14 Interesting Przewalski Horse Facts

In the United States, there is a clear difference between wild horses and feral horses. Many of the herds that are thought of as wild in the US are actual feral, the offspring of horses that were either abandoned, set free, or had escaped from their ownership. When it comes to wild horses, there is really just one true horse breed that exists today and that is the Przewalski Horse.

This breed is named after the man who is credited with their discovery: Nikolai Przhevalsky. He discovered the breed in the 1870s. It was actually discovered earlier than this, but the last name of Nikolai stuck. To be more specific, the Polish spelling of Nikolai’s surname instead of the Russian spelling stuck to the horse despite the fact that he was a Russian explorer. 

Here are some more interesting facts about this truly wild breed of horse.

#1. It is the only species of horse that has never been domesticated. 

Some might argue that all domesticated horses are descendants of the Przewalski breed, genetic evidence shows otherwise. Przewalski horses form their own clade, which means their lineage is separate from those of domesticated horses. This provides evidence to the ancient nature of this breed and how it has been kept separate from horse lineages that are thousands of years old.

What does this mean for modern horse breeds? There may be a common ancestor of both Przewalski horses and domesticated horses, but this would be like saying chimpanzees and humans share a common ancestor as well. It is a species that is not derived from the other.

#2. Przewalski horses have more chromosomes than any other equine species. 

Przewalski horses have 66 pairs of chromosomes, which is 2 more pairs than domesticated horses. This creates an interesting scenario when it comes to breeding Przewalski horses with domesticated horses.

When a domesticated horse breeds with a donkey, the offspring has 63 chromosome pairs and is considered a mule. This is because donkeys have 62 chromosome pairs, so the offspring splits the difference. The same thing occurs when Przewalski horses breed with domesticated horses. The offspring has 65 chromosome pairs, but the odd pair number doesn’t sterilize the offspring as it typically does for a mule.

#3. Przewalski horses are still surviving, but barely.

By 1900, a German merchant had captured almost all of the Przewalski horses that were in the wild. Add in the hunting that occurred with this breed and the numbers were reduced to just 12, with all of them living in two zoos in Prague or Munich. The merchant, named Carl Hagenbeck, specialized in selling exotic animals to zoos. Although his methods were often questioned, his efforts may have unwittingly save this breed.

Today there are above 1,500 Przewalski horses that are alive. About 300 of them were reintroduced into their natural Mongolian habitat in the late 1990s. The herds are protected by living within national parks and nature reserves where hunting is not allowed.

Chinese researchers who also were working on conservation efforts have also reintroduced herds into the Gobi Desert and the Askania Nova reserve in Russia.

#4. This breed is one of the few that were once classified as extinct.

The IUCN once classified Przewalski horses as being extinct in the wild. Around 2010, the horses were officially reclassified as being endangered. This makes them one of the few animal species that were once classified as extinct, but thanks to conservation efforts, have been able to come back and thrive.

#5. The lineage of Przewalski horses is considered to be genetically stable.

Despite the fact that just 9 horses are considered to be the foundation for modern Przewalski horses, their lineage as a breed is genetically stable. Part of this is due to the fact that breeding programs encouraged creating a maximum amount of genetic diversity, but the ancient genetics of this breed may also be playing a part in their dramatic comeback.

The studbook for the entire Przewalski breed is still kept at the Prague Zoo, which was responsible for helping the breed be able to recover. The book lists the parentage of every individual Przewalski horse that is currently known – with the exception of foals that may have been born in the wild after the herds were reintroduced just recently.

#6. Przewalski horses are continuously monitored.

One of the herds that was reintroduced into a natural environment currently lives in Horotbagy National Park in Hungary. Within this park, scientists are observing the Przewalski breed so that they can get to know what their natural behaviors tend to be. By studying their behaviors and social structures, horse management techniques around the world have been improved.

Herds of Przewalski horses tend to structure themselves differently than other “wild” horses. They typically live in family groups only, consisting of a stallion 2-3 mares, and their offspring. Multiple family groups will then come together so that they form a larger herd, which will move together as a community as they search for food.

Colts will live with their family units for 2-3 years. Then they move on to find and form their own family groups.

#7. One Przewalski got to receive a historical first. 

In 1999, the Minnesota Zoo performed a vasectomy on a Przewalski horse. The procedure had been completed before they realized the genetic value of the horse. In 2007, the National Zoo was able to perform a reverse vasectomy on the horse, making it the first time that any endangered animal was successfully treated in such a way.

#8. In 2014, the first artificial birth of this breed was created. 

A Przewalski mare living at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute was artificially inseminated. After a 340-day incubation period, she successfully gave birth to a foal that was named Annie. It was the end result of over 7 years of breed research so that a viable pregnancy could be established and maintained in an artificial environment.

#9. This breed has an incredible sense of smell.

Przewalski horses are able to detect smells that originate from distances that are very far away. They can also detect sounds from great distances, allowing them to protect their family units and their community herds.

#10. Each horse has a fairly consistent look when compared with others.

Przewalski horses tend to be a little smaller when compared to other horse breeds that have been domesticated. Their bodies tend to be rather stocky and their large heads are distinctive of the breed. It’s supported by a thick neck, which sports an upright mane that typically stays fairly short. 

The muzzles for this breed tend to have markings that are colored in pale white, as do the underbellies of the horse. Foals tend to be born with a lighter coloration that turns toward more of a brown dun color when they mature around the age of 3.

#11. Przewalski horses have sharp hooves for a very good reason.

The hooves of Przewalski horses are incredibly sharp compared to other horse breeds. This allows the horse to use their feet to scrape or dig at the ground. It is a technique which allows them to access groundwater tables that are close to the surface.

These horses will also use their hooves in the wild to access food resources. Like all horses, they are grazing animals, so a nice field of grass is their favorite option. They will also use their hooves to pull off bark or leaves from trees, pull fruit from a branch, or access flower buds when in season.

#12. There are no truly “wild” Przewalski herds right now.

All Przewalski horses are being monitored in some way right now. Some herds are being directly monitored, while others are simply protected on reserves, in parks, and other dedicated lands that have been reserved for them. Small groups are slowly being introduced to Mongolia’s grasslands once again, but with farming competition in their way, it is unknown if their natural habitat can actually support their once great numbers that were in the wild.

#13. One community herd of Przewalski horses lives at Chernobyl.

One of the places where Przewalski horses were placed to be away from hunting or poaching activities was the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The community herd was placed there in 1998 and it is believed that the herd is increasing in size. These horses are the only ones that are not directly monitored on some level, living with complete protection from human interference. 

#14. A French zoo has taken a unique approach to saving this breed.

Le Villaret allows Przewalski horses to choose their own mates and adapt to conditions that are very much like living in the wild. Although the horses that are brought here were born in other zoos, they learn to forage on their own and bring back natural behaviors. This has allowed the reintroduction of the species to occur at a more rapid pace than expected.

These Przewalski horse facts show that when the world comes together with a specific mission in mind, we can create great things. This breed is back from extinction and looks to stay that way.

How Many Breeds of Horses Are There in the World

At the moment, there are 350+ breeds of horses that are currently recognized around the world right now. Each of these breeds is categorized into one of four major groups.

  • Light Horses. This group of horse breeds generally weigh less than 1,300 pounds. They are characterized by thinner legs and smaller bones. Arabians and Morgans are two popular breeds of light horses.
  • Heavy Horses. This group of horse breeds is sometimes referred to as “Draft Horses.” They can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, but most are usually between 1,600-2,000 pounds in size. They feature muscular legs, large bones, and typically have a very mild temperament. Belgians, Shires, and Clydesdales are popular breeds of heavy horses.
  • Ponies. This group of horses stands shorter than other breeds, which is usually less than 14.2 hands in height. Their proportioning and musculature are similar to other breeds, but more reflective of their smaller size. Fjords, Shetlands, and Haflingers are popular breeds of ponies.
  • Feral Horses. These horses are generally semi-wild in nature, are not currently domesticated, and have behaviors that may be unpredictable. In the United States, the primary breed of horse that fits into this category is the Mustang. Przewalski horses are sometimes classified as a feral horse because of their wild, undomesticated nature.

Although these are the primary groupings that are offered for the hundreds of horse breeds that exist today, there are additional methods of classifying horses as well. One of the most popular methods is to classify all breeds of horse based on their personality.

  • Warm Blooded Horses. These tend to be the most popular horses to own. They are generally mild-mannered, but like to work, race, and ride trails. They can be somewhat temperamental from time-to-time, but are generally a straight-forward animal that will tell you exactly what it is feeling. They are often used for discipline competitions such as dressage or equitation.
  • Hot Blooded Horses. These horses tend to be quite energetic, but this also makes them be more nervous than other horses. They can be quite competitive with one another as well, which makes them effective for racing and athletics.
  • Cold Blooded Horses. These horses typically have a mild-mannered disposition. Their work is usually agriculturally-related and they also make for great trail horses. They are heavy-bodied and large-boned.

Any horse breed may have individual animals that fit into any of these categories. The breed as a whole is given the description, however, which is why temperament groupings are usually assigned after the four major groups that are listed above.

What Are the Other Types of Horses?

There are other minor groups of horses that the 350+ different breeds are sorted into as well. These groups are often used if a specific breed does not quite fit into the standards of the major groupings that are used.

  • Miniature Horses. These horses are mature animals that stand at a height of 38 inches or less. Miniature horses in the A division must stand at 34 inches or less, while horses in the B division stand between 34-38 inches. Mature horses that meet these requirements are not usually referred to as ponies, even though that would also qualify.
  • Gaited Horses. Some light horse breeds are bred specifically because of the gait that the animal can achieve. Most horses are able to achieve three standard gaits: the walk, the trot, and the gallop. Some horses, such as the Tennessee Walking Horse, have additional gaits that come naturally other than the standard 3, which may cause them to be grouped into this category instead.
  • Non-Equine Animals. These animals are very closely related to horses and can often interbreed with them. It includes mules, donkeys, and zebras. Mules are a cross between a donkey and a horse. A zorse is a cross between a horse and a zebra. Both of these animals are often sterile.

Then there are horses that don’t really fit into any grouping. This applies to horses that are the offspring of a domesticated horse and a Przewalski horse. Because Przewalski horses have 66 chromosomes and domesticated horses have 64 horses, their offspring has 65 chromosomes. Unlike other crossbreeding scenarios, their offspring can usually reproduce. This would indicate that any offspring in this combination would likely belong to their own grouping.

The number of horse breeds in the world today has been steadily increasing, even though they originally came from just a handful of breeds that were in the ancient world. Through selective breeding practices, we may see many more horse breeds in coming generations.

13 Fun Fjord Horse Facts

The Fjord Horse, which is also referred to as the Norwegian Fjord, is a strong breed of horse that is relatively small in stature. Its natural environment may play a role in its stature as it comes from the mountainous regions of Scandinavia. They are agile as a breed, can be used as a light draught horse, and it is considered to be one of the oldest current breeds still existence in the world today.

It is believed that the Fjord Horse as a breed is at least 4,000 years old. Many also considered it to be one of the purest breeds that is still in existence. Interestingly enough, the Norwegian Fjord isn’t native to its region. Researchers believe that this breed migrated to Norway and was domesticated by the local villages at that point. 

Here are some additional Fjord Horse facts that will help you get to know these fascinating horses in a more personal way.

#1. They only come in one color. 

The coat of the Fjord Horse is only dun in color. The breed association for Fjord Horses does recognize five different shades of the dun color, but there are no alternative shades or colors allowed. As a breed, this makes it one of the most consistent-looking horses that there are in the world today.
The rarest shade of dun for the Fjord Horse is the yellow dun, which creates a stunning look with the yellow coat and a white mane and tail. Red, gray and white are also available shading options. 90% of the horses, however, will be the standard brown dun color.

#2. Almost all white marks make a Fjord Horse unsuitable for breeding. 

The only accepted white mark on a Fjord Horse is a white star on the forehead. All other white markings will disqualify the horse from being able to breed within the registry. Even the white star would be disallowed, except for the fact that one of the foundational stallions within the breed had this mark.

Just about every other horse breed allows several more white markings, which is just another reason why the Fjord has such a consistent appearance from creature to creature.

#3. Even the Vikings kept the Fjord Horse as a pure breed. 

Arabians may be the longest bred horse in terms of quality standards in the world today, but the Fjords are not that far behind. Evidence of selective breeding within this breed dates back over 2,000 years. There is even evidence from Viking burial sites that shows crossbreeding with the Fjord was disallowed.

#4. Appearance is a judgement standard for registry acceptance.

One of the qualifying factors for a Fjord to be accepted as a fully recognized horse with all breeding rights and privileges is “mote.” If a horse doesn’t have mote, then it won’t be allowed to breed, even if it meets all other color and size standards. If a Fjord “has mote,” then it has an appearance that is considered to be striking in the mind of the individuals judging the horse to be included within its association.

To put it another way: you can tell it’s a Fjord Horse because it looks like a Fjord, behaves like a Fjord, and works like a Fjord. If these components do not operate in a harmonious way, then it may not meet the established breed standards. 

#5. The primitive markings of the dun gene are very striking on Fjords. 

The Fjord Horse will often have markings that are directly associated with the dun gene with their coat. This includes a mane and tail that are darker than their standard coat. There may be horizontal stripes along the back of the forearms. Some horses even have transverse striping that runs across their withers. 

Pangare traits are also common within this breed, including lighter hair on the muzzle, belly and the inside of the legs. Some horses may have a lighter coat around their eyes as well. Njal marks, which are brown spots along the body or the head, are considered acceptable because one of the Fjord foundation stallions had these markings as well.

#6. Fjords are strong enough to perform heavy work.

Even during World War II, Fjord Horses were used when work was required in mountainous terrain. Their strength makes them suitable for plowing fields, pulling timber, and other heavy farm work. They are sure-footed as a breed, which makes them a good driving and riding horse as well. It is a breed that is even used as a sporting horse, though most events for Fjords are usually combined driving events.

#7. The Fjord Horse is a popular breed for therapeutic purposes.

There are many facets of a cold-blooded personality within the Fjord breed, though there are a number of warm-blood attributes as well. This combination creates a personality within the breed that is consistently calm and mild-mannered. Adding their smaller stature into account, Fjords are often used as a therapeutic horse for those with disabilities or for children who may benefit from experiential therapy.

Fjords are also used extensively at riding schools because of their overall patience and desire to please others.

#8. At one point, crossbreeding almost destroyed the Fjord Horse.

In the 1800s, a number of horse breeds were being improved through crossbreeding. By using horses that were stronger and taller, breeders believed that the Fjord Horse could be similarly improved. It was decided that crossing Fjords with another local breed, called the Dole, it would create the physical results that were desired.

For a few generations, crossbreeding between Fjords and Doles flourished in Norway. Then certain undesirable traits began to be seen in the new horses. Their coloring was quickly becoming unattractive. Their temperaments were becoming quite fierce. By 1907, it was decided that all Dole blood should be removed from the Fjord breed.

#9. All current Fjords have one stallion in their bloodline if their history is traced far enough back. 

A stallion named Njal (who is responsible for the Njal marks or spots that some horses have) was brought into the breeding programs after it was decided to remove Dole influences from the breed. Njal was born in 1891 and lived for about 12 years, with he and his descendants solely responsible for recovering the Fjord breed.

Because of this, Njal is often considered to be the father of the modern Fjord breed. Every living Fjord today will have him as their ancestor if the lineage is traced back far enough.

#10. Some North American breeding associations do not have the same evaluation programs.

The first Fjords began appearing in the United States around 1900. It would not be until the 1950s when foundation stock was imported to establish the breed in North America. There are currently two breed associations serving Canada and the US, called the National Fjord Horse Registry and the Canadian Fjord Horse Registry. Only purebred Fjords are registered with both organizations.

Unlike their counterparts in Norway, Canadian Fjords are not judged through an evaluation program. The US-based association does perform similar evaluations and will do so for their Canadian counterparts, having performed them since 1983 with a panel of international judges.

#11. A horse must obtain a score of 70 to be considered a “very good” horse. 

Fjord Horses are rated on a scale of 0-100 in terms of their conformation and performance. In order for the horse to be rated as a very good example of the breed, a minimum score of 70 is required. If a horse is able to achieve a score of 80 or above, it is classified as a top quality horse.

#12. Fjord Horses have a reputation for longevity and hardiness. 

A horse by the name of Gjest is still highly active, even though he is in his 30s. He is still even active within his local breeding program. Although Fjords typically stand at a maximum of 14.2 hands and may weigh as little as 900 pounds, their hardiness is never questioned.

Their eyes are round and expressive, being well-set on the head. The head itself is flat and broad at the forehead, while the overall profile should be slightly dished. Their placements should convey a flexing image at the neck and shoulder.

#13. Three types of Fjords are recognized in North America. 

Evaluators who look at Fjords in North America have come to recognize three distinctive body styles for this breed: draft, athletic, and all-purpose. Each horse must reflect the breed standards in temperament and appearance no matter which body classification an evaluator may choose to use for a specific horse.

This is then combined with three good gaits, with particular strengths at the trot and canter. This gives the breed a nice cadence, with balance and energy to spare.

These Fjord Horse facts show that this is a versatile breed of horse that is ready for a trail ride, some farm work, or some driving. Ready, willing, and able, this is a horse that is highly competitive, but mild-mannered, and that often makes it seem like the perfect horse.

How Heavy is a Clydesdale Horse

The size of a Clydesdale horse has changed quite a bit over the last 100 years. In the 1920s, the Clydesdale was a breed that was more compact and even smaller than Shires or Belgians. Since the 1940s, when selective breeding was used to create taller Clydesdales, it has slowly become one of the largest horse breeds in the world today.

When looking at how heavy the modern Clydesdale horse happens to be, the average horse will weigh between 1,800-2,000 pounds. Most Clydesdales stand between 16-18 hands in height. Males tend to be taller and weigh more, with some reaching a height of 20+ hands and weighing between 2,600-3,000 pounds.

Females tend to be at the lower end of the spectrum, often hovering around 16 hands and weighing less than 1 ton. 

A Clydesdale Horse May Be One of the World’s Largest Horses

Published in 2009, The Telegraph reports on a Clydesdale horse that is named Poe. Living on a farm in Tupperville, Ontario, Canada, Poe has been measured at 20.2 hands and weighs a total of 3,000 pounds.

In measurements, a hand is four inches, which means a horse standing at 18 hands would be 6 feet tall at the shoulder. From the ground to the top of his head, however, Poe is an impressive 10 feet in size.

Since a Clydesdale horse can pull its own weight several times over, a horse like Poe was often a prized possession for farmers. Even if the horse could only pull just 5 times its own weight, that would be the equivalent of being able to pull 7.5 tons for Poe. This is one of the many reasons why they were selectively bred for size.

Not only did the taller animals make for a more impressive visual impact, but their strength and leverage were increased as well. 

How Big is the Hoof of a Clydesdale Horse?

In order to support all of that weight, a Clydesdale horse has one of the largest feet of any horse. Just one of their horseshoes is about the same size as your average dinner plate. The horseshoe on its own weighs about 5 pounds. In comparison, the hooves of the average Thoroughbred racing horse are about 25% of this size.

Around the hoof is a lot of hair. This is referred to as “feathering,” which occurs at the spat of the leg, or where it can drape over the hoof. It was originally developed as a way to protect the legs of the horse from difficult farm and work conditions. Today, feathering is usually just for show. Some owners may even prefer to trim the feathers as they can retain moisture and could lead to health conditions like rain rot. 

A lot of food is required to support all of that size as well. The average adult Clydesdale can eat up to 50 pounds of hay every day – and sometimes more, if they have had a day with a heavy workload. They may also eat up to 10 pounds of prepared feed or grains each day in addition to their hay. 

How Much Do Newborn Clydesdales Weigh?

Even the Clydesdale foals are bigger than most other baby horses. After a typical pregnancy of about 11 months, a newborn foal can weigh up to 180 pounds at birth. A mare will then produce up to 100 pounds of milk every day for her new foal. In the first few months of life, it is not unusual for a Clydesdale foal to gain 30 pounds per week.

Despite their size, many Clydesdale horses are very affordable, assuming that their feeding requirements can be met. Most horses will sell for less than $5,000, with many often priced for as little as $1,000. Pricing for Clydesdales is often based on the color, markings, size, and age of the horse. Genetics may also play a factor.

Top-level horses in this breed, however, may often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Can You Ride a Clydesdale Horse?

Despite their large size, Clydesdale horses can definitely be ridden. Customized equipment is often required to do so, since the bits, bridles, and saddles must accommodate their larger size. This horse typically has a mild temperament, loves to work, and remain calm in virtually any situation.

How heavy is a Clydesdale horse? They might weigh up to 1.5 tons, but most of them are about as gentle as a puppy. If you happen to see one, go on up to it and say hello. Offer a treat if it is allowed. When you do, you’ll be able to make a friend for life.

13 Cool Lipizzaner Horse Facts

The Lipizzaner horse, sometimes called simply the Lipizzan, is a breed that is directly associated with haute ecole dressage. This form of dressage movements is one of the highest levels that current exists and requires the horse to leap off of the ground. One of the top riding schools in the world that teaches this dressage, the Spanish Riding School of Vienna in Austria, is closely associated with this breed of horse. 

Lipizzaner horses have been trained in the same way for hundreds of years, with the first documented training of the breed coming in the 1500s from the Hapsburg nobility. The name of the breed comes from one of the first stud farms for the breed, located in the village of Lipica. In Italian, however, the name of the village is spelled “Lipizza.”

Here are some more interesting Lipizzaner horse facts to discover about this wonderful breed.

#1. Lipizzaner horses have been endangered numerous times. 

With the various wars that have been fought in Europe over the past 500 years, there have been numerous instances when the Lipizzaner breed was almost completely wiped out. One of the reasons why it continues to exist is because of rescue efforts taken by US troops during World War II to save the breed. Walt Disney documented these efforts in the movie Miracle of the White Stallions.

Part of the reason for this endangerment was how private the breeding process was for Lipizzaner horses. Until 1916, the stud farm was a private possession of the Hapsburg family. The horse lines would only expand when a horse needed to be sold or given to someone, which would create other small breeding farms.

#2. Just eight stallions are considered to be the foundation stock of the breed. 

All of the stallions for the Lipizzaner horses were foaled either in the late 1700s or the early 1800s. All modern horses of the breed can trace their lineage to these eight stallions and every breeding stallion has included in their name the foundation sire for their bloodline. Up to 35 mare lines are also recognized through the various breed registries that are maintained around the world.

Each foundation line for the Lipizzaners is referred to as a “dynasty.” There are six dynasties that are considered to be “classical.” Two additional lines are found in Eastern Europe and North America and are considered to be equal to the classic dynasties that are traditionally recognized.

#3. The largest Lipizzaner breed registry has just 11,000 horses. 

The Lipizzan International Federation is, by far, the largest breed member organization for these horses in the world today. It covers horses that are in 19 countries and includes 9 state studs that reside in Europe. Most Lipizzaner horses live in Europe, though some are also on other continents.

There are currently about 1,700 horses that are registered through the Federation in North and South America. Australia and African have about 100 horses registered each.

This includes all qualifying Lipizzaner horses, including those that may not be purebred. The total number of actual purebred Lipizzans in the world today is believed to number fewer than 3,000 and only a handful of foals are born each year from this number.

#4. Although they are often called a “white” horse, Lipizzaner horses are usually gray. 

Most Lipizzaner horses are a grey, somewhat off-white color in terms of their coat. There are some solid color horses in this breed which may be black or bay. These horses have black skin and dark eyes. Most Lipizzans are actually born with a darker coat that becomes whiter as they get older. Their coat reaches a full gray color, which may be almost white, by the time they reach 10 years of age.

Until the 1700s, Lipizzans had many other coat colors, including chestnut, dun, piebald, and skewbald. The royal family preferred the grey coat, so the color became emphasized in breeding during the 18th century. For stables that maintain Lipizzaners, it is a tradition to include at least one solid bay horse in residence.

#5. The history of the Lipizzaner lineage dates back to the 600s.

Lipizzaner horses come from the same stock of other Iberian breeds, such as the Andalusian. This means their origination is traced back to when Barb horses were brought to Spain and crossbred with local stock.

#6. Disease almost decimated the Lipizzaner breed in the 1980s. 

A viral epidemic hit one of the major breeders of Lipizzaners in 1983. The Piper Stud lost 40 total horses and 8% of their expected foals. In the next 10 years, the Stud would grow to 100 mares and by 1994, pregnancy and birth rates rose to over 80% thanks to improved veterinary care available in the area. 

#7. Slovenia recognizes Lipizzaner horses as a national animal. 

This is because Lipizzans are considered to be the only breed of horse that was developed in the country. You’ll find these horses on local euro coins and mounted regiments of law enforcement regularly use this breed. This is despite the fact that the Slovenian Lipizzaner Breeding Association was not established until 1991.

Today visiting the stud farm in Lipica is one of the primary tourist attracts that the nation offers. Not only is it one of the oldest still operating stud farms in the world, guided tours are regularly available for visitors to be able to get to know this majestic breed.

#8. The training methods for Lipizzaner horses is thousands of years old. 

Much of the training that is used by the Spanish Riding School and others who focus on the Lipizzaner breed comes from Xenophon of Athens. He was a writer in Ancient Greece who studied the attitudes and psyche of horses in great detail. Much of his work was initially lost, but it was rediscovered in the 1500s and much of it is very applicable still today. 

Xenophon was a student of Socrates and recorded the history of his time, including the aftermath of several wars. He was also a mercenary soldier and is one of the few people of his era to hold citizenship in both Athens and Sparta. Athens would eventually exile him for this, as well as possibly other causes, and his work on horsemanship is considered the earliest extant works that is known.

#9. Lipizzaner horses have a relatively long lifespan. 

The average expected lifespan for a healthy Lipizzaner is around 30-35 years. This is about 5-10 years longer than the average horse breed. They are generally mild-tempered, though not considered to be a cold-blooded horse. Formal training for a Lipizzaner horse does not even begin until the horse reaches the age of 5. 

#10. Because of the naming rules, there can be several duplicate names. 

Not only do stallions need to have the name of the foundation stallion as the first part of their name, the dam must be the second part of the name. Mares are also traditionally given names that must end with an “A.” Because of this, there can be several duplications of a name, especially within certain breeding programs.

When this occurs, the horses are distinguished with Roman numerals after their names, much like the traditional family names over multiple generations.

Horses that are only part Lipizzan are not allowed to carry on the naming traditions as the purebred horses.

#11. Lipizzaner horses are usually not very tall. 

Most Lipizzaner horses reach a height of 14.2-15.2 hands when they reach a full adult stage, which makes them a fairly average horse in that regard. Some Lipizzans are able to reach a height that exceeds 16 hands. 

What makes this breed stand out is the crested neck, muscular hind quarters, and its powerful legs and shoulders. The joints are sturdy and the tendons have good definition, which is what allows the horse to perform the advanced dressage air movements.

Lipizzaner horses also have ears that are small, but remain alert, and eyes that are both large and appealing. Their convex nose provides evidence of their Spanish upbringing, as does the compact body. 

#12. Despite their general rarity, purchasing a Lipizzaner horse is rather affordable. 

Many Lipizzaner horses are available for around $5,000. This makes this breed one of the most affordable breeds that is considered to be “rare” in the world today. Several breeding programs throughout the world make it possible for virtually everyone who wants a Lipizzaner horse to be able to have one.

#13. Lipizzaner horses which do not excel in dressage are still highly coveted. 

Although the first purpose of this breed is typically for show, Lipizzaner horses are a very flexible breed. Those that are not suitable for school training go on to become excellent driving horses, fantastic hunters, and small-event horses. 

These Lipizzaner horse facts show that with careful training, selective breeding, and careful management, it is possible to have a highly intelligent, strong, and skillful horse that can do almost anything. This makes this breed of horse one of the most popular and sought after breeds in the world today. 

How to Treat Laminitis in Horses

Laminitis is a very painful condition that horses can develop. It is a disease that can be potentially crippling and even be life-threatening in severe cases. To know how to treat laminitis in horses means understanding what it is and why it occurs.

For the hoof wall of the horse, there is a layer of outer insensitive tissues and a layer of inner tissues that are very sensitive. The outer layer is referred to as the “horn,” while the inner layer is called the “laminae.” When laminitis occurs, it affects how much blood flows to the sensitive inner tissues. This results in swelling and inflammation within the hoof of the horse.

This swelling also causes intense pain for the horse, which causes the animal to stop moving around.

As the condition continues, the inner tissues become starved of oxygen. This causes them to begin deteriorating and they will eventually die if oxygenated blood flow is not restored to the area. It requires immediate treatment to prevent cell death. You will typically find laminitis in the front feet, but it can occur in any hoof. 

If the laminitis is allowed to continue, it may cause the pedal pone to protrude from the sole of the foot. It will sing and then rotate because the inner tissues have died and cannot support it any more. Once this occurs, many cases of laminitis cannot be reversed.

All horses are at risk for developing laminitis.

What Are the Causes of Laminitis?

Laminitis can be caused by a number of different conditions and factors. Some horses may even be genetically predisposed to the development of this condition. The most common factor, however, is weight. Horses that are overweight have a higher risk for laminitis compared to horses of normal weight. A previous case of laminitis also increases the risk of this condition developing.

Here are some of the other causes of laminitis that may be worth examining so an effective treatment plan can be developed.

Stress: Horses that travel frequently or experience continual changes of environment experience stress triggers that may result in laminitis. Mares also experience stress triggers as a result of foaling.

Diet: Horses which have a diet full of starch and sugars cause a reduction of oxygen within the blood. This is due to excess sugars being passed through the gut. This oxygen reduction then causes laminitis to begin.

Infection: Horses that have a severe bacterial infection may see oxygen changes in their blood that can result in laminitis. This also applies to severe instances of colic, prolonged diarrhea, or placenta retention.

Concussion: Horses that are working on hard surfaces for a prolonged period of time can damage the hoof. This risk is increased if the horse has poor-quality hooves. The trauma creates cell damage and this results in a case of laminitis.

Genetics: A horse that has been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease is at a higher risk of developing laminitis. This is because of a pituitary gland issue which causes extreme hunger and thirst in the horse.

What Are the Symptoms of Laminitis?

Laminitis symptoms are generally separated into acute cases and chronic cases of this condition.

In acute laminitis, the symptoms occur suddenly and can be very severe. The horse may have an immediate desire to lie down. There may also be a reluctance to walk or an unwillingness to stand up. The horse will be visibly lame, especially when walking on a hard surface, and may lean to one side in order to relieve pressure from the affected hoof.

Horses with acute laminitis will also walk more on their heels to prevent placing pressure on the affected tissues.

In chronic laminitis, less severe symptoms are usually present in comparable ways to acute laminitis. The symptoms will be ongoing and may come in “cycles” or “attacks” during a flare-up of tissue damage. You will notice that the affected hoof will have growth rings around the hoof wall and the heel tends to grow faster than the toe.

How to Effectively Treat Laminitis in Horses

If the symptoms of laminitis are seen, then it is necessary to call your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will create a treatment plan that must be followed exactly. A correct treatment must be given in order to prevent long-term damage to the inner tissues of the hoof.

Before the vet arrives, you can move the horse to a smaller stable, pen, or area. Provide a deep bed that is soft so that painful pressure is not applied to the sensitive tissues. You will want to use bedding that can form around the hoof and frog so that the horse has standing supports.

Feed should be removed, but water that is clean and fresh should always be provided to prevent colic from developing as well. After the examination, your veterinarian will recommend a specific diet to follow as part of the treatment plan.

Because stress is a major trigger for laminitis, especially after it begins, it becomes important to make the horse be as comfortable as possible. This includes making sure that a favorite companion is nearby.

Do not expose the hoof to cold water. The myth that cold water helps to treat laminitis is one that needs to be addressed. The cold water seems to work initially because it helps to reduce the swelling and inflammation that is within the hoof. This is why many owners will have their horse stand in a cold stream or use a cold-water hose to cover the hoof. The cold water also constricts blood vessels, preventing even more oxygen from reaching the sensitive inner tissues, so it will hasten cell death.

You may need to take your horse for x-rays to determine if any rotation has occurred. You may also need to bring in your farrier so that a rotation can be addressed, if possible, and to create the best possible conditions for a future recovery.

How to Prevent Laminitis in the First Place

One of the easiest ways to prevent laminitis is to promote a healthy weight for each horse. Monitor the diet of each horse carefully and feed according to breed, type, and workload. Feed little and often for best results. Never starve a horse.

Implementing a good exercise program will also help to prevent obesity if one is not in place already.

Horses also need regular attention from a farrier or a knowledgeable owner. A visit should occur every 4-8 weeks, depending on the breed of horse. This will make sure that each hoof is always as healthy as possible and will catch cases of laminitis early.

Knowing how to treat laminitis in horses can help you stop a disease that can be very painful and extremely debilitating. Prevention is always the best option, but if it does occur, make sure your veterinarian knows right away so that together you can stop this disease quickly.

18 Interesting Arabian Horse Facts

Arabian horses are one of the oldest breeds that are known. It is often considered to be the first domesticate breed of horse and is recognized as being over 5,000 years old. Originally bred in the Middle East, Arabians are now throughout the world and the oldest purebred horse in the world today. Many of today’s “modern” breeds have Arabian genetics at some point within their bloodlines.

Here are some additional fascinating Arabian horse facts so that a greater familiarity with this very popular breed can be obtained.

#1. Arabians are known for the physical endurance. 

The original Arabians were bred by the Bedouin tribes along the Arabian Peninsula. Dating as far back as 3000 BC, they used their horses for travel and war because of their physical endurance. Arabians have a large lung capacity and great strength, giving them the ability to travel long distances in desert conditions without much difficulty.

#2. All Arabian horses have the same physical trait. 

Arabian horses always have black skin underneath their coat. The only exception to this skin trait is when there is white hair as part of the coat. It is believed that this skin color developed as a way for the horse to be protected from the hot desert sun that is present in the Middle East.

#3. Arabians are usually bay in color. 

Bay is the most common coat color for this horse breed. Other color variations include black, grey, chestnut, and roan. Some Arabians may have palomino coloring, but this coat color may not be recognized as part of the breed standard and could prevent the horse from being registered.

#4. The skeleton of an Arabian is different than any other horse. 

Horses today have skeletons that offer 18 pairs of ribs and 6 vertebrae. Arabians have one fewer vertebrae and two fewer ribs. This hasn’t affected their overall height or stature when compared to other horses, however, as the average Arabian will stand at least 14.1 hands in height and weigh between 850-1,000 pounds.

#5. Arabians were once given the nickname the “Drinkers of the Wind.” 

This nickname was due to their overall speed, strength, and endurance. During the later days of the Egyptian empire, these horses were often used to pull chariots. Sometimes they may have even been used for racing in addition to the benefits of having an Arabian around for transportation needs.

#6. There are specific breed racing events held in the US for Arabians. 

Arabian horse racing events that are breed-specific have existed in the United States since 1959. The average race for Arabians is 6 furlongs and the biggest event of the year is the Arabian Cup Championship. Arabian racehorses are one of the most affordable racing investments that exists in this part of the horse industry, with the average price for a racing horse falling between $5,000-$20,000 in most circumstances.

#7. More than 500 horse shows for Arabians are held every year. 

In the US, more than 500 sanction Arabian Horse Association events are held annually. These events are sanctioned by the US Equestrian Federation and several different competitions are available for the breed. This includes equitation, sidesaddle, and dressage. Each horse that competes accumulates points toward various achievement awards.

#8. Arabian horses have several genetic concerns as a breed. 

There are 7 specific genetic disorders that commonly affect this breed of horse, which is more than average for modern horse breeds today. This includes cerebellar abiotrophy, lavender foal syndrome, juvenile epilepsy, and Wobbler’s Syndrome. Certain immune system disorders are also common within this breed, as are certain physical malformations.

#9. Arabians are one of the few breeds of horses that can actually dance. 

Dancing might be too strong a term, considering the techniques used for dancing are more like dressage techniques and show gaits. The tradition of dancing Arabians, however, dates back for more than a century and is often included as an informal part of shows around the world.

#10. Arabian horses are a foundational component of many myths and legends. 

There are several stories that involve Arabian horses that have been offered throughout history. It is said that King Solomon was gave an Arabian stallion as a gift and every hunt that included this horse was successful. Another says that the Prophet Muhammad had five mares return to him after he set his herd loose to drink at an oasis and these mares became the five strains of Arabian horse.

Another says that an angel told the wind to stop swirling, so it gathered itself and the dust into a horse that would become the first Arabian.

#11. The lineage of many Arabian horses can be tracked for hundreds of years. 

For the Bedouin tribes, the ancestry of each horse was tracked through oral traditions. Crossbreeding horses with “non-pure” blood was expressly forbidden. The Bedouins didn’t believe in gelding male horses either, so very few colts were kept and this helped to increase the strength of the Arabian bloodline while providing foundational genetics for several other horse breeds.

#12. Arabian horses were introduced to Europe because of war. 

It is believed that the earliest horses with Arabian genetics came to Europe in the late 1000s because of wars that were being fought. When armies from Europe invaded Palestine, including during the years of the Crusades, the victorious knights would often return home with Arabians as part of their victory. As larger horse breeds were developed, Arabians then became light cavalry horses that were used for war until the 1900s.

#13. The rapid increase of Arabians in Europe came from a single failed attack. 

In 1522, the Ottoman Empire sent more than 300,000 horse-mounted troops into northern Europe. The goal was to conquer Hungary and the surrounding region. The Hungarians, joined by the Polish armies, were able to defeat the Ottoman advance in 1529 near Vienna and captured a majority of the horses brought in the process. Many of these horses would become foundational bloodstock for Europe’s major studs.

#14. One breeding operation had a profound effect on the Arabian breed. 

The Crabbet Park Stud was one of the most influential breeding operations in all of Europe. It was started in 1877 and numerous trips were taken to the Middle East so that the best Arabians could be brought back to England for breeding. Over nearly 100 years, this program would breed and export world-class Arabians around the world, having a dramatically positive impact on the breed.

The only thing that stopped the Crabbet Park Stud was the creation of a motorway through the property that forced its sale. This dispersed the horses and ended the program that arguably made the modern Arabian the horse that it is today.

#15. In the early 1900s, the Arabian breed was almost completely decimated. 

The Russian Revolution stopped almost all breeding programs for Arabians under their control. World War I stopped most breeding programs as well. In Europe, there were believed to be just 17 purebred Arabians that remained by 1932 that were documented in studbooks. More studs were lost or destroyed in the aftermath of World War II. At one point in Europe, just three breeding programs were operational.

#16. The end of the Cold War brought a recovery in the Arabian breed. 

Arabian horses were rare in the Americas until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Those that were in the Americas were often half- or quarter-breed horses. The few pureblood Arabians that did get imported were highly prized and sought after. It wouldn’t be until the 1990s when breeding programs in the West would be started.

This added interest and breeding caused the formation of the World Arabian Horse Association to be formed around the time the European Union was formed. Today Arabian horses can be traded all over the world.

#17. George Washington rode a half-Arabian mount in the Revolutionary War. 

One of the primary mounts for General George Washington was named Blueskin. He was a half-Arabian who was believed to be sired by a stallion that was owned by the Sultan of Morocco. There is a rich tradition of owning Arabians in the Presidential lineage of the US. Martin Van Buren received two Arabians in 1840 as a gift and Ulysses S. Grant receive an Arabian stallion as a gift as well.

#18. All American Arabians were lost after the Civil War. 

There was an effort to breed Arabians in the United States in the mid-1800s. A. Keene Richard was known to specifically breed Arabians, but all of his horses were lost during the Civil War. He was also suspected of crossbreeding Arabians and Thoroughbreds. There are no known purebred descendants.

With their high tail carriage and the height of how they carry their head, Arabians continue to be one of the most distinctive horse breeds in the world today. These Arabian horse facts show that even if a breed is ancient, it still has the power to influence the modern world in many ways.

How to Treat Colic in Horses

If you suspect that your horse may be suffering from the pain and discomfort of colic, then it is necessary to contact your veterinarian right away. Horses are unable to vomit, so colic is the result of something that is passing through their gastrointestinal tract that may not supposed to be there. Without treatment and attention, the intestines of the horse may shift or twist, creating life-threatening circumstances.

Colic is also relatively common and horses can suffer from several different types. This means the symptoms being experienced by the horse may vary in severity. Even if there is just mild discomfort being displayed, however, any type of colic should be treated as a medical emergency.

What Are the Symptoms of Colic?

Horses respond to colic in many different ways. Some animals may appear to be unaffected by the discomfort and continue on with their daily routine as if nothing is wrong. Others may become lethargic and may roll around on the ground. Pawing and rolling are two common behaviors that are seen when colic is present.

Some horses that are suffering from colic may also develop an inability to pass waste products. A lack of defecation should be reported to a veterinarian immediately.

These additional generalized symptoms of equine colic may also be noticed. 

  • Anxiety that is above and beyond what the horse normally displays.
  • A lack of appetite and thirst, which may include playing with their food or their water bucket.
  • A pulse rate that is abnormally high, sometimes 50+ beats per minute.
  • Excessive sweating that is combined with the horse constantly looking at its flanks.

Horses suffering from colic may also make frequent attempts to urinate in order to stimulate movement in their gastrointestinal tract. Upon examination, normal gut noises may not be present with the horse.

Certain types of colic can also produce specific symptoms.

Spasmodic Colic: This gas-based form of colic produces loud gut sounds and makes the horse become very anxious. There will be frequent attempts to roll around, though the actual painful symptoms may be sporadic in nature.

Impact Colic: This form of colic prevents fecal production due to an impacted colon. This will create dark mucus membranes and a long-term reluctance to eat. The horse will also experience a drop in body temperature.

How Do I Know if My Horse is Suffering from Colic?

There are three key factors to look at in determining if a horse may be suffering from colic: their heart rate, their respiratory rate, and the color of their mucus membranes. Any changes to the baseline of these factors, when combined with the other symptoms of colic, are a good indication that the next step should be a phone call to the veterinarian.

Once your vet has arrived, there are a series of examination and diagnostic procedures that may take place. This includes an evaluation of gut sounds, along with another evaluation of the horse’s vital signs. If the pain is severe, a sedative may be given. Then there will be a thorough interview regarding the behavior of the horse over the past few days.

A rectal exam may be necessary to make sure a portion of the colon has not become twisted. A nasogastric tube may also be introduced so that fluids and be directly administered to the stomach of the horse. In severe instances, a stomach tap to collect fluids that are building up may also be required so that the direct cause of the colic can be determined.

After the examination has been completed and colic is the diagnosis, your veterinarian will work with you to develop a specific treatment plan to address the issue.

What Are the Different Treatments Available for Colic?

The cause of colic will always dictate what the treatment will be.

One of the most common first treatments for colic is the administration of an analgesic. Banamine is one that is commonly used. It is introduced for virtually all cases of colic because it helps to control the abdominal pain that is being experienced by the horse.

If gas is considered to be one of the causes of colic, the nasogastric tube can be used to relieve gas pressure at the same time it provides a hydration option for the horse. Depending on the severity of dehydration, an IV line may be given to the horse as well.

For colic that is caused by an impacted colon, the only way to relieve the pain is to remove the impaction. The first step in this process is to administer some type of laxative to the horse, which is usually offered in the form of mineral oil. Then the horse must be kept off of its feed until the impaction can be released. Once defecation occurs, the symptoms of colic will typically begin to fade and then disappear.

Sometimes the colic can cause a loop in the bowels or cause the colon to twist. In this circumstance, the only treatment solution is surgery. If the loop or twist is not resolved, then the health of the horse will be at-risk. This is why every case of colic should be treated as a medical emergency. 

How to Be Proactive Against Colic

Colic can often be resolved with minimal interventions. Deny food to the horse based on your vet’s recommendations and administer any medications that are recommended to ease the symptoms being experienced. Then, as the horse recovers, be sure to return them to their daily routine slowly and methodically. Make sure to watch for abdominal pain symptoms that may reoccur.

Sometimes horses will appear to suffer from colic for no known reason. This is why being proactive in preventing colic can often stop a painful episode from every starting in the first place. 

The best thing to do for every horse is to make sure they always have access to water that is fresh and clean. When winter comes and the water turns to ice, this increases the risks of the horse suffering from an impaction colic incident. Horses are very picky about their water and don’t like drinking very cold water. Purchasing a water heater can be a great investment.

Horses also need a lot of roughage in their diet since they are a grazing animal. Receiving too many grains and sugars without access to the bulk of hay or grazing can promote gaseous forms of colic. Combine this with regular dental checkups to make sure the horse can properly grind its food for best results.

But grazing also needs to be controlled. Sending a horse out to pasture with lush Spring grass is like putting a large birthday cake in front of a toddler and letting them eat as much as they want. Grazing should be a slow process and it may need to be controlled.

In following these steps, you’ll be able to know how to treat colic in horses. Always contact your veterinarian for consultation, even if you feel that you’re sure about what to do, so that the health of the horse can be protected.

16 Amazing Falabella Horse Facts

Falabella horses have a well-developed blood line with foundations from Andalusian and Iberian horses. Descended from horse stock in South America, this breed was developed in isolated conditions throughout much of the 1800s. This has led to a breed of horse that is equally proportioned to all other horse breeds, but one with one key difference: size.

A formal breed registry for Falabella horses was created in the 1940s and this effort has helped to stabilize the characteristics of the breed. In the first days of the registry, a Falabella horse conformed to breed standards when they stood at 40 inches. Today the breed standard hovers 10 inches below this. 

#1. Falabella horses are one of the smallest breeds in the world today. 

This horse seldom stands taller than 8 hands. In comparison, the average height for most other horse breeds is around 15 hands. This makes it qualify in size for “pony” status, but the breed is actually classified as a miniature horse.

#2. Falabellas weigh about the same as a large dog. 

The average weight of a Falabella horse is about 70 pounds. This makes it about the same overall size as a large house dog. It also means this breed is one of the lightest ones that exists today, coming in at over 950 pounds lighter than the average horse. 

Unlike dogs, however, the Falabella horse doesn’t typically show a craving for personal attention from their owner. They prefer to remain focused on the tasks that they are asked to complete. These horses are affectionate, but they prefer grooming and personal activities more than snuggling and games.

#3. Most US-based Falabella horses have the same bloodline. 

Most of the miniature horses that are approved for meeting breed standards in the United States come from just 12 stallions. This is because the first horses of this breed were not brought into the US until 1962. A winery in California purchased a dozen stallions from John Aleno and they were used to drive a small stagecoach in local parades as a way to promote their wine.

#4. A direct descendent of the breed founder started the breed registry. 

Julio Falabella is credited as being the first to create a formal registry for Falabella horses. The association was officially called the Falabella Horse Breeders Association.

#5. Several color variants and patterns meet breed standards. 

Falabella horses are most commonly black or bay in color. This breed is also known to have palominos, pintos, and other spotted patterns. The genetics within the breed also allow for some of the Falabellas to resemble miniature Appaloose horses, though this is a rather rare circumstance.

#6. Falabella horses are one of the most consistent breeds available today. 

Falabella horses are known for passing down their temperament to their offspring. Conformation and sizing is also consistently passed along from parents to foal. The foals of this breed are incredibly small, often standing just 12 inches tall at birth. It typically requires a Falabella horse 3 years for it to reach its mature adult size.

#7. It is possible to ride Falabella horses. 

Because of their size, most people cannot ride a Falabella horse. The exception to this rule is small children, which can make it a good early training horse for some toddlers. Most Falabella horses are considered to be in-hand show horses, but they can be taught to drive carts. Show jumping is also a competitive exercise for this breed, though the jumping occurs without a rider.

#8. Falabella horses make excellent guide animals. 

Due to their intelligence and relatively small size, Falabella horses can be trained to make an excellent guide animal. They can adapt to several disabilities and provide protections, insight, and assistance to those who may need extra help throughout their day. 

This makes younger horses within this breed a valued commodity, though older horses are typically available in most communities. Older horses may be priced at $750, but younger horses may be priced at $10,000 or more based on their training and conformity.

In order for a Falabella to qualify as a guide horse, it must pass certain standards. It must stand less than 26 inches at the withers for accessibility. There must also be no health issues or genetic defects that could affect the future health of the horse. 

#9. This breed is considered to be a warm-blooded horse. 

Falabella horses have the agility of larger breeds, a certain quickness for their size, and other hot-blooded features, but the milder temperament of cold-blood breeds. A Falabella is generally a healthy horse breed, though some horses in this breed may be undersized compared to their already small adult size conformation. 

Most Falabella horses, assuming they remain healthy and receive consistent care, can live well beyond 30 years. There are some instances of Falabella horses living well into their 40s.

#10. Falabella horses can be kept inside. 

Although these horses will often live in stables with larger breeds, the Falabella horse is also small enough to be kept inside. With regular bathing and grooming, their presence is virtually odor-free indoors. Certain homes may wish to look at fitting their horse with rubber shoes or sneakers to prevent falls or damage to floors if they are going to be kept inside as a guide animal or a pet.

#11. Falabella horses eat the same things as other “regular” horse breeds. 

Falabella horses are a grazing animal, so they prefer natural grasses and grains as part of their diet. Because of their size, the amount of “pasture” this horse needs are very minimal. A typical backyard will often produce enough grass for a single horse. Owners may need to provide trace mineral and salt supplements, however, to make sure the horse is able to meet its daily diet regimen.

#12. This breed of horse has a very severe sweet tooth. 

Falabella horses love to eat sweet things. In a domestic environment, they can often learn how to access sweets that are stored in cabinets, closets, and even the refrigerator. Their favorite foods tend to be apples and sweet cereals, but this breed has also been known to steal a can of soda, eat candies, and will go to great lengths to steal chocolate if it happens to be around.

Because of this extreme sweet tooth, owners of Falabellas must be very careful about where they store sweets and how many they feed to the horse. The threat of an injury from trying to access sweets can be severe in some homes and the added calories from these sweets can be detrimental to the overall diet of the horse.

#13. Colic is a major problem for Falabella horses. 

Although Falabella horses are a very hardy breed, their desire to pursue sweets can also put them at a high risk of colic. Since a horse cannot vomit, anything the horse eats must pass through their digestive tract. The size of the Falabella makes a colic incident more serious and is the reason why it is the most common cause of preventable deaths within the breed.

#14. Falabealla horses establish a social order the same way other horses do. 

This small horse breed might look sweet and cuddly, but they still have the same behavioral issues and social order establishment procedures as other horse breeds. They will kick, bite, and be aggressive in other ways. The owner must become the “pack leader” for a successful experience. This also means that horses which show consistent aggressiveness will not qualify to become guide animals.

#15. Falbella horses do not get fleas. 

For whatever reason, fleas are not attracted to miniature horses. This makes them a safe addition to virtually any home as a pet or a guide animal. These horses do shed twice per year and require a farrier to trim their hooves about every other month, but otherwise their care needs are rather minimal.

#16. Dwarfism isn’t a health concern with the Falabella breed. 

Many veterinarians believe that all miniature horse breeds, including the Falabella, have some genetic markers that come from equine dwarfism. Thanks to the in-breeding and selective small-horse breeding from other breeds in the foundational days of the Falabella, the health effects from dwarfism are minimized and often non-existent.

There are more than 300 different types of equine dwarfism that are none to exist. The one issue that owners do face is a high incidence of birth defects and delivery issues simply because of the levels of in-breeding that once occurred with this breed.

These Falabella horse facts are a fun way to get to know this small breed in a better way. They are friendly horses, can make an excellent pet, and are a wonderful companion animal to children and those who may have physical disabilities. In many ways, they can even be a lifelong companion due to their longevity. 

Their intelligence can sometimes make for difficult ownership moments, but overall, if you ask a miniature horse owner about their daily routine, they wouldn’t change a thing. 

How to Steer a Horse with Reins

Steering is one of the fundamental skills that are needed for riding a horse. This means knowing how to steer a horse with reins is a skill that every rider should learn. The only problem is that if you ask 100 training professionals what they believe is the best way to steer a horse, you’ll receive 100 different answers.

To some extent, every horse will steer a little differently. This is especially true when looking at the reins as your main steering option. Yet with a few simple strategies, you can maintain your balance, provide the horse with the cues it needs, and remain in control. All you need to do is focus on these fundamentals. 

#1. You might be using the reins, but you must also use your body.

The reins are just one part of the equation when it comes to being able to steer a horse. You must also be able to use your body to communicate to the horse what you want it to do. When you are able to maintain a proper balance and alignment, the pressure you are able to apply with your positioning combines with the communication being provided to the horse through the reins. This allows the horse to understand the steering command and head in the correct direction.

It will be helpful to angle your legs so that they are under your hips to encourage additional steering cues as you use the reins. Don’t keep a tight grip on the horse in this position, but do maintain your own balance. 

#2. Keep your shoulders stacked over your hips.

One of the most common mistakes that occurs when steering a horse is that the rider moves forward in order to move the reins back in order to steer. This puts the rider into a vulnerable position. Your back is no longer stable and your center is off-balance. At the same time, when you move forward on a horse, this adds weight to the front of the horse.

There are two concerns that happen when you place forward weight on the horse.

  1. It often causes the horse to believe that you wish to go faster.
  2. It makes it more difficult for the horse to actually follow the steering commands that you’re trying to give.

By making sure your shoulders stay stacked over your hips, you’ll be able to maintain a better overall balance. This will then give you the opportunity to communicate better through the reins so the horse will steer in the direction you wish.

#3. Look where you want to go.

Think “chin up.” Look in the direction where you wish to go. The amount of weight that is in the skull can actually offset your balance when steering the horse. Many riders tend to look down while riding and this creates a different communication cue through the reins than if the head of the rider was in a more upward position.

How you look in the direction where you wish to go also matters. If you make a quick snap of the head so you’re looking at where you wish to steer, then this “immediacy” will cause the horse to sense the emotional state and react accordingly. If you seem anxious, upset, or frustrated, then this emotion transfers to the horse and steering through the reins becomes more difficult.

Think about making small, light head movements instead. Maintain what might be called a “soft” gaze. This confidence will then give the horse extra confidence.

#4. Make sure that you’re using your hips with the reins.

As you’re steering a horse, maintaining your balance and keeping your chin up, you’ll feel the movement of the horse within the hips. By applying gentle pressure with the hip while applying gentle pressure with the rein, you’ll give the horse the communication cues it needs to understand the direction you wish to head.

At this point, you will either have a horse that willingly responds to what you’re asking or you will have a horse that begins to pull its head down. Bringing the head down is a way to throw a rider off-balance. When you are off-balance, then you do not have the same steering control through the reins.

Instead of correcting the horse if you feel a pull, remember the basics of balance and then maintain them. This will help you to be able to know how to steer a horse with reins even when the horse may have a different direction in mind.

#5. Squeeze your legs as you execute a steering command.

With your shoulders and hips stacked and balance achieved, issue the steering command through the reins as you squeeze the horse with your legs. Squeeze behind the girth of the leg which is outside of the turn you wish the horse to make. To turn right, you would be using your left leg in combination with the reins.

At the same time, use your inside leg as you rotate your hips into the turn to apply pressure to the girth of the horse. This movement should correspond with pressure on the reins on the inside of the turn as well.

Think of your position as a straight line. If you wish to turn left, then you would have left rein pressure, left inside girth pressure, and right outside girth pressure. Turning right would create the opposite need. Each cue then creates a straight line through you as the rider to encourage the turn.

#6. Remember to control the speed of the horse.

When you begin to turn, no matter how balanced you may be, you are in a more vulnerable position than if you were riding straight. This makes it necessary to control the speed of the horse as the steering command occurs. You can do this by moving your hips with the movement of the horse.

If the turn is occurring while the horse is in a trot, it will be necessary to control your “bounce” in addition to the steps described above. You do not want to be moving up and down as you communicate the need to make a turn because this may confuse the horse. Move gently with the movements of the horse instead and this will help you to be able to achieve the control you need.

Although knowing how to steer a horse with reins is an essential skill, it is one that is best achieved when you put your whole body into it. Just tugging on the reins to turn the horse’s head will not guarantee the movement you want and it may irritate the horse to an extent that refusals begin to occur. Stay in control, keep your balance, and you’ll be able to steer with regularity.

The History of Equestrianism

Equestrianism is the art of horseback riding. It is a skill that includes driving, vaulting, and basic riding. Horses can be used in a variety of ways, from transportation to racing to working purposes, so equestrianism covers all of these exercises and competitive sports. It is done through the creation of different riding styles, disciplines, and various activities.

Horses have been ridden by humans for thousands of years. Some of the earliest evidence in the history of equestrianism dates back to 3500 BC, where remains from Central Asia indicate the domestication of horses for riding purposes. There are wear marks on the teeth of the horse jawbone that are reflective of using a hard bit, along with several tools that are reminiscent of the same equestrianism tools that we use today. 

We know for certain that humans were riding horses for work purposes and for transportation by 2500 BC. They would also be used for hunting even while some cultures would hunt the horses for their food needs.

Some of the world’s greatest empires were built on the backs of horses. Couriers made it possible for ancient journeys of 2,000 miles to be completed in just one week during the Persian Empire. Messenger systems that were used in ancient times were replicated in the development stages of the United States with the Pony Express.

In many ways, horses have been able to free us from the struggles of difficult circumstances. They are able to take on the heavy work so that we can focus more on the development of culture and society. Yet in that desire to develop culture, human civilizations discovered that different ideas could create conflict. To resolve those conflicts, horses were discovered to be able to serve other purposes. 

A First Purpose: Horses Being Ridden for War

The earliest evidence of horses being used as working animals thanks to chariot burials and cave paintings. In these ancient civilizations, the chariots were often used for war purposes. Large horses were then used for cavalry. This gave soldiers an advantage on the battlefield, often playing vital roles in some of the most documented battles throughout human history.

It would not be until after World War I when war horses would begin to be phased out of battle plans. This means horses served humans in this capacity for nearly 4,500 years.

Most of this history of equestrianism takes place in Europe and Asia because of how the Ice Age formed. There is archaeological evidence that horses were also native to North America at one time, but died out during the Ice Age. Horses would not return to the Americas until 1493, during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus.

The idea that native tribes hunted horses to extinction is not one that is based in fact. What we do know is that once the benefits of horses in war were discovered, selective breeding practices began to take place. The goal was to make the horses bigger, stronger, and calmer. This would lead to the foundation of numerous breeds, including large-breed horses like Clydesdales and Shires.

Horse Racing and the History of Equestrianism

Humans have almost always seemed to have the desire to go fast. Before high speed automobiles, that meant riding a horse that had a lot of speed. Although there was most certainly an aspect of fun to ancient horse racing, there was also a practical purpose. By racing the horses, they would know which ones were the fastest and most durable for other practical needs.

Various forms of horse racing have occurred throughout history. Harness racing, chariot racing, and pari-mutuel racing for gambling purposes have all been common throughout the world’s major civilizations.

Over time, several additional horse racing options entered into the history of equestrianism in addition to the most popular races.

  • Endurance Riding. This sport requires a horse to race over a lengthy distance, often between 20-100 miles, and events are held in a variety of environmental conditions.
  • Breed Racing. Many races are available which focus on a specific breed. Arabians, Thoroughbreds, and American Quarter Horse races tend to be the most common today, but breed comparison racing has been taking place for almost as long as people have been riding horses.
  • Steeplechasing. This type of race in a reflection of the traditions of hunting horses. The horse in a steeplechase is required to jump over obstacles and is still a popular racing format in Europe.

These competitions have also lead to other forms of equestrianism competition over the years. From show jumping to dressage to equitation, both light and heavy breeds are given the opportunity to show off their skills in a variety of disciplines. Many events still occur on an annual event and equestrianism is also a featured sport in the Olympic games, as well as other international competitions.

Riding Styles and How They Have Changed the History of Equestrianism

Before modern technologies, horses were one of the most valuable possessions someone could. The horse was a primary method of transportation, a helper in the fields, and could serve in several other ways as well. If a horse fell ill, that meant days of lost work and potentially weeks of not being able to travel anywhere.

When we look at riding styles in terms of equestrianism, there are two primary styles that are considered.

  1. English riding.
  2. Western riding.

English riding is considered to be the traditional form of horse riding that has always existed in some form. Some may call it the “proper” way to ride a horse. In this riding style, being able to communicate commands to the horse is essential to a successful ride. This is because the rider controls every move through the legs and the reins. The saddle is light, has no horn, and the stirrups and simple and small.

Western riding started to develop during the later portions of the Colonial Era in North America. As ranchers and farmers began to work the land and raise livestock, it became necessary to develop a riding style that would allow for long-term riding. Some early Western riders would sometimes be in the saddle all day without a dismount.

Western saddles are more rugged when compared to English saddles and have an added weight. This allows the saddle to handle a tougher workload. A horn is on the saddle as well, developed as a tool for wrangling livestock from the horse. By attaching the rope to the horn, a rider can use the strength of the horse and their own strength combined instead of relying only on their strength.

Because of the demands that each riding style happens to have, there are different dress options that are offered for these riding styles. English-style dress tends to focus on “traditional” clothing, presenting a very formal appearance that harkens back to the times when only the wealthy and most powerful could afford a horse.

Western riding tends to focus on a rugged style of dress. Leather chaps, a work shirt, and a western hat are common items found in western wear.

Rider Injuries and the History of Equestrianism

The handling and riding of horses has always brought about a number of health risks. When riding a horse, the average person will have their head 12+ feet above the ground. A fast horse can easily travel at a speed of 40 miles per hour. If something unforeseen occurs at top speed, then the threat of a serious injury becomes very real.

Even when looking at modern riding techniques, studies from Germany, Australia, and the US show that riding a horse is even more dangerous than riding a bicycle. 50,000 riders visit emergency rooms in the United States every year because of their horse riding activities, which translates to 1 rider out of every 600 experiencing an injury at some point during the year.

Up to 20% of people who choose to ride horses on a regular basis will experience, on average, a serious enough injury that requires surgery, hospitalization, or may cause a long-term disability.

Throughout history, the most common injury in equestrianism is falling off of a horse. This is followed by injuries that occur due to the behaviors of the horse, which may include biting and kicking.

In Conclusion

Horseback riding may have seen many changes over the years as knowledge has increased and technologies have evolved, but in some ways, we are still riding horses the same way that our ancient ancestors once rode horses. By understanding our history and how it as affected equestrianism culture and style, it becomes possible to be a better-informed rider.

This knowledge may produce more appreciation for riding horses, but it also allows for more insight into what the relationship between horse and rider happens to be. Whether it is for farm work, for a long ride, or for going to war, the elements of equestrianism have combined to provide us with strong and long-lasting relationships that will never really separate a rider from their horse. 

How to Ride a Gaited Horse

The variances and styles of each animal can be very different, so there will always be different techniques used when learning how to ride a gaited horse. This is true even when looking at professional riders.

Yet there is also a few things that can be done with every gaited horse to make sure the riding experience is safe for everyone. Almost everyone can ride a gaited horse because there is a lack of “bounce” due to a lack of trotting. This makes it a great beginner’s experience, a good equitation option, and it is even a riding option for children.

The fact that riding gaited horses is such an easy thing to do also creates a unique problem. Because many new riders find it a simple task to ride a gaited horse, they never really progress in their riding skills. There are no shortcuts. If you want to know how to ride a gaited horse properly, here is what you’re going to want to do.

#1. Stay in balance with your horse.

You will need to ride over the strongest part of the horse’s back with a majority of your weight. This is the only way the horse is going to be able to maintain the smooth gait that makes it such an easy riding experience.

In order for you to keep your balance in this position, you must also know how to maintain your own balance while riding a horse. Maintaining a balanced seat that is not forward is ideal. This means making sure that your heels, hip, and shoulder are all in-line with each other throughout the gait of the horse.

#2. Get to know the signature movement of the horse.

When you’re riding a gaited horse, you’ll notice that there is a “signature movement” the horse has. You’ll be able to feel this movement in the seat. By recognizing the movement, you’ll be able to feel balanced instead of trying to stay focused on maintaining a balanced seat. This will help you to relax, which helps the horse begin to relax.

Many riders, especially beginners, tend to be very stiff in the seat. This causes the horse to be stiff as well. Even though it might feel strange or even uncomfortable, it is necessary to be relaxed in your balance in order for the horse to “unlock” the back. When this occurs, you’ll both be more comfortable and the gait will be smoother.

#3. Think about standing instead of sitting.

Good posture is something that is thought about by anyone who needs to sit for long periods of time. By sitting with your back, neck, and shoulders in certain positions, you can remove a lot of the fatigue and pain that occurs with extended sitting. The same principles apply when learning how to ride a gaited horse.

Except when riding the horse, the proper posture is more like standing up than sitting down. 

Think about what your posture happens to be when you stand up. Your legs come together. Most of the weight is placed on your feet. Your hips and knees are in position to absorb the shocks that occur while walking. This is what is needed when riding a horse.

Most people, especially when they sit on a horse for the first time, tend to put all of their weight on their sitting bones and their feet. This causes the legs to separate, but also brings the feet toward the body of the horse. It is a position that hampers the gait, which changes the riding experience on a fundamental level.

So you’re sitting on a gaited horse, but think about standing and that will provide a better ride.

#4. Grasp the reins with proper position and grip.

When riding a gaited horse, the reins should come into the hands from the bottom up. The thumbs should then be on top. This creates a ride where the fingers and wrists are more flexible, but won’t move on their own during the ride.

It helps to create a “soft” fist when grasping the reins. You need to make sure the reins aren’t going to fall out of the hand, but you also don’t want to hold the reins in a death grip.

You’ll be holding the reins just over the withers of the horse. Keep your hands down while you maintain your balance and this will help you to maintain a proper level of communication with the horse during the ride.

#5. Use body position to move the horse while riding.

The movies tend to show us that riding a horse means using verbal commands, whistles, and lots of leg action as the hands snap the reins. With a gaited horse, none of that is true. You’re more likely to have the horse look at you with its “Are you crazy?” look than receive the movement that you want.

Gaited horses need pressure in order to make a turn. When you’ve achieved a proper balance, you can use the pressure from your sitting bones to help turn the horse. Keep applying the pressure by leaning toward the direction you wish the horse to turn. Once the turn begins to happen, begin releasing the pressure.

Sometimes you may have a horse that is a little stubborn when it comes to listening. In this instance, using a pressure aid may be beneficial. It must be the proper aid for the type of communication that is desired, however, for this to work and it should only be used by those who are familiar with the tool.

#6. Have fun.

Once you’ve learned the basics of riding a gaited horse, it is time to relax and have some fun. You and the horse are one entity who will communicate well with one another when you each get used to the other.

One way you can further familiarize yourself with a gaited horse is to understand the difference between a “level” back and a “ventro-flexed” back. Specific gaits are associated with these two types of back shapes. 

Because the ventro-flexed back tends to have the withers come closer to your sitting position, it offers a rider better balancing options. This allows for several more gaits compared to the “level” back. On a level back, a gaited horse will usually walk, flatwalk, runwalk, or foxtrot only.

Learning how to ride a gaited horse may take some time at first, but it is one of the easiest riding options that is available today. The key to unlocking a successful ride is to keep practicing so that your riding skills can be honed. Never assume that because you’ve learned to ride one horse well that the same situation will apply to all horses and this will encourage your progression.

17 Fun Appaloosa Horse Facts

Appaloosas are a horse breed that are known for the colorization of their coat. They typically have a coat that is either patterned or spotted. They also have mottled skin and their hooves tend to be striped. This breed is one of the few that originates in North America, coming from a region in the Pacific Northwest that is called The Palouse.

It’s an agricultural area that covers areas of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon and is filled with pastoral areas, fertile croplands, and rolling hills. The Nez Perce tribe from this region is credited with the initial breeding of the Appaloosa.

#1. The Appaloosa is the state horse of Idaho. 

The State of Idaho first recognized the Appaloosa horse breed as the official horse breed of the state in 1975. The Appaloosa Horse Club is headquartered in Moscow, Idaho, which is just west of Boise and right in the heart of The Palouse. More than 700,000 Appaloosa horses have been registered to date since the Horse Club was founded in 1938.

Idaho also became the first state in the US to offer a personalized license plate that featured a state horse due to the popularity of Appaloosas. 

#2. Some Appaloosas do not have the patterning or spotting. 

There are solid color Appaloosa horses that look like other breeds. In this instance, if the horse is being shown or placed in competitive events, officials may require blood testing in order to confirm the breed parentage.

#3. Appaloosas are very versatile. 

The Nez Perce tribes utilized selective breeding practices to develop this breed because they recognized how versatile the horses happened to be. During the tribal era, the horses were used for hunting, endurance rides, and even as war horses because of their speed and overall calm demeanor. 

Today these horses are used for trail riding, horse racing, and even ranch work. They are highly regarding as being a hardy range horse. 

#4. There are six common types of Appaloosa base coats. 

The Appaloosa horse as a breed can come in every color, including palomino. There are six types of base coats that generally apply to the breed as a whole.

  • Blanket. This base coat has white markings on the hips of the horse, but will also have dark spots within the lighter areas of the coat as well.
  • Frost. This base coat offers freckles that are small and light over a dark-colored body.
  • Leopard. This is the most common base coat and it offers large, dark spots that are over a white coat color over the entire body.
  • Marble. This base coat has small dark freckles over a lighter coat color. It’s the opposite of the Frost base coat.
  • Snowflake. This base coat offers light spots over a darker primary coat, with a majority of the spotting occurring along the hind quarters.
  • Solid. This base coat has no color coat pattern at all.

There are also base coats called “Varnish,” which offers dark points and some spots over a lighter body, and “Few Spot Leopard,” which causes the base coat to become nearly obscured by the amount of spotting that occurs. 

#5. Appaloosas are average in both height and weight as a breed. 

The average height of an Appaloosa is generally between 14-16 hands, though some horses can be somewhat taller or smaller, depending on their heritage. Most Appaloosas will weigh around 1,100 pounds. They are a low maintenance horse in most regards and mostly known for their incredible endurance and overall personality. Appaloosas are going to let you know what they are thinking at any given moment.

#6. Appaloosas often change coat colors as they age. 

It is not uncommon for an Appaloosa horse to change coat colors as they get older. Many young Appaloosas start with a solid coat color and then begin to develop markings over time. Once they reach adult status, the markings of an Appaloosa will usually remain the same, but could still change over time.

#7. Certain health issues plague the breed. 

The Appaloosa breed has the highest risk of developing Equine Recurrent Uveitis compared to every other breed of horse. This health condition occurs when there is a minimal amount of skin pigmentation around the eyelids and reduced hair in the tail and mane. This reduces the amount of protection the horse receives from UV light and encourages the immune system of the horse to attack the eyes. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Appaloosas often suffer from night blindness as well, linked to the leopard complex gene.

#8. No one really knows how spotted horses originally came to North America. 

The Nez Perce are credited with developing the Appaloosa breed, but spotted horses are not considered to be native to the continent. How this type of horse came to be in The Palouse is up for debate. Some believe that Russian fur traders brought the horses over after the colonies were established. Others believe the Spanish brought the horses over during the Colonial Era.

#9. Lewis and Clark were the first Americans to encounter the Appaloosa. 

The Corps of Discovery Expedition, which is more popularly known as the Lewis and Clark expedition, occurred in 1804-1806 to explore the western US after the Louisiana Purchase was completed. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark encountered the Appaloosas in 1805 when they reached the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

#10. Appaloosas used to have even more traits than they do today. 

Part of the reason behind the expedition of Lewis and Clark was to establish water-based commerce routes along the rivers that led to the Pacific Ocean. Thomas Jefferson specifically wanted to proclaim sovereignty over tribes close to waterways. This would eventually lead to a conflict that, in 1877, would cause the Nez Perce tribe to surrender. After the battle, any Appaloosa that was thought to be improperly bred was euthanized, which eliminated many of the traits that were actually part of the breed.

#11. Appaloosas are an incredibly popular breed of horse. 

Many who own Appaloosas own multiple horses. Richard Gere is known to have owned 27 Appaloosas at one time. This popularity extends into TV and movies as well, with the Appaloosa featuring prominently on black and white TV westerns. Even more modern shows, such as Little House on the Prairie, would feature this horse breed.

#12. Walt Disney had an Appaloosa-specific TV series. 

One of the longest-running TV shows in history was called Run Appaloosa Run and it featured a First Nations girl and her Appaloosa horse named Sky Dance. It was on the air for 29 years, eventually being cancelled in 1983.

#13. The registry for Appaloosas is the third-largest in the world. 

This is particularly impressive considering that just 150 years ago, the breed was almost killed into extinction because it was considered to be an inferior horse. Before the Nez Perce battles, an Appaloosa could fetch a price of more than $600 when common horses were being sold for less than $20.

#14. There are breed restrictions in place that can prevent a horse from being registered. 

An Appaloosa that stands less than 14 hands in height is restricted from being registered with the Horse Club. The horse should also have strong legs and quarters, so any weakness or malformation in this area may also disqualify the horse.

#15. The Nez Perce tribe once tried to flee with their horses. 

Because of US incursions into The Palouse, the Nez Perce tribe attempted to flee into Canada to avoid further conflicts. This is what would eventually lead to their surrender, but at the time, they attempted to flee with over 3,000 horses on a 1,600-mile journey. More than 900 horses would be killed in just one battle with US armed forces along the way.

#16. One man could be credited with saving the horse breed. 

An unnamed horse trader in Oregon had purchased as many spotted horses as he could in 1870, just 7 years before a majority of the Nez Perce herd was slaughtered. This trader would sell the horses in pairs that had matched spotting, sometimes fetching prices upwards of $2,500 for them. One circus at the time, the Barnes Circus, had a dozen Appaloosas that had been purchased from him, allowing the breed to continue.

#17. Several breeds may have influenced the modern Appaloosa. 

There is a wide range of body styles that can be found within the Appaloosa breed, which is believed to be due to the influence of multiple horse breeds over the past few hundred years. Paintings from Europe in the 1500s show nobles riding spotted horses, while images of spotted horses date back as far as Ancient Greece and Persia.

These Appaloosa horse facts show that it is possible for a breed to recover quickly, even under dire circumstances. Appaloosa popularity never really reached a fever pitch until after World War II, which means over the course of just two generations, this horse breed has gone from near-extinction to one of the largest in the world. 

How to Get Rid of Thrush in Horses

Thrush is a bacterial infection. It occurs within the tissues of the “frog,” which is the structure that is shaped liked the letter “V” between the walls, sole, and bars in the hoof heal. When the bacteria are able to get through the outer horn of the frog, it will begin to cause the tissues there to begin to degrade. 

Once the infection sets in, thrush will cause the frog to appear ragged and uneven. As the tissues deteriorate, a very smelly discharge can be experienced. When the thrush is severe, it can cause pain, lameness, and begin to affect the sensitive tissues that are beneath the frog. You may even see blood on hoof picks when cleaning the frog when severe thrush is present.

The good news is that thrush is something that can be treated at home. Mild-to-moderate cases may not even need veterinarian supervision, though severe cases should at least be evaluated before treatment begins. If you want to know how to get rid of thrush in horses, then here is what you’re going to need to do. 

Step #1: Solve the Hoof-Capsule Abnormality

An unhealthy frog will always become recessed, which changes the angle/plane of the hoof. Genetic abnormalities can contribute to this development as well. This contributes to the risks of thrush development. 

Thrush typically develops because the heels of the hoof capsule and the frog are no longer on the same plane or angle. To help make sure the thrush is being treated, this abnormality will need to be corrected. It could be something as simple as rasping down the heal. When the frog is level with the hoof-capsule, the restored function will begin to promote healing on its own. 

Step #2: Clean Out the Affected Area

Once thrush has been identified, the best solution is to treat the affected area as if it were a dirty wound. You will want to trim away any of the frog tissue that has become loose or appears to be diseased. Depending on the level of infection that is present, you may also want to apply dilute bleach to the affected area.

Not every horse owner likes the idea of a dilute bleach cleansing, so there are alternative solutions that can be used to make sure the affected area is thoroughly clean. A Lysol dilution used as a foot bath can also work, as can a standard dish-washing detergent with a strong scrubbing brush. 

There are also some natural products that may be used with horses that are sensitive to detergents and disinfectants. Grapefruit seed extract that is mixed with water is a highly recommended method to help clean out mild cases of thrush on sensitive horses. You’ll need to apply two drops of extract for every ounce of water. 

Apple cider vinegar, Tea Tree Oil, or Oregano Oil also have been reported to be natural alternatives that horse owners have successfully applied. 

If you have trouble getting into the cracks of a hoof where thrush may be lingering, you can inject the cleansing agents directly into the location. Using antibiotic creams or antifungal creams may help to aid the healing process after cleansing out the foot before applying the next step.

Step #3: Apply a Mild Astringent

Once you’ve cleaned out the area, it is usually beneficial to apply an anti-thrush astringent to the affected tissues. Common astringents like Betadine or Desitin are useful for this step. If you are using a different solution or a homemade option, make sure that you keep the iodine within the solution to levels that are less than 2% to avoid creating a caustic environment.

Sometimes there will be deep cracks in the hoof where a standard cleaning method will not be able to reach places where thrush may be lurking. In this situation, you’ll need to take a more aggressive approach with the hoof. A scrub brush can get into those cracks to keep the hoof clean and then you can stuff cotton soaked in your preferred astringent into them to promote the healing process.

Once you’ve applied the astringent, it is important to make sure that the hoof has a chance to dry completely before allowing the horse to continue with the daily routine.

Step #4: Change the Bedding

If the horse has straw in the stall, then it is useful to change it out for either sawdust or shavings. Straw tends to retain moisture better, which can give the thrush the environment it needs to continue surviving even though you are treating it.

This is an important step to consider because horses that are affected by thrush will usually end up standing in their urine since they’ve been stalled. That wetness will allow the thrush to continue thriving. Just putting on an ointment like Desitin to protect the hoof from wetness is not always enough to stop the moisture exposure. 

Step #5: Keep Repeating

You will need to keep cleaning out the affected hoof on a daily basis at minimum. If there is substantial discharge, you may need to clean the hoof 2-4 times per day to help promote the healing process. If you do not keep the affected hoof clean every day and do so very thoroughly, then your treatments will wind up being a waste of time and could drag the treatment process out by several months.

Some horses may develop a scab-like covering on the frog. This may not be an indication of healing as the thrush can survive under the scab. Make sure you’re using a product that kills more than superficial thrush for best results. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the successful application of any product. 

Step #6: Talk to Your Veterinarian

Some cases of thrush can be very stubborn and stay active even though you’ve done everything right. In this circumstance, it is best to speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of an antibiotic. This will cause the bacteria in the hoof to die off so the healing process can begin, but may also require you to handle additional health issues with the horse over the course of treatment.

Knowing how to get rid of thrush in horses begins with trimming the hoof. If the frog and hoof-capsule are not on the same plane, then no treatment will be 100% effective against thrush. Apply harsh agents as a last-ditch effort to kill off the thrush may also cause more damage to the frog, which can cause healing times to be increased even further.

Once you have the frog back where it is supposed to be, the hoof should heal quickly and restore the health of the horse. Get the first step right and the other steps will be much easier to complete.

How to Trot on a Horse

Once you’ve gotten a horse to start walking, the process for trotting is essentially the same. The standard command to ask a horse to trot is to squeeze gently with the lower legs. The pressure being applied should be greater than what you use to get the horse to walk forward.

When you first get started, you’ll find that there can be a lot of up and down movement in the trot. This can even cause you to “bounce” somewhat while you are in the saddle. This means knowing how to trot a horse involves keeping yourself in control as you are teaching the new gait commands.

Here’s the good news: you can master the trot.

Why Do You Bounce During the Trot?

If you try to sit during the trot, then there’s a good chance that you’ll start to bounce. It’s the most common issue that riders face. If you can sit correctly, however, you can take a lot of your body movement out of the ride. This is important to do for a number of reasons.

  • It keeps you in harmony with the horse. Sitting the trot allows you to stay in better control of the dynamics which occur during this gait.
  • It keeps you within the center of gravity. If you try to stand during the trot, then you’ll change the center of gravity for the horse. Sitting allows the horse to carry you with greater ease. This prevents movement interference, which may ultimately cause the horse to become unbalanced.
  • It keeps you in a progressive state of mind. If you’re unable to sit the trot, then training the horse becomes more difficult. You’ll be able to increase your influence and communicate in a positive way.

The trick to sitting the trot is to become in-phase with the specific gait of the horse. As the up-and-down motion occurs, you begin to bounce because your movements have become out-of-sync with the movements of the horse. You have to anticipate the movement and decrease your own up-and-down momentum. Otherwise you’re going to be out of control in just two or three strides and that will make the trot difficult to manage.

Why You Shouldn’t Lean Backward During the Trot

Whether you’re just teaching the horse to trot or you’re trying to improve your dressage skills, one of the most common counters to bouncing is to lean backwards in the saddle. By leaning beyond vertical toward the hindquarters, you’re able to stabilize your hip joint and use the muscles of the thig and arms to lessen the overall bounce.

And that is not a good idea. Not only is it potentially dangerous to your health, but it can also injure the horse.

It’s a poor solution for the rider for a number because it causes several negative outcomes.

  • It impairs the effectiveness a rider has in communicating with the horse while under the trot, creating less overall control over the ride.
  • It places pressure on the back ligaments of the rider, causing the spine to react inappropriately while riding.
  • It causes pain and repetitive riding in this position is known to create degenerative back issues.

That kind of positioning also affects the balance and movement of the horse. From a dressage standpoint, it encourages the horse to maintain an extension pattern.

So how do you change the positioning so you can trot on a horse effectively? The first question to ask yourself is this: if the horse was not underneath you, would you be able to land on your feet? If the answer is “no,” then you need to change your position.

You can begin the process by noticing that there is a rhythm to the trot that you can counter with your hips and core muscles so that you’re able to remain stable. Yet being able to sit while trotting isn’t an effortless process. It is one that is physically demanding and will take time to correct, especially if you countered the movement by leaning backwards already.

How to Trot on a Horse Safely and Effectively

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a neutral position for sitting. When you go beyond vertical, you get used to your sitting bones angling forward. This causes you to angle backward to prevent from tipping. This makes you look more like a pendulum because you continue to overcorrect. This is why a neutral seating position is necessary. Find a place where your sitting bones, shoulder, heel, and hip are aligned vertically and you are able to remain comfortable.

You can practice this positioning without needing to mount. Find a chair and sit on it as if you were in the saddle. Keep your feet flat and make sure your knees are at a 90-degree angle to your hips. Then have someone press firmly straight down on your shoulders. Move back and forth just a little, feeling the give that you have in your spine. When you find the place that there is no give, then you’ve located your neutral position.

This is what you will need when you’re under the saddle.

Then it’s time to start working out. Your torso needs to be toned enough that it can give you stability throughout your arms and legs. You can feel the muscles that you’ll need to work on when you sing. The muscles will firm up around your sides, abdomen, and back. Once you recognize the muscles that are going to be used, you can reproduce the “firming” feeling on your own to give your torso some added strength.

You’re also going to need strong thigh muscles in order to sit on the trot properly. It is this muscle that is going to be absorbing a lot of the movement that occurs during the trot so you can be stationary. Instead of pushing your knee down, sit and consciously keep your foot planted on the floor while sitting in a chair. Then give your leg the command to raise upward, but keep the foot flat on the floor. Those are the muscles you are going to need to use.

You can also strengthen your legs and torso by sitting in an invisible chair. Press your back against a wall and slide down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Then maintain that position for as long as you can.

Now You’re Ready to Teach Your Horse How to Trot

When you are able to master your positioning, you’re able to teach a horse how to trot. Keep the horse at a pace that is fairly lively while you are engaged in a balanced walk. When you’re ready to increase speed, shorten the reins and then squeeze with pressure from your legs. Keep squeezing until you achieve the trot.

You may need to use a quick, but gentle kick to encourage the trot. Some horses may also respond better with a verbal command to transition to the trot.

Most horses will be hesitant to maintain a trot while under saddle for the first time. You may only get 4-5 strides at the trot before the horse decides that it is time to return to the walk. This is normal. Praise the horse for achieving the trot and then you can return to it at a later time.

The trot is a two-beat gait. This means the horse is going to use his legs in a diagonal pattern. Most horses trot by first starting with their left front and right rear leg. Then the horse will reach forward with the other pair of diagonals. As you learn this pattern, you’ll be able to use your balance to post.

Posting simply means that you’re able to rise and lower with the strides of the trot that are produced by the horse. This is where a majority of bouncing occurs at first because many riders incorrectly anticipate the gate and so they create their own bouncing motion.

In Conclusion

Learning how to trot on a horse can be a lot of work. There will be moments of frustration when you get it wrong and bounce out of the saddle. You may also experience an added level of resistance from the horse at first, especially if they are just starting to learn how to trot. That means it is just as important to have fun with the experience as it is to get the techniques and mechanisms correct.

You will also want to remember to reward your horse for a job well done. Treats after a ride will reinforce the positive skills that were learned. Praise good behaviors verbally and with pats when they occur during the ride.

Above all else, maintain communication with the horse at all times. You’ll want to make sure the reins are in contact with both their girth and their mouth. Your positioning will help to maintain this communication as well. This will eliminate confusion and ultimately help you and your horse trot successfully on a regular basis.

How to Draw a Mustang Horse

Draw reins are a training aid that can sometimes be useful for a Mustang horse. These reins are only used when the horse is being ridden under a saddle. The horse must also be wearing a bridle that has been fitted with a snaffle bit. There should also be regular reins in addition to the draw reins.

This will help you do the flatwork more efficiently that some Mustangs just don’t like to do. They’re available in leather, nylon, or cotton webbing. If you live in a wet environment, it is better to use leather since they don’t tend to get as slick as the other options.

What Are Draw Reins?

Draw reins are just one continuous strap. They are generally 15-17 feet in length and are buckled in the center. You’ll then have ends that loop around the girth of the Mustang from both directions. You’ll need to position the ends about halfway from the bottom of the saddle flap to the elbow. Then the draw reins go from the girth and through the bit rings.

You won’t have much stopping power from the draw reins, which is why you need the regular reins as well. Just hold both sets of reins as if you were using a double bridle with the Mustang. 

Is It Dangerous to Use Draw Reins with a Mustang?

As with any training tool, there is the potential for misuse or even abuse when it comes to the use of draw reins. They are often used when there is a lack of progression in training and the horse is beginning to refuse to listen. Applying draw reins to a frustrated horse will only add to the training frustration.

There are several reasons why a Mustang may be unwilling or unable to continue training. Many may feel that an unwillingness to work is the most important behavioral need to address, but that isn’t necessarily true. These issues tend to need to be addressed when drawing a Mustang more than compliance.

  • Lack of Understanding. If the Mustang was adopted from a program, there is a good chance that the horse does not understand what it is being asked to do. The horse may still be trying to learn your training language. Draw reins can be used in this instance if the goal is to teach the basics that the horse needs to know.
  • Previous Incorrect Training. Sometimes horses are taught, either purposely or accidentally, that an incorrect response was actually acceptable. You might be asking the horse to slow, but the training from your body language was to speed up. Discipline does not change this response. The horse must “unlearn” what it has learned.
  • Pain. If a Mustang is uncomfortable or experiences pain, there will be high levels of resistance. This type of response may require a thorough examination by a veterinarian to make sure there aren’t issues with injuries, illness, or even arthritis.

Mustangs may also not be responsive for the reason that what you’re asking of them is beyond their level of carriage. This breed is not used to the riding experience unless there are multiple generations that have been domesticated, so assuming the horse is able to perform is often a mistake. 

Draw reins can be used to discover the horse’s point of self-carriage, allowing you to progress with your training from there.

But My Mustang is Stubborn and Unwilling – What Can I Do?

It is easy to think that a horse is just being stubborn on purpose. We’ve all encountered horses that seem to be bullies, jerks, or practical jokers. Yet this is a common misperception that is often held about horses and it is a mistake.

A Mustang doesn’t wake up in the morning to plot ways to make you frustrated. Horses don’t think that way. A horse is stubborn because there are other factors that are influencing the behavior. Address those factors and you’ll be able to reduce the resistance that you’re experiencing with your training. 

Mustangs tend to throw up their head or poke out their nose more than usual when draw reins are first used. This is a normal behavior. You can reduce this behavior sometimes by warming up with the regular reins, then having a draw rein training session that is 15 minutes or less. Then return to the regular reins once again for the rest of your time.

If you change your training techniques out of frustration, then the horse will respond to your stubbornness with unwillingness. It becomes a power struggle where no one wins. To avoid this, don’t enter into the struggle. Try the draw reins tomorrow instead.

Why Use Draw Reins?

Knowing how to draw a mustang horse means that you’re teaching the horse that he is able to lower his head while under saddle. Some horses are unfamiliar with the process of stretching downward. When they feel the contact from standard reins while stretching forward, the result can be one of uncertainty or even unease. With your fist around the reins and your leg on, you’ll be able to change the perspective for the horse.

Sometimes the draw reins are used to forcibly “crank” the head of a Mustang downward because there is a certain level of stubbornness within the breed. This is not what the process is intended to do. You want to encourage the horse to lower his head and neck, bring the nose just a bit ahead of vertical. Then, when this correct positioning is achieved, you can put slack back into the draw reins. 

Draw reins can be particularly effective if you have an older Mustang that tends to keep their head high and the nose out.

For younger Mustangs, however, draw reins should never be introduced until the horse has been able to learn how to ride under the saddle. The horse should be able to walk and trot, as well as canter, in both straight lines and circles before the draw reins are introduced.

Mustangs tend to be nervous or excited as well, so introducing the draw reins can be a tricky situation. You need the horse to have an experience that is calm and reassuring so the process can be completely smoothly. If you’re unfamiliar with draw reins and you use them incorrectly on a nervous Mustang, there’s a good chance the horse will bolt and that puts both of you at risk.

Using draw reins can be beneficial, but it should not be a training tool that is utilized on a daily basis. Use them instead as more of a reminder when you experience more resistance or if you’re trying to introduce an exercise that is more complex than you’ve attempted before. This will allow you to know how to draw a mustang horse effectively so that your relationship can continue to grow strong. 

How to Choose Equitation Patterns

Choosing what the perfect equitation pattern will be depends on a number of factors. There is the ability of the horse to consider. There are the requirements of a competition that must be considered. How you feel as the rider must also come into play. For that reason, each pattern has certain strengths that should be considered. By focusing on these strengths, the best patterns can be chosen.

Here are the steps to go through to make sure that you are choosing the correct equitation patterns and then remembering them when it comes time to perform.

#1. Collect the patterns from past events. 

You can also collect patterns from magazine articles online membership programs, and other resources. Then practice the various maneuvers that have been collected so that you can find points of weakness that may need to be addresses. Some horses are born for equitation, others can be coached into it, but a few don’t like the process at all. 

By looking for proficiencies, you’ll be able to choose equitation patterns that fit the strengths of you and your horse. You will also have the opportunity to identify specific training opportunities that can shore up some of the weaknesses that have been identified. 

#2. Break down the patterns into separate maneuvers. 

Once you’ve gotten a feel for a few of the maneuvers, you’ll want to select a specific pattern that you feel confident in performing and begin to break it down. Abbreviate each maneuver based on the first letter or the figure that it happens to make. Memorize your code so that you know what needs to be done. Color-coding pattern components may also be useful. 

Then practice each separate maneuver so the individual commands can become familiar to the horse. You’re again looking for places of weakness that may limit the effectiveness of specific equitation patterns.

#3. Visualize the patterns in your mind. 

The best equitation patterns tend to choose you instead of the other way around. Once you’re familiar with what your horse can do and are comfortable with several patterns, close your eyes and take a mental ride through each pattern. See the markers in your mind. Picture the transitions and lead changes as they happen. Move forward through your turnaround. Anticipate any problems that might come up when completing the pattern.

This will help you begin to develop a strategy to confront unnoticed weaknesses that may come up while performing a pattern. It is best to hope for the best, but to still plan for the worst-case scenario to happen.

#4. Walk through your pattern. 

It is also important to walk through your preferred equitation patterns on foot. You’ll be able to look at the specifics of each movement in the patterns and get a feel for what it will be like during a performance. Take notes so you can double-check any potential problem points that might happen while performing.

#5. Perform each pattern with the horse in its entirety. 

The goal here is to work through the patterns as you visualized them. This will help you be able to turn what you pictured into reality. Should something go wrong, it is okay to complete the pattern and then start it over to see if you can get it right. If not, then the equitation pattern you have chosen may not be the right one for you. 

As you are performing each pattern, it is also important to be timing your practice sessions. Set specific limits for yourself, with the goal to eventually reduce the time it takes to go through your patterns to just 15 minutes. When it comes time to compete, this process will help you be able to manage your time more effectively.

#6. Keep practicing. 

Each preparation and training session will help you be more effective when it comes time to compete. Some days may be frustrating, especially if you are choosing new patterns to work on. Keep going and you’ll be able to get you and your horse ready when competition day rolls around.

One of the best skills that you can keep practicing in any equitation pattern is your distance judgement. This will help you to know how far you’ll need to move your horse in a specific direction. Not only is distance important as a skill, but providing a judge with a positive experience will give you a better chance to improve your final score. 

#7. Get to the pattern early when it is posted for competition. 

When you see what pattern is posted, you’ll want to transpose that pattern into whatever color or abbreviation has worked for your training sessions. Then take the time to visualize the pattern in your mind. Make sure that you look for specific details in the pattern as well. 

If you receive instructions that say something like “Go back 4 steps,” that usually means the details of the pattern will be judged with strictness.

#8. Never change your memorization techniques. 

Whether you’re trying out a new pattern or you’re trying to get a pattern memorized for a show, it is important that you keep your memorization technique the same, no matter what. Always rehearse according to your personal routine. This will make you be more comfortable, which will make the horse more comfortable when it comes time to complete the pattern.

#9. Get familiar with your environment. 

This applies to work at home and the preparation that is required for a show. Get you and your horse into the arena before you’re called upon to perform. Introduce the horse to your practice area so that a sense of familiarity can be achieved. Always take the time to warm up whenever it is offered, especially if you’re at a show and are given access to the show pen.

By being familiar with your environment, you’ll be able to identify problem areas in any equitation pattern. Specific environment facts, such as footing or ground quality, can also be evaluated. This is the best way to desensitize you and your horse to potential distractions that could throw off a pattern.

#10. Take time away before a performance. 

Try to set aside 5 minutes before you are needed to perform. When you are able to keep a calm mind, you’ll be able to remember the equitation patterns with better clarity. This added calmness will also give the horse an added level of confidence as you go through each part of the pattern.

This is because showmanship requires thinking ahead. You need to know where you’ll need to start. You’ll need to know how to make sure you can follow the specific lines that are mandated by the pattern. Your horse must be attuned to your movements and be able to react to the slightest shift in your body language so you can get the pattern right. 

Taking time away helps your mind be ready for this challenge. Get yourself right and you’ve got a better chance at completing the pattern. 

#11. Remember that mistakes are going to happen. 

Whether you’ve practiced an equitation pattern 10 times or 1,000 times, there is always a chance that a mistake can happen. The horse might pick up a scent it doesn’t like and become unusually stubborn. You might not feel well and miss a cue that your horse gave you. There will be times, both in practice and in competition, that you’ll blow the pattern. 

The best thing you can do should this happen is to forget about it. Shake the dirt off and move forward. If you attempt to school your horse for missing a pattern, the trust between you and the horse can be negatively affected by the experience. This can make it difficult for future patterns to be completed successfully.

#12. Even if you’re successful, move on to the next class. 

The process of choosing equitation patterns is never really over. Whenever you’ve performed a pattern in a show, it’s time to move onto the next pattern. Eliminate the previous pattern from your mind, no matter what the results might have been. This will allow you to continue focusing on the patterns that can enhance your strengths and shore up whatever weaknesses have been discovered.

#13. Set your horse up for inspection as soon as possible. 

Practice keeping your movements to a minimum. Always maintain proper spacing. Keep your attire and profile according to the guidelines that you’ve been given. A horse can perform perfectly, but a traditionalist may still penalize you if you’re perceived to be an “equitation rebel.”

Knowing how to choose equitation patterns depends on what you feel that you and your horse need to work on. An educated guess at what the posted pattern will be during your next show will also influence the choice. Then follow these steps to make sure you’re working on your strengths and your weaknesses so that you can have the best chance at completing your pattern perfectly.

And if you don’t, you’ll be ready to reset and do it all again the next time.

How Tall Are Friesian Horses

Friesians originally come from Holland and the province of Friesland. It is one of the oldest breeds in Europe and was originally brought to North America in the 1800s. Due to crossbreeding, however, the breed was eventually considered a complete loss in North America in only a couple of generations.

Friesians were not formally introduced to North America again until 1974.

Friesian horses are incredibly versatile and can be an asset for a number of different uses. Many owners use their Friesians for riding and driving. They are also good competitors, suitable for light farm work, and for dressage. Unlike many other warm-blooded horses, they have not generally been bred for jumping, but some perform well in doing so.

There are currently 45,000 Friesians that have been registered around the world. About 8,000 Friesian horses currently reside in North America.

There Are Specific Height Requirements for a Friesian Horse

In order for a Friesian stallion to be registered into the official studbook, it must meet specific height requirements. The stallion must be a minimum of 15.3 hands in height by the age of four. Friesian mares also have a height requirement of 15 hands in order to be registered into an adult studbook.

A mare must stand at 15.2 hands at minim to qualify for the star designation pedigree. Geldings have the same requirement.

Some horses are taller than these minimums and may enter the studbooks as well. The average height for a Friesian horse starts at 14 hands, however, so a pureblood Friesian may not be able to register for the studbook because it is not tall enough. Not being able to register for the studbook does not disqualify the horse from being able to register with the breed association.

The average weight of a Friesian horse is about 1,300 pounds. Mares tend to weigh a little less, while geldings tend to weigh a little more.

What Colors Are Friesian Horses?

When registering a height qualifying stallion or mare for the Friesian studbook, the only accepted color is black. This color may range from dark brown to a true black and still be considered acceptable. Many of the horses in this breed will actually appear to be black when they have been standing in the sun or their coat happens to start shedding.

The only color exception that is permitted from the black coloration for a Friesian horse is a small start on the forehead. No other white markings are permitted. Selective breeding with the Friesian ranks has sought to fully eliminate any additional white markings. Some mares and geldings may be allowed to register if their coat fades to more of a chestnut color.

Discoloration that occurs because of an injury or a black coat that becomes bleached by the sun will not affect registration status. 

Crossbreeding is technically allowed with Friesians, but because of what occurred previously to imported Friesians in North America, it is strongly discouraged by the registration association.

Why Are Friesian Horses Unique in North America?

Most horses are going to be evaluated just twice in their lives. The first judgment occurs when the horse is a foal to determine if it qualifies for an initial registry into the breed association. The second judgment occurs when a stallion or mare is being evaluated for inclusion into a breed association’s studbook.

For European Friesian horses, this is the standard process that is followed. For North American Friesian horses, there is a different judging process that is required for registered horses.

Officials from Holland travel to North American annually to inspect horses that have been registered with the breed association. The goal of this annual inspection is for North American breeding programs to be as effective as possible. A little more than half of the evaluation looks at the movement of the horse, while the other portion is based solely on conformity to breed standards.

There are three classifications that may be awarded to a Friesian horse. These are called premiums, of which a first or a second may be offered. The most common premium awarded is the Third Premium, while some horses may not even receive one. Whatever judgement has been awarded to the horse will be placed on the registration certificate.

What Is Star Status for Friesian Horses?

If a stallion or mare meets the height requirements perfectly and other conformation requirements are also met in an impressive manner, then the breed association judges may award the horse with a “star” status. About 1 in 5 horses that qualify for the studbook are given this specific designation, which also appears on the horse’s registration status.

Once the “star” status has been awarded, another set of classifications will be used to evaluate the horses. Mares may be classified as model, preferred, or performance. To receive a performance designation, a Friesian mare must bear a minimum of three offspring that are able to perform at top competitive levels.

How Does a Stallion Enter the Studbook?

Just because a Friesian stallion is 15.3 hands or higher in height does not guarantee that he will be entered into the breed association studbook. Only 100 approved stallions are currently listed and these are the only horses that are permitted to sire Friesians for eligible entry into the main register.

Once entry has been approved, there is a four-year probationary period where the offspring of the stallion must be able to demonstrate that a positive impact on the breed is being made. If the judging process indicates that the offspring of a specific stallion are not performing as expected, then approval for inclusion in the studbook can be withdrawn.

This is how the integrity of this breed is maintained. It may be considered to be a merciless process, but it also makes sure that only the best horses are influencing the future of this particular breed.

Friesian Horses Continue to Be a Popular Breed

Friesian horses have a striking appearance. The dedication to a specific color creates a horse that demands attention. Their temperament is also quite calm, especially in chaotic environments, which is why Friesian horses are often coveted for movie and TV roles. Their elegance attracts many who own horses, though the cost can sometimes be prohibitive.

The price of a Frisian horse depends on gender, conformation to standards, age, and other factors. Top horses of this breed may be priced near $100,000 in some markets.

Although the numbers of Friesian horses are somewhat limited compared to other breeds, the Friesian horse continues to grow in popularity. With restrictive requirements in place to ensure the future of this breed, a repeat of what happened more than a century ago in North America is not likely to repeat itself.

16 Fun Pinto Horse Facts

Pinto horses are not considered to be a “true” breed of horse. It is a color breed that is not defined by the genetic ancestry of the horse. A pinto has a dark background coloring on their coat, along with random patches that may appear in any combination. 

In the United States, the pinto is actually considered to be a proper breed in addition to its status as a color breed. Draft horses, Appaloosas, or mule breeding will disqualify a Pinto from being registered with the Pinto Horse Association of America.

These Pinto horse facts can help you get to know this popular breed a little bit better.

#1. The Pinto has generally been regarded as a war horse. 

In the many wars the United States had with native tribes in the west, the Pinto was considered to be an advantageous war horse. Its colorization gave it a natural level of camouflage that the tribes could use to defend themselves against military incursions.

#2. There are 4 types of conformation for Pinto horses. 

Pinto horses do not have a consistent set of physical standards since it is more of a color breed than a proper breed. There are, however, for sets of general conformation standards that are generally evaluated and it is based on the breeding of the horse. Stock Pinto horses are usually Quarter Horse and Paint breeding. Hunter Pinto horses come from Thoroughbred stock. Pleasure Pinto horses are usually from Morgan or Arabian breeding. Saddle Pintos come from Foxtrotters, Tennessee Walking Horses, or Saddlebreds.

#3. Pinto physical conformations are the same as breed conformations. 

This means a Pinto horse meets physical conformation requirements when it can meet the same requirement for its primary proper breed. This means a Thoroughbred stock Pinto horse would meet the conformation of a Pinto by meeting the conformation of a Thoroughbred with the exception to any colorization confirmations the proper base breed would require.

#4. Pinto horses didn’t actually originate in North America. 

Although Pinto horses are generally associated with North American tribal life, these animals were originally brought here by European settlers. Most of the horses usually came from Spain and the foundation of the color breed may date back as far as the Roman Empire.

#5. Although the herds of Pintos are thought of as wild, the US government does not classify them as such. 

After the arrival of European horses, some escaped and joined the herds of horses that developed in the wild from other settlers. The North American tribes would capture these horses to domesticate them, but because they were initially put into the wild from human efforts, the US government considers these horses to be feral instead of wild. 

#6. There are two color patterns that are generally recognized for Pinto horses. 

The first color pattern is called Tobiano. It causes the horse to appear white with large spots of color. These spots will often overlap and even cause the animal to be more of the spotted color than white. The spots of a Tobiano Pinto are generally on the chest, flank, and head, but can include the tail and buttocks as well. 

The second color pattern is called Overo. It causes the horse to appear colored and have jagged white markings and spots covering its coat. This pattern generally begins around the belly of the animal and then it spreads toward the legs, neck, and tail. These horses tend to have a dark backline, but with white or bald faces.

There is a third pattern that exists in Pinto horses and it is called Tovero. It is essentially a mix of Tobiano and Overo, but this pattern is not always recognized as part of the breed standard.

#7. The Pinto Horse Association of America was formed in 1956. 

Ponies, horses, and even miniature horses that qualify for the pinto pattern of coat coloring qualify for registration. The separate breed of Pinto horses outside of the color breed was not recognized in the US until 1963 and it is not always recognized as a proper breed outside of American circles.

There are more than 100,000 Pinto horses that are currently registered throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

#8. The word “pinto” literally means “paint.” 

This is how the horse breed gets its name. The spotting looks like it has been “painted” onto the horse. This should not be confused with a Paint horse, which is treated as a separate horse. The American Paint horse can be pinto-colored, but must have Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred bloodlines. Pinto horses do not have the same breeding requirements.

To put this another way, most Paint horses would qualify to be registered as a Pinto horse, but only Hunter Pintos are generally going to qualify as a potential Paint horse.

#9. Pinto horses must meet color standards to be considered part of the proper breed.

In order for a horse to be considered a proper Pinto, it must have a total of four square inches of a white coat and underlying pink pores within a qualification zone in order to be fully registered with the breed association. The qualifying zone for this evaluation excludes the face from the ear to the mouth, the nook from the chin to the mouth, and the legs from the knee and hock down. This is because these areas are usually white anyway.

Ponies can be qualified for registry with three square inches instead of four. Miniature horses are able to qualify with two square inches of a white coat.

#10. There are several different Pinto associations. 

Some Pinto associations are laxer on color standards than others, yet none will accept a horse that has a distinct leopard pattern on its coat. This causes breeders of Pinto horses to focus on breeding color patterns that do not involve the Appaloosa spotting so the horse can be added to at least one registry.

#11. Pinto horses were used by the Egyptians. 

Some Pinto horse remains were found in tombs that have been dated to be over 2,000 years old.

#12. Many Pintos were sent to North America just to be freed. 

In the 1500s and 1600s, spotted and paint-style horses were very popular in Europe. As the 1700s began to roll around, the look began to grow out of favor in European society. This meant there were thousands of horses being owned in Europe that no one wanted to be seen owning. 

To solve this problem, many owners would have their horses specifically shipped to the New World so they could be set free. In return, the owners could have their socioeconomic status at home remain intact.

#13. Pinto horses come in four different sizes. 

The standard Pinto horse will stand upward of 56 inches, or 14 hands. Ponies must stand at 9.5 hands at the very minimum and can go up to 14 hands in their classification. This classification includes adult horses that may not meet the 14 hands minimum. Miniature horses are any that stand at 8.5 hands or lower, or about 34 inches. 

The fourth category which is often ignored is the group of adult horses that stand at 8.5-9.5 hands in size. This category is officially recognized as Miniature-B Pinto horses.

#14. Native tribes believed in more than the usefulness of the Pinto horse. 

The tribes of North America also believed that the Pinto horse was possessed with certain magical qualities. By taking the horse into battle, they could take advantage of these qualities to protect their homes and families.

#15. Being bald isn’t a reference to a lack of a coat. 

Pintos are sometimes referred to as piebald or skewbald instead of the color patterns. This is a reflection of the darkest color of coat that the Pinto horse happens to have. If the darkest color is a true black, then this makes the horse a piebald. Any other color makes the horse a skewbald.

This means it is possible to have a piebald Tobiano Pinto horse, a skewbald Overo horse, or vice-versa. To accurately describe the horse to someone without a picture, both color and pattern terms would need to be used instead of just one or the other.

#16. Pinto horses are very affordable to own. 

Pinto horses are generally a low maintenance horse. As long as they have room to roam and a warm place to sleep, their care needs are minimal compared to other breeds. When searching for a proper breed Pinto horse, pricing tends to be around $15,000. For color breed Pintos, pricing may begin at $3,000 or less, depending on the genetics, age, and gender of the horse. 

These Pinto horse facts can help you get to know the history of this breed, whether the focus is on the color breed or as a proper breed. From a US perspective, this horse has helped to shape society and culture for over 200 years. For that reason, maybe it is fitting that from an American perspective, it really is a proper breed. 

How to Hold Horse Reins

With a proper hand position, a rider is able to maintain better control when riding a horse. This is because the communication between the horse and rider is better. That means knowing how to hold horse reins properly is an essential skill for every rider to learn.

Whether you’re a Western rider or an English rider, a common error is often taught to those who are new to riding. Instead of holding the reins as a rider, beginners are sometimes taught to hold the reins as if they were driving harnesses in a harness. Holding the reins between the index finger and thumb is not a proper way to hold the reins while riding under saddle because it weakens the cues the horse receives.

It is more effective to hold a rein in each hand. This increases the contact the rider has with the horse so that turns are made properly. In turn, this allows vocal commands to be heard more consistently because the horse is less confused over the rein commands.

Your First Step: Mount the Horse Properly

When you want to hold horse reins properly, the first step will always be to mount the horse properly. Most people tend to mount a horse on the left side, but this depends on how the horse is used to being approach. Pick up the reins with your left hand (or right hand if mounting from the other side), place your left/right foot into the stirrup closest to you, and then push up and into the saddle.

This motion should keep your foot in the stirrup. Now that you’re in the saddle, you’ll want to secure your other foot into the other stirrup. The reins should still be in the appropriate hand.

Then you’ll want to determine what type of reins are being used. Western reins tend to be split, offering riders a single rein for each hand. English reins tend to be looped, but the grip will still be the same so that control and communication remain as clear as possible.

If you’re unsure of the condition or quality of the reins that are being used, inspect them for cracks and abnormal wear before you mount the horse so that your riding experience has a lower risk of an unpleasant surprise.

Always Make Sure You Have a Strong Hand

If you’re holding horse reins, then make sure you have them held with a strong hand. If your grip is weak, the horse can sense this and pull them from you. Should this occur, you’re left at the mercy of what the horse will do unless you’re able to re-establish control. 

You’ll also want to keep these keep these key points in mind when you’re learning how to hold horse reins for the first time.

  • Insert the rein between your ring finger and pinky finger on each hand. This will give you more side control when it comes time to give the horse a navigational command. Use this hold whenever a direct rein aid is being employed. 
  • Form a fist that is strong, but somewhat loose, around each rein. The goal should be to hold the rein flat against each palm. If your hands begin to sweat or feel moist immediately, then you’re holding the reins too tightly.
  • Rotate the hand slightly so that each fist is facing with the thumb upward. Then secure the grasp on the rein by pressing the bight or the slack between the index finger and the thumb.
  • Then get comfortable with the reins in your grasp. Vary your hand positions and height as you ride so that your grip is firm, but communication with the horse is not interrupted.

If you’re uncomfortable with the multi-stage process of wrapping the reins around your fingers, there is another way to hold horse reins that is effective. Start by holding the opposite sides of the reins, with one in each hand. Wrap the rein around your first three fingers, making sure that your palm remains flat.

You should not have the reins around your thumb or your pinky when using this alternative holding method. Repeat for the other hand. Then close your hands into a loose fist, like you’re holding a water bottle. Turn your hands so that your thumbs are pointing at each other.

These methods apply to leather, nylon, or other types of reins that may be used.

Riding Position Will Also Affect Rein Communication

When holding horse reins in either riding style, your hands should be about 5 inches apart from each other. You can gauge the distance by looking at the width of the horse’s neck. Your hands should never be further apart than the width of the neck.

You will also need to make sure that you’re keeping your hands above the withers of the horse. Keep your hands relaxed, with your grip remaining firm, as you keep them above the saddle. You’ll have better results if you can position your hands somewhat in front of the saddle pad without causing your body to lean forward.

Keep your elbows close to a 90-degree angle. This will help you be more responsive should the horse need to receive an immediate command.

Rein Tension Is Also Important for a Good Ride

When holding horse reins, it is important to make sure you maintain a “tension balance” during the ride. If you have too much tension, then it may restrict the movements of the horse or you may issue an inadvertent navigation command. Holding the reins too tightly may also cause pain for the horse.

If the tension is too loose, riders may find that their horse becomes unresponsive to their commands.

The right amount of tension is enough for you as the rider to be able to maintain control, but not placing so much tension on the horse that it feels trapped. For those who are just learning how to hold horse reins, it is also a good idea to use a snaffle bit, equipped with D-rings, because this setup tends to be more forgiving in terms of tension mistakes.

Some horses have sensitive muzzles and may require less tension than would generally be recommended. Sensitive muzzles can occur when there is a harsh bit being used as well. Too much tension may cause the horse to react in pain or surprise during a hard tug, causing the fight or flight reflex to be initiated.

Over time, Western riders may be able to use one hand to control both reins using these methods. English riders should always use two hands with the loop-style rein to avoid communication errors. When you know how to hold horse reins properly, it becomes a lot easier to safely enjoy riding a horse. Follow this guide and you’ll be able to increase your chances of success.