Summer grooming tips for horse owners and riders

Just discovered the best product ever for keeping ticks off of my horse!   I thought finding ticks was relatively easy with a white horse,  but Nico’s thick mane and tail proved a superb hiding place for ticks!    A friend recommended a product that you can use twice a month,  and the results are incredible!!  I chose the product, Equi-Spot by Farnam.    Easy to use and I noticed that flies, gnats and mosquitos were not bothering my horse the way they had been before the treatment.      This stuff is great and I love that it keeps the ticks away as well!!    I noticed a HUGE difference within 24 hours!!   I have always used the Farnham Pyrana fly spray with great results, but the Equi-Spot has lasted through the hot summer days and the downpours of rain!!     I don’t worry so much about the bugs with the two week treatment, and you can always supplement with a little fly spray around the legs if you are heading out on the trail and going to be around or under the trees.

My second tip, also recommended by a good friend, is using moroccan oil for conditioning manes and tails.   There are several inexpensive brands from Suave to Clairol to Garnier that you can find at any pharmacy or Walmart!  I use every few days and it works great when you dampen the mane and tail with a sponge.     I would recommend cleaning the mane and tail and then pour a small bit in your hand and work it through while they are still damp.    Add a little bit as you move to the ends.  Not necessary to do the mane as often,  maybe once a week and just the tips.    The oil soaks in all the way to the tail bone and keeps the skin from flaking and getting itchy like the spray conditioners can do . . .also there is no oily residue that draws dirt to cling to the tail.  This is amazing because of course it feels oily to start,  but you will be so surprised with the results.     I don’t have to spend hours trying to comb out knots or getting sticks or whatever out of my horses tail. . .I just take a few minutes to get any debris that he catches with his tail and we are good to go!!    Yes he manages to carry in all sorts of things from his paddock, but it is no longer a problem for me to get him presentable in no time!!

 

Happy riding and happy horses!!

 

 

Tips for Parents: Finding the right riding facility for your child

Selecting a fun and safe barn for your child to begin his or her riding career can be a very intimidating task.  Here are a few things that I have found useful in my experiences as an adult learning to ride an be around horses.  First, make sure that there are other kids at the barn that are similar in age to your child.    Taking lessons with peers is a great part of the enjoyment of  being around horses.    Participating in a summer camp with others can be a great way to be around horses, especially if your child has never been exposed to horses or any type of large animal . . .it can be very exciting and overwhelming at the same time!  Next, I would get a nice tour of the facility and the condition of the stalls, do you notice a lot of bad smells other than what you would normally expect in a barn.  Horses can be very messy in there stalls, but they should be fairly clean with fresh water and some sort of bedding like shavings or straw.   Are the aisles kept clean and is there a tack room with tack (bridle, saddle and saddle pads) for the horses?   Ask questions about the lesson horses and get a few names of clients with children that you can call and discuss their experiences with the parents.  If your child aspires to go to horse shows, ask about what types of events the barn will offer on property and whether there are options to go to local shows with a school horse.   There should be a clean bathroom for the kids to use and hopefully a cool place to hang out while waiting for parents to pick up.  This might be more important for kids at camp but still a consideration.   It is so easy to get dehydrated in the hot summer sun, especially if there is not covered ring to ride in.

 

Starting out in lesson program once or twice a week is a nice way to get comfortable learning to ride.    Always a good idea to find out the policy on make-up lessons and what the plan will be inclement weather.    It could be fun to go and watch a lesson or two with a group of  young riders and get an idea of how the trainer interacts with the children.    Also, are there helpers in the lesson that will stay with your child and her pony if  they are not feeling the love their little mounts!

 

Finally, it would be nice to know what the plan is for your child to get her or him started, including some instruction in how to act around the horses, how to get them clean before and after the lesson and giving some time to cleaning the tack  after the lesson is over.  School horse can get ridden more than once in a day and it is nice to have a clean bridle to put away for the next rider.  This is teaching children responsibility and certainly carries over into everyday like.

 

Just a few things that I have found to be helpful as I returned to riding as an adult.  I had no one but myself and my trainers to direct me and what is important to some is not so important to others.

 

Next topic of discussion will be things to think about when you have decided that your child is ready to make a lease commitment on a horse.  A fun way to have a horse while not owning  one.   I will go into details that I have found must be considered before signing a contract  with and individual or a barn owner.

Surviving Winter Storm 2014

Went out to the barn to play with Nico yesterday!  He was in great spirits and happy to see me!!  Worked on the lunge and after warming up,  hopped over a cavalleti a few times.  Nico loved it . . .we will have to do that more often  :)    Looking forward to getting back in the saddle tomorrow since temps will be up . . .should be an excellent week for riding!

Cross training for equestrians

The weather is changing and getting warmer and spring is fast approaching.  So we need to get our butts in gear and step up the workouts so we can be ready for the long summer days of riding and showing!    I have found that as my horse and I train and he gets stronger, I need to increase my cardio routine to be able to keep up with him!  That doesn’t mean that I spend hours on the treadmill,  but I try and mix it up by walking and running short sprints to get my heart rate up.   I prefer the treadmill but when the weather gets nicer, going for a 30 minute bike ride is wonderful for my legs and core.  You can intensify the bike workout by staying up in the two point position, keeping your butt out of the “saddle”, for short spurts.  This is really tough at first but is so good for your heart.  I especially like to ride during the summer months because it is such good practice for horse showing. . . it really builds your endurance and gets you used to the heat.    The biking is so good for balance as well!  I really noticed a difference in my riding when I started the biking workout last summer!

Light weights are great to build a little upper body strength,  but I have found that the flexible bands are great for shoulders, back and arms and you can easily take it with you when you travel.   My favorite exercise is still the basic push-up, and I work my way up to the most difficult position by starting with the knee push-up.    You would be amazed at how much toning you can get with a band and a few push-ups, along with some cardio in addition to your riding.

Finally, I have found that the most important part of my exercise program is developing flexibility.  I never used to be a yoga fan, but adding just a few moves about 2 or 3 times a week, has really made feel stronger more secure in the saddle.   This has given me the most impressive result over any other exercise.  I feel that yoga has given me the quickest return on my time invested.  I can feel results the very next day after a short yoga session the night before!    I want to recommend some great books that I keep as a reference for my fitness and my riding goals.  I do all of my working out at home or through the neighborhood and I use the books to get a few basic moves so that I can change it up when I get bored.  Since I am not a trainer and I don’t have a string of horses to ride, I supplement with these exercise ideas to keep fit and get maximum benefit when I am in the saddle.  

If you are familiar with pilates, you can add a few moves to get a strong core.  Pilates for the Dressage Rider by Janice Dulak is a nice introduction to the topic.  I also have a DVD, yes I still have DVD’s, of the Winsor Pilates series which is fun and you really work those abs and every muscle tied to them!  Yoga for Equestrians by Linda Benedik & Veronica Wirth is also fun to use.  Both books give you exercise for off and on the horse.  The Rider Fitness Program by Dianna Robin Dennis, John J. McCully and Paul M. Jurris has some great workouts for all types of riding and includes specific exercises for balance, improving coordination, posture, stability and on and on.  It can be a bit overwhelming but I find it useful to pick maybe one or two specific areas I want to work on . . . for example, leg independence and stability . . and I can change it up as often as I want.  My last recommendation is a fabulous book by Daniel Stewart called Ride Right.  He discusses how our balance, body shape, symmetry, fitness level and our minds affect how our horses go.  I strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to improve as a rider.  This book is so easy to read and gives real simple ways that can give you big, positive changes in your riding experience!

So when I ride, I know that I am part of a team with my horse,  and I really owe it to him to keep improving myself both physically and mentally,  as I ask him to do the same.  I hope that this information was fun to read and good luck to your team!!

 

The added value of going with the Purina horse diet

There are so many things to consider when you own a horse,  and making sure he has the right diet is crucial.  As a boarder, I entrust my trainer and barn manager with providing this for my horse.  I was delighted when I arrived at the barn today,  because the experts from Purina were evaluating every one of the horses and their specific dietary needs.   This a phenomenal service and I was so impressed by their knowledge and the time they spent working with all of the horses!   They used measurements of his trunk, etc. to give me an index of fitness with 1 being extremely poor/underweight and 9 being fat bottom boy!  Nico got a 6.5 which is so great for his breed (andalusian) and the amount and type of work he does every week!  My horse and most of the boarders use the Purina brand so this is just going the extra mile, in my mind,  to keep our horses happy and healthy!!    Owning a horse is such a personal thing, and today I really felt so proud of what I am able to give my horse!!   After all, he gives me everything and he deserves the best!!   Special kudos to Rosehill Stables for continuing to WOW me with your service!!  #Purina

Synchronized Spooking

So I would like to call my experience today synchronized spooking. . .maybe we should add it as an event to the WEG.. Had one of the best rides today and finished up with what I thought would be an uneventful ride over the property to cool down.  Joined by my friends Nancy and Renae on the trails and we were having a blast!  Always beautiful wildlife around and we are always prepared to see them but today was different. . . we have been surprised in the past by deer or heron or a stray cat . . .and of course our horses will spook as they are prey animals but this was different.  We did not hear or see anything and all at once, our brave little geldings jumped and spun around and when we had gained our composure, we realized that we were all still in our saddles!  I was leading so I did not see the others,  but Nancy and Renae said it was a simultaneous movement!!  Anyway, nothing I have ever experienced before and we were so glad we all had our big girl panties on today!!  Never a dull moment on a horse!!  Thanks to Nancy, Renae and their sweet horses Boomer and Louie,  for sharing the good times!!