Leasing a Horse

Posted on March 23, 2020 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.

Riding After 50?

Posted on March 14, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, training.

groundpole

Are you over fifty and still enjoying activities such as: bicycling, skating, hiking, skiing, jogging, dancing? Then perhaps you would enjoy the sport of horseback riding. The world of horses holds the interests of many senior citizens, although it is largely overlooked as an activity for retirees. Did you know that some participating Olympic Riders have been in their  sixties and seventies? Ian Millar is a Canadian rider whose passion is horse jumping. He competed in his ninth consecutive equestrian games at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when 65 years of age. Kyra Kyrklund, from Finland, was 61 had participated in five Olympic Games, four World Equestrian Games, and six World Cup Equestrian Dressage Finals. Josef Neckermann rode in the 1984 Olympics at 71 years old. Are these the only older people riding horses?

Well, in southeastern Massachusetts, where we have a thriving horse community, over half of the riders are over 50, and most of these are in their mid-sixties. These riders participate in every facet of horsemanship, from horse clubs, riding clinics, overnight trail rides, to costume making and saddle-bridle decoration. They also participate in equine expositions including horse shows, horse breed demonstrations, or equine educational seminars. Each of these venues requires knowledgeable riders either willing to explain or to demonstrate good horsemanship skills.

But is horseback riding for you? Learning to ride a horse does require similar intensive learning as that required when learning to ski or to ride a bike, if you’ve never done so before. These sports depend heavily on technique and specific equipment in order to insure a safe and enjoyable experience. Also, every potential rider over 50 needs to accurately assess their degree of mobility and agility. The highly motivated, energetic individual will find the intense pace of competition riding easily equal to their passion for cutting edge excitement, once their riding skills are intact. Likewise, the nimble but more meditative environmentalist will enjoy the interaction of the horse-rider relationship with its opportunity for trail riding in local recreational parks or secluded natural habitats. Many senior riders in rural areas sign up for local Search and Rescue Posses. These riders help the Sheriff Department to find lost hikers, missing children, or even other lost animals. The photo is the author’s brother, (in his mid-sixties) participating in the training program for the Yolo County Sheriff’s posse.

learning rescue techniques

learning rescue techniques

There are riding and training facilities in nearly every agricultural or urban town. You can use the local listings, computer, or local livestock/feed store for inquiries into locations of horse farms. A recommended professional is best for learning technique and equipment basics. They may even have a horse owner willing to half-lease a reliable horse for you to begin to gain your mileage and balance in the saddle. Another great starting point is the local horse club where you can meet other horse enthusiasts eager to add you on to their events. So what are you waiting for? Let’s saddle up and go!

Crossing Canada via chuck wagon!

Posted on March 12, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, training.

Enjoy this three part video of Pierre Cloutier as he manages his trek with his draft horses and covered wagon. It is the feature of our Equi-TV this month!

photo from Horse Journal

photo from Horse Journal

Three Basic Principles of Dressage

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, history, riding, training.

clinic in Chesapeke City
photo: Hassler Dressage

 

from Dressage Today, Charles de Kunffy brings forward the basic principles of training the horse dressage.

As a young rider in Hungary, I remember how three moments of evolutionary breakthroughs made all the difference. Like all young riders, I was impressed when I looked at the sophisticated equine professors that moved with big, round necks, as opposed to thin, inverted racehorse-looking ones. Being pragmatic and used to getting things done quickly, the easiest solution to achieve a round neck seemed to be manipulating the neck so that it appeared to be round. My coaches got on my case, leaving me with a sense of desperation. If not actively working on the horse’s neck, how in the world would I get such a round and tall carriage?

Backed up by my relentless coach, my patient horses soon revealed a most surprising discovery: I could influence the neck’s position from the haunches rather than from the reins. The principle of this discovery is similar to the principle of sweeping dust into a dustbin with a broom. As you sweep, the dustbin travels forward to receive the dust. It has to move in order to receive the dirt being gathered up. Similarly, the horse is gathered up from behind by energizing his haunches and giving him the room through the reins to articulate freely. Trying to achieve collection by working on the horse’s neck cuts the horse off in the front. Confining reins prevents the hind legs from powerfully supporting the rider’s weight and balance by lifting him with suspension. Following this, I realized that a horse consists of three bascules:

The neck (the easiest to access and manipulate)
The back (which takes more knowledge and skill to engage). If a horse has what we called a “warm” back–loose, supple and oscillating–he can lift the rider. It’s almost like sitting on a suction cup; it comes up and supports the rider’s pelvis. On the other hand, if a horse has what we called a “cold” back–low and stiff–the rider achieves nothing other than growing old sitting on it.
The hind end (the haunches should thrust the pelvis forward to lower the croup and to actually articulate at the lumbar-sacral joint). This last bascule is the one that is widely ignored by riders. If it were addressed, one would see many more horses that lower themselves toward the ground in supple strides from elastic joints. Horses with unexercised hind leg joints move stiffly with high croups. Horses with ill-developed muscles, lacking strength and suppleness, might appear to have round necks but remain still disconnected through the topline.

Once I understood to ride the horse’s hindquarters instead of his neck, the second breakthrough came when I realized that riding is a dancing partnership with the horse. Every horse has a certain signature rhythm–a footfall that’s like a fingerprint. Only when a rider aids in the rhythm of the horse’s footfalls will they make sense to the horse. Horses don’t understand banging and poking with legs out of phase with their footfalls, although the rider might use an occasional kick as a wake-up call. A horse that’s pushed out of his signature rhythm will run off and not be able to do relaxed extensions.

So we were asked to get into a rising trot and tell our coach when we found the horse’s perfect rhythmic profile. Once we had established that, we were able to stimulate the horse to more activity without changing his rhythm. This resulted in a dancing, free, forward, suspended and rhythmic movement without the horse being confined in the front.

The third important principle was an understanding of how to keep the horse together without confining his haunches from the reins. My coaches insisted that the reins may be used for a thousand things except to inhibit the haunches or to set the shape of his neck. A well-schooled horse will collect on even sagging reins into a piaffe or school canter. No need to hold him together, only drive him from leg and seat. Consistent and knowledgeable use of half halts educate the horse to understand the leg aids not merely as “go” but also as “energize” without running off.

When thinking about collecting a horse, many riders only think of closing him longitudinally from hocks to bridle. However, one must realize that one closes the horse also laterally from outside leg to inside rein and from inside leg to outside rein, like an X. Half pass and the shoulder-in, for instance, are exercises that utilize this concept of closing the horse laterally. In the half pass, when the horse is closed correctly, he lowers his outside hip and thrusts his pelvis toward the inside shoulder. In the shoulder-in, the inside hock is supposed to reach so deep–not just across but deep forward–that it reaches level with the outside stifle. The rider who fails to close the horse longitudinally as well as laterally will fail to engage him.

These three principles allowed me to train to higher levels. I wish you well in riding your horse in your horse’s native rhythm, closed from behind, strong and seated, elastic and supple.

Book Review

Posted on March 1, 2020 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..

equi-works

equi-works