Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Horse Riding Safety

horseback riding

Horse Riding Safety
by Teresa Hughes

Horse riding can be a safe and extremely rewarding hobby when the rider takes steps to minimize risks. As with any of the most enjoyable activities in life, it is impossible to eliminate all risks. But, by educating yourself to equestrian safety, the possibility of injury can be greatly reduced.

Match Horse to Rider Ability - Throughout our riding careers our skills are constantly improving. Novice riders need to stick with calmer, more experienced horses until the necessary riding skills are achieved. If you wonder that you may be “over mounted,” you probably are. Consult with a riding instructor BEFORE purchasing a horse. She/he will help you find a horse that is matched to your current skill level.

Professional Instruction - Inexperienced riders should get lessons from a professional. Riding lessons can be somewhat expensive, but well worth it for increased riding safety. You can reduce the cost by finding a lesson partner on your own skill level. Many instructors offer reduced rates for groups of two or more students.

Always Wear A Helmet - Always wear a properly fitted ASTM/SEI certified equestrian riding helmet. Equestrian helmets are different than bicycle helmets, as they are designed for impact to the back of the head, as opposed to front or side injuries which bicycle helmets are designed for. The majority of head injuries from horse riding accidents are to the back of the head.

Check Your Tack Regularly - Make it a habit to give your tack a thorough safety check every few weeks. Look for worn leather and fabric and rust and pay particular attention to fasteners, such as Chicago screws. This is also a good time to recheck that the bit is fitting properly. There should be no space between the bit and the corner of the mouth and no more than two creases in the corner of the mouth. Bit fit can change as leather expands and contracts over time.

Stirrup Safety - Wear a boot with a good heel to keep your foot from slipping through the stirrups. Not being able to get your foot free during a mishap is a terrifying experience and can result in the rider being dragged. As an additional precaution, you can prevent dragging accidents by using a safety stirrup, such as peacock stirrups, break away stirrups or Toe Stoppers. Toe Stoppers are a stirrup attachment that prevent the foot from slipping through that can be fitted to any stirrup style.

Stay Alert - It’s easy when you're plodding along, chatting to your riding buddies on a beautiful day on the trail to forget you’re supposed to be actively” riding” your horse. You may become a bit of a back seat passenger. This can be very dangerous as your reaction time will be delayed by critical seconds. Stay alert and attentive at all times while riding. Not tense - but constantly aware of the environment - your riding surface, your peripheral vision, your distance in relationship to other riders, your horses responses to your cues -- much as you would (or should be) while driving.

Trail Riding Safety - By following a few safety and etiquette rules, trail riding can be a safe and fun way to see our beautiful country .

Never ride alone. Ride with someone you know to be experienced and thoughtful.

Take your cell phone.

Wait until all riders are mounted to move off.

If you could be returning after dark, wear reflective clothing and take a small flash light.

Horses prone to kicking should wear a red ribbon on their tails.

Keep at least one horse length between you and the horse in front.

In larger groups, elect someone who knows the trails as trail boss. The trail boss knows the trails, maintains the pace and is considerate of others when increasing speed.

Do not pass the trail boss.

When riding during hunting season, make lots of noise and wear visible clothing such as a fluorescent vest. Using rhythm beads on your horse is a good way to alert hunters that you are NOT a deer.

A pen knife and baling twine can be very useful for emergency tack repairs.

Take a hoof pick.

Do not leave the trail. Holes and unsafe surfaces, sharp objects and hornets nests may exist in unknown areas such as open fields.

Practicing safe riding principles can mean many years of happy, healthy riding enjoyment for you and your horse.

Have fun and stay safe!


Teresa Hughes has over 20 years experience as an equestrian and trains her own horses. She's loved horses from her earliest childhood memories and begged her parents until she finally got her first pony when she was twelve. After several years of being away from horses to raise a family, she was horrified to discover (although all the passion was still there) the confidence she'd enjoyed in her younger years was gone. After much trial and error, she has found her way back to enjoying her horses again as she did as a child and is not only riding, but starting colts as well. She shares on her website, Positively Riding!, the methods that were beneficial for her in overcoming fear. She hopes to help others, experiencing lack of confidence issues, to find a shorter path back to enjoying their horses.

Contact info:

Teresa Hughes, Owner
Positively Riding!


horseback riding by J. Foley

Monday, April 10, 2006

Picking Up Your Horse's Hoof

horseback riding
Picking Up Your Horse's Hoof
The idea of picking up a horse's hooves can intimidate some owners since a well-placed horse kick would really hurt! Such caution is good, but in reality if you pick up a horse's hoof properly you provide him with no leverage or ability to kick you. This is a situation where a person's worst fears can cause him to imagine an incident that is highly unlikely to occur with careful handling.

Here's how to safely pick up a horse's hoof:

Starting with the front hoof, approach your horse diagonally from his front so that he clearly knows you are there ? you don't want to surprise him. Place yourself even with his shoulder and make sure to face his rear; you will both be facing opposite directions during the hoof picking process.

Making sure that your feet aren't too close to the horse's hoof, start running the hand parallel to him down his shoulder and along the length of his leg, finally stopping just above his ankle. Gently grasp the ankle portion and click (or otherwise verbally cue him) to ask him to raise his leg. If he's well trained, that small cue will be more than enough and he'll do just what you requested. You're now free to begin picking his hoof.

If your horse is being a bit stubborn or hasn't learned how to pick up his legs yet try leaning into his shoulder as you run your hand down the back of his cannon bone. You can also gently squeeze/pinch the tendons to further cue him to what you would like. As you perform these physical cues make sure you provide a verbal one also (I make a clicking sound) so the horse later associates your sound with the requested response. Increase the weight you push against his shoulder until he finally lifts his leg as requested.

When picking a horse's hoof you want to remove all debris from the hoof clefts as well as the rim and frog. Be careful around the frog because it can sometimes be a bit sensitive, particularly if the horse has thrush.

Once you have finished cleaning the front hoof carefully guide it back to the floor; you don't want to allow the horse to slam it, potentially hitting your foot in the process. Praise your horse and pat him on the front shoulder a bit so he understands that you are pleased with his cooperation, then run your hand along his back to his rear leg. Place yourself in the same position as you did with his front leg and do the process over again.

There is a slight difference between lifting a rear foot and front foot, even though your basic positioning and actions are nearly identical. When you lift your horse's rear foot he will probably give a little jerk that you might misinterpret as a kick. This is a common reflex reaction among horses and nothing for you to worry about.

Secondly, when you raise your horse's rear leg you'll want to step into him a bit so that your hip is underneath his leg. Rest his leg on your thigh, grab his hoof and gently flex it upwards. By doing this you lend him some support and more importantly the position of his leg and his flexed hoof will prevent him from being able to kick you.

Clean the hoof, lower it cautiously as you did the first and praise him. Congratulations ? you're halfway done! The opposite side will be done exactly the same way, but try to return to his front and start the opposite side rather than move around his rear. It's bad practice to approach or circle all but the most trusted horses via the rear in such close quarters since a horse would be within range to strike.

When lifting any hoof try to make sure your horse is properly squared (balanced evenly on all four legs) so that when you lift one hoof he can easily balance on his remaining three. At no time should the horse actually lean his weight on you! Even when you rest his rear leg on your thigh you're not allowing him to use you as a crutch.

Once you have picked your horse's hooves a few times it will probably become very simple and take less than 5 minutes to clear all hooves. Most trained horses will raise their hoof for you the moment they feel your leg run down their leg.

It is a very good idea to control your horse's head while you are picking his hooves. This can be done by attaching his halter to crossties or asking a partner hold your horse's head. By controlling his head you ensure your horse can't move away from you while you're trying to pick his hooves, or worse? turn around and take a bite at your rear!

Jeffrey Rolo, owner of AlphaHorse and an experienced horse trainer and breeder, is the author of the above article. You will find many other informational articles dealing with horse training and care as well as games and other horse fun on his website: http://www.alphahorse.com.

horseback riding by J. Foley

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Review Of "Introduction To Horseback Riding"

horseback riding
A Review Of "Introduction To Horseback Riding"
If you are just starting out with horseback riding, you want to focus on the information you need to get you in the saddle and to keep you safe as you ride. And lets face it, when we are learning something new it is so difficult to take in all the information we are given verbally. If you have it written down, and can read it through several times before you get to the first lesson, how much better would that make you feel? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to take in the information because it is familiar to you – so that you can concentrate on staying in the saddle rather than the info that’s being thrust at you!
This book will not waste your time or money - it is designed to get you horseback riding as quickly, safely, and inexpensively as possible. You will learn the practical information that you really need to ride. No gimmicks, no filler, no fluff. These are the horse facts and riding tips that every rider really needs - in one inexpensive and easy-to-read manual.
With this ebook, you will start reaping the benefits of horseback riding fast. With "Introduction to Horseback Riding" you will be able to quickly get the many benefits of riding, which include:

The ability to see nature in a whole new way - riding on a horse allows you to cover larger areas of wilderness and see it from a whole new perspective.

Enjoying vacations on a whole new level - just imagine being able to take a moonlit horseback ride on a beach on your next trip!

Weight loss and better physical tone - Horseback riding is an excellent exercising, gently toning your whole body, and especially building muscle tone in your legs.

Stress reduction - Many horseback riding enthusiasts find that "getting away from it all" while horseback riding and spending time with a horse melts away tension and daily stress like magic. Horseback riding can improve your whole outlook.

Meeting other people - Horseback riders really are a tribe, and once you begin riding you will find many people on horse trails and trail rides to talk to.

Solitude - Some horse riders find that they like going on quieter rides, allowing themselves to think and reflect. Horseback riding can be a quiet, meditative time with you and nature, or it can be a fun group outing - the choice is up to you!

Relatively inexpensive - You can rent a horse and many of the accessories you need to. Once you learn the basics of horseback riding, you will be surprised at how inexpensive the activity really can be.

Relatively easy to learn - Horseback riding does not have to be complicated or hard - learn how simple a few basic riding skills can be with the "Introduction to Horseback Riding" ebook!

Puts you in contact with animals - Few other sports allow you the chance to spend time with an animal, and horses can be a fascinating animal to get to know. Known for their loyalty, intelligence, and gentleness, horses are a wonderful animal to spend time interacting with.

Acts as a gateway to other sports and activities - Polo, trail rides, horse racing, trips to a dude ranch, dressage, rodeo riding, and fox hunting are only a few of the activities that require good horse skills. Learning to ride a horse can open a whole new world of adventure for you!

Builds confidence and discipline - As you learn the skills of horseback riding, you will be learning to communicate with an animal and learning to control the movements of your body in a precise way. This will help you build discipline. As you learn horseback riding tips and tricks, you will gain the confidence you need to ride with grace and ease.

Gain freedom and a sense of fun and passion in your life - Just imagine the wind through your hair as you race through a field or through a wood. Horseback riding is a wonderful way to add real excitement and adventure to your life. Once you try it, you will see why so many millions of people have adopted this exercise.

Check in the LINK section of this blog for your copy.

horseback riding by J. Foley