By Julie Goodnight
The whiskers around the eyes and muzzle of the horse aren’t actually whiskers, they are important sensing organs, known as vibrissae, which provide a valuable sense of feel for the horse. These long wiry hairs have their own nerve and blood supply, but the nerves are not connected to pain receptors, so the horse does not react when clipped. With blind spots immediately in front of and below the face of the horse, these areas can be particularly vulnerable to injury. Also, the horse relies upon the vibrissae to sense things in his environment, from sharp objects to an electric fence. Shaving or clipping the vibrissae leaves the horse unprotected in his blind spots and takes away part of his ability to feel things around him.
Often when describing the breed of a horse, you hear the prefix Anglo, as in Anglo-Arabian or Anglo-Trakehner. Anglo simply means that it is a Thoroughbred cross. Since Thoroughbreds are light and athletic horses, they have been crossed on many other breeds. The ultimate Anglo cross is the appendix Quarter Horse; some of these horses eventually get accepted into the breed books as purebred quarter horses, once they accumulate enough performance points, so most AQHA horses have Thoroughbred blood somewhere in their lineage. Registered quarter horses that do not have Thoroughbred blood in their pedigree are known as, and may be registered as, Foundation Bred quarter horses.
Too loose? Hang too low? Interfere with the horse’s shoulders? It seems like most breast collars are made for horses much beefier than mine. When breast collars are too long, it’s easy to fix it by taking a double wrap of the strap around the dee-rings of the saddle on each side, like you would for English stirrups that are too long. Often the dee-rings of the saddles are either too low or not there at all and you have to fasten the breast collar to the cinch dee-rings, which is usually too low and causes the collar to hang down and interfere with the horse’s shoulders. It’s easy to take a strap or even a piece of bailing twine in a pinch, and run it from the side-rings on the breast collar that the buckles attach to, over the neck and attached to the other side. This will raise the collar up above the shoulders.
In CHA, we talk a lot about tack checks and conducting periodic repair and maintenance inspections on all the tack used in a program. We encourage the use of tack logs and Record and Maintenance journals that show when the tack has been cleaned, fixed or components replaced; although some attorneys would argue that this sort of documentation may work against you if it is not kept up to date or if it shows evidence of a problem, in the event of an incident, that would indicate equipment failure rather than inherent risk. Whether documented or not, tack should be checked for every ride and system-wide periodic inspections should be performed, looking for worn or frayed components. But what do you do when the rider comes to you with her own horse and own tack? Where does your responsibility lie? Obviously, if they have hired you for a lesson or clinic, you are taking responsibility for their safety, so a tack check is in order. I believe you also have a duty to educate the rider, as best you can, on whether or not the tack is appropriate for the horse (and/or rider), adjusted correctly and, in the case of artificial aids, what purpose is it serving in the rider’s mind. Many horse owners don’t know much about their tack, how it works, how it is properly adjusted, what parts wear out or need closer inspection. I believe a conscientious instructor or trainer owes it to their client or student, and to the horse, to make sure all tack is as it should be and that the rider has a full understanding of his/her tack.
To keep customers engaged, send a short weekly email with a trivia question and a joke/funny video/funny photo. Make sure the customer has signed up to receive email and make sure it’s short and fun. If you have a barn rule reminder, use only one. Do not send financial reminders in this email. Recipients should be blind copied.
Jenny Willey, CHA Regional Director
I bought a fish scale for $5 and use it to weigh my hay. It helps me manage feed costs and feed the correct amount of hay to each horse.
Michelle Koslowski, CHA Certified Instructor
Have your students sing while teaching the canter, keeps them breathing and relaxed!
Cathy Cline, CHA FaceBook Fan
Importance of stirrup hobbles: Many people remove the stirrup hobbles from their western saddles in the naive believe that it is not needed and that it interferes with the ease of stirrup adjustment. In fact, it is a very important safety feature of the western saddle and should always be in place. It serves two basic functions: to keep the stirrup leathers from separating and forming a loop that a foot (or a branch) could slip through, and it keeps the stirrup in the correct orientation. If the stirrup were to turn upside down or sideways it would be difficult and dangerous to try to get the rider’s foot back into it.
Polly Haselton Barger, CHA Program Director
An exfoliating washcloth is great to clean bits! It knocks off the gunk but doesn’t scratch the metal.
Suzi Carragher, CHA Facebook Fan
For an inexpensive rein stop I use old garden hoses. Simply cut a 4 inch section (depending how large the rings of your running martingale are) then cut a 1-2 inch slice in the middle and slide your rein through. Very easy, very inexpensive.
Nathan Horsman, CHA Clinic Staff
We learned this at our place from a recent saddle fitter that came in: when using a Mattes pad, ProLite pad or therapeutic pad with shims, you can use a yoga mat to cut out more shims to replace lost ones or add more thickness in needed areas.
Bradie Chapman, CHA Certified Instructor