I hope this finds you enjoying longer and greener days as summer comes into full swing. This being the preferred riding season for so many, especially in the north country, there are considerations in dealing with heat and insects.
A few points about horses and summertime:
• Be sure your horses continue to have unlimited access to ample clean water. A dollop of molasses will make the water more enticing for those less-inclined-to-drink horses
• Horses will sweat more in the summer and in work. Be sure to have loose salt and minerals readily available
• Some kind of shade gives horses relief from that intense penetrating sun
• Do your horse’s feet need attention? They grow faster in the summer
• This is also a good time to have a thorough dental exam performed on your horse if you haven’t done so already. Summer and fall are the seasons for weight gain for older horses. Deterioration in health and body condition of older horses can often be traced to improper dental care so they should receive particular attention
• This is prime bug season and some of these pesky insects can drive horses to the brink. More on this in the column to the right
When you ride in the summer be absolutely sure to give your horses a good warm-up prior to riding as mornings can be quite cool. Horses are almost always quite frisky in the cold. My safety system culminates in two exercises we call ballet, first on the ground, then in the saddle. These exercises connect brains and feet and use energy constructively while promoting horse/rider safety. When properly executed these two exercises will get the horse and rider in the right frame of mind, both on the same page. If you need to regroup at any time we have a logical place to wind down and start anew. This time on the ground prior to riding is also a good time to make sure your horse is well, both physically and mentally. Knowing your horses well, problems can be noted and dealt with prior to riding. Sometimes our horses just aren’t quite right and better to find out before mounting up.
Ever push yourself too hard too early and end up real sore the next day? I sure have and usually ask myself why I didn’t ease into such demanding exercise. Same with our horses. Those first rides of the spring and summer should be fitness rides, not marathons! It doesn’t take too many rides to help our horses muscle up, but most importantly we must be fair about it.
If your horses live in hilly country and are active, they’ll most likely be maintaining a reasonable level of fitness. Conversely, if your horses live in a flat paddock and aren’t moving or exercising much, be fair about your riding program. I truly believe the equestrians who get into the mind and body of their horses are the most competent and successful. So pay close attention and have empathy for the creatures that have captured our hearts.
On June 26h I will be doing a demonstration for teens from half a dozen schools, all part of a farm safety symposium here in Australia. Recovering from shoulder surgery, our noted Queensland Accredited Instructor Ken Anderson will be doing the riding as I assist with narration. Ken will be working with a horse he met a year ago, a stallion named Freckles. This is a perfect situation for the teens to observe as Ken plugs Freckles into the 7 Step Safety System that he diligently teaches his students. Since Ken hasn’t had contact with Freckles, he’ll start right at the beginning reintroducing himself with the first step in our program, bonding. He’ll progress from there and ultimately finish with Ballet in the Saddle as safety is turned into an elegant dance that promotes horse/rider safety and improves the horse’s athleticism.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
Horses are creatures of habit. They prefer to do things the same, if possible, time after time after time. When their routine changes, some horses are downright bothered. Now this can work for us and against us. With feeding and moving horses in and out of stalls, paddocks, and barns, the routine is probably a good thing. But when it comes to riding and exploring new places, this can be quite troublesome and disturbing to some horses. My philosophy is to be constantly throwing curve balls at our horses to keep them used to change. If you ride out the same route every day and perform the same exercises, your horse will become disinterested and dull. When you change it up and get creative, the horse is infinitely more alert and involved and is truly listening to you. I often refer to teachers at my demonstrations. Remember the ones that made class interesting? They kept us thinking, alert, and enjoying the classes. At the opposite end of the scale were teachers who had lost their passion for teaching and were just getting through it. I well remember both sides of it and will never forget the teachers that really cared. Our horses are the same. While aspects of our interactions must be routine and predictable, like our warm-ups, the actual rides and training must be creative to get the very most out of our horses. To me there’s nothing like an eager alert switched-on horse that is having fun, because there’s a very good chance I’m having fun as well.
We are witnessing the Golden Age of the Horse. From training techniques, to products, nutrition, and healing modalities, the advancements are endless, and all to benefit the creature we so love. Evolved Equine will simplify the choices and explain why massage may be the best choice for your sore horse, or dentistry, chiropractic, acupuncture, or natural trim.
Choosing the right product can be downright daunting as the choices are endless, so we’ll take the mystery out of choosing the saddle pad that absolutely does protect your horse’s back, or bitless bridle, or horse trailer. We’re researching the best of the best so you don’t have to.
Watch for EvolvedEquine.com as genuine stewardship moves to the forefront in the horse world . . . All for the Good of the Horse
VIDEO OF MONTH CLUB
Our video of the month club is a logical introduction to Frank’s Gentle Solutions approach. Beginning with the award winning DVD- Discover the Horse You Never Knew, Frank’s 7 Step Safety System is the logical first step and establishes a solid foundation for the remaining DVD/Book library that arrives conveniently each month for a full year. Absorb and apply the information of each instalment during the month at your own speed. By year’s end you won’t believe your relationship with your horses!
WHITE STALLION WEEK LONG CLINICS
Jim Rea and I have conducted clinics at White Stallion Ranch for the past five years in the spring and fall. With 130 horses we’re able to find just the right fit for our students. From experienced horsemen and women to novices seeking to gain confidence and improve their horse handling skills, the results are amazing as our students emerge walking tall and quite pleased with themselves exuding heightened confidence. Our mornings are devoted to hands on with horses in the huge arena. Beginning with my safety system we progress through the week to more advanced maneuvers, games, and horse activities. Afternoons can be hot in that dry desert sun, so after lunch and a siesta we discuss the plethora of subjects that surround the equine. Nutrition, living conditions, saddle fitting, pain assessment and treatment, typical horse problems, etc. keep our gang busy until the afternoon cools. Then we move back outside to discuss and demonstrate such topics as problem foot handling, saddle fitting, barefoot trimming, proper trailer loading, and just how to check your horse’s teeth. About then the dinner bell rings and happy hour commences.
Most participate in team penning several times during the week and our breakfast ride into the desert on Saturday is topped off as one of the wranglers enlightens us to the joys of the desert, explaining the interesting relationships of flora and fauna in the magnificent Sonoran Desert. The cuisine is fabulous and candlelight dinners on the patio, well downright enchanting. After dinner entertainment ranges from interpretive astronomy/star gazing to cowboy poetry and singing around the campfire to a creatures of the desert as Phil Gonzales enlightens and entertains with hands on to those so inclined to handle snakes, geckos, and one very perky chinchilla!
There does not exist a more well-run family dude ranch. White Stallion Ranch is truly a class act!
Don’t you deserve a week of pure indulgence delving into your passion?
Jim and I will be conducting our next week-long clinic at White Stallion Nov 11-18, 2012.
“I brought more back from Jim & Frank’s March clinic than I even realized. It was a life-changing experience in so many ways.” Paula Howe- New Mexico
From the Whole Gang at Dances With Horses- Wishing you and yours a great riding season.
Remember- The Long Way is the Short Way AND Your Success is our Success,