Do It Yourself for the Average Horse Owner

Do It Yourself for the Average Horse Owner. What exactly does that mean? It means that this is a website designed to help normal people with their normal, day to day horse issues. The horses that I use are not professionally trained, show horses. My demonstrations are all done with horses that I or my friends own. In fact, the horse featured in most of the pictures and video, Dollar, is a horse that I acquired in a trade when he was only a yearling, and I have done all the training on him.  He’s not perfect, but he gets the job done.  I created this site, because most of the horse owners out there are just average people. They have their horses out in a pasture. They saddle and bridle their own horses. And for a many, they don’t do much with their horses except for the occasional weekend ride.

This site is designed to be easy to use.  It has step by step instructions with pictures that make it easy to follow.  Then many of my posts will also include a video showing how to do what was described in the post.  Eventually, the posts will also include links to other posts that tie in with what you are learning to do.  For example, the post on bridling will have a link to the post on how to train your horse to position his head while being bridled.  Right now the site is a work in progress, and I don’t have half the information on here that I want to get on here.  But as the weather gets better, I’ll be adding information day by day.

The training information that is going to be on this site is going to be broken down in very easy to follow step by step process.  The training videos will be performed using horses that don’t already know how to do the maneuver we are working on.  I know when I’m looking up “how to” information, it is very frustrating to watch a person explain how to train your horse to do something, and their horse does it perfectly in minutes.  For most of us in the real world, it doesn’t work like that.

Each post includes an area where you can comment.  All comments are welcome.  Please comment if there was something you found confusing or know of a way I can improve the information.  There is also a forum on here.  Hopefully that will take off and people will be able to ask questions or give tips, and get feed back from other horse owners.

So is this a site that is going to be useful to you?  This site is great for a new horse owner who is just learning how to do many of the tasks involved with horse owning.  This is also a great site for children that are just learning how to take care of their own horse.  Perhaps mom and dad are worn out from saddling and bridling their child’s horse for them.  This site is perfect for that.  Also if you are an experienced horse person and are stuck on how to get your horse to do a particular manuveor, this site could be for  you.  Not all horses respond the same to the same training.  I may offer a little different way of training the horse to do something, that may work on the horse your training.  Basically this site can be useful to anyone.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Anna

Pictured is my daughter Mirandah and Dollar

Saddling Your Horse

Knowing how to saddle your horse is an important step in learning how to ride.  Following are steps to safely saddle your horse.  In this demonstration the saddle has a rear cinch and a breast collar.  It is not necessary to have all that on your horse if you are just out for a leisurely ride.  I just have them included on here in case you decide to use them.

Let your horse see and sniff the saddle pad.  This will let the horse know what you are putting on him, and he will feel more secure about being saddled.

Rub the saddle pad on your horses neck and shoulder.  These lets the horse know it’s okay for the saddle pad to touch him.

Place pad on horse’s back.  You want the front of the pad to sit on the withers.

This is how I like to have my saddle before I approach my horse.  The off side (right side) stirrup and all the rigging (cinches and breast collar)  are on top of the saddle.  With the saddle like this you can sit it on the horse instead of throwing it on him.

Let your horse sniff the saddle so he knows what it is.  Then place the saddle on your horse and put the stirrup and rigging down on the off side.

I like to check to make sure that the center seam of the saddle pad and the thread on the center back of the saddle match up with the center of my horse.  I’ve had saddle pads that would make my saddle ride crooked if they weren’t matched up.

Lift up the front of the saddle pad slightly so that it doesn’t pull down on your horse’s withers.  I also like to  check to  make sure the front is centered.

As you reach for the cinch, you rub your hand along the horse’s belly.  This assures that he knows where you are and what you  are doing.  Always fasten your front cinch before any of the other rigging.  This way if your horse decides to act up, the saddle should stay in place.

Typically I run my billet through my cinch twice.   At this point  only make the cinch snug, not tight.  After I do a little ground work with my horse and I’m ready to mount up, I finish tightening the cinch.

Fasten the back cinch.  Make sure that your back cinch touches your horse’s belly.  I’ve seen people have their back cinches hanging a couple inches below the horse’s belly.  This can cause a major accident if your horse goes to kick at a fly or something and gets his foot caught up in the rear cinch.  The rear cinch doesn’t need to be tight, but you don’t want it hanging down.

Finally fasten the breast collar.  This you want to go over the points of the shoulders.  You want it to be secure but not overly tight.

Now your ready to go do your ground work.  Don’t forget to finish tightening your cinch before you mount up.  Below is a link to my video on how to saddle your horse.

Thanks to Gabby, Mirandah  and Dollar for being so great and helping me today.

Bridling Your Horse

Bridling your horse is the last piece of tack you’ll put on your horse before you head out to ride.  Following are the steps to bridle your horse.  In the near future. I will also be adding a video demonstrating a horse being bridled. There are several different ways to bridle a horse, this is the method I use it seams to work best for me and my kids.

1.  I take both reins and throw them around the horse’s neck.  That way if your horse starts to take off you can quickly grab the reins to stop him.  Then I remove the halter.  Some people like to fasten the halter back around the horses neck; however, I do not.  I’ve had horses pull back while I was bridling them with a halter around their neck, and when they hit the end of the rope the tend to panic.  This creates a dangerous situation for both you and your horse.

2.  Standing on the left side of your horse with the bridle in your left hand, use your right hand to cue your horse to drop his head and turn it slightly toward you.  If your horse isn’t trained to drop and turn his head, keep checking my horse training section for an article and video on how to train your horse to do this.  I hope to have it on here soon.


3.  With my right hand between the horse’s ears, I transfer the bridle from my left hand to my right.  With my left hand I then move the bit just below your horse’s lower lip.  With the bit here it is easy to just slide it up between his lips in the next step.

4. Now with your right hand you are going to pull the bridle up as you put the bit in your horse’s mouth with the left.  If your horse is reluctant to open his mouth for the bit you can insert your thumb into the side of his mouth and tickle his tongue.  It might take a little time, but typically they will open their mouth using this method.

5. Once the bit is in his mouth , you need to gently tuck his right ear into the bridle.

6. Then tuck the left ear into the bridle.  If you have a horse that is fussy about having his ears messed with, keep checking out the training section.  I do have a video and  article on desensitizing your horses ears coming.

7.  Finally fasten the throat latch of the bridle.

There are many different theories on how a bridle should fit on your horse.  I like the bit to sit in their mouth so that the corner of my horses mouth pulling up slightly.

Following is a link to my video on how to bridle your horse.

Riding up and down hills

If you do much riding, you will eventually have to go up and down some hills. Maneuvering hills can be tricky, but with a few tips, you can make the trip a little more relaxing for both you and your horse.

First lets go down the hill.  Think about your body position.  As your horse descends down the hill you want to keep your body perpendicular with level ground.   Notice in the picture, Tracey is leaning slightly back.  Her feet then shift slightly forward so that they are under her hips.  This helps the horse maintain his center of gravity and makes him better able to keep his balance.  I also try to remember to keep my heels down and toes out to remind the horse to go slow.  If you look at just the top of this picture (at Tracey) you really shouldn’t be able to tell whether she is going down a hill or riding on level ground (I have cut out the horse in the following picture to illustrate this).   I also found that it works best if you try to relax your body and let your hips move in time with your horse.  Let your horse have a little slack in the reins, provided he doesn’t try to run down the hill.  It’s safest to walk your horse down hills.  If you let him run he could lose his footing, or become unbalanced and fall.  Also running down hills is tough on your horses leg joints.

Now that we are down at the bottom of the hill, we need to get back up to the top.  Again you want to keep your body perpendicular with level ground. Therefore, you basically need to do the opposite with your body that you did going down hill.  Here is Gabby pictured going up hill.  Her body is in good position. Her body is perpendicular to level ground, and her shoulders, hips and heels are aligned.   Again if you were looking at just the top of the picture (at Gabby only), you really would not be able to tell if she was riding a horse on flat ground or up a hill.  Your speed up the hill is up to you.  My horses love to run up hills, but I try to mix it up a little and make them walk up the hills sometimes.  That way if someone else is riding them that doesn’t want to run, my horse won’t have a fit and blow up when they are asked to walk up the hill.

Through a pasture or on a trail, riding up and down hills can be tons of fun, but it can also cause anxiety if you are unsure how to get to the bottom or top safely.  Hopefully with these tips and a little practice you soon will be maneuvering hills like a master.

Thanks for dropping in and maybe someday you will be good enough with hills to handle “The Man From Snowy River” – the decent


Notice that he stays perpendicular!
Anna

Horse Grooming: Brushes and Combs

Grooming is an important part of horse ownership.  Regular grooming helps your horse maintain a clean healthy coat.  There are many tools on the market designed to help you maintain your horse’s coat, mane, and tail.

Curry Combs Pictured above are a few types of curry combs on the market.  In order from left to right is a shedding blade, a metal curry comb, a rubber curry comb, and a metal curry comb with a mane and tail comb on the back side.  When I groom my horse I typically use a curry comb first.  It helps loosen any dirt or hair from the horses skin so you can then brush it away.  Normally when my horse isn’t too dirty, I use a rubber curry comb on him first.  I make small circle with it all over his body, taking special care on bony areas like his face and legs.  The metal curry combs I try to reserve for times when my horse is muddy, since if you are not careful the metal teeth can damage your horses skin.

The shedding blade is a device that is  designed to remove excess loose hair from your horse.  Like curry combs it has small teeth on one side. I use this mostly in the spring when my horse is really starting to shed.  Most shedding blades have a clip on them that allows you to open them up, which works great for combing those larger areas of  your horse, like his rump or sides.  The other nice thing about a shedding blade is that you can flip it over and use the smooth side as a sweat scrapper when your horse is sweaty or after a bath.  Like the metal curry comb, don’t use this on your horse’s face or the bony part of his legs.

Brushes

A good brush is the next step in grooming your horse.  I have three different types of brushes in my tool box: one with stiff bristles, one with soft bristles and a soft bristled face brush.  After I curry my horse I use the brush on him to get rid of the dirt and hair I brought to the surface.  Brushing also helps distribute your horses natural oils from his skin to his hair.  When brushing your horse, it works best to use quick strokes with a little “flick” at the end.  I use the stiff bristled brush when my horse has a thicker coat in the fall and winter and use the soft bristled brush in the summer.  A face brush is a special brush designed to use on your horses face.  It is smaller and softer than the brushes intended to use on your horses body.  My horses love to have their faces brushed.

Mane and Tail Combs and Brushes

Mane and tail combs and brushes also come in an assortment of shapes and sizes.  The plastic combs are suppose to be better because they are less likely to break off your horses hair, but personally I prefer to  use the metal comb.  Also on the market is a thinning rake. Don’t confuse this with a regular comb.  It’s razor like blades are designed to thin your horses hair as you comb it.  Typically this is used on only your horse’s mane when you want to thin it down.  We use it when preparing for a show before we band the horse’s mane.  In this picture you can see how thin Dollar’s mane is. Typically it is thicker than this, but we used the thinning rake to thin it, and then we banded it to accentuate his neck. Be careful not to over do it though or your horse could end up with some bald spots.

Grooming your horse should be a nice relaxing time for you to spend with your horse.   He will love the attention that you are giving him, and his coat will shine for it.

Spended time with your horse

In the past I’ve had people ask me what the most important step in training your horse.  Is it the ground work? Or teaching them to whoa or back?  To me the most important thing you can do to create the best possible horse, is simply spend time with him.  What do I mean, “spend time with him.”  I mean, make it a point to go out and hang out within your horse like you would any of friends.  A time when you do nothing but just spend time with you horse. This is a time that you don’t ask anything of your horse.  Much like a marriage, if you don’t spend time together, it is hard to maintain a good bond.

What to do with this “quality” time? When I go out to hang out with my horse, I typically go into the pen with him.  I usually bring him a treat of some sort, whether it be a handful of grain or a horse cookie (yes I feed my horses by hand, but if they respect you it isn’t a problem).  Normally I don’t take a halter with me.  I will just go in and brush him or practice my equine massage.  I hug on him and touch him all over his body.  Other times I’ll catch him, take him to the arena or round pen, then let him go, and we just play.  What do I mean by play?  I literally play with my horse.  If you ever watched horses in the pasture, you’ve seen them running around chasing each other and kicking up their heels.  That’s what I do with my horse.  I’ll start out in the middle of the pen and ask him to move out.  Then I’ll cut him off and make him switch directions.  I’ll run after him, then run away from him.  My horse loves this.  You may think this sounds like I’m just ground working my horse, but believe me it is different, and he knows it.  During this play time, my normally mellow gelding will kick up his heels as he runs along, put his tail up in the air, snort and just have fun.  Then when I relax in the middle of the pen, he comes right up to me wanting some love.

How much quality time do I need to spend with my horse? Really this depends on the horse.  Some horses like to have you hanging around them as much as possible, others will stand by you for only a couple minutes then be done with you.  I go just hang out with my horse at least once a week.  In the winter it is a little more often, because riding conditions aren’t always the best.  I will spend anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour with my horse.

What if my horse doesn’t want to hang out with me? This could be because he doesn’t realize that you are there just to spend time with him.  Maybe every time you catch your horse,  you’ve made him work.  If your horse won’t just stand freely for you in the pen, the first couple of times you go out you may need to tie your horse up.  Then the next couple of times halter your horse and just throw the lead over the fence and see if he will stay.  Next let the lead sit on the ground.  Then try just going in without a halter.  If you do this you will be amazed at the difference in your horse.  He will start becoming more excited to see you, and want to hang around with you.  There are times now when I’ll feed my horses grain,  and one of them will wait buy the gate while the others are eating just to get a little bit of one on one time with me.  I’ll pet him on the forehead and give him a quick hug, then he’ll go over and join his horse friends.In the pictures on this page are a couple of the horses I’ve had in the past.  See how at ease they are with the kids walking around them.  Their bodies are relaxed and they would follow these kids anywhere and let them touch them anywhere.  These are kids that have never been around horses, so they were a little noisy and made tons of quick movements, but these horses couldn’t get enough of them.  Spend some quality, none work time with your horses, they will become better for it.

Caring For Your Horse

Proper diet and exercise is as important to your horse as it is for you.  An overworked horse that is feed to little, may become too thin.

And a horse that is over fed and lacks exercise may become to fat.  Neither condition is healthy for your horse.  Hopefully, your horse falls in between the two .

In the weeks to come, I plan on covering how to score your horses body condition and ways to get and keep your horse to a healthy body score.

Horse Buying Tip One

Selecting a horse can be very difficult. My first suggestion is to decide what you want to use your horse for. If you want a horse to just ride on trail rides, you may not want to go out and buy a horse that has only ran barrels its entire life.  Likewise if you want to buy a barrel horse you probably don’t want to buy a horse with no get up and go.  You need to match you horse with your needs and ability.   There are thousands of horses on the market, just be patient and do some looking around.

There are many places to look for a horse to buy.  The Internet offers numerous websites dedicated to selling horses.  Craigslist has horses for sale.  Bulletin boards at local tack stores often have horses for sale posted on them.  And of coarse you can always go to horse auctions my only warning here is that some sellers may dope up the horse before the sell or might not give you the full story on the horse.  No matter where you shop for your horse you need to try it out and make sure it can do what it is suppose to do.  If the seller says that the horse is a fantastic trail horse, he shouldn’t mind if you take the horse for a nice ride through the pasture.  If they say that the horse is a finished barrel horse, you should be able to run the horse through a barrel pattern.

If you are a first time horse owner, I recommend that you take an experienced horse person with you to try out the horse.  I’ve been with several friends to try out horses.  Typically within five minutes of riding I can tell if it will fit that friends riding level and can give them my opinion on whether or not to buy the horse.

What gender of horse should you get?  I typically buy geldings.  They are more even tempered than a mare or stud.  Unless you plan on breeding, don’t get a stud.  I have had great mares, but I have also had mares that horsed (that time of the month) so badly that you couldn’t stand to be around them, and they would kick at any horse that went near them.

I’ve had friends just starting out ask me whether or not it matters if the horse they are buying is registered.  My question to them is “what do you intend to do with your horse?”  Honestly I’ve had great horses that were not registered and bad horses that where.  If you plan on showing your horse in breed shows or plan on breeding your horse, then yes it should be papered. However, if you find a great horse that fits your needs that isn’t registered don’t rule it out.  After all you ride the horse not the papers.

Breed of horse is something to consider when purchasing a horse.  This is mostly a personal preference.  All breeds have their pluses and minuses.  I don’t really want to go very deep into the subject of breed here for fear that I’ll anger someone.  Personally I prefer quarter horses because they best fit my personality, but there are many breeds out there to choose from so do some research and find one that you like.

Personally I like the excitement of teaching a young horse new things.  So I tend to buy colts that are not started yet, or ones that have just been started.

Pictured is a gelding I recently purchased, Louie.  He is a grade (not registered) quarter horse.  He is a two year old that has been started.  I bought him because in the sale ring he remained very calm, he licked a lot (means he’s thinking), and he is going to end up being a nice sized horse (not too big, not too small).  Oh yeah, and the price was right.  I actually had someone offer me $100 more for him after the sale.

The horse market is pretty weak right now, and I’ve seen yearling foals sell  for $15.  I’ve also seen people that don’t know anything about horses buy those $15 foals and not know what to do with them.  Then end up spending more in getting the horse trained than what it would have cost them to buy a broke horse to start with.  I’ll say it again Shop around.

One last thing to do when buying a horse ask the seller what type of bit they were using so that you can use a similar bit with the horse.  And what cues they used to make their horse do different maneuvers.  Some people train their horses differently than others, and sometimes just placing your legs or hands a little differently makes a huge difference.

Welcome

This is going to be a web site dedicated to educating people about horses.  This is going to be a fantastic website for beginning horsemen and for veterans looking for a different point of view on working with their horses.  This web site is going to include everything you want to know about horses from basic care to tip on training your horse.  I will constantly be adding new info and will cover almost every subject about horses.  I will have many typed articles on here, along with countless short videos.  If there is any subject that I have skipped or haven’t gotten to yet, please feel free to write in and let me know what you want me to cover.  All ideas are welcome.

I’m not a professional, but I have ridden and trained horses most of my life.  And as I go along I want you to remember that I’m presenting one way to do a certain thing and there are numerous ways to get the same result, this is just one way to get there.  Like people every horse is different, and what works with one might not work with another.

The pictures on this page are of my daughter and our horse Zan Pat Two (Dollar) at a local 4-H show.   You will probably be seeing them often.  Dollar is a horse I purchased as a yearling.  I’ve done all the training on him.  He’s a wonderful horse that just about anyone can ride.

Thanks for visiting  my site,

Anna