Here are some pieces of information to make your reading more meaningful -
terminology and definitions.
A horse’s height is measured in ‘hands’ a hand being 4 inches.
An instrument called a ‘weight tape’ is available so I can use it to keep up with the
horse’s weight. This is important when giving medications, worming or just keeping up
on general health.
The male horses are referred to as geldings and the females after their second year
are mares. Geldings are born stallions (capable of producing babies after a certain
age). In our current horse world with all the people using horses having the stallion
neutered and becoming a gelding is desirable. Simply having a stallion in a group of
horses, even if exceptionally well behaved, can cause your mare to be goofy wanting
the stallion’s attention if she is in heat. Around geldings, the mare problem is
minimized. All the males we use in the school are geldings.
I am noticing that my horses over 20 years old seem to have their vision affected
some. It has not interfered with riding them but it is something I notice since I am with
them as much as I am.
As you read the biographies you will see that there is a lot of disease and/or injury
among the group. As I age and creak around I realize that I feel better doing
something, I just don’t do it real fast. As I watch the old horses, I see the same in
them. I truly think they like the attention and their workloads are not hard. In fact, my
farrier and veterinarian give each other ‘the look’ if I express any concern about over
using the school horses.
Each of the horses has been assigned its own bridle. I make this decision as I get
them ready to participate in the school. Each horse reacts to the bit in the mouth and
I want something that is comfortable but will provide adequate communication
between rider and horse. There are times we start with one and later have to change
it due to horse cooperation – or lack of.
All our horses are currently going barefoot. This means they do not have shoes on.
The only reason for shoeing in our barn now is if we are dealing with a physical
situation that needs special attention. We have found, for the most part, they are
staying sounder without the shoes.
Horses can comfortably carry 20% of their body weight. If a horse weighs 1000# it can
comfortably carry 200#. We do need to remember that this total weight includes the
saddle too. Proportionately ponies can carry a bit more as can a horse with draft
We have changed our feed program the horses receive wheat hay in the morning and
evening and have access to grass hay throughout the day. This way, their digestive
system has a small amount of food coming in regularly as nature intended and the
digestive system works all day long.
Some references state a certain amount of water they need per day. I have found that
weather and coat color play a big part in how much water is consumed. I try to make
sure they have a tank full every day.
Keeping the horses penned so they are available to work has been a challenge. The
most recent 'room arrangements' (March 2009) have left me currently with 5 of the 22
head housed in individual pens. Five geldings live together at the horse barn and five
ponies are together near the arena. Six mares and one pony gelding are in another
group and over the fence from the group of geldings. The gelding pony lived with a
girl buddy from weaning age and they got along well. It made sense to me to see if
the big group would accept him when I needed to make room changes. They did.
When I watch the group he seems to simply keep an eye out and when a cranky
mare seems to come his way he is gone by the time she arrives. It is fun and
educational to watch since no one is getting hurt.
Both the mares and geldings groups are able to be let out into a large pen so we
have 'boys night out' and 'girls night out'. This means that one group has access to
the really large pen and play hill for 24 hours then the other group has access. I
make the group change at night feeding.
|Abrazos Adventure Portales New Mexico
offering family and individual recreation to Portales, Clovis, Cannon AFB and the
surrounding area with horseback riding and lessons
Wendy Toombs owner/instructor 575.607.7344