Hey guys! I know I’ve been gone for a long time now. I want to thank all of my amazing followers and readers for their patience! I just finished up my PhD in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge in England.
Okay, so now that I’ve graduated, you might wonder what I’m up to. As much as I love horses, I’m not a full-time trainer or riding instructor. But my love of teaching is a driving passion of mine, and it has led me to probably one of the craziest but most exciting decisions of my life: I’ve started my very own non-profit venture, called Black Mountain SOLE. I want to help anyone and everyone be able to discover and pursue their passions, as I have been so lucky to have the opportunity to do in my life. Black Mountain SOLE is offering four programs starting in September THIS YEAR! One of those programs is called Geronimo Gap Year; in nine months, we try to help each participant find his or her passion, figure out what he or she needs to learn to be able to pursue that passion, and then structure a personal curriculum for him or her to learn and practice everything that he or she needs to know! Totally outrageously ambitious, I know, but hey :) I’m a horsewoman. I don’t understand impossible.
I would love for everyone to check out our site, and if you feel like you could support me in this adventure, like our page on facebook!
Okay, enough about me, time for my first video post in absolute ages!!! Today I’m going to show you how to ride without stirrups. Happy trails :D
This question plagues a lot of beginner riders. With all the options out there, it can seem a little overwhelming! So I’ve made my top five list of what makes a good horse for a beginning rider, along with a little video of the list in case you get bored reading ;) These five traits hold true whether you’re looking to lease or buy a horse for a beginner rider.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “What equipment do I need when I’m buying my first horse?” Luckily, I’ve got most of your answers already in a couple of videos :) And the rest I’ll cover in this blog!
First, watch my video on Riding Gear. This video covers the basics of what you as a rider need. Next, watch the video on Grooming, as it covers what you need in a basic grooming kit. To summarize, you will need a helmet, riding pants, boots (with half chaps or chaps if you use paddock boots) and possibly gloves. In the grooming kit, you need a dandy/body brush, a hard brush, a mane/tail comb or brush, a curry comb, a hoof pick, and sponges or a rag. A tack box to hold it all is also very helpful.
The basic grooming equipment
So, you need your equipment to ride, and then basic equipment to groom the horse. What else do you need? Well, you certainly need a halter, or you’ll have no way to catch and lead your horse! His halter should fit him properly, so make sure you get the right size for the size of your pony. Usually, if you talk to someone at the tack store about how tall your horse is and what breed, they can recommend what size halter. Halters can come in different kinds of sizes, but will usually be something like “small,” “average” and “large” or “pony,” (small) “cobb” (average) and “draft” (large).
Next, you need a way to ride your horse. So you’ll need a bridle and a saddle. Again, these must fit your horse. Bridles come in similar sizes to halters, usually with “pony” and “horse” options. The saddle will be much trickier to fit than the bridle–I would recommend using a professional saddle fitter. Also, you will need to decide what kind of riding you want to do before you buy any tack (hopefully you decided that before you got the horse, as that will impact what kind of horse you get! See my first blog about buying a horse). You’ll also need a saddle blanket or pad, and a girth. Again, the girth with have to be sized with the horse–girths are measured in inches (or centimeters).
Keep in mind that all this stuff won’t be cheap. (If you need an idea of how much it actually might cost, check out my cost summary on my Horse Care-Beware blog). A great way to reduce expenses is to buy things used–many local tack stores carry used items (the chain stores tend not to). You can also contact local riding schools to see if anyone is selling saddles, etc. Also, online at places like Craigslist in the US or other used-supplies selling sites are great places to look.
If you’re planning on keeping your horse in your own stable, that will require a whole other list of equipment and supplies, which I’ll cover in a later blog. However, having your own first aid kit isn’t a bad idea either. Check out the one I have packed up for going to a show here.
Lastly, there are lots of “extras” you can get, like blankets, coolers, boots, wraps, crops/whips and so on. These all depend on your horse and what kind of riding you are planning on doing. If you’ve got the basics listed here, that will get you started! And don’t worry, the rest will come—horse people have a way of developing quite the passion for perusing tack stores :)
This blog answers the most common questions about worms, shows you how to properly give your horse a de-worming paste, and discusses information you should know to keep your horse healthy!
The two-point position (sometimes called a “half seat”) is where your bum is fully out of the saddle with a closer hip angle, your shoulders farther forward and your hips slightly farther backward. Two point frees up your horse’s back and improves your position when your horse makes big moves; you use two point going over any kind of jump or obstacle, going up steep hills, or even when galloping over open country.
Developing a balanced two point position is a key part of becoming a good jumping, cross-country rider or even secure trail rider. The video below demonstrates the basics of two point and highlights common mistakes, and then I discuss a great exercise for improving your two-point technique.
This video shows you how to pick a horse’s hoof that does not have a shoe. You can also see more clearly the anatomy of the hoof, and Danny models nicely what a “thrush” infection looks like.
A few more hopefully helpful tips:
Remember that the frog of the hoof is living tissue, so you don’t want to stab at it with your hoof pick. Look for the clefts (the grooves on either side of the frog). If there’s too much mud or dirt, look for where the clefts come out on either side of the heel bulbs, and work your way up. If you still can’t find them, take your best guess and carefully scrape off the top layers of dirt until you can recognize the shape of the hoof.
Holding the hoof pick the right way will really give you the best leverage to get out that stubborn, packed mud. Check out how I’m holding the pick in this video. Many people start out holding it with the tip pointing toward them instead of away, which makes it hard to lever out those stuck pebbles.
Thrush is the common name for a fungus that can grow in horses’ hooves. It can cause problems because it makes the horse’s hoof crumbly and weak. Like most fungi, it grows best in wet conditions, so you can protect your horse from thrush by making sure his pasture is well-drained. If mud is unavoidable (which often happens!), then make sure to pick your horse’s hooves every day and let hims spend some time out of the mud. If your horse does get thrush, you can treat it with iodine or Thrush Buster.
If your horse doesn’t like to pick up his hooves, first check with your vet that he doesn’t have arthritis or pain that would hinder him lifting his hoof. Then you can try leaning into his shoulder to encourage him to get his weight off the hoof you want to pick up. You can even add in the verbal command, “Up!” or something similar, so your horse starts to learn to pick up his feet just by your voice aid.
I get a lot of questions about where to start when buying a horse. Finding the right partner for your equitation adventures can be a daunting task! So I’ve gathered my top five most important things for you to consider.
1. Make sure that buying a horse is actually what you want to do. Many people mistakenly think that if they want to start riding, they need to buy a horse first. In fact, buying a horse should be the last thing you do! First, take some riding lessons. See if riding is something you enjoy as much as you thought you would, and if it’s something you’d like to stick with. Then consider leasing a horse. Leasing a horse will give you a great sense of what is required in horse ownership without the full commitment. Many of the suggestions below apply to finding a good horse to lease as well. Then ask yourself the following questions:
If you’ve got a horse, you’ll probably want to take him somewhere at some point. And maybe you don’t want to ride him all that way! That means you’ll have to put your horse in a trailer. Getting a horse to willingly walk into a dark, closed, unnatural box can be a bit tricky. Check out this video on how to be safe with the trailer as well as with your horse, then look below for a checklist on what you should have in your trailer when you set out.
We get a very lucky chance here to learn about show jumping from one of the best! My friend Kai, from Germany, shared with me a video of one of his competitions as well as his top tips for good show jumping. I hope you enjoy the video, and be sure to check out the tips below!
Sitting the trot requires you to tuck your hips under and forward toward your horse’s ears, absorb the bouncing of the gait through your lower back, stay totally quiet with your hands and still with your upper body–all while staying relaxed!!
It might sound like a tall order, but that’s what this video is here to help explain.
A few pointers for the sitting trot:
1. Keep your core engaged. I say “engaged” and not “flexed” or “hard” because your abdomen still needs to be flexible, but it can’t be “gooey.” Your ab muscles help balance your horse, and they keep your upper body from flapping around as your lower back and hips rock with the bounce of the horse’s trot.
2. Sitting trot means turning up and down motion into forward and back motion. It’s not that you magically stay still while your horse is madly bouncing away underneath you, but rather that you take the motion that before you used to post up and down and use your hips and lower back to change it into swinging towards his ears and back.
3. Even as you let your hips rock back and forth, don’t let your lower back arch too much. If you let the top of your pelvis tilt forward and you lower back really arch, you will both lose the strength of your seat and hurt your lower back (I’ve now learned this the painful way…). That’s why I say think about tucking your hips and almost “scooping” toward your horse’s ears. This motion lets your hips take the bounce without sacrificing your lower back.
4. Practice, practice, practice! It’s the only way to get good at the sitting trot. Have someone video you so you can see where you might be going wrong. I’ve learned so much about my riding from making these videos… ;)