Monthly Archives: July 2013

Horse Won’t Stand Still While You Do Up The Girth? Here’s How To Fix A Cinchy Horse! - How to fix a cinchy horseSometimes we get a horse who doesn’t like it when we go to do up the girth or cinch.  They won’t stop moving, dance around, or even buck – which is annoying at best, and can be downright dangerous at worst. Also, it’s not good for your saddle if it hits the ground before the buckle is able to be secured!

A girthy or cinchy horse can be a real problem, so it’s much better to stop it happening in the first place.

Here are a few videos that may help you make sure you’re safe before you step into the saddle …

I hope you find that the information in these videos help you stay safe when you get on your horse.

Making Your Horse’s Stall Safe - Stall safety-3Whether you are building, renovating or simply maintaining your horse’s stall, horse-proofing the environment is essential.

Having a safe stall and barn is much easier in the first place than putting your horse’s health and safety at the risk of hurting your horse, let alone incurring expensive vet bills.

Click the image or this link for a highly informative video in which Dr. Christy Corp-Minamiji explains how can you build a safe stall or make an existing stall safer.

She discusses:

  • The ideal size of a stall
  • Safe walls
  • Ceiling height
  • Appropriate footing
  • Safe aisleways
  • Safe feeders
  • Waterers
  • Secure latches
  • Sharp edges and protusions
  • Cleanliness

Click on the image or this link to view the video from The

Don’t take chances – your horse is too valuable and I’m sure he’s a good friend.  Go through your barn and stalls now and fix everything that could be potentially cause injury to your horse!

Fixing A Head Tilt - Fixing a head tiltWhen you ask your horse to turn, does he tilt his head instead of bending through the poll, so that one ear is lower than the other?

Three-time Olympian dressage coach, Jane Savoie, has some exercises for you to try that encourage the horse to soften through the poll:

If your horse tilts his head and carries one ear lower than the other, chances are he’s stiff at the poll. You might see first see this on circles or the lateral work with a bend such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half pass.

Here’s an exercise you can do to supple your horse’s poll.

  • Start in the halt on the rail so you can check that you’re keeping your horse’s body absolutely straight. If he’s straight, his body is parallel to the rail from nose to tail.
  • When you start to supple the poll, keep his neck parallel to the rail. The most common mistake is to bend the neck. Your horse can bend his neck and still stay locked in his poll.
  • Use an indirect rein to move his face only one inch to the left and one inch to the right so you can just see his inside or outside eye and/or nostril (this is also sometimes called position left and position right, flexion and counter-flexion, or +1 and -1).
  • Remember, when you use an indirect rein, keep your fingers softly closed around the reins. Then, turn your wrist quickly and smoothly as if you’re locking or unlocking a door, turning the ignition key (right hand) to start your car, or scooping a spoonful of sugar out of a bowl.
  • Don’t vibrate the reins while suppling the poll. That will just flex your horse’s jaw and close the angle at his throatlatch.
  • When turning your wrist, keep your hands (Read more here …)

Did you find her suggestions helpful?  Let us know in the comments below.  If you know someone who is having this problem with their horse, feel free to share this article with them.

Want to know more?  Check out her Happy Horse Home Study Course.

What Are The Instinctual Needs Of Your Horse? - Meeting instinctual needsTo have a Healthy, Happy Horse, we need to meet his instinctual needs as well as his physical needs.  In the wild, the herd teaches him how to fill these needs.

Unfortunately, today we usually place the horse in an environment that is of our own making and that is convenient for us, and often this environment is nothing like the natural environment that the horse’s body and mind is programmed for.  If his emotional needs are not met in this artificial environment, many physical problems and emotional behaviors are manifested.

So what can we do about it?

Marijke de Jong has written a thoughtful article in which she discusses the following issues in great detail, supported by explanatory photos and illustrations:

  • the needs of the horse
  • what happens when these needs are limited or even absent
  • what problems result from this, and
  • how to avoid them.

By Marijke de Jong


To be successful with straightness training we have to meet the instinctual needs of your horse first.

Given their characteristics, horses have a number of needs. These are:

  • Certainty and safety, because the horse is a prey animal with a flight instinct
  • Routine, because the horse is a creature of habit, so require a regular routine of eating, resting, grooming etc
  • Grass and roughage, because they are herbivores
  • To eat small amounts throughout the day, because with a full belly it’s not easy to flee
  • Variety, because it’s boring and frustrating to be 23 hours in a stable
  • Constant movement, because they are steppe animals
  • Connection with other horses, because they are social animals
  • The nead for leadership, because they are herd animals and like to follow a confident leader

Limitation of horse needs

Understanding how horses behave in nature can help us to better fulfill their needs. In the domesticated world, most horses are limited in their ability to fulfill their natural horse needs because of the way they are kept. The overview displays the differences:

Collecting food Horses spend 60% of their time on feeding (14 to 15 hours per day). This leads to 55,000 chewing movements. Sometimes horses spend 2 x 5 minutes eating pellets and 3x 1 hour eating hay. This leads to 7,000 to 10,000 chewing movements.
Amount of food Little bits throughout the day 3 times a day a lot at one time
Movement 5 to 10 km spread over the whole day Sometimes only 1 hour a day
Rest 30% of their time (7 hours per day). The horse can lay five minutes per day completely flat out Sometimes 23 hours in the stall. Laying down completely is sometimes not possible at all
Social contact A lot of contact with other horses. Sometimes the only contact is with humans. Many horses (especially stallions) are kept alone in the pasture and alone in the stable.
Foals Foals spend half of their time playing with other foals.Weaning: Separation at 9 months. Sometimes the foal’s only companion in the pasture is the mother. Weaning: Separation at 4 months.
Young horses Living together with other horses. Developing friendships. Education provided by counterparts. Behavioral rules, learning horse language. Developing social skills. Sometimes alone or with only one other horse. Often in a socially inadequate living environment. Education provided by human.
Young adults Stallion: bachelor band. Mare: first foal when she is 5 years old. Stallion: often castrated. Mare: frustrated oestrous cycle
Protection Coat, strong legs, good natural immunity. Less immunity, often ill because of the stable climate; too humid, too dark, too dusty, blankets and bandages.
Grooming Mutual care. Rolling. Humans brush the horse. Rolling sometimes not possible.
Hooves Hooves wear out naturally. Farrier takes care of trimming the hooves. Because the horse is not able to move sufficiently in a stable which is too dry or too wet, hoof and leg problems can develop.

Problems by not fulfilling the natural horse needs

By not fulfilling the natural needs of the domesticated horse, physical and psychological problems can arise:  [Read more here …]



The more you fulfill the natural needs of your horse, the better you will be able to connect with your horse and the more smoothly your training process will be.

You will succeed the most when you work with Mother Nature.

Rescuing An Abandoned Wild Foal - Rescuing an abandoned wild foal

Stock photo of a foal for illustration purposes only – not the actual foal rescued

Wild horse photographer Carol Walker was making a trip to the Red Desert this past spring when she came across a foal, less than a week old, abandoned and totally alone.

She tells the story of how she was able to rescue the little foal on her blog, “Wild Hoofbeats” – I know you’ll love it!

Wild Horses: Rescuing an Abandoned Salt Wells Creek Foal

By Carol Walker

On Sunday, I was driving in Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area in the Red Desert of Wyoming. This area is over 1 million acres in size, vast and beautiful in parts, with power plants, a few ranches, wildlife (which includes deer, antelope and wild horses), plus cattle and sheep. You can drive for over 30 miles on dirt roads from I-80 south and still not reach the border of the herd area.

I was there because a judge in Wyoming Federal Court signed a Consent Decree which will eliminate all wild horses from this Salt Wells Creek Herd Area this summer. I wanted to see and photograph some of the over 600 wild horses inhabiting this area that would soon be separated from their homes and families and end up initially at the Rock Springs Short Term Holding Facility.

The last time I had visited this herd was in August of 2010 before the last round up of Salt Wells and Adobe Town.

On Sunday it was rainy and sunny alternating, and there was a storm that was supposed to be coming in that evening, and the roads were wet in spots, so I planned to stay to paved and extremely-improved dirt roads only. I was driving along and saw a sign for County Road 27 and the road looked good, so I turned. I drove and saw manure from wild horses and stud piles, but no horses. The scenery is varied and beautiful, and there was one ranch along this road which I passed.

I saw no other vehicles, and I had been going for about 10 miles. Soon there was a turn for Aspen Mountain, and the road underneath my tires got looser and looser and I started to slide. I almost turned around, but I got this urgent feeling that I needed to keep going. I turned north up CR 27 and drove a little bit, and the road got a little firmer which was a relief. But the clouds started coming in, and I almost turned around. Then I spotted a horse—finally!

As I got closer, I realized that this was a foal, and he looked miserable, head down, standing next to a post. I looked and looked but could not see any other horses. I drove closer and got out, and got my binoculars. I could see for at least a few miles in every direction, but not a single other horse was in sight. The little guy had worn a path around the post, and from the little bits of manure it looked as though he had been there awhile. I approached slowly, not wanting to scare him, and noticed a big bite mark on his neck from another horse.

It looked like a big scrape, not a deep wound, and it was not bleeding. He was bright-eyed and moving just fine. I wondered how he had come to be there all alone—perhaps he had a young first-time mother who had wandered away, perhaps a stallion had bitten him and driven him off, or maybe his mother had died shortly after having given birth. I knew he was less than a week old.

When I got closer he whinnied at me, a little high pitched happy noise, clearly glad to see another creature! I was able to touch him, and he tried to nurse on my fingers. He was thirsty! I knew foals this small could not graze and need to nurse from their mothers every few hours, and there was a big storm coming in the next day, so he clearly needed help. I could not fit him in my vehicle, let alone lift him in, and also there were regulations about how to interact with wild horses and so I needed help.[More …]


Carol’s beautiful book “Horse Photography: The Dynamic Guide for Horse Lovers”, is one of the best instructional and inspirational guides to horse photography in existence, and is available from Amazon in hardcover or on Kindle. Be sure to check it out.

Barrel Racer Still Going Strong At 81 - Barrel racer

Barrel racer [stock photo]

Back in 1964, Ardith Bruce was the World Women’s Barrel Racing Champion.

She’s now 81 years young, but is still the ultimate competitor, still competing even though arthritis makes it harder for her to climb aboard. And she still hurls her horse around the barrels at breathtaking speed and flies across the dirt for home.

Here is her fascinating story:

The cowgirl in tennies, stretch jeans and western shirt is racing hell-bent for leather across the arena in Fountain atop a half-ton horse named Itchy.

They round the barrels heartstop close, then fly across the dirt for home.

And this is just practice.

If you think about the rider’s age, you might get a few butterflies. But like a car crash, you can’t look away.

Don’t worry, this 81-year-old barrel racer is Ardith Bruce, the 1964 world champion. She still sits deep in the saddle and competes even when arthritis makes it a chore to fling her leg over the cantle.

Lucky Ekberg, a long-time friend and president of Fountain Valley Riding and Roping Club sums up Bruce best:

“Her mind has a built-in racing stopwatch and her heart is full of horsehair. Watching her ride takes your breath away.”

Just recently, she came in about 28th out of 140 men and women barrel racers competing at Norris Penrose stadium. She was probably the only one over 65.

“I like to say I came in first — in the 80-year-old category,” she laughs.  [Story continues here]


You gotta give it to her – she’s a legend!

The Correct Way To Trim Barefoot Hooves - Fancy horseshoes

Fancy horseshoes.Photo Courtesy

A lot of people would like to try letting their horses go barefoot but have reservations because they know or have heard of many horses that have had tender feet or even gone lame once their shoes were taken off. And that’s not good, whether your horse is a serious or semi-serious competition horse or just a buddy that you like to do trail rides with.

In this informative and detailed article, Maureen Tierney discusses the real reason that horses can be sore and need boots when they go barefoot  – they have either been incorrectly trimmed, or simply over-trimmed.

Drawing on her intensive research of the horse in his natural state, she reveals that the culprit is the person who trims the horse’s hooves and their lack of knowledge as to how the hoof, in its natural state, works differently than when it is shod.

Read the article to learn the correct way a barefoot horse should be trimmed …

One of the main reasons people quickly give up on barefoot, or don’t even try it, is due to the infamous “transition period” which follows taking a horse’s shoes off. The other major reason that people give up on barefoot is because their horses remain ouchy – for years. This is great for boot companies, but not for owners and certainly not for the horses themselves.

The sad truth is that neither the uncomfortable “transition period”, nor the prolonged ouchiness are necessary. Both are the result of over trimming. Over trimming is the removal of any material from the hoof which should not be removed. After 12 years of being a barefoot trimmer, and seeing lame and over trimmed horses, I still do not understand why trimmers continue to over trim. Why do they continue – year after year!!! – to accept lack of soundness as normal? To view it as acceptable?

If you were to survey trimmers you would hear how successful they are – how all the horses they trim are doing well (though many need boots). However if you were to survey the owners of barefoot horses you would hear that many are not happy or satisfied with their horse’s level of soundness. There is clearly a huge disconnect.

Let me put it in black and white. If a horse is ouchy and needs boots, and has not been diagnosed with founder, navicular, or some other real hoof issue, and has been out of shoes longer than 3 months, the odds are that he or she is being over trimmed.  [Read the rest of the article here]


Also, be sure to check out Maureen’s excellent and thorough book, “Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method“.

Just Singing In the Rain: Awesome Video!

What an agile and obedient horse, and such an amazing display of horsemanship, skill and dexterity, riding one-handed and twirling an open umbrella!

I’m gobsmacked –  Enjoy!

Please feel free to share this beautiful video.