Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Whos Responsibility is it? Everyone's but the trainer is held to a higher standard of knowledge.

There are many things that go into a successful partnership with your horse.  It takes a team to make it work.  There are key players required for a successful team that need to work together for a common goal.

The owner must use all of the team members and failure to do so, can cause the whole project to fail.

The trainer is an important team member and a resource for accurate information about what may be needed from the rest of the team.  Each sport within the equestrian field may require slightly different things to come together for your horse to perform at the top of its ability. 

In dressage, a sport horse float is almost a necessity.  It is a sport where light contact for communication is required, so there needs to be total mouth comfort to allow the horse to hear without any stress.  Some folks do not believe in this kind of floating and that can work for them as long as their horse was born with a fairly good mouth.  When there is a problem with the mouth, then the float becomes critical.

The same thing applies to the farrier care.  If your horse has good feet you have more options on hoof care.  Natural trimming can work and does if the hoof structure sufficient.  If the rider rides the horse hard or on hard surfaces - the horse may simply need shoes to be able to function without pain like the rider needs it to.

Saddle fitting is also a big deal.  Your trainer can send you in the right direction, but ultimately having a good saddlefitter in your corner helps you ride your horse pain free.

I have seen people make teeth floating mistakes and farrier mistakes and saddle fitting mistakes.  Most of them willingly make adjustments when the discomfort is pointed out.  Not addressing these things is actually unkind to your horse and counter-productive to your goals.

As a trainer I try not to dwell on these things but I find sometimes I have to.  Pain blocks progress like nothing else I have seen.  The horse looses 1/2 of its I.Q. and is slow to learn at best and becomes dangerous to ride at worst.  No trainer wants her student to not progress or worse yet get hurt.  So at the point where there is a chronic pain problem that is not addressed, it is usually best to suspend the trainer - student relationship.

That being said, I love helping folks and their horses.  It makes my day when they progress and do well.  I love coming back from a horse show talking about what went well and what needs to be worked on to make things even better.  Those are great discussions that help focus the trainer and student for future successes.

It takes a team to make your horse experience a great one.  Pick your team wisely and have a great time.  This is supposed to be fun and educational.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How Complicated Can Riding be?

I know when I was younger it was simple to me.  I wanted a horse and I wanted to learn to ride.  I thought well how complicated can it be?  I was in for a suprise - that is for sure.

The horse needs to be sound and physically comfortable and I need to be ready willing and able to make that happen for my horse.  I also have to take care of myself physically as well.

Saddle fit is a big deal.  If there is a problem with a saddle and it does not fit your horse and your horse is uncomfortable, then right away there will be problems.  To complicate things even further, it seems like there are many horses who have an issue with their saddles even if the fit seems o.k.  I purchased a Lovatt and Rickets saddle a while ago - maybe a year ago.  It has a flair at the shoulder area and does not fit quite the same there and allows for more shoulder freedom.  Well many horses really prefer that kind of a tree.  It makes me wonder if more horses have something like mild kissings in their wither area than I ever realized.  All I know for sure is that for many horses, that saddle is a winner.

I purchased a horse, Soleil for a school horse a while back and I worked on comfort with her for a long time.  She is a Quarter Horse/Arab cross and has fairly wide sprung ribs.  (Great for deep breathing - but hard for saddle fitting.)  Non-slip pads do the trick for her and she is now quite happy.

Teeth floating is also a huge deal.  The horse really needs to be comfortable in their teeth so they can relax and move their jaw as they work.  I prefer an equine dentist for that.  It really makes a difference in performance.

Then of course there is the farrier.  I am not a huge fan of shoeing every horse but believe if it is necessary for comfort, shoes should be used.  Some breeds have better feet, like many Arabians and I have a few Lipizzaner mares at the farm that have good feet.  I also have some warmbloods that have nice feet.  With the warmbloods, it seems like the less TB blood in the mix, the better the feet.

O.K. now I am making the basic assumption that wormings and basic health is in order. 

Now you are ready to take your riding lesson or go to that show.  If you want to have a great time and learn your sport with the least amount of detours, take care of all of the above.