I’ve had the pleasure of taking many wild horses from wild to mild. I was their first touch, I placed their first halter on their face, taught them about captivity all the way up to showing them how to be good citizens when riding. This is the most time consuming way of training but the most rewarding knowing they are the product of your knowledge, if you don’t have the tools and the know-how they can’t progress. I believe it takes a year this way to go from wild to mild and have a well rounded horse with an emphasis on NOT RUSHING them and matching their learning pace with your teaching pace. We’ve all seen or know those trainers that throw a saddle on within a month of obtaining a wild horse. Sure they got them riding but I prefer my foundation solid and not filled with holes like Swiss cheese. Riding isn’t about riding. It’s about communication and patience. Some days I strive to ride but the horse isn’t 100% there so, to avoid an issue we just do review on the ground. Horses gave bad days and good days just like us but with short, successful training sessions you will achieve your solid foundation and a willing and steady partner you can trust because he, in turn trusts you. He knows you understand him. “Patience, understanding and a sense of humor go a long way” -Dave Tate (a close and beloved friend of mine said these words to me and I’ll forever remember them). Pictured is my horse Sebastian. He was wild, and heard headed but with patience, understanding and sense of humor we now have a bond and trust that is irreplaceable. It’s a great feeling well deserved by both parties.
All long lasting structures are built on solid foundations. You wouldn’t live in a house with no foundation so why ride a horse with limited ground work? You don’t have to! Ground work is fun and helps develop a stronger bond and understanding with its handler. Everything in the saddle should start on the ground! I personally do 80% of my schooling from the ground and 20% in the saddle. Saddle time for my horses, clients and myself are simply to check for understanding with the horse and review. I don’t start battles in the saddle I want saddle time to be the horses reward. Groundwork is where the “jesus meetings” happen. On the ground you’re your strongest self. On the ground there’s minimal chance of error and the horse doesn’t learn bad habits. Throw a leg over a horse too soon and you could be setting yourself back more than moving forward. I want my horses to look forward to saddle time. My horses are easy to catch and look forward to working and I like to keep it that way. A good partnership and solid foundation are built on successful training sessions sometimes only 20 minutes long but the horse realizes it doesn’t have to work hard to please you. “Work smarter not harder” applies to horse training as well! Go enjoy your horse and forget the stresses of the world. Let your horse be your paradise.
Some of us are lucky to have a lit barn on timers and double blanket our horses but most of us don’t have the luxury, nor the time so what do we do? We’ve got these woolly mammoth horses, ready for the next ice age. When you barely work them they are drenched, take forever to cool off and dry or they start to shiver on cold nights due to their workout. Is clipping the answer? Yes, but I’m moderation. I’ve found that clipping the chest and throat line up to the throat latch does the trick just fine. This way the horses skin can breathe but not cause a chill if the animal is just loafing outside with its turnout blanket on. In my experience I do not recommend clipping the horses belly. It’s the coldest part of the horse shielded from sun and not covered by a blanket. Many sport clips on horses include the belly. Yes it looks nicer by far but I noticed more horses with clipped bellies that were colder faster just standing in their paddocks. To each their own obviously but I personally don’t clip bellies until spring when I notice their flanks starting to sweat before they blow their winter coats. Also if you must hose your horse off in winter, please do so early in the afternoon so they have time to dry before the temperature drops. When hosing them off, do not wet their belly it’s the last to dry and if wet will cause a chill in the evening. Hose off mainly chest and neck then sweat scrape and cover the horse with a fleece cooler until mostly dry. If the horse appears cold, keep hay available for the horse. Eating helps increase body temp. Most importantly have fun, be safe and enjoy these beautiful animals they are a treasure.
Ask me any horse health, training, rehabilitation or care question I’ll be happy to help with free, non judgmental advice!
Are you battling the mud?
Two inexpensive tips to help keep your horse healthier in this wet weather.
Apply listerine to the horses sole of the hoof after cleaning it with a hoof pick. This will help keep bacteria away and keep the horses hoof hard in winter. Plus it smells fresh!
2). Baby oil! Yes baby oil!
Baby oil bottles fit most spray bottle nozzles (crazy huh?!). Simply just spray the horses belly and legs to keep mud from building up it also helps to dissolve matted on mud!
Both products are safe and your horse never smelled so bathroom fresh in the middle of winter!