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Our Newsletter


August 2004

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Tricks Of The Trade

TEACHING

TACK ROOM

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE

The instructor should vary her position in the arena, in order to influence the horses as needed and to get a different perspective on students. Using your body language to communicate to the horses and your position either in front of the horse's balance point (girth area) or behind it will assist in slowing down a fast horse or speeding up a deadbeat, respectfully. Once or twice each lesson, go to one end of the arena at the middle of the short rail and watch riders come down the centerline so that you can see if the rider's lateral balance (side-to-side) and position are correct. You'll be surprised how often you'll find saddles crooked, stirrups uneven and posture problems that you don't see from the center of the ring. This is also an opportune time to gauge rider control and challenge your students to ride with precision and maintain a truly straight line off of the rail.

Julie Goodnight

This time of year, dirty, smelly, sweaty saddle pads and cinches allow us to identify a tack room from miles away and can lead to skin conditions and saddle/girth sores that can wreck havoc on your horsemanship program. Consider replacing fleece lined, wool and other sweat-absorbing pads and cinches with closed-cell foam pads and neoprene cinches/girths. These synthetic materials do not absorb the sweat and can be quickly hosed-off after each use and kept spic-and-span clean and dry. Because the material also will not absorb the water that you use to clean it off, it is ready to use again immediately after hosing off and there is no need to dry or air-out. The down-side is that the closed-cell foam and neoprene do not "breathe" and thus do not help cool the horse, which may make them less useful in extremely hot climates (where the tack rooms are most odiferous). While it may appear that horses sweat more wearing closed-cell foam or neoprene, you have to consider that the pad/cinch is not absorbing the sweat away from the horse, so what may appear to be more sweat is actually all of the sweat in one place. In moderate climates, closed-cell foam and neoprene give you fantastic options for cleanliness and less chance of friction sores.

 

HERD MANAGEMENT

HORSE LINGO

WEST NILE VIRUS

There are very few states that were exempt from the effects of West Nile Virus (WNV) last year and by this year, the mosquito borne virus, which affects both humans and horses, is expected to be in all 48 contiguous states. Vaccination is an expensive proposition (at $15-20 per dose), especially for large group riding programs. While vaccination may not be a sure-fire prevention of the disease, there is increasing evidence that it is good protection against the disease and that if a vaccinated horse does get WNV, its chances of survival and full recovery are greatly increased over that of an unvaccinated horse. WNV vaccine must be purchased from a vet and the initial inoculation requires two doses, four to six weeks apart, prior to the first sign of mosquitoes in the spring. After initial inoculation, an annual booster should be given as late in the spring as possible (booster efficacy is immediate after the initial two shots). In many areas, the greatest outbreak of the virus occurs in late fall, so in high-risk areas (either high mosquito count or high incidence of WNV) it is recommended to give a second booster later in the season to protect against late-season infection.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

As we always say in certification clinics, it is important to define your terms, any specialized terms that you use in a lesson. In order to direct the traffic flow in a lesson, we often use the terms, "track right," or “take a right rein." Tracking right and being on a right rein mean the same thing. It means that you are circling to the right (clockwise), riding with your right shoulder toward the middle of the arena and turning right when you reach the corner of the arena (and visa versa for track left, which is counter-clockwise). A "change of rein" is a reverse of directions. A talented instructor will get in the habit of defining each and every specialty term that she uses; never assume your students know what you mean or that they would ask if they didn't know. It never hurts to define terms because often people think they know what something means, but after hearing an actual definition, they realize they didn't fully understand the term.