Horseback Riding

How to Make a Cowboy Boot

May 25, 2015

The talented folks at Justin Boots explain how they’ve been handcrafting this horseback-riding staple for more than 100 years.

Watch how boots are made in this video by Justin.

Watch how boots are made in this video by Justin.

Cowboy boots continue to provide the same function they did more than a century ago for cowboys, cowgirls, ranchers and farmers. But more than that, they’ve evolved into a fashion accessory for many. Whether you wear your boots to work or out on the town, it’s fun to think about where they came from. That’s where the skilled craftsmen at Justin Boots, an AQHA Corporate Partner, come in. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Ride Challenge

May 11, 2015

This horseback-riding initiative is taking steps to grow the horse industry.

The Challenge encourages its hosts to provide a variety of fun, beginner-friendly horse experiences.

The Challenge encourages its hosts to provide a variety of fun, beginner-friendly horse experiences.

Time to Ride is an equine-industry-wide program facilitated by the American Horse Council with the goal of connecting, or reconnecting, people with horses. Time to Ride programs are designed to connect American families, specifically moms, to horses in their areas. The Time to Ride initiative is coordinated by the American Horse Council in cooperation with a host of equine organizations, as well as discipline and breed associations, including AQHA. Through the Time to Ride Challenge, its interactive websites and other activities, Time to Ride encourages people to enjoy the benefits of horse experiences, which include increased mental and physical well-being. Read the rest of this entry »

Give It a Shot, Part 2

April 27, 2015

When you have the proper horseback-riding equipment, equine partner and instruction, you can begin practicing cowboy mounted shooting. Heed this advice to learn how.

Once a horse has accepted the noise and activity going on around him, trainer Chad Little starts schooling shooting from the saddle. Journal photo

Once a horse has accepted the noise and activity going on around him, trainer Chad Little starts schooling shooting from the saddle. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Cowboy mounted shooting is a fast-paced sport that requires horsemanship, skill and precision. In Part 1, you were introduced to Chad Little, one of the sport’s leading competitors. Chad explained the objective of mounted shooting and the equipment you’ll need to get started. Now it’s time to learn the proper way to practice so you can work your way up to competitions.

Get Started

Cowboy mounted shooting is a friendly sport.

“You could show up at a (Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association) event in your car with nothing but your (CMSA membership) card, and you’d be able to get through a shoot; people would loan you enough stuff,” Chad says.

When you’re ready to get started, visit the CMSA website at www.cmsaevents.com. The association offers contact information for local clubs that can help you get started.

“The best idea is to find someone who has been shooting,” Chad says. “When I say ‘been shooting,’ (I mean) probably a higher level (competitor). If I were going to go learn some other horse discipline, I’d want to go to somebody who was better at the game. Anybody who has done it a few times can help you, no doubt there, but (when choosing an instructor), instead of going to a Level 1, go to a 5 or 6 and have them get you started right. It’ll make it so much easier in the long run. They can teach you good habits and good stuff to work on.”

Whether you’re an aspiring cowboy or cowgirl, or you’re already a professional, there are rules to follow when you’re working on the ranch. Cowboy etiquette is defined as proper range conduct when working livestock, with an emphasis on respect and safety. Learn it all in AQHA’s FREE Cowboy Etiquette report.

Chad says one of the biggest learning curves for many students is gun handling. This means being able to pull the hammer back and pull the trigger in a fast, efficient way, which requires a lot of practice.

“Normally, I’ll have my students practice with their guns, then I’ll stick them right out there to shoot,” he says. “If you have a good horse, that’s the easiest way to do it. If I had a horse that was green, that’s the last thing I’d do.” In that instance, it’s better to find an experienced mount to practice on while schooling the green horse.

If you have a horse in your barn you think might make a good shooting horse, how do you test it out?

“I take him to some shoots and let him listen to it for a while,” Chad says. “When we get a new horse at our farm, we’ll stand him at the fence while we’re shooting off other horses. A lot of them don’t like it at first. They’ll act scared, throw their head and pull back. They’re all different. The horse you think might never make it might be the best horse you’ve got. The one that looks dog gentle might just hate it. It’s hard to tell until you start. The last thing you want to do is get him scared.”

Once a horse has accepted the noise and activity going on around him, Chad starts schooling shooting from the saddle. He first warms up the horse while carrying loaded pistols in his holster. Once the horse is warmed up, Chad will shoot into the air behind him.

Never assume a position. The “cowboy way” is to say: “I’ll do any job that needs doing.” Be willing to do the job that needs to be done, but don’t take on a task you are not qualified for. This is just one of many cowboy etiquette tips you’ll get from AQHA’s FREE Cowboy Etiquette report.

“Way away from their head,” he says. “I fire one shell and see how he is.”

It is important to keep your body position so as to not unbalance the horse and to move slowly.

“Where people go wrong is they’ll go to shoot, stick their arm out there way fast, and they’ve already scared their horse,” Chad says. “Keep everything steady and smooth, and don’t let that noise correspond with anything else you’re doing.”

A green horse will typically speed up in response to the shot. Chad just steadies the horse and keeps everything steady. A horse inclined to be a shooting horse will soon settle down.

“I just keep shooting there until the horse is good about it – he doesn’t speed up, he doesn’t flinch, he just stays calm in the same lope,” he says. “Then move (the shots) forward to the area around his head, a little at a time. You have to do it both directions, like anything else. And you may not do it in a day, or you may not do it in a month. They’re all a little different.”

Once you have the horse and the gun-handling skills, it is merely a matter of putting it all together. Cowboy mounted shooting is a fast-growing sport with clubs all over the country, and one that might just prove to be a “blast.”

Give It a Shot, Part 1

April 13, 2015

If you’re interested in trying a new horseback-riding sport, cowboy mounted shooting might be for you.

Mounted shooting has divisions for men, women and seniors, as well as a division for youth. Chad Little’s brother Charlie rides American Quarter Horses in the men’s division. Journal photo

Mounted shooting has divisions for men, women and seniors, as well as a division for youth. Chad Little’s brother Charlie rides American Quarter Horses in the men’s division. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

If you’re looking for a sport straight out of the old Western movies, this is it. Cowboy mounted shooting is fast moving and exciting, requiring equine speed and rate, horsemanship, and a skilled and steady hand. The sport was formed in 1991 and is an AQHA-approved event through AQHA’s alliance with the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association. Read the rest of this entry »

The History of the Cowboy Boot

March 30, 2015

Justin explains the origin of this horseback-riding wardrobe staple.

Justin and AQHA teamed to create this stunning boot commemorating AQHA’s 75th anniversary. It’s available at Quarter Horse Outfitters.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Justin Boots

It’s surprising to many that the cowboy boot did not originate in the United States. The origins of cowboy boots can be traced back to as early as 17th-century England, but it was H.J. Justin, the founder of Justin Boots, who mastered the creation of cowboy boots as we know them today.

Riding boots were a part of European life at that time, and the styles were tailored to the various cultures and purposes. Some boots were more traditional for and tailored to equestrian riding, some followed vaquero Spanish tradition, and some were designed for the military.

Read the rest of this entry »

College Prep, Part 2

March 23, 2015

A collegiate horseback-riding career starts with recruitment. Here’s what coaches look for.

Some equestrian team coaches attend championship shows such as the AQHYA World Championship Show to recruit riders. Journal photo

Some equestrian team coaches attend championship shows such as the AQHYA World Championship Show to recruit riders. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned how Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and National Collegiate Equestrian Association collegiate horse showing works. Read on to learn how coaches search for potential team riders.

How You React

While shows and circuits across the country are fodder for recruiting opportunities, many coaches flock to the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show to find their next star rider or to keep an eye on potential recruits. Read the rest of this entry »

College Prep, Part 1

March 9, 2015

Tips and how-to’s for launching your collegiate horseback-riding career.

Collegiate riders must be adaptable so they can ride a wide variety of horses. Journal photo

Collegiate riders must be adaptable so they can ride a wide variety of horses. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Saying goodbye to the ol’ show horse and the beloved show scene – that’s a daunting thought for a youth competitor. Thanks to the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (formerly Varsity Equestrian), showing doesn’t have to wait until college graduation day. These organizations offer student exhibitors Read the rest of this entry »

New Game for Horse-Crazy Kids

February 23, 2015

The Hoof Stuff horse game is a fun way to educate youth about horse care.

Hoof Stuff teaches horse care to youth in a fun, easy way.

Hoof Stuff teaches horse care to youth in a fun, easy way.

Take Me Riding, an educational portal dedicated to introducing children and their parents to the wonderful world of horses, has released a new online game for children ages 5 to 9. Hoof Stuff allows horse-crazy kids to care for their very own, interactive horse while learning basic horse-care facts.

The game begins with selecting an American Quarter Horse and giving it a name. Children learn the difference between a mare and gelding, and Read the rest of this entry »

Team Roping Terminology

February 16, 2015

Is team roping your style of horseback riding? Then you’ll want to know these terms from the USTRC.

Learning the proper team roping techniques from the start will be beneficial when you add steers to the mix Journal photo

Learn about team roping from the USTRC. Journal photo

From AQHA Alliance Partner United States Team Roping Championships

In 2014, AQHA and the United States Team Roping Championships created an alliance that gives USTRC members competing on American Quarter Horses the opportunity to take home an even bigger check with the American Quarter Horse Performance Bonus Program.

The USTRC glossary of roping terms gives you an A to Z guide to the sport of team roping.

Added Money – Money added to the purse that was not derived from entry fees. Read the rest of this entry »

Managing Ammonia in Horse Barns

February 9, 2015

Protect your horse’s respiratory health by clearing the air.

Breathing ammonia can increase your horse’s susceptibility for infections. Journal photo

Breathing ammonia can increase your horse’s susceptibility for infections. Journal photo

By Dr. Thomas Lenz in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Walk into many horse barns this time of year, especially if they are closed or have poor ventilation, and the acrid stench of ammonia burns your nose and causes your eyes to water.

Moderate to high ammonia levels in barns are not only irritating to mucus membranes but increase our horse’s susceptibility to serious respiratory infections.

Horses excrete urea in their feces and urine to eliminate excess Read the rest of this entry »

New Year Brings New English Helmet Regulations

January 26, 2015

AQHA rules now require helmets for youth in English flat and over-fence classes.

Recruiting a friend to help measure your head can assure that your new helmet will fit properly. Journal photo

Recruiting a friend to help measure your head can assure that your new helmet will fit properly. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

2015 marks the implementation of new rules requiring AQHA youth exhibitors to wear ASTM/SEI approved helmets for all English classes including flat and over fences. The 2015 rule on English attire reads:

SHW320.2 It is mandatory for riders in all hunter, jumper and equitation over fence classes, including hunter hack, where jumping is required and when jumping anywhere on the competition ground to Read the rest of this entry »

Stretching for Better Horsemanship, Part 2

January 19, 2015

Try these five stretches prior to horseback riding to increase your connection with your horse.

Stretches such as the kneeling hip stretch shown here are ideal for loosening up your muscles and joints to help you connect better with your horse. Abigail Boatwright photo

Stretches such as the kneeling hip stretch shown here are ideal for loosening up your muscles and joints to help you connect better with your horse. Abigail Boatwright photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

There’s nothing like riding your horse right after you’ve gone to the gym. If you’ve never tried it, you might be surprised how much your horsemanship improves after a workout. Equestrienne Monica Brant says she gets connected to her horse much quicker if she rides with her muscles still warm from exertion.

Warming up your muscles before you ride can make a big difference, and Monica recommends some stretching exercises to get started. See Part 1 to understand why stretching is so important, and how often you should do it. Read the rest of this entry »