Monthly Archives: March 2015

Look Out! I’m On My Soap Box Again

I just sent out an email to AQHA (3/3/2015).  They just insist upon upsetting me.

I was reading the article about World Champion Barrel Racer Fallon Taylor, who had the guts to wear a helmet at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.  Then at the bottom of one of the pages they put in AQHA’s Helmet Rule.  “The 2015 rule on English attire reads: SHW320.2.  It is mandatory for riders in all hunter, jumper and equitation over fence classes, including hunter hack, where jumping is required and when jumping anywhere on the competition ground to wear properly fastened protective headgear that meets ASTM/SEI standards or equivalent international standards for equestrian use.  The helmet must also be properly fitted with harness secured.  It is mandatory that all youth wear an ASTM/SEI-approved hard hat with harness during all English classes, including flat and over fences classes.  It is recommended that amateurs wear an ASTM/SEI-approved hard hat with harness in all English classes.”  In all other AQHA classes, exhibitors have the option to wear a helmet with harness.

So I proceeded to ask the AQHA if only English youth were worth saving?  So that means Western children aren’t?  All children and adults are worth saving.

Come on people, is anybody listening to the professional riders who have had serious accidents?  Have they read the news and saw people, who are at the top of the industry, being killed?  Aren’t we supposed to be smart enough to make our sport not only pretty and interesting to watch, but also safe for both the horse and rider.  We have the technology and the intelligence to do this now, what are we waiting for?  How many more brain injuries must people have?  How many more top riders have to die?

I spoke with a friend yesterday who was in a practice ring at a show.  Two Roosters flew out of the bushes and spooked her horse.  The horse went sideways, bucking and she was flung, hitting her head on the rail of the ring.  She’s fine, she had her helmet on.

Once again AQHA is not standing up to the “pretty people” with money and influence, and they are not taking a stand on what is right and safe.  I can’t believe their insurance company isn’t forcing this issue.  If adults make the conscious decision not to wear a helmet, and choose to take a chance, sure fine.  Have them sign a release stating they know the facts, don’t care, and swear they won’t sue.  But let us, step up and save the children who just want to do what the “big guys” are doing.

Don’t give me the “Oh, it won’t happen to me.”  I pray that it doesn’t, but I bet you it can.  Just go on-line and see the odds.  Statistics show that riding a horse is one of, if not the most dangerous sport.

Children have to wear helmets to ride their bikes now.  I rarely see a bike just take off, drop its shoulder, do a roll-back, do a sliding stop, buck, or drag a child.  Horses can, and do.

Okay, now do we have a thinking, responsible adult here?  At all?  In the crowd somewhere?  Hello?  Is anybody out there?  Is anybody listening?  Does anybody care?

AQHA sent a response saying that they are giving my email to the committee to review.

I never wore a helmet when I was a kid, but I do now.  I need to save what little mind I have left.  Again quoting Jane Savoie “I like my brain, I use it everyday.”

If you are not into wearing a helmet, would you like to try Russian Roulette?

Take It For A Test Ride

I love people, they entertain me, and give me so much to write about.  But sometime they leave me speechless.

When we look at cars, we always (or should) take it for a test drive.  (By the way, I love the commercials for Subaru with the dogs.  “Dog Tested, Dog Approved.”)  So why do so many horse people buy horses that they haven’t taken for a test ride?

A friend told me that she was leasing a horse the 1st of the month (it was the last week of the month when she told me).  Really?  Have you ridden him?  “No.”  Seriously?  As the dialog continues -“Actually the horse hasn’t been ridden in quite a few years.”  Really?  What are you thinking?  “I’m going to go real slow, and do a little at a time.”  Seriously?  I was so shocked that my vocabulary became two words, Really and Seriously.  I don’t like to rain on anyones parade, so back to my original thought.  I really think you should ride him first.  “Oh, I can get out of the deal at anytime.”  Really?  I was starting to annoy myself with the really and seriously, but I was so totally amazed that I was in a state of shock.

Time after time I have dealt with people who haven’t tried a horse before acquiring it.  I can understand if the horse is injured (and you know it), a skin and bones rescue, in foal, or too young to be ridden, but before you seal the deal, please do try it.  A second opinion is always a good idea (but only if you listen).  Don’t commit until you know that you, and the horse are going to get along.  I have several horses on my property that are just wonderful to be around, get on their back and they are going to change your mind in a heart beat.

Do you know where Used Car Salesmen came from, Horse Traders.  People may have the best intention when trying to find a horse a new home, but I have seen disasters from that thought process.  Sometimes they just want to get the horse off their property, and they will tell you what you want to hear.

The sellers need to have some compassion on the person they are unloading their horse on.  They must be up front and honest about the horse.  People who are accepting the horse, either for free or a sum, must be aware of what they might be getting themselves into.  So many people I know get horses with the great expectation of working through the various problems, only to find that they bit off more than they can chew.

It’s not fair to the horse or the person involved.  (If you’ve read my other posts you’ve heard this before.)

A name might also give you an idea of what the horse is about.  A friend bought a horse by the name of Luna.  My question was, is it short for lunatic?  I was told, no luna, the moon.  As it turned out the horse was more of a Looney Tune, than a Luna Moon.

When someone questionable would come up to me and my old dog, I would grab her collar and say “easy Killer.”  She was a sweet thing, and her name was SuSu, but no one would respect a dog named SuSu, but everyone stood back from a dog named Killer.  What’s in a name?  It can be a lot.

Horses can be dangerous, don’t be naive.

Let the buyer beware, but more than that, let the buyer be smart.

Is It Spring Yet?

This has been the type of winter that made Bob and I decided to “get out of Dodge!”  That, for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember the old Western’s in the movies and on TV, is a quote from one of them.  In our case it was “get out of New Jersey.”  I feel so bad for all of you who are trying to take care of your animals in the conditions you’ve all faced this winter.  I won’t mention that we are between 70’s and 80’s here on March 1st.

What I feel most sad for are all the wild animals that have, or will, die this winter because of all the snow and ice, and lack of food.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Spring is coming!  Soon, I promise, really.  Your horses should be starting to shed.  The days are getting longer, even though the temps are still pretty cold.  You need to stop thinking about all you’ve been through, and start planning how to get your horse back in shape for riding.  They’ve had a longer than usual lay-up, and once the weather breaks, you’re going to be itching to get on and ride.  But please, remember the couch potatoes are not fit.  You can run into a lot of injuries, and other health issues if you start them back too fast.

Check your tack also.  Leather usually doesn’t like freezing conditions.

Start grooming, it will not only get some of that hair out, but it will massage those muscles. Think about the shows you are going to want to go to, or the trails that need to be ridden over.  Also keep in mind that the trees have suffered from this winter and some of those trails might be blocked or dangerous.  Maybe take your dogs for a walk and check them out.  Remember you are going from the season of snow and ice, into the season of mud.  Mud pulls on those weakened tendons and ligaments.  Don’t over do it.

Stop looking back at the last few months, and start preparing for the good times ahead.  And whatever you do, don’t by-pass spring in you mind, and let it run onto the season of flies and heat.  That will come soon enough.

Spring forward, but take your time getting there.

20 Questions

I love teaching beginners.  I love passing on my love and understanding of horses.

Teaching more advanced riders, who have learned somewhere else, can be a challenge.  You don’t know what they have already learned (other than what you see) and how well they understand the principle of the teaching.

The first thing I say to them is – “Since I don’t know what you were taught, I may repeat things you have already heard or learned.  Or I may say it in a different way that you might understand it better.”  When I was working with a student recently, I was just doing my “Thing.”  Things I teach the beginner/intermediate riders automatically.  Things we do just for the fun of it, to take their mind off the fact that I’m drilling them on something new.  Something so simple I don’t give much thought to.  All of a sudden there was an Aha! moment.  Happening right before my eyes.  It was as simple as using more leg and weight than hands to turn your horse.

I had set up cones like we were going to run a set of poles.  Now remember we are riding English.  She was using too much hand, and not enough (if any) leg, and was over turning.  When you over turn going in one direction, you have to really over turn to compensate in the other direction.  I asked if she had ever driven a boat?  She said no, so I had to explain how the water has to work past the rudder in order for the boat to turn.  People always over turn the wheel on a boat because they are not getting an immediate response, and then they over turn in the other direction to compensate.  It’s not like a car that responds immediately.  When I showed her she didn’t have to use her hands to turn (they were just support), and she should just use her legs to push the horse sideways through the cones, that’s when it became an Aha! moment.  This is a girl who has been riding for years.  She did some Eventing in college and no one ever explained this to her?  Hello, what was her Dressage trainer thinking.  I explained how when her body turns, her weight shifts and so does the pressure of her seat bone into her horses back.  She was amazed and tickled to have learned something so simple but valuable.  I explained how this would relate to approaching a jump.  You don’t have to turn your horse’s head to move your horse over as you approach the jump.  This will sometimes cause your horse to do a flying change and mess you, and the horse up for your take off.  Just put your leg on her, move her whole body over at once, and keep going.

We talked about how so much of Western riding can not only be fun, but beneficial to training your English horse.  It’s refreshing to work around cones, and barrels when trying to execute simple maneuvers, the same ones you would use in Dressage.  It just shakes things up, and gives you a new perspective and approach to the same old, same old.

I know this is something I have mentioned in previous posts, but it was all new to her.

Yes you may have to use 20 Questions to find out where you start from, but the true answers come when you actually watch someone performing a movement or task.

Questions anyone?