Beginnings of Safety

  Something every good horse person should know is how to work around a barn safely. Horses are much stronger than we are and they may react in ways that could really hurt us without meaning to. For that reason, we must be alert and try to avoid situations that can put us in danger

  Some say that horses are unpredictable. To certain degree I agree with that. Horses can be unpredictable when we aren't paying attention or understand their language. Horses will usually warn us before they react. Their fight or flight instinct, however, is really strong and might make them react so quickly that we might not of seen the warning signs.

  It's so important to be aware around horses. You need to be able to react quickly just in case anything were to happen. The times you put yourself in danger are the times when you are thinking about other things while brushing, riding or leading your horse to his paddock.

  Try seeing it through your horse's eyes. They are always looking around to make sure they are safe. We should be doing the same. If you are walking along and see a plastic bag up ahead, you should prepare yourself just in case he were to spook. This doesn't mean that you should tense up and panic over the fact that he might spook (as that could make him react anyway), but you should keep walking along and prepare to react to the first signs that your horse is unsure about the bag.

  You should also never assume that all horses are the same. Some have bad habits and some don't. So if you're ever working with a new horse or introducing a horse to a new situation, never expect him to react like another. Some horses will trust more than others and will do what you ask of them. Others will much rather leave you in the dust than do what you want.

  Horses are always teaching us and each horse teaches us something different. Some teach us patience, some teach us confidence and others teach us awareness. The more you learn about each horse you work with, the more predictable they become. You'll be able to know when they are going to react and correct it before it becomes a problem.

  So, I hope you have learnt a little bit more on how to be safe with horses. I could have talked about the typical rules of the barn such as wearing helmets and never walking behind a horse. Those rules are important of course, but the things I have mentioned in this post are also important. As horse people, we can get very comfortable around horses and forget what they are able to do to us. It's important to always stay alert to avoid getting hurt.

  Until next time, happy riding!

Beginnings of Ownership

  So you've become a dedicated rider and have now decided to own a horse. Congratulations! You're about to enter a world of excitement and responsibility. It's quite an accomplishment to be a serious enough rider to be able to own a horse in the equine world.

  There are some things, though, that you should be aware of before you make that initial big purchase... 

  If you have read April's  Beginnings post, then you will know that I do think that leasing is a great step to take before owning your own horse. It lets you get your feet wet so that you'll have a better idea of what you are getting yourself into before you buy.

  Next, comes the fun part: horse shopping! I won't go into too much detail on things to do and look for when searching for the right horse as I have already written a post on this. So, check it out here to have a better idea about that whole process.

  The biggest advice I can give is to be as prepared as possible. If you're buying a horse with a contract that says he is sound, make sure that he is before you sign any papers and take him off the property. You don't want to be stuck with a horse that wasn't what you expected because you weren't prepared.

  Another aspect having to do with being prepared is finances. I think some people are still surprised to know that buying the horse is usually the cheapest part of horse ownership. There are vet bills, farrier bills, boarding fees, gas, competitions fees, insurance, food costs... the list goes on and on. My advice for preparing for this is to know what you can afford before you buy. When you are saving up, try opening another savings account where you'll keep your "saving for a horse" money. At the beginning or at the end of every month, transfer money into that account with the amount that will correspond to all of those additional fees (boarding, feed, etc.). Are you able to survive well enough with what is left from your paycheck? Horses are not cheap animals and they are also sensitive. It's quite possible you'll need to call your vet or farrier to come help your horse unexpectedly. You need to be prepared for that. You hear so many stories of people having to sell their beloved horses not because they want to, but because they can't afford them. Don't let that be you by being prepared.

  It comes as no surprise that when you buy a horse, he becomes your responsibility. Depending on where you keep your horse, the boarding services may help you out with that. They might feed, muck out and turn out your horse on a daily basis. Some will also schedule your routine vet and farrier appointments for you. There are also barns that will go above and beyond for you by brushing, tacking up and exercising your horse when you can't. Of course, the more they do, the more you pay so this also relates back to being prepared.

  Horse ownership isn't for everyone, but it is rewarding just as much as it is challenging. You're able to develop a stronger connection than anyone could with a riding school's lesson pony that you'll visit once or twice a week. With your own horse, you become a team. You learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and you work together. It's truly a unique experience.

  So, I wish you all the best of luck on the horse ownership road whether you are looking to buy, already own or are dreaming to own one day. Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and have a great weekend!

  Until next time, happy riding!

Trail Riding

  Sometimes riding around in a ring, focusing on improving your riding position and improving your riding skills can be a little bit repetitive and can easily become boring. We all need a little break once in a while. That's why sometimes it's a good idea to get out of the ring and relax while enjoying a little bit of exercise on a trail ride.

  Trail rides not only allow you to see nature on horseback, they also allow you to improve your relationship with your horse, to gain confidence and to gain trust. So even though you aren't working on your leg position or clearing that oxer, you'll be working on other things in a more relaxed atmosphere.

  First of all, make sure that you are well prepared before you head off onto a trail. Make sure you have enough water, food and that both you and the horse have enough insect repellent on. A hoof pick may also be a good idea to bring along just in case your horse steps on something that will make him uncomfortable. If you are going on a trail in the woods, bring a map and a compass with you so that you don't get lost. Keep everything in a backpack or in a saddle bag so that you don't have to worry about loosing anything.

  It is best to trail ride with at least one other person and to always make sure you have a cell phone on you as well as identification in case of an emergency. Whether you are riding in a group or alone, always notify someone that will not be riding with you where you are going and for how long before heading off.

  Remember to give your horse his head and to let yourself be an easy load. Some areas of the trail may be muddy or inclined. By allowing your horse more rein, it allows him to have more balance to get both of you to the other side. When going up a hill, you want to lean forward. When going down a hill, you want to lean back. This allows your body to stay with the horse's centre of gravity, making his job much easier.

  When a horse spooks at something, it is the perfect opportunity to take the time to show him that there is nothing to be afraid of. If you can, let him observe and smell the object he spooked at. If you stay calm and show him that there is nothing to be afraid of, he'll gain more confidence and will trust you more. Learning not to spook at sudden movements like a rabbit or a bunch of leaves will also teach him not to worry about unusual things anywhere else, like during a competition.

  Exposing you and your horse to new things will only increase your bond and make you a better team. If you're lucky enough to have access to horse trails in the woods or on the beach, take advantage of them. Even if it means loading your horse in a trailer, it will be worth it (not to mention that the trailer is also another great exercise to do). 

  I hope you are all doing very well and have enjoyed this past week. Thank you for reading and I wish you all the best on your trail riding adventures.

  Until next time, happy riding!