse is still elevated after 30 minutes of rest, the workout was too much for him. You should cut back and slowly work back up again. Body soreness, resistance, pinned ears, and other signs of pain may also indicate that your horse is working too hard.
The best way to ensure you and your horse are progressing at a suitable pace is to work with an experienced trainer. They can give advice and suggest movements to add to your routine.
Disclaimer: Always consult your vet if you have any concerns. This blog can not replace the advice of a veterinary or trainer who works directly with you and your horse.
Six Non-Riding Exercises to Improve your Seat in the Saddle
As a rider, you are always looking for ways to improve your seat and use the subtle changes in your balance and posture to affect your horse. Many improvements come from riding regularly with an experienced trainer but you can also use exercises to improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility when you aren't in the saddle.
Six Easy and Quick Exercises to Improve your Seat
1. Calf Extensions
The problem - How many times have you been told to, 'put your heels down'? Even experienced riders can overlook this very fundamental rule of riding. However, forcing your heels down is not the answer as this causes tension in your legs and knees that will inadvertently transfer to your seat and cause your horse to tighten up his back and lose impulsion.
The solution - Your whole leg needs to be relaxed and flexible while riding. To stretch the calf muscles stand on the edge of a step with just the balls of your feet on the step, facing upward. Very gently bounce your body weight a few times to stretch the muscles in your calves. You could build this into a daily workout or do it for a few seconds every now and then when you go upstairs.
The results - When your hips, knees, and ankles are relaxed and your calf muscles sufficiently flexible, your heels with naturally hang down slightly lower than your toes. This will allow you to maintain a soft seat and stretch your entire leg, wrapping it softly around the barrel of your horse.
2. Ab Curls
The problem - I'm sure your trainer uses the term, 'use your core'. A strong but subtle core is invaluable for slowing and re-balancing your horse. If your core muscles are weak that can result in you feeling heavy and unbalanced to your horse which in turn makes him reluctant to move forward freely.
The solution - Using a yoga mat, rug, or carpet, lie flat on the floor. Raise your knees slightly and part your feet. Place your hands behind your head with your palms upright. Contract your ab muscles and slowly raise your upper body until your shoulder blades are no longer touching the mat. To start with you will probably only be able to do a few but with regularity and practice, you will improve your core strength and gradually be able to add more repetitions.
The results - A strong core will help to make you a stronger more confident rider. You will have more control over your position and balance resulting in a safer and more effective seat.
The problem - Even though we are told to ride with a soft relaxed leg, we still need to be able to count on our leg muscles to respond within a nanosecond whenever we need them. Weak leg muscles make our leg aids ineffective and also cause unbalance in our seat and upper body.
The solution - Stand with your legs slightly apart. Keeping your back straight and your body weight over your feet, slowly bend your knees. You can hold onto the back of a chair if you need support. Go down as far as you feel comfortable. The ultimate goal is to get all the way down into a squatting position but this will come with practice.
The results - The extra strength in your legs will allow you to sit quietly but give you the ability to use your leg aid efficiently and effectively.
The problem - Weak leg muscles make it difficult to apply sufficient pressure with your leg aids. Squats, as described above, will help but do not cover all your leg muscles.
The solution - Lunges exercise the muscles that squats miss. Keep your upper body straight with your shoulders relaxed, tighten your core and step forward with one leg. Lower your hips until both knees are bent. Bring your back leg forward and repeat by stepping with the opposite leg.
The results - Well-muscled legs will make it easier to apply leg aids without compromising your seat.
5. Bicep and Triceps Curls
The problem - Although most of your hand aids should be subtle you still need to have strength in your arms otherwise your horse could take advantage of you and lean on the bit making him heavy in your hands and on the forehand.
The solution - Bicep Curl - Stand with your upper body straight and a weight in each hand at arm's length. Bend your elbows and bring the weights up toward your shoulders. Hold them in position for a couple of seconds before slowly lowering them down again. Tricep Curls - Hold a weight in both hands and lift it above your head. Allow your hands to drop down behind your head until your arms are nearly straight. Bend your elbows allowing the weight to drop further down. Straighten your arms again and repeat.
The results - Strong, well-toned arms will make many chores around the barn easier and will also help with upper-body strength and coordination. This will result in a stronger more confident seat.
6. Shoulder stretches
The problem - Another term that trainers like to use is, 'put your shoulders back'. Unless you walk a catwalk for a living I'm pretty sure you don't walk around with your shoulders back and chest extended. Hunched shoulders, while riding, cause you to tip forward, resulting in your upper body being out of balance with the horse.
The solution - Stand in a doorway. Raise your arms out to the sides. Bend your elbows with your palms facing forward. Place the palms of your hands on the door frame and lean slightly forward putting gentle pressure onto your hands. You should feel a stretch in your chest muscles.
The results - Relaxed shoulders and an open chest result in a solid upper body position and a more pleasing overall appearance. They also help to maintain a level, balanced posture.
All exercise routines take repetition and determination to implement but once in place will become part of your normal everyday habits. These exercises, if done regularly, should help to improve your balance, coordination, flexibility, and seat.
I also like these two devices for improving balance
The Wood Wobble Balance Board is a fun aid to improve your balance and coordination. It is more difficult than it looks but with regular use can improve your balance and posture.
I love the Humantool Saddle Chair. It is a workout that not only improves your balance but also strengthens your core. You can use it as part of your daily workout or sit on it at your desk or the dinner table.
Consult a doctor before implementing any changes in your exercise routine.
What Does Taking Horseback Riding Lessons Teach Your Child?
If you've read the title of this blog you might be thinking that the answer is taking horseback riding lessons teaches my child how to ride a horse. And, of course, you would be correct. But, it does so much more too.
Maybe your child is obsessed with horses and talks about them all the time. Or perhaps you used to ride as a child and think your child would enjoy the experience also. It could be, that your child has been riding for a while. As they make progress they will also be learning some very important life skills.
There are some obvious benefits of doing any sport. Improved motor skills, balance, coordination, increased muscle tone and improved fitness in general.
Horseback riding also means your child gets to spend time outdoors in all seasons. This is more important today than ever. More and more kids are obsessed with video games, TV, and smartphones. Our barn is a non-electronic zone. Other than taking photos and videos and occasionally playing music I do not allow our riders to play on their phones. To be fair, there are so many other things to keep them busy it is very rare any of them even want to.
Handling and controlling a thousand-pound animal is not to be taken lightly. We strive to educate our riders in the correct technique. I can not count how many times I have encountered a new rider who is nervous about being around the horse to find in a few short months they are capable and enjoy catching, leading, grooming, and tacking up their horse.
In our summer camps, we also teach our campers the daily routine of a barn. The correct way to feed and care for a horse, and our cats, dog, and chickens too. This includes mucking stalls, the importance of cleaning feed and water buckets, daily feeding of feed and hay, grooming, tack care, and so much more. Looking after another living being fosters empathy and compassion.
Occasionally, even the most seasoned, lesson horse can have a bad day. Riders learn patience and perseverance. Nothing is gained if you push a horse past its limit or lose your temper if things aren't going the way you want. There are no shortcuts. It is important to do it right in a methodical manner. Riding a living being with a mind of its own is a great way to learn this.
I get as much pleasure out of seeing my riders succeed as I do from my own success. Mastering a new skill improves confidence. I love to see a smile on a rider's face when they realize that hard work pays off.
The last point might be a bit controversial. I tell my riders to put on their bossy britches. I explain how horses live naturally in a herd. The social structure and pecking order. Some riders struggle with the concept that they must be at the top of that pecking order. Being in charge does not mean you should be mean. But you shouldn't allow the horse to think he is in charge either. As in life, it is important to know when it is necessary and how to stand up for yourself.
What else do you feel horseback riding lesson teach?
2018 seems so far away now and so much has happened since then. We should have had an end of season party and awards ceremony but sadly due to a very sad personal issue in my life, that didn't happen. I am enormously grateful for all our kind, patient, understanding riders and parents. Not one single person complained. Thank you so much.
So, even though we won't be having an award ceremony it is only fair to acknowledge the overall winners of the 2018 show season. Congratulation to everyone.
Riding Club Championship Points for the 2018 show:
Sophia Eaton / White Rose Rubydoo
Abbygale Hamilton / Escapade Fancy Pants
Riley Hughes / White Rose Sweet Sierra
Michayla Belus / White Rose Sweet Sierra
Kayleigh Beckemeyer / White Rose Moonfire
Maddie Rominger / White Moonfire
Anyone who paid a riding club membership fee in 2018 does not need to pay again for the 2020 show season.
We are looking forward to a fun and exciting show season this year and always welcome new riders. Our upcoming shows can be found here.
Seven Ideas of What to Buy Your Horse For Christmas
Christmas is right around the corner and if you are anything like me you will have been procrastinating since the beginning of fall about when you were actually going to start your Christmas shopping.
Time is running out and I know one of the most important 'people' on your list is your horse. Yes, we buy stuff for him all year round but we HAVE to splash out on 'special stuff' at Christmas time. To help you decide, and also save you some money, here are seven simple ideas of what to buy your horse for Christmas. Some of them could also be used as gifts for your other horse-crazy friends.
New brushes to replace the worn-out ones in his grooming box. Don't forget to make sure they are color coordinated with all his other important accessories.
A heated bucket to stop his water from freezing. Not only does it make your life easier but a horse who drinks warmed water during cold weather is less likely to colic.
A Jolly Ball for him to play with while he's stuck in his stall during inclement weather.
Horses, just like people, can benefit enormously from a Magna Wave PEMF treatment. It works on a cellular level to help the body heal itself and relieve pain quickly and naturally.
To show him how much you really care you could bake him some home-made treats. Not only does it save money but you can be sure you know exactly what he is eating.
You know how photogenic your horse is and how much you like to show him off to your friends. Why not book a photo session for when the weather picks up?
Another good idea would be to buy yourself some lessons. A balanced rider makes for a happy horse.
I hope some of these ideas have helped you. If you have any ideas to share, let us know on our Facebook page.
I recently saw a post in an equestrian group on Facebook asking, how much does it cost to keep a horse for a year? Many people responded. My favorite answer was 'your heart and soul'. That pretty much sums up the life of an equestrian. But, it got me thinking. Horses and the sports that go along with them are, for most of us, far more than a hobby they are a way of life.
I would hazard to guess that not many equestrians know how much they spend annually on their passion. They will know how much they spend on board, farrier, and the vet but don't always take into account clothes, necessary tack, unnecessary extras such as treats, blingy browbands, the latest style of saddle pad, or any other accompaniments that equestrian brands tell us we must have.
Below I have attempted to put together a list of expenses relating to keeping a horse. It shows three varying options. The lower end includes the basics, the middle range covers possible unforeseen expenses, and the latter has all the bells and whistles. I have then averaged out these prices. Of course, I can not include all scenarios and these prices are subject to fluctuation depending on the type of horse, discipline, and location.
I would love to hear your opinions and have some feedback.
Annual Cost to Keep a Horse*
Basic Full Board
Full Board in a
$0 don't take
$2,600 one lesson
$7,800 one lesson and
one trainer ride per
every 6 weeks
every 6 weeks
every 4 weeks
from the best farrier in town
$400 shots and
$500 basic needs
$2,000 basic needs
$6,000 basic needs,
upgrades, plus new
saddle as the horse's
physique has changed
due to training
$500 barn boots,
$2,500 boots, new
$5,000 basics plus
latest fashion trends
$0 do not show
$400 a few local
$8,000 six rated shows
I will admit to being frugal when it comes to spending money so it is possible that these prices are on the low side. No matter what kind of barn you board at, whether or not you show, or how often you buy new clothes, one thing is very clear, the decision to buy a horse should be given a great deal of thought and you must be sure you can afford to cover all your known and unexpected expenses.
How much do you think it costs to keep a horse for a year?
*Prices are per annum based on average prices around the Charlotte, NC area in the summer of 2019 and are subject to change.
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Precaution and common sense should be the key elements whenever you are approaching and handling horses. They are living creatures with a mind and will of their own and should be treated with a firm yet respectful hand. Take care when handling horses in order to keep you, other people, and the horse safe, and to prevent accidents. Consistency also helps the horse to understand his role in the relationship and behave appropriately.
Horses have been domesticated for many years but they still rely on their natural instincts to stay safe. If they feel threatened they will try to run away or, if cornered, can kick or bite to protect themselves. Whenever you are around horses you should be calm, move slowly, and speak softly. Loud or sudden movements or unexpected noise could startle them. Different surroundings or experiences can also cause a horse to become nervous. If this happens pat and stroke him gently and speak calmly and reassuringly to him.
Whenever possible, approach a horse towards his shoulder rather than straight towards his face or from behind. Due to the placement of the horse's eyes on the side of his head, he has a good all-around vision but does have a blind spot directly in front and behind. Let him know that you mean him no harm by walking slowly and talking to him in gentle tones. If he will let you, stroke his neck or shoulder rather than his face or nose.
If he is tied up and must be approached from behind, let him know you are there by talking to him before you approach. Although he can see behind him he does have a blind spot directly behind his rump. NEVER approach a horse directly from behind without first talking to him as he might be snoozing. If you startle him he could kick out in defense. Once he hears you and turns his head and can see you it is usually safe to approach him. Be vigilant and calm at all times.
Some Basic Rule For Correctly Handling Horses
do not run, shout, or make loud noises around horses
remember that some things that we take for granted might seem scary to a horse if he hasn't encountered them before. These can be anything from dogs, chickens, and other unfamiliar animals to balls, children's toys, or items blowing in the wind, etc.
pay attention to where your horse puts his feet. He might accidentally step on your foot and not even realize. You should ALWAYS wear strong, sturdy footwear at the barn and never approach a horse in sandals, flip-flops, or bare feet.
avoid being around the rear of a horse unless you are working on him i.e. grooming, picking out his feet, applying a tail bandage, etc. If you have to be behind a horse use caution and keep one hand on him at all times. If he moves quickly you will not only see this movement but also feel it and be able to act accordingly.
have BOTH feet on the ground at all times (sometime this rule may have to be broken if you are braiding the mane of a tall horse, more about that later). Do not sit or kneel on the ground near a horse as that would make it too difficult to get out of harm's way should the need arise.
do not take food into a field full of horses even if you have a horse who is difficult to catch. If you are surrounded by a group of horses all trying to get to the food you are in a very dangerous position.
when you are handling horses around other people you need to also be aware of their actions and behavior. Politely show them how to behave and act in order to keep everyone safe.
How to Catch a Horse
Some horses are easier to catch than others and some are almost impossible to catch. For the purpose of this explanation, we will assume that the horse is reasonably easy to catch. (We will cover in a later blog series how to retrain a horse that is difficult to catch). One way to avoid ending up with a horse that is difficult to catch is to ensure that you catch your horse for reasons other than work. Catch him, from time to time, just to groom him or give him a treat and he will be far more likely to come to you in the field.
Enter the field calmly but with purpose. Walk towards your horse's shoulder, rather than his face or hindquarters, and call his name softly. Make sure that he has seen you, then walk up and slip the lead rope around his neck. Pat him gently on the neck or shoulder. With the lead rope still around his neck, carefully put on his halter (see next paragraph). Lead him out of the field making sure to avoid any of the other horses that are in there with him. If there are horses gathered around the gate area use a stern but quiet voice and, if necessary, hand gestures to make them move. Do not lead a horse through a group of other horses as this would put you in a dangerous position. Open the gate wide enough for both of you to get through safely but not wide enough that any other horses could escape. You might want to take someone with you to hold the gate until you feel comfortable doing this alone.
How to Put on A Halter
If a horse is loose in a stall or a field you will need to catch him and put on his halter. To halter a horse stand close to his left shoulder, facing forward. Loosely loop the lead rope around his neck to keep him still. Some halters have a buckle and some have a clasp, therefore, fitting them will be slightly different depending on which kind you are using.
Using a Halter With a Buckle
Standing near the horse's left shoulder and facing forwards, hold the halter buckle in your left hand and the crown-piece (strap) in your right hand. Reach under his neck with your right hand and guide his nose carefully into the noseband. Pass the crown-piece over the top of his poll and attach it to the buckle on his left cheek.
Using a Halter With a Clasp
Standing near the horse's left shoulder and facing forwards, make sure the clasp is open on the halter. Guide his nose into the noseband and gently lift the crown-piece over his ears, one at a time. Reach under his chin for the clasp and attach it to the ring on the left side of his cheek.
How to Lead and Turn a Horse at Walk and Trot Up In Hand
You should always use a halter and lead rope to lead a horse unless he is bridled. Never lead him by holding onto the halter. If something goes wrong and you let go he could run off and endanger himself or others or he could drag you off balance causing you injury.
A horse should be accustomed to being led from either side but the most accepted way to lead a horse is from the left (near side). The lead rope should be attached to the center 'O' ring under the horse's jaw. Hold the lead rope, in your right hand, close to the ring but DO NOT put your hand on the ring or your finger through it. Hold the remaining lead rope folded in your left hand. DO NOT wrap any of the lead rope around any parts of your body.
Ask your horse to walk on by standing near his left shoulder facing the direction you wish to go. Say 'walk on' and start to move. Most horses will oblige and start to walk. If he does not walk do not be tempted to get ahead of him or start pulling on his head. Carry a crop in your left hand and, reaching back behind you, tap him gently on this flanks. If you don't have a crop with you, you can use the loose end of the lead rope. You should continue to look ahead and remain next to his shoulder. Once he starts to walk make sure that your right arm is outstretched so as to keep him at arm's length preventing him from stepping on you by accident.
To turn a horse you are leading, whenever possible, turn him away from you. Steady him by putting a little pressure on the halter by pulling very slightly on the lead rope. Move your right arm further away from you and move him to the right. Stay at his shoulder. By turning him this way he is more likely to stay in balance than if you pulled him towards you. He is also less likely to step on you as he turns.
To make him trot do the same as you did to make him walk. Stay next to his shoulder, say 'trot on' and start to jog. If he does not move into the trot use the crop behind your back with a gentle tap on his flanks. The lead rope should be slack enough to allow him to carry the weight of his head naturally but not so slack that he, or you, might get your legs caught up in it.
Leading and trotting a horse up in hand, along with standing a horse up (see next section) is usually done without a saddle for either a veterinary inspection, for someone considering buying the horse, or for a judge at a show. The horse should be able to move freely and confidently but not hurried or unbalanced. If you need to lead a horse in an unfamiliar setting it would be best to put him in a bridle, instead of a halter, which would give you more control. It is usual to walk a horse away from the person inspecting it and then directly back towards them. They should move out of your way allowing you to pass by them. They will then usually ask you to do the same in trot.
How to Stand a Horse Up Correctly
The term standing a horse up simply means he is standing still, looking attentive, and showing his conformation to the best advantage. He should stand square. This means his front legs and back legs should be next to each other with his weight evenly distributed between all four legs. If he isn't standing squarely move him forwards slightly and stop again until he is. You should stand in front of him facing his head so that you don't obstruct the view of the person looking at him. If he is wearing a halter place one hand on each side of the noseband with the end of the lead rope in your left hand. If he is bridled hold one rein in each hand near to the bit. Raise your elbows slightly so that he doesn't try to nibble your wrists.
How to Hold a Reasonably Quiet Horse for Treatment, Shoeing, or Clipping
No matter how often your horse has been tied and expected to remain in one place there may come a time when you have to hold him for some reason. Whatever the reason, the most important thing is that you and the horse are both secure and safe.
Holding a Horse for Treatment
If your horse needs to be treated by a vet, the best thing to do is to listen carefully and follow their instructions. However, you know your horse and you might want to suggest that they treat him either in the stable or out of the stable depending on whichever he prefers. If you think he might be difficult to control it would be best to put him in a bridle instead of a halter. Do not tie him up. If you are using a halter and lead rope you could thread the lead rope through the Equi-Ping™ or breakable string but do not tie it, not even with a quick release knot. Your horse will probably think he is tied up but it still gives you the freedom to act should a difficult situation arise. Stand on the same side as the vet, unless they tell you otherwise. Do not, however, get in their way. When the vet has finished the treatment listen carefully to their instructions and be sure to follow them exactly. If they are complicated, write them down.
Holding a Horse for Shoeing
The same as above would apply but it will not always be possible to stand on the same side as the farrier as you might get in his way. If necessary, stand facing the horse as you would when standing him up.
Holding a Horse for Clipping
The same as above. Listen to the person doing the clipping and do as they ask.
How to Tie a Horse Up
The best way to secure a horse is either with a halter and lead rope or with a halter and cross ties. NEVER tie a horse up with a bridle. It is an expensive piece of tack to replace if broken. It can also result in a broken jaw of you tie up to the bit and the horse pulls away suddenly.
Tying Up to a Single Securing Ring
The lead rope should be fastened to the 'O' ring at the back of the noseband. Always use a quick release knot and NEVER tie directly onto the securing ring but instead use an Equi-Ping™ or breakable string (bailing twine works well for this). Although the reason for tying up the horse is to secure him in one place, it is very dangerous if he tries to break free and cannot. He could seriously injure himself in any struggle that might ensue. It is better for him to break loose.
Unless the horse is very trustworthy only tie him up in a stable or another enclosed place. Never tie him to an unsafe object such as a loose fence or thin branch on a tree. The securing ring should be placed high enough so that he cannot get his legs caught over the lead rope. Never tie him to a hay net. (Do not tie the hay net to the breakable string, it should be tied directly to the securing ring). If the horse tends to chew the lead rope either soak it in an unpalatable (but not poisonous) substance or use a chain. If you use a chain the breakable string should be between the chain and the halter not on the securing ring. You wouldn't want your horse to break loose and drag a chain along with him.
Cross-tying is very popular in America and is a means of tying a horse with two lead ropes or chains rather than just one. The horse is positioned between two walls or strong posts about 6 ½ feet apart, with the ropes or chains fastened to the Ds on each side of the halter. In barns where this kind of tying up is common practice, the cross-ties are permanent fixtures. They should always have some kind of Tie Safe™ or quick release mechanism attached to them. Do not use them if they don't. They are often used in grooming or wash stalls as they do not allow the horse to move as much thereby giving you more control. They should always be used if you are transporting a horse in a double trailer without the center partition.
How to Turn a Horse Out in a Field
When you are ready to turn your horse out into the field lead him there in either a halter or bridle. Usher away any horses that might be standing at the gate. Open the gate wide enough for you both to pass through safely. Make sure you close and latch the gate behind you. Walk him a little way into the field and turn around to face the gate. By doing this he will have to turn around before he can run into the field to join the other horses. If you let him go while he is facing into the field he could run over you by mistake in his haste to join his friends. If there is more than one of you turning horses out, make sure you all let go of them at the same time. If you do not follow this simple rule you could be dragged along if your horse tries to run off before you have let him go.
Whenever you are around or handling horses safety is of the utmost importance. By following the rules above you should be able to enjoy your time at the barn and around horses and ponies.
Disclaimer: We do not warranty any of these companies or products. These are items we use/have used and find them suitable for our needs. You should research these products before purchasing them. We are not sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies or products. These products have been bought by us for our own use. The links are affiliate links.
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It is necessary to regularly groom your horse not only to keep him clean but also to inspect him to ensure that he is healthy and not injured in any way. You should groom, or at least, check your horse every day even if you do not ride. He must be clean before he is ridden or tacked up, to prevent sores caused by the tack rubbing against his dirty or muddy skin. Over the years many new products have been introduced to the market that horse owners feel they just have to buy for their ever-expanding grooming box. However, we have listed below the essential items that every grooming tote should contain.
Basic Items of a Grooming Kit
body brush - a soft bristled brush used for removing dust and scurf from the coat, mane, and tail. It usually has a flat back and broad, material handle. I particularly like the flexible type of body brush as it contours to the horse's body better than a regular kind. Do not use on grass kept horses as it removes too much of the natural oils that keep a horse warm and dry.
dandy brush - a hard bristled dandy brush is used for removing heavy dirt, dried mud, and sweat marks. It is most useful on a grass kept horse. Do not use on a clipped horse, a horse with sensitive skin, or on any part of their face as it is too harsh. Some of the modern dandy brushes on the market have soft bristles and do not work well for this purpose.
hoof pick - used for picking out the feet. If you get a hoof pick with the bristles opposite the pick it can also be used to clean the outside of the hooves.
hoof oil and brush - hoof oil is used for oiling the hooves to protect them from cracking and splitting (usually in summer) or too much moisture (usually in winter).
mane comb - use a mane comb to pull and braid manes. I like this style of mane comb with a long handle as I find it easier to hold. Do not use combs to de-tangle tails as they break the hairs.
massage pad - used to massage your horse's muscles, especially after exercise, and to promote circulation (see strapping below).
sponges - you will need, at the very least, two sponges. One for cleaning around the face; eyes, nose, and muzzle, and one for cleaning the dock.
sweat scraper - to remove surplus water or sweat. These aren't used in everyday grooming. There are two types to choose from. The half-moon style or, my favorite, the metal sweat scraper.
water brush - a soft bristled brush to dampen down the mane and tail and wash the feet. You could also use a sponge for this job if you prefer.
There are other items you may need in your grooming kit depending on the time of year and discipline that your ride, and area of the country you live, for example - fly repellent, elastic bands or needle and thread for braiding, scissors and clippers for trimming, etc. The list could go on and depends very much on what you feel you need. Horses that live most of their lives in a stable should be groomed thoroughly every day. Horses kept at grass do not need that much attention as too much grooming will remove the grease naturally present in the horse's coat. The grease helps to keep them warm and dry. You should wash your grooming kit once a week in warm soapy water. A mild disinfectant may be added. Once you have washed the dandy brush you should dip the bristles in cold water. This helps to keep them stiff. It is important to keep your grooming supplies clean as you can not clean a horse with dirty brushes. Before you begin to groom your horse he should be tied up correctly as described in the previous blog post Correctly Handling Horses. Do not try to groom a horse who is loose in a field or stable. If they try to get away from you, you will have no control over them. If you do groom them in their stable be sure to remove all food, water, and buckets to prevent them from becoming contaminated with dust and dirt.
How to Groom a Horse
There are four different types of grooming. Whenever grooming a horse make sure that he is comfortable at all times. If the weather is cold and he is wearing a blanket unbuckle it and fold it in half keeping it on his rear end. Brush the forehand on both sides before replacing the blanket, then fold it up over the forehand and brush his hind end. This prevents him from getting cold.
This process is a quick brush with a dandy brush and curry comb to remove stable stains and make him presentable and clean enough to ride. Horses that are clipped have sensitive skin. A cactus cloth instead of a dandy brush as it isn't as harsh. Sponge his eyes, nose, and dock, and pick out his feet. Quartering is adequate for a horse that lives outside in a field. Depending on which part of the country you live in or what time of year it is you might also need to check him for ticks and spray him to repel flies in summer.
A full groom is best done after exercise and is described below in the Method of Grooming section. Grooming is more effective when the horse is warm as his pores will be open. Full grooming is not recommended for grass kept horses as it removes too much of the natural grease that keeps the horse warm and dry.
This is a massage used to harden and develop muscles on stabled horses in consistent work. It invigorates the blood supply to the skin and makes the coat shine. Originally a wisp made of woven hay or straw would have been used but nowadays most people use a soft massage pad with rollers (see the image of Basic Items for a Grooming Kit). Slap the muscles in a regular rhythm in the direction the coat lays. Only massage the muscles on the neck, shoulder, quarters, and thighs. Do not use on an unfit horse as their muscles aren't strong enough for a vigorous massage.
Bush-Over or Set-Fair
For a stabled horse, at the end of the day, you should lightly brush him over when you straighten or change the blankets. This is the time that you also remove any droppings from his stall and tidy his bedding to make him comfortable for the night.
Method of Full Grooming
picking out the feet - using the hoof pick, pick up his feet one at a time. First, talk to him then face his tail. Start with his front leg and run your hand, closest to his body, down the back of his leg. When you reach the fetlock say 'up' and squeeze the joint. Catch and support his leg under the hoof. If he doesn't lift his leg you may need to lean gently against him with your shoulder to push his weight onto this other leg. Pick the hoof from heel to toe making sure you avoid the frog (the softer triangular, center of the hoof). Make sure you carefully clean the cleft of the frog (the groove down the middle), and the bars down the side.
To pick up the rear foot stand next to his hip facing his tail. Speak to him and run your hand, nearest to him, down the back of his leg to the point of the hock. Then move your hand to the front of the cannon bone. When you reach the fetlock say 'up'. When he lifts his leg place your hand under the hoof from the inside. Do not lift it too high or pull it too far back as this will make him unbalanced. If he doesn't immediately lift his foot you may need to lean slightly against his hip to push his weight onto his other foot. Most well-trained horses will anticipate the next leg you need him to pick up and raise it slightly ready for you.
Look for any signs of injury or thrush. Save time by picking into a skip (small, low container). This keeps the dirt out of the bedding if you are in the stall and saves you from having to sweep up no matter where you are. Tap on the shoe to make sure it is not loose.
dandy brush - for a grass-kept horse you should use the dandy brush all over his body to remove dried mud and caked on dirt. It can be held in either hand. Start at the poll on the left (near) side and work over all the body and down the legs. Use short, flicking strokes to get all the dirt out from the long hair. Do not brush too hard on sensitive areas. On a stabled or clipped horse, the dandy brush is only used where his coat is long. With the introduction of the rubber and plastic curry comb, some people prefer to use them at this point in the grooming process.
cactus cloth - this can be used on a stabled or clipped horse, instead of the dandy brush, to remove stable stains, dirt, and sweat marks. It can also be used on horses with sensitive skin.
body brush and curry comb - the body brush is the main brush used on a stabled horse. It's used to remove dirt, dust, and scurf from the skin. The curry comb is used to keep it clean.
Start with the mane. Throw the mane over to the opposite side of where it would normally lay. Brush the crest and exposed neck area. Then gradually pull the mane back a little at a time and brush through each section.
Once the mane is done work on the rest of the neck and progress down to the shoulders. Use short movements with enough pressure to penetrate through the hair to the skin. After every few strokes scrape the body brush against a curry comb to clean it. When you are grooming the left side of the horse the body brush should be in your left hand and the curry comb in your right. Switch them over to the other hands when you groom the right side. Use the body brush all over the horse including the legs.
The body brush can also be used on the head and forelock. When brushing the face untie the horse. You don't want him to suddenly pull back and feel like he can't get away. You can leave the lead rope threaded through the breakable string and hold onto the loose end. If you are using cross-ties unclip them and clip the lead rope onto the 'O' ring. Unfasten the halter and temporarily place it around the horse's neck. Hold the lead rope with one hand and gently brush his face with the other hand.
The body brush can also be used on the tail. If the tail is very tangled use your fingers to tease out the knots before brushing. Never use a metal comb on the tail as it breaks the hairs. Stand to one side facing backward when brushing the tail. The only time you should ever stand directly behind a horse is when applying a tail bandage.
sponges - dampen one of the sponges and clean his eyes, nostril, and muzzle. With the other sponge wipe underneath his tail and the dock area. It's a good idea for the sponges to be different colors so that you don't get them mixed up. They must be cleaned regularly.
water brush - use the water brush to 'lay' the mane and tail. Dip it in a bucket of water and shake off any excess. Dampen down any stray hairs on the mane. You can also use it to lay down the hairs at the top of the tail. This would be the time you would apply a tail bandage if necessary.
hoof oil and brush - when the feet are clean and dry you may paint them with hoof oil. It is beneficial in summer when hooves tend to be dry and brittle and also in winter when the ground is wet. This also helps with the overall appearance when a horse is being formally inspected.
How to Wash a Horse
Although we all do it, it is not recommended that you wash your entire horse. Shampoo, no matter how mild, strips the coat and skin of oils that naturally provide protection against wind, rain, and flies. If you must wash your horse he will need to be blanketed for about a week until the oils return if he will be outside in inclement weather.
Washing the Mane
Before you begin to wash the mane you should brush it thoroughly with the body brush (see the body brush and curry comb section above) or a human hairbrush. Wash stalls are becoming more popular and make washing the mane much easier. If you do not have access to a wash stall you can use a bucket of warm water and a large sponge or water brush. Either way, wet the mane thoroughly starting at the withers.
If using a hose run the water onto the horse's front leg first and gradually move up his shoulder to the withers. This way it doesn't come as too much of a surprise to him. Pull the forelock back through his ears to join the top of the mane. Use a sponge or water brush to help the water to penetrate deep into the mane. Once the mane is thoroughly wet use a mild shampoo and work it into the mane. When you have washed the entire mane rinse it thoroughly starting at the poll.
Be careful not to get soap or water in the horse's eyes or ears. Make sure the water runs clear and is free of any shampoo. Use the sweat scraper to remove the excess water from your horse's neck. Some people like to also use a conditioner. This gives the mane a soft fluffy appearance but doesn't work well if you plan to braid.
Washing the Tail
As mentioned above this is easier if you have access to a wash stall but can still be done with a bucket and large sponge or water brush. As with the mane, make sure that the tail has been brushed through thoroughly with a body brush or human hairbrush before you begin to wash it.
Wet the tail thoroughly either with the hose or by submerging it in the bucket. You need to know your horse well and how he will react before attempting either of these procedures. Whenever the dock of a horse is thoroughly wetted the horse usually buckles slightly with their back legs and appear as if they will fall down. This passes quickly and helps if you speak gently to them to reassure them that everything is ok. If you are using warm water this is less likely to happen as it won't be too much of a shock to the horse.
When the tail is completely wet, shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Squeeze out excess water with your hands and swing the tail gently to remove any remaining water. If you want to apply conditioner to the bottom of the tail you can do so and rinse it thoroughly. Do not apply it to the top as it will give it a 'fly away' look. While the tail is still damp apply a tail bandage.
Washing the Feet
Do not wash your horse's feet too often as overexposure to moisture is not good for them. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to remove excess mud. Use the water brush dipped in warm water. Using the thumb on your hand, that is holding up the foot, press it into the hollow of the heel to prevent water from seeping in there. If your horse's feet need to be washed in winter or if they are likely to be wet regularly smear petroleum jelly onto the heel to help prevent cracked heels or scratches.
Washing a Horse
If you really must wash your horse make sure it is on a warm day when he won't become chilled. Start with the mane and work down one side. Wet, wash, rinse, and use the sweat scraper as you go. Do not allow him to stand completely wet or allow the shampoo to dry on his skin. Finish with his tail. Be sure to offer extra protection until the natural oils return.
Disclaimer: We do not warranty any of these companies or products. These are items we use/have used and find them suitable for our needs. You should research these products before purchasing them. We are not sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies or products. These products have been bought by us for our own use. The links are affiliate links.
Follow our every move and keep up-to-date with tips, advice, and events, etc.