Monday, October 13, 2014

No Excuse For The Newbie Excuse

As a horse owner and trainer few phrases truly annoy me.

I love teaching and sharing my knowledge with anyone and everyone interested but the when I hear people make the excuse " I don't know, I'm just a newbie." (when it comes to basic care) without making any real effort to educate themselves it really steams my carrots so to speak. 

This day is age when everyone has a smart phone and that smart phone has nearly the entire scope of horse knowledge known to man via the internet at their fingertips not to mention the countless magazines, books, and other readily available educational sources there is simply no room for the "I don't know/ didn't know any better excuse."

Of course there are often countless different ways to do "X", but most other experienced horse people (trainers, veterinarians, trusted friends, and farriers) are more than willing to help lay out the pro's and con's for each in relation to the newbie's situation.

In the end everyone who chooses to bring a horse into their lives should make every effort to get a firm handle on the basics just some of which include:

* Basic observation of what is normal behavior
* Haltering, leading, and general safe handing skills
* Basic understanding of anatomy and how things should normally look (including what a normal hoof looks like)
*  How to safely pick up and handle hooves
*  Basic first aid and wound assessment
* How to load a horse into a trailer
* When applicable how to drive a truck and trailer
* How and where you can safely tie a horse
* A general understanding of the health maintenance needs of horses (specifically your age of horse)

Knowing this information or knowing how and where to find it can save you time, money, heartache, and even unnecessary pain and suffering for to your beloved horse. 

This is by know means a complete list of things every horse owner should know, but a simple google search when a question arises can usually help fill in the gaps and keep you and horse healthy and happy.  


Monday, October 6, 2014

Is it Pain?!- Sudden Behavior Changes in Good Horses

20 years ago if a horse didn't want to lope in the left lead you rode the snot out of them until they finally gave up and loped left.

Forcing a horse to perform was just what we, as riders and trainers, did. Few, if any, had heard of chiropractic or osteopathic care and even fewer had tried it.

Countless horses were written off as hardheaded, hopeless, dangerous, and at times down right evil without any real explanation.

Skipping forward 20 years there is a growing movement and greater understanding that pain is often the root cause of bad behavior.

As owners, riders, and trainers we are starting to understand that horses as a whole are willing individuals and that sudden changes in ability and behavior (or general inability in less experienced horses) are often signs of more than a "bad attitude".

* Stiffness
* Biting
* Cinchiness
* Bucking
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to pick up lead
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to keep a lead
* Choppiness or extreme difference of gait going one direction over the other
* Head/ear shyness
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to bend one or both directions
* Slight lameness/favoring
* General sour/crappy/pissy attitude
* Sudden changes in behavior and ability

 Can often be explained and resolved in the hands of a capable osteopath/chiropractor.

Once addressed most bad behaviors disappear and owners are able to move forward in training. And are often able to foster amazing relationships and true enjoyment with their horses that they never thought possible.

Once a horse has been adjusted and recovered from their "bad behavior" it is important to note any extreme and continuous changes in their behavior in the future which maybe a sign that they are once again out of alignment.

Given their accident prone nature it is not unusual for horses in regular use to require a adjustment once every year or at a time of trauma (getting in the fence, being cast, falling in trailer, slipping, falling, etc), and extreme equine athletes can often greatly benefit from adjustments every 3-6 months.  Adjusting a horse (in addition to having their teeth floated) right before you start them under saddle can give you a real leg up in the training process and allow for a more comfortable and fun experience for everyone involved.