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Friday, August 21, 2009

Epic of the western horse - Where did the western horse originate?

Any horse bred west of the Mississippi may be loosely described as a western horse. But the western horse as a distinguishable type belongs only to that line that sprang from the loins of the Spanish horse. The progenitors of the Spanish horse were brought to our shores by the Conquistadors & Spanish Cavaliers in the early 1500’s. the ancestors of the horses brought here by the Spaniards were bred on the vast windswept wasteland of North Africa. From them came the Spanish Barb horse ridden by the Moslems in their conquest of Spain.

The barbs as they were called were not Arabian horses, although they share the same lineage. Of the twelve thousand horsemen who followed Tarik into Spain only a handful were actually Arabs. The rest mainly Berbers with a thin sprinkling of Zenetes and the other North Africans would hardly have journeyed to Arabia for horse, when proud stud of their own were so abundantly available. Many records support the conclusion that the vast majority of Moslems rode Spanish barbs.

Descendants of these horses in the 16th century were brought into Mexico & Florida they then migrated to Texas and the great southwest, known as the Mustang horse, and into the Carolinas & Virginia, as the Chickasaw horse.

Today, the Mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management. Controversy surrounds the sharing of land and resources by the free ranging Mustangs with the livestock of the ranching industry, and also with the methods with which the federal government manages the wild population numbers.

The National Chickasaw Horse Association is presently located at Clarinda, Iowa, and members of this group are registering and developing a type of horse which closely conforms to the size, colorations and characteristics of the original Chickasaw Horse which made such a valuable contribution to Chickasaw and American History.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to Prepare Your Horse For Riding - With a Western Saddle

Preparing your horse for riding, well there aren’t really in set guidelines to starting a young colt or filly. Every horse has id individual personality so you need to prepare yourself to work in that mind set. As a horseman you need to fit that particular horse to the situation and the circumstances. Remember those circumstances can change on a daily basis with a young horse. I’ll try to explain to you briefly how to prepare your horse for its first ride. These are some things that I do that work for me. Everyone has their own method.

1. Introduce your saddle pad to your horse. Make sure you do these things in a round pen with a halter and lead rope on. Offer the pad to your horse let him smell it. And look at it, get familiar with it. Then gently rub him all over with it. Rub it on his neck and back and on his over his hindquarters. Make sure you do this on both sides. What you do on one side of your horse you must do it on the other. Next after you feel your horse is comfortable begin to fling the pad on his back in a calm gentle steady rhythm, approach and retreat. When he is relaxed with this then lay the pad on his back and let him feel it I even walk him around with it a couple of steps then take it off rub him then put is back on. I do this a few times. This make take some time so don’t rush anything, be patient with your horse you don’t want to wreck what you have already accomplished on the ground.

2. Now its time to introduce the saddle. Make sure your saddle is set up cinches tied up correctly so they don’t fall and spook your horse. You want to make this an easy pleasurable experience for your horse. Again like with the pad present the saddle to your horse let him smell it see it etc… make sure the lead rope is in the cuff of your left arm saddle in the right. Now place the saddle gently on your horse in one swift move. Then retreat (take it off). Place the saddle on again then retreat. Stop for a minute and rub your horse to let him know every thing is ok. If your horse is moving then move or yield his hindquarters until he stands still. Once he’s relaxed then place the saddle on again.

Walk around to the right side of you horse and let the cinches down gently. Now walk back on the left side of your horse gently without being timid swiftly reach with your left hand and grab the cinch, don’t bend down looking for it unless you wanna bad migraine.
Now gently take your latigo and smoothly cinch your horse up in one swift gentle motion not too tight, but enough where the saddle wont fall off and roll under your horses belly
(a disaster waiting to happen). If you have a back cinch, gently cinch that up as well not too tight, but enough that he won’t get a hind leg caught in it the main function of the back cinch is to keep the saddle from moving up and down in the back. Remember to take your time and read your horse while doing this for any signs of hesitation.

4. Stand next to your horse after he’s saddle and let him soak in what happening, don’t be in a rush to move just yet let him get used to the weight of the saddle. Once you feel he’s relaxed lead him a few steps then stop. If he starts to buck quickly step out of the way and let him buck. Let him figure things out, when he’s stopped bucking gently walk over to him and rub him to let him know everything’s ok...

If you want to be a great Horseman or Woman learn how to get the best results out of your horse by building a solid foundation with your horse. Start learning today! Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do right now!

Also view my article:
"How to train a yearling horse - Preparing a young horse for the saddle"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Horse Sense - Learn how to bond with your horse mentally “Think like a horse”

Horse, like people have many different personalities. Many like to think that a horse is reminiscent of its owner. I must say I find this to be very true from my own personal experience. I think that it is very important for a horse owner or future horse owner to know how to handle your horse or potential horse, and understand how a horse’s senses work.

Healthy horses have a very keen sense of smell. Your horse more than likely will have a craving for grain or apples for example. An apple doesn’t have much smell, but if you have one in your pocket your horse will definitely smell it and know exactly what pocket its in. He will probably be sniffing at your pocket and nudging you for it. If you’re out on a trail with your horse your horse can smell many things before you even notice them, such as hikers, deer, mountain bikers etc… sometimes I find that horse will snort at certain smells, to me this is kind of an alert

Along with smell horses also have a keen sense of hearing which they use in conjunction with the sense of smell. You will notice that your horse flicks its ears often sometimes pricking them forward and turning them to the side. This is an indication that your horse is paying attention to the sounds in the environment around him. This is a natural prey instinct. I also find that when horses prick their ears back towards you, they are paying attention to you and your cues as well. Horses use their ears to not only listen but to also talk to you. When a horse pricks his ears forward look at the direction they are pointing and you’ll find out what your horse is investigating. It could be another horse, coyote, hay truck etc… When you horse pens his ears, it’s usually an indication he’s angry, disgruntled, or upset.

A horse’s tail is another form of communication. A horse’s tailbone is actually and extension of its spine, but a horse can express himself through his tail. You can actually tell what a horse is thinking by the positioning of his tail. A relaxed horse usually lays his tail against his body in a natural manner. Sometimes a horse will hold its slightly out away from his body as a balancing mechanism while trotting or cantering. A scared horse tucks or clamps his tail to his body. A happy or excited horse lifts its tail high like a flag. And unhappy or irritated horse swishes his tail at you or another horse. Horses also use the tail to swat flies.

A horse has keen sight. The horse sees differently than people do. The horse’s eye has a different physical structure than the human eye. A horse will raise his head to focus on close objects and lower its head to see distant objects. In addition horses are also color blind. Due to the placement of the horse’s eye being on the sides of the head, he has lateral vision. Meaning he can see two separate images at the same time. It is a good idea when working with your horse, to work on both sides of your horse.

Horses also communicate by voice with other horses and by body language. If you watch horses in a pasture you will see this often. Horse will swish their tails at eat other when the want space. They will also kick at each other if another horse or human is too close. You will see horses push each other with their bodies when they want another horse to move or want to show dominance. Horses will also do this with humans and to my amazement many horse owners allow this. This is a definite no no, and needs correction.
By carefully observing your horses you will learn a lot about how to think like a horse.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How to Use Snaffle Bits - Why use a western horse bit?

I use a western horse bit for the same reason I use my spurs. To attain a more direct and defined response from the pressure I apply to my horse. to use a snaffle bit is similar to spurs because they are both used as motivational tools to get a response from your horse to make a certain change to a particular gait or a certain direction. When you apply pressure to the bit it is then transferred down to your horse’s mouth. When your horse makes the desired change then you immediately release that pressure. I have a saying “The quicker the release the faster the response” also meaning the quicker you release the pressure the faster your horse will understand what you are asking him to do.

Before introducing a Snaffle bit or western bit to my horse, I first teach my horse how to give to pressure in a rope halter though a lot of ground training. I apply pressure to each side of my horse by teaching him to bend also known as (flexion) and also yielding the hindquarters on the ground which simulates my one rein stop when I get in the saddle.

When I think my horse is ready to start as a 2 yr old. I use a personal method, which has worked great for me I’ll put on a side pull with a snaffle on it on my horses let them where it around for a bit. I turn them out in it in a round pen or something. I do this several times usually for a couple of days until I think they are comfortable with it in their mouth. This also gets them used to wearing a bridle and bit without freaking out every time you approach them with it. They associate the bridle and bit with playtime being turned out instead of work or something that’s going to harm them.

Now that my horse is comfortable, I do all the ground training I did with the rope halter except this time I’m going to do it with the snaffle bit
(please do this with a smooth western snaffle). Moving to the snaffle changes the pressure the horse feels, instead of applying pressure to the horses nose you’re now applying it to the mouth on each side of the cheek & on the bars of the mouth and tongue.(Caution your hands should be very light with this process).

My goal is to give my horse the idea that I can communicate to him with the snaffle bit through light pressure. I take baby steps with my horse & reward him for every little try to build confidence in my horse and assure him that he is doing the right thing.

How to train a yearling horse - Preparing a young horse for the saddle

Most people have no idea how to train a yearling horse or what to do with them. So they just practice getting them haltered maybe pick up the feet and then turn them out in pasture until they are 2 or 3 years old, then begin training. Well I look at that time in between as time wasted.

There are many things you can do such as teaching your yearling horse good basics on the ground. Though don’t make things into a big training session because a yearling is still young has to have time to develop physically and their attention span is usually a lil short. So I suggest working on the little things. Work him in the halter rope and ask him to bend and flex his neck, teach him to yield to pressure form the lead rope. Rub them all over in the stall or out in the open to get them comfortable with being handled. Also while in the stall, round pen or small area introduce your yearling to some equipment that he’ll have to wear in the next year or so. Introduce him to the saddle blanket and saddle pad. Rub it all over his body head, neck, back and hind quarters. Handle his legs and feet a lot he’ll need to be able to stand still an be handled at trimming time. Another good exercise is teaching him to ground tie. Place the lead rope on the ground under his neck and step back 2 or 3ft if he moves back him up a couple of steps then ground tie him again until he stands still and honors that rope on the ground. Also begin some trailer loading with him. Use some small obstacles outside for your yearling to walk over & jump over.

Use tarps, poles, I also like to use a makeshift 6'-10' wooden bridge to walk over. I also like to teach my yearlings to walk through water especially when it rains I use the rain puddles to train in. Teach your horse to lunge. Expose your yearling to all sorts of things, use your imagination, be creative. By the time your horse reaches two years old and its time to start riding he’ll be well prepared and you’ll sure be glad because it will make starting your horse under saddle so much easier and when you start riding, those things learned on the ground will relate to the saddle. This is how you train a yearling horse

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Horse Snaffle Bit - Training Your Horse With This Type of Bit

The Horse snaffle bit is the training bit of choice when it comes to true horsemanship. I believe firmly in training your horse with this type of bit
To be honest you can use this bit for the rest of your horse’s life.

It can be used not only for training, but performance horse events, trail riding showing, etc…. This is the first bit I pick up when it comes to horse training. The design is really simple, its a mouth piece usually jointed in the middle and connected by two rings. Each side of the bit works works independently mostly on the corners of a horses mouth. It allows your horse to follow a simple and direct feel from the reins.

It has a one to one ratio meaning that one pound of pressure in your hands equals one pound of pressure being applied to your horses mouth. Unlike a 7 inch shank bit with a 7 to one ratio you’d be applying 7 pounds of pressure to your horse’s mouth, unless you know what you doing. To ride with something like that your hands must be very light & you must be very experienced. So basically you don’t need anything other than a snaffle unless you are an experienced hand or horseman. With a horse snaffle bit I like to use a half inch leather curb strap, not a curb chain. The strap is the to prevent pulling the bit through the horses mouth. It is also less severe than a curbed chain I actually never use a curb chain on any of my horses. I always use leather, I just think that leather is more natural and more comfortable to my horses.