Several times a year, before we worm our horses, we weigh them. The vet comes twice a year – and weighs them. Even if we weigh our horses the day before, there is usually a discrepancy between our weight and the vet’s weight. Sometimes a few pounds, sometimes quite a few pounds.

Buttercup's weight using the weight tape

Buttercup’s weight using the weight tape

I have never been comfortable with the “weight tape” because even if you think you are putting it around the heart girth, it can slip. It can be at a different angle every time it is used. It can be tighter or looser than the last time. And what about the thickness of the horse’s coat?

Problem solved. We purchased a livestock scale! Okay, we got it to weigh our cattle to make sure they were market ready, but, horses can stand on it too. And so they did.

In my scientific study of the horse’s weight, I used the weight tape on the horse to get the tape weight.

Buttercup taped out at 1001 pounds. A respectable weight for this mare.

Buttercup getting weighed.

Buttercup getting weighed.

We walked her onto the scale, and, oh my! She gained 113 pounds between the time we taped her and she walked onto the scale!

Buttercup's weight using the livestock scale

Buttercup’s weight using the livestock scale

This held true for EVERY horse. Some of the horses varied by only 50 pounds, which is the acceptable range for the tape, but most weight in with a 100 pound or greater difference between the tape and the scale.

So, which do I believe? The horses claim the scale if off, but we checked it with our weight and it was only a few pounds more – but considering we had our boots and winter coats on, it was within two or three pounds of our scale in the house.

Looks like it will be exercise time in the arena for both the horses and me this spring!

 

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

covershot

We’ve entered a new era at our farm – I’ve been promising this for years, yes, years. And this year we are doing it!

One aspect of our lessons is about the horse. You can call it horsemanship – although that has several different meanings, or stewardship, or just plain knowing more about horses that riding.

We’ve always taught things like – grooming, safety, parts of the horse, horse nutrition, etc. as part of our lessons, in our scout events, and in the Hooked on Horsessm summer program. Now, everyone, whether they ride here or not, can participate in our virtual learning center and access our videos and interactive programs.

Our first interactive program was Part of the Horse. We have had rave reviews from several of parents who said their child loves to play this program.

Our second was Daily Grooming. Yes, there is a difference between the way you groom your horse every day and how you would groom your horse for a show. Show Grooming is on the list – probably this summer.

Daily Grooming is part of our Parent Boot Campsm program. Every spring and fall we invite the parents of new riders to attend our Parent Boot Campsm to learn more about horses, their care, and what we expect their rider to do. Many times schedules don’t allow for parents to attend and we’ve been asked if we could do a video. So, here is an interactive program on grooming for both parents, riders, and new horse owners where ever they may be. This will be followed by Horse Safety in and around the Barn, Saddling Your Horse, and How to Lead (Your Horse, of Course).

We will also show different aspects of how we train and desensitize our horses before they are put into our programs.

Join us – we will post our releases here, on our blog, and on our release site.

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m not sure why I wasn’t more prepared…in hindsight, I should have been. I was speaking at a scientific section meeting on the topic of the human aspect of …

Source: When Your Mom is “That Mom”(Ok Not MY Mom)


SPringCleaning

Maybe I’m rushing it, but the forecast is for warm, okay seasonally warm, weather for the next two weeks. It’s only five weeks before it’s officially spring and only four weeks before that National Holiday for horse people – Daylight Savings Time – begins.

In the midst of all this excitement about being able to spend more time with the horses, a very important event needs to take place – Get everything ready! Or, it’s spring cleaning time! Time to go through everything we stashed or meant to take care of as the weather got colder, and never got around to. Time to make sure everything is in working order and supplies are available.

Let’s start with the trust supply cabinet

Toss any supplement or med that has an expiration date on it. Some may be good for up to six months to a year past the expiration date, but, unless you are certain or your vet said it’s okay – toss it. Some meds lose their effectiveness and are useless.

Is it cloudy, solidified, or otherwise deteriorated? Shampoos, conditioners, and other liquid supplies may just go bad after sitting on the shelf for a while. If it doesn’t look right or smell right – toss it!

Never touched, never used. We all buy things that we think we’ll use on our horse and only use it once, or it floats to the back of the cabinet and we forget about it. If it falls into either of these categories AND it is still good – box it and donate it to a horse shelter.

Tack room or trunk

Take a good look at your lead lines, halters, saddles pads, and other equipment. Is it frayed beyond repair? Toss it. Can it be fixed? Keep it but put a date on it. If it hasn’t been fixed in a period of time, let’s say two months, either toss it or donate it – provided it is still safe or okay to use.

Wash or clean what you will keep. Nothing is better than starting the riding season with clean, fresh equipment! You may also want to make a list of the items that need to be replaced.

Set up a polish day with your barn buddies. Take an afternoon to clean your saddle and bridle before the season starts.

And don’t forget the grooming bucket! This is actually a monthly chore at our barn – but it belongs here as well. Clean those brushes and disinfect them. Your horse is only has clean as the brushes you use.

Trailer

If you haul your horse to shows or trails, now is the time to get the trailer checked out. Take it to a reliable mechanic who will check the wiring, brakes, lights, and tires. Too often the barn mice make a meal on exposed wiring. Tires will dry rot even if you hardly use your trailer.

Have the flooring checked, too. Urine and manure can get under the mats and cause the trailer floor to deteriorate. And give it a good wash and wax. Now, you are set to go!

Barn work

Again, clearing cobwebs need to be done monthly, but it is a high priority on the spring cleaning list. The spiders were certainly busy while we were away. Cobwebs collect dust and are a fire hazard, so, here’s another “barn party” to coordinate. Long handled brooms and friends will help complete this job quickly.

How about you? How will you get ready for spring this year?

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

supplycabinet

There are no two ways about it – horses can be very expensive. If you look through a horses catalog at all the “products” designed for horses, the dollars add up.

Some items need to be horse specific – like wormer. Do you buy the name brand or the generic?

Feed MUST be horse specific – feed for cows, goats, or other animals can be detrimental for a horse. But what about other items?

Here are some of the general items we keep on hand in our supply cabinet:

  • Baby oil – use it for sheath cleaning and general grooming.
  • Vaseline – makes a great hoof polish. Keeps the hooves from drying out. Can be used as a barrier from bugs for superficial cuts or scrapes.
  • Baby shampoo – gentle, mild, works great on the mane and tail as well as the coat.
  • Mouthwash – yes, mouthwash can be used as a liniment, dandruff, and put a little in the water trough to keep bacteria at bay during the summer months.
  • Cotton balls – to clean around eyes, muzzle, anywhere you want “soft” cleaning.
  • Instant ice packs – for the bumps that require a cold compress. Keep it on with a baby diaper and duct tape.
  • Fiber powder with psyllium – to prevent sand colic. Our horses love the orange flavor!
  • Toothpaste – great for cleaning bits – and don’t forget the toothbrush to get into the grooves and crevices of your tack.
  • Murphy’s oil soap – cleans leather.
  • Spray bottles – dollar store variety
  • Bleach to disinfect everything – especially the grooming brushes and bucket. You do wash those at least twice a year, right?
  • Regular “human” brushes – with our Haflingers the traditional horse combs don’t make it. Human brushes and of course a spray to get rid of the tangles!
  • Baby diapers – both the disposable and the cloth. They are absorbent, can be used to wrap a leg or hoof injury and keep salve-type medication from getting dirty.
  • Duct tape – don’t forget the duct tape to keep the wraps on!

As you can see, most of the supplies that are used for horses can be purchased at the grocery or local drug store.

How do you save money on horse supplies?

 

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

Driving on country road

I have often joked with my students, when their horse “runs over a cone” that they will be driving on the curbs when they get their driving license. But, all joking aside, learning how to ride a horse is a lot like driving a car, and can prepare a young rider for taking the wheel.

Focus your vision

Whether you are driving or riding, you focus needs to be down the road or down the trail/wall. If you are focused or distracted by something close, your hands on the reins or wheel, the speedometer, the horse’s head position, or a myriad of other things, you may miss something in the road or that cone, barrel, pole in the arena.

Don’t tailgate other vehicles or horses

A sudden stop by the vehicle or horse in front of you is never a good situation. Maintaining a safe distance when driving is important, especially if the road are bad. If you can’t see the bottom of the horse’s hoof that’s in front of you – you’re too close. And the collision could be more severe than a bent fender.

Be aware of your surroundings

The person who is biking, the ball that’s going to end up in front of your car, the driver that doesn’t see the stop sign; or the deer in the woods, the person who is biking, the flag the is fluttering. All these and more can cause an unexpected incident.

One of my riders was recovering from a stroke. As she was learning to ride, I noticed that she did not move her head when going around a corner or making a circle. We spent several weeks practicing looking where you are going, then make the turn. About a month later she told me that she keeps hearing me telling her to turn her head when she’s driving. She did not realize until now that she didn’t turn and look before going around corners. Now she does!

Skills learned in horseback riding are definitely transferable to other areas of our life.

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

The H.I.T. riders meet every Tuesday at 6:30 pm. This isn’t your typical riding class. In fact, some weeks there is no riding at all. But every week the horses are involved in some aspect of the challenge.

Yes, these young riders are up for the challenge of training a horse. H.I.T. is an acronym for Horseperson In Training. And although their riding instructor is present, it is up to them to determine what challenge they choose and how they will go about accomplishing it.

One of the young riders selected roping a steer for her challenge. We provided the cow, as it turned out, but she decided what steps would be taken to make sure the horse accepted the “steer” in the arena and allow her to rope it.

Eventually, this challenge will go one step further, and the cow will “run” along the long wall of the arena on a rail while the rider “ropes” it. But for now, we just got the horse used to the cow moving and the rope hitting the cow.

This video captures it. 

It did take about four weeks to accomplish this task. And although our horses are pretty much desensitized, it took an entire session to get Leslie really comfortable with the cow.

For more information about the variety of programs we offer, see our website at Pretty Pony Pastures.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 918 other followers