Riding Gymnastics Exercises

Gymnastics in riding is very helpful when it comes to jumping your horse. It not only helps develop your horses muscles, but also help the rider to better understand and play around with striding.

Benefits of Gymnastics Exercises:

  • Develops confidence in both horse and rider
  • Gain better balance
  • Learning to stay on a consistent rhythm
  • Corrects drifting/improves straightness
  • Helps in understanding/controlling striding
  • Helps in developing¬†equitation

Generally, there are 3 phases, which include trot poles, cross pole, vertical and an oxer. This gives you a variety to work with and better understand the feel over the jumps.

You mostly start with trotting over the trot poles, however, there are some who prefer to just canter straight towards the cross pole. It depends on your riding and training.

Here is a video that helps to explain the 3 parts:

I personally need to work on this a lot! It is a good exercise to do at least once a week, even if it is only poles on the ground.

Hope this helps ūüôā

Tips to Buying a Horse

I have been asked a few times what to look for when buying a new horse, or the average cost etc.

Therefore, I decided to write up this post just to summarize some crucial points to keep in mind before purchasing a horse.

Things to think of before considering buying a horse:

  • Determine your level: If you are a beginner, it is best to stick with riding schools or leasing rather than owning a horse until you are a little more experienced
  • Commitment: Are you ready to commit to taking care of a horse and riding it often?
  • Cost: A horse’s price may range, but the cost of livery and other services they need for maintenance is costly with each month
  • Outcome: Why are you looking to buy a horse? what is your goal? Leisure riding? competing? etc.
  • Look around: Do not settle for one breeder/seller, ask around and see what’s out there
  • Ask around:¬†Do not be afraid to ask horse owners about the lifestyle and their experience with their horses
  • Get Help: Do not attempt to go ride a horse on your own. Make sure you have a knowledgable trainer, friend, horse owner etc, with you
  • People are not always honest: Hard truth is that people lie, whether it be about the horse, price, history etc. So keep that in mind.

Things to think of when considering a horse:

  • Pick a¬†discipline:¬†as horses of different breeds are used for different disciplines¬†
  • Keep options open: Just because you liked an ad for one horse, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at others
  • Take an experienced person with you
  • Watch the horse being lead¬†walking and trotting
  • Observe as being ridden: Ask¬†seller or person with you to ride the horse beforehand if you are not comfortable
  • Ride the horse yourself
  • Check horse’s¬†behaviour: Loading in trailer, stable manners, farrier etc.
  • Temper: are they too¬†temperamental or too lazy?
  • Experience: What have they done in the past? Schoolmaster?¬†green?¬†
  • Age: Old does not mean experienced and vise versa
  • Horse History: Check the horses medical and training history
  • Price: Are they worth the price asked? Always negotiate¬†
  • VET CHECK VET CHECK VET CHECK! I cannot stress enough about this, but make sure you do a vet check that is not in the same location as the horse is generally in, as things may be overlooked or gotten used to.

I hope I didn’t forget anything els, if so please comment below ūüôā

 

 

Tips to Loading Difficult Horses

Ever since Tofino’s sight has been deteriorating, he has been very difficult to load onto the trailer, even though we never had a problem with loading at all before.

First thing first, NEVER use force. No whips, chains, hitting etc. The reason why a horse won’t load is either because it’s something new and need to get used to it, or it’s because they are genuinely afraid for many reasons.

  1. Be patient
  2. Open the side door of the trailer so the area feels less claustrophobic
  3. Having a horse already inside will help to ease anxiety and doubt
  4. Lead your horse yourself as they probably trust YOU
  5. Allow your horse to walk around the trailer and sniff it out
  6. Reward with each step
  7. Talk to your horse gently
  8. If that fails, simply cover your horses eyes with a jumper or towel and lead them inside (this seems to work most of the time)

Note: Don’t forget your safety travel¬†gear!

2016-11-17-photo-00001400  2016-11-17-photo-00001399

If you have any specific technique you know of, please do not hesitate to share. Personally, I have been using the above steps and ended up having to cover his face once which worked like a charm. Without doing so, it would take me 20 minutes to load otherwise.

Hope this helps

Hock Injections (Arthritis & Bone Spur)

The hocks play a major role for the horses movement. They are the driving mechanism for their hind end. The Hock is the joint between the tarsal bones and tibia.


What happens to the hocks?

When the horses cartilage starts to thin in the middle join spaces, pain is evident as it is the actual bone grinding when moving. Therefore, horses will start to develop bone spurs along the edges which is the starting process of bone fusion. This affects not only the back legs, but also the the hips, croup and hindquarters.

To help relieve pain during the degeneration process, an injection is given to the lower and middle joint spaces until the process of fusion is complete.  Fusion is a good thing in this case as they don’t slide, and therefore they don’t hurt anymore.

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This happens to many athletic horses. The injection consists of corticosteroids, which  are anti-inflammatory agents that according to studies and performance, help with pain relief and inflammation. Some vets combine corticosteroid with hyaluronate (also known as hyalruonic acid, or HA) to help lubricate the joint. Tofino got his hock injected within the first few months of having him. His X-ray showed that he has arthritis between the joints and started to develop bone spurs (see pic below).


Causes:
  • Type of riding
  • Genetics (play a role in arthritic degeneration)
  • Diet
  • Movement, or lack there of (horses in stall, standing still will be a lot stiffer)
Solutions:
  • Joint Supplements:¬†Adequan,¬†Legend,¬†Pentosan, glucosamine, chondroitin, and¬†MSM, NSAIDs are some of many suppliments that can aid in joint lubrication and pain.
  • Weight¬†management¬†& Exercise: If your horse is overweight it can put a load of pressure on the hocks. If not then just continue to work them normally, and keep the outside of their box as much as possible.
  • Therapy: To help relieve stiffness¬†and pain.
  • Surgery: Only in extreme cases,¬†surgical drilling of the hock joints or chemical fusion¬†of the hocks may be an option.
  • Injections: Cortisone injections provide somewhat of a long term anti-inflammatory effect and pain relief. Depending on¬†discipline and intensity, the injection may last somewhere between¬†between 6¬†and 15 months.

Within the 5 years that I have had Tofino, I have only injected him 3 times so far. As soon as I start to notice when he’s in pain in that area, I give our vet a call. I found that the Turmeric¬†treats help SO MUCH with the fluidity of his movements, and his diet, being on Reverdy Feed has given him the right nutrients, without adding supplements, to hold off on the injections, therefore, not needing them as much.

We are not sponsored by Reverdy Feed anymore, but I still stand by the product as I have noticed a great deal of positive change with Tofino’s performance and body.

Importance/Benefits of Grooming your Horse

Grooming your horse not only allows them to be clean, but also allows you to better understand their personality and behaviour.

I have an essentials to keeping your horse clean post written a while back which may help you if you wish to have a sparkly pony!

Naturally in the wild, horses groom each other. Domesticated horses that don’t have that option specifically need more attention in that sense. Horses are social animals and love the contact.

Here are some dot points as to why grooming is beneficial:

  • Increase blood flow around your horses body
  • Increase the bond between you and your horse
  • Helps to decrease skin conditions
  • Helps you to notice any changes in your horses body or any injuries
  • Increases your horses comfort
  • Remove sweat stains
  • Your horse looks great after
  • Great exercises for you!

Grooming doesn’t take so long on a daily basis, but I would recommend at least once a week to treat your horse to a “spa day” and really take your time with them.

Make sure you always brush your horse after they are dry from a ride in order to avoid sweat stains that allow their coat to clump up.

Here is a video of how to groom your horse if you are not sure what steps to take:

Hope this helps ūüôā

Confidence in Riding

“You’re crazy for getting back on!” …
“You still ride after what happened to you?” …
“Just give up already”…
“How do you still do it?”

These are only a few comments I get every now and then when it comes to riding. I was asked a couple of days ago how I got the courage to continue riding after my major accident from back in 2012. Even though the pain is still there, my passion conquers my fears and pain.

Although it may seem so, Tofino has not been an easy horse to deal with, especially when it comes to show jumping. This, even prior to my accident was difficult to overcome.

Being my first horse, I was nervous to even canter. I took the time however, to sit with him in the paddock, in the stable, observe his actions and reactions to his surroundings to better get to know him. That in turn helped me understand his behaviour for riding.

  

Confidence is not consistent. You will gain it and it will disappear at times, whether from a fall, a buck, an injury, a spooky horse etc. The key, as I wrote in a post previously, is to¬†keep moving forward. When you are scared but do it anyway, that is when you become brave. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity however. If your horse is dangerous to ride then don’t do it yourself, ask for help.

To this day I get nervous going over obstacles but as soon as i’m over the first, my adrenaline kicks in and I get eager to continue and go further. Here are some tips that help me, and hopefully help you:

  • Start slow
  • Observe and get to know your horse
  • Talk to your horse
  • Make sure you’re physically capable of riding
  • Breathe. It may sound simple, but we all tend to hold our breath a lot while riding.
  • Relax your body and mind but always keep a contact
  • Ask for help
  • Keep learning
  • Every step counts, even baby steps, so don’t take it hard on yourself
  • Don’t slack off either, try to push forward
  • You will have fallbacks and that’s okay
  • Nothing is perfect, just do your best
  • It’s never too late, whether you decide to get back on after a year or even 10, this sport has no age limit
  • Find inspiration in other riders that have overcome difficult¬†situations, and don’t be afraid to speak to them
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • You are not alone
  • You will be okay
  • You can do it
  • Just do it

Your horse can only be as brave as you are.

p.s.¬†If your horse is spooky and hot make sure they’re on a proper diet as it can have an affect on their temper. (This may help)¬†We personally use Reverdy feed from our generous¬†sponsored Cavalos UAE.

Hope this helps ūüôā

Surviving the Summer Heat

Summer in the middle east is completely different than that of the rest of the world. It is not only hot, but humidity levels are insanely high, making it difficult to continue regular riding sessions.

I have a few tips below to help get though the summer, along with some signs you should watch out for with regards to heatstroke:

1. Water 24/7: Access to clean cool water for your horse is so important in order to avoid dehydration.
horse_drinking_water


2. Fan/AC: Keep the air moving round by placing a fan or having your stable Air Conditioned to avoid overheating.
Hi Hopes Farm in Weddington, North Carolina uses 3 different Big Ass Fan models for specific purposes throughout their successful horse farm.


3. Choose cooler turn out/ riding times: Make sure you check the weather forecast on a daily basis to insure temperature and humidity levels.


4. Electrolytes: You can use a lick, powder or liquid salt form. If your horse is sweating too much, you can place some electrolytes in their water. (importance of salt in your horses diet).
supplement-in-container


5. Clipping: Even though the coat tends to adjust to the seasons, it would be cooler to clip your horse short (clipping machine review).1845-ecw_v01


6. Sunscreen: For those who have horses with pink skin, make sure you apply sun screen lotion or spray on those areas in order to avoid a sunburn.
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7. Less work: Your horse won’t be able to continue regular exercise in the heat so make sure you lower your workload and extend the after riding cool down time.


8. Reduce feed: Due to less exercise, it is best to reduce your horses feed to avoid weight gaining and overheating.

Tofino is sponsored by Reverdy feed from Cavalos UAE ‚̧


9. Hose down: Run water over the horse’s chest, the jugular grooves of his neck, and the lower legs. These areas have many superficial blood vessels that can be rapidly cooled by the water and will carry the cooled blood to the interior of the horse.


10. Go for a swim: Take your horse to the beach or lake, but again, make sure you check the weather forecast to insure humidity levels and wind.IMG_9474  IMG_9715

 ft. @Eddiesgun91


Some horses take a while to adjust to the summer heat and therefore, it is crucial to know your horse and the signs of heatstroke.

When your horse can’t handle exposure to heat, their body starts to sweat,¬†their breathing becomes heavy, and their pulse increases. This can happen at while riding, turn out, stall rest, or even in a trailer too.

SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE:

  • An elevated heart rate that does not return to normal in a reasonable period of time;
  • Excessive sweating or lack of sweating;
  • Temperature that persists above 39¬įC / 103¬įF;
  • Depression and/or lethargy; and
  • Signs of dehydration: dry mucous membranes, poor capillary refill, and poor skin turgor.

Knowing the horses vital signs range: Adult Horse (resting values):

  • Temperature: 37.2-38.3¬įC¬†¬†(99-101¬įF)
  • Pulse: 28-42 beats per minute
  • Respiration (breathing rate): 8-16¬†breaths per minute
  • Mucous membranes (gums): Moist, healthy pink colour

Hope this helps ūüėÄ