Horseology 101: Thinking like a horse.Horsemanship involves more than just riding a horse. It involves caring for your horse, understanding how your horse thinks and why and then riding. All horses are different, but most follow similar patterns of their ancestors in how they will react to training, showing, trail riding, and un-expected situations. Below is some basic horsemanship information that every horse owner should know before owning a horse or will eventually through trial and error. Before owning a horse try to educate yourself as much as possible.
Above all, horses can be fun to be around and will get to be your best friend if you own them long enough. There's nothing like walking out to the barn and hearing the neighs of some of the more vocal of your horses as they greet you.
(Below is also the presentation for Merit Badge Requirements for Boy Scouts for Horsemanship)
1. Name 4 Leading Breeds in USA
A. Quarter Horse - Western QH's blocky, somewhat muscular, solid color, even-tempered. English QH's are more TH looking. Height is 14.2 hands (58 inches) high to 16 hands (64 inches) high. QH were known to be round-up cow horses on ranches, but today are great pleasure/trail horses and have more horse shows than any other breed in the world. The largest horse show is the QH Congress once a year in Columbus, OH. There are more QH's in the US than any other breed.
B. Arabian - dished head, shaplier ears than QH, lightly muscled, higher head/neck carriage. Can be high strung. Height is 14.2 hands to 15.2 hands for an average Arabian. Come in solid colors. Very pretty horses to watch. Are beautiful show horses.
C. Saddlebred - Tall, high stepping horses with high head and neck carriage. Can be high-strung. These horses were used as carriage horses in English society/wealthy families long ago because of their beauty and high stepping nature. They are usually tall horses 15.2 hands and up to 16.2 hands. Usually solid color with blazed faces and white stockinged legs.
D. Thoroughbred - Race horses. Tall, lanky, long legged horses, often high strung in temperament. They are the fastest horses in the world after a quarter of a mile. Usually 15.2 to 16.2 hands on average, but can get taller. Seabiscuit was only 15 hands but was very fast. He was the exception because most are tall.
2. Name 15 main parts of the horse:
A. Muzzle - or nose
B. Forelock - hair between the ears on front of the head.
C. Poll - area between the horses ears. Very tender. Can seriously hurt/kill a horse by hitting them there.
D. Withers - highest bone on the back of the horse. Saddle snuggles this.
E. Back - where the saddle goes.
F. Croup - Slanted portion of the hip on the horse.
G. Hock - Back portion of the back leg that is pointed out. Actually like the back of a knee.
I. Fetlock - like our ankle.
J. Pastern - area between the fetlock and hoof.
K. Hoof - foot. Harder than our nails but kinda like that.
L. Frog - toe in the middle of the hoof. Have to pick up the hoof and look underneath to see it.
M. Underline/Topline - area of the belly is the underline from the front to back. Topline is from wither to croup.
N. Crest of the Neck - Slant or top of neck. Some horses are "crestier" than others.
O. Mane - Hair that folds over on the horses neck.
P. Girth - right behind the front leg. Saddle girth goes here.
3. Horse Illnesses
A. Colic: This type of colic not anything like the colic people babies get. Colic in horses is very painful and deadly. It is one of the worst illnesses a horse can get. They usually get colic from bad grain, hay, worms, or something that they eat. Or can get it from rolling in the stall and getting cast in the stall (they twist an intestine). Basically, colic is a real bad stomach ache. It is very painful. A horse can not throw up or burp like people. Symptoms of colic: stomping their feet, trying to lay down and then getting up, looking at their stomach, pacing. Colic is the number 1 killer of horses. A good worming program will prevent this. There is no vaccination to prevent colic.
B. Encephalitis - sleeping sickness, blind staggers. Horse will walk like they are blind. If they get it, they usually won't survive. Good vaccinations today, prevent this.
C. Tetanus - lockjaw. Horse will have stiff joints, can't walk well, and usually convulsions. Good vaccinations prevent this.
D. Influenza - the flu. Basically a cold with a runny nose, cough, swollen lymph nodes. Horses get a yearly flu shot. Only younger horses get the flu, normally.
E. Heaves - cough, respiratory ailment. Some horses get this and will keep it their whole life. Some may have it with the flu.
4. Conformation Faults of the feet and legs
A. Splay footed - feet turn out. May be more noticeable at the walk or trot.
B. Toeing-In - hoofs turn in slightly. This is a sign that the horse could have weaker legs too. Better to have a splay footed horse than one that toes in.
C. Cow-hocked - hocks or back of legs come in. Usually a horse that toes in is cow hocked.
D. Splints - marble size hard knot on the cannon bone of the horse. Alot of older horses may have these. Performance horses or horses that are very competitive like hunter/jumpers, race horses, barrel racing horses, reining horses, may have these.
E. Founder - the worse disease of the horses foot. The hoof will turn up at the ends and have ridges on it, could be thick rugged ridges if the the founder is bad. Founder is caused by over-eating grain, rich green grass, or anything too rich for the horse. Founder is very painful for the horse to walk. Beside colic it is the 2nd most common ailment of horses and one of the most dreaded. If it gets too bad, the horse will have to be "put down" as it will be too painful for them to walk.
Some horses can chronically colic and some can have chronic founder.
5. Lameness - anything that prevents the horse from walking correctly and straight. Horse may limp or may have a slight "give" in their walk or trot. Some horses can be completely sound at the walk, but limp at the trot.
6. Soundness - horse is healthy and has no known problems with legs (or disease). Horse does not show lameness at the walk, trot, or canter, or when he/she lays down or gets up. Something called "shivers" is when a horse lays down, but when he gets up he struggles and it looks like his muscles are shivering. This horse can be sound when ridden or out in the pasture, but he/she has a muscle spasm problem when laying down or getting up.
7. Horse Trimming/Shoeing - horses feet need to be trimmed or re-shod every 6-8 weeks in the spring/summer. Hooves don't grow as much in the colder months. Horses hooves are first trimmed around the circle of the hoof. Only excess outside of the "white line" is taken out. The frog in the middle of the hoof is very lighltly trimmed. Shoes are shaped to fit the hoof and then nailed on, on the white line. No nerves are hit and it dosen't hurt. Shoes protect the horses foot from chipping on rocks. They also protect the frog since the horses foot is slightly lifted off the ground and the frog can't touch the ground or a rock.
8. Feeding a horse - 1 lb. per 100 lbs. of body weight of the horse. (Heart girth X heart girth X length divided by 330 = weight of the horse). Horses normally eat a sweet feed which is an oats, barley mix, pellets, and maybe some corn. Or they may eat a straight oats. They also need clean hay. Hay can be Coastal Bermuda, Fescue, Alfalfa, Oat Hay, Timothy. In the summertime if the paddocks have alot of grass, the horse may not need hay.
Depending on what the horse is used for will also depend on how much of the above you feed. If the horse is being used for show competition, racing, or other strenuous competition, these horses will need to eat more like an athlete does. If horse is being lightly ridden or trail ridden, he/she may need a less than the above. Also, if a horse dosen't gain weight easily he/she may need more to eat or if he is a stout horse, they may need less. Some horses require supplements in their feed to gain weight. Young colts need to generally be fed more than older horses.
Horses cannot have their grain or feed changed too abruptly. It could make them colic. If the grain is going to be changed it would need to be mixed in with the other grain for a few days before a complete switch over is done.
9. The Saddle - Western and English saddles.
Western - cowboy looking saddle with the horn at the top.
English - smaller saddle with less leather than a western and much lighter.
Horn - on the western saddle. Can hold onto it or tie a rope to it.
Stirrups - you put your feet here. On a western saddle they are usually leather covered. On an english saddle they are iron/steel and smaller.
Pommel- top and front of the saddle.
Skirting - the leathers pads on the front and back of a western saddle.
Cantle - back portion of the seat of the saddle.
Cinch or girth - portion that goes around the horses stomach.
Fork - on a western saddle the part right below the horn.
Seat - part of the saddle where you will sit.
Rigging - the ring that the girth will hook to.
Fullet - part underneath the fork.
10. Caring for a saddle
A. Clean with a dry cloth.
B. Use leather cleaner for saddles and lightly wipe all around it. Or use saddle soap. Neatsfoot oil will darken the leather. Avoid it.
C. Wipe all cleaner or soap off.
D. Store the saddle in a dry place and place a sheet over to keep it dust free.
E. Some mold will occur on almost all saddles. Just do the above and wash your hands good afterwards.
11. Safety - saved for last, but repeated often, but never enough.
A. Think safety at all times.
B. Horses can be up to 1200 or more lbs. Even a cute little pony can bite, kick, or step on your foot.
C. Always THINK SAFETY while leading, brushing, riding or even petting a horse.
D. Don't be loud around the horse, don't be noisy on the horse. Don't kick the horse in the sides. Be careful.
E. Look at your horses ears and head while leading, brushing, approaching, or riding the horse. Ears forward are listening. Ears to the side are dis-interested not threatened by you. Ears back are mad and might bite. If a horse stomps his feet but his ears are forward, he's probably ok. But be on the alert when riding since he could be about to "shy" at something. Shying is the samething as spooking or bolting.
F. Listen to your instructor - Almost every accident could be prevented by watching the signals of your horse. Some horses don't give much warning when they are about to spook, but most do. When a horse spooks, hang on, and don't panic. Try to pull back on the reins in a "pull back, let go" motion. Don't every just hang onto the reins and pull back, it will scare the horse worse.
G. Even the gentlest horse or pony will revert back to his/her instinct to flee if something causes them to spook or become scared.
H. When grooming a horse, stay close to them and groom in the direction of the horses hair. When going behind them, stay close to their hocks unless the horse is known to kick, and then go wide around the back of them.
I. Never stoop down or sit down in front of, to the side, or rear of your horse when grooming or inspecting the horse. Even the gentlest horse could step on you.
J. Do not go under the horses neck to reach his other side, go around them. This spooks some horses.
K. Do not wave your arms up and down near the horse.
L. Keep your eyes on your horses head and ears when grooming, leading, and especially riding. The head and ears "will tell the story".
Unless otherwise noted: Copyright © 2008 by Erica Bowman
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