Leg vs Back Movers

Posted on March 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, riding, training.

2012 Anky van Grunsven

2012 Anky van Grunsven


Gizelle Hamilton uses the biomechanic academics from Dr Gerd Heuschmann to explain the confusion connected to the training of horses when riders mix a spectacular leg moving horse for the correctly moving swinging back stride of dressage horses.
photo by Ken Braddick

photo by Ken Braddick


“A back mover is a horse who is engaged, forward moving and using their whole body correctly for their level of training. Dr Gerd Heuschmann refers to this state as “relative elevation”. A back mover has been trained in such a way that their head-neck position has been allowed to reflect the horses’ training level and progress, rather than rushing and taking shortcuts.” Her informative article will shed valuable insight on this subject: published at Sacred Horse

Bitless Riding & Driving

Posted on March 3, 2018 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.

 

The Civil War Horse

Posted on February 10, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military, riding.

unionlthaskell

from dailykos.com & the civilwarblog

Over the course of 3 days, between July 1 and July 3, 1863, the Battle at Gettysburg was fought.  When it was over, around 3100 Union soldiers had been killed.  Lee’s Army lost approximately 4,000 soldiers.  Less often commented upon is that between 3,000 and 5,000 horses and mules were killed in the engagement.  It has been estimated that at least 1.5 million horses and mules were killed during the war, and perhaps as many as 3.5 million.  For every soldier killed during the Civil War, almost 5 horses met a similar fate.

Union Lt. Haskell recounted the fate of his own horse, “Billy.”  He had been riding half asleep, which was common for battle weary cavalrymen, after a skirmish earlier in the day.  The horse was plodding along at a slow pace, and could not be made to move any faster in spite of being spurred.  Lt Haskell noted that the horse had perhaps taken a shot or two earlier in the day, but nothing to make it go lame.  Coming upon an ambulance unit after dark, he borrowed a lantern to more thoroughly inspect his mount, and found that it had been shot in the chest and was bleeding profusely, with air escaping its lungs through the wound.  In his letter he confesses:  I begged his (Billy’s) pardon mentally for my cruelty in spurring him, and should have done so in words if he could have understood me.  Lt Haskell’s horse died just moments later from its wounds, and he had no idea how long he had been riding him in such a state.

In an account of the events at Gettysburg, General Gibbons of the Union Army made this observation of the horses in Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing’s 4th Artillery Brigade: One thing which forcibly occurred to me was the perfect quiet with which the horses stood in their places.  Even when a shell, striking in the midst of a team, would knock over one or two of them or hurl one struggling in its death agonies to the ground, the rest would make no effort to struggle or escape but would stand stolidly by as if saying to themselves, “It is fate, it is useless to try to avoid it.”

The Shying Horse

Posted on January 20, 2018 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

Reliability of ‘One Day Training”

Posted on January 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, riding, training.
Police horses in training

Police horses in training

 

The methodology of horse training evolves continually and we at equi-works are always checking out the latest ideas or techniques that claim to shorten that initial saddle-training time for our horses. The potential of clashing or bonding between horse and trainer weighs heavily on the success of a one day training session. The flexibility of the trainer is critical in choosing the right training path that will reach the horse in the shortest period of time. A trainer may succeed with the use of force, for example, if they are working with a dull, belligerent animal, but can they be flexible and switch to using patience and understanding when working with a frightened, skiddish horse? We found a great article explaining the pros and cons of one day training and therefore we are passing it along.

“Can you train a horse in one day?”   check out Jerri Streeter’s probing article on this subject published at info barrel.

Securing Your Riding Seat

Posted on December 22, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: riding, training.

Picture

 

Here are three secrets to establishing a secure riding seat.

1. THE FIRST SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: DO NOT GRIP ANYWHERE. This may come as a surprise to you. You may be thinking “If I don’t grip with knees, thighs, calves (whatever), I’ll fall off. What else would keep me on the horse?” -Your Balance. When you are in perfect balance, your seat stays in contact with the horse’s back no matter what he does. This is the essence of a perfectly secure-seat. So how to you get there?
Imagine that your horse was short enough so that when you sat on his back, you could just touch the ground with the entire soles of your feet. Imagine stretching through your legs into the earth from the sole of your left foot, up through your left leg to your seat bones, down through your right leg, and into the right sole. Imagine balancing your pelvis gently on your seat bones—gently enough so that if your horse moved, your pelvis would simple roll with the movement. Your legs lie softly on your horse’s barrel like damp cloths. This is the foundation of a secure-seat. No matter what your horse does, your pelvis will automatically adjust, your seat bones and legs softly accommodating and following the movement. No matter what your horse does, you will NOT fall off. You will feel perfectly secure in the saddle because you have a perfectly secure seat.

2. THE SECOND SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: DO NOT SIT ON YOUR CROTCH! I know, “crotch” isn’t a pretty term. But nothing else will do. A secure seat requires that you sit lightly on your seat bones, lightly enough that your pelvis is free to flex and roll with your horse’s movement. Your crotch and pubic bone should NOT be in strong contact with the saddle. If they are, either your back is hollow (thrusting your seat bones back behind you and tipping your pelvis forward), or your saddle is too small for you. You may have hear the term “three point seat”. Some trainers will tell you that means sitting on both seat bones and the pubic bone.

WHY A THREE-POINT SECURE SEAT IS DIFFICULT FOR WOMEN TO ACHIEVE. Most women have hollow (arched backs) compared to men. You can test this easily. Stand up against a wall (or lie on the floor). If you can fit a fist between your back and the wall (or floor), your back is arched and hollow, and your seat bone are rotated back. You may notice that when you sit in a chair (or on your horse), you’re sitting on your crotch, not your seat bones. When you sit in the saddle, this will be painful, so you will roll onto your thighs to protect your crotch, and end up in a “perched” seat, not a secure seat. (Men tend to have the opposite problem, sitting on their back pockets, which puts them into a chair seat.)

HOW TO SIT ON YOUR SEAT BONES: To sit on your seat bones, you have to roll your pelvis under slightly and engage your abdominal and back muscles. This “engagement” and neutral pelvis is the core of power taught in Pilates, yoga, and martial arts. Without this, you will either be a stiff mannequin gripping your unfortunate horse or a floppy rag doll who gets jerked around whenever the horse begins to trot. This is the essence of a seat seat for both men and women.

Picture

THE THIRD SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: REALIZE THAT THE HORSE HAS TWO SIDES TO HIS BACK. Many riders think the trot is an up-and-down movement, and they try to “follow” this movement by “allowing” their seats to go up and down. But the Trot is diagonal gait; the fore and hind legs on opposite sides move together (unless your horse is a pacer). When the horse’s hind leg moves forward, his back will drop on that side. Your seat bone and leg must drop slightly in order to stay in contact with his back and barrel. This means that your pelvis and leg alternate with each stride. Sally Swift likened this to pedaling backward on a bicycle. Sally O’Connor talks about this at length in her classic book Commonsense Dressage.
If this concept seems foreign to you, you will never develop a truly secure-seat. So do this: Try focusing on what you feel in your seat and legs at walk. The horse’s belly will swing gently from side to side with each step, and his back will drop alternately on one side then the other with each hind step.     You’ll notice that to avoid interfering with this motion, your pelvis and legs must relax into it. If you simply relax your pelvis and legs, your horse’s barrel and back will move them exactly the way they need to move in order to stay with your horse’s motion. You don’t have to plan, think, push, pull, tip, or anything. You just need to allow the horse to move your legs and pelvis. When you can do this without thinking at walk, you’re ready to try it at trot. At canter, you will feel the same thing, except that the pelvis will circle slightly as in a hula dance. When you can do this, you will have arrived at your goal–a perfectly secure-seat. All of these activities will help you develop a soft, following, and perfectly secure-seat. The payoffs to this homework are enormous. Your horse will move more freely and willingly. You and your horse will be more balanced. Your horse’s gaits will show more “brilliance”, and will be much more comfortable for you to ride. And the cherry on top: A strong topline that will allow your horse to be a solid riding companion for many, many years.

from: Denise Cummins, PhD September 17 2015

Do Your Own Wormer Test!

Posted on December 12, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: Uncategorized.

From the Mid-America Agricultural Research Lab:

Finally a do-it-yourself home test for equine intestinal worms. Further understanding of the types of worms and their appropriate dewormer can be found in our equi-works articles on dewormers.

 

 

1. Fecal samples can be stored for long periods if refrigerated (not frozen).
2. Sugar solution is prepared by adding 1 lb. of sugar into 12 fluid oz. (355 ml) of hot water; stir until all sugar is dissolved.
3. Slides can usually be placed in the refrigerator for several days prior to reading.
4. Identify parasites present: +(1-10 eggs/sample) ++(11-50 eggs/sample) +++(over 50 eggs/sample)
5. # of eggs found x 150 = # of eggs per pound feces
6. Materials needed: a. Sugar solution plus dispensing bottle, gun, or syringe
b. Tea strainer
c. 3 oz. and 5 oz. Dixie cups
d. Tongue depressors
e. Taper-bottom test tubes
f. Test tube rack
g. Standard microscope slides

 

Sharpening Your Hoof Nippers

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

That trusty pair of nippers you depend on so often will gradually dull with use, until one day you realize that you’re having a tougher time trimming the hoof wall than you should. It’s best to sharpen those nippers before that day arrives. Exactly how you go about that will determine whether the nippers return to peak performance for an extended period or if they’re a big step closer to the trash bin.
“What destroys the most nippers is the way that horseshoers file them,” says Donald Jones. As an International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame farrier and the owner of NC Tool Company, he ought to know. He’s used a lot of nippers over the years, and he routinely refurbishes the tools sent in by farriers across the country.  “A good sharpening that prolongs the life of the nippers isn’t difficult,” says Jones. “The secret to making the nippers cut well is to keep the shoulder area thin. Most people get their edges too blunt,” he says. “The actual front edge, the cutting edge, will feel sharp, but there’s so much metal back on the shoulder that it makes for resistance when you’re trying to cut the hoof.”

He offers the following advice for best results:
A. Secure the nippers horizontally, with the lower handle firmly in a vise. Pull the top handle upward to open the head of the nippers and expose the underside of the jaws.
B. Identify the area to be filed. Always file the underside, or inside, of the nipper jaws. Although a few strokes may be needed on the front cutting edge, most of the filing should run from the front edge through the back shoulder.
C. Use a two-handed grip on the file for long, flat strokes. Strive for a sharp cutting edge that runs smoothly back into the shoulder of the nippers without any sudden angles along the way. Repeat the process for the second side of the nipper jaws. Avoid damaging the corners of the jaws, which help pierce the hoof wall during trimming.
D. The stops down in the handles come together at the same time as the cutting edges to prevent the cutting surfaces from blunting one another or overlapping. If you take a bit of metal off the cutting edges when you sharpen them, then you have to take a little off the stops, too, so the cutting edges close correctly.

Even with proper sharpening, nippers eventually need professional resetting of the handles and tightening or replacing of the rivet. There are two reasons for this, Jones says:“One reason is that after adjusting the stoppers a few times as part of the sharpening, the handles start getting closer together. Send the tool to a professional when the handles become too close to use the nippers efficiently or comfortably. Another is that after nippers have been sharpened a few times, a gap appears between the cutting edges. The nippers should be sent to a professional for resetting. But you should be able to sharpen nippers several times before you need to send them off for reworking,” Jones says, “and then they’ll work as good as new.”
(article and photo from the American Farriers Journal)

Leasing a Horse

Posted on November 23, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: riding, training.

 

photo by jennifer coleman

photo by jennifer coleman

article by Jen Davis

Leasing a horse allows you to determine whether or not horse ownership is the right choice for you. Leasing also allows riders to develop a one-on-one relationship with a horse without actually having to spend money to purchase the horse or even pay the full cost of his care. If you are trying to find a horse to lease, ask several questions about the horse before you seal the deal.

The lease needs to spell out every single aspect of the care of the leased horse, including who pays veterinary bills, who pays feed, who pays board and who foots the bills for whatever extras the horse requires to stay sound, healthy and happy. Make sure to find out what the owner considers to be regular maintenance. Chiropractic work and dental visits may not be a part of their regular program, but you will need to know if they expect you to schedule these appointments and foot the bills. Make sure you know what performance enhancing supplements the horse is taking and whether or not you are obligated to keep the horse on those supplements. Remember that you cannot ask too many questions, and that the more questions you ask, the less likely you are to find yourself surprised later on. If your lease agreement has you paying the vet bills, you must take preexisting health problems into consideration before you sign that paperwork. Have your own veterinarian look over the horse and his veterinary records for you, making sure that everything you know about the horse matches up with what the owner is telling you. Ask plenty of questions and pay attention to the answers you have been given. A horse with a medical history of lameness is likely to go lame again, regardless of what the owner says. A horse who has a long history of gastrointestinal problems may be a colicker.

Double check everything the owner tells you about the horse. Ride him on multiple occasions to make sure that he is a good match for your capabilities as a rider. Find out what happens if the lease does not work out for whatever reason. Ask if you can terminate the lease or if you must finish out the leash even if the horse does not meet your needs. These  few safety tips can help you find just the right horse for you and keep your experience at the barn happy and productive.

about the author: Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as “Horses Incorporated,” “The Paisley Pony” and “Alabama Living.” Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga. Thank you, Jen, for your article.

Clipping Your Horse for Winter Riding?

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, military, riding.

If your winter plans include clipping your horse’s coat to reduce drying time in cold temperatures,  then here are some ideas on how to use your most creative ideas to highlight your horse’s best features, (or hide the worst!).These horse owners have used drawing and stenciling techniques to transform their horse’s coats into distinctive works of art.   Happy clipping!

From the Barn Manager Blog:

This one of the New York skyline from Natasha’s Equine Spa

One of my favorites from Horse Care Courses:

From Equine Ink comes the military clip!

and the Zebra-esque look (very clever)

and also our equine giraffe coif

 

So if you thought this winter you were planning to clip something similar to this:

Perhaps now your heart is set to design something more like this:

(From the Literary Horse)

or this!

(From Horse Nation)

Good luck!

 

equi-works

equi-works