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Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

My two sisters live in Texas and even though neither of them are riders, they both have used the phrase “rode hard and put up wet” when they are describing someone who is working too hard and not taking enough time off.

The urban definition has me picturing some overworked city dweller commuting an hour or more to her job, putting in 8-10 hours of repetitious work, then the long commute home during rush hour traffic. Too exhausted to cook or eat, she collapses in her recliner still in the clothes she wore to work.


The phrase, as we horsemen know, was borrowed from the negative description of a rider working a horse to near exhaustion, then jerking the saddle off and turning the sweaty horse out with no grooming. Of course none of us do that but we might be guilty of not taking the time necessary to cool down a horse properly after work.

A cool down is especially important in the cold weather that seems to be blanketing the entire country. I’m hearing 4 degrees in Florida tonight?

When a horse that has grown any sort of winter hair coat is worked hard, he sweats more, has trouble cooling out and drying off so and is set up for chills, muscle stiffness, and overall blahs.

Some things to think about:

Use a quarter sheet to protect the hindquarters during work.

Consider a body clip and blanketing.

Use a body wash or brace to remove sweat before cooling and grooming.

Use a cooler when hand walking a horse to cool him out.

Have a great ride and take care of that good horse,

 

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Hi Cherry,

My daughter has a 19 year old mare that looks really healthy and doesn’t even look 19 but seems to be having some issues. When she tries to canter the horse speeds up but doesn’t want to push into the canter or she will buck. If my daughter gets her into a canter she says it does not feel right at times and she suspects that maybe her arthritis is getting too bad. We didn’t start noticing the arthritis till a few months ago and she is now on joint supplements. My daughter is concerned and doesn’t want to force her into something that is going to hurt her and is wondering if maybe it is just attitude since she is very spunky. Do you have any advice?

Tammy

Hi Tammy,

Arthritis that shows up as a reluctance to strike off at the canter or lope or canter roughly or buck during the transition usually stems from wear and tear of the hind limb (most notably the stifle and hock) and the loin.

As you suggest, these behaviors can also be a result of a feisty or disobedient horse, but since you already know the mare has arthritis, in this case, you should focus on that.

You don’t say whether the joint supplements are helping – and what kind you are using.

As far as use – be sure the mare is thoroughly warmed up with walking and trotting before asking her to canter. Many horses warm out of their arthritis stiffness after 5-15 minutes of low level work.

Focus also on transition work which is any upward or downward shifting of gears. The more proficient your daughter is at other transitions, the better the canter depart will be.

Finally, be sure the mare is being ridden with enough collection so that she CAN canter rather than rush forward at the trot.

Refer to 101 Arena Exercises to help develop the things I’ve mentioned both in the horse and the rider.

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Hello Cherry

My miniature horse foal keeps biting, bucking, rearing and jumping up.  He is a 4 month old foal.  I plan to geld him, but our vet said to wait until he is 1 year, so it won’t harm his growth.

Hershey wants to bite and chew on EVERYTHING.  He has toys in the yard that he can play with, but I seldom see him using them.  We have a pet goat who lives with him and his mother, and he is often seen chewing on her legs and tail (she has bite marks to prove it)  I try to enforce the no-bite rule when I am around him by pushing his head away and tapping him on the muzzle, but when I leave for the day, there isn’t anyone to stop him.

Also, when I turn my back to him, he will often run up behind me and rear/kick me.  He also does this to his mother by jumping up and placing his hooves right below her withers.

He is a very smart foal, catches on very easily and  loves to please me.  He let me take his halter on and off him at 5 days old and would move back and to the side with pressure too, but now he is so focused on biting or chewing on me that when I ask him to do something, he ignores my signals.

On a different hoof, when his mother goes to roll in the dirt, she finds it very difficult because he jumps over her.  I have often had to hold him still so she can roll, because I am worried that he will tangle his legs with hers.

Is this a stage, or is it a habit???  And how would I be able to fix it and make him behave?  Would gelding him early help?  I am supposed to show him in showmanship this year.

Thanks, Julia

Hi Julia,

First I want to be sure that you know how to search here on this blog and on my website for information related to Biting and other horse behavior and training topics.

For example, here on this blog, you can type Biting in the Search box at the top of the page or in the right hand column. It will bring up a list of articles here that talk about horses that bite. For example

Horse Behavior – Biting Children

You can also go to the article page on my main website www.horsekeeping.com where there are many more articles. On that page, you can see all of the articles by title, so the fastest way to find what you want is to go to the Behavior category and scroll down to the articles on Biting.

For example, besides the one on the miniatures that bite children, there are the following articles:

Q&As on Horse Biting

Biting Prevention

Horse in Stall Bites at People

Now, to your questions specifically. It is generally a stage that colts (male foals) go through. If a biting horse is dabbed at or played with, or if you lightly tap his nose to tell him no, in many cases it tends to encourage play biting which is a socially acceptable behavior between horses.

You need to make sure your foal knows in no uncertain terms that you are top on the pecking order and biting is not an acceptable behavior.

You also need to set up regular handling sessions so that he learns to respect your personal space. This means 2-3 sessions per day every day – the sessions don’t have to be long – they could be 5-20 minutes each but should be structured. The articles I suggest above and other articles on my website will help with that.

As far as limiting his biting when you are not handling him or near him, that would be difficult. You can deter his biting of certain things like wood rails by coating them with a No Chew product, but that’s a big world out there, so while he is at this stage, perhaps teething, you should focus on his good manners when he is being handled and when you are near him when he is loose.

In terms of gelding him, here is a thorough discussion of why a horse is gelded, when, and aftercare. You should follow your own veterinarian’s advice as to when to geld but do know that many horses are gelding “early” which means before they are a year old – even at weaning – with good results and no negative effects. I don’t want to advise you on that as I can’t see your horse. Your veterinarian has the best picture of your horses, management and so on.

Gelding and Aftercare

Best of luck and remember, there is no substitute for thorough regular effective handling.

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For the Horse Who Has Everything

©  2010 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com

Is there is a special horse on your Christmas list that you would like to thank in some way for his enjoyable partnership and devotion to duty?  If so, show that you really appreciate him by choosing something that a horse would enjoy.  Pass up the reindeer antlers and choose something from this, a horse’s Christmas wish list.

As you might suspect, with horses, food items top the list.  If you have several horses, you can wish them all happy holidays with a truck load of carrots.  Some farms sell a pick up load for $100 or so delivered.  If you have a cool shady place to store them, they will likely keep until the last one is fed.  Carrots provide a welcome diversion to the horse’s normal ration and can be a healthy reward for good behavior.  Carrots are an excellent sources of carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is usually the only vitamin that ever needs to be supplemented in a horse’s diet.  If a horse is not receiving green sun-cured hay, he may not be getting adequate carotene.  If a truck load is not an option, then set aside the $$ to buy large bags of carrots or apples, especially affordable if you belong to a buyer’s club like Sam’s.  If you’re on a tight budget, you’d be surprised at how many perfectly good (for horses) carrots and apples are thrown away by grocery stores every day.  Make friends with your local produce manager and arrange to pick up goodies for your horse regularly.

When the temperature dips, oatmeal makes a healthy and warming breakfast for you.  Likewise, at the barn, during cold weather, your horse might relish a hot grain mash.  It takes a little practice and some testing to see what grains and mash consistency appeal to each horse.  Don’t think of wheat bran as the only choice for a mash.  In fact, wheat bran, fed on a daily basis, can be detrimental since it could add too much phosphorus to your horse’s diet.  There should be no such problem if you only feed wheat bran once a week.  But also experiment with mashes made from rolled oats, sweet feed, cracked corn, barley, shredded beet pulp, a handful of molasses or a pinch of salt, some oil or chopped apples or carrots and you are on your way to satisfying your horse’s culinary pleasures (or at least enjoying the benevolent feeling you get from trying!).

Measure and mix the dry ingredients the night before and bring them to the house in a pail. When you put the water on for your tea the next morning, boil some extra water for the mash. Usually a 4:1 ratio of grains to boiling water is satisfactory for most horses.  It is best to err on the dry side rather than the mushy side.  Stir as you pour the water.  Let the mash steep in a warm place for about thirty minutes, preferably covered so it can steam.  Check the temperature and serve.  Take a mug of hot tea out to the barn for yourself, find a warm corner to sit and then listen to the contented slurpings of your appreciative buddies.  And know that beside the nutritional benefits, a mash during cold weather can provide your horse with the needed moisture he might be reluctant to sip from a cold bucket.

Swirl a candy cane in your horse’s water pail?  This is not just a frivolous holiday act but can have a practical application.  Peppermint oil is one substance that can be used to disguise water for the horse that is often “on the road” and will be offered different types of water to drink. Using an aromatic and tasty substance in his water while he is both at home and away, may be the best gift you give a reluctant drinker.

A tasty treat that doubles as a pacifier for the a horse that is stalled during cold weather is a molasses grain block.  Sold across the country under hundreds of local feed mill labels, these blocks should be considered as an occasional supplement to the horse’s normal diet.  Under most feeding circumstances, they are unnecessary, but horses dearly love them.  Comprised of grain products, molasses and minerals, the forty to fifty pound cubes have a wonderful smell and a texture that entices horses to both lick and chew them.  Similar products are made for sheep and cattle, but contain a synthetic source of protein called urea which horses can’t utilize.  For horses, it is important to purchase the “premium” horse version which contains protein from plant sources, such as soybean meal.  Most horses appear to enjoy these large “candy bar blocks” and, in fact, some horses are determined to finish an entire block all at once.  If your horse falls in this category, you will have to roll the block out of his stall or pen each day and only let him have access to it for a limited period of time.  Be sure he always has adequate water available, as even the small percentage of salt in most of these blocks will increase your horse’s thirst reflex – which is a good thing during cold weather.

Probably the next most popular request on a horse’s wish list is his desire to be allowed to be a horse.  Many horses like nothing better than to nose around a pasture inspecting roots and sticks and tracing recent equine history.  From observations, it seems like a roll in the mud or the snow is hard to beat on the equine list of all time favorite recreational activities.  Contrary to our guidelines, horses see nothing wrong in being dirty or having their manes flop over to both sides of their necks.

Depending on the type of winter management that you follow, you may wish To Groom or Not To Groom.  A pasture horse, left to his natural devices, grows a thick protective coat and further seals his skin from wind and moisture by accumulating a heavy waxy sebum at the base of his hairs. Horses that are turned out for the winter should not be extensively groomed, lest you inadvertently remove your horse’s valuable oily protection.  The best gift for the pastured horse is to let his waxy layer stay intact (no vigorous currying), let his coat be fluffy (not smoothed down by brushing) and to offer him shelter from wet weather or piercing winter winds.

If your horse would be more comfortable with a winter blanket, be sure to choose a waterproof, breathable one that can be easily laundered so you’ll perform that task when necessary.  Read the two articles in the Horse Information Roundup that relate to winter blankets to help you choose and use a winter blanket properly.

The stalled horse that is in work not only appreciates but requires vigorous grooming.  A special Christmas session might include body stropping which is an isotonic muscle exercise.  You can use a cactus cloth or a wisp for the stropping.  It’s a vigorous exercise which includes pounding the large muscle masses of the neck, shoulder and hindquarter with moderate pressure which stimulates circulation and then casting off waste products with a sweeping motion.  Massage your horse’s legs with your hands using a circular motion toward the heart.  Massage your horse’s head with an ear rub for the finale – inside and out ending with a slight pulling as you slide your fingers off the tips of your horse’s ears.  Be forewarned – horses given such a body rub are likely to melt in a puddle!

If the cold weather has kept your horse in and he is lonely, he might appreciate a stall companion.  Some friendships just happen and do not have to be arranged.  Cats, chickens, lambs and dogs have been known to voluntarily take up quarters with a compatible horse. The daily treks and routines of both horse and companion provide interest and comfort for each other.  Pigmy goats and other pets or small livestock can sometimes be successfully transplanted in a lonely horse’s stall.

As we know, the holiday season is not complete without family and friends.  And so it is with equines.  A real treat, especially for a stalled horse, is to be turned out with a favorite (compatible!) companion.  There is nothing quite so joyous as two buddies ripping and tearing in the paddock, playing all the bucking and twisting games that are so important in the horse world.  Even though mutual grooming can mess up a lovely mane, it provides unequaled satisfaction and contentment for a horse that is starved for socialization
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If you feel you must give an actual present to your horse, perhaps an innovative stall toy is the answer.  Designed to wile away the hours and discourage wood chewing and other vices, stall toys can channel pent up energies toward  non-destructive play.  Commercial models are often huge rubber balls but a gallon milk container can works too.  Experiment with hanging the toy from various heights.  Note that if your horse becomes obsessed with playing with a toy, you may see some undesirable changes in the curvature of his neck so monitor how he plays and what height is optimum. A variation on this idea is giving a horse a sturdy beach ball to play with in a small paddock or indoor arena.

Horses are appreciative when we make their work easier and more comfortable.  One way to do this is to make sure he is shod for balance, comfort and safety year round.  A consultation with an equine veterinary specialist or a master farrier may turn up some helpful ideas regarding your horse ‘s shoeing.  Besides checking for proper break-over and flat landing, you may be introduced to new ways to provide safe footing for winter riding.

Another way to make a horse’s work easier is to become a more physically fit and athletic rider. Give your horse the gift of becoming a more effective rider.  Promise to stick with the suppling exercises that help you to mount smoothly and ride more fluidly.  Lose a few pounds to ease his burden.  Strengthen your body and become a working member of the team, not just a passenger.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to take some riding lessons to improve yourself so that you are a better member of your horse-human team.

Finally, let your horse luxuriate in some peace and quiet.  Offer him a comfortable place where he can doze or lay without distracting lights and noises.  Let him sigh and whinny in his sleep and wake when he’s ready.  Peace.

 

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Good Afternoon!

I am a newly developed horse lover and I just wanted to say I read your book “Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac”. It was very informative and I enjoyed your insight.  In our Public Library that’s all we had on you and your books.  The horse selection is very old and few on the shelves here.  In the next few years I plan on having a career, or owning a few horses myself.  Thank you so much for writing the book and living the life you wanted.  Your an inspiration to me and all horse lovers a like.  Keep up the great work! Marilyn S.

 

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

 

Hi Marilyn,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write.  I’m so glad my Almanac has helped inspire you to continue to reach for your dream.  I’m happy to share what I have been fortunate to experience and learn about horses and their care and training. The Almanac, which was published in 2007, was a perfect medium to be able to paint the whole year round picture here at Long Tail Ranch.

And thanks also for your encouragement to keep up the work ! The art of writing is applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and sometimes that keeps us writers out of the saddle more than we like ! But there are several new books in the works – one which I am just finishing up the final touches on and will be out in a few months.

I’ll post information about the new books when they become available or you can visit Chronology of Books and Videos by Cherry Hill – the newest ones are at the top of the left column.

Keep working toward your dream and best of luck to you,

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Your hoof care program affects your horse’s immediate performance as well as his long-term soundness. You might not think you need to pay much attention to your horse’s shoeing as long as your horse is sound and his shoes don’t fall off. The good news is that horses are very adaptable and they can often tolerate poor hoof care for months or even years; the bad news is that by the time signs of lameness appear, irreparable damage might already be done. Shoeing methods used to keep shoes on at all costs often ignore critical shoeing principles and might end up putting your horse out of commission for good.

Horse Hoof Care by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

Horse Hoof Care by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

Is Your Horse Well-Shod?

A Pencil Can Help You Find Out

by Richard Klimesh

© 2010 Richard Klimesh © Copyright Information

Guidelines for judging the quality of a shoeing job can include such details as how neatly the frog is trimmed, the size of the clinches and how far the nail heads protrude from the shoe. Details like these are important to some degree, but usually are not critical to your horse’s soundness. There are a four very important aspects of shoeing, however, that you can readily evaluate: balance, shape, support, and expansion. All you need is a pencil and a safe place to tie your horse on level ground. It’s best to evaluate a shoeing job within the first week or two.

Balance

Hoof balance includes many aspects of a horses conformation and movement and has been discussed at length in many books and articles. One type of balance, however, is relatively easy for anyone to quickly assess: it’s called Dorsal-Palmar (DP) balance.

DP balance refers to the alignment of the hoof and the pastern. DP balance can be measured as the hoof angle at the toe. The hoof angle is the relationship between the front (Dorsal surface) of the hoof and the ground (Palmar surface of the hoof). For years, books cited 45 to 50 degrees as a “normal” front hoof angle and 50 to 55 for hind angle. Today, it is generally agreed that in reality these angles are far too low. A more representative range of hoof angles is from 53 to 58 degrees for the fronts and 55 to 60 degrees for the hinds. Keep in mind, however, that every horse has his own “ideal” hoof angle. The hoof angle is considered correct when the hoof and pastern are in alignment, that is, when the front surface of the hoof is parallel to an imaginary line passing through the center of the pastern.

To check the alignment of the hoof and pastern, make sure the horse is standing square on a firm level surface with his cannons perpendicular to the ground. Move 8′ to 10′ from the side of the horse and crouch down to view the feet. Hold a pencil at arm’s length and line it up with the center axis of the pastern. The front of the hoof should be very close to parallel with the centerline of the pastern.

Good Horseshoeing - align the front of the hoof with the center of the pastern.

If the hoof angle is too low, the center line, or axis, will be “broken back” where the lines of the hoof and pastern meet. If the hoof angle is too high, the imaginary line will be “broken forward”. Of the two, a broken-back axix is more common, and more harmful.

A low hoof angle usually indicates a Long Toe/Low Heel hoof configuration. LT/LH can cause excess tendon stress, heel soreness, cracks, bowed tendons, contracted heels, navicular syndrome, and under-run heels. (Under-run heels refer to heels that have an angle lower that the toe of the hoof by 5 degrees or more. Under-run heels slope under the hoof and in severe cases can appear to approach the horizontal.) Even when a foot is in perfect balance when shod, the angle almost always gets lower as the weeks go by because the toe grows faster than the heels and the shoe prevents the toe from wearing away. This is one reason to have the feet trimmed and rebalanced on a regular schedule. A barefoot horse actually might have a better chance of maintaining DP balance, especially if allowed to move freely over dry ground so the hooves can wear naturally.

If the hoof can’t be balanced by trimming, the heels can be built up with a hoof repair material, or wedge heel shoes or pads can be used to elevate the heels and align the hoof-pastern axis.

Note from Cherry: While I am away on business, I’ve invited Richard to blog in my stead……watch for the next 3 parts to this article series.

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Dear Cherry,
I have a 10 year old quarter horse mare who has never been trained by an “excellent” trainer. She is a perfect horse on the ground and out on the trail. But I have noticed she doesn’t travel behind the vertical. She has her head pretty high up. I have no clue where or how to train her so that she is behind the vertical. I know this is causing her to have a very hollow back. It cant be very comfortable for her. I’m wondering if this is also causing some other problems with her, like bucking when I ask her to canter and rushing in the trot. Will a de gouge or Chambon help her? Please help me figure out how I can fix her. I love her so much and she is an amazing horse to ride. I just don’t want her to be uncomfortable. Taylor

Hi Taylor,

When a horse has a high head and a hollow back, that usually means that the horse’s hindquarters are not “engaged”. By that it is meant that there is not enough propulsion or energy coming from “behind” – the horse is trotting or loping out behind himself rather than up under himself with his hind legs, which causes him to be strung out and hollow backed and high headed.

When a horse is engaged and working energetically behind, he rounds his whole topline which raises his back ! Yeah !


So, you want to start working from the back to the front NOT from the front to the back. You want to work on developing more forward movement from the hindquarters.

You mention “she doesn’t travel behind the vertical” – well that is a good thing ! A horse in balance and working energetically forward will hold its head and neck in a nice balanced position with its nose approximately 10 to 15 degrees IN FRONT of the vertical – that’s a nice place for both you and the horse to have a back and forth communication.


So you want to work on forward, long and low exercises to strengthen her back and abdominal muscles and then slowly gather her up and start to collect her – but this will take months of training. Be patient and work for degrees of improvement. A good reference for you would be 101 Arena Exercises.

Look at the frame of the two horses on the cover of my book below – I looked through hundreds of photos to find these two which exemplify balanced working frames and as you can see, both of the horses carry their heads in front of the vertical.


I’m also going to provide you with some links to more articles on my website that talk about the phases of training and collection for your continued reading enjoyment and reference.

Best of luck,

Cherry Hill

The Phases of Training: by Cherry Hill

Your Horses’ Physical Development – The Early Stages: by Cherry Hill

What is Collection?: by Cherry Hill



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Dear Cherry,

I recently learned that I was the new owner of a couple of horses. One a pony and the other a brown and white horse. The pony has been broke before. The big horse has not. We have land for them to roam and water and plenty of food for them. But I have never owned a horse and would like to most definitely learn. I just don’t know how to approach this situation. How should I begin this process?

Thanks, Salvador

Hello Salvador,

Well, you have a most exciting adventure ahead of you.

First of all, although you can learn a lot from the internet, books and DVDs, the best possible advice I can give to you is for you to find an experienced, trusted horse owner or trainer/instructor in your area who can help you get started. For example, you will need to find a farrier and a veterinarian and an experienced horse owner/trainer/instructor in your locale so you have people to contact.

101 Horsekeeping Tips DVDAn experienced horse owner will be able to take a look at your fences and pastures and give you an opinion as to if their suitability for horses and if your pastures provide enough of the right type of feed. Even if you have wonderful pastures and water, you will need to provide the horses with salt and mineral blocks. Horses should have access to salt at all times.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageAs far as taking care of the horses on your land and managing your fences and buildings, I’ve written a book specifically for that. It is called Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and discusses all you need to know as far as the care of the horse on your property.Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillWhen it comes to specific health care skills such as feeding, deworming, vaccinations, hoof care and so on, you can ask your farrier and veterinarian to help you somewhat and you can also refer to Horse Health Care and Horse Hoof Care.

Now when it comes to handling the horses, ask your experienced new friend to help you assess what the pony and the horse know and what they need to learn. Then you can make a plan as to how to proceed from day to day. It is probably best for the horses and your safety for you to have help with both the pony and the horse until you have developed the confidence to handle them on your own. I have posted much information on my website about ground training, manners and so on which will be very helpful to you. And I’ve written many books on all levels of training. You can look through a complete list of books by topics in the Book Barn.

Once you get started, you will have a hundred more specific questions, so feel free to write again.

Best of luck and be safe,Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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Our grass is maturing and our horses are getting used to grazing at least an hour a day. Our goal is to be able to turn the horses out overnight for an 8 hour graze. When a horse spends any time on pasture whether for grazing or turnout, there are certain things we as managers should pay attention to so that our horses are safe and healthy.

Horse Management – Pasture Life

Part of the dream of having a horse is the visual satisfaction of seeing a horse peacefully grazing on a well-maintained pasture at your home. Pasturing a horse might be the most natural way to keep a horse, but unfortunately, it is out of reach for many and can be far from ideal from a horse’s viewpoint. For the best chance for success, start with a good pasture.

A good pasture has a stand of plants suitable for horses. The best kind of horse pasture is a well-drained grass mix with few weeds and NO poisonous weeds, trees or shrubs. If there is a good grass stand established, you have decent rainfall or access to irrigation, and you mow, harrow and reseed as necessary, you should be able to keep one horse on 2 acres of pasture during the growing season. However, arid ranchland with minimal browse plants can require 20 acres or more to support a single horse. To get a better idea of the specific stocking rate for your property, contact your county extension agent.

A pasture needs to be enclosed with safe fencing and gates. Pasture fences and gates should be at least 5 feet tall and well maintained to maximize the horses’ safety and minimize the liability of loose horses on public or private property. Using electric fencing in conjunction with conventional fencing decreases the wear and tear on fences and adds to security as long as the electric fence is checked daily to be sure it is working.

There should be no old dumps or farm equipment in a pasture; horses can easily get hurt on items hidden by tall grass.

There should be easy and safe access to free choice, good quality water. Natural sources should be running, not stagnant. Know the source of the water your horse drinks. If it contains agricultural runoff, it could be high in nitrates. A trough or automatic waterer should be kept clean and situated to minimize mud and to prevent a horse from being crowded into a corner or against a fence.

Pastures should be well drained with no bogs or stagnant water and preferably the soil should not be not sandy.

The pasture should provide shelter – either natural (trees, rocks or terrain) or man-made (shed or windbreak) to ward off sun, wind, cold precipitation, and insects.

There should be free choice salt and mineral blocks at all times.

Pros and cons of pasture life. See the book Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage.

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage by Cherry Hill

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage by Cherry Hill

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I’ve had several queries in regard to the post about No Fear of Loping so here is some more information on the lope or canter.

Becoming an Effective Rider by Cherry Hill

Following is an excerpt from Becoming an Effective Rider on how to ask for a canter and Exercise 10 from 101 Arena Exercises that describes the canter (lope) and how to sit the canter.

Horse Riding

Aids for the Canter or Lope

and Sitting the Canter or Lope

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Aids for the canter or lope, right lead:

  • Apply the aids when the left hind leg is about to land
  • Think – “Come under behind, come up in front, and roll forward smoothly into a three-beat gait.”
  • Seat – Right seat bone forward and up; left seat bone back and down.
  • Push down on the left seat bone then follow the forward movement to the right (without leaning forward) just as the horse creates the forward movement, not before.
  • Legs – Right leg on girth; left leg behind the girth; both active
  • Reins – Right direct rein to create flexion and an appropriate amount of bend; left supporting rein or bearing rein to keep horse from falling in on right shoulder.

DESCRIPTION The canter (lope) is a three-beat gait with the following foot fall pattern:101 Arena Exercises by Cherry Hill

  1. initiating hind leg or outside hind
  2. the diagonal pair or inside hind and outside foreleg
  3. leading foreleg or inside foreleg
  4. regrouping of legs or a moment of suspension.

If the initiating hind leg is the left, the diagonal pair will consist of the right hind and the left front, the leading foreleg will be the right front and the horse will be on the right lead. When observing a horse on the right lead from the side, his right legs will reach farther forward than his left legs. The right hind will reach under his belly farther than the left hind; the right front will reach out in front of his body farther than the left front. When turning to the right, normally the horse should be on the right lead.

The canter has an alternating rolling and floating feeling to it. The energy rolls from rear to front, then during a moment of suspension, the horse gathers his legs up underneath himself to get organized for the next set of leg movements. The rider seems to glide for a moment until the initiating hind lands and begins the cycle again.

A lope is a relaxed version of the canter with less rein contact and a lower overall body carriage.
HOW TO Ride the Canter, Right Lead

It is not enough that your horse is on the correct lead. You must ride every step of the way to keep him in balance and in the correct position.

    • Right seat bone forward, left seat bone in normal position
    • Upper body erect
    • Outside shoulder forward, inside shoulder back
    • Right leg on girth, active, creating right bend and keeping horse up on left rein
    • Left leg behind the girth, active, keeping hindquarters from swinging to the left, maintaining impulsion.
    • Right direct rein to create appropriate amount of bend and flexion
    • Left supporting rein or neck rein if appropriate

USE All western performances and Training Level dressage.

NOTE The trot-canter transition develops a good forward working canter.

RELATED TERMS

Disunited is when a horse is on one lead in front and another behind. Also called cross-leaded. This is very rough to ride.

Counter-cantering is cantering on the “outside” lead on purpose as a means of developing obedience, strength, balance, and suppleness. If counter-cantering on a circle to the right, the horse would be on the left lead and he would be flexed left.

CAUTION Don’t force a horse to carry his head too low or he will be unable to round his topline and bring his hind legs underneath himself and will subsequently travel downhill, heavy on the forehand.

Don’t slow a horse down too much at the canter or the diagonal pair of legs can “break” (front landing before its diagonal hind) giving rise to a four beat gait where the horse appears to be loping in front and jogging behind.

Be sure the horse is moving straight ahead, not doing the crab-like canter.

Hope this was helpful. Have a great ride !

Cherry Hill

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