With summer coming to a close and horseshow season all but wrapped up this post comes somewhat late, but I would consider an important topic for the modern show horse. How much to bathe a horse has been the subject of many a forum. After some research I have found that the general consensus is to bathe only when necessary or about once a month. Horses can suffer from dry skin if bathed too much. Also keep in mind the type of shampoo used. Bluing shampoos can be harder on coats even though it is great for white. Also extremely important in during the bath is to make sure all soap residue is removed. I also found that manes and tails can be washed without having to bathe the whole horse. This is a good option in winter months as well as if you show a lot and need clean haired horses. Also people tend to agree that a coat conditioner will help relieve dry skin if you do find your horse peeling.
Feeding performance horses varies greatly from feeding horses that are just sitting in the pasture. Horses with different workloads have different nutritional needs that need to be met. A good place to look for information on what to feed you horse or how much is the internet, your veterinarian, or the state Extension Equine Specialist. The good thing about being able to call and talk to someone is that if you have any questions your vet or Equine Specialist should be able to answer those questions immediately. However if you know how hard your horse works, what kind of grass or hay he has available, and of any other needs Purina has an interactive feature on its website to help you choose the feed that best fits your horses life style.
Last week I talked briefly about tying a horse and how to keep those silly rascals from escaping. I tried to stress to always tie a horse like that if you feel confident that it won’t pull back. Now what are you supposed to do with those horses that do try and pull back and rip the trailer apart? First off it is always important to try and fix what the problem but until the problem is fixed or if the horse is unpredictable a tie blocker is the next best choice. A tie blocker is just a metal ring that when the horse pulls back the rope can easily slip through the ring while not providing an instant release to the horse. By keeping pressure on the horse’s poll he is more likely to figure out sooner that pulling back doesn’t give him the release that he expected. I personally love the tie blocker for horses that I don’t trust and young horses to hopefully keep a problem from developing. The tie blocker is safe and keeps the horse from getting hurt, my lead ropes from breaking, and my horse from running around like a wild thing after breaking a lead rope.
Never did I imagine that tying horses and having them stay tied could be a challenge. However with my last two horses I have learned a few tricks to keep those silly ponies tied. Learning to tie a quick release knot is one of the first things you learn being around horses. After acquiring Slick, I had to learn how to step it up and keep him from untying himself. It was quite simple but took some practice. After tying the quick release knot pull the extra slack a little way through the existing loop and continue doing so until you have a braided looking rope. If the end is looped through the last loop the chain will not come undone. However if you need to quickly release the horse, you can leave the tail out of the last loop and if you pull the knot will release.
Even in the horse world people love horses with long flowing manes. Now how do you go about getting a mane long and keeping it healthy at the same time? Mane’s take a lot of upkeep especially if trying to grow them out. The most important part of growing a mane or tail is to keep the horse from pulling the mane out or damaging the hair. It is best to keep manes braided if in small braids and regularly (at least three times a week) however, if not done properly the hair will break off more. Also trimming dead ends off the mane to promote growth is also a good thing to do. Shapley’s makes a product (MTG) that says it makes hair grow about three inches a month. Like people though, there is no replacing good nutrition for hair, hoof, and health. Happy mane growing!
Young horses and young riders just don’t go together. However if I had a penny for every time I heard “they can grow up together” I could have a decent income on that alone. Think of it this way. Would you want two sixteen year old kids that have never driven to teach each other to drive? I’m sure that eventually they both will learn to drive, but how well and after how many wrecks? Now what if an older experienced driver helped each person learn to drive? Would it not go smoother and hopefully with less incident? The same goes for horses. A young or inexperienced rider would be better off on a horse that knows its job and can help the rider learn in a safer environment rather than a young horse that doesn’t know what its job is and still likes to play around. Horses aren’t like cars, their buttons don’t work perfectly all the time and they have minds of their own. When someone is learning to ride you want them to be able to learn on a horse that is patient, dependable, and laid back and not many young horses are described that way. Think of how many teenagers that could be described that way, case and point.
Over the past few years as horsemanship has been taught more heavily and the results documented, rope halters have started to make an overwhelming appearance. Especially used while starting young horses and for teaching foals to lead, rope halters have been utilized. Cowboy races have been made a new event that some clinicians that use rope halters have helped create. Craig Camron’s Extreme Cowboy Race is an event that draws many people who want to be called horsemen (or horsewomen) and with some participating in the Craig Camron clinics the use of rope halter is heavily relied upon.
So why not web halters? Web halters have hardware on them that could break when a horse pulls back or acts up. Why is it less desirable for a horse to be able to get away in a panicked situation? Because a horse learns from release, if a halter breaks when he sits back he learns right then that all he has to do to get away from the pressure is to break the halter. This creates a habit which is hard to break and very dangerous to be around. A rope halter has no hardware to break, now a horse can break a rope halter or lead rope but because of it not containing any hardware there aren’t as many stress points to worry about breaking.
Granted web halters can be more stylish than rope halters but both come in many different colors. With proper horsemanship and horses that respect the noseband of a halter the web halter can be just as effective as a rope one however with the knots on the rope halter on pressure points to help keep the horse off of the noseband the lightness of the horse can more easily be achieved with a rope halter. With that being said, again, if proper horsemanship is used and lots of consistency the web halter can teach the same thing.
Web versus rope halters has been a debate ever since they were both offered on the market. In my opinion based on what you do with your horse, what you want to do with your horse, and the level of horsemanship involved helps decide what type of halter would be the best purchase for you.