Tip #1, When washing your horses face, hold the top of the halter crossing the bridge of his nose with your wrist over his nostrils. Spray water next to his head and sweep water under his eye, up the middle of his forehead and back down under the other eye in an upside-down V. Do this pattern every time and horse will relax and stop resisting.
Tip #2, Thrush dies upon contact with oxygen. Take a knife and cut away dead tissue. Spray area out with high pressure water until clean. At this time all thrush is dead if you can see only clean sole and frog. Keep clay out of hoof and keep stall bedding totally dry. Use iodine to harden sole as needed or mineral oil to soften sole and create a moisture proof barrier.
Tip #3, Good equitation combined with relaxation creates balance. This allows the horse to put all his energy and effort toward expressing his talent. only a fool blames a horse for the riders shortcomings. Your part of the team effort is to become the best rider you can be.
Tip #4. A loved horse will try 5 times harder than a horse in fear. Love and reward the horse into success. A good balance is to reward 5 times more often then you discipline. Praise is a reward. A treat after a hard workout is a reward. Stroking the neck is a reward. Hard slapping on the neck is NOT a reward!
Tip #5. If you are going to use a curb bit, Lift it high enough to create a small wrinkle at the corner of the mouth and tighten the curb-chain until the bit can only rotate 30 degrees. The curb-chain is the fulcrum for a lever (the shank) and must be adjusted correctly to work properly in its intended design. It is better to use a snaffle instead of a curb with the shanks drawn straight backward.
Tip #6. head tossing is usually caused because the curb bit is too low in the mouth and sitting on more sensitive tissue or the curb-chain is too loose and pinching the skin between shank and chain. Otherwise, check the teeth for rough edges or the tongue and cheeks for ulcers. Horses between 3 & 5 may also have loose caps (baby teeth).
Tip #7. Sweat or sand cracks on the horse's pastern can be healed using a lard based cream with a sulphur additive and should be used every day before work. If this fails, try Hydrocortisone Velerate .2% cream and use under cotton wrap for 48 hours. This always works but should not be used very often because it will thin the skin allowing it to dry out & crack easier.
Tip #8. Girth Gauls are usually caused because the girth is too tight and has folded a wrinkle of skin underneath. Leather girth might have a crack that is rubbing, stitching is loose or girth is too narrow. Never use a fake leather girth because it can't breath and will build up heat. Girth Gauls are burns and are best treated using Blue-kote. Use a rope girth while injury heals.
Tip #9. Love your horse as if he were a wondrous beast for surely when God created him, heaven sang!
Tip #10. Animation is best created starting with a lower head-set enhancing shoulder rotation while using your legs & seat to lift the horse's back & lower his hip. Only after months of establishing this position in a relaxed motion do you slowly raise the head and shoulders into animation.
Tip #11. When trail riding, watch the ground. It is your job to steer and you can't expect your horse to relax and commit to a long stride if he is concerned with how his hoof will hit the ground. Choose the flattest path so he can enjoy the ride too.
Tip #12. Bridle-paths should be measured by gently pushing the horse's ear back to his mane. With the horse's ear resting flat on his neck and the tip of his ear at the top of his mane, cut his hair from this point to the horse's pole.
Tip #13. You are only as good a trainer as the best horse that you have ridden so seek out great horses and earn the privilege of riding them for you must feel talent in order to develop it.
Tip #14. If you sit on a horse you are training him, it is therefore your responsibility to teach him to be a good horse.
Tip #15. The mouth piece on bits come in different widths. Too wide and the bit will drift to one side causing the horse to lean and dump a shoulder or become extremely one sided. Too narrow and the shanks or rings will rub his face or ulcers will form inside the horse's cheek where flesh was driven into the first molars. Proper fit will find 1/16" clearance on both sides of the mouth. For more info read Horse Control & the Bit - Tom Roberts.
Tip #16. The bars are the bone ridges in the horse's mouth that the bit rests on. Open any horse's mouth and pull his tongue to the side, the raised area that the tongue was resting between are the bars. They are about as wide as your two middle knuckles placed together, under 2". Bits are 5" wide. This difference is taken up by the soft cheek flesh. Place a bit on your middle knuckles to feel what the horse feels. You will find high ports are uncomfortable.
Tip 17. Read! Talking to people will give you opinions but a tried and tested book will give you solutions. I have read over 1,000 books on horsemanship and the best of these are on my web-site, macgregorstables.com
Tip #18. Swimming horses. Attach a lunge line to his halter. Ease him into the water wading deeper until only his head is out. Calm him until he stands. Swim straight out to end of line gently pulling him toward you. Hold the rope, circling him back toward shore. Grab his tail & he will pull you in. He will follow his head so make sure it is pointed toward shore. When he hits ground, pull forward quickly to his mane and then to his halter halting him. He will get tired quickly!
Tip #19. shank length on curb bits increase the torque placed upon the horse's bars and chin-groove (curb-chain). Length also drops the point of contact with the horse's mouth like lowering your hands. With length comes severity so you must balance need with function. A horse might be pulling on a bit because there is a problem like bruised bars or chin-groove and more leverage will only make the problem worse.
Tip #20. Curb bits create a circular downward rotation in the horse's head position drawing the horse's nose inward and his head downward. If the horse is over-collected or carries his head too low, shorten the length of the bit shank. If he still noses out, tighten the curb-chain. If there is no change, something else is wrong. If he overreacts to a tighter curb-chain and the bit still rotates 30 degrees, the shank is too long and the bit is too sever for his needs.
Tip #21. every joint on a curb bit lessens the communication to the horse, likewise a solid bit has the highest form of communication. Severity is lessened by more joints and increased by less joints. This means that a chain mouthpiece with a swivel or gag shank doesn't allow the horse to feel subtle cues and a solid bit only requires a very slight touch to impart a cue. All curb bits should be used with a light touch. You should be queuing your horse into position not pulling.
Tip #22. A snaffle bit is not necessarily nice. It depends on what the mouthpiece looks like and how much pressure is being applied. Strive for lightness by using your seat and legs to help collect the horse. A snaffle is a direct pull bit, what you feel on your hands is what the horse feels in his mouth. You can adjust head position by lowering or raising your hands. Don't jerk, saw or lug on the bit.
Tip #23. Rear leg development can be enhanced on the TWH by trimming the rear hoof shorter than the front, using a flat shoe and learning how to apply leg and seat pressure to raise the back and lower the hip. Resist forward increase of speed but apply leg and allow the horse to learn that it is hip rotation that you are asking for. Keep him calm and allow him to stretch his stride by going faster, then slow for timing. Read Sylvia Loch’s books to understand this idea.
Tip #24. Shoeing the TWH can be a little different than other breeds. It is always important to shoe the hooves at the same angle as the pasterns. Front hooves will usually be 1" longer than hind and are usually shod at 48 degrees with a 4" to 4 1/2" toe length with a 1" rolled under heel calk. Rear hooves are usually shod at 52 degrees with a 3 1/2" to 3 3/4" toe length using a flat shoe. This difference allows the TWH to develop his gait into a more powerful striding motion.
Tip #25. Weighted shoes are used for 2 good reasons. Weight will slow the front leg down on a TWH. As the stride increases, the front hooves must also stay in the air longer to maintain timing. A common fault is to quick step the front legs which forces the hind legs to shorten their stride becoming racky. A toe-weighted shoe will help develop reach in a horse that is foldy. This shoe is often used with a shorter 4" toe length to further increase shoulder rotation and reach.
Tip #26. Cantering a TWH will help to square a pacey horse. Canter a figure 8 stopping in the middle or use a simple change. Ride with a lower head carriage which will help raise the back as the horse slows to change leads. Ride 2 figure 8's and ride off trying to hold this new position. It won't last long at first but will hold longer each time. Repeat 3 times and move on to something else. Reward any effort and the horse will soon seek out what he is being rewarded for.
Tip #27. most TWH pace because of pain or stiffness. Check the back, shoulders and girth for pain due to poor saddle fit. Many TWH need an extra wide saddle and a tight girth can cause rib pain. If the feet hurt it is usually due to poor fit or trim. The trim must be at the same angles as the pasterns or you will get tendon sore; and the shoe must allow the heel to expand or he will be heel sore. If you aren't light in the hand you will freeze the neck into stiffness and the rest is Dressage.
Tip #28. The TWH does a long striding 4 beat powerful driving gait. It should roll through the back causing a head-shake to counter balance the extended motion (like a chicken walking). Timing and balance are key but you must have extension or you are racking. Relaxation increases head-shake and stride. This is a very calm breed and utilizes a calm method of training. Power is built through confidence and commitment over time.
Tip #29. No screaming because you are afraid. There is nothing to be gained by screaming at a horse, it just causes negative reactions and eventually, fear in the horse. No clamping your legs because you are afraid, it causes the horse to go faster every time making things worse. No raising your hands because of fear, you will loose collection and cause a rougher ride enhancing the probability that you will loose your balance. Relax and Think.
Tip #30. Feel your horse's back and muscles move under you, close your eyes and really feel them. Relax your waist and move with your horse. Keep your shoulders still and just move your waist. Your horse is walking and you are rocking your hips with his movement in a relaxed effortless way. As the horse's gaits change the movement will change but the relaxation is continuous.
Tip #31. Stand up. Sway your back (push your stomach forward). Now lift your leg. Can't? Now round your back and lift your leg. 4 times more lift, right? Your hip locked with your back swayed. This is why a horse extends his stride better in a collected position when the rider uses leg to lift the horse's back.
Tip #32. Reach and shoulder motion can be enhanced in a horse by lowering his head into a collected position. Think of a person swimming. He can dog paddle and go no where fast, right? Or, he can lower his head into the water and take off. His back and shoulders are now fully in motion reaching way forward and sweeping through a round stroke. Same with the horse.
Tip #33. A half-halt is a slow firm collective adjustment. Your hands draw back slowly toward your belly, firm enough to create a reaction. You should feel a pressure between the bit and your seat bones. You are not only collecting the head and neck of the horse but driving your seat bones deep into the saddle. This driving seat and the resistance to the horse's head-set creates one choice to relieve pressure, to tip the body back onto the haunches and bow the neck.
Tip #34. When a horse is asked to collect by pressure being applied to the bit, with supportive pressure from leg and seat, the horse will back off the bit. This will be a release of pressure to your hands. It is very important to NOT move or adjust your hands. This lighter pressure is the horse's reward for compliance. You have entered into an agreement with the horse that this new position is safe, comfortable and appropriate.
Tip #35. The one sided skip that a child does to imitate a horse cantering is the same motion that your hip moves in while riding the canter. Your inside leg is slightly in front of your outside leg and the rocking motion in your hip moves with the rise and fall of the canter. Your hip slightly sweeps or scoots in the saddle. Furthermore, when the child imitates a flying lead change, it is a correct queue to switch leads. Try it!
Tip #36. Cantering. You must set up the canter by using an inside leg queue at the girth to round the horse into the corner. Bend hard and use the outside leg behind the girth to hold the line. Use your inside rein against the neck to round the neck inward. Rock your hip in a canter rhythm and release your inside leg with a single loud cluck. Can't pick it up wrong. The horse follows the release of the inside leg and is driven by the outside leg. Hands return to normal position at first step.
Tip #37. Don't spook! If something scary is approaching and you react as the rider/leader, your horse has to spook. Instead, look away and drain yourself of tension. Your horse will follow your leadership and react less or sometimes ignore it to see what you are looking at. The main thing is to not spook for him, forcing the horse to really react. You are the herd leader, lead with confidence!
Tip #38. The horse accepts you as a herd member, it is the only way he can view your relationship. This is a great relationship for the rider because the horse must follow the Alpha horse's lead. You must be the leader or you must serve and follow. This is why horses get frustrated when leadership is weak; by nature, if you don't lead, they must. A good leader has responsibilities, he must have a plan, he must guide and he must keep others safe.
Tip #39. If your horse has just been shod and he feels off balance or out of timing, check his hooves. Look at both hooves together and check for inconsistency between the pairs, front and rear. A hoof might be high on the outside or inside. A hoof can have a high heel or at worst cast a club foot. The sole might not be paired away enough to create a proper arch or there might be a bad nail that is too close to the live tissue inside the white line. All of these problems must be fixed.
Tip #40. Make sure to get all your horse's forelock and mane hair out from under the bridle crown. This will irritate and pull during a ride causing the horse to flatten an ear or toss his head.
Tip #41. The top ring on a curb bit must be bent and fitted to your horse to keep it from pressing the cheek skin into the first molars. This is the ring above the purchase or the ring the crown is attached to. They must be bent outward 10 to 20 degrees. After adjusting, put the bridle on and check to make sure that there is separation between cheek and ring. This adjustment is not done at the factory.
Tip #42. If you use a twisted wire or double twisted wire mouthpiece on any bit, it needs to be bent into a forward facing crescent. This adjustment lessens the severity of the mouthpiece and will allow the horse to relax and feel for your queues. Without this adjustment, there is too much nut cracker action placed on the sides of the bars and you will freeze the lower jaw and neck instead of developing a relaxed head set.
Tip #43. Never saw a snaffle bit. This means to snatch it from left to right multiple times. The joints will slam into the bars and cause bruising. The more rough or jointed the mouthpiece, the more damage. If you saw a chain or double twisted wire mouthpiece, it will tear the skin and may break down the bar's bone ridges. This type of damage is permanent creating a dead mouth.
Tip #44. If a saddle is too narrow it will pinch the withers and bruise the flesh behind the shoulders. The withers will swell after a long ride. If the saddle is too wide, it will drop too low and rub the top of the vertebrae. Saddle sores will develop. Too little padding and a sore will start right behind the pommel or cantle. If the skirt of a western saddle is too long, it will rub the loin and hip bones. Consult a professional saddle fitter.
Tip #45. Stirrup length can be checked quickly by putting your finger tips on the buckle at the saddle bars and placing the stirrup under your armpit. This distance equals a normal Gaited horse rider's leg position. Also, remove both stirrups once in a while and measure them against each other. Place the shorter stirrup on the left because this is the mounting side and will stretch faster.
Tip #46. Horse won't get into horse trailer! Use nylon halter & rope. Get horse close to trailer & find strongest post inside winding rope around 1 1/2 times. Draw horse toward entrance until rope is taunt. Hold pressure until horse moves forward releasing pressure. Wait then take up slack causing rope to be taunt again. Keep repeating until horse enters trailer. At some point horse will panic and pull back. Hold until tantrum is finished and most horses will jump in to release pressure.
Tip #47. Footing affects animation. A collected horse pops off the toe of his hoof creating lift or animation. In sand footing, the hoof rolls instead of the normal pop because the sand can't support the pressure applied to it by the toe. It gives way rolling the hoof forward, instead of upward. This is why a firm base is important to have under the softer footing. If the ground is too hard, the horse's motion will be foldy, lacking reach.
Tip #48. While riding a TWH up hill, you can feel the power and stride in the horse's gait. Don't just walk back down the hill. Ride down a shallow grade in collection to enhance pelvic tilt and hock bend. This lower position, like a baseball player's stance in the outfield, offers balance and power. Build muscle that you will use on call when the horse's training progresses. In time, collection will allow the horse to hold this position and relax.
Tip #49. If a gaited horse is too square (trotty), ride down a shallow slope in collection using your legs to gently lift the horse's belly while resisting in the hand just enough to keep the horse's speed steady. Only go fast enough to break the trot into a rack. Try to hold rack when you reach flat ground and reward all positive effort. Horse will quickly choose to rack because it is easier.
Tip #50. The difference between a rack and a running-walk is usually caused by length and depth of hip and angulation of the rear leg. TWH should have a long deep hip with a curved, low hock, rear leg. This conformation supports weight during a long sweeping stride; and the low hock allows the horse to control the leg during extreme extension. Racking horses have a shorter hip and a straighter hind leg. This produces a quicker steppy motion with less stride.
Tip #51. Be careful not to use your legs too much during the running-walk. This may cause the TWH to loose his rhythm. Relax when you have balanced collection and allow the horse to flow. Feel the stride and timing in your seat. Your horse is gently on the bit and your legs are relaxed in support. Become part of the movement, one unit moving together. Feel each hoof hitting the ground and breath. The regularity of timing will become hypnotic.
Tip #52. Keep your horse straight. If his head is crooked or his neck bent the wrong way, he is evading collection. He may bend his waist, dump a shoulder or calk a hip, all of these evasions cancel out stride and animation. It takes a straight horse to become athletic.
Tip #53. Be on line in a straight line from nose to tail. Be on line in a curve by bending the horse to match the same curved line from nose to tail. This equals straightness and retains all the benefits in stride, power and animation. Being on line means to match the curve or straightness in the horse's body to the shape you are riding. This keeps the horse from evading collection and helps him to maximize his athleticism.
Tip #54. If horse is bent and pulling on one side, stop pulling at him and push. Use your rein and push his neck straight. This increases pressure on the week side of the mouth, the side he is avoiding. The rein against the neck used in a slight pulsing motion will cause a straightening reaction. Add leg pressure at the girth to further realign the body. When horse makes effort to comply, lessen pressure and revert to a more neutral position. Add shoulder-in exercises to your workout.
Tip #55. There is a difference between a training aid and a vice. A training aid helps to give a cue to alter the horse's posture or behavior. A vice is usually defined by an application or behavior that doesn't stop working after the horse has complied with the physical or mental adjustment. It is therefore hard to learn if the adjustment is made and there is no release for a reward.
Tip #56. The TWH has a strong head shaking motion so it is important to use a soft hand on the reins so you don't punish the horse in the mouth and discourage him. Hold the rein tightly between your thumb and forefinger, this will keep the rein from slipping. Relax the other three fingers into a soft and slightly opened grip to create a shock absorption for the horse's mouth. This will allow the horse to commit to a full and deep head-shake without being punished by a hard hand.
Tip #57. To soften a hard gripping hand, place the rein between your ring & little fingers instead of around your little finger. You can't make a powerful fist without using your pinky, thus, your hand will soften and give a gentler hold to your horse's mouth.
Tip #58. keep your hands just in front of the saddle with a gentle bend to your elbow. This will allow you to give cues while remaining in a balanced position. If you allow your hands to drift behind the saddle, they will quickly be bound up near your stomach or you will widen them out to your sides or lift them needlessly upward to your chest causing imbalance in your riding position.
Tip #59. Slightly widen the reins, on the TWH, to shoulder width to increase head shake. Slightly narrow reins into contact with the neck to straighten head set & to prevent the horse from dumping his shoulder and creating an imbalance in his alignment. This will lead to a hitch or will lessen animation because the horse is no longer traveling in a straight line so his powerful stride is lessened to hold his balance.
Tip #60. keep your chin up, while riding, so your neck stay aligned with your spine. This allows your weight to drop into a deeper position lowering your center of gravity. Your seat will help to lower the horse's hip position because your hands now have a connection to your crotch. Your cues to the horse's mouth are connected to the lever of your body creating downward force into the saddle queuing the horse's hip to lower. This action pivots around your legs which anchor & lift the core.
Tip #61. Stretch your body for a better seat. Sit tall, lift your chest pulling your stomach inward and slightly roll your hip forward - do not sway your back. Look up & through your horse's ears, and stretch your legs deep into a heel down position straight below your hip. This aligns your ear, shoulder, hip & heel into a lever of driving power. Your legs are in contact with your horse's sides just behind the girth & your hands feel the soft contact between the horse's mouth and your crotch.
Tip #62. You sit the horse on a triangle of bones. Your two seat bones felt in the crease of your buttock and the pubic arch behind the skin of your crotch. These three points of contact, with the saddle, must be equal while sitting in a neutral position. Too far back and you drive the rear of the saddle into the horse's loin, too far forward and you drive it into his shoulder. Balance creates comfort which creates relaxation which helps to increase rhythm, stride and timing.
Tip #63. The horse's hooves must be trimmed in straight lines. Curves on the wall create weakness at the point of bow which can crack if the hoof is weak or dry. Wavy lines on the bottom trim between hoof & shoe create pressure points that may blow out or cause pain when horse is ridden. Imbalance in the trim from side to side will cause pain in the horse's fetlock joint, (knee, elbow or shoulder.) in front, & (hock, stifle, or hip) behind.
Tip #64. While riding through a corner, use your inside leg to slightly push the horse's core into a curve to match your line of travel. Use your inside rein to adjust the horse's neck and shoulder position to match the line of travel and use your outside leg and rein to hold the horse on line preventing washout or drift. By bending the horse to match the curve, the horse will step farther under his body with his inside rear leg increasing stride.
Tip #65. You can't expect your horse to collect into a balanced, relaxed and powerful position if you won't collect into relaxed and balanced seat - this is equitation!
Tip #66. Think of the horse's body being a double arch bridge. One pillar is his nose, another his forelegs and the last his rear legs. Between these pillars are two spans of arched spine, his neck and his back. If the arch is weak the span will fail and come crashing down, in the horse this leads to tripping, scuffing, trailing out behind and a very unpleasant ride. Arch the neck & spine into a position of strength - this is collection!
Tip #67. There is no telling the total of your success until you dig down into the depths of your heart and fill the world with your passions.
Tip #68. Try not to brace your hands into a fixed position while riding. A soft hand allows the horse to chew and lubricate his mouth with saliva. Ask for the collection necessary to balance the horse and then slightly release the pressure to allow the horse to move freely. Maintain enough contact to allow the horse to feel your cues but not too much to stiffen his jaw or neck.
Tip #69. The joints of the horse's leg cannot realign into a new position without causing pain and the horse shoe is not able to shift which leaves the trimming of the hoof to create balance and alignment.
Tip #70. For a cast horse, get a lead rope and go to the rear of the horse. Place the rope carefully around the far fetlock joint so that the rope passes both in front of and behind both legs in a "U" shape. Hold both ends and pull gently rolling the horse over 'til his legs face you. Let go of the rope as horse starts to flip and back away.
Tip #71. Consistency in your routine both in barn management and training help create a champion quality performance horse. If your horse isn't worried that his feed was an hour late he will concentrate on his work and if his warm-up routine is the same he will relax into the day's education.
Tip #72. If you use a horse blanket that has diagonal crossing belly straps, hook the rear to front strap first. The front to rear strap will hold it off the ground if it comes undone so the horse won't step on it with his rear hoof and tear it off.
Tip #73. To keep horse blanket strap fasteners from coming unbuckled, use the small green rubber bands that are used for cattle castration. Roll one onto the square hole half and buckle the T post like normal and roll the band back down against the T post. It will not come undone!
Tip #74. Use an equine dentist to maintain proper dental care. The horse can't chew properly unless his teeth meet on a flat plain and the horse must chew to lubricate his mouth. Even a properly adjusted nose band will prevent the good mouth motion needed for saliva release if the plain of the teeth is wavy locking them through contact of the high points. Plus, sharp teeth hurt.
Tip #75. Wait a little longer to start training on your two year old horse. The closer the horse gets to three years old before starting the training and riding process the better. The young horse will be physically stronger and more mentally mature which will allow the young horse to learn faster and stay healthier.