Monday, April 18, 2011

Tying your horse...

When tying your horse for the first time consider a few things.  Place, time, and safety.  The place you tie your horse is very important to your safety and the horse's.  You want to have good footing.  In an riding arena, to a sturdy fence with dry ground around it or dry cement.  I would start in an arena to either a wall or a strong fence.  You want to tie the horse's higher instead of lower.  I suggest being at or above the horse's eye level.  This will lessen the fighting and pulling back by the horse.  If you are in an indoor arena make sure the wall is safe.  Look for loose nails, boards and equipment.  The first couple of times having your horse tied I would not actually tie the rope.  I put a longer lead on the horse's halter and slide it around the post.  Then I move back away from the horse and hold on to the lead.  If I tie the horse to a rail fence then I will wrap the lead once around making sure the lead is able to slide if the horse fights. 

Time:  I will start the colt or horse out with standing as long as they can handle.  Some horse take to tying quickly others take some time.  I will start with a min of 5 minutes and max of 20 minutes the first couple of times that I tie a horse.  Just like other training we do we want the horse to know that it is accomplishing the desired response.  Some horses will paw the ground when first tied.  This is a sign of boredness or unwillingness to stand.  You can make some noise to distract the horse or get its attention.  Once the horse stands quietly for a few moments then take them and walk them around and bring them back to tie again (for horses that are pawing).  A horse that wants to pull back and fight you will want to hold some pressure with the lead let the horse fight and move behind the horse and chase them forward.  If the horse does not quickly jump forward and stop fighting then you may have to release the rope.  This will give the horse mix signals though because you will have released pressure to an unwanted behavior but if the situation looks like the horse might get hurt then you will have to start over.  Start over again and hopefully the horse will stand quietly for a few moments (1 minute or more) so as to allow you to untie and give praise. 

Safety:  The main things about safety are that the place you are tying is safe has adequate room to work and your horse can be quickly released if something goes wrong.  I always carry a sharp knife in my pocket.  This will allow you to cut a lead if something really goes wrong.  I also make sure that the fence is sturdy and if boards they will not break if there is a fight.  A broken board may cause some injury to you and your horse.  I do the tying exercise after I have already worked the horse.  This means the horse is more interested in resting then doing something else.

Be safe, have someone with you and Spend some time with your horse.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Spring Ride

In Wisconsin we are finally into Spring,  I have been out riding more on trails and outdoor arenas.  Some things to remember when assessing what areas you want to ride in.  Think about how long it has been since you rode your horse.  If like most people it was 3-4 months then your horse may have some excitement in their mind.  I suggest letting your horse have a free run in an arena or round pen.  I typically put my saddle on and let the horse get their "bucks" out.  I always do this with young horses.  The first couple rides should allow your horse to ease back into a workout schedule.  Just like you and I when we do not exercise for awhile our bodies need to get used the exercise.

If you are heading out to the trails make sure they are safe.  With melting snow and heavy rains trails can be unsafe.  Look for areas that may have washed out.  Look at the footing when going up and down hills and ditches.  I walk the trails before I start to trot and run on them.  Fallen trees could be around a corner and cause a diaster before you know it.

The outdoor arena is always a great place to ride in.  Make sure the footing is safe in the arena.  Extra water may alter the depth of the footing.  Drag the arena a few times to move the sand and dirt around to allow thorough drying and distribution of water.  Have a safe ride, enjoy the warm weather and spend some time with your horse.