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A Question For the People Attached to Horse People (parents, SOs, unwitting friends, etc) ...

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  • A Question For the People Attached to Horse People (parents, SOs, unwitting friends, etc) ...

    ...Or anyone who has accidentally found themselves around horses: What is something you wish you could have learned about with horses? Perhaps in a low-stress environment before it was a big deal? Have you somehow wound up with a horse in your backyard and don't know what to do with it? Maybe you're a rider and you've been in a lesson program that hasn't addressed something. What is something basic that you don't/didn't know?

    I'm thinking about a short course of unmounted lessons that are 'necessities' to have for people who are going to have horses in their life whether or not they want to. What do you wish you had known going in or shortly into it? Leading? Stall cleaning? Halter vs bridle? How to blanket? More basic? More advanced? Please lend me your thoughts. Mine so far include: catching, haltering, leading, basic restraint, turning out, grooming, stall cleaning, filling hay bags, spotting bad hay, vitals/ when to call the vet, wrapping legs, blanketing, anatomy, jogging for the vet, and tack care. This can possibly expand into basic clipping, tacking up, longeing, braiding,,,
    I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.
    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams

  • #2
    Low stress trailer loading, and herd dynamics/ individual behaviors. I remember going into a pasture with someone wh had no clue that one treated the gate as a door and closed it, she actually shoved it wide open in front of an astounded crew of lesson horses. Only a miracle kept them in. I also escorted an individual who had never been out of an arena as we traveled through ungroomed tall grass, needless to say the horse stopped dead and dove for the grass and the riders skill set evaporated.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible

    Comment


    • #3
      If a horse steps on your foot and doesn’t move, lean Into the horse rather than trying to push it away.
      I’ve always thought when a horse plants his foot on a human’s foot that it’s a deliberate, passive aggressive thing.
      Unless they are highly distracted, they know where their feet are, IMO.

      What aren’t “smart” and don’t “think”. Human they know and love, are monsters when said human approaches
      horse with crutches or a wheelchair or balloons or an umbrella or a stroller.

      On that note, attending a horse show at a county or state fair, and stabling overnight is a great de-sensitizer. Crowds, noise, Ferris wheels,
      all of people in the above paragraph, other livestock and their smells.

      Comment


      • #4
        I wish I had started riding with basic dressage vs hunter jumper.

        I learned how to stay on over a fence instead of how to connect with the horse I was riding.

        In all the "heals down, shoulders back, do it again" lessons, I never learned how to adjust the gaits. Didn't know the difference between a collected canter and a forward one or riding inside leg to outside rein etc.

        But I am always learning and at 46 will be starting lessons again this summer with my little Arab mare.

        Comment


        • #5
          Gypsy, my gosh you have a GREAT idea! If you have the patience of Job and can only get thru to one person, I tip my hat to you.

          I have a life time on horses but would respectfully like to give some observational input.

          People need to realize that owning or leasing a horse isn’t just about the riding. That is not what your proposed course is about - it’s about knowing how to do the basic care BEFORE one is privileged to get up on the horse.

          Along with the important basics you mention, please please please teach them about the importance of frequent hoof care and proper hoof care.

          The farrier does not hold the magic bullet to cure hoof woes. It is up to the owner to do their due diligence in hoof care and to know what that involves for each horse, as they are all different.

          The one thing you can’t teach is common sense, however. I don’t know how you get thru to people like that. They can have the brain power to be a Mensa member but so deficient in common sense, they can barely get across a road without getting hit by a bicyclist

          Best wishes on your endeavor, I think it’s important in this day and age

          Comment


          • #6
            Horse body language and herd dynamics so that a newby can at least understand a bit of what the horse is telling them.
            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

            Comment


            • #7
              What is something you wish you could have learned about with horses?
              How can a free horse cost so much?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by clanter View Post

                How can a free horse cost so much?


                For the totally non-horse savvy:
                They are not big dogs.

                Or, as a former trainer once said (to explain the Fright=Flight response):
                1000# of fur-covered stupid.*

                *Before pearls are clutched, I don't think horses are without sense/reasoning/brainpower, but it was a good way to get across the idea that reading their body language is a skill that has to be learned


                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Good stuff! I'm glad so many people touched on body language. This came about because a friend wound up with a 'pet' horse that she has no intention of riding, but has asked for my help learning to handle the horse safely. Then I remembered all the clueless parents at horse shows who just get thrown into holding, mucking, grooming, etc. I'm still in the spitballing stage, but I think this might be a worthwhile side hustle.
                  "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    this is a good topic! In short... safety safety safety on the ground. Especially in terms of leading, or for a parent or SO who is tasked with holding a horse while the rider is grooming or tacking up or untacking. And basic ground rules DEFINITELY apply if the non horsey person is helping lead anyone in or out at feeding time. Which can get “exciting” and perilous...

                    I’m blessed with the most wonderful SO ever (for many reasons lol!). But he did not grow up around animals, and had done zero riding... and we now own a small farm together - our second actually. And have horses at home (plus dogs, and cats, and kids).

                    The SO has no interest in riding at present, but loves participating in the daily routines, feeding and pasture maintenance (he LOVES the tractor and mowing) and helped out a lot when our daughter was first getting started on her pony and still in the lead line phase. He also gets along great with the farrier (go figure) and likes to help hold horses and chat during those visits.

                    #1 thing that he had to learn, that I took for granted initially, having been around animals my whole life, was teaching him about safe places to stand when near a horse. AT THE SHOULDER. From there, he had to learn how to hold a horse by a lead line. I still sometimes look at him out of the corner of my eye when we are leading two in from the pasture, and spot that he has one hand on the metal snap of the shank next to the halter... and the other on the very end of the lead rope . Then we had to work on other aspects of how to lead a horse. Our stubborn/naughty 12 hand pony taught him a lot on that score, as she is one to try and drag any novice human sucker right off their feet if she spots something tasty that she wants. 6 foot grown man? No match for hungry pony. She’s drug him right off his feet. In a second. So really... she taught him about leading, and turning a horse in a circle for control... QUICKLY. And leverage. And giving the shank a firm pop when she was being willful... not one long steady pull. It was a rather amusing process though to watch as he struggled with the pony

                    We also had to work on getting him to be mindful in terms of not putting himself in a corner without an escape route when holding a horse near a gate, or in a stall. The whole idea of shutting a gate or stall door so that the horse didn’t have a visual cue about an open path through which to bolt... but not actually LOCKING oneself - the smaller human - into a corner by latching that gate or stall door, then being stuck in a tight space with an excited hungry equine? Yeah. This was an important thing for the husband to learn. Also... the whole concept of walking a horse 15 to 20 feet away from a gate into the pasture, then turning it around to face you, before taking off a halter and lead and turning it out. I shared the typical stories most of us have at least heard about (or witnessed ) involving horses getting excited at this specific point in time, and kicking out in a major way before galloping off into the pasture, and someone getting a hoof to the face in the process.

                    He’s gotten much better with all of this, over time.

                    The one thing that does NOT come naturally to him, but we are working on, is how to push a horse off you quickly. Getting a horse to yield to pressure. We have a typical, slightly bratty, almost 2 year filly old at home right now. Who is working on manners while standing tied, and getting groomed. I’ve used this process to also coach the husband on the basic concept of not allowing a horse to “take space” from you. If fidgeting baby steps into my space... I put a hand on her shoulder or hip and have her step out of it. Then give her a soft pat. If she doesn’t readily move out of my space... she gets a firm knuckle pushed into the shoulder or hip. More pressure. She needs to yield to pressure... PERIOD. She’s then praised, and pressure released as soon as she responds and yields. And she needs to accept that I decide who stands in what space. Getting impatient or antsy is normal... but the rules still apply.

                    The husband tends to be almost too kind and gentle at times with the horses, and is sometimes inconsistent when around the filly. So the yielding to pressure lessons I’ve been doing with the filly have ALSO been useful about showing him how to go about it in a simple, effective way, but being quiet and kind with a youngster, and keeping it positive and low stress. We are getting there... slowly but surely.

                    I’m a bit of a stickler about some of these rules and habits on the ground at our farm, as I have kids here too. And it’s important to me that everyone think about safety, at all times, and practice good habits.

                    I will say... it’s a bit brutal to always have to be the person teaching the husband and kids the basics all around the barn at home. Sometimes they get grumpy with me because they think I’m being “bossy” or making a big deal about something that they think isn’t a big deal... if a pro had offered a “ground skills” clinic for significant others or parents years ago... I would totally have signed my family up for it!!! And happily paid $$. Because my experience is that sometimes people are more receptive to “learning” and “hearing” things from an “expert” than from their wife or kids.

                    Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Your list has a lot of good stuff on it, but needs to be prioritized if you really want to keep the course short. I've been thinking about this myself as I think about bringing horses home. My SO knows nothing about them, and has some fear about them, but if I'm traveling for work (which is not infrequent), he will need to be educated in the following things:

                      1. Routine care: Not just my routine, but why the routine has to be adhered to. Which hay/grain/supplements and why they can not be substituted. If relevant, preparation instructions (add water and soak) and why they *must* be adhered to. Hay amounts and feeding times and why they can't be changed dramatically. Extra hay in the coldest weather. Ample clean water and why. How to check that horses are drinking sufficiently. Stall and paddock cleaning. Importance of ventilation in the barn. Expected schedule of routine vet and farrier work. Picking out feet, especially if the horse has shoes on.
                      2. Safe handling: How to halter, hold lead rope, lead, lead through gates, lead through gates without letting other horses out. How to manage leading a pushy horse - non-horse people tend to not be firm enough fast enough. I think this one is a big deal for making the transition between being nervous/insecure around horses and being confident and feeling safe. How to enter a stall safely while leading a horse. When it's ok/not ok to leave a halter on. Double and triple checking gates and doors are latched. Making sure concentrates are locked away. Safe tying. Basic body language - this could be expanded into tricks for catching a horse that doesn't want to be caught.
                      3. Emergency care: Symptoms of emergencies - when to DEFINITELY call the vet. Symptoms of colic in particular are not obviously emergencies to non-horse people. Checking vitals. Basic wound care - can include applying standing wraps and hoof wraps for abscesses. Location of wound care and emergency supplies. Advanced topic: how to give an IM shot or oral medication (e.g. dewormer or banamine paste). Maybe also how to use a humane twitch.

                      Things like grooming, anatomy, tack care, tacking, braiding, clipping, bathing, hay bags, etc. could be fun but are not essential. Depending on level of involvement, blanketing may not be that important either, but what is important is checking weight, and especially the importance of routinely checking the weight of blanketed horses in winter. Blanket use during temperature swings. Checking for rain rot under blankets (or otherwise).

                      The people this is for need (1) To achieve a level of comfort interacting with horses that will enable them to actually execute tasks with the attention required to keep the horses alive, healthy, and safe, (2) A working knowledge of how to execute those tasks with some understanding of how to do basic troubleshooting, (3) An understanding of what must be handed off to an expert (vet/farrier) immediately, vs. non-critical things to note and share with more experienced handlers when possible.

                      ETA: To (1), also how to keep themselves and people around them safe!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        why does n my horse NEED a light blanket , a heavy blanket, two turn out blankets, three fly sheets ..and it wears none since it rips them off to stomp on?

                        And explain why this horse hates straight load trailers (with or without ramps) and will only load into a slant that is step up rather than ramp load?

                        then do I need a half ton or a three quarter ton or a one ton or larger truck? or is my SUV OK? then sort by gasoline, diesel and electric.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          strangewings - you are AMBITIOUS with your SO

                          But some of what you bring up is interesting. My SO is the one who travels, so we haven’t had to focus on him developing the skill sets you mention. And we have really good farm sitting help we could call on if needed. But we have addressed common sense rules about horse feeding, emergencies, etc. How sudden large meals of concentrates that are not part of the routine can lead to colic. Unsoaked pellets can lead to choke. Fat small ponies left on lush pasture all day without a grazing muzzle on can develop laminitis. Etc.

                          He did actually spot his first abscess last year. He was giving hay in the morning, and I was inside sick, and he called in a PANIC because he was positive the mare had broken her leg. I then checked it out, and showed him how a simple epsom salt worked, and how quickly it helped alleviate her symptoms.

                          We have a low maintenance horse situation at home, with easy keepers... and run in sheds, plus heated auto-waterers, and great pasture and hay. Last summer he learned about helping with fly relief measures... we hung fans in our run in sheds, mucked the sheds every day, and he learned how to take fly masks off, gently brush faces and take a clean cool wet washcloth and wipe eyes, then put fly masks back on. He felt good about learning that and helping keep the horses more comfortable in hot buggy months.

                          This winter, he’s also learned how to take a blanket off when it’s over 40 degrees. No one at home is clipped. And it has been a warm winter, plus we have plenty of hay and pasture for all, so they’ve mostly gone without blankets. But he now has learned to have someone else holding a horse by the halter, or have it tied, and to work back to front when unbuckling straps and removing a blanket. I’ve explained that with plenty of hay, no clipping, plus constant access to shelter... they actually pretty much don’t need blankets at all.

                          I still have trouble getting him to groom effectively. He can’t pick feet. We are years away from him racking up or u tacking, or applying wraps or giving meds. But he’s trying, and it’s fun to do chores together at our own place. And he loves mowing and all aspects of pasture management, and has gotten REALLY into composting our own manure, and actually picking all the paddocks with me.
                          Last edited by Virginia Horse Mom; Feb. 15, 2020, 02:03 PM. Reason: Typos

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Virginia Horse Mom The details of that list were for as comprehensive as they were for the OP - my expectations for my SO are much narrower, apart from the general categories of routine, safety, emergency! I keep my horse at a part board place now, and he has "helped" feed with me a few times. He's too afraid around horses to go into the stalls to drop grain still. He was ok sweeping and watering with a hose through the bars, but that's about it.

                            My home horsekeeping style, when that happens, is pretty minimalist/low effort (kept outside 24/7 whenever possible, feed in pans in pasture, etc.) and I will account for SO's personality/confidence in instructions. E.g. I will walk a bale out to middle of dry lot to spread. He will be allowed to toss flakes over certain sections of fence instead. So I will try to make it as hands-off for him as possible. Haltering/leading/other handling will be an extremely slow process. His dad just started volunteering on a horse farm and went through their (pretty extensive) training, so he may be a good influence...

                            I will need to insist FIRMLY on things like draining hoses in winter. He's awful about taking care of equipment. That's going to be the most contentious part - he will not find some of those things "non-negotiable". Bare minimum I want him to understand for emergencies are what are some cases where he should call the vet *first* instead of trying to get in touch with me. Likewise for farrier, though I keep my horses barefoot whenever possible, so those problems should be minimal.

                            Compost is the thing about having horses he's most excited about (he enjoys gardening).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by strangewings View Post
                              Virginia Horse Mom The details of that list were for as comprehensive as they were for the OP - my expectations for my SO are much narrower, apart from the general categories of routine, safety, emergency! I keep my horse at a part board place now, and he has "helped" feed with me a few times. He's too afraid around horses to go into the stalls to drop grain still. He was ok sweeping and watering with a hose through the bars, but that's about it.

                              My home horsekeeping style, when that happens, is pretty minimalist/low effort (kept outside 24/7 whenever possible, feed in pans in pasture, etc.) and I will account for SO's personality/confidence in instructions. E.g. I will walk a bale out to middle of dry lot to spread. He will be allowed to toss flakes over certain sections of fence instead. So I will try to make it as hands-off for him as possible. Haltering/leading/other handling will be an extremely slow process. His dad just started volunteering on a horse farm and went through their (pretty extensive) training, so he may be a good influence...

                              I will need to insist FIRMLY on things like draining hoses in winter. He's awful about taking care of equipment. That's going to be the most contentious part - he will not find some of those things "non-negotiable". Bare minimum I want him to understand for emergencies are what are some cases where he should call the vet *first* instead of trying to get in touch with me. Likewise for farrier, though I keep my horses barefoot whenever possible, so those problems should be minimal.

                              Compost is the thing about having horses he's most excited about (he enjoys gardening).
                              Gotcha! Your SO sounds a lot like how mine started out - except that mine loves dealing with the equipment aspects of the farm.

                              Maybe you can find a typical, willful, but cute enough small pony for him to handle in order to practice haltering and leading skills, etc. Mine was invaluable on that front. The OP could use a naughty pony as part of the “ground skills” clinic as well. A simple exercise could involve:

                              1. Showing pony that there is a little bit of grain in the bottom of a bucket
                              2. Handing non experienced horse person a lead rope attached to a 12 hand monster’s halter, and giving them instructions to walk the monster from A to B, with that grain bucket sitting approximately half way along the routes, just a few feet off the path
                              3. Sitting back and watching as willful pony suddenly detours and DRAGS grown adult over to bucket for a quick snack after politely strolling along for the first half of the walk from A to B.

                              *** We all know ponies who will do this EVERY single time they are presented with this sort of situation***

                              OP could “test” each participant at the end of the ground skills course, by seeing if they are able to halter and then lead pony from A to B, without pony managing to get to that food.

                              My pony would be PERFECT for this. She’s such a smart little sucker, she would actually walk past that bucket 9 out of 10 times with someone who thought they were in control, and wait until almost all the way to destination B when novice person had relaxed... THEN spin and bolt free, and go right back to that bucket. She’s a fantastic pony in many many respects... but an absolute STINKER at other times

                              Composting your own manure at home is REALLY rewarding. We are learning as we go, and have one pile that has been cooking since last spring, that we will be using this spring. Lots of things online about easy and effective techniques for small farms. And routinely picking paddocks is HUGE in terms of fly control, keeps weeds down and pasture much nicer, and makes the manure pile compost much faster :-) My SO and I actually enjoy picking the paddocks together -
                              Last edited by Virginia Horse Mom; Feb. 15, 2020, 03:23 PM. Reason: Typos

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Point out the chestnuts. I have had more than one devastated new horse owner think their horse was in dire straits and might have to be put down because they hadn't noticed the lumps on their legs.

                                Stress that o e of the most dangerous things you can do is take a horse through a gate. Don't ever do it carelessly. The way a gate widens as it closes, idmf the horse gets caught up or can be disemboweled.

                                Stress the taking off of a bridle so as they don't hit the horses teeth.

                                Another dangerous thing for people who don't know is putting on a halter. An experienced horse trainer was killed putting on a halter on a young horse.

                                Virtually tell them not to get a horse until they can walk, trot and canter a 10m circle continuously on a school horse.
                                It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I polled my non-horse SO... he’s still very much in training, but is eager to learn and enjoys being around the horses.

                                  1. Halters vs bridles.
                                  2. What the heck are all these bits?
                                  3. All the things you shouldn’t do on the ground...like flap your arms behind a skittish horse..oops. Live and learn.
                                  4. Breeds - he’s totally fascinated by all the different breeds and had no idea there were so many.
                                  5. Identifying gaits...having knowledge of gaited horses and their different ways of going.

                                  all of those were from him, I would add what some others, and you, have said:
                                  1. Restraint...he was trying to hold my guy for an injection and didn’t realize you can’t exactly manhandle a horse...lol. He was trying to literally hold the horses head down..which didn’t work out well for him. Horse may be small, but he is mighty. 😂
                                  2. Herd dynamics for sure. And awareness when within those dynamics. Turnout safety.

                                  And everything that was also already said.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    All the things that have been said....BUT....let them enjoy the horses....
                                    I know, that sounds sort of stupid to those of us who have always been horse crazy. But, if you bog good, safety conscious adults down in the safety aspects, in the what can go wrong aspects, all the time, from the beginning? They may not enjoy the horses ever.
                                    My partner is a logger, a professional logger who at age 50 plus still has all his body parts intact, or to put it another way he is skilled at his trade and very, very safety aware. The guy teaches the OSHA rules! I almost ran him off of working with horses. I scared him: too much about the damage they can do, too much about how fragile they are AND too little about how wonderful they are.
                                    Let them just be with the horses, maybe it isn't perfect in terms of safety....but give them that time with the horse, in the quiet of the evening, after supper, just watching the sunset. So what if the pony is leaning on him, so what if you are having to watch the herd dynamics and stand guard and keep the dominant horse entertained? Give them that time with the horse they are coming to love.

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                                    • #19
                                      The hind kicking range. If you can’t be more than 6 ft behind a horse’s butt, it’s safest to be as close as possible when you have to cross behind.
                                      All the non-intuitive stuff like that.

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                                      • #20
                                        Oh the man thing🙄. DH also used strength as his go-to. He tied knots in my lead ropes "to hang on better", rather than redirect motion or horse focus. He went for a short run at the end of it once, he's really very athletic,lol. But the elderly vet preferred him to hold, as he was honestly getting frail, and trusted a younger man more than a female, and he is very calm, our horses paid attention to him. I guess maintaining calm in bad situations is a very good skill to have working with horses.



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