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From Horse Journal: Three Exercises To Prepare For Cross-Country Jumping

My Horse Daily - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:17

Exercise A is a footwork exercise.

How do you teach a young or green horse how to jump cross country?

Horse Journal performance editor John Strassburger put together a guide called “Get Ready To Jump ‘Cross-Country,’” advising riders on how to prepare for riding a cross-country course without having solid cross-country jumps over which to school:

The graphic here depicts three exercises that we at Phoenix Farm like to use with young horses and inexperienced riders, exercises that prepare them for the challenges they’ll meet when cross-country schooling. We like them because they encourage, even require, horses and riders to concentrate on moving their feet, looking for the next jump, and going there without relying on the rein aids. But there really isn’t any limit to the exercises like this that you can build to accomplish these goals.

Exercises A and B are what we call footwork exercises. They teach a horse to be aware of and to move his feet (and, thus, his body) correctly in between and over jumps. They also encourage a horse to jump straight and to push off evenly with his hind legs.

Exercise C combines a footwork line with additional jumps to teach him to focus on the obstacle in front of him, not on things around it, while encouraging straightness.

Exercise A is a straightforward, one-way gymnastic line (crossrail, to vertical, to oxer) with rails added between the jumps. The

John Strassburger takes one of his young horses over a cross country course. | Photo courtesy of Horse Journal

rails should be raised to about 6” on Bloks or other similar devices, and their placement requires horses to land inside them, take a stride over the raised rails, and then jump. This exercise is especially useful for horses who overjump fences and land unbalanced, but it can also be useful for overly cautious or lazy horses, in both cases because the rails force them to get the distances right.

Begin with the just step rail before the crossrail and the step rail after it. When your horse is jumping smoothly through this first part of the exercise, add the vertical. Then add the step rail after the vertical, and then add the oxer.

Keep these jumps small—this exercise is not about jumping big fences. It’s about jumping relatively small fences correctly because they’re moving their feet. If you want to trot in, place the first rail 8 feet from the crossrail; if you want to canter, place it at 9 feet.

Exercise B is a second, more challenging footwork exercise.

Exercise B puts a bounce in the middle of two low, wide oxers, with step rails at the beginning and end. You should do this exercise at the canter, and you can jump it in both directions, off either lead. The oxers should be about 2’3” to 3’ high and about as wide as they are high, depending on the level of the horse and rider. The cavaletti should be about 18”, the normal highest setting for them.

Exercise B teaches the horse how to expand his frame over the first oxer, balance himself for the bounce, and then expand his frame again for the second oxer. The first step rail sets him up for the first oxer; the last step rail requires him to finish the exercise in balance.

To introduce your horse to this exercise, start without the second oxer and step rail. Add them when the horse is jumping confidently and smoothly.


You can jump Exercise C in both directions, and you can make a small course using the oxers and the vertical set to the side. Jumping one of the verticals in the line to one of the oxers (or oxer to vertical) practices focus and straightness, and turning between the fences of the gymnastic line to jump the vertical in the center practices focus and turning.

This is a very useful group of jumps, and, again, they’re not meant to be tests of scope. The fences in the line could be set anywhere from 2’ to 3’3” for most horses—the objective is to encourage horse and rider to look adown the line of jumps and adjust or hold their balance.

You can make a short course with exercise C

Making the jumps big and causing them to hit them and knock them down is distracting. The other three jumps could be 3 or 4 inches bigger than the line jumps to encourage them to focus on finding them amongst the line of jumps.

We like to use exercises like these to teach our horses how to jump on their own and how to take care of themselves when they’re jumping—a very important skill to have, especially on a cross-country course.

Thanks to my long experience of foxhunting and steeplechase racing, I’ve always believed that horses shouldn’t rely on their riders to “hold them up” when they jump. So I’ve always used gymnastic exercises to teach them that skill, and I’ve always highly valued horses who have a strong survival instinct, who refuse to fall.

I value that skill even more highly now, since I’m 53 and Heather and I have a 3-year-old son. Heather can actually watch me ride my two mares, Alba and Amani, at intermediate and preliminary levels, in an almost-calm state, because she knows they have that survival instinct and training. Alba won’t let herself fall, because falling would mean she didn’t do her job, and that can’t happen. And Amani simply will not the body beautiful be found in the horizontal position. She’d stop before she fell.

But, because of lack of confidence or because of a belief that they should be micro-managing every single footfall, some riders never allow their horses (or their students’ horses) to jump by themselves. So what happens if the rider is “wrong” to a fence, if he or she doesn’t see the correct stride on sloping ground or if the horse slips on wet grass or mud? If a horse doesn’t know how to use his feet and his body, he’ll likely refuse and lose confidence, or he could fall.

These or similar exercises are important stepping stones to jumping cross-country, but the cold, hard truth is that, to be fully prepared, you’ll have to include some actual cross-country schooling in your routine. You’ll want to school over a cross-country course before your first event, if you want to move up a level, or if you develop a problem in competition.

And our most important advice for actual cross-country schooling sessions is this: Put the jumps together.

That is, jump the jumps in a series—not just one jump at a time—to develop a galloping rhythm and to teach your horse to look for the next fence. A cross-country round should feel and look rhythmic. It shouldn’t look like a lot of speeding up and slowing down—it should look and feel as if you’re able to adjust your horse within a rhythm, similar to a dressage test. You can’t develop that feeling if you just school one jump five or six times and then walk to the next jump.

Categories: Owner News

Senate Committee Approves Bill to Protect Tennessee Walking Horses from Abuse

My Horse Daily - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 01:57

An example of soring. | Photo courtesy of the USDA

Congress moved one step closer to protecting horses from the cruel practice of “soring” when the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406/H.R. 1518) on April 9 by voice vote. The PAST Act will end the decades-long abusive training method of soring, which involves the use of chemicals and devices on the legs and feet of Tennessee walking horses to force them to perform the high-stepping “Big Lick” gait.

Keith Dane, vice president of equine protection for The Humane Society of the United States, said, “Horse soring is a disgrace, but growing momentum for the PAST Act means that reform is within reach. Today’s committee action was a significant step forward. Congress should ensure a sound future for Tennessee walking horses by passing this legislation on the Senate floor without delay.”

The HSUS and Humane Society Legislative Fund expressed their thanks to Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Mark Warner, D-Va., for their leadership on S. 1406, and to Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Ranking Member John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for their support during today’s committee markup.

The PAST Act will fortify the federal Horse Protection Act, which was passed in 1970 but contained loopholes that have allowed soring to thrive in factions of the Tennessee walking horse industry. The bill’s needed reforms include eliminating the failed industry self-policing system, banning devices used in the soring process from the show ring, and strengthening penalties to provide a meaningful deterrent against abusing horses to cheat at horse shows.

The PAST Act is co-sponsored by 51 Senators and 269 Representatives. It is endorsed by the American Horse Council and more than 50 other national and state horse groups, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and state veterinary groups in all 50 states, key individuals in the Tennessee walking horse show world, and many others.

Categories: Owner News

HorseSafetyUSA: Guidelines for Choosing a Child’s Riding Lesson Program

My Horse Daily - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 15:00

Are you looking now for a summer horse program for the young horse lover in your house?

Then you need to read the following tips from

Remember, your child’s safety and well-being is placed under the guidance and supervision of their riding instructor and the instructor’s assistants. So, set a realistic horseback riding goal for your child. Understand the horseback riding experience provides a child the opportunity to build self-esteem while participating in a physically demanding sport requiring physical balance, coordination and strength, in addition to learning decision making through discipline and dedication, along with the development of a partnership with a powerful animal.

Horseback riding is a fun and rewarding activity. So, allow the child enjoy their riding experience as they learn the basics of the sport before their introduction to the competitive aspect of the sport.  As a parent, do not live your dreams to ride through your child’s life experiences. So, consider a non-competitive riding lesson program as the place to start, where the pressure to perform in ‘horse shows’ is not the ultimate goal.  Keep it fun, positive.

Years of observation and experience have taught us that men view horses and their uses differently than women.  Therefore, we would be remiss not to address the gender difference between young boys and girls in their personal attraction to developing a relationship with horses. The natural affinity of females to the sport of horseback riding over males is significant. So, if your child is a young boy, give him a chance to develop his level of confidence through fun activities that cultivate his athletic abilities and curiosities about the unique opportunities that horses provide. Perhaps he needs to experience the feeling of being a ‘cowboy’ after learning the basics to safely ride and control a horse, introducing him to the non-competitive experience of trail riding. The key is to recognize the differences in how each gender views horses differently.

12 factors to consider before choosing that “just right” lesson program for your child are:

1.      Introductory Lesson

Give some thought to allowing your child to take a ‘first lesson’ just to introduce them to the sport of horseback riding. And, during this introductory process, let them seek their level of comfort in riding style, English or Western. So, this might take a couple of different stable visits which will serve as great introductions to local riding stables, as well as the instructors and the quality of horses being used in their teaching programs.

2.      Location of Riding Stables

Develop a list of farms in your area and call each to get an idea of what programs are offered for children. Your state Horse Council can serve as a resource.

3.      Observe the Riding Lesson Program

Ask if you may stop by “sometime” to observe the program. Best times are weekday afternoons after 4 p.m. and Saturday mornings or afternoons. Observe the overall condition of the property, including barns, stables, paddocks, etc., as well as the condition of the horses. The property does not have to be fancy. Some very good programs are offered in modest facilities – and the cost may be lower.

a.      Inspect the tack, looking for worn leather and buckles that do not fasten correctly.

b.      How does the instructor speak to the students? Is the instructor’s full attention given to the lesson? Is the instructor on a cell phone at any time?

c.      Is the area large enough for the student(s) in the lesson?

d.      Are there sufficient number of instructors and assistants to monitor all the mounted students?

e.      Are all the students wearing protective riding helmets?

f.       Are multi-performance levels of horses available to students so they can advance to higher levels of riding competency?

4.      Recommendations

Get references, including contacts for current students, for the riding instructor and the farm owner, and then check them out through links on the internet such as Facebook and website searches. It is feasible to contact your local Better Business Bureau for additional information on their past business practices. Check to see if registered sex offenders are associated with the stable which can be done discreetly on the internet.

5.      Certification and Insurance

Be sure to inquire if the riding instructor(s) and/or stable have any certifications or specialized licensing, such as first aid, CPR, riding accreditations. Learn about their professional background for teaching horseback riding, and their experience in teaching horseback riding. And, inquire about the instructor’s and stable’s professional insurance for the operation of a lesson program.

6.      Legal Documents

Obtain a copy of the waiver the parent and/or guardian must sign before their child commits to the riding lesson program, making sure there is adequate protection for your child’s well-being.

7.      Introductory Lessons vs. Long-term Package

Provide your child with an introductory lesson before making a commitment to a series of lessons or some form of a lesson package.

8.      Decision of Riding Instructor

After visiting the stables and observing their lesson programs, mutually decide with your child that discipline to pursue (Western or English, which includes huntseat, saddleseat, and dressage).

9.      Observe and Encourage

Parents should be encouraged to remain on the site during the introductory lessons. Sitting quietly, observing the progress of their child and their child’s interaction with the instructor and horse or pony.

10.   Safety Equipment and Attire

Make sure your child has the proper riding apparel: shoes or boots with a heel (no sneakers or sandals), long pants or (preferably) jodhpurs, leather riding gloves, and a new properly fitted riding safety helmet approved for equestrian use (never substitute with a bike or skateboard helmet). Make inquiries where clothing can be acquired to prevent the expensive new purchases until the child has advanced in her riding experience. The purchase of a new approved riding safety helmet is recommended unless the riding stable is providing an approved riding safety helmet.

11.   The Schoolmaster – Lesson Horse

Remember, your child might not necessarily be placed on a pony as a beginner rider. The key is not the size of the horse or pony, but the ability and level of training of the animal to provide the rider a controllable, safe ride. The well trained and behaved lesson horse is referred to as a ‘schoolmaster’, meaning the horse will teach the child.

12.   The Compulsion To Own A Horse

As a parent be aware of the fact there is a bonding process between the child and their favorite lesson horse. So, be prepared to hear, “Can we buy Jingles, so I can have a horse of my own?” It will happen, so recognize a competent lesson program can be the gateway to horse or pony ownership and a new lifestyle.

Remember, riding instructors are not like sending your child to middle school, not all riding instructors are formally educated in teaching horseback riding. It is worth the effort to do your homework for selecting the most affordable, competent horseback riding program.

“Just a little homework and effort,” advises Hipsley “can lead to a lifetime of equestrian enjoyment for your child – and for you.”

A recognized national and international equine safety professional for nearly 25 years, Hipsley is the lead author along with of the upcoming publication Equine Risk Management & Safety. The manual is the first volume in The Equine Safety Library to be offered by in both e-book and softbound editions.

HorseSafetyUSA, founded in 2011, is dedicated to improving the safety of all aspects of the professional and amateur levels of the equine industry and equestrian sports through education, training, certification, and accreditation.

Categories: Owner News

Horse Rescue Volunteers, Staff Offered Free Training–But Hurry, Deadline is Friday!

My Horse Daily - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 19:13

Horse rescues around the country can participate in a free, virtual training program, offered in part by the Humane Society of the United States.

Plan 4 Progress,” is a year-long course that will help increase the adoption success rates for horses who have been through traumatic experiences.  The deadline to apply is Friday, April 11, and 25 rescues around the country will be chosen.

Participants receive access to nine training videos for staff and volunteers with equine safety tips, knots and tool handling and equine behavior. They also receive six videos for trainers with tips and techniques in the areas of catching, yielding the hindquarters/forequarters/ leading and backing, tying, trailer loading, farrier prep and veterinary prep. Monthly phone and video conferences with Carter Ranch Horse networking opportunities with leading, like-minded rescues and trainers who are implementing standards for rehoming horses humanely are also part of the program.   As the nation’s most influential advocate for local rescue standards, evaluations and training programs to ensure animal welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and the Doris Day Equine Center will work with Carter Ranch Horse and Trevor Carter for the second year in a row to host this virtual training.   The DDEC at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is operated by The Fund for Animals, an affiliate of The HSUS.   About them: The Fund for Animals operates the nation’s largest and most diverse network of animal care centers. An affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals provides hands-on care and safe haven for more than 3,000 animals representing 150 species each year, including those rescued from cruelty and neglect, victims of the exotic pet trade, injured and orphaned wildlife, refugees from research labs, and many more, and works to prevent cruelty through advocacy and education. For more information visit  

The Fund for Animals’ animal care centers include : Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas · Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in California · Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts · Duchess Sanctuary in Oregon.

Categories: Owner News

Book Review: Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton

My Horse Daily - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 15:00

Horse Journal Performance Editor John Strassburger is a lifelong three-day event rider and a professional trainer in California. His review of Phillip Dutton’s outstanding book, Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton, gives you an inside look at why this book is destined to become the bible of three-day eventing:

If you’re an event rider, big names don’t get much bigger than Phillip Dutton. (And even if you aren’t an eventer, unless you’ve been living in isolation for 15 years, you’ve probably heard of him.) He’s got the quintessentially American story of a young man from overseas coming to the United States and rising to the top of his sport, including winning two Olympic team gold medals.

But just as impressive as his personal success has been the long line of students that have moved through Dutton’s True Prospect Farm and gone on to glory of their own. Clearly, the system developed by Dutton and passed on to his protégés is incredibly successful.

This book is the bible of the Dutton system, the guidebook of his program. From feeding programs and saddle choice, to schooling exercises and horse selection, every piece of what the True Prospect Farm juggernaut has created is carefully cataloged here.

For an interested student, this book is a comprehensive how-to guide, even if it’s not terrifically creative. But that’s the trick. The level of detail here is so intense that it’s hard to envision anyone other than a dedicated student of the sport picking it up for a bit of light reading.

As a trainer, it’s a fantastic guide, and implementation of at least parts of the Dutton program can only help any competitor or serious student of horse training.

We have no technical complaint of the book—it is well-written, well-organized, and truly comprehensive. It’s also filled with excellent, illustrative photos of Dutton, his students, and his equipment and barn workings. But the level of detail—an intrinsic factor in Dutton’s training and competitive success—may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

There are a few exceptions to the technical framework: One is a small section at the end, in which Dutton discusses many of his top horses and their careers—at turns funny, enlightening, and sad.

The other exception is a healthy dose of sport psychology sprinkled throughout the book. Anyone who has seen Dutton perform with ice water in his veins time and again can see the inordinate value in his insight here. He also has segments in the various chapters called Personal Stories, which illustrate his points with real-life experience.

Since we’re eventers and trainers, we loved this book. But a more general audience might not find it so compelling.

Bottom Line: If you want to know every tip, trick and guideline from one the most successful eventing program in American history, then this book is for you. It’s a comprehensive guide to the system that has made Dutton, and his pantheon of students, the vanguard of American eventing. From feeding, to training, to tack and more, it’s all here—a blueprint for success.

Best Suited For: People with enough of a knowledge base to absorb an in-depth, comprehensive guide to the care, selection and management of event horses, and to the sport of eventing.

You’ll Be Disappointed If: You aren’t an eventer (or at least interested in their management techniques) or you’re looking for a basic guide.

Categories: Owner News

Tips For Overseeding Horse Pastures

My Horse Daily - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 15:00

Early spring is the ideal time to overseed pastures, according to Laurie Cerny, editor and publisher of

“After the hard winter we have had with heavy snow pack there has been some winter-kill.  Pastures are really going to need some TLC, including overseeding to get them back in shape,” said Cerny, who’s recently release Good-Horsekeeping’s Guide To Pasture Management.

Here are some tips for pasture overseeding:

  • Walk fields as early in spring as possible.  This is the best way to see where there has been winterkill, mold, bare spots, and dirt tunnels made by field mice while underneath the snow.
  • March and early April are generally a good time to overseed as long as you have several days of thawing and freezing.  It also gives you a couple of weeks before spreading manure and fertilizing
  • Pick the right seed for your soil. Orchard grass does well on most soils. Timothy does better in damper, heavier soils.  Brome does OK on sandy soils but it’s very drought tolerant.  Alfalfa is very drought tolerant but is difficult to overseed because it will not grow within a certain radius of another alfalfa plant.
  • Buying seed by the pound from a bonafide forage dealer is the best source for seed.  When you buy it individually by the pound you get just that seed and not filler grasses.
  • If you buy bagged pasture/hay seed understand the language of a seed tag. The percentage of a certain seed by the weight. Because some seeds are very small and light – 20% of the seed in a mix could actually result in more like 40% of your stand. Be wary of hay mix blends that say *VNS* * this stands for variety not stated* and could mean any type of seed is included.
  • While you can use a seeder – including a hand seeder or even a fertilizer spreader, hand broadcasting tends to work best and you can control how much goes where – more in bare spots and less or none where there is a thick turf.
  • Make sure if seed is treated to wear  plastic gloves and to wash clothes after seeding.
  • Pay attention to the wind.  It can be difficult to overseed if it’s extremely windy.  A little bit of wind, however, can actually help you broadcast the seed.
  • Do not overseed on the snow if you have problems with wildlife like birds and deer.  They will eat the seed.  Watch for flocks of birds in your fields after you overseed.  If they become a problem scare them off using deterrents like a scarecrow or by making a loud noise.
  • Keep a pasture journal where you can make notes about when you overseeded, which pastures were seeded, and what seed you used.
  • Keep horses off overseeded fields for 6-8 weeks.  If they are really small pastures you may want to keep the field out of rotation for one season.

The guide, which covers pasture overseeding, also includes pasture rotation, dry lots, winter management, and more.  It is available through for $3.95 for electronic copies.

For more horsekeeping tips go to or

Categories: Owner News

Humane Society Urges Congress Urged to Act in Response to Investigation of Horseracing Industry

My Horse Daily - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 17:01

Do you stay on top of news in the horse industry? An undercover investigation into the ongoing behind-the-scenes abuses of racehorses by a major trainer in the Thoroughbred industry confirms that the industry continues to be plagued by corruption and animal cruelty, relating to doping and the running of injured horses, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

The HSUS believes there is tolerance for a high rate of injuries and horse deaths on the track – with the New York Times revealing that 24 horses die a week on American race tracks.  The investigation was conducted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and reported by the New York Times.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement:

“This is yet another scathing expose of unacceptable abuses of horses, reckless use of performance-enhancing drugs and disregard for any meaningful ethical standards in the industry. It’s apparent a blend of self-regulation and meager state regulation has been a colossal failure. If racing is to be cleaned up and the public’s confidence restored, independent, national oversight–with meaningful penalties for violators—is the only pathway. Congress should act now to pass legislation to rein in the abuses and finally hold the horseracing industry accountable.”

Currently, each state’s racing commission sets its own rules, allowing trainers to escape oversight by simply moving to another state. With no national governing body for the sport, there is no consistency across the country.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, H.R. 2012/S. 973, introduced by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., would designate the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as the independent anti-doping organization for interstate horseraces. The agency would create universal rules on the use of drugs, prohibiting race day medication of horses with performance-enhancing drugs. Any racetrack that wanted to offer “simulcast” wagering would be required to participate.

The bill includes stiff penalties for cheating, a lifetime ban for the most severe types of doping, and suspensions for rules violations that would apply nationwide. Pacelle testified in favor of the bill at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade on Nov. 21, 2013.

Categories: Owner News

Horse Trainer Missy Wryn on Having the Invisible Tether

My Horse Daily - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 15:00

Missy Wryn with horse friend Paco. | Photo courtesy of Missy Wryn

When was the last time you went on a “virtual ride” with a horse trainer?

Internationally recognized horse whisperer Missy Wryn provides comprehensive horse management, horsetraining, and effective communication workshops, clinics, and presentations across the country and at her Zen Barn in Estacada, Oregon. Now she shares some of what she knows by wearing a helment cam and taking her horse Paco on a series of adventurous rides.

It’s very fun to watch; it’s as if you’re riding the horse. Here’s how Missy describes her sense of being one with her horse:

To describe the feeling when a horse follows you, dances with you and engages you in play, is a moment that is awe-inspiring, breathtaking and deeply emotional.  Some describe it as magical, others say it’s simply herd instinct – I would describe it as an etheric, energetic moment of engagement between two beings, the invisible tether.

When we as humans set aside our expectations of performance and don the behavior of a compassionate herd leader, suddenly the horse steps into a trusting awareness where the invisible tether is able to intertwine between human and horse.

Sure we can train our horses to mimic our movements, perform particular behaviors through means of reward or discipline, but to be together, truly intertwined in a communication that transcends words and cues is a moment of energetic beings intertwining sharing thought and emotion.

You can now see and feel the invisible tether virtually as captured through my helmet cam by visiting The Invisible Tether playlist on YouTube:

Categories: Owner News

Horse Rescue Report: The Story of Max, the Dangerous Horse

My Horse Daily - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 02:30

Max thinking of his next trick. | Photo courtesy of Cate Lamm

Have you ever had a dangerous horse?

Rescue horse advocate discovered she had her hands full when she took on the project of Max, a rescue horse who bitf, charged and struck humans:

I’ve found that, like people, every horse has its own distinct personality. Take Max, my second project horse from Colorado Horse Rescue.
Max was a 5-year-old, solid-black Quarter Horse.

He was also one of the smartest horses I’ve ever met. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He also had a mischievous side. He was a  joker. But this equine comic had a dark side.

Max was similar to my own rescue horse, Banjo, whom I’d already adopted and re-trained by the time I’d started working with Max. The two were similar in that they’d both been deemed dangerous horses.

At that time, Banjo was a beginner eventing horse, as well as my trusted companion. Now, I’ll tell you Max’s story.
Max was at the horse rescue because he’d injured one of his original owners. Both owners were subsequently scared of Max and wanted the horse rescue to find him a home.

Max’s original owners were well-intentioned, but inexperienced, horsepeople. Max was their first horse; they’d purchased him as a youngster with the hope of training him. That plan didn’t turn out well. Unfortunately, this often happens.
This set of circumstances reminds me of the saying: “Green-on-green makes black and blue.”

That is, an inexperienced person with an inexperienced/ untrained horse will get a lot of bruises. And that’s if the person is lucky. A green rider on a green horse could easily end up with broken bones.
These green-on-green matches are also unfortunate for the horse, which often learns inappropriate behavior from the start. Such a horse can become unruly or even dangerous. Many of these horses wind up at rescues or auctions. Like Max.
Once Max arrived at the horse rescue, he was turned out to pasture with the other horses. As I mentioned, Max was smart. Smart horses with nothing to do but hang out in the pasture often get into trouble. So, it’s not surprising that Max found a way to amuse himself.

Max’s idea of fun was to bite and scare unsuspecting volunteers. According to rescue staff, he’d approach people looking friendly and inviting. Once the person began to pet him, he’d bite a shoulder or hand!

Max had so much fun with the biting that he advanced to more aggressive behavior, such as striking out and charging.
How were Banjo and I going to turn this guy around? I thought. Were my usual techniques of patience and love going to work with this character?
Stay tuned for The Story of Max, Part II.

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Categories: Owner News

Video of Wild Horse Stallion Telling Colt It’s Time for Him to Move Out of the Herd

My Horse Daily - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 18:07

You’ll love this awesome footage of the inner workings of a herd of wild horses. The stallion has decided that it’s time for one of his colts to venture out on his own. As is probably the case some human households, “son” is not too keen on the idea of leaving the only home he’s every known and the care offered by the “family.”

It’s a fascinating video, which you may have seen elsewhere as it’s being picked up quite widely. If you have, I’m guessing you’ll want to watch it again. If not, get ready to enjoy.

Categories: Owner News

Equine At War

My Horse Daily - Tue, 03/18/2014 - 12:48

Are you looking for a good horse book on a cold night? It’s not a regular horse book, but Dr. Deb Eldredge, Horse Journal Contributing Veterinary Editor, thinks you might enjoy it:

I just finished reading a neat little book by Susan Bulanda, called Soldiers in Fur and Feathers. While that description might seem to leave out horses and donkeys, they are included.

The book discusses animals that worked for and with the Allied forces in World War I. Jimmy was a donkey whose mother was captured from the Germans. His mother was killed when he was just a few weeks old but the soldiers raised him on canned milk (probably cutting back on their own rations). He was a beloved mascot and was taught numerous tricks including putting his forelegs around a soldier’s neck for a kiss! Jimmy also worked lugging ammunition and did survive the war. He was retired postwar to a private home in England. Knowing my own donkeys I am surprised he didn’t cause any problems by braying at the wrong moment!

The United States was responsible for shipping the majority of horses and mules into battle. Those equines were already stressed by a treacherous ocean voyage and then went right into combat. Most of them were put to work pulling transports of various types. A team of all black horses stayed together throughout the war and retired together. Susan recounts many instances of the soldiers in charge of the horses putting their horses before themselves when it came to drinking water, etc.

Mechanization was already moving into warfare but there were some cavalry charges – mostly in the Middle East. The Australians seemed to be quite talented at surprise cavalry charges. An Arabian from India named Ragtime and an Irish bred Thoroughbred named Warrior both featured prominently in stories about horses in the war. Both also seemed to lead charmed lives and were able to retire at the end of the war with their beloved owners.

Many of us have seen the movie War Horse and Susan’s book describes many scenes similar to what is shown there. With all the horrors of war, it is impressive to see the relationships that still developed between soldiers and their horses. The bond held up even in difficult situations with the horses giving their all at the request of the soldiers who cared for them. The trust and working partnerships had to be intense.

There are a few black and white photos of the equine forces. Jimmy the donkey is a truly handsome fellow and Ragtime is a classic flea bitten grey Arab. The black horse team is quite impressive.

Along with the horses and mules, the book covers a number of dogs who aided in the war effort. Most surprising to me were the heroic (honestly!) carrier pigeons. Even badly wounded, many pigeons still carried out their duty and delivered messages that saved many lives. Many animals served and made a big difference – saving the lives of many soldiers.

The book is published by Alpine and available on their website, via Susan’s website.  I highly recommend it for an inspirational read.

Categories: Owner News

Worries of a Horse Farm Owner About Drought and Hay

My Horse Daily - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 16:59

Until last week, our fields still looked as dry as they do in August. | Photo courtesy orf Horse Journal

What does a dry spring mean for your horse?

For three-day eventing expert journalist and trainer John Strassburger of Horse Journal, it means worries about drought:

I’m writing this watching raindrops creep down my window, obscuring the view of my wet and muddy horses grazing happily, some in their waterproof blankets, others in their thick winter coats. This is a normal view for us here in Northern California in February, but this year I’m watching the rain with a greater sense of urgency than usual.

That’s because it’s only the first rainstorm we’ve had this year and the first rain we’ve had at all since the beginning of December. (And we had only two light storms in October and November, to cap one of California’s driest years ever. Last month was the driest January ever in recorded history.)

Normally by late December or January we’ve cut our hay consumption in half, because our grass has is so thick and lush that the horses just walk away from their hay. This year I’m feeding hay like I do in the summer, because my fields look worse than they do in August.  It’s a worrisome expense at a time of year when business usually slows down for most trainers.

This winter’s weather (the drought here, the snow and ice in the East) is a stark reminder that, as farmers, we’re completely dependant on Mother Nature to provide our animals with water. Not just to drink, but also to grow the grass, hay and grains they eat. I know other areas of the country, most notably Texas, have been struggling with drought for years, but to experience it yourself is definitely eye-opening.

Our “seasons” and feeding systems here in California are different than a lot of the country. We get the about 90 percent of our rain between November and March, and our grass grows to about May. By July, it’s all turned brown and stopped growing. Our soil is fabulously fertile (it has to be), and the grass here is amazingly resilient and tough—but without a good winter hit of water, it simply can’t perform.

I recently read a comment that summed it up best: “In the Midwest/East you use hay to store your summer sun for the winter. We [in California] use hay to store our winter rain for the summer.”

Because we are a dry region, we’ve learned how to take care with the resources we do have. We’re careful not to overgraze, to make the grass we do get last as long as possible. Many larger farms have storage ponds for any excess water, and most people I know try to conserve water. On our property, in a dry year, we have to regularly have a truck bring in water to fill our storage tank.

Fluctuations in rainfall are normal, and in the eight years we’ve been here there have been wet years where the grass grew and the creeks ran until July 4, and we’ve had dry years where everything was dry by May. This year, the creeks haven’t run at all yet.

In the central valley of California (the center of West Coast agriculture), cattle guys are selling off stock, and crop growers are starting to decide which fields and orchards they’ll let go fallow. Water agencies are planning restrictions, and new rules are already being put in to place for suburban water customers.

By the way, I’m getting a little tired of hearing how “lucky” we are to be on a well, because “the government can’t tell you how much water to use.” Well, yes, that’s true, it’s “up to us,” except if we screw it up, there simply isn’t any more water. We have no back-up plan or agency; if we use up our water, it’s gone. We have no more. It’s at times like this that I wouldn’t might the oversight, thanks.

Now, I could easily write this blog about “poor California” and how we’re suffering. But the reality is, it’s not just us, nor will it be just us in years to come. Maybe next year it’s the Southeast. Or the Midwest. Or the Northeast. And Texas may never recover. Make no mistake, even if you only own one horse whom you board, lack of water will effect you—your hay and grain bill will increase, and your board bill will go up as barn owners pass the increasing costs of water on to you. We don’t do this gladly, but it’s the difference between staying open and shutting down.

I don’t have any great answer as to what to do. There is, ultimately, only so much water to conserve, and when you’re talking about the water needed to keep livestock alive and thriving, letting your lawn turn yellow and watering plants with dish water just doesn’t make that big of an impact. But we need to prepare to figure that out, because it’s likely what we are experiencing here is just the beginning.

Ever since the modern domestication of horses, we have endeavored to provide optimal health to a transitory, plains-grazing species, designed to move and eat grasses and legumes constantly. We’ve confined and tried to feed them in a static, controlled way. It’s been a mixed bag of success, and we’ve gotten better at it as time and scientific knowledge have evolved.

But maybe it’s time to step up those efforts—how do we keep our horses well fed and cared for without those grasses and legumes? Because it’s not hard to imagine a time when—between the ever-declining land to grow hay and climate change—hay becomes too cost-prohibitive to feed, and ambient grass is just a fond memory.

In the meantime I’ll sit here, watching the rain fall, counting each drop, and praying for more.


Categories: Owner News

Horse Rescue Report: Late-Winter Blues

My Horse Daily - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 18:56

Banjo has just enjoyed a nice mud bath.

Is the never-ending winter interfering with your horse life?

Horse rescue advocate Cate Lamm weighs in on the topic:

Here at the end of winter, with spring right around the corner, I’m getting the itch to ride.

Banjo, my rehabilitated rescue horse, starts shedding every January. I dream of giving him a cleansing bath, then riding into the warm sunshine on dry footing.
But here in Tennessee, the cold, rainy, snowy days are dragging on, and the mud will not go away.

When I lived in Colorado, I boarded Banjo at a place with a nice, warm, indoor arena. But as my work with the rescue horses increased, I moved Banjo to a facility closer to the rescue. There were huge pastures, but no indoor arena. This meant I had to come to terms with letting Mother Nature dictate my riding schedule.

I thought perhaps that as a side benefit to my move to the South, the winter weather would allow for more outdoor riding. However, I didn’t count on so much rain and mud. It’s such a contrast to Colorado’s dry climate.

But Mother Nature still holds my fate in her hands. Every morning, when I get up and boot up the computer, my first stop is the National Weather Service. I hold my breath and check the latest weather report.

Come on weather person, tell me what I want to hear! Give me some warm temperatures, maybe a little sunshine. I want to ride my horse today!

The meteorologist’s report can make me smile and rush around for my riding clothes—or make me sigh and grab my long johns and raincoat.

When I can’t ride, I use the time to groom Banjo or just hang out with him. I’ve found that it’s important to just spend time without expecting anything from him. Being together with no expectations fosters a different kind of friendship. You just enjoy each other’s company.

The rest of the year, we’re almost always carrying a saddle saying, “Let’s go!” to our horses.

As I wait for Mother Nature to give me that sunny day, I’m thankful for the quiet times spent just standing with my sweet horse.

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Categories: Owner News

Got 5 Minutes a Day to Improve Your Riding?

My Horse Daily - Fri, 03/07/2014 - 15:00

There’s a solid reason for that saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Especially if it’s a horse book, written by someone from a discipline you don’t follow. Because chances are you’ll find something horse-world universal, and therefore useful, in the book, some little nugget of knowledge you wouldn’t have otherwise learned because you don’t normally look at that kind of book.

This was the case for me when reading, 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes: Simple Solutions for Better Jumping Performance–In No Time.  This 224-page hardcover book, written by internationally-recognized equestrian Wendy Murdoch, has 175 color photos and 45 color illustrations that demonstrate every important point the author makes, and there are many. 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes is offered on for $29.95, and even if you don’t jump (I don’t, and have no intention of it any time in the future!) you will find some extremely useful advice in this book.

True to its title, Wendy Murdoch gives the reader 40 horsemanship-improving tips they can implement in 5 minutes or less.

For example:

#7: Locate Your Hip Joints from the Front

If you ever feel stiff in your hips or tend to grip with your legs in an insecure way, this fix is for you. As Murdoch points out, “Hip tension will restrict your horse’s movement, make you unstable, and cause problems when trying to follow the movements of your horse…”

And hip loosening can only occur when the pelvis is in correct position, so Murdoch shows the reader how to achieve that.

#20: Keep Your Joints Moving by Wiggling Your Toes

Do you ever hold your breath while riding? Wiggling your toes keeps your joints soft, Murdoch says, while giving you something to focus on.

#29: When in Doubt, Breathe Out!

“Practice these techniques in any stressful situation,” Murdoch tells the reader, “to break the old habit of holding your breath….Exhaling makes your seat more secure, and eliminates unwanted anxiety. It will also help your horse to breathe.”

That’s right, you can help your horse learn how to take a calming breath. And this exercise can be done in about 30 seconds. It’s simple and brilliant at the same time, and Murdoch’s advice is one of my favorite new sayings: “When in doubt, breathe out!”

For those of you who ride hunter/jumper, 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes will no doubt become one of your favorite books. Murdoch’s straightforward advice will give you better security in the saddle, a more relaxed and effective leg position, quiet hands and more confidence.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Categories: Owner News

Consumers Direct the Marketplace: Shopping for Horse Stuff

My Horse Daily - Thu, 03/06/2014 - 13:09

Horse Journal’s 20th Anniversary edition in digital format.

As Horse Journal marks its 20th Anniversary, Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Foley reflects on the trends she’s seen while editing the foremost equine consumer publication.

Note: Horse Journal is going green, moving to a full digital format with its March 2014 issue (go to to experience Horse Journal Online).

Read on to learn how consumers actually do decide what will be available in the tack stores and what won’t make the cut:

Since our founding 20 years ago, Horse Journal has maintained an open relationship with manufacturers. We don’t evaluate products in secret. We believe manufacturers are true experts, and we seek their insights. A discussion with a manufacturer who has researched their product is a valuable educational experience.

 Early on, I was heartened by the reception to our critiques from most equine companies. We became well-acquainted with company executives. Sometimes we were told they’d also already noted problems we’d found. Many times, we’d see our suggestions incorporated into the products. Both Associate Editor Margaret Freeman and I have been here since the first Horse Journal in 1994, and we’ve learned a lot about equine manufacturing. Anyone who thinks it’s easy is in for a surprise.  Competition is stiff, and horse people are a tough crowd. The ever-climbing costs of labor and materials have caused many companies to shut down.While most Americans will say they prefer made-in-USA goods, their wallets contradict them. Classic CoverUps, an awesome blanket company started in 1986 by Lynn Bishop in Pennsylvania, closed after over 15 years. Despite successful product lines like Horses In Black and Big Kahuna, the company could no longer pay workers what they considered a fair wage.We’ve also seen equestrian household names like Eisers, Whitman, Courbette and Miller’s swallowed by large companies and then disappear.

Cashel and Equine America, on the other hand, were sold to big companies but their best products continue today, seemingly unchanged. We will need to wait to see what happens to the Ariat brand, sold in 2012 to the Fisher family that founded The Gap.

We’ve also seen good companies become great companies, as we watched Stephen Day take the reins of Dover Saddlery in 1998 and gallop into a retail giant, with a strong Internet presence and an ever-growing number of brick-and-mortar tack stores.

While we’ve witnessed many equine supplement companies come and go, Grand Meadows remains a leader. It was started 1984 by Nick Hartog and human nutritionist Angela Slater, a horse owner unhappy with supplements then available for horses.

Their dedication to quality is reflected in Hartog’s founding of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) in 1999. NASC companies agree to comply with quality and safety standards. Of all the changes we’ve seen in our 20 years of watching equine manufacturing, we feel this is by far the most significant and has the greatest positive impact on our horses.

We equine consumers drive the market. If we balk at a price and refuse to purchase that product, it won’t last. If we avoid a product because it doesn’t meet our standards, we can make it go away. And if we support the companies that support us, we all gain.

Categories: Owner News

New York’s Carriage Horses: The First Step Down a Bad Road

My Horse Daily - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 16:35

Some topics are very difficult for horse people to agree upon.  One of those issues is currently getting a lot of publicity: The question surrounding the future of the famous carriage horses.

Read on to hear Horse Journal‘s Dr. Deb Eldredge’s comments about the topic and how we need to look beyond the horses in the street. This veterinarian and lifelong horsewoman sheds some lights on the possible ramifications of banning these horses:

I don’t know how many of you are aware of the situation with the carriage horses of New York City. Their jobs, and in reality their lives, are on the line. Amazingly the newly elected mayor said his first priority would be to rid the city of the carriage horses! Really?! Not drugs, low-income housing, health care, street plowing or violent crime? Nope. Those darn carriage horses.

Rumor has it that the stables of the carriage horses happen to occupy some land that wealthy benefactors of the mayor would just love to develop. Hmmm, maybe there is a method to the madness. Combine that with some of the serious anti animal, supposedly animal rights, animal caring people and you have a dangerous situation.

I have not personally seen the carriage horses for quite a few years. My trips to New York City don’t often take me near their routes. What I do know is that those horses are highly regulated. Think of them as having a top-notch union. They don’t work if it is too hot, their hours are limited and their care is stipulated. There is much more oversight of the carriage horses than there is of most of our horses.

On a hot day, do they sweat? Yes, they do. So do most of the people in the city. Think of what the animal rights folks would say looking at a team of miniature horses finishing the marathon competition at a driving event.

Do you think it will really be all that long before these people turn to all equine activities? Western pleasure, trial riding, eventing, open jumping. The carriage horses have strict guidelines for their use and care. They are observed by thousands of people every day. You can bet that if any questionable care is noted, that some one reports it. New Yorkers don’t tend to be shy about things.

Are there occasional abuses? Probably. Just as there are occasional abuses in pretty much every facet of life. But keep in mind that these horses ARE in the public eye. It can’t be easy to get away with any blatant abuse when you are right out there in front of thousands of tourists and native New Yorkers.

Let’s look at what happens if the mayor wins and the horses are kicked out. Already other cities are thinking about following up with their own evictions. How many horse crazy little girls will miss their one daily chance for equine interaction? How many people who had one chance during the day to pause and interact with another living being, a creature so fabulous it has partnered with mankind for thousands of years, will now lose that opportunity?  There is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill that says, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

What will become of the horses themselves? The activists say things like they will all live happily ever after on peaceful farms with green meadows and wonderful, loving care. Really? Where are these farms? Who is going to pay for that care? Most horse rescues are already strapped for land, help and cash. Suddenly dumping a large number of horses on the rescue scene is not going to work out well.

To me, the bottom line is that I am not convinced these horses are doing all that poorly. Most horses enjoy working and love a routine in their lives. Think of the Marguerite Henry story, “Five o’Clock Charlie”. Throwing these horses out of New York City will endanger their lives. It will put many people out of work. It will remove something wonderful and special from Central Park. And I firmly believe, it will be the first step towards ending all human interactions and partnerships with horses.

Go online, sign a petition. Send a message to the politicians involved. Let them know that the tourism industry of New York City will be badly damaged by the removal of the carriage horses. Remember, Edmund Burke’s quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Read the New York State Horse Council’s statement on carriage horses.

Categories: Owner News

Horse Aha Moments, Poetry and Flowing Manes

My Horse Daily - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:00

It’s very difficult to put into words the connection between a human and a horse. It’s mysterious, richly nourishing and at once both profound and very simple.

It’s what those of us who love horses yearn for and work toward. Yet sometimes we get stuck and need help.

If you and your horse are not in sync, consider Meditation for Two: Searching For and Finding Communion with Your Horse, by Dominique Barbier, a world-renown horseman and breeder of Lusitano horses. This gem is offered on HorseBooksEtc. for $24.95.

Meditation for Two is a joint collaboration with writer and photographer Keron Psillas, and has been called “a voyage of enlightenment that transcends simple horse training.”

It’s a beautiful book, and for those of us who appreciate the form of a horse, there are lots of lovely photos of stunning horses with flowing manes and arched necks.

But it’s more than just a pretty face–Meditation for Two details Dominique Barbier’s own journey of soul searching. As he points out, when our journey with a horse becomes mired and can’t move forward, it’s the human’s fault.

“Every time in my learning I felt a breakthrough, I have opened a door to find my horse on the other side, waiting, saying, ‘It’s about time; I have been waiting for you,’” Dominique writes. “After time, there would be another breakthrough, and there he was again. The only limits I have found have been my own.”

The book features stunning photography and inspirational poetry while it outlines the path toward true communication with the horse. Co-author Keron Psillas is an instructor, photographer and image editing and publishing consultant who lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Her images beautifully illustrate the teachings of Dominique. This book looks gorgeous and could be a coffee table ornament. Just don’t leave it there without reading it because it’s full of wisdom.

“Where our own egos regularly allow fear and negativity to interfere with our ability to let go and form spiritual connections, horses possess an incalculable ability to function as conduits of connection,” he writes in the book. “Where we analyze, where we try to explain, where we try to re-create, where we try to simply be, horses are already there –waiting for us to walk through the open door, to follow the path of spiritual oneness, to allow healing energy to come in.”

His background speaks to his expertise. This is from his website:

Born in France in 1950, Dominique Barbier began his equine career at a Jesuit school in Poitiers, and at the age of 15 attended Crabbett Park Equestrian Centre in West Sussex, England where he certified as a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor (BHSAI).

In 1972, Dominique returned to England to attend the renowned Talland School of Equitation in Cirencester under the instruction of Mrs. Molly Siveright, FBHS, DBHS.

For the next eight years, he sharpened his riding skills at a number of highly regarded facilities throughout Europe, following various disciplines, including showjumping, three-day eventing, dressage and steeplechasing.

Dominique then based himself in Portugal for two years studying with the legendary Mestre Nuno Oliveira where his riding skills were en- hanced by perfecting his “mental and physical attitude.” This experience was a defining moment that inspired Dominique’s belief in keeping a horse “light and happy,” known as “la belle legerete a la Française.”

In Portugal, Dominique purchased Dom Pasquale, Dom Giovanni and Dom Jose – the three Lusitano stallions he first trained to “high school” levels. Remarkably, Dom Giovanni also learned to canter on the spot and backwards!

Since emigrating to the United States, Dominique’s teaching and passion for the “Art of Dressage” has reached many thousands of people throughout the country, as well as North Africa, Europe, Asia and Brazil. His avant-garde philosophy, focusing on the importance of mental communication and the understanding of the horse’s nature, has been practiced now for over 40 years.

Meditation for Two is not for the passive horseman or horsewoman. It takes the sum of Dominque’s decades of experience and passes it on to the reader in a personal and conversational way, from master to student. The photos will inspire you and the book itself will guide you, if you open yourself to the possibilities of unity with a horse.

Categories: Owner News

Changing Horse Interests

My Horse Daily - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 18:41

Banjo enjoying some grazing time. | Photo courtesy of Cate Lamm

As we grow in our horsemanship, often our focus of our goals for our horse life changes.

That certainly happened with rescue horse advocate Cate Lamm, who shares her story here:

Have you ever been really crazy about one thing? Maybe it’s show jumping, car racing, or pie-eating? It could be anything.

Then you, sort of, lose interest in that one thing? Gradually, it’s just no longer as important.

Life goes on, then you become really interested in something else. Maybe car racing turned into cycling, or pie-eating turned into baking.

We lose interest. Or maybe our values change. Sometimes we just can’t physically do it anymore.

For me, eventing competitions turned into working with rescue horses. It started with a realization that I was putting competition before my horse.

I wish I’d heard the wise words of horseman Harry de Leyer back then. He was the owner of Snowman, a slaughterhouse-bound plow horse turned nationally recognized show jumper.

His story was chronicled in The Eighty-Dollar Champion, by Elizabeth Letts.

“Winning is never more important than fostering a sense of trust between horse and (wo)man,” de Leyer said.

I’d broken that trust with my rescue horse, Banjo. I’d asked him to do something he wasn’t ready to do. My emotions had gotten in the way. My desire to win caused me to push him too hard.

I wanted something different for both of us.

I know it’s not popular to put the horse first in a world where instant gratification and winning at all costs are common themes. But what’s the point of a victory if the friend who carried you is just pawn in a struggle to be at the top of the heap?

Horses are often traded like baseball cards in the never-ending desire to go faster, jump higher, or ride better.

What is it we are trying to win? To prove? Why is a blue ribbon more important than a life?

I don’t frown on competition. It has its place. When done responsibly, it’s a wonderful outlet for both horse and rider.

For a time, Banjo and I had a blast competing. But I’d gotten too caught up in wanting to win. It was time to start anew.

The shift from competition to working with abused, abandoned, and neglected rescue horses was like coming home. I’m motivated by a desire to make a difference for horses in this world.

I’m glad to return to my roots. For Banjo, this shift in focus means more time to graze. For me, it means more time to mentor my new project horses. I also get to go trail riding more often.

Banjo has thrown his heart into this new direction. Just like he’s always done with everything.

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.
This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Categories: Owner News

Dr. Juliet Getty: What Is Vegetable Oil (and What Kind Are You Giving to Your Horse?)

My Horse Daily - Wed, 02/26/2014 - 15:00

Do you read the labels on your horse’s feed closely? Do you know specifically what kind of fat he’s getting?

It’s an important issue, and equine nutritionist Dr. Juliet Getty tells us why:

The ingredient list is your most important source of information when evaluating a feed or supplement for your horse. Often times, feed items are clumped together in one term. This is typically the case with added fat. Many manufacturers will list fat content as simply, “vegetable oil,” leaving you, the consumer, with absolutely no idea of the source.

What kind of oil is going into your horse’s feed?

The only thing this tells you is that the fat is not of animal origin. But there are so many vegetable oils available — the most commonly added ones are soybean, corn, and coconut oils. Coconut oil is easy to handle because it is solid (due to its highly saturated chemistry), but it is unclear if it is doing any long term harm to your horse. The majority of fatty acids in soybean and corn oils are in the omega 6 variety, which is inflammatory in high amounts when not balanced with omega 3s.

Items within the ingredient list must be presented in a certain order. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the ingredient with the highest percentage of total weight must be listed first with all ingredients listed in descending order. However, under certain conditions, the manufacturer may list ingredients alphabetically, making it difficult to interpret concentrations.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to know what is in your horse’s feed. Call the manufacturer for clarification. Don’t guess when it comes to your horse’s health.

About her: Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is the Contributing Nutrition Editor for the Horse Journaland is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

And keep learning with Dr. Getty! At, sign up for her informative, free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her informative teleseminars. For the growing community of horse owners and managers who allow their horses free choice forage feeding, Dr. Getty has set up a special forum as a place for support, celebrations, congratulations, and idea sharing. Share your experiences at

Categories: Owner News

Jonathan Field’s Re-Start Series: When Your Horse Needs a Do-Over

My Horse Daily - Tue, 02/25/2014 - 15:00

It’s hard being a horse.

Sensitive creatures that they are, I’m sure they’re affronted by us bumbling humans far too often, and yet they forgive us, time and time again.

Still, some heavy-handed encounters can leave frightening memories that are hard for a horse to forget. Have you ever discovered such a “hole” in your horse? Where he or she reacted so violently and with such obvious fear that you were left scratching your head and thinking, “I wonder what happened to you in the past?”

If that’s in the case, please consider giving your horse a new start–literally, with the help of renowned Jonathan Field, who will once again compete at the next Road to the Horse colt-starting competition.

In his DVD horse training series “The (Re)Start is Everything,”  Jonathan Field introduces us to a variety of horses with a variety of problems. This DVD series takes you on their journeys of being started, or re-started, so that you can uncover the same holes in your horse’s foundation that may prove to cause a safety issue someday.

We can watch from the safety of our couch as Jonathan Field works with a wary gelding named Earl, who is so frightened that he strikes at Jonathan. Nonplussed, Jonathan keeps up an entertaining and instructional monologue the entire time that explains exactly why he is doing everything he does. It’s clearly taped in “real” time with Earl learning as we do.

Most horses are not being “bad” when they misbehave. As Jonathan Field points out, they will run, explode or fight their way out of a situation they think puts the in danger, and maybe they’ll kick you along the way–not meaning to, but just in trying to save their own life.

So in this series, Jonathan shows us how to teach a horse to trust and how to think. So instead of simply being reactive, Earl slowly learns to process new things instead of just trying to run from them. In the first 45 minutes of the first DVD, Earl goes from being suspicious and flighty to becoming calmer. His eyes begin to look soft, and he starts to lick and chew as the wheels turn in motion inside his brain. It’s an amazing transformation to watch, and that’s just one horse in less than 45 minutes.

The 7-DVD series “The (Re) Start is Everything”  is offered on for $287, which is a great deal when you consider that it gives you nine hours of personal instruction from Jonathan Field, including how to:

  • Prepare for saddling with two key techniques
  • Understand the concepts behind taming and become a true leader
  • See how Jonathan catches a range colt in a round pen
  • Learn leg handling with difficult and over sensitive horses
  • Deal with the dominant, pushy horse as well as the skeptical,  fearful one
  • Build an excellent stop from the beginning
  • Get early canter departures to be easy for both the horse and rider

Watch as Jonathan deals with horses that are: hard to saddle and mount, run through pressure, intensely buck and strike, push with their shoulders, ignore personal space, won’t stand still, and more. Plus, if you go to the page for “The (Re)Start is Everything,” you can watch clips from each of the seven DVDs of the series.

Your horse will thank you.

Categories: Owner News