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Our Newsletter

September 2000

Certified_Horsemanship_Association_logo.jpgTricks Of The Trade



Enhance the natural aids: as instructors, we should all be stressing the importance of the natural aids in communicating with the horse. Traditionally, four natural aids are taught: the seat, legs, hands and voice. I like to teach six natural aids including the rider's eyes and breathing in addition to the traditional natural aids. Exhaling on downward transitions and inhaling on upward transitions automatically gives a psychological and physiological cue to the horse. The rider's eyes communicate direction and leadership to the horse and should be used to initiate turns and to communicate your level of determination and commitment.

Julie Goodnight, 
CHA Clinician


A cheap and easy addition to your tack room is spray saline solution made for people that use contact lenses. It comes in a tall aerosol can, but squirts out a gentle and quiet stream of sterile saline solution. Available at Wal-Mart or Target for less than $2 per can, this handy liquid can be used for cleaning eyes (horse or human), wounds, or anything else. Since the can makes no squirting sounds, even a nervous horse will stand quietly when it is applied.

Jennifer Babeon, 
CHA Clinician



Cribbing vs. wood chewing: these terms are commonly misused by novice horse people and could give a horse a bad reputation unnecessarily. Cribbing is not the same as wood chewing. Cribbing refers to a habitual behavior of a horse when he places his front, top teeth on a rail or anything he can grip on, and pulls as he gulps in air. The horse will make a sound like a burp as he sucks in air. Cribbing causes an endorphin release for the horse, which rewards the behavior and causes him to repeat the behavior excessively and even become addicted to the behavior. Cribbing is considered a vice and is often found in Thoroughbreds and horses enduring a great deal of physical and/or mental stress such as confinement or hard training. Wood chewing is the beaver-like propensity of horses to want to destroy any piece of wood within its reach. Wood chewing is most common in horses that are confined and get limited grazing opportunity. Horses in the wild will graze up to 18 hours a day and chew in excess of 40,000 per day; confined horses have the need to chew too and with no opportunity to graze, will chew on whatever they can find.


For cheap and effective wound treatment, keep a box of sanitary pads in your first aid box. They are great for use in cleaning wounds, applying ointment and protecting saddle sores. Buy the kind with a sticky backing, medium thickness and without wings, then apply them directly to the girth for protection and prevention at the first sign that a sore might be developing. Sanitary pads are much cheaper than buying gauze from a first aid supply store and are readily available.

Polly Barger, 
CHA Clinician and Board Member