The Horse Logic Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Frans Pregnancy

I wanted to post some pics of Fran's huge belly. She has never been this chunky before. Any comments are welcome:)


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Monday, February 4, 2008

Training Tree: Freedom of Gaits & Contact

Training Tree: Freedom of Gaits & Contact

By: Sara McKiness of Horse Logic

The next 2 steps of the Training Tree are Freedom of Gaits and Contact. These are very important steps in the basic training of any horse. However you do have to master the previous 2 steps in order to progress any further up the Training Tree. The higher up the Training Tree that we go, the more difficult it becomes for the horse. He has to work harder and also stay balanced with a rider on his back.

Remember to start out in a very rhythmical way (as described in my previous article). This helps to reinforce the trust that you have with your horse. Every time you handle your horse you are training him. Strive to always make it a positive experience that is horse logical.

Freedom of Gaits is the third step in the training tree. Freedom of Gaits means that the horse can freely move forward without any interference from the rider. Basically you want your horse to move however he chooses to, while finding his own balance with a rider. The rider does not want to interfere with a horses movement unless he is acting dangerous by bucking or rearing. The untrained horse needs to learn how to balance a rider at different gaits. Therefore you need to give him that opportunity. Otherwise when you pull you are un-balancing your horse and bumping him in the mouth. These are not going to give your horse positive experiences with riding. After he has learned to balance you the rider in different gaits, you can start to introduce contact.

I suggest using a round pen or other small area to use for the first several rides. Make sure that it is an area that is familiar to your horse. It would not be a good idea to take a untrained horse and introduce him to a new arena right before you are going to introduce riding. He will be worried about the new surroundings and this will interfere with your progress up the training tree. So by using smaller area to work and ride, you are making it safer for your first ride.

In order to be successful and safe with your first ride you need to have achieved all of the previous steps in the Training Tree. You need to have Rhythm, Relaxation and Freedom of Gaits during lunging and ground work. If you do not achieve success on the ground, then successes will not be obtained in the saddle. It is very important to be successful with the training tree steps on the ground first. This will then be carried over to the under saddle work.

The fourth step in the training tree is Contact. What contact means is to have an elastic, and relaxed connection with the horses mouth. You also have a relaxed, and elastic contact with your seat and legs as well. When you have a connection that is relaxed and elastic the horse will feel as if you can do anything with him. As a rider you must be relaxed in your body, as any tension will cause the contact to loose it's elasticity, and thus you bang the horse in the mouth. When you get correct contact with your horse he will be soft in your hand (ie, not pulling), and also lift his back to use it more effectively. You can not get correct contact until the horse has achieved the previous steps in the training tree. Once he has successfully achieved Rhythm, Relaxation, and Freedom of Gaits, you can start to work on contact.

You first introduce contact on the ground through side reins. These will help to teach your horse about correctly reaching for the bit, and they are steady and do not bang your horse in the mouth. Side reins need to be very loose when first introducing them. As your horse accepts side reins and becomes comfortable with them, you can start to shorten them. *A note of caution side reins should always start out loose and then gradually be shortened. NEVER leave them attached to your horses mouth/ bit when leading a horse. Your horse will first learn about correct, relaxed, and elastic contact through side reins. The side reins are an elastic contact because of the elastic in the side reins, but also because they dot not change in length. They stay the same regardless of what your horse is doing. This is not necessarily true for work under saddle. What commonly happens is a rider will start to get nervous when riding a young horse and as the horse starts to speed up, this makes the rider unknowingly shorten the reins. This causes confusion with a horse as he doesn't fully understand communication with the reins yet. When you are fist working them under saddle remember it is very important to remain quiet with your hands as this will help to prevent any negative experiences with the reins.

As your horse progresses in his training, all of the groundwork that you have accomplished this far will start to carry over to the under saddle work.

***Remember if at any point you are nervous, or unsure please consult a professional trainer. These articles are for educational purposes.***

I welcome any suggestions for future articles, or any questions that you would like answered in a future article.

Learn something new every month from Horse Logic. A new article will be featured every month in From the Horse's Mouth by: Sara McKiness from Horse Logic.

Ă“Horse Logic 2008

Sara McKiness
Horse Logic
Saint Charles, IL

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Funny Horse "Excercise" email forward

This is very funny, and any horse lover has had these experiences before. I am not sure who wrote this, but I wanted to post it. Hope this makes you smile:)

Sara Chicago Riding Lessons

A show of hands for those of us that own the "Right Horse"!!

Read on......

Response to Dr Phil's comment on horse ownership as exercise:

At this time of year, after the holidays, ads for weight-loss programs saturate print media and the airwaves. Even TV talk shows devote time to the battle of the bulge. I caught part of a Dr. Phil episode in which the prominent self-help guru was evaluating the situation of one overweight guest. The woman commented that she'd like to buy a horse so she could get exercise via riding. "That's great for the horse," responded Dr. Phil drolly, "but what good is it for you?" Obviously, Dr. Phil has missed out on the cardiovascular workout we women get attempting to get into a sports bra and riding pants...

Clearly, the good doctor doesn't own a horse. At least, not the right horse. A quiet, well-broke, agreeable mount may indeed not offer much in the way of fitness training. But, the right horse (and most of us have owned 1 or 2, haven't we?) will provide a body-building, cardiovascular-enhancing workout that would make Richard Simmons envious. Allow me to explain...With the right horse, you begin your fitness program by walking out to the pasture. As you stride briskly, you carry the halter and lead rope behind you, pushed up high on your back so the lead doesn't drag. The purpose of this is to tone your chest and upper-arm muscles (because you're not fooling your horse- -for he knows what you carry). As you approach to within a few feet of him, he'll walk slowly away from you, but at a pace just so you can't reach him, then stop. This will be repeated several times in succession, until you're ready to jog. At that point, because you own just the right horse, he will trot, then gallop around the pasture.If you're at the advanced level of fitness, you may continue chasing after him for maximum aerobic benefits (or, just stop and start throwing rocks at him to give your rotator cuffs a workout. Make sure you switch throwing arms, not only is this a benefit to you, your horse will think it hilarious). Beginners may prefer to toss the halter and lead on the ground, bend forward from the waist, and engage in heavy breathing and chanting (that's what we'll call it, anyway -- chanting) as the horse continues to circle the field. For those of you that have experience with this exercise, you may choose to throw the halter and lead, walk briskly, bend, pickup, repeat. When the horse determines you've had enough of this warm-up session, he'll allow you to catch him.

Now comes the total upper-body workout of grooming. The right horse, of course, will be caked in dried mud. The cement-like consistency of it will require work-to-exhaustion effort of your biceps and triceps. NOTE: this exercise has added value, the dried mud will stick to your face with perspiration, instant facial!

Next comes the bending, stretching, and toning of hoof-picking. Bend over, pick up the horse's left front foot, then be prepared to jump back as he stomps it back down to the ground, narrowly missing your foot. (Keep your knees bent as you jump, to protect your lower back.) Reach down and pick up the foot again, hopping about with the horse to maintain your grip as you attempt to pick what seems to be dirt mixed with Super Glue from the hoof. Eventually the horse may stand still; you may be chanting by this time. Repeat the entire circuit 3 more times, with the remaining feet.

Once you can stand erect again, it's time for the insect repellent exercise. True, with this one, your horse may actually get more of a workout than you do, but you certainly get more of the repellent. It goes like this: Squirt!-circle- circle. Squirt!-circle- circle. Squirt!-circle- circle--- and so on, until you're completely misted with repellent and chanting 'whoa you son of a***** whoa'. To receive maximum benefit from this exercise, make sure you are at the beginning of a deep inhalation during the 'squirt' cycle and exhale after the last chanting 'whoa'.

With the right horse, saddling up provides both aerobic and strength building benefits. The trick is to keep your feet moving as you heft the saddle blanket over and over (and over), trying to keep it in place on a moving target. The blanket exercise warms you up for the saddle exercise, for which the routine is the same, only the weight is much greater -- perfect for buffing those hard-to-tone shoulder muscles.

Now comes the mounting exercise. With the right horse, it's left leg up, hop-hop-hop, left leg down, heavy breathing. Left leg up, hop-hop-hop, left leg down, heavy breathing. For balance, go around to the other side and continue the exercise (right leg up, hop-hop-hop, heavy breathing, right leg down, heavy breathing, etc.).When your heart rate begins to exceed your target range, look for a bucket. Bend over, pick it up, place it upside-down next to the horse, wait for the horse to move away, then bend over, pick it up again, place it next to the horse, and so on. NOTE: this is a cooling down routine not to be confused with the warm up pasture-routine.

When the horse deems you've had enough of these repetitions, he'll stand still and allow you to actually mount. At this point, of course, you'll be too exhausted to ride and your facial mask is dropping off in chunks. It's best not to overdo it, so dismount, grab a glass of wine, and head in to recover in a bubble bath.

Horse Riding Lessons Illinois By Horse Logic

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