Morgan Horse Temperament and Personality

Morgan horses are named after Justin Morgan, who is considered to be the founder of this breed. He acquired a colt in 1789 because of a debt payment that would become the founding sire of the breed, and would be later renamed after Morgan from the name of Figure that was originally given to him. This founding sire would have three sons, named Bulrush, Sherman, and Woodbury, and together they would create the legacy of the Morgan horse.

Morgan horses have some very specific conformation characteristics that must be met in order for the horse to be accepted for registry. This includes a broad forehead, prominent eyes that are large, a deep throatlatch, and sound legs that are straight with short cannons. Morgans are also distinctive for their overall temperament.

The Morgan horse is often considered to be the first breed that was exclusively developed in the United States. It is the official state horse of two different states and is the only registered breed that was given a commitment by the US Government. An estimated 125,000 Morgans are currently part of the global equine population. 

What Can Be Expected with a Morgan Horse?

Morgan horses tend to have tons of personality. They are very eager to please and have a superior stamina with vigor. This has led the breed to be a popular horse for a wide variety of tasks, from fighting in the Civil War to performing general farm work in the agricultural sector. These traits can still be found in the modern Morgan horse today, though their jobs have transitioned more into sporting and recreational sectors.

What attracts so many toward the Morgan over other horse breeds is the complete evenness of its temperament. This breed is extremely willing without much exception. For this reason, Morgans are often one of the top recommendations when working with horses for the first time. They are equally happy with children or adults, amateurs or professionals, and individuals or families. They are somewhat sensitive, but they are also quite forgiving. If you make a mistake, most Morgans are willing to give you a second chance – and more.

Morgans are also a very patient horse. They enjoy putting on a good show, so their curiosity and skill-development is an asset for those that perform in formal riding disciplines. They’re instantly alert when called upon to enter a show ring, no matter how long they’ve been waiting. 

This patience also translates into certain riding or racing disciplines, especially on the endurance circuits. It has also been a contributing factor to the mood stability and calmness that has been developed in other breeds as well. Morgans have been used to improve Standardbreds, Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, and Tennessee Walking Horses.

One Morgan horse, named Stepherd F. Knapp, was exported to England in the 1860s. His unique trot would be used to influence an entire generation of Hackney horses. 

There may also be additional breeds that have been influenced by Morgan genetics. Figure/Justin Morgan was known to be used as a breeding stallion quite extensively to help with owner debts over the years. Many records from those breeding efforts have been lost or were never created in the first place, so there may be more Morgans out there than anyone actually realizes. 

What Rider Is Best Suited to Work with a Morgan Horse?

Morgans are quite flexible, which makes them suitable to work with just about any rider. They are comfortable in virtually any circumstance or environment where they can be treated right. This means they are a companionable breed that will become a great riding or working partner for just about anyone.

What Morgans will not stand for is blatant aggressiveness. They are forgiving to riders who are learning what it means to work with a horse, but they are not so forgiving to those who feel like a horse/person relationship needs to be one of dominance. Morgans will become quickly uncooperative if they feel like the relationship is being used against them for some reason.

The Morgan horse is also the first American breed to compete in the World Pairs Driving Competition. There are many Morgan-specific horse shows that are held annually in the United States, with more than 1,000 horses competing annually to be the Grand Champion of the breed. 

Morgans are a proud breed. You can see it in their carriage as they hold their heads upright and tall. There is a certain zest for life that is found in this breed and they refuse to have that taken away from them. This is why they were used quite extensively in the 1800s as a carriage horse, for harness racing, and similar pulling tasks.

This is why you’ll often find Morgans being used for riding lessons, especially with beginners, because of their overall gentle nature. They’re also vital components of 4-H Clubs and similar student groups and agencies. They are wonderful therapeutic horses, especially for those that need a form of experiential therapy. They have lots of heart, plenty of athleticism, and a beauty that is all their own.

Does the Coat Color of a Morgan Dictate Its Temperament?

Unlike some other breeds, there are no coat color determinations that are believed to be present when considering the Morgan horse. There are, however, two different genetic disorders that are linked to coat color genes within this breed. They are MCOA, or multiple congenital ocular anomalies, and some Morgans carry the silver dapple allele, which can cause ocular cysts.

Morgans are also capable of developing lethal white syndrome, which is seen in foals who are homozygous for the frame overo gene. For this reason, genetic testing is often recommended for all horses who may be carriers of problematic genetics. Only one Morgan mare line in the breed has every produced healthy foals with a heterozygous frame overo. 

There are four main bloodlines that exist for Morgan horses today, with each begin referred to as a family. Each family offers a similar temperament, but there are subtle differences based on the purpose of breeding that was in place. The Working Western Family, for example, are horses that are bred for working cattle, so they tend to be more willing when it comes to work.

The US Government gave up their involvement with Morgan horses in 1951, selling their program to the University of Vermont. It is a program that is still operating today. More than 3,000 foals in this breed are born annually and registered to their local association, which makes it one of the most popular and versatile breeds that has ever come out of the United States. Much of that is due to the fact that the Morgan horse temperament is the same today as it was over 200 years ago. 

Appaloosa Horse Temperament and Personality

The Appaloosa horse is one that is courageous, intelligent, and very independent. It is also a breed that has a very fierce personality. That is why it was often the breed of choice for those who had to go into a difficult situation. It is also why the temperament of an Appaloosa horse must be considered before deciding to own or ride one.

It is true that Appaloosas are considered to be one of the best riding horses one can have today. To get the most out of this breed, however, it is necessary for the rider to know how to properly handle horses. They can be playful, mischievous, and quite stubborn – especially if they feel like they have someone who is inexperienced at the reins.

In many ways, it would be fair to compare the Appaloosa to the American Quarter Horse in terms of overall temperament. If you are able to give them some scheduled activities and a regular routine, then you will have a successful experience with this full-sized breed. 

How Do Activities Effect Appaloosa Horse Temperament?

For the most part, Appaloosa horses are typically a trustworthy horse. When there is a little give-and-take in their relationship with people, then they tend to excel. They are quite gentle and respectful when they believe their relationship is solid, but can be stubborn and somewhat aggressive if they feel like they are being abused in some way.

Appaloosas are a horse of great strength and stamina and can be a horse that is willing to please. They are a versatile horse as a breed and can be taught to be quite disciplined. You’ll find this breed working cattle, racing, and entering dressage or jumping competitions.

There may be a direct effect on the amount of energy that that Appaloosa has and the type of temperament that you’ll see on any given day. Certain horses within the breed are bred to have certain performance traits, which can lead to different personality temperaments. Appaloosas that are generally bred for racing tend to have higher energy levels on a regular basis, which means they’ll have more of a fiery disposition than an Appaloosa that was bred for riding a trail.

Every Appaloosa requires some level of activity in order to work with their natural energy levels. You’ll see more negative behaviors as an owner if the horse is kept in the stall most of the time or turned out into a small pasture or fenced-in area. Appaloosas like a certain amount of freedom to indulge their curiosity. If that isn’t allowed, then you’ll begin to see an increase in the aggressiveness that tends to come with a high spirit.

Stall toys and other distractions can help when there are times when the horse just can’t be out of the stall or a protected area for some reason, but it is a temporary solution. Appaloosas like a regular change of scenery and if they get it, then they become a very loyal companion. If not, then the horse may very well decide that it needs to be in charge instead of you. 

Is Coloring Linked to Personality with Appaloosas?

There are some that believe the coat color of an Appaloosa horse is a reflection of the temperament that the horse will have. Many are particularly attracted to those that have a dun coat. They are often described as having a wonderful, gentle nature that is quite amenable to anyone.

In reality, coat color has nothing to do with personality. You’ll know if you have an Appaloosa that is going to be somewhat difficult in temperament if the horse is quite opinionated. If you receive protests or behaviors with every request you have, then the horse is going to be less willing to cooperate. 

There are some who believe that the Appaloosa horse temperament develops based on its parents. When the dam and sire are somewhat unpredictable and stubborn, then there is a greater chance for the foal to be when it grows up as well. For this reason, many try to meet the horses that will be responsible for parentage before going through with the process since there is the thought that personality is a somewhat genetic trait. 

How Smart Are Appaloosa Horses?

It is generally agreed that Appaloosas are playful, sociable, and quite intelligent. It would also be fair to say that some Appaloosas are somewhat stubborn, especially when it comes time to get to work. Could it be possible that the stubbornness seen within this horse breed is more a reflection of their desire not to do something and so they pretend to be something that they are not?

Countless Appaloosa owners have described times on forums, Q&A sites, and their own blogs about times when they felt like their horse was pulling the wool over their eyes. It would be fair to say that if an Appaloosa can fool and experienced owner or trainer, then it is also entirely possible that this breed is capable of outsmarting the average person who isn’t as familiar with horses.

So if they are being stubborn on purpose as a way to get out of doing something or to keep doing something they prefer, what would be the reason behind such a behavior? Some might do it just to have some fun, but in reality, it is more up to a personal interpretation.

How Much Space Do Appaloosa Horses Need?

Many Appaloosas were brought up in the expansive fields of the Great Plains. There is a certain need for space and openness built into the breed. When it is received, then the temperament of the horse tends to be calm and cooperative. They also prefer to have a large water source that is readily accessible to them.

One of the most common reasons that an Appaloosa can become suddenly temperamental is the fact that this breed is very susceptible to parasites. This is because of their intense curiosity that causes them to constantly explore. The regular grooming, veterinarian care, and preventive precautions provide the horse with an added level of attention it enjoys and will keep the parasites away, so it’s a win/win situation for everyone. 

The bottom line is this: an Appaloosa horse has tons of personality and isn’t afraid to show it whatsoever. They may not be the best possible horse breed for everyone, especially for those who are just thinking about owning their first horse, but they are a loyal companion that will offer whatever is received. 

This is why it is such an attractive horse for so many, so as long as the energy levels can be properly managed, the Appaloosa horse temperament that is laidback and gentle can come forward to be seen.
 

6 Dutch Horse Breeds

The Netherlands has been a popular place to create or improve horse breeds for several hundred years. Many modern breeds have foundation stock that comes from the genetics of Dutch horse breeds. Here are the primary breeds that are known to have originated in the Netherlands.

#1. Dutch Harness Horse

Sometimes called the Tuigpaard, this is a warmblooded horse that is typically used as a fine driving horse. Its development is only fairly recent, with efforts beginning after the end of the Second World War. It is a breed that is based on the Gelderland and Groningen, with strict selection procedures in place that help to control the breeding process.

The population of this horse is not very large. There are an estimated 40 sires that are listed in the Royal Warmblood Horse Studbook of the Netherlands. Another 2,000 broodmares are also approved.

Most of the horses in this breed remain in the Netherlands, though since 2010, there are a few Dutch Harness Horses that have been imported to North America. The most notable feature of the horse is its expressive head, set on a neck that is quite high, and with shoulders that are uniform, powerful, and quite long.

It is a high-stepping trotting breed with strict conformations in terms of medical issues. This includes a radiographic exam of their joints as the presence of OCD disallows the horse to be bred. This has helped the breed to be healthy and sound, but it also causes inbreeding to be a concern.

#2. Dutch Heavy Draft Horse

The Nederland Trekpaard is a heavy draft horse that was developed after the First World War to help with agricultural and farm work. It is a breed that was first created by combining Brabant mares with Belgian Ardennes, which has causes the horse to look quite similar to the Brabant breed. Since 1925, no horses other than those from registered parents are allowed in the studbood for this breed.

The Dutch Heavy Draft Horse stands at 16 hands on average, with bay, gray, or chestnut coats the most common. It is a powerful, stocky horse that has strong shoulders and a straight profile. They are also highly intelligent, though with a calm temperament, and they tend to have a working life that is quite long.

Despite their size, these horses tend to be quite active and willing to try almost everything. Their physical care needs are often quite low as well, making them an economical horse to own. Most of the horses in this breed remain in the Netherlands. 

#3. Dutch Warmblood

The breeding program for the Dutch Warmblood did not begin until the late 1960s. There is no upper height limit for this breed, though it is primarily used for sport and competition, so tall horses are somewhat impractical from an ownership standpoint. Mares must stand at a minimum of 15.2 hands, while stallions must be at least 15.3 hands.

Most of the Dutch Warmbloods are bay, grey, chestnut, black, or brown. One approved stallion within the breed was a tobiano, so there are some white markings within some of the lineage, though additional tobiano stallions have not been approved.

The initial emphasis of the breeding for the Dutch Warmblood was to create a solid riding horse. With a shift toward more competitive events, the breed is now focused on creating dressage and jumping horses. Those with the most desirable traits for showmanship tend to have the studbook priority.

There are stringent requirements in place for this breed, which has led it to be a fairly sound and healthy breed. Congenital eye defects, bite issues, and a lack of symmetry disqualify a horse from breeding. Mild navicular changes are allowed, as is pastern arthritis.

Dutch Warmbloods are quite popular in the United States, especially as a hunter horse. 

#4. Friesian

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Friesian was a horse that was highly sought as a war horse. Their size allowed for the carrying of a knight in full armor, while their stable personality allowed them to accomplish light drafting work in addition to remaining calm on battlefields. The breed has been close to extinction more than once, but is quite popular today and in no danger.

About 7% of the horses that are in the Netherlands today are Friesian horses. It is known for its high-stepping trot and an ability to carry itself with great elegance. 

After the Second World War, the need for agricultural horses with this breed declined, causing the Friesian to become more of a recreational horse. They are used under saddle and in harness, with a particular emphasis placed on dressage. Because of their long-flowing mane and tail, they are also quite popular for ceremonial events.

Friesians are known to have four common genetic disorders that affect the breed as a whole. This includes a tendency for aortic rupture, a large esophagus, dwarfism, and hydrocephalus. Friesians are also more susceptible to insect bites than other breeds and tend to have digestive disorders more frequently.

Most Friesian horses stand at 15 hands, though the height range can vary from 14.2-17 hands. In order for a Friesian to be given a star-designation pedigree, the horse must stand at a minimum of 15.2 hands. Conformation judging is what creates the pedigree designation, so it is somewhat interpretive, but most have a low-set tail, sculpted shoulders, and a compact and muscular body.1

#5. Gelderland

The Gelderland horse is a heavy warmblood breed that was originally developed in the southern regions of the Netherlands. Originally intended to be a carriage horse that was stylish, but also strong enough to perform agricultural work, this breed has seen a decline in popularity since the 1950s.

It has a high-stepping trot like most Dutch horse breeds, which has allowed the Gelderland horse to transition into competitive riding sports.

When breeding for sport first began, Gelderlanders were crossed with Thoroughbreds to create what would become a sport-register studbook for the crossed horses. They became so popular because of their temperament and sporting ability that the half-Gelderlanders soon were in-demand more than purebred horses from this breed.

If a half-Gelderlander was registered as a sporting horse and bred with a full Gelderlander, it was allowed to be registered as a purebred horse. Over time, due to the confusion that was created, the Gelderland horse registry was discontinued. Only recently has the Netherlands allowed an official breeding program to be reinstated with a small number of known purebred horses.

Most Gelderlanders are chestnut, but bay, grey, and black are also possible. White markings are extremely common with this breed, with most in the sabino pattern, though tobiano is also possible. Gelderland horses tend to have a head that is flat and long, with a convex profile, and a neck that typically shows a muscular arch. The tail is set high and the chest is deep and full.

Despite the hotblooded genetics that have been introduced to the breed, most Gelderlanders are calm, willing, and intelligent. This makes them a family-friendly horse that is very versatile, making it a popular breed to own. 

#6. Groningen

This Dutch horse breed was originally developed for agricultural work and for light drafting duties. It is a breed that was almost lost in the mid-1900s because of the focus on creating the Dutch Warmblood breed, which left few purebred mares to help continue the breed. A recovery is currently active and operating successfully, so the breed is not believed to be in any danger at this point.

At one point, the Netherlands even revoked all of the breeding privileges for all Groningen stallions. Preservation efforts began in 1978 when the last purebred stallion was saved from a trip to the butcher. Local breeders pooled their resources and put together 20 purebred mares that could work with the single stallion In 1985, a private association was formed, which would be officially recognized in 1995. 

The traits of the Groningen include a coldblooded temperament, allowing it to complete a substantial amount of farm or carriage work. It is powerful, with a high-set neck and a level topline. Much of its initial foundation comes from Friesians, so the resemblance is not imagined. Numerous European horses were also included in the early days of foundation lineage, eventually helping to create the standards that we see today. In the past, however, the Groningen was bred to be a heavier horse due to plowing and artillery-pulling needs.

Population numbers are understandably low today because of the recent efforts to save the breed. There are 25 approved stallions and over 400 approved mares. This means the greatest health concern for the breed is still inbreeding.

These Dutch horse breeds reflect the duty and care that the Netherlands has always placed on the development of each lineage. Although there have been shifts in breeding focus that have almost eliminated some breeds, those mistakes have been corrected so that each Dutch breed will have the opportunity to succeed in the modern world.
 

Getting Ready For Competition

Entering a competition is one of the most rewarding endeavors a rider and horse can undertake together. The feeling of pride after winning a rosette knowing that months of work and preparation have paid off is one of the great joys of horse riding. To get yourself and your horse ready for competition requires lots of practice and even more patience. 

Riding in competition is a unique experience. A rider will normally spend the majority of time with their horse riding recreationally with no pressure. Competition riding is unlike recreational riding as it requires the rider to think and evaluate their surroundings differently. Equine magazine <a href="http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/features/competition-day-tips-inga-wolframm-481090">Horse & Hound</a> recognizes the challenges of competition and in their list of expert tips for success noted several key pointers that rider’s should take note of. For example, the twelfth point informs that learning to focus is key to blanking out everything that is not important. To be successful a rider must learn to be able to concentrate solely on the competition. They suggest that if you find it hard to focus it is advisable to either have a trigger word or pre-competition routine that your body will automatically associate with focusing. 

Ensuring that your horse is physically ready is a key part of competition training. When practicing for events such as show jumping many riders focus on jump techniques in isolation rather than in the continuous competition format. The best way to get your horse prepared is to practice under competition conditions. If you believe that your horse needs to improve their cardiovascular level <a href="http://www.equestrian.com/equestrianbuzz/blog/prepare-for-the-eventing-season">Equestrain.com</a> recommends hill and interval work as hugely beneficial. The site explains, “this reduces the injury associated with galloping but still gives your horse a great cardiovascular workout. Another technique we use to get horses competition fit is interval training as well as incorporating gallop work.” A rider’s confidence will be greatly increase knowing that their horse is physically prepared for the upcoming events.

One equine event that requires a very specific preparation is racing. This March is the famous Cheltenham Festival, which UK based racing site <a href="https://betting.betfair.com/horse-racing/">Betfair</a> calls “the greatest four days of racing” in a preview of the event by esteemed trainer <a href="https://betting.betfair.com/horse-racing/paul-nicholls/paul-nicholls-video-cheltenham-festival-2017-runners-preview-070317-9.html/">Paul Nicholls</a>. Marcus Armytage writing for <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/horseracing/cheltenham-festival/9117046/Schooling-horses-is-all-part-of-their-big-race-preparation.html">The Telegraph</a> reports that mentally preparing horses for events such as Cheltenham is part of the training. According to the article, this is achieved through reminding the horse of the obstacles it will face. This mental refresher can be applied to any equine event and schooling your horse to be mentally prepared will reduce the chances of unexpected halts.

The most important point in getting ready for a competition is to enjoy it. It is important to remember that many things can go wrong that are out of your control. Telling yourself before the event that no matter what happens you are going to have fun and taking pride in what you have accomplished with your horse will increase your riding confidence and performance.

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13 African Horse Breeds

The African continent is the home for several different horse breeds. Some have ancient bloodlines, while others are recent additions to the equine family. Here is a list of the current African horse breeds that are currently being developed today.

#1. Abyssinian

Horses that came out of Ethiopia in the past were all characterized by a single breed, referred to as the Abyssinian horse. Today there are several different regional distributions of eight distinct breeds that have come from this original breed. Found mostly in the northern parts of Ethiopia, the Semien Mountains are a common place to find the true Abyssinian. 

Other regional breeds or distinctions tend to focus on an attribute, such as riding, agricultural work, or competition. One variation, the Kundudo, is an endangered feral horse that is found near the city of Harar. 

#2. Barb

The Barb is a breed that is known for its stamina and overall hardiness. These horses have a temperament that can only be described as “fiery,” despite it being a light riding horse. It gallops like a sprinting horse, which has caused it to be infused into today’s racing breeds, like the Thoroughbred.

The history of the breed is believed to date back to around the year 900, when the region saw high levels of conflict. The Modern Barb is broken into specific varieties depending on its genetics, as many were bred with Asian horses to create specific attributes and traits. Most Barbs today are found in Morrocco.

#3. Basotho Pony

Standing at 14.2 hands or below in most instances, this African breed is derived from horses that were brought to Lesotho and South African from Dutch settlers in the 1800s. Over time, the breed was improved with Arabian and Persian genetics. What is unique about this particular breed isn’t its small size, but their extremely hard hooves and tough, sound legs.

These horses have a strong stamina, but are also known for being extremely fast due to their long strides. They are also fearless and sure-footed, making them an asset for multiple needs.

#4. Boerperd

This horse breed is a recreation of the extinct Boer horse and is linked to the Cape Horse. During the Boer Wars from 1880-1902, most of the Boer horses were killed either in battle or on their farms to prevent them from being used as war horses. Conservation efforts began in 1905 to save the breed. It wouldn’t be until 1996 when the Boerperd would be officially recognized by the Department of Agriculture in South Africa.

Numerous modern breeds have been influenced by the new-type Boerperd, including the Australian Waler and the Basuto Pony. 

#5. Dongola

This horse breed is heavily featured in the northern part of the African continent, with particular emphasis in Chad, Mali, Sudan, and Eritrea. It is a riding horse that bears a strong resemblance to the Arabian breed and may have its lineage foundation in the Iberian horses of the 13th century.

Dongola horses are colored much like Paint horses in the United States. Featuring a convex profile, most of the horses in this breed have a bay or reddish coating, sometimes black or chestnut, and then white markings that create a spotted look. Since the 18th century, they have been used as coach horses in addition to riding.

They have also been exported to Ireland and Germany to improve local breeds there. 

#6. Fouta

This light horse breed coming out of West Africa is the direct combination of a Fleuve stallion and a M’bayar mare. It’s also one of the most popular of the African horse breeds today, with more than 400,000 horses believed to be in Senegal alone. Not much data is available regarding registration or conservation of this breed, but they are highly prized as a racing horse.

The growth of this breed since 1945 has been phenomenal. After World War II, there were an estimated 30,000 Fouta horses in the world.

#7. M’bayar

The origins of this African horse breed are not documented, but its history does seem to be centered around Senegal and its surrounding region. Some believe that the M’bayar breed is a descendant of the Barb horses from the north. It is a stocky horse that is short in the neck, but broad in the chest. It has strong legs, but conformational defects are more common in this breed than others.

Its temperament is calm and gentle. The docile nature of the horse makes it a good family horse and it is a strong and rustic worker, making it suitable for agricultural work as well. 

#8. Nooitgedachter

Located primarily in Botswana and South Africa, this riding horse originated through a combination of Arabian and Basuto pony lineage. It is considered to be an extremely rare breed as well, with only 400 purebred Nooitgedachter horses believed to exist in the world today. Part of the reason for this is due to its modern nature. The development of this breed didn’t begin until 1951.

The stamina of this horse is outstanding, while it is also intelligent and good-natured. The bone structure is solid and good joints allow it to be highly mobile. The hooves are hard enough that many in this breed do not require shoeing.

Piebald, spotted, or skewbald coats are not permitted within the breed. Due to early inbreeding that occurred, development has been difficult up until now, as a uniform breed standard has begun to evolve. 

#9. Poney du Logone

This small horse breed is particularly common in Cameroon and Chad. It is often associated with the Musey people of the region, with it being more of an informal breed from a global perspective. About 7,000 horses are believed to exist today, making it be listed as at the brink of extinction in Cameroon. For many, this horse breed is considered to be a relic of the past.

Most of the horses of this breed reside within the flood plains of the Logone River. Many different descriptions exist for the horse because of a lack of breed standard. In general terms, this breed features a bay coat, bone structures that are well-proportioned, with a profile that is slightly convex. The Poney du Logone breed is only one of two breeds that show resistance to sleeping sickness.

#10. Tawleed

Developed in the Kartoum region of Sudan, it was formed by combining exotic breeds with local horses. They are typically used as a riding horse, but not much else is really known about this African horse breed. That is because this region of Sudan is extremely inaccessible. In general terms, the breed is believed to have a strong, sturdy frame that is slightly stocky, with well-built quarters. 

#11. Vlaamperd

This horse breed originates in South Africa and is considered to be a very rare breed. Its lineage comes from a cross of several heavy warmblood breeds, including Hackneys, Friesians, and Thoroughbreds, with the Cape Harness horse. The name literally translated to Flemish horse, which is a homage to the Frisian breeding in its foundation.

What is unique about this particular breed is that the stallions are always black. Mares can be dark brown in addition to black. Horses that have lighter coats are strictly prohibited from breeding, which has led to the low numbers of Vlaamperds. They are generally used for working in harness or for riding. It stands between 14.2-15.2 hands and has a long-legged build. 

#12. West African Pony

Located primarily in Ghana, this horse breed is closely related to the new-type Boers. Sometimes used as a general term for all pony-type breeds that originate from this region of the continent, the exact heritage is not always known. Sometimes it is referred to as a “degenerate” Barb horse instead of its own breed.

They are characterized by a neck that is short and thick, while the back is quite long. It is a strong breed with a head that is heavy and large. Known for their endurance and stamina, their temperament is remarkably easy. Many adults in this breed stand under 12 hands. Despite their lack of size, they are often used for light drafting work and guides often use them for pack work.

#13. Western Sudan Pony

Sometimes referred to as the Darfur pony, this breed can be found in the southern areas of Sudan and in South Sudan. Because of the civil conflicts that have ravaged the region over the past 10+ years, the information about this particular breed is rather limited outside of Sudan and South Sudan. The horse is known to be light bay, grey, or chestnut in coat color, with white markings believed to be common.

These African horse breeds have helped to influence numerous other breeds over the years, even as they have been influenced by more traditional breeds at the same time. Many are bred to withstand the difficult desert conditions that are often found in the region. Although not much is known about some of them, this will change over time should the region be able to stabilize.

Irish Sport Horse Temperament and Personality

The Irish Sport Horse is a unique combination of Thoroughbred and Irish Draught Horse genetics. This creates a combination of hotblooded personality traits with a coldblooded temperament.

For most of the horses in this breed, you can expect to receive an honest experience. Irish Sport Horses are willing and able to learn, but they also want to work with people who are willing and able to teach them. They tend to be willing to please, but their overall power can also make them somewhat headstrong and stubborn if they get their mind set on something.

That stubbornness can be used to the advantage of the horse and owner or trainer, making the Irish Sport Horse an excellent competition horse. It can also make a great riding horse, an excellent hunter, or whatever else may be needed. They are strong, hardy, and one of the few breeds that offers a genuine all-around experience.

Issues with the Irish Sport Horse Temperament

Although the general consensus of the Irish Sport Horse is that it is a breed that is fairly laidback, the Thoroughbred lineage within the breed does lend toward a certain aggressiveness that can be displayed at times. The horses of this breed tend to be more solitary than social, wanting to have their own personal space. If someone comes too close, whether that’s another horse or an unwanted human, then biting behaviors are somewhat common to see.

Irish Sport Horses are friendly, as long as that friendship occurs on their own terms. Sometimes this breed is described as being high-strung, but that tends to happen when the horse is asking for some extra space and is not receiving it. They have been developed as a riding horse, but don’t always like to be ridden, so bucking and kicking behaviors are also common within this breed, despite their laidback personalities.

They are bold when it comes to new experiences, skills being learned, or environments to explore. It is not unusual to have an Irish Sport Horse come back from the pasture with scrapes up and down the legs because they were inspecting something that was new or testing a fence for weaknesses. That boldness is present when they are on their own, but they do tend to get spooked in new environments fairly easily if they encounter an unknown circumstance.

Are Irish Sport Horses Predictable in Their Temperament?

Predictability is a difficult attribute to describe for a horse because each person has their own definition that they apply. Irish Sport Horses tend to prefer a certain routine to their day. Each horse tends to develop certain preferences that they want to see and will act out somewhat if their routine is disrupted in some way.

They are also a breed that has more of a sense of humor than other horses. It is not unusual for an Irish Sport Horse to cause “trouble” in an almost practical joke type of way.

For the most part, however, you will find that their predictable temperament leads to a good work ethic in most of the horses of this breed. Their cleverness and desire for fun, as well as the need to have a routine, allows them to quickly learn new skills. Their foundation genetics also helps them be tougher and stronger, but still stay fast and flexible, when called upon to do something. 

Why Are There Inconsistencies in Temperament with Some Irish Sport Horses?

For all practical purposes, any horse that is bred in Ireland and does not have confirmed breed lines will generally be labeled as an Irish Sport Horse. If you apply for a passport in Ireland and have Irish lines or unknown characteristics, the horse will be automatically put into this breed classification.

Because of this characteristic, there are several Irish Sport Horses that aren’t really part of the breed. This has led some owners, who don’t necessarily realize that this process is in place, to believe that this breed tends to be temperamental, unpredictable, or not as intelligent as they were led to believe.

Or, to put it in another way, basically any horse that was born in Ireland can be an Irish Sport Horse – even though there is a specific genetic definition for the breed. This means the final determination of temperament will depend on the actual cross of the horse.

What to Expect When Owning an Irish Sport Horse

Since Irish Sport Horses can vary because of their specific genetics, it is impossible to specifically say what an ownership experience will be like. Some horses that are given this passport or breed can be very sensitive, yet want to be aggressively social. Others tend to prefer being on their own, exploring whatever world they can. Some are curious, others are laidback, and some like to plop down in the middle of a field, stick their legs up to the sky, and let the world pass them by.

In general terms, you can expect to have a horse that is quite handsome. They’ll have tons of character, and most will keep their pace on a ride all day long. They are defensive about taking care of the people who are around them on a regular basis, but will be quick to extract an individual who isn’t willing to listen to them.

Some Irish Sport Horses do experience a temperament change as they get older. A young horse that takes care of everyone, learns new skills quickly, and loves being social can become stubborn, aggressive, and refuse to take the bit. They can also be overconfident, which leads to mistakes, which can then lead to mistrust and these negative behaviors.

They tend to be good eventers and careful jumpers. Most will learn lateral moves without difficulty. If they do not receive enough attention or exercise, this does tend to make them more skittish over time compared to horses in this breed that are constantly active. Some also tend to be a little choppy in their stride, especially if the horse is a little taller than average.

So if you’re looking for a horse that is highly opinionated, will treat you with great honesty, and can be bold when needed, then an Irish Sport Horse is a good option to consider. They have a certain craftiness to their personality that can be both inviting and aggravating all at once. If you have their respect, then they will listen and work with you. If not, then you might find yourself flat on your back when you go for a ride.

Irish Sport Horses may not always be easy to handle, but that is also one of the main reasons why they are loved so much. They are one of the breeds that is genuine, good-willed, and ready to have a good time.

Andalusian Horse Temperament and Personality

With its origins from the Iberian Peninsula, the ancestry of the Andalusian horse dates back for several thousand years. As an individual breed, the Andalusian has been recognized since the 1600s. Over this time, the conformation for the breed has changed very little. This includes the overall Andalusian horse temperament that is typically seen. 

Most Andalusians tend to be somewhat docile. They are also very sensitive as a breed and extremely intelligent. Much of what is seen from the temperament are behaviors and actions that have been shaped by their trainers and owners. If an Andalusian is treated with respect, then they offer respect back in return. They are responsive, cooperative, and quick learners for virtually any task asked of them.

On the other hand, if an Andalusian believes that it is being treated with disrespect, there will be a certain stubbornness to their actions. They will be more aggressive with those they do not respect, lack responsiveness, and be quite uncooperative.

Do the Traits of the Horse Affect Its Temperament?

In the United States, about 80% of the Andalusian horses that are registered are gray. For the other 20%, most of those are bay. Just 5% of Andalusians are dun, black, palomino, or chestnut. Other coat colors are also possible, though considered to be extremely rare, and are recognized as an allowed color for the breed registry.

Because of the coat variations that are available in the Andalusian breed, there are certain superstitions that have existed over time that have focused on the coat of the horse. This includes the placement of whorls and white markings that are on the coat. Placement of these characteristics was believed to be an indication of good luck or bad lock.

Andalusians with white socks on their feet could provide good or bad luck depending on which legs were marked. Horses that had no white markings were believed to be ill-mannered and would not be cooperative. Certain facial markings would be an indication of the horse’s loyalty, their endurance, or their honesty.

Two whorls near the root off the tail were considered to be a sign of courage. Whorls that were in places where the horse couldn’t see them were considered to be bad luck, especially when placed along the shoulder, heart, or cheek.

Health Issues with Andalusian Horses and How It Affects Temperament

Andalusians are known to experience diseases which affect the amount of blood flowing to the small intestines at a much higher rate than other breeds. Stallions tend to have higher levels of inguinal hernias than other breeds as well. According to a 2008 study by Munoz et al, more than 190 Andalusian horses were compared to over 270 horses from other breeds and it showed that Andalusians are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from these health issues. 

Andalusians are also known to suffer from a higher risk of laminitis because of these intestinal issues.

Because of this, the temperament of the horse can change somewhat if a health issue becomes present. How the trainer or owner responds to the condition of the horse will influence what its future temperament will be. Andalusians are highly spirited animals that are very sensitive to how they feel like they are being treated. If their health needs are not addressed promptly, then it is not uncommon for the horse to begin acting out in resentment.

Certain sub-types within the Andalusian breed, especially the Carthusian, may also see personality changes occur when health issues become present. Although the horses are still Andalusian, their genetic profiles have been separated from the main breed for more than 300 years in some instances. Because of this, they tend to be slightly more warmblooded compared to their counterparts.

Activities and How It Affects Andalusian Horse Temperament

For over 400 years, the Andalusian horse has been bred to be an active horse. They are consistently entered into various competitions, from jumping to dressage to pulling. In the past, Andalusians were also sought-after racing horses that could consistently win endurance races. One conformation standard, published in 1831, notes that horses at the age of 5 would be required to gallop for up to 15 miles without changing pace.

In 1925, the Portuguese military expected their horses to be able to cover 40 kilometers in just under 4 hours.

This means the Andalusian horse wants to be active on a regular basis. Negative behaviors will begin to develop if the horse is kept in its stall for a longer period of time than what is wanted. Even if you turn the horse out daily, if the horse feels like it isn’t getting enough free time, then it will begin to become uncooperative.

Andalusian horses also tend to be somewhat social, with their owners or trainers and with other horses. If Andalusians are left on their own for a prolonged period of time, their sensitivity will heighten the loneliness that is being experienced and they will begin to act out.

This issue will only continue to increase its effect on the Andalusian horse. Breeders are consistently looking to improve the competitive characteristics with the personality of the Andalusian, with an emphasis on classical dressage.

What Is the Future of the Andalusian Horse?

Andalusian horses will continue to be used for riding and driving, which has been their primary purpose since the breed’s inception. How these traits develop will be handled by the Spanish government, who is in control of the studbook. Since 2011, a lawsuit has been active to allow multiple associations to have and maintain a breed stud book, but the government has not approved any organization except one to maintain the breed.

This is despite the fact that Andalusian horses are extremely popular all over the world.

Part of the reason for this may be because of certain inconsistencies that other studbooks offer. In Australasia, for example, the registry includes purebred and partbred Andalusians, so the temperament of the horses is less consistent than with the traditional studbook. Some registries also allow for the Lusitano, a Portuguese horse that is similar to the Andalusian, to be registered alongside the Andalusian because it is believed to be genetically similar.

Whatever the case may be, the Andalusian horse temperament is one that is generally calm, willing, and social. When they receive the respect that they want, they are ready to offer it back in return. This means if an Andalusian seems to be acting out, it is because something has happened to them and they are displaying an emotional response. In many cases, the best way to interact with this breed is to address the emotional triggers instead of the behaviors that are on display.

In doing so, one is much more likely to enjoy the cooperation of the Andalusian over time. 

How to Treat Ringworm in Horses

The first signs of ringworm in horses tends to be a certain scruffiness in the coat. Ringworm can occur anywhere on the body, but it tends to be found most often on the legs and along the neck. When you take a closer look at these scruffy patches of coat, you’ll notice that the skin is flaking off. There may be dandruff clinging to the coat around the area.

The reason why this fungal infection is called “ringworm” isn’t because the infection is actually caused by a worm. It is due to the shape of the fungus as it begins to grow. You will notice a distinctive ring form on the coat of the horse. There may also be a red ring that appears on the skin.

Ringworm can be very itchy and bothersome to humans, but it does not affect horses in the same way. The skin won’t be irritated or hot underneath the coat. Most horses won’t mind that you’re coming into contact with the affected area. There will be no scabs or scrapes. Most ringworm infections are also local, so it will likely be the only patch like it on the horse. Except for this one spot, the horse will seem healthy.

Before you begin your inspection of the area, it is important that you put on your personal protective equipment. Ringworm can spread by contact, so if you touch the infected area during your inspection, the fungus can spread to your skin.

Once you’ve finished your inspection and you’re confident that ringworm is the culprit for what you are seeing, you’ll want to take the following steps to treat this condition. It may not be bothersome to the horse, but it will continue to grow until something is done to kill off the fungus.

#1. Call Your Veterinarian First

Although ringworm is hardly an emergency situation for a horse, it is important that your veterinarian know about this skin infection. The lesions are generally caused by something that is in the local pasture that the horse came into contact with over the course of their regular activities, but ringworm can be evidence that there is a reduction of the horse’s immune system response as well.

If you call your veterinarian sooner rather than later, providing them with updates of your treatment program, you’ll be able to move quickly if there is a serious situation which needs to be addressed with the health of the horse.

#2. Clip Away the Hair

In order for the treatment of ringworm to be effective, you must be able to come into contact with the skin of the horse. Any treatment that stays on top of the coat will be ineffective at best. This means you’ll need to clip away the hair around the entire region that is affected.

Another reason why it is important to take this step is that the fungus relies on keratin, the protein which is a primary component of the coat and outer skin cells, as a food source. If you remove as much of the food source as possible before you start the rest of your treatment program, it will become easier to eliminate this skin infection.

Extend the clipped region to at least one-half inch beyond the ring barrier that you see in the coat to make sure you’re treating the entire region that is affected. It is often easier to use electric clippers. Just remember to wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent the fungus from spreading to you.

#3. Wash the Affected Area

When you bathe the lesion that is caused by ringworm, you’re encouraging the premature death of the fungus that is causing it. You only need to spot-bathe the affected area. You do not need to give your horse a full bath.

Take a sponge and get the shaved area wet with warm water. Once it is wet, you’ll want to apply an antiseptic that has been approved for antifungal purposes. One of the most common products used in this scenario would be a Betadine scrub.

For tougher infections that don’t respond to Betadine, your veterinarian might recommend using Novalsan instead.

Lather up the scrub in the affected region. Allow it to stand for 10-15 minutes. Keep the horse calm during this time by relieving boredom. Groom, pet, or play based on what you know your horse likes to do.

After the antiseptic has been in place for the required time, you’ll want to rinse the spots out thoroughly, only using warm water. Then, following the rinse, you’ll want to create a slightly acidic environment in the affected area so the fungus cannot continue to thrive. You can do this by creating a vinegar/water mixture that is two tablespoons white vinegar to every 1 quart of water. You can spray the mixture on or apply it with a clean sponge.

Unless it is winter, you can towel-dry the area and then let it air dry. You may need to blow dry the areas in winter to make sure the horse remains comfortable. Immediately launder any towels that you use.

#4. Apply an Antifungal Dressing to the Affected Area

When a ringworm infection does happen, the horse becomes more susceptible to additional infections. This is especially true in the treatment area itself, where there is no longer a coat to protect the skin of the horse. For this reason, you’ll want to apply an antifungal dressing to the affected area. It will help to terminate the remaining fungi that are present on the skin while reducing the risk of a future infection.

The easiest way to apply the dressing is to first put down a thin layer of Betadine or an antifungal ointment or spray. Put it directly on the ringed area, including the skin that is within the ring, as well as the half-inch area outside of it. You do not want to cover up the lesions at this time. Simply apply the ointment.

In most circumstances, applying the antifungal ointment after cleaning out the area is only necessary once per day for the first week. If the infected site is quite large, you may wish to apply an antifungal ointment twice per day for the first week instead. After 7 days, you can reduce the ointment application to about 2-3 times per week until the lesions begin shrinking and new hair growth becomes visible.

After 14 days, you can then spot-check the affected areas to make sure the infection has cleared. Apply more ointment at any time you believe the lesions may be growing instead of shrinking.

#5. Keep the Lesions Clean and Dry

Many owners want to cover up the treated areas when ringworm is present on the horse. The thinking is that by applying a bandage, the antiseptic and antifungal applications will be able to work for a longer period of time, thus encouraging the healing process.

Here’s the problem: fungus thrives when an environment is damp and dark. This is why horses tend to get ringworm in the winter months or after prolonged exposure to precipitation. When the coat of the horse is wet and dirty, the fungus is going to find a home.

That means you need to keep the treated area clean and dry. The ultraviolet light from the sun will also help to kill the fungus.

Not every horse is going to want to stay clean and dry as you are treating the affected area. This means you’ll need to groom your horse every time they get wet or dirty to make sure the ringworm doesn’t have an opportunity to spread. You’ll also want to make sure the paddock is dry, the stall is dry, and the horse isn’t blanketed if at all possible.

If you do need to use a blanket, make sure it is never shared with other horses and is regularly laundered.

You must make sure to disinfect your premises during the treatment process as well.

You can catch ringworm. Any other livestock on your property can catch it. So can any of your house pets.

Make sure any grooming debris, clipped hair, and other remnants from the treated area are discarded into a plastic garbage bag. Use a disinfectant that is approved to kill fungus on all of your grooming equipment. Do not dilute the disinfectant and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for you.

After taking care of your horse, take care of yourself. Take a shower or bath using an antiseptic soap. Check yourself and your family for lesions every day for the next three weeks.

If there is no improvement in the horse within the next 14 days, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian once again for an evaluation.

In most cases, a home treatment plan like this one will help you be able to treat ringworm in horses very effectively. Remember to maintain good hygiene practices throughout the treatment period and you’ll be able to prevent ringworm from spreading to others.
 

13 Cool Belgian Horse Facts

Belgian horses are one of the largest draft horse breeds that exists in the world today. They are known for the large, muscular necks and mild temperament. For many beginning riders, Belgians are simply too large to successfully ride. Brooklyn Supreme, who is one of the largest Belgian horses on record to date, stood at 19.2 hands and weighed a total of 3,200 pounds. Brooklyn Supreme lived to the age of 20, dying in 1948. 

Belgian horses are easy to recognize with their stocky frame and overall strength, but these Belgian horse facts will help you get to know more than just the characteristics of this breed.

#1. The world’s tallest horse is currently a Belgian. 

The tallest horse in the world stands at 20.275 hands and his name is Big Jake. He is a gelding who was born in 2000. He weighs in at just 2,600 pounds, or about 600 pounds less than Brooklyn Supreme.

#2. Belgians suffer from a specific health condition. 

Many Belgians suffer from an inherited genetic disorder. It’s called junctional epidermolysis bullosa, or JEB for short. The disorder causes newborn foals to lose large areas of their skin and have other birth defects or abnormalities. Nearly 1 in 5 Belgian horses in North America are carriers for this disorder, with up to 30% of mares being carriers. As long as a carrier is not mated, JEB can be avoided.

#3. JEB testing is required by some breed associations. 

The Belgian breed registry in the United States requires JEB testing before a horse can be listed. By taking this step, it is believed that the disorder will work its way out of the breed over time.

#4. The breed history of the Belgian may date back to the medieval era. 

It is believed that the lineage of the Belgian breed may date back to the destriers of the Medieval era. Destriers were horses that carried knights into battle. They were also the horses that were used in jousting and other competitive tournaments. The Brabant breed is officially considered to be the foundation stock of the Belgian, with breeding in the US after World War II creating Belgians that were a bit taller and lighter than the Brabant horse.

#5. Belgians have always been considered to be a working animal. 

Belgians have always been bred to work, even today. They are often employed as farm horses, especially by communities that do not use modern equipment to take care of their fields. This horse breed doesn’t mind getting out into a field to put in a good day’s work, assuming that there is enough feed available to sustain the work output.

#6. Belgian horse meat is often considered to be a delicacy. 

Many nations do not allow for the human consumption of horse meat because of the ethical considerations of butchering horses. Horses are often considered one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet, so laws have been in place to control their slaughter. In areas were horse meat is considered a viable protein source, Belgians are prized for their tender meat, so it is often considered to be a delicacy. 


#7. A team of Belgian horses can pull a tremendous amount of weight. 

In a team competition held in Colorado, a pair of Belgian horses was able to pull 8.5 tons of weight a total distance of 7.2 feet. The team of horses weighed just 4,800 pounds in comparison. And at the Iowa State Fair, a pulling contest in the heavyweight division saw a Belgian and a Percheron pull a total of 14,600 pounds a distance of 15 feet.

#8. Belgians are the most popular draft horse in the United States. 

When the registration numbers of all draft horse breed associations are compared to one another, Belgians are the most popular horse breed of their type in the United States. The registration figures from the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America show that Belgians actually outnumber all other draft horse breeds combined.

#9. Belgian horses are one of the easiest breeds to maintain. 

One of the nicknames that has been given to the Belgian breed is “Easy Keeper.” This is because the horses are usually a very low maintenance horse. As long as they have access to their feed on a regular basis and can get some exercise every day, they are a very friendly, mild-mannered horse that will have a willingness to work.

#10. You can’t always see the feathers, but they are there with the Belgian horse. 

Belgian horses do have light feathering around their hooves. It is not as thick as the feathering on Shires or Clydesdales, but it is there. Care must be taken with the feathers to make sure that wet dirt and debris does not get trapped within them. The constant wetness of damp feathers can lead to conditions like rain rot or permit fungal infections like ringworm to begin. 

#11. Pulling contests aren’t the only way that Belgians are competitive. 

Belgians might be known for their strength in pulling contests, but that isn’t the only event where this draft horse sees some success. Halter classes and plowing classes also see regularly entries from the Belgian breed. Many open shows will also see at least a handful of Belgian entries to compete with the lighter horses. Skilled Belgians will also show up in dressage from time to time, as well as in pleasure driving classes.

#12. Belgian horses can eat a lot of food over the course of a day. 

When all of their feed is combined, it is not unusually for a Belgian horse to eat more than 50 pounds of food over the course of a day. If the Belgian is working hard, that might increase to 60-70 pounds. This can make it a little difficult for some horse owners to financially maintain the horse, especially when the added cost of feed is added to the room, board, and medical care that the horse may need.

#13. The price of a Belgian horse is often quite affordable. 

If you do love draft horses and can afford their annual care costs, then the initial price to obtain a horse from this breed is quite reasonable. Many older horses can be obtained for $5,000 or less. Even trained horses from this breed are often less than $10,000. Breeding desirability, competitiveness, and show reputation can cause the price of a horse to rise, which world champions often commanding six figures during a sale.

These Belgian horse facts show that if you want to own a mild-mannered horse that loves a good day of hard work, this is the breed to get. They might be big, but that also means they have a big heart and a lot of love to give.
 

How to Stop a Horse from Bucking

If you’re riding a horse, one of the last things you want to have happen is bucking. Bucking is an attempt to remove you from the back of the horse and can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it may just be a behavior the horse has learned to display when he doesn’t feel like cooperating any more. Bucking can also be caused by surprise, discomfort, and other triggers.

When trying to stop a horse from bucking, the first step is to understand why the behavior has started in the first place. In most circumstances, bucking is a defensive mechanism. The horse has a physical or mental trigger that is bothering him and the bucking helps him to feel better. When horses feel threatened, they bring the head down, funnel the energy through their shoulders, and lash out.

In many instances, the instructions to stop bucking behaviors are about teaching the horse that bucking doesn’t relieve the attack pressure they feel from their physical or mental trigger. Trainers or riders would stay on the horse until there was no attack energy left in the animal, with the goal to “break” the horse from its fight-or-flight habits.

In reality, bucking is an athletic trait that we want to be able to harness into a behavior that we see as more positive. We want to establish a relationship with the horse so that he doesn’t feel an attack pressure when sporting a rider. This means we need to teach them to funnel this energy elsewhere instead of breaking them.

Would you rather have a horse that wants to jump a high fence? Or a horse that sits in his paddock all day, never moving, because his spirit is broken and he doesn’t know how to defend himself properly?

Begin to Stop Bucking By Teaching the Heeding Process

When a horse is going to start bucking, you’ve got about 2 seconds to recognize what is about to happen. The horse is going to put his head down, shifting his weight onto his front end. If that can movement is successful, a large torrent of energy can be released through the shoulders and hindquarters.

You have three opportunities to stop this behavior before it starts so you can capture the energy and direct it to something else. This is the Heeding process.

Heeding is the ability to pay attention to your horse at all times. You know every stride of the horse and know how the horse tends to respond in different situations. Because you have this knowledge, you can recognize when the horse is about to throw his weight forward.

As soon as the horse begins to duck his head so that his weight can be shifted, squeeze your legs into the horse. Ask the horse to keep moving forward with the same rhythm as before. Give this command the instant you recognize that bucking is about to begin. Even if you missed the head coming down, you can still squeeze with your legs and ask the horse to keep moving forward as the horse begins to shift his weight.

Even if the horse has managed to shift all of his weight, you still have an opportunity to issue a command to move forward by squeezing your legs. Use both legs in the same squeeze and rhythm as you would in any other circumstance. If you are afraid and apply more pressure than normal, it may confuse the horse and become a secondary trigger that continues the bucking behavior instead of stopping it.

Keep Driving with the Horse to Encourage an Energy Transfer

I don’t feel like my horse will respond to side pressure from my legs when the fight-or-flight mechanism is engaged. Isn’t there something else I could do?

When you’re riding a horse, you’ve got plenty of aids at your disposal that can help you teach the horse to transfer the energy from bucking into forward movement or a jump command. You can shift your weight in the saddle when you sense the horse ducking his head to encourage him not to proceed with that behavior. You can also keep your back and stomach soft, following the motion of the horse, continuing the process of driving forward.

But the commands can’t just be drive, drive, drive. A horse that is not relaxed in his stride is a horse that is waiting for a trigger so that it can institute bucking or another self-survival tactic. You need to drive, then relax. Drive, then relax. And continue on in this pattern.

A natural reaction to bucking from riders is to stop the movement of the head. The problem with this reaction is that it tends to tighten you up as a rider. You’re stopping the forward movement of the head through muscle strength alone, which means the horse can buck you right off if he continues on anyway. If you allow forward motion with your hands, keeping your seat and back relaxed, then you’re going to stay more in the natural rhythm and stride of the horse.

Now as you give commands to the horse to stop bucking and move forward, the first few times are going to make you feel like you’re on a rocking chair. There will be a lot of movement back and forth. As long as you are calm and keep your cool throughout the process of discussing with your horse what he should be doing, over time the horse can learn that your command can funnel the fight-or-flight energy into something you both liked to do.

What If My Horse Bucks When He’s Fresh Out of His Stall?

Many horses tend to buck when they’re fresh out of their stall because of the pent-up energy they have from being in there. The freedom allows them to stretch out, feel free, and get some of that extra energy out. It’s sort of like having three kids stuck at home with nothing to do. Eventually that energy needs a release… and that energy release usually results in a behavior that is somewhat destructive.

If the horse is only bucking after you bring him out of the stall, you may just wish to allow him to expel that energy. Once the extra energy is gone, the horse may be fine and ready for a ride. Sometimes you may wish to work him with the lounge or put him into a round pen. Both options may help to expel the extra energy without bucking, so the safest course of action really depends on what your goal happens to be with the horse

Competitive riders will want to harness the energy from bucking, so wasted energy fresh out of the stall will affect the ride. You’ll want to teach the horse to stop bucking much in the same way you’d stop him during a ride. For recreational riders, however, the round pen or the lounge may be safer solutions to implement.

When a Horse Bucks Because of Pain or Discomfort

If you have a horse that is bucking because they are uncomfortable for some reason, you don’t have the same energy to channel. To get the behavior to stop because of pain or discomfort, you must provide relief to the horse.

Sometimes a horse bucks because the tack is painful for some reason, so he’s trying to escape from the equipment to find relief. If a saddle is not fitted properly or there is a problem with a shoe, a horse can decide that bucking might be the best option to try relieving the pain that is being experienced. 

You may need to consult with your veterinarian if you suspect pain or discomfort is causing the bucking, but you cannot locate the source. Remove the source, you’ll stop the bucking.

In older horses, bucking can seem like it is because of discomfort, but in reality it is just a game. Some older horses like to show people that they are the ones in charge during a ride. If you suspect it is a game, then this is a reflection of your relationship with the horse. Spend more time with him, maybe get after him a little less, and you might see some positive changes in the behavior.

Knowing how to stop a horse from bucking means having the skills to ride yourself and the horse through the energy transfer. You don’t need to crank up the head of the horse or strap yourself down for a wild ride. You just need to teach the horse that there is a better way to use the energy which comes from the fight-or-flight mechanism. Your confidence in the horse can give the horse the confidence he needs to transfer this energy.

Like with the “breaking” process in the past, by adding pressure to the horse and making use of your aids, you can teach your horse that bucking won’t offer him the reward he wants. Once the horse realizes this, he’ll give up the behavior for good.
 

Explanation of Hanoverian Horse Temperament

Originally developed in Germany, the Hanoverian is a horse breed that is considered to be warmblooded. It can often be seen in competitive events, especially with the English riding style, because of its temperament and willingness to work. This breed is one of the oldest breeds in the world that is considered to be warmblooded, one of the most numerous breeds in the world with this temperament, and often considered to be one of the most successful breeds.

The Hanoverian was originally intended to be a carriage horse. Over time, Thoroughbred genetics were infused into the breed, allowing it to become agile and competitive. It is a breed that is known for its grace, beauty, and overall good temperament.

What Does It Mean to Be a Warmblooded Horse?

Warmblooded horses are generally average-weight horses that are typically bred for sporting events or other forms of competition. Warmbloods generally have open studbook policies and selection processes, though this is not always the case for breeds that are just beginning to establish themselves. The goal of the Hanoverian breed is to maintain the positive characteristics that are already in place with personality and temperament, while still being able to add a certain level of sophistication to the horse while still keeping the breed genetically diverse.

Since 1888, the Hanoverian has been one of the most popular breeds in Europe, initially used for coach and army work. This preference continued through the end of World War I, especially since its gaits and temperament allowed it to work as a riding and carriage horse. It wasn’t until the years after World War II when the modern temperament of the Hanoverian was developed.

Hanoverians are willing and trainable because this characteristic has been bred into the breed whenever possible. In the early days of the breed, only stallions that had passed a thorough inspection, which included temperament, were allowed to be part of the studbook. Although there is more of an open policy today, the goal is still the same: to keep the warmblood nature of the Hanoverian present in each animal.

The end result is a horse that is robust, elegant, and strong. They have strong backs and a powerful body, which allows them to have athletic movements that are distinctive within the breed. The only regulations regarding the breed in terms of appearance involve limiting the amount of white that is present in the coat and certain minimum size qualifications.

Most Hanoverians are about 16-16.2 hands in size, but can be up to 17.2 hands in some instances. Every coat color is possible, including buckskin, cremello, and palomino, but the Hanoverian registry does not allow those coat colors to be officially registered.

The Personality Traits of the Hanoverian Horse

The physique of the Hanoverian might be the first thing that catches the eye of the average person with this breed, but its personality and temperament are often a close second. For the most part, the Hanoverian is a horse that has an outstanding attitude. The breed as a whole is somewhat docile in its approach to humans, but it is still a determined horse that is ready to work with its owner or rider.

Hanoverian horses are also very disciplined in their approach to life. Once they have learned a new skill or trait, they keep at it. They can implement it with consistency. Behavior traits that most would consider to be negative will only develop if the Hanoverian is not worked with on a regular basis.

The intelligence of the Hanoverian could be challenging for some owners, since horses that are left to their own devices within this breed tend to find themselves getting into trouble on a regular basis. They are a highly social breed as well, so the warmblooded characteristics can begin to fade if the horse is not given a stall mate and is not tended to on a regular basis by their owner or rider. 

This means the Hanoverian is a horse that typically seems taller than other horses, despite the fact that it is a mostly average horse in height and weight. In many ways, their temperament is closer to the cold-blooded drafting breeds, but they still have the drive to compete, train, and explore quite often. 

There Is Rigorous Testing Within the Hanoverian Breed

The breed associations for the Hanoverian breed often encourage the best horses to be bred, encouraging the temperament and athletic traits that have made this such a beloved horse on the competitive circuits. There are also health concerns within the horses, however, that must be judged in both stallions and mares so that heritable defects do not alter the genetics of the breed in a harmful way.

One of the most common health issues that affects Hanoverian horses is osteochondrosis. This disease affects the cartilage and bones in the joints of the horse as it grows. It’s most often found in the fetlocks, creating lesions that may encourage fluid buildup, small fractures, or destruction of the cartilage itself. Over time, this disease can cause osteoarthrosis to develop in the horse, contributing to Wobbler disease and other health issues.

Up to 10% of Hanoverian horses may have osteochondrosis in the hock joint. Up to 24% of them will have it in a fetlock joint. 

Hanoverian horses typically have a head that is straight, but well-defined. It has ears that are somewhat smaller than other warmblooded breeds, but the eyes are clear and curious. The neck of the Hanoverian is noticeably muscular, yet somewhat slender when compared to other breeds. The chest of this breed is deep and broad, the legs sturdy, but the joints flexible despite the health issues that some horses tend to have. 

How the Hanoverian Breed Continues to Remain Docile

Breeders within the Hanoverian breed are constantly seeking out new ways to make sure the health issues of the horse can be reduced, but the personality and temperament of the breed can be maintained. Many fanciers look outward to other breeds, crossbreeding other genetics into the Hanoverian breed so that the horses can continue to rise in sophistication, grace, and gentleness.

This means the Hanoverian horse can be a good family horse in addition to being a high-energy competitive horse. As long as there are ample riding and work opportunities for the horse, the patience, strength, and speed of this breed is going to shine forth every day. That is why this breed is highly valued and will continued to be for generations to come. 
 

How to Halter a Horse

Knowing how to halter a horse means getting the approach right. Before you can even get started with this skill, you will want to walk up slowly to the horse. Most prefer an approach that occurs on the left side. Talk gently as you make the approach as well, allowing the horse to recognize that you are there. This will prevent the horse from becoming spooked.

Take a moment to hold out your hand when you get within a couple feet of the horse. Give an opportunity for your fingers to be sniffed, allowing the horse to recognize that some stranger hasn’t arrived in the pasture or stall. Once the horse becomes comfortable, you’re ready to begin the process of haltering the horse.

The following steps will help you accomplish this task successfully.

#1. Get the halter ready for placement. 

From the left side of the horse, you will want to position the halter so that it is facing in the same direction as the head. Make sure that the halter is unbuckled. It is also helpful to make sure that you have the lead rope attached to the halter.

#2. Pass the lead rope. 

Still standing on the left side of the horse, pass the end of the lead rope under the neck of the horse with your left hand. Then put your right hand over the neck of the horse and take the lead rope out of your left hand. This should let you have the rope around the neck of the horse. Hold both ends of the rope in your right hand at this point. It helps to prevent the horse from wandering off because he’s decided that the halter isn’t wanted right now.

#3. Pass the halter strap. 

Now you’ll want to position the loop so that you can pass the halter strap to your right hand. Follow the same process that you used to pass the rope.

#4. Position the halter near the head of the horse. 

Now that you’ve got the unbuckled halter in your left hand, you’ll want to have it close to the head of the horse. This will allow you to take your other hand and slide the noseband over the muzzle of the horse. Keep moving the halter upward, guiding the headstall over the ears of the horse.

#5. Be careful when working around the ears. 

Your horse might seem willing to accept the halter, but the ears might be telling a different story. Twitchy ears betray an irritated horse. If there is heavy movement within the ears, take a pause in the process and use some time to calm the horse down some more. You may also wish to check on the tightness of the halter around the muzzle, as discomfort there can lead to the irritation that is seen.

#6. Guide the halter over the ears. 

Your horse will have a preference in having the ears folded forward or backward. Use whatever method is preferred by the horse, then guide the halter over the folded ears. This will prevent any discomfort around the muzzle that may occur from trying to pull the halter over the ears instead. You will be up close to the eyes of the horse as you do this, so take extra care not to accidentally poke them or cause some other form of discomfort. This step will usually take both hands, especially if this is one of the first times you’ve put a halter on a horse. You may wish to have someone hold the lead rope for you. 

#7. Affix the halter so that it is secure. 

If you’re still holding the lead rope, you can let it go if the horse is comfortable. If not, you may wish to have someone hold it for you even if you’ve been doing all the work on your own up to this point. That’s because you will need to make sure that the halter has been placed correctly and that it is secure. You’ll need to buckle the halter under the throatlatch, making sure that it is tight enough to stay in place, but loose enough that it won’t be bothersome. It may be a clip, buckle, or knot that you’ll need to work.

#8. Grasp the lead lines. 

Now you’re ready to go. Just remember to avoid wrapping or tying lead lines around your hand because the horse may decide to bolt at any time. Stand to the side of the horse at all times while you have the lead rope as well. At this stage, you’ve accomplished the task of placing a halter on the horse.

Knowing how to halter a horse is an essential skill that every horse owner must be able to do. With some care and patience, you can follow these steps to have a successful experience.

What Happens if My Horse Refuses During These Steps?

In a perfect world, the horse will see your approach with the halter. The horse will then come to you, ready to put on the halter. So you hold it out as an invitation, the horse slips right into it, and you’re on your way in seconds. You don’t even need to loop the lead rope around the neck because the horse loves having their personal halter placed on them.

In the real world, the experience can be very different. A horse may respond with discomfort, irritation, or even disrespect when your presence has been noticed.

If the horse turns their back on you as you approach, then this is a sign of avoidance. It’s a communication tool that says, “I don’t want to have you put on this halter right now.”

You might also see the horse place their face into a stall corner, run to the edge of the pasture, or even become physically aggressive when you approach with the halter. These behaviors occur because at some level, the horse has decided that spending time with you is a negative experience.

In order for you to follow the steps that are necessary to halter the horse, you’ll need to work on turning those negatives into positives.

There are several issues that you may encounter as you work to secure the halter to the horse that communicates you are being seen in a negative light.

  • Raising their head upward to the point where you cannot place the halter above the ears.
  • Pushing their head into you as you attempt to place the halter on the muzzle.
  • Slinging the head so that you cannot get the halter properly positioned in the first place.
  • Nipping or biting behaviors.
  • Shoving their head into the halter and then continuing to press forward, attempting to use their shoulder as leverage against you.

If you see the ears of the horse are pinned back or you can see the whites of their eyes (or both), then it is more than just a negative experience the horse has associated with you. They are emotionally afraid of you or the halter at this stage. Being stubborn about the halter placement process on a fearful horse is a recipe for either you, the horse, other horses, or everyone to be injured.

So if your horse rejects the halter, either initially or during one of the steps, then it is important to slow down and spend some time on the areas that are problematic. Work to see if you can get the horse to relax. Sometimes chewing some hay or playing a favorite activity can be enough to reduce the pent-up energy that can fuel fear or stubbornness. Show the horse that there is nothing to be afraid of during a certain step.

And make sure the halter properly fits or isn’t rubbing the horse in a way that is not liked. If the halter is uncomfortable, then the horse is going to associate a negative experience to it and will not want to wear it in the future.

Are You Ready to Pass the Halter Test?

The ability to place a halter on a horse is an easy way to gain an insight into the thinking of a horse. It can also give you insights into yourself. The relationship you have with your horse requires that you lead and the horse follows. If you have negative energy, then the horse is going to have negative energy.

If you are impatient with the process, the horse is going to respond in kind.

So be positive about this process. Follow each step with confidence. When you encounter resistance, stop and work with the horse so that comfort can return. Over time, you will see in most horses that any tension with the halter will begin to erode and eventually disappear.

Knowing how to halter a horse might be a required skill and a basic necessity, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to accomplish. By following this guide, you’ll be able to reduce the risks of rejection from the horse so that you can be successful.
 

How to Tie a Horse Halter

Knowing how to tie a horse halter properly will help your horse be more comfortable. It will also give you the confidence you need to properly train the horse in specific tasks. Many horse halters come ready to slip-on over the head of the horse, but they can cost thousands of dollars – which is cash you might not have at all.

This guide will help you be able to tie your own. A knotted horse halter should generally be used with a lead rope only. Here are some notes of caution to consider before you get started.

  • Hand-tied halters should not be left on a loose horse.
  • Halters that are tied by hand can break loose if the horse is tied up with it.
  • Horses that fight with tied halters can experience cuts.

Use with your own personal discretion. If you have any concerns, then use a standard halter instead of a rope halter and speak with your veterinarian about what the best practices for your horse should be.

You’ll need about 20-25 feet of polyester rope that is at least 0.25 inches thick. You will also need to make sure that the ends of the rope have been properly sealed.

How to Tie Knots for a Horse Halter

#1. Take your rope and fold it in half. At the center point, you’ll want to tie a simple overhand knot. Make sure the knot is snug. To the left of this knot, tie another simple overhand knot. You should end up with two knots that are about 11 inches from each other. Adjust if necessary until they are, then tighten them up. Then take the rope and fold it with the two overhand knots together.

#2. Now you tie your fiador knot or a large overhand knot. Take the right side of the rope and loop it over both strands. Then take the same strand and cross it up and over. This will create a second loop that is opposite of the first. Anchor the rope with a finger, then take the same strand of rope and make another loop over and then under the first loop. Pull the rope all the way through and straighten everything out.

#3. Go to the other overhand knot you haven’t addressed yet. Take the strand of rope and put it over the loop and then pull it all the way through. Straight out the loop once again. Then take the end and put it under the first and second loop you made previously, pulling it over the fourth strand of the loop. Now loop it around, taking the end and going over, under, and under the two sections that cross. Then split the bottom two: over the first and under the second. Hold the knot to anchor it while you pull the rope through. Take the end of the strand and go through the center, under the two piece of rope at the top of the loop. Pull to modestly tighten. 

#4. Now take the top strands of rope and put them together. The outside bottom loops need to be folded together. Pull upward on the top strands and down on the bottom loops. It’s okay if the bottom loops are not even. Keep pulling up on the strands to tighten. You will want about 7 inches from the middle of one upper loop to the other (the distance between the fiador knot and the overhand knot), so adjust as necessary to get the correct measurement. Each loop should be about 2.5 inches in length.

#5. Now you add a double overhand knot. Take the piece of rope that is furthest away from you and create this knot. Then take the other piece of rope and put the end through the center of the overhead knot.

#6. You will now go up, over, and back under the piece of rope you were just working with. Pull the rope out of the end and then send it through the loop, right through the center of the knot. Pull the strands to tighten everything up. You should have about 7 inches from your double overhand knot and the fiador knot at this point. Loosen up the knots to adjust them if you need to do so in order to get the correct distances.

#7. Now you’re ready to create the tie loop. Take the piece of rope closest to you and tie an overhand knot, followed by a loop knot. Put it through the center of the overhand knot, leaving a loop on the end. Pull the rope until you get a loop that is about two inches in measurement. Then go up and over the overhand knot, bringing it under the knot, then taking the end of the rope and putting it through the center of the loop. It must also go through the knot. Then tighten by pulling on the end and the loop.

#8. You will then need to do your cheek pieces. The cheek pieces should measure about 11 inches from the loop knot to the nose-band knot you previously created. Loosen the knot and take the piece of rope you have so that it can slide through the middle of the knot. You’ll be making another double overhand knot. Cross the rope over and go under the cheek piece. Then take the end and you’ll need to go through the middle of the knot. Pull it to tighten, sliding it up or down to maintain your measurements. Then to straight the halter, pull up on the noseband section and down on the fiador knot. You want them to be even. 

#9. Next work on the nose band. Pull the end through the center of your simple overhand knot, creating a double overhand knot. Pull the rope through the center and then go over the top. Take the rope and go under and then pull it through all of the access. Then you must take the end, go through the loop you created, and through the center of your first overhand knot. Tighten it. Then pull on the fiador knot and up on the nose band piece to make sure it is even.

#10. Follow the left cheek instructions to create the right cheek piece.

It takes about 2 weeks to learn how to tie a horse halter on your own using just a rope. Once you get this process down, it will save you a lot of time and money when it comes to being able to train your horse. Give it a try today, start practicing, and you’ll find that this can be a very rewarding skill to develop.
 

How to Train a Reining Horse

Once you have your horse in a position where they are relaxed in an open area, able to work on forward motion, then you’re ready to begin teaching some basic reining maneuvers. Basic skills are needed when learning how to train a reining horse, which means focusing on certain patterns. Spins and stops, small slow circles, and fast large circles should be the first stop on your journey.

Before beginning the training process, your horse needs to be mentally ready for reining. The horse should be confident and quiet with you and its surrounding. For most horses, this process will take a minimum of 30 days.

Here is where you’ll want to begin.

#1. Teach the horse to find its circle. 

Once you feel like a horse is ready to begin learning, then the first step is to teach them how to find their circle. Warm up the horse and then begin to lope on either the right or left lead, depending on the direction that you are going. Stay in one end of your arena and steer them with the neck rein. The goal is to help them stay in the circle, so correct them and direct them back into it if they attempt to leave on their own. Once the circle is locked, reward the horse and take a break. Work both directions every day.

You don’t want the horse to wander while finding its circle. If you cross the reins, keeping four fingers between them, then you can maintain this control. It will help the horse to walk with a cadence and rhythm that has a purpose to it. Once comfort is learned with this skill, you’ll be able to have the horse pursue circles of the same size with an equal purpose. Eventually the circle will become locked and the horse will do it on his own.

#2. Teach lateral flexibility from a movement perspective. 

Horses tend to respond better to the reining process when they are in movement. If you are asking the horse to begin a spin from a standstill, the need to have lateral flexibility from a dead stop can be difficult to execute. Allow the horse to experience pressure with the basics of the spin with head pressure toward the knee with movement. If all you do is crank the nose around in each direction, the horse isn’t going to learn anything and end up having a sore back and a negative memory of the situation.

Holding the nose as a barrier will allow you to make the circles larger or smaller, depending on what you’re teaching at the moment. You can make the circles smaller while moving forward to take a lateral step instead of a forward step for horses that may resist lateral flexibility. Once you receive the lateral step, reward the horse immediately. Give the horse a release and let him get out of the circle. 

#3. Begin the basics of the spin. 

You can begin teaching a reining horse the basics of a spin by getting control of their shoulders. With the horse motionless, lay the neck rain and open your inside hand so that you can gently pull the nose of the horse in the direction of the spin. Bump with your outside leg until you receive a step in the direction of the spin that you’re asking the horse to do. Sideways movement from the shoulders is what you’re looking for. Reward the horse for the first step, then repeat. It’s not a natural movement for the horse, so it can take some time for one step to evolve into 2 and then 3 steps.

Once you can achieve lateral steps with consistency, keep asking for an additional step before offering a reward. Keep going until you can achieve a full circle. This will encourage the horse to be held so that lateral steps can continue until you request them to stop. You may need to build up to this point gradually. Once the horse learns the correct move, he will do it for as long as you ask. It’s getting to that point which takes the most time. 

#4. Watch for a slackness in the jaw. 

As the horse begins to spin, you may experience some pulling. If the horse pulls, there is no need to pull back. Just place your elbow into the ribcage of the horse so that your arm cannot move. This will have the horse pull against it, but continue without pulling back. Once you see the jaw begin to soften, the horse will begin to quit pulling. At this point, you can give a full release because the horse is doing what you’re asking.

Your horse should be able to perform lateral flexibility in either direction without resistance. The response should be soft and responsible every time, with the horse giving the nose willingly without stiffness or hesitation. When this occurs, you’re ready to begin the next step. 

#5. Start the teaching process to learn how to stop. 

It is more effective to encourage the horse to engage their natural tendency to stop. This makes the learning process in this skill faster for the horse because there isn’t the need to learn an artificial stop. Many reining horses are naturally adapted to the stop almost immediately, but you may need to ask your horse how to slide. Avoid directing the horse to drive hard with the hind quarter to stop without any give. Try working from fence to fence, teaching them not to be afraid of it. Get to the stop at the fence and stay there for some time in a relaxed manner. Then repeat the back and forth until the slide is learned. Release pressure whenever all forward momentum has come to a stop.

The goal with the stop is to teach the movement first, then the reason why second. Horses will stop naturally on their own when they encounter an obstacle they do not like. By associating this mechanism with the command, you can give the horse an ability to immediately recognize what you’re asking. Once this occurs, you’ll need to disassociate any fear from the command by rewarding the horse for the behavior. Encourage stops away from fences or obstacles and heavily reward there as well. This is why stopping can be learned so quickly. 

#6. Work on the art of collection. 

Collection happens when the horse is able to carry more weight on their hind quarters than their front legs. This causes the forehand and back to become raised. Horses can move with greater accuracy with sudden changes through this process. Ask the horse to move forward, holding your elbows against your ribcage so that the upper body and arms do not move. This stops you from pulling back on the reins, confusing the horse as to what you are asking. Then push the horse forward into the bridle while maintain steady contact. The horse will decide on the weight.

It is not unusual for horses to resist moving in a collected frame. There may be head shaking, pinned ears, and other negative behavior responses. It is important to note that the horse is pushing against their own will at this point. If the neck arches, allow a little slack in the reins, then repeat until the barriers are removed. 

#7. Teaching the two-track is usually the simplest component of reining.

Horses that are relaxed and having fun will be naturally encouraged to start when you ask them. Initiate the command and encourage the horse to two-track with slight pressure around the sides. Release the pressure when the forward momentum begins, encouraging the direction with pressure on the outside leg. This leaves the horse with a head and neck that are pointing forward in the direction traveling while the hind quarters are moving in the direction you’ve asked.

Once a horse can get these basics down, he can be taught virtually any additional skill. The basics don’t require the horse to have a specific talent and you don’t need to be a master trainer to get this done. You just need to understand your relationship with the horse and the basics of the skills that you’re attempting to execute.

The more you are consistent with each skill as you execute the basics, the faster the horse will be able to learn what you’re asking of it.

#8. Keep practicing. 

Once you get the combinations down, you need to keep practicing them. Enough time must be taken so that the basics are well-established in the mind of the horse. You want the horse comfortable doing only what you ask. If he is comfortable doing it another way, you’re likely to get an unexpected response.

Knowing how to train a reining horse ultimately means having patience in yourself and in the horse as it learns new skills. Take your time, focus on the movements, and be willing to call it a day if you encounter resistance. The horse will follow your lead, so be confident and you will eventually have a successful experience with these steps.
 

How Much Grain to Feed a Horse

It’s been said that you can “lead a horse to water, but you can’t force them to drink.” That may be true, but if you lead a horse to grain, there’s a good chance that horse will eat.

If you feed too much grain to a horse, then obesity can develop over time. Overweight horses might appear to be “cute” to some, but the added weight can lead to serious health issues like laminitis.

Knowing how much grain to feed a horse can sometimes be difficult to determine. Some horses get more exercise than others and require more calories. Others may get plenty of exercise, but shun the pasture. And since 75% of the cost that comes with owning a horse can be directly associated to their feed, it is important to get this right.

How to Determine a Balanced Ration for the Horse

All feeds must be free of dust and mold. Overfeeding the horse is wasteful, while underfeeding the horse can lead to nutritional deficiencies. This is why finding a properly balanced ration is essential to the long-term health of the horse. Here are some of the best practices that are worth following when it comes to feeding.

  • Most horses can be given as much hay as they will eat.
  • For horses that are just starting on grain, it is usually safe to start the horse with a half-pound of grain every day for every 100 pounds of body weight. Since the average horse weighs about 1,100 pounds, this would result in 5.5 pounds of daily grain.
  • Add another half-pound of grain to the horse’s feed on every third day until you begin to see a noticeable decline in roughage consumption.
  • Feed horses regularly. During the warmer months, horses tend to prefer eating during the cooler hours of the day, so expect earlier and later feeding periods.
  • Feed horses their grain before feeding them roughage.
  • Expect to feed at least 2-3 times every day.
  • Avoid changing the type of rations that are provided or any sudden schedule changes. This can result in the horse going off of its feed.
  • Exercise the horse every day as medically advised.
  • Regularly inspect the dental health of each horse to ensure there is no discomfort during the eating process.

A healthy horse can easily eat 2.5 pounds of air-dry feeds every day for every 100 pounds of body weight. It is important to remember that this includes hay in addition to the grain that you would put into the bin. By calculating out the total weight for each feeding, you can then avoid over- or under-feeding. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Feeding Grain to a Horse

Grain should not be the primary component of a horse’s feed. This means there must be a greater amount of attention paid to the foraging process. Hay and pasture grass will support good horse health. Look for hay that smells sweet and fresh for best results. Musty odors are a sign of mold, heavy dust, and nutritional deficits.

Good hay also feels soft to the touch. Poor hay feels course and can scratch the skin. It should also have no foreign materials, few weeds and be mostly leaves instead of being all stems and seedheads. If you have poor hay, the horse will want to eat more grain and that can lead to an unbalanced ration.

Here are the other mistakes you’ll want to avoid when feeding your horse.

  • Grains are treated as a feed concentrate. It is common to feed grain twice daily, but the total amount should never be more than 0.5% of the horse’s total weight in any single meal. If the horse still seems hungry, then encourage more hay consumption or turn the horse out for a longer period of time in their pasture.
  • Avoid feeding horses by volume. This is especially true for grains, which can vary widely in weight. If you have a full container of corn, it is going to feel heavier than other grains. Even pelleted feeds with mixed grains can have different volumes, so make sure what goes into the trough is based on weight instead of volume.
  • Feed the correct grain to the horse. Many grains are bagged and separated for easy classification and purchase for owners. You’ll find foaling grains, adult grains, senior grains, and even activity-based feeds. Each grain is formulated with specific nutrients and minerals that the horse needs. Choose the correct one to make sure you don’t increase the risks of abnormal growth.

The bottom line is this: if the recommended minimum serving of the feed is more than what your horse should receive based on weight, then you’ve got the wrong feed.

How to Avoid Overloading the Nutrients

Many feeds today are infused with specific supplements that a horse needs for good health. Some owners feel like their horse may need specific supplements added to their diet in addition to the hay and grain, but this is usually not needed. Supplements should only be added when grains or feed do not provide the right balance of rations for some reason.

Supplements should also be considered a temporary option.

Mineral and nutrient toxicity is very common in horses that are fed grains and supplements which contain similar ingredients. Common toxicity issues involve Vitamin A and Selenium as they are often found in commercial feeds and commercial vitamin supplements.

Salt is another important component of a balance ration. Horses will consume the salt they need if it is provided to them. Giving the horse a salt block in their pasture is the easiest way to supplement the nutrition that the grains and hay can provide the horse. Placing a salt block in a stall can be dangerous, so it should be avoided, because a bored horse can overeat salt.

As a final step, it is also important for horses to have free-choice fresh water available to them. Withholding water from a horse is not a good idea. Cold water given to a hot horse will not increase the risks of colic, despite frequent advice to the contrary.

Water access reduces the risks of an impaction colic event, especially when dried forage is being used for feed. It may be necessary to provide more than one source of water to the horse so they can maintain a balanced ration.

Knowing how much grain to feed a horse can lower the risks of an adverse health event from occurring. If you are unsure of what grains to feed your horse, then speak with your local veterinarian about coming up with a specific feeding plan. This will allow you to pick out the right grain at the right weight so the horse can have a long and happy life. 
 

How Much Does an Average Horse Weigh

The average weight of a horse is 1,100 pounds.

There are, however, 400+ different breeds of horses that are recognized to some extent in the world today. Each of these breeds has its own average weight to it as well, which means some horses may weigh more or less than 1,100 pounds and this would be considered completely normal.

For most adult horses, the weight range is generally somewhere between 840 pounds to 2,200 pounds. 

How to Figure Out How Much a Horse Weighs

There are several different ways to determine how much a specific horse actually weighs. Of course the ideal method of figuring out how much a horse weighs is to use a scale. Unfortunately, the cost of horse scales is prohibitive, so being able to access them can be somewhat difficult.

For this reason, the easiest way for many owners to weigh their horse is to use a public weigh bridge. Most communities have at least one bridge that can be accessed. You will find them at landfills, junkyards, scrap yards, and similar locations. Contact the facility, tell them what you’re wanting to do, and make sure you have time to unload the horse from its trailer.

Take the trailer with the horse onto the public weigh bridge and have the facilitator get the weight reading. Then pull off to the side, unload the horse, and have the trailer weighed once again. This will give you an accurate weight for the horse.

If you’re confident in your knowledge of the trailer weight because you have the equipment specifications in front of you, then you can just weigh the horse and trailer together. Then subtract the specification weight of the trailer from the figure you are given to figure out the weight of your horse.

You also have these additional options available to you if you need to figure out the specific weight of a horse.

#1. Use the height/girth formula. 

This formula can give you a fairly accurate estimate of a horse’s weight. You’ll just need a measuring tape and this specific formula: (Girth)2 x Length divided by 11,877. This will give you a weight in kilograms. Use the measuring tape to determine the girth and length and then plug in those figures. Length is measured from the shoulder to the point of the hind quarters. All measurements should be in centimeters.

#2. Use weigh tape. 

Weigh tapes are considered to be about 90% accurate. Most tapes are double-sided, allowing you to measure weights for ponies and adult horses. Have your horse stand square on a surface that is flat and level. Place the tape over the lowest part of the withers, then draw the tape around the horse so that it sits close to the front angles. There should be a slight angle from the top of the tape to the withers. Keep the tape close to the body, but not tight. Then take the reading and follow the instructions of the manufacturer to determine the weight.

#3. Use a basic guideline. 

This is the most inaccurate of the three methods to obtain the weight of a horse because it is based on averages. By looking at the height of the horse in hands and then looking at the type of the horse it happens to be, you can estimate its current weight. There are several guideline weight charts that are available online with a simple web search. This method is not generally useful for mixed breed horses that are of different types, such as a draught horse and an Arabian.

Interesting Facts About Horse Weights

  • The smallest horse in the world weighs just 9 pounds.
  • The heaviest horse in the world is a Shire horse named Sampson. He was foaled in 1846 and had a documented weight of 3,360 pounds.
  • There are several Shire and Clydesdale horses in the world today that are documented as weighing between 2,900-3,100 pounds.
  • The head of the horse is responsible for 10% of its total body weight.
  • You can tell if a foal is healthy because it will be about 10% of the total weight of its mother.
  • For a horse to be able to maintain a healthy body weight, it needs about 1-2% of its weight in feed every day. For a 3,000-pound horse, that would mean needing to eat up to 60 pounds of feed, even during periods of inactivity.

Why Is It So Important to Know the Average Weight of a Horse?

In horses, there are several potentially serious health conditions that are associated with obesity. There are also health concerns that occur if a horse is chronically underweight. In several recent surveys that were reported by thehorse.com, about half of all horses are considered to be overweight or obese, even though they are considered to be riding horses.

The most common reason for obesity is due to overfeeding. Some horses will eat way more than they should, but there is also a certain responsibility to the owners for limiting additional feed and ensuring horses like this get the exercise that they need.

If obesity is not addressed, a common condition called “laminitis” can occur in horses. This condition is an inflammation of blood vessels within the hoof. It is painful for the horse and can be life-threatening if it is left untreated. The tissues of the foot degrade and can cause the coffin bone to rotate downward in the foot, causing it to protrude through the sole of the hoof.

Insulin resistance is another common issue in horses that struggle with obesity. It is a condition that causes extreme changes in the blood glucose of the horse in a way that is similar to Type 2 Diabetes in humans. Frequent peaks of blood glucose in horses can lead to a greater risk of obesity, so a diet that is low in starches and sugars can help to reduce body weight, as can frequent exercise.

Maintaining high glucose concentrations can also damage blood vessels, the pancreas, and even lead to gangrene.

Lipomas, or fatty tumors that develop on horses that are elderly and obese, can result in colic because they often attach themselves to the mesentery of the intestines. Heat tolerance is also affected by obesity.

Being chronically underweight is also problematic for horses. Horses that are underweight are often under high levels of stress, either from activities, nutrition, or both. Parasites may also be responsible for a horse that is chronically underweight, which would cause a lack of nutrition being absorbed from the feed.

Horses that have poor dental health are also at-risk of being chronically underweight.

Being underweight can also lead to added risks of colic or choking. It may lead to ulcer development within the stomach, especially in older horses. The lack of nutrition may also weaken the immune system of the horse, which could lead to greater disease susceptibility from a long-term perspective.

How to Determine if You Have the Right Horse for Your Needs

Knowing the average weight of a horse can help you to know if the horse can meet your personal needs. Excluding ponies, pony-style adult horses, and miniature horses, this formula can help you to know if your horse is of the proper size.

  1. Add up the weight of the tack, rider, and horse. In this example, let’s say that the horse weighs 1,100 pounds, the rider weighs 150 pounds, and tack weighs 45 pounds. This gives us a total of 1,295 pounds.
  2. Measure the circumference of the cannon bone. You’ll want to take the measurement midway between the fetlock and the knee. In this example, let’s say that we get a measurement of 8.5 inches.
  3. Now divide the total weight by the circumference. This means we will need to divide 1,295 by 8.5. This will give us an answer of 152.35 rounded.
  4. Now we need to divide this result by two. If we divide 152.35 in half, we receive a rounded answer of 76.18.

In this formula, you will want to have a value answer fall between 75-80. If your value ends up being over 80, then it indicates that the horse has weaker legs and will struggle with slopes. If the value is between 70-75, then it means you have slightly more horse for your needs than is necessary, but it should still work out for you. Values below 70 can indicate that the horse is too big for your current needs.

How much does an average horse weigh? When all breeds are considered, the answer hovers around 1,100 pounds. When specific breeds are considered, however, the actual answer can vary greatly. By understanding what the horse needs to be healthy, including any specific nutritional medical needs, then you can work with your horse to make sure it maintains an optimal weight throughout its life.

If you have any questions about the weight of your horse and if any care adjustments may be necessary, it is a good idea to contact your local veterinarian for a consultation.

How to Put Reins on a Horse

If you want to be able to ride a horse, then knowing how to put on the reins is an essential skill that must be learned. Of course learning how to put reins on a horse is not a standard life skill that everyone needs to know, but it will help you to avoid embarrassment if a time comes when you do decide to take a ride down the trail.

Putting on the reins means being able to put on the bridle. This is the equipment you will be using to direct and lead the horse. There are leather or nylon straps that will go around the muzzle and head of the horse. You will also have the bit that the horse must accept into the mouth, which will sit behind the teeth. The reins will attach to the bit.

Here are the steps that you will want to follow.

#1a. Get the horse comfortable. 

An anxious horse is not going to accept the bit very well. You may need to tie the horse to a hitching post or keep them in their stable while beginning this process. Pet the horse for some added calm, being as confident as possible while you make your approach. If you’re nervous about putting reins on a horse, then the horse is going to be nervous about you. It helps to pet the horse on the muzzle as this will cause most horses to naturally lower their heads, making it easier to get the reins on. 

#1b. Inspect your equipment. 

Knowing how to put reins on a horse means being able to identify when your equipment is not suitable for use. Inspect the reins, the bridle, the bit, and any other equipment that you will be using. In leather reins, look for excessive cracking and fraying that indicate long-term wear. For nylon reins, look for fiber fraying, discoloration, and looseness within the material weave. Never use equipment that you feel could put you or the horse at a safety risk during a ride. 

#2. Put the bit into the mouth. 

The bit needs to be placed after the canine teeth in the horse’s mouth, but before the rear molars. This area is called “interdental space” and the bit will fit comfortably there. Encourage the horse to open its mouth by placing your thumb in this open space from the side of the mouth. Don’t worry – even if the horse tries to bite, there are no teeth there than can chomp you. Gently guide the bit over the front teeth, careful not to make contact with them, and allow the bit to sit where it is designed to work.

#3. Slide the bridle into place. 

Once you’ve successfully put the bit into its place, you’re ready to finish putting on the bridle. The crown of the bridle will slip up and over the head of the horse, going behind the ears. You should have a strap come across the forehead, just underneath the ears. If there is a harness on the horse, the bridle will go on top of it. Horses are very sensitive about their ears, so bring the bridle up and over them one ear at a time. You can fold the ears backward or forward for placement, but encourage ear movement gently.

A helpful tip: If you begin to slip the bridle up and over the ears and the horse is twitching the ears back and forth, this is generally an indication that the horse is either irritated with your actions or in distress for some reason. Before continuing, check to make sure the bit is placed properly and not bumping into any teeth. Check the tightness of the harness if it is on as well. If everything checks out, pet the horse on the muzzle once again to help establish some extra calmness before continuing.

 

#4. Attach the reins if they are not already in place. 

Once the bit is in place and the harness has been tightened, you’re ready to attach the reins. There are rings, holders, or other points of attachment that will be at the sides of the bit. Look for where the material of the bridle connects to the ends of the bit and then hook the reins into that spot. Then make one last check to make sure everything is in its proper place.

#5. Check on the tightness of the bridle. 

Horses respond to the pressure that you place on the bit through the reins. This is how you communicate to the horse that you want to speed up, slow down, or make a turn in a specific direction. There needs to be pressure placed at the point where the bit meets the harness with the reins, but you don’t want too much pressure. You can somewhat tell what the horse is experiencing by looking at home much mouth movement you receive with the bit in place.

A tighter bridle and bit is going to move upward in the interdental space, causing wrinkles near the mouth and muzzle. Look at the corner of the horse’s mouth. If there are no wrinkles in place, then the bit might be a little too loose. If you have more than two wrinkles there, then the bit might be a little too tight.

Tightness can equal discomfort. If the horse is twitchy, has more movement than normal, or you’re receiving a lot of ear action, then there’s a good chance that the bridle is not placed where the horse likes it. You may need to start over from step #1 to correct this situation.

#6. Finish getting the horse ready to ride. 

Now you’re ready to put on your saddle pad or blanket, the saddle itself, and whatever other equipment and tack that you might need for your ride. Loop the reins over the horn of the saddle once you have it in place so they don’t get dragged through the muck. Once everything is in place, you’re ready to hop into the saddle and enjoy a ride.

One more helpful tip: At this point, if your horse has been connected to a hitching post, you’ll want to disconnect. You can do this by removing the harness from underneath the bridle, though a better option is to leave the harness on and just remove the rope that connects the horse to the post.

Knowing how to put reins on a horse may be a fairly basic skill, but it is one that we all need to learn if we’re going to ride a horse. Follow these steps, be confident in your abilities, and you’ll be able to look like you’ve been doing this for years – even if it is your first time.

15 Amazing Seabiscuit Horse Facts

Foaled in Lexington Kentucky, Seabiscuit was first introduced to the world in 1933. His sire was Hard Tack and his grandfather was Man o’ War. His mare was Swing On. He was given the name from a reference to his father’s name, as hardtack is a sea biscuit, or cracker, that was eaten by sailors at the time.

He grew up during the Great Depression, a thoroughbred that was knobby-kneed and undersized. During his younger years, he was prone to long sleeping sessions. He would also feed longer than other horses. Many believed that he was too lazy of a horse to become a racing horse. Over his lifetime, however, he would prove his critics wrong, becoming the US horse of the year in 1938 and one of the industry’s most unlikely champions.

Here are some more interesting Seabiscuit horse facts to help you get to know this famous horse a little bit better.

#1. Seabiscuit lost all of his initial races. 

Seabiscuit was looked over in favor of Omaha by Wheatley Stables and trainer James Fitzsimmons. They saw some potential in the horse, but felt like he wasn’t really up to a full slate of championship training. This meant racing a heavy schedule of small races. Seabiscuit would rack up a record of 0-17 to begin his career, often finishing near the back of the field. It would lead to jokes about his ability to perform.

#2. By the time he was two, he had won five races and finished in second 7 times. 

As a two-year-old horse, Seabiscuit already had 35 races under his belt. That was a heavy racing schedule, even during this period of time. But after losing his first 17 races, he began to show his true potential. He set a new track record during a race at Narragansett Park and had a top 2 finish in three claiming races, where someone could have purchased him for $2,500. No one took the gamble.

#3. Seabiscuit’s last two victories as a 2-year-old were minor stakes races. 

His stable and trainer might have considered him to be reaching his full racing potential, but Seabiscuit was hardly a poorly performing horse in the initial stages of his career. The last two victories he earned as a 2-year-old were minor stakes races, giving him some additional attention on the racing circuit and the industry itself.

#4. Seabiscuit was purchased for $8,000 in 1936. 

In his first 12 races as a 3-year-old, Seabiscuit encountered a similar pattern to winning and losing. He won 4 of his racing, but also averaged 3 different races per month at the time. One of the races where Seabiscuit competed was an allowance race in June of 1936. Tom Smith first spotted Seabiscuit in that race and it offered Charles Howard an opportunity to purchase him. The transaction would be completed in August of that year.

#5. A different training method changed everything for Seabiscuit. 

Tom Smith would be assigned as the new trainer for Seabiscuit and his methods helped to encourage the athleticism of the horse. Pairing him with a jockey that was experienced with Mexican and Western racing, Seabiscuit would win several of his final races in 1936, including the $7,300 Scarsdale Handicap in Yonkers.

#6. At one stretch in 1937, Seabiscuit went 5-for-5 in stakes racing. 

Between late June and early August, Seabiscuit ran a series of grueling stakes races and wound up winning them all. Each victory occurred under increasing handicap weights. In total, Seabiscuit won 11 of the 15 races he entered in 1937 and wound up being the leading money winner in the United States despite War Admiral winning the Triple Crown that season.

#7. Seabiscuit disliked heavy ground. 

Seabiscuit was a finicky racer. He really didn’t like heavy ground, especially with the weight that he carried. He was forced to race on a heavy track in 1936 and struggled to finish third in that race. In 1937-1938, Seabiscuit was scratched from major races that were deemed to be too heavy for him, which prevented a much anticipated race between War Admiral and him from occurring for quite some time. 

#8. Pimlico Race Course held the Match of the Century. 

November 1, 1938 would finally bring War Admiral and Seabiscuit together. Trains came in from all over the United States, with an unprecedented 40,000 people attending the race at the time. The radio audience for this race was estimated to be 40 million people. War Admiral was given 1-4 odds by most bookmakers and was a nearly unanimous pick to win. The distance was 1.91 kilometers and despite War Admiral setting a personal best in that distance, Seabiscuit would end up winning the race by 4 lengths. This led to him being named the Horse of the Year and being the #1 newsmaker in the country.

#9. A 1939 race brought about a devastating injury. 

During a race in 1939, Seabiscuit managed to rupture the suspensory ligament in his front left leg. It was an injury which required extensive rehabilitation for the horse, including the need to relearn how to walk. Red Pollard, who had been Seabiscuit’s jockey for most races after Howard’s purchase of the horse, had also broken his leg around the same time. A common joke was that between jockey and horse, they had “four good legs” in which to race. 

#10. In 1940, Seabiscuit would finally win the one race that eluded him. 

The Santa Anita handicap, a race worth $125,000 and called “the Hundred Grander,” has been the nemesis of Seabiscuit. He’d come close to winning it in the past, but never crossed in first. After losing his first comeback race after the injury, it seemed like 1940 would be a repeat of the past. After being blocked from the start and trapped in third near the end of the race, Pollard brought Seabiscuit between the leaders and surged into the leading, winning by a length and a half over his stablemate Kayak II. The win was so thrilling for the onlookers that they stormed the track, making it impossible for anyone to reach the winner’s enclosure.

#11. On April 10, 1940, Seabiscuit would end up retiring. 

At the time of his retirement, the “lazy” horse that was not expected to perform would be horse racing’s all-time leading money winner. He would be put out to stud for the remainder of his life, siring a total of 108 foals. His continuing legacy, however, has not been spectacular. Only Sea Sovereign and Sea Swallow have seen moderate levels of racing success as his offspring.

#12. More than 50,000 people would visit Seabiscuit during retirement. 

Seabiscuit was a popular tourist attraction at Ridgewood Ranch, where he retired. His popularity continues to this day, with several books and movies written about his story. The movie Seabiscuit in 2003 was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Two other films, including one starring Shirley Temple, were also made to tell the story of this horse.

#13. Seabiscuit was voted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958. 

In 1999, the Top 100 racehorses in the United States throughout the 20th century were ranked. Seabiscuit was ranked 25th. War Admiral, the horse that Seabiscuit defeated by 4 lengths, was ranked 13th. Man o’ War, Seabiscuit’s grandfather, was ranked #1. It should be noted that War Admiral was also a sire of Man o’ War, which would make him an “uncle” to Seabiscuit.

#14. Seabiscuit finished with a career record of 33 wins in 89 starts. 

He would also finish with 15 seconds and 13 thirds. His total career earnings were $437,730, punctuated with the win at the Santa Anita Handicap in 1940 as his last race. For a horse that was shopped around in claiming races early in his career and the subject of stable jokes for his 0-17 start, Seabiscuit finished his career in a completely dominant way – even though he sometimes lost to unknown horses at the time. 

#15. Seabiscuit died at a very young age. 

Many horses today live well into their 20s and 30s, even racing thoroughbreds. Seabiscuit, however, died just 6 days of his 14th birthday. Although the cause of death is not known, it is believed that he suffered a heart attack in May of 1947. He was buried at Willits Ranch in California. Visitors can still visit the ranch. Walking tours are available to see his stall, the uniform his jockey wore, and other racing memorabilia. A statute was installed at the location in 2007 to commemorate his accomplishment. 

These Seabiscuit horse facts show that great champions can come from unexpected places. Being the underdog is just one reason why this thoroughbred was able to make such a long-lasting impression on the American public. His story will continue to be told, proving that you can start 0-17 and still be voted into the Hall of Fame. 

How to Teach a Horse to Lay Down

One of the most common mistakes handlers make when trying to teach a horse to lay down is that they attempt to force the horse into a prone position. Attempting to create domination will only create resistance. In order for this process to work, you must have an established relationship with the horse.

There are some additional factors that will also help you be able to teach your horse this skill. Make sure you have the following before beginning.

  • An enclosed area with soft footing. You wouldn’t want to lie down on a bunch of sharp pebbles. Your horse will not want to begin the learning process until there is a certain level of comfort within their environment.
  • A large enough area. Horses don’t like to lie down in areas that seem too small or confining. You’ll need to make sure that you have enough room to move away from the horse as well, just in case there are a few flying hooves.
  • A halter. Web halters are useful for stubborn horses who respond to a greater amount of pressure. Horses that are not as stubborn can successfully learn to lie down using a rope halter. Make sure that you have lead ropes, support boots or wraps, and a back cinch as well. 

You will also want to have patience available in a large amount for this exercise. You’re asking the horse to put itself into a very vulnerable position. It takes time for a horse to accept this as something that is “normal” to do.

Now You’re Ready to Get the Exercise Started

To get started, you’ll want to saddle the horse, putting the halter and one of the lead ropes on as well. The stand in front of the horse, putting pressure on the lead rope. This is asking the horse to begin backing up. Most horses are comfortable doing this, but if yours is not, you may need to spend the first day of training on this one step alone.

Do not proceed until your horse is comfortable with a command to back up. The horse should be backing up with the head down and the nose tucked towards the chest. If the head stays up while backing up, then it will be physically difficult for the horse to lie down. 

Now you’ll want to bring the lead rope that’s on the side away from you back to your side. Run it along the back of the horn on the saddle. Then stand next to the stirrup, putting pressure on the lead rope. The horse needs to keep backing up with the nose tucked toward the chest. When the horse takes a step backward, then release the pressure.

Some horses will try to turn instead of backing up. Stick by the horse and maintain the pressure until you receive the intended results. Keep practicing until you can get several steps backward in a row.

The Next Step: Getting the Hobble Right

At this point, you’re ready to begin the hobble. You’ll want to hobble the horse around the pastern, using the front leg on the side you happen to be on. Support boots or wraps are useful here. Make sure the hobble is snug because many horses like to yank their foot out. Now attach the second lead rope to the hobble, having it draped around the front of the horn so the tail of it is on the same side as you. Then let the horse get used to the feeling of the hobble.

This will allow you to begin training the cue to lie down for the horse. Most horses are comfortable with a shoulder tap, which is useful since you may need the horse to lie down while riding. Tap on the spot and then ask the horse to pick up the front foot. Use the lead rope attached to the hobble so the horse has added support. When you receive the behavior, release the pressure. 

Make sure you tap the spot you’ve chosen every time you ask for the foot to be raised. This will help the behavior to be learned with greater speed.

Once the foot can be brought up consistently and tucked next to the belly, you’re ready to keep going. Ask the horse to shift the weight backwards once again. Once the movement begins, release any pressure. Move toward touching the bent leg to the ground. Make sure to reward the horse frequently and be extra patient here as this is usually the most unnerving step for the horse.

Ask for Extended Periods of Down Time Over the Next 48 Hours

Once the horse becomes comfortable with a knee on the ground, ask the horse to stay in this position for longer periods of time. Remember to continuing guiding the front leg back to a normal position since a horse rising on three legs instead of four can create dangerous circumstances for both of you. The goal here is to reach 15-20 minutes of down time without causing distress.

When a horse reaches this stage, you will want to work on laying the horse down three times in the morning and three times in the evening for about 7-10 days. This will establish the behavior as a habit and help the horse become more comfortable with what you are asking to receive. If at any time you sense discomfort, stop the exercise and reset from the beginning.

Once you can pass this stage with your horse where laying down is no longer awkward or uncomfortable, you’re ready to begin teaching the behavior without the hobble. Some horses will immediately respond to the cues that have been taught in the past couple of weeks. A few might just lie down immediately on the tap. Others are going to be stubborn and look at you like, “You want me to do what now?”

Repeat the training steps, but without the hobble. Readily reward the horse every time there is a step backward or a shift in weight backward or toward the ground.

A Few Final Tips to Consider When Teaching a Horse to Lie Down

  • Keep things light, fun, and relaxing. You’re working on your relationship.
  • Stay behind the horse during any attempt to lie down.
  • Don’t get tangled in the legs at all. Any discomfort in this area may cause the horse to refuse to lie down in the future.
  • Never try to hold the horse down. Give yourself some distance in case the horse pops back up to the feet rapidly.

Knowing how to teach a horse to lay down can make it much easier for riders to get into and out of the saddle, especially if the rider has a physical disability. This training process may take some time, but you and the horse will have fun doing it the right way and your relationship will be deeper because of these efforts.
 

How to Desensitize a Horse

Some horses seem to be able to handle any situation they face with relative calm. Then there are some horses who seem to get spooked when the wind blows a little stronger than expected. Every horse, even those who seem relatively calm, can benefit from training that helps to desensitize them from their fears.

The first step in knowing how to desensitize a horse is to form a relationship with the animal. You need to be able to understand the fears and anxiety that the horse faces. Once you can recognize what triggers the animal’s flight-or-fight mechanism, you can begin to work on the skills required to calm the horse down.

Once you’ve built up that relationship, you’ll be ready to take on these additional steps.

#1. Start from the ground up.

If your horse is afraid of deep or moving water, you wouldn’t just throw the animal into a raging river and hope for the best. You’d slowly introduce the elements of water to the horse one step at the time.

You might start with an introduction to the sound of rushing water. The noise of water movement may be the initial trigger for the horse’s anxiety. You’d then continue with the daily introduction of this sound until the horse became familiar with it without a negative reaction.

Then you might take the horse to the rushing water just so it can be viewed.

It might take a few minutes for a horse to grow comfortable with the obstacles that trigger anxiety. You don’t want to let them run away from it. You want to use your relationship with the horse to support the animal. Be there by their side and work to keep the adrenaline levels down. That will boost the learning success you’ll experience later on.

#2. Add pressure to all aspects of the horse’s body.

Horses often associate pressure with support. It’s sort of like how you feel when you’re having a bad day and get a hug from someone you care about. The pressure of the hug lets the brain reset so you can think outside of the stress that has been affecting you. The same reaction occurs with a horse.

The only problem is that you can’t really give a horse a whole body hug on your own. What you can do is work on desensitizing one area of the horse’s body at a time.

It usually works best to work from the ground up. Give him a good rub. Use various objects that make different sounds. Let the horse experience the different ways that things might rub up against its body and make sure the horse can hear the various sounds. Tarps, plastic bags, inflatables – they all can help to desensitize the horse.

Be patient with each object. You want the horse to be able to accept each different feeling before you move onto the next one.

#3. Ride through the fear.

Once you’ve given the horse an opportunity to experience different sensations, it’s time to put that resiliency to the test. You’ve introduced the various anxiety triggers to the horse. You’ve shown the horse that different sensations might happen, but that safety has always been present. Now you’re ready to give the horse a chance to ride through its fear.

Go easy at first. Some horses can have a rather short memory. They might balk at the idea of even walking toward a river, much less think about standing next to one. If you’re working on obstacles, take it slow and ride over them at a pace that seems comfortable for the horse.

After the first couple of times, try to increase the difficulty for the horse a little bit. Go faster. Stay longer. Jump higher. Sometimes the horse may refuse. You might see some anxiety begin to return. That’s when it’s time to take a break and play one of your horse’s favorite games.

Then return to the anxiety triggers. This may take several minutes, several hours, or several days depending on the level of fear the horse experiences. Once you feel that the horse has become comfortable with what you’re asking, then it is time to go to the next step. 

#4. Advance the technique.

One of the best tools that you can use to desensitize a horse is a smoke bomb. Here’s why smoke bombs are effective, no matter what the anxiety trigger may be.

  • It teaches the horse that it must be able to trust you as the rider because it may not be able to see where you want it to go.
  • The sound of a smoke bomb can sometimes be startling, which can help you measure how effective your training has been so far.
  • Smoke bombs are relatively inexpensive.

Start with two smoke bombs and place them far apart from each other. Then walk the horse through the smoke until it begins to relax. Then place the next set of smoke bombs closer to each other and repeat. Keep going until the horse stays relaxed no matter how thick the smoke happens to be.

You might find that some horses may refuse to even try walking through the smoke. This isn’t because the horse is demanding control. When there is an anxiety trigger, some horses prefer to bolt. Others prefer to stop and refuse to move.

If your horse refuses to move, then the best tactic to take is to re-establish the benefits of your relationship with the animal. Use a long and comfortable lead to show the horse that there is nothing to fear. Walk through the smoke with the horse instead of riding through it at first.

And if your horse is a bit unruly, having a rope that won’t tear up your hands or wearing a pair of gloves is a definite necessity. 

#5. Create your own obstacles without the horse knowing.

Ever had one of those curious horses who always seemed to be peering over your shoulder? That kind of behavior can actually be a symptom of fear. The horse wants to know what you’re doing to make sure that they can stay safe.

Once you’ve reached this step, the horse you’ve been working with has come to expect a certain routine. It knows what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go, so it can prepare for the events of the day ahead of time.

That really isn’t true desensitization.

So at this stage, you’ll want to begin building your own obstacles. Use items that you know could be a potential stress trigger for the horse. Create a short course that you can take with the horse that includes loud sounds, flares, smoke, and other items and then ride through it with the horse.

You may find the horse doesn’t want to go through some obstacles. If that is the case, don’t allow the horse to inspect the obstacle this time around. You want the horse to be able to handle the unexpected.

If your horse goes through with flying colors, then you’ve successfully desensitized the horse. If not, rearrange your course so that the route is different. The obstacles will still be familiar, but because the route is different, you can work on reducing the triggers that may be causing anxiety.

#6. Then pair up the horse with a coaching horse.

Horses are social creatures. They feed off of the attitudes and energy of the other horses that are around them. If you have a horse that is relatively calm in almost any situation, then consider using that horse as a coaching animal for the horse you’re attempting to desensitize.

The calming presence of the coaching horse will naturally ease the anxiety the other horse is experiencing. Horses also have a herd mentality, so when it is you, them, and another horse, there are natural defense mechanisms of herd thinking that can come into play. This can allow you to teach the skills to the horse that you want it to have. 

As a final step, you will want to focus on your own attitudes and mannerisms. If you are impatient, then the horse will be impatient. If you become angry, then the horse may experience an anxiety trigger. Keep all of your movements as controlled and relaxed as you possibly can. Be calm, but also be authoritative in a positive way. In doing so, you will be showing the horse that everything will be okay, even if it seems like nothing will be okay in that very moment. 

Horses are amazing creatures with an incredible ability to adapt. If you give a horse the skills it needs to handle a potentially scary situation, then it will take care of you to the very best of its ability. Knowing how to desensitize a horse properly will help to give the animal the skills that it needs. Follow these steps and the two of you will be able to get to work right away.