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Our Newsletter

February 2000


Tricks Of The Trade



'Feel' is an incredibly significant ability of the rider, one that many riders lack and one that can take years (a whole lifetime, really) to develop. Sadly, some riders never do. An instructor might have an understanding of the feel of horses, but have difficulty in communicating 'feel' to their students. Some trainers and instructors might have the physical ability to feel of a horse, but not a true understanding of the complexities of using 'feel'. There are many exercises that help develop the feel in students.

Lay one or two ground poles, 3-4 feet apart, and have students proceed in a line over the poles at the walk. Use heavy rounded wood poles, 10-12 feet long. Have the students look far ahead (practicing "open" eyes) as they walk in a straight line over the poles and see if they can feel which front foot steps over the pole. Have students state loudly "right" or "left" as a front foot steps over the pole/s.


This exercise can be advanced by adding more poles (at varying distances), by asking students to feel hinds step over, by progressing through the gaits and finally by coordinating the aids with the stepovers. It takes a great deal of attention by the instructor to monitor the class, while watching each horse to see which foot does step over and if that is the same one the rider said. Assistants can be help a lot and poles can be set at both end of the arena to keep all students engaged. Many students love this challenge and will want to try again and again to get it right. Students at any level can begin to learn to feel their horse's feet hit the ground.



Check all English saddles to insure that the safety latch of the stirrup bar is in the down position. Although the safety latch is intended to hold the leather in place and still allow a release in the event of a fall, the safety latch cannot be trusted to release. These latches commonly rust in place or just stick in place from all the grime that saddles tend to accumulate, especially in out-of-sight places like stirrup bars. With the safety latch stuck in the up position, it is doing the opposite of what it was intended and is producing a hazard instead of safety.

To help prevent the risk of a rider being drug by the stirrup, these latches should be left in the down position always. Stirrups would rarely slip off the bar in the course of normal riding anyway, so there isn't really a need to keep the latch in the up position. For advanced students, having the latch down makes it easy to slip the leathers off for work without stirrups, to strengthen their balance and ability




Liquid Ivermectin is now available for horses. Ivermectin, the preferred deworming agent for horses, is once again being sold for oral administration. Available in 10 dose vials, at a significant savings over individual doses, the liquid is easy to skirt in with a dosing gun, quick to administer with no messy cartons, wrappers and paste.

As spring approaches, so does the need for deworming and for herds over 10 head, this is the most cost effective and convenient method. This product was reviewed in The Instructor (Spring 99) and prompted many orders for back issues. So we thought we'd share it with you again.


Liquid Ivermectin is available in 10 dose vials from your vet (under the brand-name Eqvalan) or it can be ordered from Heartland Veterinary Supply (equine wholesale supplier), (800-934-9398 or www.veterinarystore.com). The applicator guns are only about $10 for the plastic gun (for herds less than 10 head) or about $40 for the stainless steel gun (worth the cost for larger herds). A 10 dose vial of generic ivermectin is only about $65, about a 40% savings over individual doses of ivermectin paste.




Colts and Fillies: As spring approaches, so does the pitter-patter of little hooves. Obviously, the definition of colt is a male horse under the age of four and a filly is a female horse under the age of four, while a foal is of either gender but still nursing (under six months).

In horse slang, especially with the Western crowd and on the racetrack, the term "colt" may refer to an adolescent horse of either gender that is ready for training, as in, "breaking colts." When a cowboy (or cowgirl) refers to "riding colts," it is not that they don't know the difference between a colt and filly; they generally know that and far more, if they are doing this work successfully.