Sunday, October 30, 2011

New boy on the block ~ Joey

So.  I found a new horse.  

mixed 2 079mixed 2 081

His name is Joey {I’ve already thought of a show name for him:  High Boy}, he’s a 4 year old TB x Appaloosa ~ which is a bit of odd mix, but seems to work in his case. 

He’s got quite decent conformation, and he’s reasonably good looking, although his head is a bit of the worst from both worlds ~ an Appy foundation eye and TB goofy ears!  But then again, I am fairly fussy about a horse’s head.  ; )   He’ll never be a pretty boy, but he has some of the smoothest gaits I have ever sat on!  It’s like floating on a cloud!

He’s really intelligent, picks up on stuff really quickly and I like how calm he is.  He has a looooong way to go; he is a green as grass as he has only been saddle broke and that’s about it.  He doesn’t know how to bend and is really stiff and unbalanced, but I love the challenge of training horses, so I have taken him on a month’s trial to see how he goes. 

I definitely think he has potential, but I don’t know that he’ll make the cut as a dressage prospect.  He has the movement and the conformation, but if I can’t get him interested in it, I’ll be in trouble.  I think he’s one of those smart cookies that if their brains aren’t engaged they just go ‘deadhead’ horse.   So we’ll see I guess.  I do like him though, so I hope he works out!

See ya!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Training Tip: “Broke” horses


“Broke” is a term usually found in Western riding to describe a horse that  English riders would probably consider an “all rounder” or a “handy pony”.  What I like about the Western term however, is how it is far more basic than just training.  It can also apply to any type of horse regardless of it’s formal training; i.e. cutters, reiners, Western Pleasure, dressage, showjumpers ~ any of those horses can be ‘broke’. 

Conversely, the same is true that any of those horses, although they may be champion cutters, etc, can also not be broke.  So if a horse is ridden, and goes under saddle; how is it not broke?  Let’s look one definition of a broke horse and how this can apply to any horse in any training situation. 

“A broke horse means that the horse can do many different things and do them safely and calmly”
So what should the horse be able to do?  General consensus says that a green broke horse should be able to lead, tie up, get their feet done, walk, trot, canter and perhaps do some lounge work, you know, the basics. 


Building on that basis, a broke horse should be able to trail ride, float/trailer, get their teeth done, go to shows, ride smoothly, correct lead, flexion; etc, they should essentially be covered in most areas of education, without necessarily having specialty training for disciplines like show jumping. 

However, one trainer I read believes that a truly broke horse should be able to do way more than that, and I agree!  This is where cross training comes in, and it’s also why a horse that is trained as a specialist in one discipline can also be considered to not be fully broke.  What if you hopped on a horse that was a brilliant show hack, but it couldn’t go out on a trail ride without bolting for home?   That horse wouldn’t be very well trained would it!

Can you take your horse through a line of bending poles at a canter, or ride a long trail ride through ditches, traffic and underpasses?  Can you lead him past a flapping tarp without getting jumped on?  How about riding in a bitless bridle ~ or without a bridle at all?  Or in a western saddle?  Or how about a side saddle?
I only wish I could do all of that!  Still, I believe that a truly broke horse, and one that is a pleasure to ride, is a horse with experience ~ one that will trust it’s rider and be game to do whatever it is you would like it to do. 

Therefore I have set myself a training challenge ~ cross train to the max.  I want to do as many different things as possible with my horses so that I expose them anything and everything.  It takes time and it takes patience, but I think that in the end you and your horse will have more fun and be safer for it. 

Top Tip:  If you ever notice your horse reacting to something {like a piece of rustling paper ~ been there, done that!} unless you are in the middle of a dressage test, or something, take the time to desensitize them to it right away! 

Stopping and taking fifteen minutes, {maybe more, maybe less ~ remember that it depends on the individual horse} at that exact point of reaction may save you a lot of hassle later on down the track. 

See ya!


P.S.  ~ Does anyone know where I can get hold of some cows?  ; P  I would love to see Copper take a gander at them! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Potential buys and a few thoughts

I have seen two horses so far on my quest to find the right mount for me, a mare and a gelding.  I know that I probably have a long way to go before I do find the perfect horse {my instructor said that she saw a good 30 horses before she found her current one} but I have fairly high hopes for the next one considering that it was actually recommended to me. 

Anyway, some thoughts on the two I just saw:

The mare was advertised as an Andalusian type but seriously?  She looked like a TB.  It was another case of a horse turned out in the paddock and never looked at. 

She was ribby, skinny and not just ‘in paddock condition’ ~ I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a belly fully of worms because the grass was up around her hocks but she was still so thin.  Her feet were ridged and bumpy; a classic sign of malnutrition.  Like the picture below, although her toes weren’t turned up:


Still, she had a pretty face and sweet look about her.  She also had really nice clean legs.  Unfortunately the clincher for me was that she was lame.  Not badly, but enough to notice on the lounge rein.  Apparently she did something to herself four months ago when she got out of her paddock.  They found her wandering around on the road{!} and she’d strained something. 

After four months of paddock rest ~ she’s not going to get better by herself.  The sad thing about it is that I reckon it’d only take a quick visit from the chiropractor to fix her as I suspect she’s just got her left hip or pelvis out of joint.  Nothing serious, such a quick fix, but it still hasn’t been done. 

I so wish I could have taken her: I really liked the look of her, and she seemed sensitive, but I think if you took the time to earn her trust she would really preform for you.  I told them to call me if they got her fixed up and she came up sound, but I have a funny feeling I’ll never hear from her owner again which sucks.  At one time she was with someone who loved her and had trained her well.  She knew what she was doing.  It’s such a waste, but I really don’t know what I can do in that sort of situation. I can’t afford to take the risk on her or I totally would have…    *sigh*

The next fellow was again in paddock condition, but he was shiny, healthy and happy.  He was a seven year old TB x QH; very quite.  He had the TB head and the QH neck and haunches.  He was quiet and had REALLY good brakes!  

He didn’t really strike me as a performance horse though, and I don’t think we really clicked.  He was too sluggish and just didn’t seem interested.  I don’t know if he’d pick up with consistent work, but as the owner didn’t want to trial him{which I understand, but there are ways to make that work} so I can’t really judge. 

And he didn’t have the greatest conformation ~ his left fore turned out slightly, so his movement was a bit weird from the front at a trot and I am pretty sure he has downhill conformation {ie ~ his croup is higher than his whither} which means it’s harder for him to get his hindquarters underneath him.  Like so:


Apparently that is quite common among the QH ~ downhill conformation is not necessarily a drawback in Western riding.  However, good collection is essential for any level of dressage or show jumping so I personally found it pretty easy to nix him on that count, and then add the backward type personality and well, he’s not the boy for me. 

So on with the hunt; which is fine with me.  : )

See ya!


P.S ~  This thread puts it nicely concerning conformation and the downhill-uphill differences.

It's rather a matter of horses for courses. A downhill built horse is designed more for short sprints, quick turning on the hind quarters, sudden stops (not the reining kind the one where they bounce around on their front legs in the oh so attractive and comfortable way, lol). However they will sustain more concussion on their front legs, and often suffer more from both interarticular and periarticular ring bone. Downhill built horses are good for short distance racing, cutting, sporting etc. However for the "English" disciplines it's going to fall short.

A horse built uphill will be lighter and more balanced, less likely to fall on the forehand and there is noticeably less concussion on the front legs. The reason a downhill horse will have less balance is because horses naturally have about 60% - 40% to 75% - 25% of weight ratio front to back (meaning the front legs carry more weight naturally) so imagine trying to lift this and shift the centre of balance back off it, it'll be substantially harder. A horse that's built uphill will have more ability to place it's centre of gravity back and "sit on it's haunches" during high levels of collection. A horse built uphill will also have an advantage in the show jumping ring because they're already angling up and find it easier to lift their front end out of the way. A reining horse will also benefit from an uphill conformation because it's easier to drop their hind quarters and tuck under themselves while lifting the front end out of the way.

So depending on what you want to do the conformation that is ideal will vary. Because I ride English I'd never consider a downhill built horse because it just doesn't work for what I want to do. But if I was cutting or a sporter then it'd be different.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011



Unfortunately, not of the flying kind, because here’s the deal.  As much as I love Copper, he’s not the horse for me any more.  He has taught me a lot and together we’ve come quite a long way, but due to no fault of his own, I’ve out grown him and now I have to move on.

It really boils down to nothing less than his breeding and his movement.  You see, Copper is the perfect Standardbred.  Sound as a bell, sensible, quiet, works hard, goes forever, easy to catch, shoe, float, handle, so much more.  In fact he’s the epitome of the Standardbred breed according to my instructor and therein lies the rub. 

He’s never going to be a dressage horse.  It basically slapped me in the face when I went to the Gooroman Park competition, but Copper is just not suited to dressage, or for that matter, show jumping either.  He could go a lot further in show jumping than dressage, but our 55.88% score on the Prep 2 test?  I don’t know that we could do much better than that.  At least, not without a ton more work. 

See, I could keep training Copper; but I would have to pour three times as much money and time into him to get him to the average standard, and in that time I could be training another horse and bringing it to a brilliant standard. Plus, I could do all that and we might never get past Preliminary dressage anyway as he most likely cannot produce an extended gaits, seeing as he can barely track up with his hind{ie ~ hind feet coming under his body to step on the tracks that his front feet leave}.

To sum it all up, Copper is good for what he is, but what he is isn’t good enough.  So I am endeavouring to lease him out{because weak, soft girl that I am I can’t bear to sell him…} to a home that will appreciate his wonderful pleasure horse skills.  : )

And in the mean time I am on the hunt for a new dressage/show jumping/possibly cross country prospect.  Wish me luck!

See ya!


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