Book Review

Posted on November 21, 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..

What Was A Fire Horse?

Posted on November 13, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history.

firehousephoto from Detroit News, 1910
Fire horses pulled the fire wagons through town and country directly to the scene of the emergencies. As fire companies grew the upkeep of the horses evolved and transformed to reduce response time to fire alarms.
At first horses were stabled near the stations. When the alarm sounded, it took valuable time to unlock the barn, fetch the steeds and harness them to the engine. Before long, the horses lived at the station and the reluctance to accept them was replaced by a deep affection for the noble animals.
The stalls were positioned behind or next to the rigs. In 1871, a quick hitch was developed. Two years later, Charles E. Berry, a Massachusetts firefighter, created a hanging harness with quick-locking hames. His invention was so popular he left the fire department and sold his patented Berry Hames and Collars nationwide.
Not every horse could serve as a fire horse. The animals needed to be strong, swift, agile, obedient and fearless. At the scene, they needed to stand patiently while embers and flames surrounded them. They needed to remain calm while the firefighters fought the blaze. This was the case in all weather conditions and in the midst of a multitude of distractions.  (courtesy firehistory.com)

Info from New Bern Firemen’s Museum:
Fred was part of a horse team that pulled the fire wagons in the early 1900’s. Fred was bought from a Gastonia, North Carolina, man in 1908. For years, he pulled the fire company’s wagon, marched in parades, and competed against other fire horses. He died on the way to a false alarm, apparently of a heart attack, at age 25. His driver, a man named John Taylor, died only a couple of weeks earlier. Fred’s contemporaries — Old Jim and Ben Hurst — were other fire horses whose legends are preserved in stories. The two belonged to Atlantic’s rival volunteer company — the New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1, which was incorporated just after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
During the war, the Atlantic company basically was inactive, with most of its members away in the fight and Union troops occupying New Bern for three years. After the Confederacy surrendered, some of those Union soldiers stuck around the area and continued their volunteer fire company with about 30 men. The New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 would eventually be nicknamed the Button Company after it bought a Button fire engine in the 1880s.

Fred, worked nonstop during the worst fire in New Bern’s history. On the morning of December 1, 1922, a fire sparked at a lumber yard and spread quickly. While firefighters toiled to put out the massive flare-up, a separate fire kicked up in a residential area about a mile away. High winds swept the sparks from house to house, and fires multiplied throughout the predominately black neighborhood. A newspaper account of the event in The News & Observer said flames “spread out like a giant fan” until they reached the Neuse River.

shoeing fire horse,1920's

shoeing fire horse,1920’s

Fire horses were replaced by 1929. The Portland newspaper wrote:
“Despite the thrill of watching motor apparatus roaring to a fire many recall the ‘days of real sport’ when horses started for a fire and deeply regret their passing.The horses will be sent to a farm to pass the rest of their days in easy work.” Feb 16, 1929, Portland Evening Newpaper.
On May 13,1929, the Portland News wrote: “[For the past six years] each night at 8:59, 20 juveniles would gather at the fire station to wait for the nine o’clock horn blow. The fire horses would come in, back into the stable for their run harness and the kids would go to the stable door to watch the big horses made ready. The attraction of the animals for the children has never failed during the last six years.Farewells have been said to the big black horses by more than a score of youngsters in the vicinity and tears were falling fast from the eyes of the kiddies in the neighborhood.”

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

Clipping Your Horse for Winter Riding?

Posted on December 2, 2019 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!

 

Mark Russell’s “En”-lightening Approach

Posted on October 16, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, therapy, training.

“..elicit a calm thoughtful movement from the horse..”

While he is no longer with us to teach in person, Author and Horse trainer Mark Russell continues to explain the value of suppling the horse before and during the riding session in his book, “Lessons in Lightness”, available through his website. The book delves into the bio-mechanics of both saddle and ground work with engaging additions of his own personal life lessons that helped to shape his riding talent.   His web site: naturaldressage.com still provides insights through his articles. Here is an excerpt of one that was published in PRE Magazine:

The Pursuit of Artful Riding  (by Mark Russell)


author demonstrating: Lessons in Lightness

Artistry and lightness in riding is often an elusive goal for riders although paving the path to its development is really very simple. The integration of a few basic principles and adherence to them throughout the training process will create a scenario in which responsiveness and lightness will flourish.  The Reality We Present to the Horse is the Reality That He Lives In.. One of Natural Horsemanship’s most significant contributions to the development of the horse is its approach to the training process from the perspective of the horse. This includes an understanding of who our horse is and how he learns: qualities to which we temper our approach. The horse learns from us every moment we are with him and each of his behaviors, no matter how subtle, reflects a message he is sending us.  Importantly, this process includes mindfulness of ourselves: where we are emotionally, what information we are sending the horse through the reins and through our seat. There is a continuous back and forth conversation between us and our horses every moment we are with him whether intentional or not.

Artistic dressage forsakes force. A horse that has been brought down the path of learning in his comfort zone will easily learn balance without brace. Channels of energy will be opened in the relaxed horse which the rider can then direct. Once the basic principles become a staple in the horse’s training we can begin to advance the concept of relaxation through releases of the jaw, poll, neck, through the back and hind end of the horse. Flexion, impulsion, balance, and freedom of movement will thus come easily. An attentive and conversant rider creates a scenario where their requests can comfortably be followed by the horse. The outcome will be a horse who will be able to express free flowing energy and movement which is a pleasure to ride and beautiful to watch.

You can read the entire article at: Mark Russell Dressage

 

 

 

Why use a Dressage Whip?

Posted on October 4, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, training.

*article by Karl Mikolka

photo Amd Bronkhorst

photo Amd Bronkhorst

 

Why Riders Need Whips
I frequently encounter riders who refuse to carry a whip for two main reasons. The first is always that their horses are afraid of the whip. I tell these riders that their horses’ fear stems from lack of trust, confidence and obedience: the three pillars that a rider must erect to ensure success in training. 
The second excuse is that the horses do not need the whip. This might be correct: The horses might not need a whip, but the riders do. Riding with a whip in the proper length of three to four feet requires a very relaxed wrist and a good feel in the hand. Feeling exactly when the whip makes contact with the horse’s side and maintaining this contact while in motion is possible only when a rider has acquired a proper arm-elbow-shoulder alignment and is relaxed in the wrist. All of that, of course, will improve sensitivity in the hands and, in the long run, will benefit the horse tremendously.

The gateway to the circle of aids is a horse well tuned to the whip. This is a horse who…
• is in front of the whip. He moves forward without fear or hesitation to a soft touch of the whip.
• is responsive to invisible aids. He pays attention to the softest movement form the rider.
• is guided by the rider’s legs. He withholds nothing that is possible and exerts himself as directed by his rider’s legs.
The ultimate goal of this type of training is to create a horse who “drives himself,” a horse who goes forward merely because he respects the presence of the rider in the saddle. Of course, this response shall not even remotely resemble one in which a horse races in fear of his rider. Forward always indicates a dignified, positive reaction on the part of the horse.

Each horse reacts differently to the touches of the whip. Some twitch their skin, others swish their tails, a few kick out and some react not at all. None of these is correct. The only correct response is one in which the hind legs become more lively, stepping more forward and under and flex more visibly. This is a true forward response. It is never correct for a horse to react to the whip by trying to run from it or by throwing himself into the rider’s hands. 
The old masters used to advise: “Do as little as possible but as much as necessary to reach your goals.”
It will take constant alertness on the rider’s part to never allow the horse to forget his level of sensitivity. If the touch of the whip creates liveliness in the horse’s hind legs, resulting in free forward motion, then the first stage of the circle of the aids has been established. Only then can the rider proceed to the second stage: the use of the legs in order to bring the horse on the bit, to make the horse relaxed and to prepare the horse to accept the half halts, in other words, to close the circle of the aids.

When we say that the legs should mainly act as guiding rails, we must not forget that guiding a horse on something like a circle involves a certain degree of bend if the horse is to conform to the circle. The bending around the rider’s inner leg is the foundation for all two-track movements, which are best achieved when the inner leg of the rider guides the inner hind leg of the horse slightly in the direction of the rider’s outside heel when working on a circle, riding a turn or passing through a corner. This action, known as “enlarging,” will bring the inner hind leg of the horse better underneath the rider and closer to the center of gravity.

bending around garrocha pole

bending around garrocha pole

Without acceptance of the rider’s outside leg, no horse can be truly on the outside rein. It is indeed a wonderful experience to be able to control the entire horse with just a single rein and the seat, of which the outside leg is an extension. Every dressage horse must eventually reach this stage, and the best way to achieve it is through work on the circle. We see here again the interrelationship between the circle as a ring figure and the circle of aids. Forward on the whip, enlarging away from the inner-leg pressure into the outside rein and from there to and through the rider’s seat over the horse’s back and—with half halts—into the horse’s hind legs to complete the circle of aids.

If the use of the whip is misunderstood, so too — among a broad majority of riders—is the application of the legs. Nothing is more detrimental to the training of a horse than legs that constantly kick, push, squeeze or noodle. Not only do such legs kill all sensitivity in a horse’s sides but they also teach a horse to stiffen his belly muscles in order to block against these pushes or kicks. Such tightening in the torso renders all influence by the rider ineffectual.

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Which One? How Long?

Whips come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing a whip, find one that fits your hand. Also, look for a length that is appropriate to your build and your horse’s size. If you are a tiny person on a big horse or a person with rather large thighs, you probably need a longer whip. If you are small and riding a small horse you should choose a smaller whip. A “good” whip also stings a bit and bounces well when you flex your wrist and use it against your thigh. So be sure to try several whips before buying. Another aspect to pay attention to is the button or knob at the end of the whip. The button should be large enough that you don’t have to grip it to keep from losing it. When allowed in [USEF] or USDF competitions, the whip cannot be longer than four feet. Editor’s note: Today your whip can be no longer than 47.2 inches (120 cm) including lash.

Image placeholder title

This story was first published in the November 1996 issue of Dressage Today. Austrian-born Karl Mikolka was a chief rider with the Spanish Riding School and later coach to the Brazilian Olympic dressage team. He later moved to the United States and worked with the Tempel Lipizzan Stallions in Wadsworth, Illinois.

The Military Horse of 1863

Posted on September 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



 

Tribute to those at Little Big Horn

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military, riding, training.

Excerpt from the historical pages of QuarterMaster Museum

Water Carrier Ravine – Little Big Horn, Montana 25 June 1876

On 25 June 1876, the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, engaged the combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern Montana. The 7th was part of a combined Army campaign to bring the Sioux to the reservations. Approaching the Indian village, Custer divided his command into three battalions; one under Captain Frederick Benteen, who took three companies and Regimental pack trains and maneuvered to the south; one under Major Marcus Reno, who launched a frontal attack against the village from the south. Then the remaining five companies went with Custer, to attack the village from the north. Every man in Custer’s command died. Reno’s attack was repulsed and he, along with Benteen were besieged for two days on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn, besieged by an estimated 3000 warriors.

Major Reno’s command attacked the village as ordered located on the plains in the background. Repulsed, Reno led his men up a ravine, losing a third of his regiment along the way. Joined by Captain Benteen, neither man knew of Custer’s fate but knowing that their own situation was desperate, ordered their men to dig in.  By the second day, the men were suffering from lack of water, especially the wounded. Survivors later described the situation: “..the sun beat down on us and we became so thirsty that it was almost impossible to swallow.”

Quartermaster Medal of Honor Recipients:

Captain Benteen called for volunteers to make an attempt to get to the river. Seventeen volunteered. Four men were selected to provide covering fire including Blacksmith Henry Mechlin and Saddler Sergeant Otto Voit, both Quartermasters. The attempt was successful. Nineteen Medal of Honors were later awarded for heroism at the Little Bighorn. Two of those went to Mechlin and Voit. These two, along with two other sharpshooters, positioned themselves on the bluffs on either side of the ravine to provide covering fire. During this engagement only one trooper was seriously wounded.

The above is a canvas at the Quartermaster Museum,Fort Lee, Virginia


Sergeant Reckless

Posted on September 2, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, training.
preparing for transport

preparing for transport

Photo: Library of Congress  Sgt Reckless in Korean War

During the Korean War (1950-1953), Sergeant Reckless, a pony sized, 14 hand mare believed to be of Mongolian descent, became famous for her unescorted trips carrying munitions to the front lines. She carried rifles, ammunition and supplies for the Marines as a pack horse, and her commitment and reliability to her work earned her lifelong recognition.

In 1953, during a five-day test known as the Battle of Outpost Vegas the little sorrel mare transported a total of 9,000 pounds of shells. In one day alone she made 50 trips, packing ammunition up the hill and carrying wounded soldiers down. With the exception of the first trip or two, she made these journeys solo, with no human  leading her. The savagery of that battle was legend. “Twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble,” it was written at the time.  The artillery was firing at the rate of 500 rounds per minute!

“Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly ‘no man’s land’ of rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites,” according to the fan site SgtReckless.com, which goes on to quote Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalling, “It is difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain.”

Lt. Eric Pedersen found the mare at a Korean track where she racing under the name Ah Chim Hai, or Flame-in-the-Morning.  He purchased her for $250. As the story goes, the young boy that owned her, Kim Huk Moon, was reluctant to sell his beloved horse, but wanted the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. Her new name, Reckless,  was derived from a  new weapon, the recoilless rifle anti-tank gun.

Once recruited to the Korean war front her division soon discovered to watch their supplies. She was known to sneak into food bags and devour their contents. In addition to a morning cup of coffee, she loved cake,  Coca Cola, Hershey bars and all candy), and was famous for escaping her pasture and sneaking into tents for a warm night’s sleep. Sgt. Reckless includes among her many military honors two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.  Reckless died in May 1968 at the age of 20 at her home at the Marine Corps’ stables in Camp Pendleton, CA.

reckless2

 

(thanks to the equestrian news)

equi-works

equi-works