Pretty Pony Pastures



Grooming_horse_1_rx50Our riding lessons always start by grooming the horse. I have had parents ask why their child has to groom and tack the horse when they are paying for a riding lesson, but I explain that learning about caring for an animal is a lesson as well. The grooming and tacking is very important both for the horse and the rider.

Currying the horse is very much like a massage. Yes, it brings up the dirt and dead coat, but it also a rub down for the skin and muscles. It feels good to the horse. Always curry with some pressure and use a circular motion.

For the rider, this is an opportunity to find out how the horse is feeling. Once in a while, the horse will react to the curry by moving away or moving its head toward to person grooming. Is that a sore spot? Maybe another horse kicked or bit the horse. Check it out.

Throughout the grooming process, you learn a lot about the horse. Was it rolling in the mud all day or night? Are there cuts or scratches that need to be taken care of before the ride? Should the horse be ridden?

In the case of a minor injury, the rider learns what to do for the horse. Especially if there was a kick that drew blood, I ask the rider to watch every week to see how long it will take to heal completely.

Hoof_Cleaning_2_rx25Let’s not forget to clean the horse’s hooves. Rocks, stones, or worse can get caught in the cleft. The hoof may have cracked or chipped. If the hoof grew faster than normal between farrier visits, it may rip. Here’s another lesson for the rider on caring for a horse.

It doesn’t take long before there is a bond between the horse and rider. The rider feels ownership of the horse and wants to learn more about keeping the horse healthy. And it all started with the rub.

 

This post is the first of a five part series on the makeup of a riding lesson.

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You have to wonder which is worse, the deep snow or the gusting winds that are bringing the temperature below 00 and the wind chill into the -30s. We can bundle up, but what about our fur kids – the horses.

With over ten years’ experience, you would think I wouldn’t worry any more. But I do. Even though I know that our horses have enough to eat and warm water to drink and shelter. I still can’t help being concerned even though I know how the metabolism of the horse works.

Eating_Hay_1re

Good feed

Hay is the best feed for horses, especially during the cold winter months. When the hay is digested in the hindgut, it ferments and keeps the horse warm. Increase hay as the temperature drops below freezing. Consult your vet to determine the optimal amount of hay for your horse. Older horses and working horses may require more hay than easy keepers or pasture ornaments. If you can keep hay in front of your horse at all times, that would be perfect. But some horses would gorge themselves, so this is not a wise choice.

Plenty of water

Even in the winter the horse needs a good source of palatable water to prevent colic. Water heaters work good in large tanks and heated buckets work in stalls. If the water is too warm, your horse may not drink it. Also make sure the heater is grounded. Your horse will refuse to drink if it gets a shock from the water bucket.

Nature’s insulation

Most horses put on a thick coat for the winter. But did you ever wonder if it is thick enough? Do you ever shiver and get goose bumps? So do horses. Shivering – not excessively – can help boost the metabolism and help warm the horse up. More effective is piloerection. When you get goose bumps, your skin contracts and little bumps appear causing your hair to stand on end. The same thing happens with the horse, but, this fluffs their coat. They can actually control how “fluffy” their coat gets and the air space between the hair helps to insulate them against the cold. A healthy horse will have a “blanket of snow” on their backs and not be wet at all.

Moving the blood

But what about their hooves, ears, muzzle? The horse has a capillary system that can direct the blood to and from different parts of the body. So, in the summer, the thermoregulatory system directs the blood away from the organs and toward the skin to relieve the body of heat. It also directs the blood in a way to cool the hooves, ears, and muzzle. In the winter, the opposite happens and the blood warms these areas.

Knowing all of this, I will still check on the horses regularly, making sure they have a good supply of hay and a filled, warm water trough. Then go back to the house for a cup of hot chocolate, since my body could learn something from the horse’s metabolism.


It might be because I come from a military family –  Dad_1944my father was in the MerchantKaren_uniform Marines and all his brothers also served during World War II, my husband was in the service, my daughter retired from the Air Force, a grandson just came back from Afghanistan, and my granddaughter’s husband is still serving.

It might be because when I taught I could see how hard it was for the kids whose parents were police officers, fire fighters, first responders, not knowing if they would be safe in the job that they do.

When we read about Horses4Heroes and Operation Freedom, we knew that this was an organization that we wanted to be associated with. So, on May 18th from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, we will be hosting Hero Appreciation Day at our horseback riding facility.

This is a day where our active and veteran service families and community service families (police officers, fire fighters, EMS, etc.) can come out and enjoy a day at the farm. There is no charge to participate in the activities that will be available – horseback riding, horse grooming, making horse treats, and other horse themed games.

We are looking forward to a fun-time with the heroes and their families in our community.

For more information and our location, please visit our Website.

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