History of the Saddle

Posted on February 9, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, riding.

Dr Henry Van SchaikA brief history of the saddle and dressage seat.

Great study by Dr Nancy Nicholson

The Military Horse of 1863

Posted on February 3, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history, training.

Sherman

General Sherman

The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War since it ended the Confederate General Robert E Lee’s advancement northward to conquer New England. The State of Massachusetts had sent among its troops the 9th Battery Mounted Division with Captain John Bigelow in charge, who was severely wounded early on during the battle on July 2nd. The Mass Battery brought 110 men: 10 were lost, 18 wounded;  but of the infantry mounts – 88 horses of the 9th were killed on the battlefield. The Northern, or Union Soldiers, were 90,000 in number; they lost 30,000.  The Southern, or Confederate Soldiers, came with 75,000 men; they lost 27,000. Horses estimated killed in battle at Gettysburg: 1.5 million horses dead. Said Capt Bigelow: “The enemy opened a fearful musketry fire, men and horses were falling like hail…. Sergeant after Sergt., was struck down, horses were plunging and laying about all around….”

Horses from Battle at Little Round Top/Pictures from Library of Congress,Civil War Collection


Requiem for the War Horse

No battle fought was theirs by choice, nor came victory from their breath,

But they trotted forward just as ordered – into bullets, swords, and certain death.

Their brave hearts beating in silent courage, in fear that no voice would tell

They stood as targets, lay down as barriers to protect riders from being killed.

They labored for our liberty, they forfeited their lives,

Faithful military horses one and all — felled by cannons, bullets, and knives.

They bore the blows and fatal wounds to save their mounted friends–

Who had only saddles but no horses, when each battle came to end.

The war horse asked no questions, sought no medals, nor decorated pins

Just blinked an eye and charged ahead, trusting they’d go home again.

We salute with honor their deeds of valor: their sacrifice, pain, and torture.

For they were more than just mere transport….

They were the humbly silent:  Equine Military Soldiers.

Reader’s comment: I read once the way they trained the horses to charge into the face of fire was to have them charge a line of men. Then when they reached the line the men would pet them and praise them. They worked up to firing blanks when they charged. Then they would be petted and praised again. By the people firing as well as their riders, of course. There is an excellent video which documents the use and sacrifice of the 75,000 mules and horses that participated in the battle at Gettysburg. It is called, appropriately, “The Horses of Gettysburg.”

One correction, there were not 1.5 million horses and mules killed at Gettysburg alone. The estimate of horses and mules killed during the entire war are 1 – 1.5 million. In further news, for those interested in the incident with the 9th Mass. artillery, there is a good book titled “History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery” by Levi W. Baker. Baker was a member of that battery. The illustrations are by Charles Reed, their bugler.

The sacrifice the men and horses of this battery made, stopped the Confederate Army from pouring through a large gap in the Union lines. There is actually going to be a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in July 2013 (150 yrs) in which the 9th Mass. Artillery will reenact their part. Another interesting book for cavalry buffs is “The Battle of Brandy Station”, by Eric J. Wittenberg. It is North America’s lagest cavalry action ever, and took place just almost a month before Gettysburg. Mahalo, Steve

Thanks for your correction on the number dead for the whole war. Will look up your references also! Jerri



 

Best Friends!

Posted on February 1, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, riding.

freddie-on-shetland-pony.jpg

A Jack Russell dog shows off his horse riding skills.

Freddie leaps on the back of his neighbor’s Shetland pony Daisy for a trot around the paddock in Flaxley, Gloucestershire, England.

Owner Patricia Swinley said the dog was a “natural” jockey whose equestrian skills have blossomed.

“When he first saw Daisy he rushed across the yard and just jumped straight on her back,” she told the BBC.

Freddie, who has been nicknamed the Flaxley Flier, is often to be seen riding round the 25-acre farm and Daisy, who stands at just 37 inches tall provides the perfect taxi, for her pal.

“The children love to come and see him,” Mrs Swinley said. “I guess it is a rather peculiar sight.”

from: simply marvelous wordpress

The Rare Eriksay Pony

Posted on January 30, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history.

 

 

Photo & article from the desk of the Eriksay Pony Society

The Eriskay Pony is classed as critical by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust with whom the Eriskay Pony Society works closely to ensure the long term survival of the breed.

Modern Eriskay ponies are the last surviving remnants of the original native ponies of the Western Isles of Scotland. They have ancient Celtic and Norse connections and Eriskays have been proven by measurement to be of similar proportions to those found on ancient Pictish stones throughout the North and West of Scotland.

Until the middle of the 19th Century ponies of the “Western Isles type” were found throughout the islands and used as crofters ponies, undertaking everyday tasks such as bringing home peat and seaweed in basket work creels slung over their backs, pulling carts, harrowing and even taking the children to school.

In some ways the ponies were subject to “human” in addition to “natural” selection. The ponies had evolved to survive on meager food supplies, with coats, ears and tails well adapted to coping with a harsh, wet and windy climate. Eriskays were then subject to the forces of living in a society where women and children did most of the work while the men were at sea. Poor temperaments could not be tolerated. Only those ponies happy to live in close proximity with their handlers, those willing to be trained and work hard, were retained. Unsuitable specimens were culled. Over the centuries, the Eriskay ponies evolved into the hardy, versatile, people friendly characters we recognise today.

On many of the islands increasing mobility and farming pressures led to larger ponies becoming fashionable. Norwegian Fjords, Arabs, Clydesdales and others were introduced to “improve” the native stocks and produce larger, stronger animals. On the remote island of Eriskay in the Western Isles, however, due to difficulties with access, other breeds were not introduced, leaving a stock of pure bred ponies which, due to mechnisation, had declined to around 20 animals by the early 1970s.

It was at this time that a dedicated group of people comprising a local priest, doctor, vet, scientist and crofters, got together and decided to save the ponies whose numbers were dangerously low. Through their hard work and the establishment of breeding groups throughout the British Isles, numbers have risen steadily and now there are around 420 Eriskays in the world.


Teaching Detail to Your Horse

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, military, riding, training.
Kyra Kyrklund on Matador Photo by Ken Braddick

Kyra Kyrklund on Matador
Photo by Ken Braddick

 

Kyra Kyrklund, six time Olympic Competitor, and well known Dressage Grand Prix trainer discusses profound instruction for advancing your horse’s training by increasing its balance through using shorter steps and attention to detail.  “You can’t have control over your horse’s balance until you have control over your own balance. When you are balanced, you are the leader who oversees your horse’s length of step, speed, rhythm and direction. To be balanced, you need to have a correct riding position–you need to be sitting equally on both of your seat bones, centered in your body and strong in your middle part.” Read her article at:   Kyra

Book Review

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, riding, training.
Learning Riding Posture

Learning Riding Posture

“Dude! Did You Just Fall Off?” is a delightful kid’s e-book on Amazon’s Kindle that skillfully and humorously attempts to prepare the horse newbie for their first and, hopefully, subsequent encounters.  It boldly asks:  what would you do if you were invited to go horseback riding, had never even been near a horse, but really wanted to go?

Obviously this is not a common invitation for inner-city dwellers, but for the nearly 30% of rural school children, and even higher percentage of suburban students, a recreational weekend just may indeed include a friend’s offer to see their family’s stabled horse. Facing the reality of being near such a big animal and actually sitting on its back can seem adventurous,  but nearly everyone quickly discovers a sudden level of panic once they become face to face with such a large animal.

This is why we picked the “Dude!” book off the shelf of Amazon. This book stands apart from the plethora of previous books by the way it brings horseback riding into your home and helps you practice balance and posture before you even head out to your friend’s barn. The list of straightening and correcting exercises range from simple body adjustments to learning ready-to-use moves while in the saddle. It had such great ideas plus a wallet saving price of only $2.99. Download it to your phone or tablet and refer to it right on the way to the stable. Personally, we found it just as helpful for adults. Enjoy..

Bitless Riding & Driving

Posted on January 3, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, riding.

drivingbitlessfig3.jpg

Some Thoughts on the Hackamore
By Gwynn Turnbull Weaver

There are many different ideas floating around the country about the hackamore and how it is to be used. Its very makeup seems to be a mystery to many and its function even more elusive. How such a simple concept became so complex is beyond many dyed in the wool traditionalists but, be that as it may, some information about the hackamore is outlined here.

The snaffle bit came into play late in the game, in vaquero terms – showing up en mass when the British came onto the scene. Until then, the hackamore ushered most new mounts onto the payroll. It is no mystery to most that horses were started later in life in our not so distant past. Genetics, feed and the rigors of ranch life deemed it so. “Older blooded” horses were colder blooded horses – maturing later both mentally and physically. Feed, at least in many arid regions, fluctuated with the seasons and sparse times, along with long outside winters, held growth in check for many colts. It was not uncommon then for horses to grow substantially, well after their fifth or sixth year on earth.

What seems to stump most folks is the reasoning behind schooling the horse with the absence of a bit. Since the use of a bit is the end result down the road and since the horse has, in most modern day cases, already accepted the snaffle bit in its mouth, why then would we “change up” in mid stream and go to the hackamore? The most basic answers can be found straight from the horse’s mouth.

 

The Changing

 

One concept that fostered and continued the advocation of the hackamore was the changing nature of a horse’s mouth; particularly during the years that the teeth doing the changing are the ones directly involved with the bit. This seemed to line up with a horse’s coming four to coming five year old years. The changing of teeth marked the time a horseman did well to keep out of Mother Nature’s way and steer clear of their horse’s potentially sore and sensitive mouth.

Unfortunately, most modern-day trainers ignore the changing of a horse’s teeth. The best of horsemen are sensitive to the horse’s demeanor, ever searching for the subtle hints that indicate and instruct him on his journey. Only the keenest of horsemen, while paying attention to the messages their horse sends to them, understands that the condition of the animal’s mouth is one message he would do well to consider.

The hackamore was the obvious solution; it afforded the horseman the freedom to continue using and advancing his mount through the changing of his teeth. What most horsemen never counted on, however, was the added benefits the change offered them, while working through the differences the hackamore brought to light.

 

Horsemanship Exposed

What most good hands soon learn when using the hackamore is the simple fact that there are maneuvers and exercises that a horse might be “made” to do in a snaffle bit, but the hackamore requires that the horse be “taught” to do them.

The most valuable contribution the hackamore makes in the training process is the deficiencies it reveals in the rider. Few know or understand this principle. When using the hackamore it is essential that the rider set up his maneuvers correctly and fully support the cues he gives his mount. The rider’s body positioning, weight placement, timing and sensitivity must be correct in order for the hackamore horse to translate those cues.

The message the actual hackamore itself can offer is so subtle that the horse will feel for the accompanying cues from the rider’s legs, weight and posture to confirm the message before acting on it. If the rider is out of position or offering inconsistent cues elsewhere, the horse will quickly lose confidence in the hackamore’s cue and become muddled and confused.

This unique characteristic of the hackamore might possibly be its greatest contribution to the equine world. It requires a level of horsemanship and handiness to operate it successfully. A cowboy must know and understand all of the peripheral cues used to position his horse as he should before he can support the hackamore the way it must be supported.

The hackamore is a key phase for this reason. It trains or reinforces the concept in the rider that the horse is to be taught to respond to messages, later called signals, in the final stages of putting a horse in the bridle. It is extremely important that the rider know how to set up, support and deliver his cues consistently with all the tools he has to work with.

 

Equi-Trivia Quiz!

Posted on December 25, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding.

trivia3

If you pride yourself on horse trivia then take this quiz.

Rate your obsession!  Tally your results then go to the answer page.

Find out: Do you know a little about horses or are you a confirmed addict!

Horse Quiz:

1. Which of these said:   “I’m a stallion, baby! I can whinney!”

A. Eeyore

B. Donkey from Shrek

C. Mr. Ed

2. Made famous by their well known movie trilogies,which character did not use a horse for a quick escape?

A. Marty McFly

B. Frodo

C. Indiana Jones

3. Can you select the toy from the ‘breeds’?

A. Fallabella

B. Breyer

C. Paint

4.   Harry Potter did not ride one of these horse creatures:

A. Unicorn

B. Centaur

C. Thestral

5.   Anna Sewell wrote this book:

A. Black Stallion

B. Starlight

C. Black Beauty

6. Which t.v. star and horse pair is incorrect?

A. Roy Rogers and Trigger

B. Wilbur and Mr Ed

C. Lone Ranger and Tonto

7.  Do you know which of these is not a young horse?

A. Pony

B. Foal

C. Colt

8.  The early ancestor to the modern day horse was called:

A.  Protohippus

B. Equiworkus

C. Eohippus

How did you do? Check your tally results;  click     here

Horses and Thermoregulation, by Dr Clair Thunes

Posted on December 14, 2018 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 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, therapy, training.
*Jentry rides her pony round the cones

*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

equi-works

equi-works