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Our Newsletter

2010 Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves Around the Barn & Solutions to Fix Them

Dropping the Hoof After Cleaning

It is disrespectful to your horse to just drop its hoof after cleaning or handling it. If he has held it up politely for you, try to set the foot down gently. If the horse is leaning his weight on you it is acceptable to drop it so he will understand that he must hold it up himself, but otherwise it might make him reluctant to pick it up next time. It is important for your horse to trust you to maintain good foot manners-so remember that a doctor would never just drop your hand after looking at it. Also, be sure to never allow your horse to jerk his foot away from you, and insist he wait for you to set it down. - Polly Haselton Barger, CHA Program Director 

Letting Horse Walk Off While Mounting

It is rude and dangerous for a horse to walk off while the rider is mounting. Horses that do this have been allowed, or even encouraged to move off before the rider cues them to do so. Always insist your horse stand completely still until the rider is settled in the saddle and asks him to walk. The easiest way to train this habit into a horse is simply not to mount if he moves. Hold the reins so that you can stop forward movement, if necessary, and put your foot into the stirrup. If he moves take your foot out and gently apply pressure with the reins and/or say whoa. Continue this, progressing further into the mounting process as he stands still for each step. Remember to be consistent and always insist on a complete halt while the rider is mounting. - Julie Goodnight, CHA Master Instructor

Don’t Cut Me Off!

My pet peeve is riders exhibiting poor sportsmanship in order to win a class. At a recent horse show I witnessed a 9-year-old rider on a really nice pleasure horse cutting rider after rider off behind the judge’s back. This just sickens me that trainers/parents encourage this type of poor sportsmanship. Yes, my daughter was in the class having a beautiful ride on the rail when the rider began to cut her off. My daughter pulled her horse up, and the judge witnessed my daughter breaking stride. So, how do you teach your child to ride more aggressively when she is concerned that the other horse will kick hers? I can’t fault my daughter, because she was always taught safety first. I am trying to teach my students to tell the other riders when they don’t have room. If they are being rude and unsafe let them know. Does this work?  Well in the same class one of the older riders did say something to the 9-year-old. Instead of cutting her off the 9-year-old cut across the ring to find a new spot. - Terry Williams Jones, CHA Region 4 Director

Equipment Concerns

My pet peeve involves riders who aren’t properly trained using arena equipment such as poles, barrels, jumps etc. As the owner of a facility I will often set up equipment for use during my lessons. If I don’t get it picked up immediately, boarders will go out and use it. Sometimes the poles will get moved out of the correct spacing and the rider won’t notice. This misuse of the arena equipment not only causes confusion to the horse, but can cause injury to both horse and rider. Plus, my equipment gets damaged! I have actually had boarders come to ride during every trail or ground poles lessons so they can use the obstacles I have set up! One boarder client got angry when I asked her not to ride over the poles during my lesson. So riders, please get proper training on how and when to use ground poles, barrels, jumps etc. You may save yourself lots of re-training time or even prevent an injury. - Cheryl Rohnke-Kronsberg, CHA Master Instructor

Two Groomings a Ride Please

We’ve all had those days when we squeeze in time to ride. Life is busy, so we quickly brush our horse’s back, hop on for thirty minutes, hop off, and let the horse go back to grazing. Harmless, right? But this pattern is missing one key element: second grooming. It is very important to brush your horse after the ride as well. You need to brush under the saddle pad where sweat has formed and also curry comb or brush the horse’s belly where the girth has been. This is even more important when your horse wasn’t very clean to start. Mud and dirt mixed with sweat left un-groomed can cause girth sores, which are open wounds behind the elbow and very painful when touched. Left untreated, saddle sores can lead to a very upset horse at even the sight of a saddle, because it associates a saddle with pain. Horses will bite and kick to get you to stop touching these sensitive areas. Avoid this negative behavior and groom after you ride as well and take the time to clean the girth area. - Deanna Morono, CHA Editorial Intern

A Twisted Approach

It drives me crazy to see riders with their reins twisted and I will always correct this (gently) when I see it. Besides looking sloppy, any twist in the reins diminishes the direct connectivity between your hands and the horse’s mouth and dilutes the level of feel that you have. Sometimes the reins can be attached to the bit with a twist in them; sometimes the rider causes the twist. Whenever you pick up the reins, you should smooth out any twists and make sure the reins are even. - Julie Goodnight, CHA Spokesperson

Earning your Spurs

One thing that makes me crazy is watching a horse take abuse from a rider who wears spurs because it is part of the expected “attire”. As our horses’ keepers we are ultimately responsible for their overall comfort and well being. Allowing riders of all ages and abilities to wear spurs is irresponsible horsemanship. Let’s all make sure that those within our influence are educated about the purpose and use of spurs. Spurs are used to “Lighten” the horse to our leg. They can help us do less while asking for very precise movements. They should only be worn by experienced riders who have achieved an independent seat and quiet lower leg. They should not leave marks on the horse’s sides and never leave a wound or sore of any kind. There are many different styles, sizes and shapes of spurs-from a gentle ball spur to a sharp, pointed rowel. When you feel like you are ready to ride in spurs please get assistance from a knowledgeable trainer or instructor on proper sizing, style and use. Then have a ground person watch you the first time you ride in them, at all gaits. You want to be assured that you are not inadvertently poking your horse every stride. - Heidi Potter – CHA Clinic Instructor - Vermont

Stall Cleaning 101

One of my pet peeves is seeing stalls with all the shavings that are allowed to be shoved up against the wall by a horse that is in a lot. Usually, horses that are inside most of time will pace in their stalls out of boredom and people don’t arrange their stalls in a way to prevent them from not having any bedding to lie in when cleaning. When a horse is inside often, it needs a lot of bedding throughout to be comfortable and for more absorption of urine. An easy way to prevent them from getting so much shavings out of the middle and against the wall is to rake all of the bedding into the middle of the stall when you clean it so that the horse will have a comfortable place to lay down if they want and so that their stall floor won’t have to absorb as much urine. - Ramona A. Palm-Oslin – CHA Intern

Another pet peeve is when old and new bedding is mixed. This shortens the life of bedding over time and you wind up spending more money on it. In order to keep more fresh bedding, the best thing to do is to try to put old bedding where you know a horse urinates a lot and try to put new bedding where the stall normally stays pretty clean. This way, you can rotate the bedding and it will tend to last longer. - Ramona A. Palm-Oslin – CHA Intern

Don’t Rub on Me!

One of my peeve pets is when a horse rubs its head on me after a ride. The response I would have if a horse rubbed me with his head initially is to simply push his face away. If he doesn’t get the hint the first time I would get a little more forceful next time. Usually if you don’t allow the behavior to continue, he will get the hint and stop without having to be too assertive with him. - Ramona A. Palm-Oslin – CHA Intern

Stirrup Etiquette

It is inconsiderate of the horse to snap English stirrups down. Also, hooking Western stirrups over the saddle horn and then just let them drop, hitting the horse in the side, can cause the horse to move into the person, stepping on their toes, if the stirrup is dropped on the offside. It is not only rude to the horse, but potentially dangerous for the rider. - Julie Goodnight – CHA Clinic Instructor