Giving treats to horses is one of the most popular things people think of doing with a horse. Friends and family often want to show their affection or fascination for a horse with a sweet offering. What they don't know about giving horses treats is there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to feed a horse. Read below to make sure you keep all of your fingers and feel free to pass this post on so others do the same!
So, always be sure to keep your hand clearly separate from the treat and you should avoid any unwanted attention. If you ever have any questions please feel free to ask!
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.
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!
So, last week we learned how to pull a mane. And while I will always say to do this first and get as far as you can. Sometimes cutting the mane is just the way things need to go. There are a few instances where cutting the mane is the better option. The first, if you are trimming the mane of a jumper. Jumper manes are typically longer and they want a more straight across look to them. Another reason to pick up the scissors is if your horse already has a really thin mane and pulling out any hair would leave them bald. No one likes that look so cutting the mane is the obvious choice. The third reason would be if your horse is totally throwing a giant temper tantrum about you pulling their mane and restraining them is no longer an option. Depending on how important them behaving for mane pulling is, you could give them a sedative to help calm them down. Using a sedative though requires professional help and you should always ask your trainer to administer the drug at the correct dosage.
This is the last installment on how to use each item in The Essential Grooming Box. And, honestly, it's probably the most important. Cleaning out your horse's feet before each ride is crucial to making sure your horse stays healthy and sound. Many times rocks will get stuck under their shoes and will cause a lot of pain, lameness and potentially a serious issue that requires time off. In order to avoid that, get to know your horses feet and pick them out regularly.
Start by running your hand down their leg. Give their tendons a gentle squeeze and your horse should understand what you are asking and pick up their leg for you. If they don't understand or if they are just refusing to listen, you can push your hip into their shoulder or hip while still squeezing their tendons. This will push your horse's weight off the leg you are trying to pick up and make it easier for you to lift the leg.
Depending on how dirty your horse's feet are depends on how much work is needed to get a clean hoof. A general rule though is to start by finding the V of the frog. Yes, I know that didn't sound like a real sentence, I will put together a horse anatomy post soon! Anyway, you can really see what I am referencing in the bottom gif. Be gentle as you pick around the frog! That part is like the sensitive part under your fingernails and it would really hurt if you dug too deep. After you find the frog I like to work around the edges of the shoe. This way you can remove the big clumps with minimal effort. Once you've knocked the big stuff loose, I will flip my hoof pick over and use the bristled side to brush out the debris. By using the brush I am confident I won't hurt my horse's hoof on accident.
One of the ways to keep your horse looking fancy and taken care of, at least for us hunter/jumper people, is to have a well kept mane. Allowing a mane to grow too long really makes your horse look messy. There are two ways to maintain a mane, this post will go over how to pull the mane and in a later post I will outline how to trim a mane with scissors.
It is best to learn how to pull a mane first because this is the most traditional way and the expected way if someone where to ever ask you to take care of a mane. Pulling a mane is in fact pulling the mane hair out of the mane. Now that sounds like the most traumatic thing to do to your horse. However! Horses don't have nerve endings in their mane area, so pulling out the hair causes them no pain.
Many horses, if they don't regularly get their manes pulled, will react to you doing this step. They are reacting to the pressure that pulls their neck to one side (you can see a small amount of movement in the video on the side) and not pain. If you are pulling a horse's mane for the first time go slow! Take breaks as the horse needs them and break it up into multiple days. As long as you stay calm and patient you will train a horse that calmly stands for getting their mane pulled without any fuss.
Also, start at the poll. So start right behind the horse's ears. The reason for doing this is because many horses don't really like you messing around either with their ears of just being up by their head like that. So, if you start there first they will appreciate it getting over with quickly. If you wait to do up by their ears until the end, after you have already spent time pulling the rest of their mane your horse will most likely have lost their patience with the process and be less willing to stand still for you.
When you are finished you should have a nice straight, thin mane that helps make your horse look super polished.
Natural disasters are never an easy thing to deal with. But they take on a whole new level when you are responsible for the lives of animals. Most barns board between 10-50 horses and to prepare for something catastrophic is a huge undertaking. After living in Florida for a little over 3 years, seeing that hurricane Hermine has a trajectory right through where I was living breaks my heart and I am praying and sending all the good vibes I can to the people and I horses I cared for there.
That being said here are a few tips you can use in case you are ever faced with such a situation.
1) It's all in the pre-planning. If you are building a barn in an area with the known threat of hurricanes there are certain things you should take into consideration when building your facility. Making sure the barn is at a higher elevation than the rest of the property prevents flooding. Also, having a well working drainage systems ensures that water runs away from the barn quickly and reduces standing water.
2) Have access to fresh water. Just because there is a sudden overflow of water because of a storm doesn't mean you are covered when it comes to fresh drinking water. Most of the time that water is full of debris and waste that isn't safe for drinking. Be sure to either stock up on clean water or have a purification system in place.
3) Have a generator with enough fuel. As is custom with big storms is power outages. Be ready with a generator that works and has enough amps to power the necessities. Also, a generator is only so helpful if you don't have enough fuel on hand to keep it running.
4) Have batteries on hand for flashlights and radios. The lack of power is often paired with cell phone towers being down as well. Make sure you have battery operated flashlights and radios on hand so you can stay in contact while checking your facility. Be sure to have plenty of extra batteries on hand as well because you never know how long it will take to regain power.
5) Be up to date on vaccinations. With lots of water and unexpected debris can bring unwanted mosquitoes and possible injuries. Having your horses up to date on all vaccinations can save them from all sorts of terrible diseases.
6) Have all medical records in one place. This should just be a general rule that you abide by in your daily life but in the midst of uncertainty it is of the upmost importance to know exactly where key pieces of paperwork are located. The last thing you need to be doing in a rush to get out is to be frantically looking for anything.
7) Find somewhere safe to go. There comes a time to make a very important decision, do you bunker down and wait out the storm or do you find somewhere else that is maybe safer to go. Another thing to consider is if the horses you have are healthy enough to make the journey. Often times older horses cannot handle the stress of travel and would maybe be better off staying at home or making a shorter journey.
8) Leave breakaway halters on every horse with contact information. Whether you decide to leave or stay at home it is important to identify your horses should the unthinkable happen and someone gets loose. If you are to do this NEVER use 100% nylon halters! Nylon halters will not break if a horse should get stuck and then they can panic and cause themselves serious injury. Always use either a fully leather halter, or a nylon halter with a leather headstall. Contact information can either be written on the nylon in sharpie or you can attach a notecard in a plastic baggie with duct tape. Be sure to leave a name, multiple contact numbers and the address the horse belongs to so they can make it home safely.
9) Be sure to stock up on hay and grain. The last thing you need is to run out of food for your horses! You should have a pretty good grasp on how much food you go through in a week and to be safe I would be prepared for up to two or three weeks. If you expect the weather to be really bad bring the food into the barn aisles to ensure the safety of those needing to feed, so they don't have to go outside in potentially dangerous conditions.
10) Close all doors and windows. As best you can lock down every side of the barn to prevent flying debris from entering and causing damage. If you don't have doors on the sides of your barn aisles using your trucks and trailers can create a much needed barrier. Just be sure to properly secure the trucks and trailers with jacks so they don't end up being part of the problem.
11) Have emergency medical supplies on hand. This will be a stressful time on your horses and as we all know horses have an incredible knack for hurting themselves. Be prepared with a variety of medications and supplies so you can handle a crisis the best you can considering getting the vet out to your property might be an impossible task.
Hopefully these tips are just good things to know and you never have to put them into use. But, just in case make sure you always have an emergency preparedness plan! Anything to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
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.
The Fourth of July is such an awesome holiday, and many of us spend it enjoying loved ones, BBQ's, s'mores and of course, fireworks! With it being such a fun holiday, many times it's not so enjoyable for our equine friends. I have heard horror stories of horses out in their fields being shot with fireworks. Some people are just terrible and many times too much alcohol clouds their judgement. So, here are a few steps you can take to keep your horse safe this Fourth of July!
1) Short supervised turnout. People start lighting off fireworks pretty early on the 4th, so be sure to watch your horses in case they start getting too scared and running frantically.
2) Take the day off from riding. For the same reasons, keep you and your horse safe and take the day off from your riding schedule. No one needs to get bucked off because a firework goes screaming into the sky!
3) Are you planning on being away from the barn all day? Just leave your horse in it's stall for the day. Just make sure they have enough hay and most horses will be satisfied to spend just one day in their stall.
Please, it's better be safe than sorry! Take care of your horse and Happy Fourth of July!!!