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Our Newsletter

October 2005


Tricks Of The Trade




Riding patterns, from simple to complex, are a great way to make lessons fun and improve the skills of your students at the same time. Whether beginner or advanced, all riders can benefit from riding specific patterns in the arena. Simply set up cones or use your arena letters, then create a pattern that includes transitions and changes of directions. Write the instructions and draw the pattern on a poster or paper then give it to your students to memorize and execute. You can read the pattern to anyone that needs help. It is not only an exercise in precision, communication and control, but it also requires your students to use their heads, practice memorization skills and think ahead. Patterns may include simple transitions at the markers like walk to trot, trot to walk, circles and backing, to more complex maneuvers such as pivots, transitions between gaits (regular trot to extended trot), lead changes and serpentines.

Julie Goodnight, 
Master Instructor



Have a stack of old fashioned curb bits lying around the tack room? Thinking of converting your school horses to snaffles for their sanity? The cheap, single piece curb bits make great tack hooks. Just screw both rings of one side of the bit into the wall and it will make a great hook for halters, bridles, leads or anything else you need to hang on the wall. Besides being a handy hook and a great use of unwanted tack, it provides great ambiance for your tack room décor!

Polly Barger, 
Clinic Instructor, Master, IRD, EFM





Need a way to give customized feed rations to individual horses in your herd? Give certain supplements to some horses and not others? Give more feed to the skinny horses and less to the easy keepers? Grain horses while they are tied up? An old-fashioned grain bag may be your best solution. It is simply a round sack that fits over the horse’s nose, with a strap that loops up behind the horse’s ears to hold it in place, and it is an excellent way to give grain rations to horses. No one can take it away from them and they can carry it around wherever they need to go. Feed bags are available at feed stores or in tack catalogues and range in price from $9-$15. Better yet, buy one and use it for a pattern to make your own. If you do buy them it is best to get the heaviest duty kind because they will endure a lot of abuse. If you will be using it for horses that cannot put their heads on the ground to press into the bag, you’ll need to get the kind with an adjustable head stall.

Julie Goodnight, 
Master Instructor



Champing (pronounced ‘chomping’) is a term that describes the horse playing with the bit. A young horse’s development is encouraged by using a bit with keys or rollers attached to the mouthpiece, which tends to make the saliva flow and keep the mouth moist. It is considered by some to be an aid in producing a ‘soft’ mouth in a horse. Champing at the bit, while irritating to some riders, is actually a good thing for the horse because it keeps his jaw soft and it is a good stress reliever for the horse.

From the Illustrated Dictionary of Equine Terms

Compiled by New Horizons Equine Education Center

Published by Alpine Publications, Loveland CO