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..

The Little Sorrel Morgan

Posted on February 16, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, history, military, riding, training.

Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel Morgan Horse


reprint from Horseandman.com

As the story goes, in 1861 Stonewall Jackson needed a horse in Harper’s Ferry just about the time that a cargo train was seized there that happened to be carrying a load of domestic horses. Fancy that…
The horses were offloaded and led to water where they were observed.
Now, just about everyone said that Thomas Jackson was not the best horseman. So, it stands to reason that he would pick the unruly, fussy, huge and beautiful black STALLION for himself to ride and the sweet little sorrel Morgan gelding for his wife.
After about a day, he ditched the stallion and kept the sorrel for himself.
Legend has it that this little sorrel Morgan was about 15 hands of solid confidence. They say that horse rode into more battles than any other war horse.
And, since Jackson rarely stopped long enough to rest, many soldiers claimed that he slept atop Little Sorrel while he led himself back to camp.
Luckily, Little Sorrel had beautiful gaits and was of the attitude to take care of his rider. (I love Morgans.) And, he had the stamina to boot! Records show that not only did the gelding charge into untold numbers of battle, he often covered over 40 miles in a day. Troops said they never, ever saw fatigue in that horse. Wow!
Not only was he brave, but he was full of personality… Troopers reported that Little Sorrel would lay down on the picket line and receive apples fed to him by the men.
After surviving the war, the gelding was described as a rascal with a mouth that could undo latches, let down bars and liberate every horse in the barn. And like his earlier master, he would lead his command into new fields of opportunity, removing fence rails whenever he wanted.
Jackson was of the opinion that his faith dictated when he would die. Since he believed his death was ordained to happen exactly as God had planned, he never worried about going into battle. When it was his time to meet his maker, he would die then – and not before.
This bravado spread amongst his men which is why they were known as kinda crazy and daredevily. The name “Stonewall” came about because Jackson stonewalled his fears.
That battle chutzpah went for Jackson’s non-churcghoing horse, too. So, I guess Little Sorrel believed what he was told and went wherever his owner asked him to go. A perfect match.
And actually, Little Sorrel was safe. It was Jackson who was shot off of his back by his own men, on accident…
[commentary–Jackson died on May 10, 1863, at a field hospital near Guiney Station, VA, approximately 30 miles from the battlefield at Chancellorsville. Little Sorrel ran off shortly after Jackson was wounded during Chancellorsville, and he was recaptured several days later. He was later returned to Mary Anna, and she eventually sent the horse to the Virginia Military Institute. Little Sorrel ended up spending his final days at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Richmond, as a pet of the veterans who also lived there. He died in 1886 at the age of thirty-six. His hide was preserved, and is on display at the Virginia Military Institute Museum. Little Sorrel’s cremated bones are interred on the parade ground at the Virginia Military Institute.]

Horses Never Forget Human Friends

Posted on January 17, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, history, therapy, training.

sonja rasche
article by Jennifer Viegas
Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study. Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess “excellent memories,” allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more.

The bond with humans likely is an extension of horse behavior in the wild, since horses value their own horse relatives and friends, and are also open to new, non-threatening acquaintances.
“Horses maintain long-term bonds with several members of their family group, but they also interact temporarily with members of other groups when forming herds,” explained Carol Sankey, who led the research, and her team. “Equid social relationships are long-lasting and, in some cases, lifelong,” added the scientists, whose paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behavior. Ethologist Sankey of the University of Rennes and her colleagues studied 20 Anglo-Arabian and three French Saddlebred horses stabled in Chamberet, France. The scientists tested how well the horses remembered a female trainer and her instructions after she and the horses had been separated up to eight months.
Since “horses are able to learn and memorize human words” and can hear the human voice better than even dogs can, due to their particular range of hearing, the scientists predict trainers could have success if they incorporate more vocal commands into their horse training programs.

Jill Starr is president and founder of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, a non-profit that provides refuge, training and adoption placement for otherwise slaughter-bound wild mustangs and domestic horses.
Starr told Discovery News that she’s observed horses responding well to verbal commands, such as “trot,” but she still feels “horses and people get along better if the person doesn’t chatter, since this causes the individual to have greater awareness of body language that is more familiar to horses.”
She, however, agrees that horses are loyal, intelligent and have very long-lasting memories — of both good and bad experiences.
Starr said, “Horses can be very forgiving, but they never forget.”

Reliability of ‘One Day Training”

Posted on November 25, 2019 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.

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

 

 

 

What is Riding ‘Forward’?

Posted on October 10, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.

excerpts from:        Charles de Kunffy’s article in Dressage Today magazine:

photo from Dressage Today

photo from Dressage Today

Straighten your horse and ride it forward” was dressage master Gustav Steinbrecht’s admonition to equestrian scholars in the 19th century. Riders understood what he meant because they lived in an equestrian culture that spoke its own scholarly language with established meaning by tradition. However, in recent times, those not familiar with the intentions of Steinbrecht’s command have managed to misinterpret the urging of “forward” as a command to chase the horse into rushing, and then they have to pull on his mouth because he goes too fast. Remember, speed is also the enemy of impulsion.
When driving is misguided into demanding speed and agitated toward restraining hands, horses have nowhere to escape but upward with their croups. Their buttocks bounce with stilt-like, open-jointed hind legs—what we call “out behind” or “butt bouncing”—while heads are pulled behind the vertical with over-flexed necks. While these speedy chargers  often display a high, short and forced neck posture, let me assure you that they are the very documentations of horses on the forehand.
While this misplaced devotion to the “forward” part of the admonition has been championed, the “straighten your horse” part has been disastrously, continuously ignored. Yet straightening a horse is a precondition for the correct achievement of forward, the real meaning of which is locomotion with correctly articulating joints propelled by supple muscles. In other words, going forward means moving forward with strengthened and, therefore, engaged haunches.
Sadly, we often see a caricature of what was meant as guiding advise to those who lived in an equestrian culture of the past when horses were vastly important and horsemanship was an academically sound discipline. Too often we see tense horses running away with passenger riders balancing on their mouths. However, there are reasons for this misinterpretation and remedies for it.

from artuk

from artuk



The urge to run:
We all know the horse is an animal of flight. He survived by early notice of lurking predators (startling instincts) and outrunning them (the flight instinct). If he were to be overtaken and contacted by the predator while in flight, he would fight by bucking, kicking, or striking. Hence, when a startled horse takes flight his rider should not act as his predator and try to pull him down, but rather accompany him in an unrestricted partnership in flight fully reverent to the horse’s survival instinct. Had horses not been strong and swift, we would have nothing to ride today for their ancestors would have been eaten. Only those horses alert enough to be startled in time to run fast to escape their predators remained in the genetic pool. A horse can take off in full speed even from a halt. Therefore, the halt is also a “movement” because it is latent energy, potential for flight.
The instinct to flight was what attracted mankind to riding horses. A fast-running horse was a treasure for traveling and military action. Desire for speed became one of the guiding principles in breeding horses. Indeed, it was racing that contributed considerably to the creation of the contemporary “super horse.” Without the horse’s forward instinct and energy for flight, we would have nothing to tame, shape and ride for our precisely controlled transportation. However, the horse’s ability to speed is just the starting point. It is the energy reserve and the raw material that by taming and training is groomed and altered into the wondrous variety of movements a correctly gymnasticized horse can offer his rider.

GreyEagle2

Kyra Kurkland riding

Kyra Kurkland riding

How to avoid running: Begin by developing an adhesive seat. The rider’s seat is a “transformer” whose role is to modify the energy emitting from the horse’s haunches. Remember, riding is controlled transportation, not just where we go and at what speed, but how effortlessly we arrive due to the schooled use of the haunches. The horse needs a relaxed, well-balanced tempo in order to take a longer stride and step with his hind legs past or into the footprints left by the front legs. Riders must learn to induce the correct posture of the horse (longitudinal flexion) and only then influence the level of engagement in his haunches. Horses not in a correct posture should not be driven, because they cannot engage to move and are forced to proceed under duress. With gradually increasing strength and skills, the horse begins to shorten the distance between his hocks and the bridle. That distance could be likened to the string of a bow, which could be “tightened” or “loosened” by the rider. According to the engagement of the horse, the “bow string” will determine the amount of kinetic energy in the longitudinal flexion of the horse’s body. To achieve this, riders must slow the horse to a tempo that allows him to move by articulating the joints in his haunches evenly and unencumbered by the reins. Slow the horse until he is balanced, taken off his dwelling shoulders and gathered more weight toward his haunches.  Slowing the tempo allows the rider to create impulsion, the indispensable foundation of engagement of the haunches. “Impulsion” refers to the horse’s ability to use all joints in his haunches with equal and unhindered articulation and thereby produce an efficient—not rapid—source of energy. Impulsion improves with the gradual increasing articulation of the joints. Impulsion, not running, is the source for strengthening and suppling the joints. Impulsion is based on the taming of the flight instinct and altering it into effortless efficiency. The rider’s understanding of the goals of training and his knowledge of the means to attain them comes from Baroque ideology. This means that the horse’s natural potential can evolve into a monument of art only by the intelligent schooling of his rider. In other words, correct schooling makes the horse more beautiful. It all begins with “Straighten your horse and ride it forward.”

equi-works

equi-works