There are many times when you get on a horse you realize your stirrups are either too long or too short. As a new rider many times your trainer will adjust your stirrups for you in order to get your lesson under way. When riders begin to learn how to adjust your stirrups while mounted many will drop their reins and take their feet out of the stirrups. They do this to see what they are doing and fully concentrate on the task they are trying to accomplish.
The danger in this is that you are sitting on a living, breathing, prey animal. Even the most trusted school horses can give something a little spook. Without holding on to the reins or keeping yourself balanced with your feet in the stirrups you place yourself at a greater risk of falling off if you horse is to do something unexpected. Read on below how to properly and safely adjust your stirrups while aboard your horse.
On occasion it is necessary to shorten you stirrups even when you are already at the last hole available in your stirrup leathers. If you are in a pinch and don't have a hole punch readily available to you, rolling your stirrups can be a quick and easy solution to hold you over temporarily. Follow the picture step by step instructions below and feel free to ask any questions!
Both types of martingales require a rubber donut, like the one in the red circle in the photo above. This keeps the martingale from sliding around and becoming looser. Below we will take a closer look at both different types of martingales.
It is flexible because the martingale attaches to the reins of the bridle with rings that allow it to slide around. This is also why the rubber stoppers seen in the picture above are mandatory. You don't want the ring of your martingale to somehow slide up to the bit and get caught.
Running up your stirrups is something you should make habit before you leave the arena every time you ride. Not only does it make it easier for you to remove your saddle, because you don't have these long stirrups hitting you in the stomach. But, it is actually a matter of safety for you and your horse! Leaving your stirrups down and then walking through the barn leaves your stirrups at the perfect height to get caught on trunks, saddle racks and anything else left in barn aisles. If your stirrup gets caught on something that could cause your horse to spook, possible running you over or anyone else nearby. So, just be safe and run up your stirrups! It's simple, follow the step by step instructions below.
Using side reins is basically the same as riding with consistent contact. As you can see above, Lilly is coming round and accepting the contact from the side reins. If you want to use side reins to help your horse get some productive exercise or want to introduce them to the concept of contact be sure to start with the reins too loose. When using any kind of equipment it is super important that you allow your horse to warm up and get used to the feeling of that equipment. As they warm up, then you can slowly tighten the reins to encourage a more correct way of going.
If you are wanting your horse to work on their inside bend you can shorten the inside rein just slightly to bring your horse's head to the inside of the circle. Make sure you work both sides evenly. And, if this is a new concept for your horse, only exercise them in short doses. Working them in a new way for too long can get you a very stiff and sore horse.
Be sure to check back as we explore other pieces of equipment you can use while lunging or riding your horse! And as always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out!
If you are wanting to try out earplugs you can purchase them at many tack stores, they are black so they fade away into the shadows of a horse's ears to be discrete or you can find them online. If you aren't successful in finding earplugs in person and don't want to wait on shipping you can go to a pet store and find cat toys that are the exact same, just brightly colored (this can be helpful so you don't forget to take them out). They either look like little squishy golf balls, or I've seen them look like soccer balls too. I promise these work equally as well, you just wouldn't want to horse show in them.
To put in earplugs, stand off to the side of your horse. If your horse has never worn earplugs before use on hand to gently grab the ear and the other to place the plug. Horses new to earplugs will lift their head away from you as you try to shove something in their ear, keep holding on to the ear and keep the other hand next to the ear. Once they realize you aren't going to hurt them they will let you put in the earplug. This may take some time, don't give up. Giving up tells your horse that behavior wins and the next time you try they will behave worse in order for you to stop.
When your horse accepts you putting in the ear plug make sure you push it in as far as it will go. Don't worry you will not ever get the earplug in sooo far that you can't get it out. You might hear or feel a little pop, that means you've got it in the right place. The reason you need to put the ear plug so far into the horse's ear is because as soon as your finished they will most likely shake their head in order to get comfortable with this new feeling. And when they do that, if your earplug isn't in far enough it will come flying out and go bouncing down the aisle. Repeat for the other ear and voila, you're all set!
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave a comment!
The second reason would be for exercise. Working your horse on the lunge line is a perfect solution for those days when you maybe don't have time or the energy to fully tack up and ride. There are many different pieces of equipment that can help teach your horse how to hold themselves properly. We will go over those in posts to come.
Another important reason to know how to lunge is when you need to for the vet. Many times lamenesses only show up on a circle and knowing what you are doing and having your horse know whats happening is key to helping the vet.
Depending on which direction your horse is going determines what hand you hold the lunge. Now, I am right handed so it is much more comfortable for me to hold the lunge line in my right hand. However, in order to safely lead my horse around the circle I have to change it up. When I am lunging to the left, counterclockwise, then the line needs to be in my left hand. Therefore, when I am lunging to the right, clockwise, the line needs to be in my right hand.
There are two reasons for holding the lunge line like this. The first is because you need to lead your horse around the circle. If you hold the lunge in the opposite hand, the line then "crosses" your body and you end up actually signaling to your horse to slow down and move backwards, instead of telling your horse to move forward around the circle.
The second reason is because you should be holding the lunge whip in your other hand. I will always bring a lunge whip with me, even if my horse is too energetic. I may just drop it in the center of my circle and not use it, but if I need one I want to have one handy.
Holding a whip is not ever supposed to scare or cause injury to your horse! The main reasons are to tell your horse to continue to move forward and as a way to keep space between yourself and an energetic outburst. Many times I have had to use the lunge whip to keep a horse away from me because they are bucking and playing and they don't realize how close they are to me and that a stray hoof could easily hit me.
Safety should always come first for you and your horse any time you handle them. Notice how I have wrapped all four of my horse's legs in polo wraps to keep them protected just in case. As always, you should be wearing closed toed shoes and gloves are a smart choice as well.
Look! Even husbands can do it!
Walking with your horse also forces you to do another SUPER important thing! Pay attention to what your horse is doing! Many times people will just let their horse out on a large circle and let them have at it and stop watching. Working your horse on too small of a circle can be dangerous, especially if they are wild. They can slip and fall down or strain one of the tendons in their legs because you weren't paying attention. If you are aware of what your horse is doing on the lunge line you can help them avoid rocks or deep spots in the footing or you can help them work through a "scary" area of the ring. You can also make sure your horse stays balanced and uses themselves properly. Many horses will fall off their leads at the canter and it is your job to make sure they keep working correctly, even if you are just trying to burn off some steam.
Before I wrap up there is just one more thing you need to do every time you lunge your horse. Go both ways! Horse's are more comfortable going one direction, but it is your job to make sure they get worked evenly. Many times I will think the horse I'm lunging is quiet now, only to change directions and realize they still have bucks they wanted to get out. Also, if you are lunging for exercise it is important to build each side of muscles evenly.
Whew! That was a long one, but it is all very important to a safe and successful lunge. If you have any questions at all please feel free to contact me! And in case you are interested below is a video of me walk, trot and cantering my horse on the lunge line.
Ever struggle with piles and piles of messy blankets? I think every horse person has. A blanket for each possible temperature adorn your horse's stall front. This simple way of folding blankets keeps the clutter down and hides all of those runaway straps in just a few simple steps.
#1) Hold the blanket up and meet up the edges evenly.
#2) Place the blanket on the ground, again making sure the edges are close enough together. Let the
straps fall away from the blanket. You don't need to worry about them at all when folding a blanket
#3) Then fold the blanket in half horizontally. Hot dog style if that makes more sense to you.
#4) Grab the middle of the blanket with both hands and lift away from the ground. During this, the
blanket straps automatically fall into place and hide themselves away enough to stay tidy!
#5) Fold in half once more and you are ready to hang your blanket on the front of your horse's stall.
If you read last weeks post about the 6 Wrong Ways to Wear a Hair Net and were guilty of one of those styles then this post is for you! Wearing a professional and sleek hair net is one of those things you don't want to draw attention to. People only notice a bad looking hair net. Don't be that person.
First you will need a horse show hair net. I've tried before to buy the hair nets they sell at Walmart or Target, but those are extremely thin and useless. Spend the money and get the kind they sell at tack shops or horse shows, they are worth it! I like and use these from Dover Saddlery, and they come with a matching hair tie. It's everything you need! The hair nets come in a range of colors, so try and get the one that matches the best. I usually stick to the medium brown.
Start by brushing your hair straight down and in front of your shoulders. This helps cover your ears the best. I'm not 100% sure as to why covering the ears is SO important, but it is! If you have short bangs, be sure to pin them back, trust me it's just easier than trying to wrangle them into the hair net. If you have layered hair don't worry, so do I and the hair net can handle them. Now I don't have very thick hair, but it is pretty long and I don't have any problems with it all fitting under my helmet.
When you put the hair net on to begin don't worry about it coming too far down your face, we'll fix that later. First just focus on covering your ears completely with hair. I let me earlobes stay poked out so my earrings don't get caught. And this adds just a touch of sparkle that I can't help but enjoy. Pull the hair net back into the same grasp as the rest of your ponytail and use the hair tie to secure it all together. Now you can push back the hair net to be in line with your hairline. Flip upside down and pull your ponytail forward. Make sure there aren't any runaway strands. Then put on your helmet from back to front. Check the hair over your ears one last time and you are all set!
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