How-To

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Do you ever wander away from the mounting block, still adjusting your stirrups, pondering what to work on in today’s schooling session? Does your coach ever ask (I always do) what you’ve been working on since your last lesson, and you admit mostly logging miles on your horse’s odometer?

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I wanted the look of a tidy, short, thin mane, but didn’t want to continue pulling manes… so I got creative. It’s amazing what you can do with the right tools, some patience, and a little imagination. While some traditionalists will argue that the look achieved with scissors isn’t the same as a pulled mane, I was happy to find another way to shorten and thin manes without inflicting pain on the horses I work with.

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For acquiring customers and building brand engagement, advertising is a time-tested essential. The following strategies will help you write better, more effective copy for print and online advertising, and increase the response to your advertising message. Several inspired and award-winning ad examples are included to start your creative juices flowing.

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With spring just around the corner our thoughts turn to riding, riding, and more riding. While not nearly as enrapturing, save some consideration for that lonely chariot outside, which gets our beloved steeds to and from events, shows, and trails. Every trailer that has been parked or stored for the winter should undergo a methodical inspection and maintenance routine before hitting the road each year. Safety should always be of primary concern, but comfort is important as well – every time a horse has an unpleasant trailering experience, he or she will go through that much more stress on the next trip.

Checking Your Horse's Vital Signs

Every horse owner should be familiar with his or her horse’s “normal” vital signs. Knowing your horse’s healthy, resting temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, capillary refill time, and gut sounds will help you realize when he is unwell. Additionally, in the event of illness or injury to your horse, being able to check and report his vital signs can help indicate to your veterinarian the horse’s present condition.

Blanketing Horses in Cold Weather

Whether you live in the balmier south or frigid northern slopes, you may wonder when, or if, you should provide your horse with equine clothing. Many horses do need a little help, especially when you try to keep their winter hair coat to a minimum.

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No blanket stays waterproof forever. After it's been well used for a few years, the waterproofing will wear off. You'll know it's time to re-waterproof when you notice wetness along the midline of the horse's back and croup.

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When I first began riding lessons over 30 years ago, the horse world that I experienced was staunchly devoted to negative reinforcement training, supported by a limited understanding of equine behaviour and the speed and convenience of force-based forms of horsemanship. I can safely say that the process of shedding those engrained patterns, cemented in my neural pathways by consistent use and a lack of viable alternatives, has been one of the greatest obstacles in my journey with horses. Thankfully, over the last five years, I have been bathing in alternative and less intense waters where horse training is concerned. Positive reinforcement training, known by many as R+ training, has been one of my explorations. This type of training, used commonly with dogs and other animals and now finding its way into more mainstream use with horses, uses clicker training primarily as a means of supporting learning. Clicker training uses a novel noise or word that is easily distinguishable for your horse to mark a desired behaviour, generally followed closely by a reward, typically of food. In this way you are able to shape behaviours and encourage curiousity and creativity in your horse.

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Perhaps because it doesn’t affect one’s mark on the judge’s score card or change a barrel run time, many riders don’t put a lot of thought into teaching their horse to stand still at the mounting block – that is, until it starts to become a bigger problem. Before you find yourself doing a “Butch Cassidy mount-on-the-fly,” spend some time setting boundaries with your horse.

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While it might often be spoken about in artistic, aesthetic, or even philosophical ways, lightness — both of movement and also of communication with horses — is more than an abstract ideal. In many ways, it measures a horse’s current physiological capabilities.

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