Archive for July, 2009
I have had some requests to write an article on general horse care. This is a huge topic and much broader than the scope of this blog entry. The number of ways horses are kept, fed, housed, turned out and worked vary almost as much as our own lives.
I thought the best idea might be to run through my own stable routine and then suggest some resources for your own research.
Much of the information will vary depending on where you live, climate , what you do with your horses and funds available but there a few things common to all the care of equines that need to be addressed.
I have a stable of 9 to 14 horses depending on who is home , who is showing etc. At the moment 2 are my own and the rest boarders. Most of these horse do dressage and or are pleasure horses , a few compete and one is retired. they run the breed gamut from Hannovarian to Appoloosa and from large pony size to 17.3 hands.
My routine begins at 8.30 with hay and water for all and grain for a few who are working more or are older and need supplements. As I do the morning feed I check each horse , primarily to see signs of anyone having been cast overnight or anyone who might be off their feed indicating possible colic or fever as mine are a greedy bunch and anyone not eating has a reason.Most of our horses are on a mixture of timothy and aflafa hay ( always very clean , well cured and no mould.)
When I am satisified all are well I begin doing the stalls.Some horses are turned out during stable rounds and some into the arena. One horse has severe allergies and so turnout is limited to the arena as he is even allergic to several common weeds found in the paddocks and can have a bout of hives lasting weeks and requiring prednisone to control them.
Most of the horses are bedded on soft wood shavings(hard wood being toxic to horses ) and a few on straw. Actually I was trained on straw and so find it makes it a very clean , bright bed and for me easier to clean. Practical reasons ie. removal etc. have made shavings our main bedding here.Many people prefer the plastic shavings forks but I like the weight of a metal fork and have one regular 4 prong for straw and one multi pronged one for shavings. If a horse is very wet and messy I add 2 cups of “Stable Boy” to the bottom of the stall before adding new bedding as it neutralizes the ammonia and helps keep the floor drier.During stall duties and while turning out I check horses for any new cuts, scrapes, bumps , bruises , coughs, nasal discharge , sheath or other swellings , heat in the feet and general look of coat , eye , gums and attitude and deal with these as needed.
Another flake or two( depending on weight requirements) is fed when the horses come back in ( our area is very humid and buggy this time of year and most days an hour’s turnout and they are at the door wanting back in.)While doing the stalls I check the water buckets which easily become filled with hay scraps and slime and dump , scrubbing out if needed and refill. Fresh access to clean water is an absolute essential for horses and often in summer they easily will drink four to five /five gallon pails /day. I also check to make sure each horse has not finished their salt or mineral licks which hang on the wall and make a point to see there are no loose nails or sharp objects (metal come loose , splintered boards etc.) in any of the stalls.After the stalls are done I hang up all the implements and sweep the aisles since debris and forks etc. in the aisle can cause real damage to a person and or horse.I am extremely lucky in that two of my boarders volunteer mornings four days a week and help me with chores. I can’t imagine how I would get by seven days a week without the respite from the heavy work that they contribute.My husband hoists big hay loads into the loft periodically but his engineering job keeps him away from the stable for the most part.I do enlist his help for building maintenance etc. as I am known to be quite dangerous with handyman tools .
Normally I then have a lesson or two and after that feed a flake again , top up water buckets and open all doors and windows, turning on fans as per the weather.
The bulk of lessons are in the aternoon and evening so around 3.30 after a break and my own ride I flake and water again and turn out another horse or two if they had not been out yet that day. I am careful to turn out in pairs or groups only horses who are not going to play too rough or hurt each other. I soak the hay cubes and beet pulp that are part of the evening grain feed and usually drag the ring or do some cobbwebbing till the students are ready. After lessons I have learned to come in for a coffee and grab a bite to eat. I used to night feed after the last lesson but found the horses began “lobbying” for feed as soon as my voice changed to “cooling out” mode during the last lesson . If the horses have been down the drive to the outdoor ring or hacking I always have the riders check their hooves for stones when back to the barn.At night feed around 9.30 pm.I check again that all the horses seem hungry and happy, that the water buckets are filled again and that all the stall doors are secure and again windows and doors according to weather.During lessons and turnout I fly spray the horses applying by hand to face and ears. I prefer “Wipe” as it seems to work best here , for the most part the fans keep flies in the stalls to a minimum.
We have the farrier come to trim and or reset/shoe every five to six weeks in summer when hoof growth is faster and every six to eight weeks during the winter.We have the vet come in April for vaccinations, teeth floating , (sheath cleaning we generally do ourselves every few months and sponge the area when grooming) and whatever else needs examining. and luckily do not usually require the vet very often on an emergency basis. One reason for this I believe is that I feed small amounts often , mimicking grazing and therefore limit the number of colic cases we seem to get here.I do feed grain but not huge amounts as I think forage and fodder should comprise the bulk of a horse’s feed.
We worm the horses in Spring and Fall and in between once or twice. We used to have them tube wormed but the pastes have become so effective we no longer need to do that.I make sure to rotate the brand of paste wormer used to discourage any resistance being built up.
Regards blanketing , a vet once told me , horses are better off without and in a perfect world I would agree, however with stable kept and several older arthritic and or clipped horses they seem to appreciate the warmth of blankets. We have light weight fall blankets for after the first frost and heavier ones in the hard freeze months starting around Christmas.For horses living out I do think the Weathabeeta brand of waterproof, ripproof rugs are an added kindness, particularily if the horse is alone and cannot share body heat with other horses. Cold is not really a problem for horses but dampness, wind and drafts can be. Good ventilation is essential and we have rubber mats on the stall floor for insulation and to stop slipping.
That’s basically my routine and seems to work well since most horses at Sunhall tend to live well into their thirties.
I would highly suggest keeping a copy of “Hayes Veterinary Notes” on hand for reference and determining if a vet call is needed. I also find “The British Horse Society Pony Club Manual ” very thorough on animal husbandry and day to day issues you may have. I do keep banamine , mineral oil, pressure bandages , syringes, epsom salts , antihistamine powder and boracic acic (eye wash ), rubbing alcohol, a disinfectant, cotton packing, rectal thermometer , iodine, poutice clay and vet wrap on hand in the medicine cabinet.
I hope you find this very general overview helpful and keep in mind as I said any stable’s routine must adapt to geography , climate and work requirements of the horses living there.If you have any more specific questions feel free to post them and I will do my best to give you a helpful reply.
The number one consideration I believe contributes to the overall optimum physical and mental health of equines is a Steady Routine they can Count on ,this makes for a program that meets their physical and emotional needs. Happy Horsekeeping Libby Keenan
Story by Larissa Cox
Libby Keenan and I love the concept of the “Be A Girl Today” clothing line, and when Paula Leavitt agreed to sponsor Tack n’ Talk Blog’s Summer Photo Contest, we were thrilled! We love the no fear attitude portrayed in the slogan to “Be a Girl” in whatever sport a young woman might pursue. To us, it inspires athleticism, ambition, and most of all fun!
We hope you enjoy reading about the creation of “Be A Girl Today” and are inspired by Paula’s story and advice to women looking to pursue sport!
Who are the creators of “Be A Girl Today”?
Be A Girl Today is a family business. We’re five sisters, involved in many sports, some of us are competitive and some of us just like to have a good time working out, skiing or running. But to be truthful, we are all competitive! We have involved our daughters, nieces and cousins in the business and they have inspired us to develop new lines. We are presently working on two new projects – collaboration with Maine Roller Derby and developing a new line for women’s ice hockey.
What was the inspiration behind the clothing line?
I became inspired by my first little 4”x6” bumper sticker that I printed that said “Ski Like a Girl”. After that we had to slow ourselves down. We, the sisters, got our kids together and formed a board of directors. The girls make all decisions relating to color, design and placement and are an endless supply of you should do… this and you should do that. So, we have learned to take it a little bit slower, develop a marketing plan and then move forward. I am a “jumper-in with both feet”, so I need someone in the background feeding me the “what if questions”.
How are you influenced by horses and the equestrian athlete?
I have loved horses since I was a young, young girl. I love to ride and I love being around people that ride. One of the things that I love about riding is that you can always get better. Your horse is your partner and together you learn and then you learn some more. People that don’t ride don’t understand that. They think you just jump on and ride around. Riding has taught me patience, it has given me self-confidence and it brings joy into my life.
Phrases such as “throw like a girl” or “such a girl” are often used in sports to imply weakness. How do you see this line changing the meaning of those words to empower girls in sports?
This is a great question! At many of the trade shows and events that we attend, some people just don’t get it. One woman told me that she felt that I was making fun of girls. Her daughter dragged her away from the booth and later came back and bought two shirts and a bag. I don’t know who they were for, but I am hoping the older woman has on a Ride Like A Girl t-shirt.
Women’s sports were relegated to the back room for such a long time, and now we are pushing the bar to new heights. I have heard a million stories from older woman about their dreams when they were young girls of participating in sports and having no outlet for them to do that.
All our images – on t’shirts, bags, stickers, mugs are strong! They empower girls and women to go out and have fun, enjoy sports, be strong and to be healthy.
What role do you see females taking in sports in the future?
Women will continue to excel and break barriers, young girls will look up to them and think I can do that! And they will.
Do you have any advice for girls who wish to take up sports?
Enjoy it! Find something that you like to do and do it. You don’t have to compete, if you don’t want to, but get involved and have fun. You will meet nice people, you will meet people who are better at the sport then you, you will meet people that aren’t as good as you, but it won’t matter as long as you are having a good time. Want to compete? Do it! Enjoy it. Don’t want to compete – that’s fine, not everyone has to. At BAGT our motto is “Girls are Athletes, Not Tomboys” and for me truer words were never spoken. Now, go out and Ride Like A Girl!
To have a chance to WIN your choice of a “Be A Girl Today” T-shirt or Tote, enter the Tack n’ Talk Blog Summer Fun Photo Contest by July 31, 2009! To enter, please attach a your favorite “Equestrian Summer Fun” photo to an email and send to email@example.com
Hi All! Hope your summer is going well!
Larissa and Libby would like to take this time to review books off their summer reading lists!
Dressage in the Fourth Dimension by Sherry Ackerman, PhD
Read and Reviewed by Larissa Cox:
Sherry Ackerman, both an accomplished rider and a philosopher, looks at how Dressage can not only be sport, but also a means by which “a rider can experience liberation from the individual, egotistical self.” In exploring what it means to be a “horse lover”, Sherry Ackerman states that riding can be a hugely emotional experience that can take a rider to a heightened understanding of self, and deliver them to a place where they can have better communication to the world around them. She starts with how figures in Dressage are based on “sacred geometry” of circles and angles – geometry that was a religion to those like Pythagorus (who we all remember developed a2 +b2 = c2 to find sides of a right triangle). Schooling these “sacred” patterns leads toweards “…resolution by taking responsibilty for blending with the horse.” She moves from these ponderings on the geometry of Dressage to how it creates a “transcendal union” between horse and rider. When this union emerges, an authentic reciprocity between human and horse is created. Ackerman wholeheartedly believes that “evaluat[ing] an individual’s experience with dressage primarily by means of test scores…is an extremely reductionistic viewpoint that devalues the transformative potential of the art [of Dressage].” Dressage can be this transformational art that “springs from the recognition of this creative unity in the human soul.” Ackerman finishes her book with the concluding thought that “the vision of the fourth dimension allows waves of love to funnel through us, creating endless energy – an explotion of creative light – that affirms our unity with all that is.”
I would highly recommend Dressage in the Fourth Dimension to any rider in any discipline, not just Dressage, that wants to ponder and develop more how embodying “horse lover” can change a worldview to let in creativity, positivity, and personal growth. ~Larissa
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
Read and Reviewed by Libby Keenan:
At the end of a long day I have Almost had my fill of horses , for the moment and like to unwind with a good book. My most recent read is “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a fascinating exploration of how fads,trends, new products etc. become globally famous in a flash.A good example very recently would be Susan Boyle’s jump to massive celebrity. Gladwell studies the demographics and finds that social behaviour is spread much like the way in which one person can start a worldwide flu pandemic.
It’s really amazing to see him track trends like a drop in the crime rate or the rise of Ipods. Often things start with an idea in someones’s basement and spread like wildfire via one small but precisely targeted push.
This book is well worth an evening or two as it gives terrific insight into the causes and consequences of the speed of communication in modern society. ~Libby
Have fun, happy riding, and happy reading!!
Story by Larissa Cox
You may want to squeeze in a morning ride on your way to work or school, or you may not have time to go home to shower and change before a dinner party. Whatever the reason, we have all had to freshen up at the barn before. Conditions at the horse stables are often less than ideal for a makeover, and usually, we don’t have a lot of time. Hopefully these tips will make it easier to make the transition from barn to night out on the town.
I advocate that all riders, regardless of their experience level or discipline should wear helmets while riding. Horses are unpredictable even when well trained, and riders should keep their heads well protected in case of a fall. However, helmets can lead to a bad case of “helmet hair”.
Preventative measures against helmet hair:
Before you ride, smooth in about a quarter size amount of leave-in conditioner. My personal favourite is TIGI Bed Head’s Ego Boost Split-End Mender and Leave in Conditioner. Leave-in conditioner will help with hair frizz, and will make styling easier after wards. It might also be a good idea to wear a bandana while you ride, which can help to absorb moisture, prevent flyaways, and limit the “helmet crease”.
Styling after you ride:
Make your messy helmet hair work for you by turning it into fresh and fun tousled beach hair!
Run a small amount of anti-frizz serum through your hair to tame flyaway’s and ease frizz from humidity. A good serum is John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease Hair Serum, as well as Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Weightless Anti Frizz Serum.
To create a soft tousled look, use some texturing spray. What can be better for a beachy look than a sea salt spray? Try Aquage Sea Salt Spray, scrunch, and go! Try flipping your hair over and lightly spraying your roots for more volume. Be careful for tangles when using texturizing products however. It’s best to give your hair a comb through before they are applied.
What about a casual chignon at the nape of your neck? Try a small amount of texturing paste like Garnier Fructis Surf Hair Texturizing Cream to run through your hair. Tousle gently, and gather hair into a ponytail at the nape of the neck. Then twist the hair into a chignon, and secure with bobby pins or another hair elastic. Don’t worry if the ends stick out a bit – the style is meant to be fresh and less formal. Use bobby pins to tuck away flat bangs.
To avoid getting your skin clogged with a mess of foundation, dirt,and sweat, go to the barn with minimal makeup. Remember to protect your skin with a good sunscreen like Neutrogena’s ULTRA SHEER™ Face Sunscreen SPF 45 or 60.
After riding, cleanse your face using a disposable face cloth like Nivea’s 3 in 1 Face Wipe, or try a waterless cleanser like Mineral Quick Clean from PurMinerals.
When applying makeup use a cosmetic sponge to avoid transferring oils and bacteria from your hands from just working with a horse, to your face. I find any liquid foundation to become messy while I am on the go, so I use a stick foundation like this one from Shiseido.
A tinted moisturizer is good to use as imperfections in application would be less noticeable than with regular liquid foundation,since the tint is usually minimal. It’s enough to give you color, but it won’t weigh you down. Why not use a cheek tint as well instead of power blush? Try this shimmering cheek tint from Avon. I like mousse blush as well, as it doesn’t require a brush for application. Try Dream Mousse Blush by Maybelline.
Keep a spare change of clothes in a small duffel bag at the barn. The best way to prevent them from wrinkling is to keep them rolled up. If you don’t have room for a duffel bag, why not try a large Ziploc bag? It will keep the dust off, and give you more space in your tack locker. It might be wise to keep clothes that could be worn for any occasion, as you might not know when you will be pressed for time at the barn. Try a simple white blouse, which can either look casual, or paired with the right accessories, elegant. An A-line skirt or Capri length pants can also swing from casual to more formal, again, depending on the top and accessories. Speaking of accessories, why not keep some at the barn as well in a travel jewelery pouch like these? That way, you have more control over your outfit’s look and level of formality.
I hope this guide proved useful for those who often find themselves pressed for time at the barn, as well as for those who never know when they might.
Thanks, happy riding!
Yulee, FL 32097
Update: Sadly , not long ago Debbie Manser let it be known that Hope had passed away. She did not have the strength to get up and eat one morning. At least she was somewhere with love and care at the end. If only Cheers Ranch had found her sooner. Debbie was so inspired by the support from friends on twitter she has decided to take on more rescue cases and funds raised for that purpose will used to help other horses in Hope’s memory. The Hope foundation carries on in honor of it’s namesake.Libby Keenan
Story by Larissa Cox
Lisa St. John has been around horses her whole life. Through her gifts of intuition, she realized horses need something more than the standard feed offered by grain companies. She found the answer in nature. For over 16 years, Lisa has helped horses achieve a greater well-being through personalized nutritional therapies consisting of organic food and herbs. This in turn limits vet, dentist, and farrier bills, which help save money! So, read on to find out how Lisa St. John and her LavenderSage Equine Performance Blend© can help you and your horse today!
What has been your background with horses and horsemanship?
I have been around horses my whole life. I rode my first horse when I was 4 years old. I would spend summers down on my Aunts farm in Missouri. My Aunt would not allow me to ride. She thought I was too little. So I would climb out my bedroom window around 4AM, go out to corral and place a lead rope around the neck of a beautiful chestnut Tennessee Walker, named Blaze. I would lead him out of the corral climb up on the fence and crawl up on his back. Blaze and I had the best time running through the fields. We would get back just as the sun was rising. One morning my Grandfather was standing by the corral waiting for us to return. Turned out he had been watching us every morning for a couple weeks. He never told my aunt, just talked her into finally letting me ride. I have been riding and working with horses ever since.
As the years went by I began helping people to better understand the importance of natural nutrition and how this can affect not only the physical health of a horse but improve learning abilities, performance levels, and over all mental and emotional stability. I have also helped people better understand their Equine companion and achieve a relationship with their horses on levels that form a trusting friendship.
How did this lead to developing herbal remedies for horses? When did you develop Equine Program LS Performance Blend?
Since I was a small child I have been able to see the illness in animals.
I grew up in a family who used herbal remedies for everything. Herbal medicine is an ancient technique used by every culture since the beginning of time. When I was a little girl, I watched what the horses would eat in the fields, and noticed at times they would search out different plants on different days. They also always wanted to eat in grandmas garden and flowers. So I would make up a bowl of flowers, veggies and fruit. They loved it!
I developed a program consisting of certain vegetables, fruits and herbs. This program helps horses achieve and maintain optimum health. I have been doing this professionally for a little over 16 years.
I have found, through hundreds of cases, that although the illness may be the same, the combination of herbal blends and whole food nutrition has been unique for each horse.
This nutrition therapy program is designed specifically for the individual horse. This program will change, as it should, throughout the horses’ life. One cannot eat the same food every day of their life and stay healthy.
How can these management programs actually help owners save money as well as help keep their horses healthy?
Horses are herbivores. Herbivore, according to Webster, is “an animal that is designed to eat plants and survive solely on tough plant matter.” Horses metabolic requirements include enzyme enriched plant life. These enzymes are a life giving force for the body.
My program involves all natural foods and Organic Herbal Blend, which is designed for each individual horse. No two horses are the same. They need to be treated as an individual in order to achieve optimum health levels.
There are certain fresh fruits and veggies that contain specific DHEA hormones, enzymes, proteins, minerals, vitamins, electrolytes, and potassium. The one enzyme they all have in common are, digestive enzymes, so your horse does not have to work at digesting. The food is able to brake down on it’s own. I have never had a horse colic on this program, and I have had a number of chronic colic cases over the years.
The fresh whole produce will support your horses metabolic system and maintain a strong immune system.
The Organic Herbal Performance Blend changes throughout your horses’ life. This is essential in order to ensure optimum health. This herbal blend is designed to kill hundreds of parasites and fungus, which is the cause of disease, chronic illnesses, and degenerative diseases. Your horse will not need artificial wormers, supplements, medications or artificial feeds.
Everything your horse needs can be found in nature. This is a truly natural feeding program. Nothing is processed or manufactured. Everything is taken right from nature’s garden to promote health, vitality, performance level and longevity.
Even my packaging is hemp/burlap bags and recycled paper.
Horses on this program continue to become stronger and healthier every year.
Money you will save:
- You will horse will not need shoes on this program.
I have a client in CA. who’s horse is 25 years old and had severe Laminitis. Her horses’ hooves were so hard after 4 months on this program that the trimmer broke his nippers. This is a very common problem with my clients. I find running them on river rock or rocky terrain chips them up nicely so you can file them smooth.
- Horses do not need their teeth floated, they are healthy and white
- Do not need expensive supplements
- Do not need medications
- Save on vet bills
- You will have a healthy horse not a sick one
Horses also perform better:
I have a client in Italy who has a 17’2 Warm blood. She work him out by jogging him up and down hills. He used to finish the hill with a heart rate of 125. Once on the program for 3 months, her horse was coming off that hill with a heart rate of 67.
My endurance mare is a 16 yr old Arabian. After a small, 25 mile race you are given an hour to bring the heart rate down to 60. She was down in just under 2 minutes.
This program is wonderful for the support of the heart and lungs!
- No colic In all the years of horses who are on this program not one horse has ever coliced.
- Metabolic and bone structure strengthens – (less chance of injury)
Besides nutrition what other holistic therapies do you do?
I am an intuitive. I am able to see the illness in animals.
I am also a Rahseaka master. This is nothing like Reiki. I have been able to balance energy levels in animals since I was a child. It was never taught to me. It is simply a gift. The best way to describe it is a noninvasive acupuncture treatment.
I am also the founder of Equine hot stone massage.
What qualities of lavender and sage do you enjoy, and what inspired you to title you business LavenderSage?
LavenderSage is ethical, organic and natural, environmentally friendly, and is all about the best for your horse.
I enjoy helping horses recover from conditions that were thought to be impossible. Like Wobblers, EPM, Arthritis, Fused knees, Ring Bone, Cushings, and Chronic colic. But the best part is seeing them not only recover but return stronger and more vibrant than was thought possible. Nothing is more rewarding than bringing happiness and health to a horse.
LavenderSage was named after two amazingly significant plants:
Lavender represents calm, peaceful and healing.
Sage is also healing and is believed, by the Native Americans’, which is also part of my heritage, to clear away negative energies and forces “illness”.
What advice do you have to horse owners for incorporating holistic remedies and therapies into their regular care regime for their horses?
It is my belief that nature knows best, as do the animals. I highly recommend using holistic methods. Trust Nature…
If you would like to know more about Lisa St. John, or her Nutrition Therapy Program for horses, visit her webpage www.lavsage.com
Follow Lisa on twitter: @lavsage
Watch Lisa’s YouTube: LavenderSage Youtube
Another summer week has passed – hope it’s been full of sunbathing, trail rides, and fun! Speaking of summer fun, don’t forget to take pictures of your experiences and submit them to Tack n’ Talk Blog’s Summer Fun Photo Contest! Email as many pictures as you’d like that fit the theme of “Equestrian Summer Fun” to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31st! Libby Keenan and Larissa Cox will post the winners August 1st. Stay tuned for prize information!
This week, we want to say how much we are loving the art of Bobbie Deuell!
Bobbie is a self-taught artist from Ocala, Florida, specializing in pastel or oil portraits. She takes inspiration from the world class equestrian events not far from her home at the Florida Horse Park. Bobbie has exhibited her work at many prestigious events such as the American Academy of Equine Art in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners’ Association in Ocala, Florida.
Below are some of Larissa’s and Libby’s favorite portraits by Bobbie Deuell. Of course, you can have a look at her gallery yourself on her website here: Bobbie Deuell website.
Every summer about this time my world is turned upside down for a week. A group of bubbly , excited , nervous , thrilled girl guides come to the farm for a week’s worth of horsemanship , riding , stable management and fun.
The helpers begin arriving about 7.30 to make sure all the horses have had a good run and will be on their best behaviour. I’m not sure it’s necessary since they all love camp. There is nothing my horses like more than a pack of girls who arrive complete with apples and sugar.Still , knowing they’ve been free longed gives me the confidence to take these girls in 5 days, in most cases from never having touched a live horse to riding off the lead at posting trot , performing a walk/ trot test , picking out feet , tacking up, doing a stall and generally feeling their self esteem soar.
Many of these girls are from the inner city. Horses are a magical concept from movies and books. Some are so terrified on being up close to a real one that they are visibly shaking or crying when mounting for the first time. When I adjust their stirrups , their legs are so tense I can not even flex their ankles.
I remain in awe of their courage , fighting past the terror and persisting. I also admire the knowing kindness of the horses , most of whom are show horses , boarders , loaned to me for the camp and many can be a handful for even advanced riders but year after year they gently cart these girls around as though there were a carton of eggs on the saddle instead of a completely ineffective youngster who would be no match at all for seasoned equines.
Day one is spent matching girls to horses based on body type , personality and a sort of alchemy that is amazingly clear within a few minutes of their arrival.Groups of three ( and a leader, usually one of my regular students )groom each horse , sometimes standing on milk cartons to reach their backs.
Once the horses are groomed , the groups split off into rotating rounds , of theory , stable management and riding.
One of the leaders asked a tiny oriental girl who perhaps weighed 70 pounds to bring over the mounting block ( a heavy wooden 2 step box my son built for me some years ago. I did not expect her to be able to move it since it was almost as big as she was. I looked over and here she came half carrying, half dragging it to the middle of the ring.Her anticipation of riding gave her strength far beyond her size.
By Tuesday the girls had all relaxed considerably and were sitting up quite straight. Most had some sort of contact and when reminded were putting their heels back down. We started posting at the walk and ending trotting on the lead. Up downdown Up downdown downdowndown:).
Wednesday saw them steering independantly through a line of pylons and by today everyone was trotting off lead and some on the right diagonal.
Tomorrow we wind up with the performance of their walk / trot tests, the awards ceremony, rosettes and certificates of achievement for all and a big cookout. To me it is another camp done but to these girls like every group before them it has been a life changing week. They are all a little taller , stronger, braver than they ever imagined. Every one reached way outside her comfort zone and found she had abilities she had never imagined.Every one goes home knowing she has managed a thousand pounds of beauty and power all by herself. It never fails to amaze me how blessed we who have horses are. This group of youngsters has reminded me anew that life is so very much bigger , brighter and exciting with horses in it.
Story by Larissa Cox
When it comes to horses, Jill McIntosh is no rookie. After taking some riding lessons for her birthday at age 8, she was hooked! Now, Jill coaches and trains out of her own barn in Lebanon, Ohio, and competes a A circuit shows. Here is her story, as well as advice for new and experienced riders alike!
What has been your background with horses and riding?
Well, where do I start… I did not come from a horse family, in fact, except for a second cousin (whom was also a wonderful rider), I’m it. I guess I am a firm believer that some of us Horse People were blessed with a gene, a calling, a gift. From the time I knew what a horse was I always wanted to be around them. When I was 8yrs old my parents gave me a 10 week riding package for my birthday. They did this so when we went on vacation I could go trail riding…haha…Little did they know. Well to make a long story short, that was it. I was hooked and I bought my first horse with my own money that I had saved at age 10 for $700.00.
How did this lead into coaching?
I have been coaching and training horses since high school. I have always trained horses because we could not afford the nice horses, I had to get the $2000 track horses and make them into the show horses they were.
Can you share some of your philosophies about riding with us?
How horses have contributed to my personal and spiritual growth?
Do you have any other advice for riders for having fun and getting the most out of the partnership with their horses?