Horseback Riding

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 »

Stretching for Better Horsemanship, Part 1

January 12, 2015

Learn the importance of stretching before horseback riding.

“Doing a few stretches on the rail before you get on will really help you feel connected to the horse,” Monica Brant says. “You’ll feel better, feel more energetic, and you’ll sit up straighter.” Abigail Boatwright photo

“Doing a few stretches on the rail before you get on will really help you feel connected to the horse,” Monica Brant says. “You’ll feel better, feel more energetic, and you’ll sit up straighter.” Abigail Boatwright photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

We know our horses are incredible athletes. That’s why we always take time to warm the horse up before we work them hard. Have you ever considered preparing your own muscles before you ride? If you can spare a few minutes before you saddle up, AQHA member Monica Brant has five stretches that can improve your riding experience.

Why Stretch Before You Ride?

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. Monica says she gets connected to her horse much quicker if she rides with her muscles still warm from exertion. Read the rest of this entry »

Build Rhythm While Horseback Riding

January 5, 2015

Developing a better riding relationship with your horse starts with building rhythm. Try out these great rhythm-building exercises from Richard Shrake.

rhythm on horseback

Exercises like the rope twirl exercise can help riders of any discipline develop better rhythm on horseback. Journal photo

By Richard Shrake in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Making beautiful music with your horse doesn’t take special instruments; you just need patience to develop rhythm, timing and precision – and anyone can do it.

Riding a horse uses skills you already know. You can use these observations to convince your non-horsey friends and family to give riding a try, or you can use the tips to improve your own skills. Read the rest of this entry »

Roping a Cow in Versatility Ranch Horse, Part 2

December 15, 2014

Have you put in your practice roping time? Let’s talk about live action!

shadow of the rope on cow

Notice the shadow of the rope marking the spot where Lavert Avent likes to look for a good catch. Sara Gugelmeyer photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned how to start roping by practicing on a hay bale before roping from horseback. Now, learn what to do when you start roping the real cows.

If at First You Don’t Succeed . . .

Remember that roping takes lots and lots of practice, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch right away, says successful Versatility Ranch Horse exhibitor and trainer Lavert Avent of Watrous, New Mexico. It takes time and patience. Getting frustrated will just make it worse. If you miss, stop, collect yourself and your horse, get everything reset and try again. Repeat the process of tracking the cow until all three are comfortable and relaxed, and then throw. Read the rest of this entry »

Roping a Cow in Versatility Ranch Horse, Part 1

December 8, 2014

When learning to rope a cow from horseback, it’s best to begin on the ground with a still target and practice, practice, practice.

Lavert encourages all levels of ropers to practice roping the bale

Lavert encourages all levels of ropers to practice roping the bale. Sara Gugelmeyer photo

By Lavert Avent in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Roping and stopping a cow is part of nearly all ranch horse competitions, including AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse competition. But for those who haven’t been roping all their life, roping a cow in competition is a daunting, if not seemingly impossible, feat. However, successful Versatility Ranch Horse exhibitor and trainer Lavert Avent says it’s doable for anyone who is willing to work at it.

From the Ground Up

Lavert says it’s best to start on the ground: “I don’t think there’s a person around that doesn’t need to rope the dummy.” Using the right rope and dummy is important. The first tip? Don’t use a brand-new rope, Lavert says. Read the rest of this entry »

Wonders Cowboy Dan

December 3, 2014

Learn more about one of the AQHA-PRCA horses of the year, Wonders Cowboy Dan.

Kaley Bass competes in barrel racing with Wonders Cowboy Dan. Photo by Dan Hubbell

Kaley Bass competes in barrel racing with Wonders Cowboy Dan. Photo by Dan Hubbell

From America’s Horse

The 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo kicks off December 4 in Las Vegas. We’ll be cheering on all of the talented American Quarter Horses competing for top honors. If you’re lucky enough to be in attendance, be sure to come visit us at the AQHA booth!

And get in the NFR spirit by meeting the AQHA-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association barrel racing horse of the year, Wonders Cowboy Dan, aka “Cowboy,” who will be running at the NFR.

When Quinton Bass of Davenport, Florida, went looking for a high-school rodeo speed-event horse for his daughter, Kristen, breeder Se’Belle Dymmek told him, “I’ve got one here that’s perfect.” But they had no idea how true that would turn out to be.

Kristen high school rodeoed on Wonders Cowboy Dan, mostly doing pole bending, before turning “Cowboy” over to her little sister, Kaley, who did junior rodeos and then slowly began focusing on barrel racing. She and Cowboy won the Florida state high school rodeo championship, as well as a National Barrel Horse Association state championship. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Read Your Horse, Part 2

November 17, 2014

Learn to read your horse by watching his mouth, eyes and skin.

reading horse ears

“Expression is when the horse’s ears are forward, and the ears are working back and forth,” Lynn Palm says. It shows the horse is attentive and communicating with the rider. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm in The American Quarter Horse Journal

In Part 1 of this series, you learned how to read your horse by watching his ears and his tail. Now, let’s discuss how to read your horse by also keeping an eye on his mouth, eyes and skin.

Mouth

If a horse isn’t carrying a bit, and he chews on his tongue, hangs the tongue out or has a lot of action with the mouth doing the same thing over and over, it can say several different things. The horse might be bored, frustrated, aggravated or nervous. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Read Your Horse, Part 1

November 10, 2014

Unless he’s Mr. Ed, your horse can’t talk to you. That’s why it’s important to know how to read your horse’s body language so you can understand his behavior.

happy horse swinging tail

When a horse is relaxed, happy and confident in what he’s doing, the end of his tail swings back and forth, making a little “X.”figure. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm in The American Quarter Horse Journal

To read a horse, you have to understand horse behavior. For one thing, a horse is a flight animal, so his No. 1 instinct is to run away from something he fears. You can see that when you work with a horse on the ground. When the horse moves away from a person handling him on the ground, that is an act of respect instead of crowding or jumping on top of the handler.

Another very strong instinct is their herding instinct. They’re always more apt to go toward a group of horses. If you’re trying to teach your horse a showmanship pattern, your horse may want to go toward where the other horses are lined up in the ring. Read the rest of this entry »

Equine Nutrition Tips: Added Fat

November 3, 2014

Fat is where it’s at when it comes to enhancing horse health.

horse being ridden

Horses on fat-supplemented diets experience increased endurance. Journal photo

From AQHA Corporate Partner Nutrena

Lately there has been tremendous interest in the horse world about fat. In regard to human nutrition, “fat” is often considered a bad word, and low-fat diets are popular. But we should remember that some fats for both humans and equines are necessary and healthy and play a very important role in nutrition.

Because horses can use fat as a calorie source efficiently, and fat contains more than double the calories of starch, high-fat horse feeds make perfect sense to increase the energy intake without greatly increasing the quantity of feed needed. Read the rest of this entry »

Spurs for English Riding

October 27, 2014

If English is your preferred mode of horseback riding, get the 411 on proper style, fit and usage of spurs.

Acceptable English spurs in the horse-showing pen are unrowelled and shorter than one inch. Journal photo

Acceptable English spurs in the horse-showing pen are unrowelled and shorter than one inch. Journal photo

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Hunt seat horses are prized for their natural forward movement. However, some horses might need an extra bit of encouragement. In hunt seat fence and rail classes, riders with lazy horses often turn to English spurs for that extra push.

Curious about the proper fit and use of these spurs and what styles are acceptable? Three AQHA Professional Horsewomen share their thoughts on the English spur here.

The Aid

The AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations states that optional equipment in English classes can include “spurs of the unrowelled type that are blunt, round or that include a smooth rolling rubber ball and Read the rest of this entry »