Using a round-yard to gain respect

Have you ever gone out to collect your horse from his paddock only to find he’s giving you the finger? As soon as he hears the gate latch go, he’s off in the other direction, head up turning from left to right, tail virticle. If ever there is a time when your horse won’t let you catch him – then is the time that he needs a refresher course in the round yard on just exactly who is the one in charge here.

Training and spending time with your horse in a round yard to me is like being in a think tank for your horse. The round yard seems to sharpen up your horses focus on you, it also gives you lots of opportunities to stop, stand and wait it out knowing you and your horse are in a more confined, safer area. Using a round yard encourages your horse to listen to you more.

Round yard training is a great, safe place where you can teach your young horse to be responsive, submissive, and patient. Young or old – this not only helps build your relationship, but creates a firm foundation for training.

Continue reading Using a round-yard to gain respect

Finding the Right Trainer for You

Easier said than done right. It’s not an easy find really. A few things come into play for most people that are looking for the right trainer to train their most prized possession.

What are some of the things owners like to find in their chosen trainer:

  • good name
  • excellent horsemanship skills
  • experience
  • weekly training fee
  • value for money (eg: feed supplied, no added extra show fees etc.)
  • personality
  • approachability
  • availability
  • professionalism
Continue reading Finding the Right Trainer for You

How to correct a low head carriage

Help me get my horses head up!

One of the questions I received in my “free book” competition was how to fix a horse’s low head carriage. I deemed this the winning question because they’re definitely out there in the show pen.

Thanks and congratulations to the winner of “From Go to Whoa” for sending in your great question.

This is a topic I would really like to write about.

Head carriage is for some reason misunderstood at times and goes against the A.Q.H.A. rule book.

Working on fixing a low head carriage

Continue reading How to correct a low head carriage

Look after your horse’s hooves

Under normal conditions, a horse’s hooves should maintain a natural moisture balance. However, sometimes they can get extra dry, cracked, and brittle in cold or dry weather. In this case, it’s a good idea to help your horse’s hooves maintain an ideal moisture level by applying hoof oil. You can easily make it at home using a few simple ingredients. Apply homemade hoof oil to protect your horse’s hooves from excessive moisture or prevent them from drying out.

From Go To Whoa

Training your own horse

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Seven major criteria to look for in your horse

1 .Broke and Quiet

The most important quality that any ridden or halter horse should possess is the ability to be broke and quiet.

2. Soft and Smooth

A soft and smooth horse is one that hits the ground light and soft on all four feet and travels with drive and impulsion from behind with great rhythm.

3. Functionally Correct

A horse that picks up the correct gait and their leads when called for and not deviate from them throughout a class. Breaks of gait (both upward and downward) and wrong leads are evidence that a horse is not very functionally correct and is probably not a pleasure to ride. Horses that travel with their head and neck excessively low (for several strides) are also not functionally correct and should be judged accordingly.

4. Consistency and Quality

The consistency and quality is extremely important. A horse that shows consistency and quality is one who gives the appearance of being a “pleasure” to ride. These horses are expressive, natural, attractive and appear as though they are enjoying their work. They offer an overall pleasing picture when viewed on the rail and simply possess great amounts of eye appeal. The horse that is consistent in it’s quality of movement should be given credit.

5. Balance

Credit should be given to a horse that moves in a balanced, forward moving stride with a great degree of lift and flow. Likewise, a horse that is moving in an
excessively slow, unacceptably low head carriage which will cause unbalanced stride should be penalized.

Balance in a moving horse is the ability to keep itself properly positioned while in motion, thus giving an impression of stability in motion. This also
relates to stride length. The best way to visualize this is to draw an imaginary line down the center of the horse. A balanced horse at the jog and lope should take the
same length of stride forward of the line as they take behind the line. Quite often, horses will be forced to shorten their stride in an attempt to make them move at a slower pace. Most of the time (this can be seen especially at the jog), the horse will then begin to move in an unbalanced stride. Sometimes, these horses will be called lame because they are moving longer with a leg on one side of the body than they are with the other.

6. Lift and Flow

Lift is a period of suspension or an elevated carriage, and flow is to move smoothly,
easily and to be fluid.

7. Self Carriage

Self Carriage is a term that includes all three Balance, lift and flow.

Without the components of balance, lift and flow, self-carriage cannot be achieved. Balance and flow cannot be achieved without forward motion and the proper cadence. When a horse lacks forward motion or cadence, balance is sacrificed and flow is lost. This horse is not comfortable.

There is one particular problem, that can happen if the horse lacks forward motion – “low head carriage”, which will put the horse on the forehand.

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Conformation – The forelimb.

Be it for showing under saddle, racing, reining, or riding for pleasure, a horse needs to be put together properly; but does a horse need to be put together perfectly?

Which limb defects matter and which don’t?

Since horses’ domestication, humans have been scrutinizing equine legs in an attempt to judge which horse will perform best in a given situation. Be it for any discipline, a horse needs to be put together properly; but does a horse need to be put together perfectly? Given that some poorly conformed horses surprise us and go on to be champions begs the question: Is conformation really all that important?

What is Conformation

Conformation simply refers to the physical appearance or ‘outline’ of a horse.”

Conformation is more or less defined by the horse’s bones, muscles, associated soft tissues, and how they all fit together. If all horses were created equal and used for the same purpose, then judging conformation would be easy. Alas, this is not the case. Every classification of horse (i.e., draft, light, or pony) has a different “normal” conformation and its own set of conformation traits defined by the breed and type of work the horse is intended to do. For example, sport, stock, hunter, pleasure, race, and show horses are all types of light horses, and each has its own accepted standard of conformation.

Conformation assessment involves a fine eye, patience, and a bit of luck. The horse is usually examined with four key functional components in mind: the head and neck; the forelimbs; the barrel and the hind limbs. Ideally, the forelimbs are evaluated from the front and sides.

Forelimb Conformation

A horse’s forelimbs should match and bear weight equally. Both toes are expected to point forward, and when the horse stands square the feet should stand as wide as the limbs are at their origin (i.e., the chest). If a straight line is drawn from the point of the shoulder, it should course perfectly down the front of the limb to the middle of the foot.

Continue reading Conformation – The forelimb.

Equine Health, Five Tips For A Healthy Horse

If you own a horse, you are probably aware of the time and money needed to properly care for this amazing creature. Since horses have a longer life than do most animals, keeping them healthy can be somewhat of a challenge. Still, there are several things you can do to help ensure your horse stays healthy. Below are five tips that will help you get started down the right path.

Continue reading Equine Health, Five Tips For A Healthy Horse

How to stop being nervous when showing your horse

I travelled to this lovely lady the other day to give her a riding lesson. She was so nice. She had been working with her horse at home for quite a few years, she was a lovely rider, had a handy horse and do you know she had never competed at a show? As we were going through the lesson, I asked her why she had not shown as yet, her answer was sad to me, “fear” was her answer. Not fear of getting bucked off or fear of having a crash on the way but fear of looking silly if she mucked up! That was indeed sad to hear especially when her dream was to show one day. The only thing stopping her was fear of mucking up.

It’s not a “given” that if you own a horse you must show it, however, when you want to get out and show but you can’t due to fear of mucking up or letting nerves get the better of you that’s kind of sad. After all, it’s meant to be fun, it’s a hobby and don’t people take up hobbies because they’re fun to do?

Try this checklist

Continue reading How to stop being nervous when showing your horse

Obsessive-compulsive habit in horses

This is an obsessive-compulsive habit in horses that is likely caused by boredom, stress, or possibly stomach acidity that can lead to equine ulcers. It is a behavioral disorder, and like any other harmful addiction, a cribber needs help controlling itself.

Continue reading Obsessive-compulsive habit in horses

Hives in horses

Many owners see those telltale bumps and attribute them to insect bites when, in reality, they’re hives—the end result of a complicated allergic response.

A case of hives also referred to as urticaria, can be frustrating for the horse, the owner and the treating veterinarian. Hives can show up minutes to hours to days after exposure to an inciting agent, may or may not be itchy and can appear nearly anywhere on a horse’s body.

Although hives are one way allergies can manifest in the horse, hives are not always caused by allergies. What makes hives particularly challenging is that many, many things can cause hives, such as insects, inhaled pollens, ingested foods, administered medications, direct contact with a wide variety of substances, and even hot or cold temperatures, pressure and exercise.

Though they can occur during any season, equine hives, or urticaria is a common problem with horses during the summer months. Hives present as circular bumps covering large areas of the body. They are sometimes accompanied by itching. Hives are a sign of disease, not a specific disease itself.

Sometimes contact with a substance or material such as a fly spray or bedding may cause hives. There are so many possibilities that finding the cause is often difficult. It is helpful to note if any product or care changes brought the hives on. Removing potential elements one at a time and waiting a minimum of 1 – 2 weeks to see a difference is a time consuming and unrewarding method of determination. For the one-time occurrence of hives, you might never discover the incriminating source. However, if hives recur, you might be motivated to track the allergen. Start by mentally reconstructing any changes in diet, environment, medications, vaccinations, or stress factors that occurred in recent months. Provide your veterinarian with a list of suspicious items or events. Another diagnostic technique, albeit expensive and time-consuming, uses intradermal allergy testing to try and isolate an allergic source from pollens (plants, bushes, and trees), molds, grasses, weeds, dust mites, insects, and farm plants. The horse should be pulled off medications (steroids or antihistamines) at least 10-30 days prior to testing.

Managing horses with hives includes:

Your first plan of attack should be to make the horse as comfortable as possible, which might require use of medications such as steroids and antihistamines, supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and MSM, and a skin-care regimen such as cool rinses. Next, it is necessary to determine the initial cause of the hives. In some situations, skin eruptions can be linked to a recent deworming, antibiotic administration or similar event. This acute reaction may resolve on its own and, if the product is avoided in the future, might never return. In other situations, a horse will break out with no obvious changes in his lifestyle or management and improve as long as he receives dexamethasone or prednisone, only to have bumps and welts re-appear as soon as the medication is discontinued.

Nutting out the cause

Consider: Is it now bug season? Did you use a new bedding? Has the turnout program changed? Was the horse bathed with a new shampoo? Your veterinarian might suggest avoiding or reducing exposure to insects, fly spray, a certain brand of shavings, a specific grass lot or a brand of topical product while the horse’s skin recovers. Then, you may like to re-apply the possible cause of the hives under controlled circumstances by adding one possible cause at a time. If hives immediately recur, this process of elimination worked. If not, it will be necessary to cast a wider net and keep searching for the culprit, even if it requires keeping a daily journal of observations.

In addition, the vet may need to perform diagnostic tests such as skin scrapings, cultures, impression smears and biopsies to rule out conflicting skin conditions such as infections.

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TRAINING YOUR OWN HORSE

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