Monthly Archives: January 2015
If you’re like us, riding time is precious (especially now that we’re trying to squeeze every minute of daylight out of the evening we can). That’s why a lot of the tack knickknacks in our Other Items section of our online shop are aimed at saving you time.
The most annoying thing about using a breastcollar has got to be looping it through the girth every time you saddle up. You’re on this side then that side, then back again to get the breastplate, saddle, and pads all adjusted. Our girth loops can be ordered in matching colors to our breastcollars, and can stay on your girth, which means you just have to clip, clip, and go. The loops are adjustable to fit the width of your girth and to take up any extra slack once they attach to the breastcollar.
The breastcollars themselves also do double duty–most of our standard styles slip at both saddle rings for easy on/off, and include a “grab strap” across the pommel of the saddle…juuuuust in case you need a little extra “hold” out on the trail or cross country course.
We were excited to read recently about a British rescue horse named Orchid who celebrated her 49th birthday on New Year’s Day. Orchid, who is a Thoroughbred x Arabian, is believed to be the oldest horse in Great Britain. What an accomplishment!
We were also interested to read about how Orchid celebrated–naturally surrounded by admirers at the rescue where she now enjoys a relaxed retirement, but also with her favorite treat: cabbages. In fact, Orchid is said to eat several cabbages a week.
- Grapes. We’ve only tried the seedless variety, but our horses love the sweetness and we love their small size
- Pumpkin. One excellent way to get rid of a pumpkin after Halloween is to roast it and cut into pieces for your horse (just make sure there’s no mold or soft spots on it first). Not all horses eat it, but those who do even seem to like the seeds.
- Pears. Ripe pears are a popular treat for horses in Japan, and are intriguing for those on this side of the Pacific too. You may need to break the skin to help the horse taste the juice upon first introduction; we found the waxy skin tricked ours out of biting into it without some encouragement.
This time of year has us looking at our horses, wondering–do they have enough fat? Too much? Are they keeping their fitness from earlier in the year?
We posted earlier this year about an assessment system that can help you decide whether your horse needs to gain or lose weight. If you’ve got a fairly fit horse and are seeing some minor changes, it may be a loss of fitness if you haven’t been able to work out in rough weather.
Your veterinarian can recommend some good tips on bringing a horse back to work after some time off, and could also help you decide what you’re dealing with in terms of equine fitness. For background, we were fascinated by a recent article from the fabulous folks at Horse Nation, which teaches us how to measure a horse’s resting heart rate and what changes to expect post-exercise.
We don’t know about you, but here in central Kentucky, we’re hoping the weatherman is kidding us about this next week’s predictions. From balmy temperatures and rain on Saturday to cooler winds in the early part of the week to single digit lows projected for later in the week, we have no idea what season it’s supposed to be.
Several years in this rollercoaster winter weather has taught us with a few tricks for surviving the months between December and February.
- When the ground is too frozen to ride, keep your horse’s mind active with trick training. One of the most popular methods for cueing horses to do this is using a clicker; you teach the horse to associate the click with getting a treat, then use the clicker to reward correct reactions to cues.There are some great books out there on the subject.
- Even if the arena has become a slushy mess, you might be able to safely go for a walk. Walking can do more to keep you and your horse in condition than it may seem, especially if you work your horse in a frame related to the type of riding you do–dressage, Western, whatever.
- Sometimes it’s tempting to venture out of the ring for a hack across the field. With the freezing, thawing, and raining, it’s hard to know whether there’s too much slip and slide out there for a ride. Try watching your horse’s movements when he’s on his own in the pasture. Does he feel comfortable jogging across the field to accept a cookie? Are he and his herdmates bucking or running upon turnout (if that’s their usual routine)? If he’s being atypically careful with himself, that could be a cue that adding your weight into the equation could be more challenging than usual.
- Windy winter days make even our calmest horses much more feisty than usual. No matter what type of riding you do, it’s a good time to teach yourself and your horse to lunge or ground drive as an alternative or prelude to your ride. Both exercises can help either blow off steam or draw a horse’s focus away from the whistling winds and on to your cues.
- Take advantage of the warm days when you can get them! We use above-freezing days to scrub out buckets and tubs, sweep, and clean/condition tack and halters. Of course, if you’ve got beta biothane equipment, that can save you some serious time–just toss it in a bucket of soapy water, rinse and go!
Beta can save you some time when things get cold, too. Leather and even nylon get stiff when temperatures plunge, and the last thing you want to deal with in single digits is fiddling with a stubborn halter strap. Beta biothane doesn’t harden, even during the polar vortex winter we had last year.
Learn more about this super-durable material here.
Now it’s your turn–how do you deal with roller coaster weather?