Location, Location, Location

  Depending on your discipline and what you plan on doing with your horse, location is important. You can only do so much if the footing, size and weather conditions of the space you are trying to work in is working against you.

  If you keep your horses on land that does not have a leveled riding ring, you can't expect to train your horse to be a Grand Prix jumper. That's why location is important.

  When working with a young horse that you are trying to teach how to longe or accept a saddle and a rider, your ideal location would be in a round pen that is away from all distractions. If you decide to work in a bigger ring, the chances of your horse running out or cutting in to the circle have increased. Of course, you want to build your horse up to be able to longe him almost anywhere, but to start off it's better to work in a round pen as it sets both of you up to be more successful than working anywhere else.

  When training for a hunter, jumper or equitation class, you want to have the space to build a proper course without being too crowded. It's kind of a given that jumping in a dressage ring won't get you too far. You won't have the space to get a 10 jump course in there.

  The same goes for those training for dressage, you want to train in a dressage ring instead of a bigger ring where there aren't any of the letters posted. Sure you can practice your shoulder ins and pirouettes in a big ring, but if you're practicing a test and want to make sure you transition at the right spot to be accurate, a dressage ring is where you should be.

  For those training for cross-country, they're able to be a little more flexible where they ride. You can easily ride in a jumping ring and modify the jumps to look more natural or build a cross-country course in a ring. When it comes to increasing stamina and getting them used to extending and collecting in an open space though, you need to expose them to that space. That way, they won't be so excited and hard to control when competition day arrives.

  If you're wanting to go on a trail ride, then go on a trail. There's no use in walking in or around a ring. It defeats the purpose of the joys of a trail ride. Try riding through a pasture if you don't have access to any trails. The great thing about trail riding is that it can build your bond while you experience "scary" things (like a rabbit or a squirrel running across your path) together.

  When you live up where the winters are cold and the ground is covered with snow, it makes it almost impossible to train in the winter without an indoor arena. If your winters take up many months like they do here, then you know that you can't let those months go to waste if you want to be ready for the show season in the spring and summer. So, an indoor is a must. They also make it possible to ride while it's raining and during other weather conditions that might happen in your area.

  You need to work with your horse in the right environment to achieve the results you want more easily. That doesn't mean you can't train your horse to be an international jumper without a proper jump course, it just means that it might take you longer and be more challenging for you.

  Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and I hope you all enjoy spending time with your horses. Have a good weekend!

  Until next time, happy riding!

Festive Things With Horses

  So this will be the last post before Christmas. In celebration for the holiday, I thought it would be nice to talk about Christmassy things to do with horses.

  One of the first things that come to mind when you think of horses and Christmas is sleigh rides. I don't know about you but there's something so festive about getting in a sleigh and seeing the scenery while enjoying the diversity of the horse. If you don't have access to a sleigh or a sleigh riding service, trail rides in the snow are also really festive. Just make sure that you and your horse stay warm and be careful that you don't slip on any ice. 

  Sometimes you can get bored of riding in the indoor arena all winter long, so going on a trail ride is a nice change to your routine that both you and your horse will enjoy. You can even take your time walking along the trail and see all of the tracks from the wild animals. If you're adventurous, you might want to try to follow them to see if you can find the animal. Just make sure you aren't following any tracks of a dangerous animal and that you always know where you are so you don't end up getting lost.

  Another activity that doesn't take too much energy is to watch the horses playing out in the snow. You might want to take your camera with you and take some pictures. If there any that you are proud of, why not print them out? They can be added to your collection of horse pictures and could be framed on your wall. That way you'll be able to be reminded of the beautiful simple moments with your horses every year.

  The most obvious Christmas thing to most people is presents. Buying horse related things for a horse lover or for your horse for Christmas will usually be very much appreciated. Horse people always need new things since our passion and our sport can get pretty expensive. Buying things like browbands, blankets, boots or helmets is a wonderful gift. And if you don't know what to buy them, a gift card to a tack shop won't be a disappointment.

  One things that I wouldn't recommend buying is a horse or a pony. I think you might be surprised about how many of these animals (just like cats and dogs) are bought for someone as a present. The problem with this is that you're not just buying an animal, you're buying a partner. If the rider doesn't 'click' with the horse, there's just so much you can do. Also, the person who is buying the horse may not realise all the work and cost of keeping a horse that is involved. If you would like to learn more about the buying a horse process, you can click here.

  Another important part of Christmas is giving. So why not give to a local horse shelter. Maybe you have extra hay, grain or tack that you can give them. Maybe you can donate some money or maybe you can donate your time. I'm sure all would be appreciated. The great thing about giving is that, if you do it for the right reasons, you'll get something out of it too. You'll feel great and proud of yourself because you helped someone else out without wanting or expecting anything in return.

  So that is it for this week. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a wonderful, happy and safe Christmas this year. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you a good happy holidays just the same.

  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!