The Shying Horse

Posted on June 20, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, therapy.

photo courtesy of: Your Horse Co.UK

It is the classic story of the horse who ran back to the barn. In every crowd is a person who remembers the time they rode a horse who spooked and ran away. “I’ll never ride again!”, they confess.  Unlike a bicycle or a skateboard, the horse is a living creature with the ability to think and observe. This means they are capable of reacting to whatever they see. Riders cannot control the random events in the woods or the ring where they ride, nor predict the reaction of the horse to those events. But it is possible to minimize the reaction of the horse by pre-training them to respond to guidance from the saddle. The historic mounted cavalry was highly successful in training their horses to charge straight into battle regardless of the noise and confusion. The average horse can be trained to understand that the rider’s directions are a priority over any instinct to run away. This pre-conditioning will bring momentary hesitation when the horse discovers a wild deer or a motorbike out on the trail. This hesitation gives the rider a chance to reassure the horse before he loses control.

However, occasionally you encounter a horse who stubbornly resists any training efforts and continues to spook and leap sideways at every noise. They are displaying a learned behavior rather than an instinctual reaction. We call these types of horses ‘shyers’.

photo:Linda Parelli teaching horse to focus

The habitual shyer is a menace for its rider. The constant bolting or sideways leaping to get away from imagined danger unseats the rider and can leave a loose horse on the run. To develop safer behavior in these horses it helps to determine the reason for their continual disruptions. While there may be several factors involved, here are three basic reasons why horses develop the habit of shying: aggression, insecurity, or the rider. Let’s look at these individually.

Aggression.   Over the centuries, the horse’s job was to carry soldiers through battle. Through the trials of war, certain breeds of horses demonstrated the ability to be warriors in their own right. They quickly grasped the need to charge, bump, or even trample down the enemy troops. They didn’t flinch as they took a stab from a bayonet or a bullet in the flesh, but continued into the thick of battle with wounds that were often fatal. These breeds still exist today and carry the genetic code of their ancestors. They excel in police work where they are asked to intervene and redirect the public through bumping or stomping into unruly crowds, or in search-and-rescue work where they must crash through rocky, wooded terrain in search of criminal escapees or lost hikers. These ‘warrior’ horses fit very well and yield very quickly to a forthright, commanding personality who assumes control such as the policeman riding on mounted patrol. But when ridden by an indecisive rider who avoids confrontation, the horse will assume control. Centuries of breeding make the warrior horse dominant and vigorous. Without a dominant rider, disaster is immanent. These horses will develop the habit of shying because they need an object to be overpowering and a reason to charge forward.  It is best to always have a job for these horses to keep them occupied.

Insecurity.  The oversensitive, insecure horse is clearly the opposite of our warrior horse. Ever fretful and in need of a soft touch and kind word, they refrain from the overt action of the bolder horse. They are generally the quieter horses in the corral who follow the lead of the warrior horse. When ridden they prefer a soft seat from the rider and perfectly fitting equipment. Beware of using bits too harsh for their mouth assuming it makes them easier to control. It will only elevate their hyper-tension, making them squirm and spin until the problem is fixed.  Sensitive horses do their best trail work with a dominant horse as a mentor. They ride behind their mentor, who shows them how to walk over rough footing, cross water in creeks, or step over tree trunks that may have fallen across the path. If they aren’t guided in this way, they often develop skittish behavior, shying at every leaf that scuttles across the path because they are too afraid to be out on their own. This is why the rider of sensitive horses finds their role to be more of a cheerleader, building the confidence of the horse and convincing the horse to work for them. Once their confidence is won, these horses are nearly indefatigable. They display a brilliance and intuitiveness in show competitions and ring work that never wanes. The complex work of dressage or the split second timing of stadium jumping are equal to their level of focus and intelligence. This is why so many of these horses compete at the international and Olympic level. They are best matched with the analytical, ambitious person with long range, competitive goals, rather than wandering through wooded trails.

Riders.  Developing your competency in the saddle is a life-long necessity. Each decade brings changes in physical abilities through the aging process that we need to adjust in both ourselves and our horses that we ride. If you love your horse you’ll want to be sure that your position in the saddle is balanced and easy to be carried around. This correct posture in the saddle is your best protection from the unpredictable, shying horse. Equally important is matching your interests and personality to that of the horse.  If your horse is constantly shying on the trails and nothing is fixing it, you need to analyze the personality of the horse and see if it fits with yours. It may be time to find a horse that better suits your personality. If you want to keep your horse in spite of its problems, consider help from a professional who can work with you and your horse. Their suggestion to change your saddle posture, or the saddle you ride in, could make a big difference. Riding should always be adventurous and fun. With a little homework, you can make your rides outstanding!

Olympic Rider Kyra Kyrkland on Matador

Can I learn to ride?

Posted on June 9, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, therapy.

 

 

Enjoying riding when you're over 50

Enjoying riding when you’re over 50

Are you considering a new hobby? Are you over 50 years of age? How about horseback riding? Delving into new activities that require study and application benefits both mental and physical well being. Applying ourselves to the physical action of saddle time, while it does require an honest evaluation of one’s agility, is hugely beneficial, both in the exposure to a new world of scenery (if you trail ride), and to a new group of friends who love their horses and ride for pure enjoyment. “Retirees Becoming Equestrians” is a delightful article probing the issue of late comers to the equestrian field. We highly recommend taking a few minutes to read it over, especially if you are wondering if horseback riding is right for you. Don’t waste time wondering, jump up and gallop on. See you on the trail!

(photo from Trail Rider Magazine)

Trimming the Hoof Bars

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

Natural hoof trimmer Linda Harris of  thehappyhoof youtube channel  explains the importance of the bars of the hoof, and the 3 V’s of natural balance.

In trimming the bars you are just getting what ever may be laid over the sole off of it, so that as the hoof wall grows past the sole so will the bars (instead of laying over towards the outside wall and growing sideways, covering the sole in the seat of the corn).  You do not want to dig the bars down past the sole. You do not want to reduce the bars to where any leverage on the heels will push them forward, because then your heels will also go forward. That whole area of the heel buttress is formed to try and hold the heels in place.

 

In this photo, the inside bar (pictured on right and not yet trimmed) is slightly laid over with a chunk laying on the seat of the corn of the sole. The outside bar (pictured left and just trimmed) shows you where the white line is.  As you’re trimming, keep in mind that your actions in the back also affect the front of the hoof. NEVER take off any of the back half of the foot without taking some of the front half, even though it may seem like the front half did not grow much, and here is why.

The front half of the hoof is where the main sole ridge is that protects and surrounds the coffin bone. That sole ridge will grow forward with the wall and get thicker and thicker and begin to raise the front of the foot as well as grow gradually forward. With some horses, the wall will grow out past that sole ridge and you automatically know to trim or cut it off. With others the sole ridge will just grow and thicken along with the wall and so you think your foot has not grown. This is even worse if the toe in general has been stretched forward and is at a low angle because it will “seem” like the wall hasn’t grown at all. This then eventually creates a situation where the sole ridge, that is supposed to be thickest at, and surrounding the rim of the coffin bone, is actually out in front of it. So then you have thick sole ridge not under the actual toe of the inner foot, (as it’s supposed to be). Therefore the inner foot itself is sitting behind the toe callous, on thin flat sole. This slowly drops the toe of the inner foot down low and closer to the ground.
This is one reason why we rocker the toes to try and thin that sole ridge which is out of place.  This allows the wall to grow down very tightly connected to the very end of the internal foot where it will once again connect with the sole in that area. It grows down to the ground and then RETAINS that sole ridge under the front perimeter of that internal foot where it’s supposed to be.

Now this picture looks pretty good, the walls are trimmed down and the bars are defined and fine.

In the end the final and ultimate goal is to get the walls to grow down without being leveraged so they will reconnect in the right spot at the very bottom of the internal foot with the sole that grows from the sole corium. From there they continue to the ground and contain that V under and around the V of the internal foot.

What are the three V’s of the hoof?

Problems occur when the 3 V’s disconnect from one another. The V shaped rim of the coffin bone and sole corium drop onto FLAT sole instead of being in the V shaped ridge of the Wall and Sole ridge.  Then you will get coffin bone remodeling, because you have a V sitting on a _ like so V . Our 3 V’s are these:

V   Coffin bone / which is hard but also a softer bone than the rest.

V   Sole corium attached to coffin bone / which is soft and padded full of blood.

V   Wall and sole ridge.

Now we can not undue whatever prior damage may have been done to the feet. BUT when the hoof capsule is as correctly grown and reconnected as close as possible in alignment with that internal foot, the body has a “chance” to heal itself, proving our bodies and the bodies of animals are in and of themselves wondrous things.

Coffin Bone Remodeling

Posted on March 4, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, history, hoofcare, therapy.

Healthy Hoof Interior

New information regarding the changes in the coffin bone of the hoof have been released. The Fischer Equine Lameness Group have provided their in depth results into the remodeling of bone in the hoof during the time it remains shod. This information is a must for all horse owners!
From the “Heal the Hoof” web site: Sheri and her husband Mark, an orthopedic surgeon, fly internationally and present lectures on Wolfs Law of Orthopedics and how this affects the equine distal limb.  Their presentations have been given in Europe and throughout the US.  Recently, Sheri has lectured to the veterinarian students at the University of Minnesota and several veterinarian clinics throughout the US.

“Bone Remodeling of the Equine Distal Limb”
(We strongly recommend reading the complete article)

Excerpts from their article:   Wolfe’s law refers to how bone adapts itself to a variety of influences. Bones can remodel in a generalized fashion – that is, affecting the whole bone, or even the whole skeleton; or they can remodel in a very specific fashion in response to a local influence. It is important to remember that bone remodeling is a balance, and many factors can influence the balance, so that the net effect is either bone gain or bone loss. Most of the clinical situations we encounter in both human and equine situations involve bone loss to an extent to which problems occur.  According to Wolfe’s Law, failure to stress and stimulate bone by the mechanical forces generated by weight-bearing and muscles results in the activation of osteoclasts, leading to generalized loss of bone content and ultimately strength. The importance of exercise with respect to bone strength is well known in many human studies. This would suggest that any program which includes any significant amount of stall rest would promote the loss of bone. In a similar manner that cast treatment or immobilization can protect bone from stress, resulting in bone loss, application of a mechanical stress-sharing (i.e., aiding the bone in bearing a stress) device to bone can have the same effect. An example of this would be the use of horseshoes. An example of altered hoof weight bearing stresses affecting bone would be a deformation of the hoof capsule resulting from the horseshoe. The horseshoe puts direct pressure on the sides of the hoof, causing contraction and then bone loss due to altered stresses. Removal of shoes, depending on the timing as well as other influences, may allow the coffin bone to remodel. It seems obvious, however, that promoting a situation which several million years of evolution adapted the coffin bone for – that is, not applying horseshoes and keeping the coffin bone ground parallel within the hoof capsule – would make the most biological sense. In other words, never putting shoes on the horse, and keeping the coffin bone ground parallel for even distribution of stress along the edges of the coffin bone, would make the most sense for the bone according to the arguments advanced in this report.

In most cases, bone loss is recoverable once the conditions are changed to promote physiologic stress on the bone and to allow for the inflow of nutrients.

Hoof Deviation Terms

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, history, hoofcare, therapy.

 

coffin bone dropping into sole

coffin bone dropping into sole

The above x-rays indicate the horse’s struggle for soundness when the coffin bone is affected.
Many readers have asked for more information regarding the terms used for hoof deviations.
The following should help:
Rotation of coffin bone: the coffin bone (P3) of the horse has dropped downward toward the interior bottom (sole) of the hoof. This means it has separated from the flesh (laminae) that hold it to the toe wall. In extreme cases the sharp point of the bone can fall far enough to cut through the sole of the hoof. The bone is still connected to the interior laminae on the sides, or quarters, of the hoof. Most cases can be fixed through correct trimming and hoof boots.
Sinking of the coffin bone: the coffin bone is completely detached from all the laminae of the hoof wall. The coffin bone rests on the interior sole of the hoof. Correct trimming and boots ease this problem but I have no documentation of a full correction yet.
White Line Separation: the flesh (laminae) are in process of separating from the coffin bone. Again, fixed through correct trimming.
Flaring: in most cases,the laminae have finally separated from the coffin bone resulting in rotation, or dropping, of the toe portion of the coffin bone. Oftentimes flaring and white line are used synonymously though there is a difference.
Mechanical Founder/Road Founderof the hoof: This is the term used for sinker & rotation of coffin bone which came about due to hard ground,shoeing,or the daily wear of a long toe that eventually separates the wall from the coffin bone.
Laminitis Founder:the laminae (flesh holding the coffin bone to the hoof wall) become inflamed and dropped their attachment to the coffin bone. The source of the inflammation must be determined to stop the founder in this case. Typically the cause is the diet and the shoeing of the horse; other causes include recent trauma,squalor conditions,abusive handling.
To understand in depth the care and trim required for Founder read Marjorie Smith’s full explanation.

Horses for Healing

Posted on January 18, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, military, riding, therapy, training.

Combat veteran Rick Iannucci with Cowboy Up!

Photo:Melanie Stetson Freeman

excerpts from article by April Reese in Christian Science Monitor:

For 2-1/2 years, a stream of Iraqi and Afghan war veterans – many carrying both physical and psychological scars of combat – have found their way to Mr. Iannucci’s Crossed Arrows Ranch, about 15 miles south of Santa Fe, N.M. After first learning to groom and walk the specially trained quarter horses, the vets work their way up to mounting and riding them around the arena. As the veterans bond with the horses and learn how to “read” them, they begin to heal and feel connected with the civilian world again, Iannucci says.  “Horses are so in tune with you – if you’re uptight, they’ll know,” he explains. “They coax a certain level of contemplation out of you. They demand for you to be in the now. When the vets start working with the horses, they immediately start calming down.”

Some arrive with physical disabilities, such as limited use of arms or legs wounded in combat. Others are dealing with traumatic brain injuries, a result of roadside bombs or sniper attacks. Many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “We call it ‘post-traumatic spiritual disorder,’ because we think the thing that happens to people in war is a wounding of the spirit,” Iannucci says. “Our goal is to find that [wound] and start working on it.”

Iannucci, a compact man with a purposeful demeanor and a walrus mustache, grew up in horse-racing country in southeastern Pennsylvania. From about age 12, Iannucci trained and rode quarter horses his family kept at his cousin’s farm. After retiring from his job as a US marshal working in Colombia, he moved to New Mexico and returned to horsemanship in earnest. He bought the ranch and built a horse arena, initially to provide a place for children to ride. A few years later he started inviting veterans to come and work with the horses. Word about Cowboy Up! began to spread. Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, former director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, visited the ranch last year. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) of New Mexico has also paid a visit. “Rick doesn’t hesitate to take on a challenge, but he’s also a very humble and patient person,” Mr. Lujan says. “The program is truly impressive. Just to see the faith these men and women have is incredible.”

Horses and Thermoregulation, by Dr Clair Thunes

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history, therapy.

winterhorses

Q.How do horses survive in the cold?
A. Horses are mammals and as such are warm-blooded just like humans and so when the air around them is colder than their body temperature, heat transfers from them to the environment and they get colder. To survive they must regulate this heat loss, however such heat loss is not always detrimental, for example if the horse is too hot and needs to cool down.  According to an article by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, “estimates for the lower critical temperature (LCT) for horses are between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit depending on hair coat, body condition, wetness and windchill”.  They go on to give the lower critical temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit based on hair coat as follows, wet or short hair 60, moderate length hair coat 50, heavy coat 30.  Once the average temperature reaches the LCT human intervention is required such as shelter, a blanket and or extra feed.

Q. Why should diet matter?
A. Once at the bottom of its comfort zone the horse reaches its critical temperature and the body speeds up chemical reactions within the body in order to burn more calories and to create more body heat. This requires an increase in dietary energy intake because if there are not enough calories in the diet to meet the additional needs for maintaining body temperature the horse will utilize its body energy reserves (fat).  If this deficit continues for too long then the body condition will be compromised and the horse will lose weight. Well-fed horses adapt better than those who are underfed.
Adaptation should be considered when contemplating a horse’s lower critical temperature.  A horse who has spent a good amount of time in Arizona where the average summer high is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and average winter low is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit may hit its lower critical temperature at a relatively higher temperature than a horse who lives in Maine where the average summer high is only around 70 degrees Fahrenheit but the average winter low is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. For the horse from Arizona the lower critical temperature may be 60 degrees even with thick haircoat. The age of the horse is also worth considering.  Older horses are generally less efficient at both digestion and thermoregulation and so are more susceptible to extremes in temperature.  They will therefore need a diet that is more easily digestible and may require intervention earlier than their younger counterparts to stay warm.  Young horses especially those under a year of age are also less able to handle cold weather in part due to the large amounts of energy that are being utilized for growth.  They should be provided with good shelter and ample access to good quality hay.

Q. Horses run around a lot when it’s cold. Does that help?
A. Exercise produces heat from energy burned by muscles so moving is another way the horse has to stay warm but the energy for movement has to come from somewhere, either the diet or body energy reserves.  This may be one reason why horses seem to run around more when the weather is cold.  Muscle contractions don’t just occur though as a result of the horse physically changing locations they also occur as a result of shivering.  The energy produced from these muscle activities raises the horse’s core temperature.
Also, like us, horses can make their hair stand-up, which is called piloerection (think of goose bumps), which acts to increase their hair depth and traps air next to their bodies creating an insulating layer.    It is because of this function that you might hear people say that well cared for horses are quite alright out in the cold as long as it is dry.  Once their coats get wet the hair is unable to stand up and create this insulating layer.  They then rely on the oils in their coat to prevent their skin from getting wet, which is why you should not bathe a horse that lives out in the winter or use a body brush which drags the oils through the coat, as they need the oils to stay near their skin to act as a protective barrier.  Horses living outside need to have access to adequate shelter such as a 3-sided shed as such shelter has been shown to reduce heat loss by 20% not only because it allows their hair to stay dry but it also reduces heat loss from wind chill. A blanket flattens the horse’s hair and prevents piloerection.  If in turn the blanket is not thick enough to adequately insulate or it leaks, the horse will be cold and will not be able to use piloerection to stay warm.  This is not to say that blankets should not be used. If you have a horse who does not carry much weight, with a thin hair coat or decide to clip your horse because it is in heavy work, a blanket will be necessary.

Q. What about stall protection?
A. Often the coldest part of the night is around 6am, as the sun comes up areas reached by sunlight warm up quickly compared to those areas still in shade such as the inside of stall, so horses in stalls are subjected to cold for far longer than those horses that can get out into the sun.  This can cause a real conundrum in spring and autumn when your stabled horses are blanketed at night and you need to take their blankets off early in the morning before you go to work because later in the day they will be hot.  In these instances you have to know your horse and know whether it is better for them as an individual to be too hot or too cold.  The hard keeper who is lean, gets cold and is stressed easily would probably be better left with the blanket on versus the horse carrying more condition who won’t be at any great detriment if he is a little chilly for a couple of hours.

In summary, horses do adapt to cold over time, according to Dr Cymbaluk of the ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Ontario Canada. However, horses typically require a 10-21 day adaptation period.  A horse’s ability to adapt depends on the duration of the cold weather and the horse’s energy intake.  A horse isn’t going to be able to adapt to a sudden winter storm and so will require more intervention.  Therefore, energy intake is more critical.  Your horse will tell you if he/she is cold, pay attention to the warning signs and make adjustments to hay intake and overall management as necessary to insure that your horse comes out of the winter in good condition.

Dr Clair Thunes, PhD Nutrition. 2005. University of California, DavisMS Animal Science. 1998. University of California, Davis, BSc. Hons. Animal Science. 1997. Edinburgh University. web: summit-equine.com

Minimalist Horse Training I

Posted on December 12, 2016 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, therapy, training.

*Jentry rides her pony round the cones

Minimalist training is exactly what it implies. When circumstances demand our absence from our horse for long periods of time, the moments we spend with him can be highly productive by minimizing and focusing what we try to accomplish with him. Training the horse takes place every time we touch our horse. The horse learns how we prefer him to behave. Minimalist training does not attempt to build muscle on our horse; only daily, vigorous forward riding can do that. But it can produce an obedient, trusting animal in only a minimal amount of time. Well structured, short sessions always produce ample results, and sets the tone for subsequent training sessions.

Whether you have been away from your horse one day or sixty days, it is always best to start an exercise session by either free- lunging your horse, or on the long line before doing anything. This gives you a chance to see how the horse is moving, specifically if he is favoring or limping on a leg or hoof. Even though you were away and and haven’t seen the horse, he could have twisted or stepped on something in his turnout, or paddock time. Once you determine he’s moving fine it’s time to exercise.

If you are able to ride once a week you can actually accomplish a lot with the use of  cones. With just two cones you can address bending, balance, and response time to cues.  Three cones is a luxury where you can set up a spacious triangle, or a straight line, and combine threading and circling to promote bending and re-bending. Cones provide a great short cut to helping your horse learn how to stay on the intended circle; not to change speeds on his own; and to bend both to the right and to the left. As he gets the hang of it at the walk then you can pick up a trot, taking care in keeping him balanced and adjusting his tendency to dip around turns.  Practicing halts, changes of stride from longer to shorter, using transitions between the walk and the trot, these changes keep your horse’s attention by keeping him focused on the work. Remember, you are not developing muscle so much as alertness to cues, and obedience to direction.  If you are able to move to canter work you will find endless options for practicing figure eights, flying changes, and even counter canter.

Ground poles can expand your cone lessons by changing the focus from turning and flexing exercises to lessons on lifting and carrying.  This helps activate your horse’s hind quarters, and subtly addresses ‘dragging toes’, a problem where the horse drags his back feet across the ground which causes stumbling. One of my favorite uses of ground poles is to lay down two parallel poles in three different places in the riding ring, placing a cone at the ends of each group of poles. Then I have the horse step over the center of one set of ground poles, bend right around the end cone, come back and step over the center of the poles again then turn left, (making a figure eight), and as we step back over the center of the ground poles once more then we move into either leg yield/shoulder-in/or half-pass toward the new set of poles where I can repeat my figure eight. None of these activities require extensive muscle strength, but they do address alertness, suppleness in bending, and stepping the hind legs under the horse’s barrel. Remember that minimalist training is for infrequent riding, focusing on building behavior, response, and trust. I have found it fully effective with horses ridden as little as three times a year! Muscle strength and stamina, however, can only be developed through a daily, vigorous riding program.
Next: Minimalist Training II  Scaling it down even further.

*photo from Jennifer Buxton; Braymere Custom Saddlery

Minimalist Horse Training II

Posted on December 10, 2016 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, therapy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many riders are fortunate to have an indoor riding facility to help continue their horse’s training through the long frozen months of winter. But many of us struggle to find ways to keep our horses in shape while enduring harsh weather. This means we have to minimize, or scale down the training activities with our horse.  I have discovered that during inactive winter months, changing my goals from muscle development to developing my horse’s obedience and co-operation, has a powerful impact on his behavior and addresses his trust/confidence issues. Minimizing my training this way confirms the simple fundamentals of attitude so that at the end of winter there is less resistance when returning to our strengthening exercises. How can that be?

We keep our horses mentally active by providing a learning atmosphere each time we’re together. For instance, have you ever noticed as you begin to groom, how your horse pushes his nose close to your hair and takes a long smell,or nudges your arm?  The way you respond to him reveals your emotional state. Many years ago my first horse taught me that when he would sniff my hair he was actually nudging me to determine: “How’s your attitude today?”  He knew immediately if I was impatient as I would quickly shove his head away. However, on days that I was cheerful then we’d play a little, and if I was in an academic mood then I would try to teach him a new ground trick. So by responding to the nudging, physical contact of my horse, I was recognizing his attempted ‘conversation’ with me. Every horse will do this, even if they come from abusive or rough backgrounds, because horses communicate with each other through physical contact. It is the pathway to his mind and shows how he learns and how he reacts in different situations. The time you spend grooming your horse, or hand walking him outdoors is the time to use to find special ways to reach out. Grooming is such an excellent way to discover your horse. Every horse is quick to reveal their good and bad ‘zones’.  Notice, as you groom, that he makes faces at spots that need extra scratching or rubbing. These are good ‘zones’.  Sensitive spots or bad zones, are the areas he doesn’t want touched. You can take the time to work with him until these areas can be gently massaged or brushed.

If  you can ride occasionally during the winter months, but have only a very small arena in which to work, you can minimize your activities to focus on objects or behaviors that typically frighten your horse. Is he always afraid of flags,balloons, loud noises? You can create a safe learning environment in which your horse can finally face his fears with your encouragement. Perhaps he is reluctant to walk over tarps, or bridges, or perhaps carrying a flag on the pole has always sent him running the other direction. Use the winter months to creatively tackle these problems at a slow, deliberate pace.  Encourage the horse’s obedience and acceptance of your direction. It shows him how to begin to trust your decisions and how to control his ‘flight’ instincts once he learns these things aren’t harmful. If he is determined to cling to his fears then be creative and start with walking over ground poles placed next to tarps, and hang flags on the wall that catch the breeze as you walk by.  Your goal is to eventually walk over the tarps and bridges, and to carry the flag, but only with his co-operation.  Once the two of you are working as a team and trust one another you will find most of these formidable objects become boring to him and you’ll need to find new challenges for him. In this way, your horse becomes happy about learning and meeting challenges, and he will be mentally ready for the trails once spring arrives.

*Photo from Valley View Ranch,Dallas,Tx

Working with the Local Sheriff Posse, by Steve Lock

Posted on September 1, 2016 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, riding, therapy, training.

WSHorse_Expo015Salute

Photos:Volunteers with Yolo County Sheriffs Posse, California

When I was younger my focus was mainly in the area of Eventing. Shortly after the 9/11 attack, I joined our local Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. Being involved with the Sheriff’s Posse opened a whole new world for me with horses. I learned a lot more about desensitizing horses. I learned how valuable horses are as a search animal. As you can imagine, they provide a much larger field of view, they cover more ground and move faster, and they will alert you when there is something you need to check out. It may not be the person you are looking for, but then again, it may be. There are people who in recent years have started training horses to air scent, like some dogs do, and with good success. I spent about four years as a Training Officer with the Posse, and one year as President. I experienced many positive things I may never have had the opportunity to experience had I not been a volunteer with the Posse. I would encourage anyone wondering what to do with their horse, looking for something new to do with their horse, or who wants to serve their community to seriously consider joining their local Sheriff Posse if there is one, or if not, joining a Mounted Search and Rescue group. You and your horse will learn many new things, make some wonderful new friends, and have your lives enriched while you have great fun doing it. It is a very satisfying experience.
In addition to the Search and Rescue, as volunteers with the Sheriff’s Posse, we also rode in our local Christmas Parade each year with the Sheriff’s Department component. We patrolled the parking lots at our local county fair each year to deter break-ins and help people find their cars. We sat on our horses at the entry gates of the county fair and let people pet our horses, and answered the many questions they had about the horses and what work we performed. It was great fun for us, and great public relations for the Sheriff’s Department. We participated in Toys for Tots each December. As you may expect, we had training in many areas. A former San Francisco Mounted Policeman and Instructor trained us in friendly crowd control and formation riding. We participated in a four-day Search and Rescue training each year with several other Mounted Search and Rescue units. We learned about living and surviving with our horses in the wilderness. I had the opportunity to participate in a training demonstration put on by a former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Mounted Officer and Trainer at the Western States Horse Expo two years in a row. All in all, it was a very enriching experience. One I am glad I did not miss out on.

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equi-works