I can’t help it. I have always been competitive. My entire family and extended family are big board game players. Some of my earliest memories are of playing board games with my brothers. Since my brothers are all older and, in their minds, smarter than I am, they usually won (by cheating or by skill, though most often by cheating). An insane desire to win grew in my little heart.
As I grew, it grew.
Naturally, as a masochistic over achiever, I was drawn to Dressage.
If you have horses and show them, in whatever discipline, you know how much money you spend following your dreams. If you’re smart, you don’t add up exactly how much you spend each year. The truth is just too painful. If you don’t own a horse and show it, try guessing how much showing a horse costs.
As the weather turns to wet and wintry it becomes increasingly important to pay attention to your horse’s hooves. Hooves are extremely sensitive and very vulnerable to injury, illness, and infection. Taking good care of the hooves helps to protect your horse from health issues while letting them lead a happy and active life. Here are some easy steps you can take every day to ensure their hoof health is supported.
Not long ago I told the story of my mare Petie, who has been my almost constant companion throughout my journey as a dressage competitor and trainer. In the first part, I wrote about Petie’s graceful and gentle nature which made her nervous and easily spooked.
In this post I’ll tell you about three important clinicians who were able to see the cause of her troubles (Spoiler alert! It wasn’t anything wrong with Petie), and more importantly saw more potential in her than, at the time, I ever could.
Through the years, I’ve had potential clients come into my
barn and they have war stories. How the last barn manager/trainer/instructor did
them wrong. Usually I consider this a warning sign. First, the person may have
a chip on their shoulder. Second, she may honestly have a difficult horse that
each new trainer or barn was expected to magically fix. Third, she may be the
owner-expert who has never been in the trenches, trying to do their best dealing
with clients, long difficult days, and the unpredictability of horses. Horses
get sick or injured and sometimes, God forbid, even die, no matter how well
they were managed. Most of the horse professionals I know really try to do a
You know the feeling. You’ve knocked out what you believe is a good, solid test. You head to pick up your score sheet. When you get it, you melt into a puddle of unhappiness, try to interpret the comments and scores, and scratch your head (or pound it into a wall) because you just don’t understand what happened. Many exhibitors do not know how to interpret a test sheet and use it as constructive criticism. Many are not aware of the all important Purpose of the Level.
No matter how careful
we are, we all get injured sometimes. That includes our horses. Nothing is
scarier than when your horse gets injured though. You want to do everything you
can to make them feel safe and comfortable. Fortunately, with a little extra
knowledge and the right tools, you can help. Here are the steps to take when
your horse sustains any kind of injury from a mild scrape to a bone break.
Several years ago, one of my favorite people in the world,
presented me with a Christmas gift. It seemed like a simple token to the rest
of the world, but to me, this one present meant more than any other. It was a
coffee mug that read, “Fear the little bay horse”.
Looking back on my life with horses, I have a soft spot in my heart for “That horse”. I was 16 years old and he was the horse that gave me confidence, not just in the show ring, but also in my own abilities. He was not my horse, but a horse someone let me lease. My well-meaning father had bought a horse that we could afford but didn’t have quite enough training for my inexperience. The leased horse let me feel what was right. He responded and acted as a partner. I never doubted him to carry me around the show ring while I got experience. I owe that horse everything. I was able to take those skills on to my horse, and then, develop more skills. Each horse was a professor in my continuing education, even today. But it all started with “That Horse”.
When you get a horse,
you will form a lifelong bond with them. From birth to their golden years, you
will share many beautiful experiences. In order to help them have the best life
possible, it’s important to provide care that is appropriate for their needs at
every age. Here is everything you need to know about the life stages of a horse
and how to provide care that will support a healthy, happy life no matter if
they are a foal, yearling, or senior.
About 20 years ago, I couldn’t find a good farrier. My trusted farrier’s back had finally given out and he was done. Farriers don’t grow on trees, and GOOD farriers are a rare bird. During a visit to ISU vet school, I asked their residential farrier if he knew someone that I might call to do my regular work. He said, “Well, I have a guy that you can call. He’s very good. He’s a Certified Journeyman Farrier, but he’s kind of prickly. He doesn’t get along with everyone. You might not like his personality.” I looked him square in the eye and said, “Listen. I don’t need a great guy. I need a great farrier.” He gave me the man’s number and he has been my farrier for almost 20 years.
Most of us have that person in our life that is perfectly pleasant in many respects, but just can’t seem to quit when enough is enough. They will support you, but then continually offer unsolicited opinions on what you need to do. And just won’t stop, ever.
Too often today, horse owners use mass-produced synthetic products to care for their animals. The use of these products has created numerous health hazards for horses. Horses are now more prone to conditions indicative of poisoning. As a horse owner, you should, whenever possible, want to use products that are 100% natural and safe for horse consumption.
Horses have adapted over the many centuries to self medicate using the herbs and plants they could forage in their natural environment. As owners we can make use of this instinct to help our horses by supplementing beneficial plants into their feed, or even better, by encouraging these plants to grow wild in your pasture. Below, you’ll find four natural herbs that I recommend.
Horses are team players. They can’t help it – evolution demands it. Before we domesticated the horse, millions of years of evolution had shaped them into a herd animal that must play well in the group in order to live long enough to pass on its genes. A horse’s ranking in the herd hierarchy does not necessarily matter, but acceptance by the group is paramount. A lone horse is a dead horse.
As an owner or rider it is important to understand a horse’s innate imperative to “go along with the herd” and make sure that we are send clear and consistent messages during training.
Domesticated horses live very differently than horses in the wild. In order to give your horse their best life, you need to do what you can to create a comfortable habitat that meets all of these natural needs. Although many of us do not have the land or the resources to perfectly recreate a natural environment, there are still many things we can do to create a healthy habitat where your horse will be safe, happy, and live a comfortable life. As someone who believes in the power of nature, I believe the best place to start is to look at how wild horses live. Continue reading The Best Horse Habitat
Summer is here. With that comes a lot of fun activities for you and your horse. However, summer also brings out the flies, who are looking for sources of food and ways to breed. Here is everything you need to know about keeping your horse and stable free of these annoying pests: Continue reading Keeping Summer Horse Pests Away
I am giving a lesson. We are working on the flying changes of lead. We are building toward the changes that the horse already knows, but as we progress in the lesson, the horse not only acts like he has no idea what his rider wants, but he is starting to act irritated. I hop on to evaluate what the problem may be. Is the horse being naughty; is his back sore? What is going on? I start the canter work, balance the horse and perform the changes without much problem. We trade places and the student asks: Continue reading Focus on the Basics
I became aware of the existence of the Dressage Rider Pyramid during the L program, and I must admit that after I gave it a cursory glance, I thought, “this is stupid.”
However, while doing some research for another article, I once again stumbled across the Rider Pyramid, and upon reevaluation, I realize that I was wrong. Terribly wrong. This pyramid for riders makes sense. Because the focus is on the essential basics, it maps out the path to a successful relationship with your horse, giving you a roadmap to becoming a better rider.
Why go to a horse show? Why don’t you just light $2,500 on fire and then have someone push you in dirt?
Yep. That pretty much sums it up. But showing your horse is also gives purpose to the many hours and days you spend training and grooming, which can motivate you to do your best even on those days when you just don’t feel like doing it. Shows are also a great opportunity to meet other owners, to socialize and to share knowledge.
Below are some of my experiences with horse sows, the good and the bad, and the reasons why I continue to attend them.
It’s really important to think about the health of your horse’s skin. Weather changes can wreak havoc on your horse’s delicate skin. So can being out in the pasture all day, where it is exposed to the elements. Luckily there are some simple things you can do to ensure your horse’s skin is protected. Continue reading Ways To Protect The Skin Of Your Horse
As a horse owner, the most important thing to me is my horses’ overall health. I want them to live a long, happy, and fulfilling life. Over the years, I’ve become more and more focused on ways to support a healthy lifestyle for my horses. From making simple adjustments to their daily diet, to developing a line of natural horse care products, I have spent hours researching and speaking with other horse owners. Along the way, I have learned a lot and I wanted to take some time to share what I’ve learned with you. Here are my key tips for helping you boost your horse’s overall health and wellbeing. Continue reading Boosting Your Horse’s Health
If you’re considering getting a horse or are a first time horse owner, one of the more important aspects of their care is hoof maintenance. A horse’s hooves provide the foundation of a healthy life. Without healthy hooves, horses cannot walk, run, or carry. Horses can also get specific illnesses that enter through weak or damaged hooves. Thus, the best way to keep your horse healthy and happy is through routine hoof maintenance. In order to help first time horse owners, we’ve put together this guide that includes details about what hooves are, what kind of damage they can incur, and how to care for them. Let’s get started!
Horse lovers across the globe are well aware of the joys of getting to own their own horse. Without a doubt, horses are lovely creatures. They are faithful, they are agile, and they are beautiful. If you happen to be a landowner or live somewhere in the country, you’ll be aware of the pleasures of riding your equine friend during lazy summer evenings.
With the hustle and bustle of modern life, there are few things that get us outdoors or communing with our environment like having a horse. The longer I’m a horse owner, the more I understand how important this connection is for our health and well-being. As a result, I’ve been on a journey to live in a more natural way. This journey is what led me to the power of essential oils and their application in all areas of my life, including my horse’s care. Continue reading Are Essential Oils Effective For Horse Care?
Horses have a highly refined sense of “fight or flight.” Unfortunately, when that instinct is triggered they will react no matter the cost, even if it means injuring themselves. Horses also spend a lot of time outdoors, running, and playing through the fields where they are exposed to all kinds of injury risks like sharp twigs, rocks, and even other animals. Even though they are incredibly graceful, any horse owner will tell you they can be very clumsy sometimes. That clumsiness can cause injury. In short, horses are very accident prone. So it is important that as a horse owner you understand what to do if they get injured. Here are my tips. Continue reading What To Do With A Wounded Horse
Do you ever wonder how expert horse groomers achieve great results? Well, having witnessed and worked with a few amazing horse groomers, I can tell you that great groomers are not born but they are made through consistency, technique, and by using the right products. If you want to achieve similar results, even as a novice groomer, I recommend these top habits. By replicating their ways, you too can achieve expert quality horse grooming. Continue reading Adopt Effective Habits of Expert Horse Groomers For Best Results
Having worked with plenty of horses, all with different personalities, and sensitivities towards grooming, I can say this with confidence: having a complete basic grooming kit that is put together with care and attention will make grooming sessions so much easier. Continue reading Building A Complete Horse Grooming Kit
We are giving away a $100 Amazon.con gift card to one lucky visitor. You can use the prize to purchase Equi-Spa products, or anything you want, from Amazon.com. The giveaway is open to everyone (18+) and is free to enter (no purchase necessary). Continue reading Win $100 Amazon Gift Card
Cleaning out your horse’s hooves is important for several reasons. It is an essential part of a good horse care routine. It’s a step that needs to be done frequently and when done properly will keep your horse healthy and happy and free to trot along without any pain or risk of thrush! Continue reading How To: Take Care of Your Horse’s Hooves
Grooming is one of the most wonderful experiences you can share with your horse. It’s a time to show care and bond, and revel in their shiny coats. Sometimes though, even the most bonded horse and owner can run into grooming problems. This series addresses common horse grooming challenges, and today we are covering tips to help with tail rubbing. Continue reading Horse Grooming Challenges: Tail Rubbing
Grooming is one of my favorite things about being a horse owner. It’s a wonderful time to connect, bond, and show your care. However, sometimes grooming time isn’t all sunshine and roses. Even a master horse groomer can run into challenges and this series aims to address some of these challenges. Today I’d like to address another common issue: tangled tails. Continue reading Horse Grooming Challenges: Tangled Tails
Welcome to my series on horse grooming challenges. In each post, I cover one of the most common challenges I hear from my customers. In this post, I’m going to cover bath-time battles because sometimes ornery horses just don’t want to get a bath. Even professional groomers struggle with bath-time battles sometimes, so don’t worry. It’s definitely something that can be overcome with patience. Continue reading Horse Grooming Challenges: Bath-Time Battles