Showing posts from August, 2008

Holding the Reins

Tips for maintaining correct contact: Grip: Grip on the reins should be medium – that is, the fist should not be clenched on the reins, nor should the fingers be open Some old manuals of riding claim that the rein should cross the palm of the hand, but if the rein touches the palm at all it is being gripped too tightly; the reins are held in the fingers , with the thumb pressed gently on top to prevent them slipping. The tips of the fingers may just touch the palm, but the grip should be no tighter than this unless giving an opposing aid. Keeping the fingers loose will prevent the arms from becoming tense and enables the rider to “slip” the reins when the horse stretches, and well as making a simple closing of the fingers into a significant and noticeable aid; with the fingers loose, any change in the tension of the rein, as from squeezing the fingers closed, will be felt by the horse. Likewise, with fingers half-closed, the release can also be immediate and significant. This help

The Five Rein Aids: Introduction

Few standard treatises on riding include more than a rudimentary treatment of snaffle* rein aids, and those that do attempt to explain them do so either incompletely or incorrectly. Most tend to break the rein aids down into two types - direct and indirect – and leave it at that. However, this is incomplete; there are, in fact, five distinct rein effects possible with a snaffle, and each has variations and combinations, making the possibilities of their use and the precision of their guidance endless, but also increasing the occurrence of misunderstanding and inadvertent misuse. In addition, these rein effects are not used in isolation, and no one rein aid, when used properly, accomplishes a complete movement of the horse, but must be combined with other rein, seat and/or leg aids. Then, for more advanced work, the curb is sometimes added, which has its own unique effect to be used alone or in conjunction with these snaffle (bradoon) aids. As if that were not complicated enou

Dealing with Scratches

Unfortunately, I have had so much experience with scratches over the years that I think I have it down to a science! I had a Paint with white legs who used to get very severe scratches (they used to spread manure in his pasture and I think that contributed) and the best solution was always to ride him down to the beach and let him splash in the salt water. Of course, that isn’t an option for most of us... Oh, how I miss those hacks to the beach… sigh. Not even global warming is going make our current farm waterfront property! So, we’ll have to do the best we can with what we have. This is what I’ve learned through a lot of trial and error over the years: The terms mud fever and scratches are more or less interchangeable. Older books will refer to it as dew poisoning , greasy heel, or cracked heels . You could compare them to rain rot or rain scald , as it is basically the same condition occurring on the legs. The skin is designed to have a healthy layer of natural o

Horse Abuse Brings Felony Charges

The Chicago Sun-Times reported today that, acting on a tip, Cook County sherrif's police raided a boarding stable, seized several undernourished and badly neglected horses and took the stable's owner and caretaker into custody. Two of the horses were in such bad condition they had to be euthanized. According to the article, "[e]ach man faces four counts of felony aggravated animal abuse." I can only say that I am grateful local law enforcement has stepped in here, and hope these individuals are punished accordingly and made an example of. But, at the same time, it also shows how animal welfare issues cannot be left solely to law enforcement because, as in this case, help almost always comes too late. And with the vast majority of people in this country facing long-term economic stress or hardship, I fear we will be hearing more stories of abuse and neglect in the future. Follow the link above to read the article and watch a video of the horses being rescued.