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Spring has sprung…at your horse March 30, 2011

Posted by twobitkc in Uncategorized.
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I’m really glad that spring is arriving.  Or, at least it’s supposed to be arriving…maybe this weekend if the Kansas weather reports can be believed. It means slicker horses, no more Carharts, and feeling your toes again. But, for those of us in the show hunter world, it can also means a move from the indoor arena to the outdoor arena.

I love having access to an indoor arena in the winter and during inclement weather. But, really, I love riding in the outdoor ring. I’m an outdoorsy person, and I just enjoy the air, the sun, the birds…all of it. I think the horses really prefer it, too. They just seem to open up more outside and get more forward. That horizon in the distance makes them think they are free – and it’s much more interesting to look at than four wooden walls. I like a quiet horse as much as the next person but, really, riding hunters is a forward exercise and so I am in favor of anything that makes our horses want to go forward. Respectfully forward.

HOWEVER…

Remember to make adjustments and allowances during your first few outdoor rides. Your horse will be more “up” and forward and bright. There will be new things to look at – and stare at – and spook at. Unless you’re Mrs. Van-astor-built, your outdoor is probably considerably larger than your winter indoor, so make adjustments for riding longer lines and broader corners. If your horse gets regular turn out, he will have seen all the birds and squirrels and bike riders. He just won’t have seen them from the perspective of the outdoor arena, and believe me, they will look different there! The tractor starting up sounds different from the outdoor ring, and all those horses running and playing in their paddocks are a MAJOR distraction.

If you can, take your horse for a leisurely hack in the outdoor ring once or twice, without worrying about working. Let him see everything from the 2011 perspective and don’t have a lot of expectations. Then, when you do go out to work, you won’t have to feel sorry for him. He’s SEEN it this year…now it’s time to get serious. Horses are funny about new things…even new old things. It may look like the same old outdoor ring from last year to you, but it probably looks new and fresh to your horse.

Hey…the good side of that is that your horse can continue to go to horse shows and jump jumps that look old and boring to you – but fresh and interesting to him. It keeps them jerking their knees for the judges!

How to avoid choking to death while riding… March 10, 2011

Posted by twobitkc in Uncategorized.
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Okay, I admit it. I chew gum. Not constantly, but I keep it in my car and my purse and I indulge on occasion. But it really does NOT mix well with riding. The worse case scenario is falling off and aspirating the gum as you inhale to try to get your breath back. I can probably do the Heimlich maneuver on you, but I’d really rather not!

Now, I know you’re going to tell me that Poco Pookie Bars is the best horse EVER and he would never do anything bad to throw you…and besides that, you are a GREAT rider and, of course, will NEVER fall off. However, think about this. Maybe you don’t fall off…but your horse stumbles a bit and you hitch your breath a little at the unexpected jarring. Gum? Throat.

Also, if you’re at a show, believe me when I tell you that judges notice that sort of thing. Points off, baby.  FYI, they also notice if your coat is unbuttoned, your hair is coming out from under your hard hat, you forgot your gloves, your cell phone is ringing…but those are topics for another day!

I’ve been doing the “horse thing” for almost 50 years…and I think I’ve learned a lot. Some from the people I’ve worked with, worked for, taught, and run screaming away from. Loads more from the horses. I feel like sharing. Or, maybe it’s indigestion. March 8, 2011

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