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Ecovet Presents Fantasy Farm Friday: Colorado Luxury Equestrian Estate 21 Jun 2024, 2:22 pm

Honestly, for $3.2 million, this is one heck of a deal…

… for someone who has a couple million dollars to spare, that is.

That said, I definitely just sent this property to a friend and said that when I win the lottery, this is where I am going. Hands down. Between the 70 acres, stunning barn, jaw-dropping home, and proximity Wolf Creek and Purgatory Resort (formerly known as Durango Mountain Resort … formerly known as Purgatory), this estate has it all — including a true old west feel (okay, okay… it could have an indoor arena, but that can always be added).

Okay, time to get to it. This estate definitely is Colorado mountain equestrian living at its finest. The 4,980-square-foot home sits on top of the world (or so it seems), with breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains and Continental Divide.

The main home has masterfully crafted arched stonework and cedar siding on the outside and incredibly attention to detail with high-end luxury finishes inside. It receives tons of natural light with walls of windows and an open floor plan. It is designed for entertaining — and to awe your guests! It has cathedral ceilings, three wood-burning fireplaces, one gas fireplace, American cherry floors, and a gourmet chef’s kitchen.

There are five bedrooms, with the primary bedroom on the mail level Each bedroom has its own private bathroom.

The home was also designed with the stunning views in mind. There is an outside wrap-around deck with a built in fireplace to enjoy al fresco dining and the amazing panorama, which features lush rolling pastures, meadows, and healthy stands of mature Ponderosa Pines.

In addition to the main home, there is 1,551-square-foot carriage house, with a full kitchen, stone fireplace, and private balconies above the barn. Each home home has its own water and septic.

The barn is heated with four stalls and a tack room. Plus there are loafing sheds, an incredible outdoor arena, and a separate outbuilding for equipment, toys, and hay.

The property also features its own private access to the San Juan National Forest and nearby Spence Lake (talk about a trail riding dream!). Really, what’s not to love?

You can get more information and the full listing hereAll photos are from HorseProperties.net and realtor.com.


This drool-worthy Fantasy Farm Friday is sponsored by Ecovet, the first fatty-acid fly repellent for horses. Tested and endorsed by veterinarians, Ecovet provides a real alternative to toxic pesticides. AND it works — or your money back!

#goriding Grams of the Week 21 Jun 2024, 11:23 am

Another week of horse life, rounded up in your images.

 

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Join the conversation! Follow us on Instagram at @go_riding and tag your public photos with #goriding2024. We’ll share our favorites daily.

Losing and Gaining Confidence: Taking a Fall 21 Jun 2024, 10:14 am

“We’ve all been there. The experience of losing confidence … sucks. But, if you keep putting yourself in the right situations and state of mind, the confidence does come back.”

Horse Nation is excited to announce a new series that will focus on one of the trickier parts of riding: confidence. Confidence is one of those fragile elements that, once shaken, can be hard to regain. In this series, staff writer Marcella Gruchalak will discuss a variety situations that can cause a rider’s confidence to crumble and practical approaches that have helped her rebuild her confidence.

* * *

As riders and competitors, we know there is a nearly infinite number of situations that can decrease our confidence level while riding. These situations can be anything from taking a fall to losing a trusted equine partner to browsing other people’s social media successes too often. Any of these factors can create uncertainty, fear, and/or difficulty finding enjoyment in the sport.

Canva/CC

In this series, I want to focus on a variety of these situations and discuss ways to work through them. These are all things that I’ve experienced, and the methods I am discussing are things that have helped me regain confidence as a rider. We’ve all been there. The experience of losing confidence — for lack of a better term — sucks. But, if you keep putting yourself in the right situations and state of mind, the confidence does come back.

Taking a Fall

As I get older, I realize more and more that the ground is really hard and the reason we bounce back up is because of adrenaline — not young, nimble bodies. One of the biggest confidence breaking scenarios I’ve encountered was falling from my horse at a show after colliding with an arena wall at high speed. There’s nothing like a bone-breaking fall in front of great friends and riders to crush confidence.

@_gru_crew_ The horse wreck that broke my leg and ankle (I got caught up in the stirrup)🤕 #horsefail #horsefails #rodeowrecks #mountedshootingfail #ouch #brokenleg #brokenankle ♬ Oh No – Kreepa


Part of the reason it crushed my confidence is that it was embarrassing. Nobody wants to fall in front of others. Who wants their fall to be the gossip session during everyone’s drive home? Another reason is that I was injured. I broke my fibula in two different spots, which was a reminder of how dangerous the sport can be. That created a downward spiral because I couldn’t immediately get back on my horse and show myself all was fine. I had to wait four months to ride again.

If you’re suffering from broken confidence after taking a fall from your horse, here are some methods that helped me to regain confidence in the saddle:

  1. Make sure your injuries have fully healed. Don’t attempt to ride too early or you may set yourself back even more due to limitations with your riding ability.
  2. Take your rides at your own pace. Listen to your body to help you determine your boundaries and limits. Follow those instincts and rebuild your confidence at a pace that works for you. It may not be pretty, but it will get you further in the long run.
  3. Don’t be ashamed to ask your friends and trainer for extra help. If they care about your well-being, they will be happy to help.

Canva/CC

When it comes to rebuilding your confidence with your horse, keep going. There is no one cure-all method to regaining confidence. Riding horses is hard work that takes courage and mental toughness. Every rider, amateur to professional, has points in their riding career where they experience fear, self-doubt, and insecurity. Keep working at it and trying your best and you’ll find the confidence does eventually come back.

#TGIF: We Won’t Be Contained 21 Jun 2024, 8:01 am

Clearly, these ponies have better places to be…

… and an electric fence is no deterrent for them. They are ready to peace out and enjoy their weekend.

Truly, though. What do you even do with smart ponies like this? Barricade the fence? Nope, that won’t work either. At least not unless it’s something they truly can’t move.

We wonder how many times this horse owner came home to loose horses before catching these trouble makers on video.

Complete side note: It may be ungodly hot in our neck of the woods right now, but watching this video makes us glad it’s not mud season.

Have a #TGIF moment to share? Email your photo/video and a brief explanation of what is happening to deann@horsenation.com

Thursday Video: If My Kid Had a Pony… 20 Jun 2024, 6:57 am

… oh wait. Mine does.

Every once in a while, a video comes along that really, truly makes me feel seen. Whether it’s as an equestrian or as a parent, knowing that other are out there going through the same s#!t I am offers some solace. This is one of those videos.

In this Facebook reel, Maija Vance goes through the litany of things she would say to her child if she had a kid that wanted to ride ponies. I would 100% be lying if I didn’t admit to having said about 95% of these things to my own kids regarding their ponies/horses. I think my favorite might be when she says, “If you don’t get out and muck your pony’s box out, we’re not selling him. We’ll keep him, but he’ll be mine. So… have fun with those feelings.”

Warning: This video is hilarious, but is NSFW. It contains a fair amount of swearing.

What are some of the golden lines YOU use when talking to your offspring about the horse THEY wanted? Let us know in the Facebook comments.

Reader Photo Challenge: Equine Dads 20 Jun 2024, 6:48 am

Enjoy these five photos of dads posing with equines!

This week, in honor of Father’s Day, we asked to see photos of your dads with your horses. Here’s what you posted!

Photo by Susan Spaulding

Photo courtesy of Halie Cheyenne

Photo by Aunt Linda

Photo by Nicole Kelley

Photo by Natalie Leighton

Keep an eye out for next week’s photo challenge! We announce challenge subjects on Monday around the end of the day on both Instagram and Facebook.

Discussion: The Cost of Horses 19 Jun 2024, 12:52 pm

The United Kingdom’s National Equine Welfare Council has released worrying results from their latest cost of living survey. But how’s the USA and the rest of the world doing? Sound off in the comments!

Elevated inflation and interest rates continue to weigh on the economy. Now, I’m not even remotely savvy on this subject; my interest in economics and politics began and ended when Ann Romney was interviewed about her dressage horses, but I certainly notice when normal day-to-day expenses increase. And as equestrians, we have not only ourselves to worry about, but also one or more 1200-pound family members to feed and care for. And lately, things are starting to get a bit painful.

In the UK, over 6,000 horse owners from across England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland filled out a survey on the impact of the cost of living crisis on their horsekeeping with 38% of respondents reporting that cost increases have had a ‘medium impact’ on their ability to provide basic care to their horses and that they have had to make additional sacrifices to meet their horse’s basic care needs.

The top two services where owners reported increases in charges were veterinary services (80%) and farrier services (65%), with many owners noting they’ve already made changes to save money.

One respondent commented, “Horse is not right, loss of performance at end of eventing season. I would normally get vet to do full work up but choose to turn out until spring & see what he’s like then.”

Many respondents noted, though, that they weren’t willing to reduce veterinary and farrier costs.

“I won’t compromise on his care — would rather go without myself than not have him up to date with everything he needs.”

However, 40% of owners had already or were considering changing to cheaper feeds or brands; 35% had already implemented or were considering using less bedding; 37% had already changed or were considering changing the type of bedding they used (e.g., shavings to straw); and 38% had already increased or were considering increasing the amount of time their horse was turned out.

Looking toward the future, just over 80% of respondents were concerned (66% slightly concerned, 15% extremely concerned) about the continued pressure of increased costs. The majority (68%) of owners think it will be harder to care for either themselves or their horses over the next year.

A respondent said, “I have less money than ever, I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to work when I got my horse, now I’m going without food/heating/diesel to provide for him. I have a life limiting illness which has brought on pretty severe mental health problems, as well as dire financial stresses, if I didn’t have him, I’d have no reason to live but I can’t afford him.”

But most respondents would not consider selling their horse as an option, with upwards of 50% acknowledging that their horse greatly affects their mental health.

One person’s survey, though, noted that they’re seeing an increase in stress among their fellow equestrians. They state, “I’ve noticed the mental health of fellow liveries has severely declined, wondering how they’re going to afford their horses that are supposed to help relieve them from stress in the first place.”

On the business end of things, a striking 60% of owners had already reduced or stopped attending lessons, clinics, and events, with a further 30% considering doing so. Declines in equestrian memberships were also noted.

One respondent said, “Don’t have lessons or go to competitions at the moment because I can’t afford these ‘luxuries’.’”

So, Horse Nation, how have you been affected? Let us know in the comments and on social media.

Go riding.

Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian, and wanna be race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_uechi_ronan.

Thoroughbred Logic, Presented by Kentucky Performance Products: Ride the Big Trot 19 Jun 2024, 8:02 am

“With support, the trot that will develop from that too-speedy, too-big forward jumble is often a pushing, powerful, balanced, over-the back masterpiece.”

Welcome to the next installment of Thoroughbred Logic. In this weekly series, Anthropologist and trainer Aubrey Graham, of Kivu Sport Horses, offers insight and training experience when it comes to working with Thoroughbreds (although much will apply to all breeds). This week ride along as Aubrey shares her logic on how to ride the big trot.

Thoroughbred School came to a close this past week in Georgia, but the folks from the last two semesters will likely read the title and chuckle. Apparently, I am a broken record and say, “Ride the big trot” enough that they want to get it emblazoned on a T-shirt.

You’re probably like, well big trots can be great – but also wtf does that mean?

That would be Rhodie (Western Ridge) throwing a huge trot at me after a jump round at a show in early 2023. You can see me trying to get upright enough to ride it without pulling. Photo by the Kivu Team.

Here’s the backstory:

Thoroughbred School has been an interesting and productive experiment in getting a bunch of eager, qualified riders together and putting them on a variety of Thoroughbreds for theory-heavy lessons that ask them to do things as fundamentally correctly and balanced as possible. In so doing, they learn to be increasingly balanced, light, clear and confident. They get better at riding in general, but specifically, they become increasingly able to ride often-sensitive Thoroughbreds.

However, hopping on horses that range from school masters to those with a few rides post track means that things do not always go as planned. Down transitions from the canter to the trot are one such place. If not perfectly prepared, a horse will often run in the down transition. Or if not running, they may strike off into a trot that is a few miles an hour too fast, a few clicks too big.

Kara Rogers piloting Titan’s Crown around Thoroughbred School in the Fall. Photo by author.

At the point that the down transition does not immediately settle into a quiet working trot, that is the moment you’ll hear me yelling from the center to “ride the big trot.” Translation: Sit all the way up, engage your core, lift your hands a bit, have a forward feel and put supportive leg on.  Do. Not. Pull. With support, the trot that will develop from that too-speedy, too-big forward jumble is often a pushing, powerful, balanced, over-the back masterpiece.

BUT, if a rider stops riding and only focuses on slowing down – aka tips forward and pulls — the horse will lean on the bit, fall onto their forehand and the trot will run – short, choppy, fast, and downhill. And while they keep pulling and begin to maybe-sometimes-panic-just-a-tiny-bit in that careening trot, the horse will often opt to amp back up into the canter. As a knock-on effect, that canter won’t be balanced either. It will end up choppy, downhill, and ultimately off balance. And from there, everything will likely get faster and more downhill and more off balance… you follow the trend…

Clark (JC Louis) running a bit in his down-transition trot while I try to stay upright and use balance and core to bring him back to an acceptable pace. Photo by the Kivu Team.

Discussing the relationship between equine balance and speed is also one of my favorite broken-record things. In short, if a horse is not balanced, they need to rely on speed to hold themselves up. Thus, if they’re beginning to go off balance in the down transition and the trot gets big, the best thing the rider can do is sit up, add leg and increase their stability to encourage the use of the horse’s core and back, encourage balance, and therefore encourage the ability to slow down well without having to haul them up. Tip, pull, and create more instability and they’re just going to get faster.

CJ’s Empire had an amazing trot (now reserved for occurrences in the broodmare field) but she simply would not tolerate it if you pulled. Photo by Alanah Giltmier.

Forrest (Don’t Noc It) is my usual go-to for this example. Forrest has run through Training level and schooled some second and third level dressage and can be super well balanced, suspended, and obedient. That said, he prefers to be a touch lazy (OK, a LOT lazy), avoid using his hind end if not properly asked. This is fine by me — it makes him a super horse to teach from.

If a rider pulls in the down transition as opposed to lifting him with leg and seat from canter to trot, Forrest predictably will run. His long legs will chop-chop-chop their way down the long side of the arena, gaining speed and losing balance with each step until he is back in a canter, going faster than they started. He’ll do this on repeat until a rider sits up, asks him to sit on his hind end with an effective half halt, and then half halts again for the down transition. (I’ll discuss the double half halt in an upcoming article). And as the rider sits up and lifts at the trot, he will become floaty, correct, and will put that lazy dad-bod to work.

Forrest (Don’t Noc It) schooling his big trot at Chatt Hills a few years back. Photo by the Kivu Team.

The whole process is training. The more a horse is asked to use their back in a down transition and rewarded, the more they will learn to give it a try. And the more a rider can sit up and support, the lighter but more effective they can become on all breeds of horses.

Ultimately, the trick is always to take the opportunity presented and ride that too big trot. As riders learn to transform the force one has under them into something amazing versus trying to tug against a 1200+-pound animal and shut them down, they learn to shape the quality of their ride. They learn to feel the positive potential in the push and the power. And they learn to harness the ability to slow down through balance.

Lottie (Hatch Gate) had amazing movement in her trot but also had to learn to sit and lift and not just get quick in the down transitions. Photo by the Kivu Team.

So embrace the potential in the hustle and jumble folks and always aim to ride the big trot.


About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:

Fight back against dangerous dehydration and electrolyte imbalances with Summer Games® Electrolyte.

Summer Games is a unique blend of both electrolytes and trace minerals specifically formulated to replenish critical electrolytes in the proper ratios. Summer Games supports healthy electrolyte balance so horses stay hydrated, perform at optimal levels, and recover faster after exercise or in stressful situations.

Summer Games contains a research-proven electrolyte formulation that was originally developed for the horses competing at the 1996 Olympics. Formulated using the results of extensive research studies investigating the composition of sweat, Summer Games contains both key electrolytes and trace minerals in the actual amounts that are present in the sweat.

  • Adjustable serving rates allow you to easily meet your horse’s individual electrolyte needs.
  • Affordable price allows you to consistently replenish key electrolytes in appropriate ratios.
  • Concentrated formula ensures your horse receives both critical electrolytes and trace minerals, not sugar and other fillers.
  • The unique ingredients in Summer Games support optimal performance and speedy recovery during exercise or stressful situations.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit KPPusa.com.

The Idea of Order: Good Fences Make… 19 Jun 2024, 7:36 am

Excellent chew toys.


Presented by:

Happy Hump Day, Fellow Equine Servants!

I hope everyone’s week is off to an excellent start, with minimal repair work and general quadruped caused chaos. 🫣😅

This week’s repair list has been relatively mild: some broken hot-wire, a busted fence post, and a few mauled Dutch doors. Oh, and we’ve had the usual competition where all my animals compete to see who can have the most expensive date(s) with the vet.
 
Wilson currently is in the lead. 🤨

Anyhow, how are everyone else’s critters behaving?


Morgane Schmidt is, among many things, an equestrian who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. Author of Life with Horses Is Never Orderly, she knows all about the madness that comes with the equine territory, having owned and competed horses in eventing and dressage for years. A lifelong fan of the classic equestrian cartoons penned by internationally renowned artist Norman Thelwell, she began her own comic series in 2011, sharing deftly funny reflections on life with horses on Horse Nation as well as her personal website. A native Floridian, she spent a decade in Reno, NV, where she was able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless (she has since regained her sense and moved back to the Florida swamp). Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She has completed her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking, her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 14-year-old Dutch gelding, and Milona DG, a 7 year old KWPN chestnut mare (you can make your own inferences there…). Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.

Milona DG and I. Photo (c) Q2 Photography.

 

10 #EquestrianProblems According to Threads 18 Jun 2024, 12:09 pm

We feel seen.

When we did the Twitter X version of this, we appreciated the brevity used for the posts. Although not quite as concise, we’re still here for these brief #EquestrianProblems according to Threads. After all, we get it …

 

Post by @17handsfit
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Oh yes, we’ve all been there. Got a funny post to share? Follow us on Threads at @go_riding!

When Horse People Go On Vacation: 7 Concerns Only Equestrians Truly Understand 18 Jun 2024, 10:51 am

Horse people go on vacation, too. And when we do, we really know how to let go. We can relax with the best of them… for about five whole minutes. Then we start thinking about what could happen while we’re gone.

There’s a meme going around the internet about horse people and vacations (in fact, we shared it on our Insta not that long ago):

 

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True though this may be, every once in a while, we horse people do manage to sneak away from our equine pals and go on an actual vacation. You know, one where there aren’t horses (or at least not ones for which we are responsible) and we don’t have to be up with — or before — the sun in order to feed, groom, and ride. When that actually happens, shocking though it may be, we can relax, breathe a sigh of relief, and appreciate the view…

Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan

For all of about a minute and a half.

Then the worry sets in. Because let’s get real. After you take that sigh of relief, you begin to think of all the things that could be an issue while you’re away from the farm. Even if you have the most reliable of farm-sitters, horse-watchers, etc., the fact is that you’re out of town. That means you can’t possibly relax and instead will worry about all the what-ifs that could happen while you’re away. Just the thought of every thing that can happen while you’re away is enough to send any equestrian into hysterics.

But the good news (maybe?) is that you’re not alone. After all, misery loves company. Here are seven concerns pretty much every horse person has while on vacation:

1. Your horse will get injured.

You’re gone. That means the chances of one of your horses incurring a life-threatening injury have increased exponentially. Even if the injury isn’t life-threatening, it’ll probably be career-ending. Or, at the very least, result in extended stall rest and numerous vet bills. And what if someone doesn’t recognize the injury right away? Then what?

2. The weather.

When you manage horses, there are all these things you do to try to control all the things over which you have no control. One of the things you do is come up with about thirty contingency plans based on the weather system that is rolling in. Whether it’s extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, ice, or whatever, you have set ways of dealing with it. And when you’re gone, no one does it quite like you do.

3. The fence might go down.

Canva/CC

Good barn help is hard to find. Even with the best of barn help, having someone who isn’t you repair fencing is asking a bit much. And part of the reason you worry so much about the weather is that you also worry that a tree might take out the fence. Or that a power outage will affect the electric fence and the savvy velociraptor-like pony who always checks the fence for weakness will definitely get out.

4. The horses will run out of water.

Canva/CC

Because you know if horses don’t have enough water, the chance of colic goes up by, like, a million percent. And what if the person feeding didn’t check the troughs? Or forgot about the one in the far field? Or what if they didn’t clean the troughs and now the horses don’t want to drink as much as they usually do?

5. The horses might run out of feed.

Sure, you stocked up on enough feed to last for the next six weeks (even though you’re only going to be gone for four days), but the horses might run out of feed. Really. They could.

6. Your hay person is ready to deliver.

So, there answer to this one is simple: don’t leave during hay season. If you do your own hay, this is a no-brainer. But for those of us who rely on others, you spend most of early summer waiting for the text that lets you know that the hay is cut, being baled, and nearly ready for delivery. Sometimes being gone during this time is unavoidable. When that’s the case, you spend every day crossing your fingers and hoping your hay person doesn’t tell you it’s go time.

There are plenty of other things to worry about. And we know you’ll think of them while trying to relax away from the barn. Let us know what YOU worry about when you’re away from the farm.

In the meantime, try to take a breath, relax, and enjoy the moment.

Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan

Tuesday Video: Jockey in Training 18 Jun 2024, 7:44 am

This kid is going to be highly successful on the track!

With this type of balance and dedication, we’re convinced this kid could be a successful jockey right now. We’ve seen how some kids ride. Despite some excessive crop usage, there’s no doubt this kid could be galloping horses on the track in no time!

 

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A post shared by Darwin Vizcaya (@darwinvizcaya)

Practice and go riding, Horse Nation!

‘Oh Crap’ Monday: Two’s Company… 17 Jun 2024, 8:08 am

… or maybe it’s a crowd?

Monday already is the crappiest day of the week, so it only makes sense that we make things official. Here’s our latest “oh crap” moment.

Two’s company, three’s a crowd, or so the saying goes. In this case, we think two might just be a crowd. After all, the loose horse on this jump course is giving the rider a run for her money … and probably quite a bit of pause. We’re not totally sure how this situation came to pass, but let’s get real. Sometimes things get weird at horse shows.

Suffice to say, everyone is fine and, honestly, we’re pretty impressed by the free jumper.

@loeskivits_♬ sonido original – Carlos Feria

Go forth and tackle your Monday, Horse Nation.

Have an “Oh Crap” moment to share? Email your photo/video and a brief explanation of what is going down to deann@horsenation.com. Instagram users, tag your moments with #OhCrapMonday (your photos need to be set to public or we won’t see them!).

SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: ShowSheen® Product Review 17 Jun 2024, 7:45 am

There are more benefits to using ShowSheen® than just shiny horses. Check them out in this product review!

By SmartPaker Jessica Knox

Over the years, there have been many different products developed to support shiny horses and detangle manes and tails. With seven horses in my barn who live out 24/7, trust me, I’ve tried them all! I keep going back to my tried-and-true favorite though, ShowSheen® Hair Polish!

There are a few factors as to why I prefer ShowSheen over other brands. The main issues I’ve run into with other sprays are residues that actually attract dirt, ineffective formulas that don’t have a lasting effect, and unpleasant smells and consistencies. In contrast, ShowSheen almost has a “weightless” feel when applied – a little goes a long way, and it doesn’t turn sticky or weigh down the hair. It’s very easy to use, you just need to spray a little bit either directly on the coat or mane and tail, and then brush through for the best effect. I spray my horses about once a week, especially after grooming during mud season, and it truly lasts until the next session! It has a very pleasant, light smell, my gelding appreciates that he doesn’t smell like he’s wearing perfume after, too.

My personal horses are a bay and a gray, and I use the product on both of them more frequently than any other horses. Using ShowSheen on my bay mare really brings out the shine and helps to accentuate her dapples! She is also prone to some skin “scurf,” and using this product has helped to keep her legs free of dirt and mud, which in turn really cuts down on her issues. Also, being an older mare, she occasionally suffers from loose stools, and using ShowSheen in her tail really helps to manage the mess by repelling the manure residue.

Photo courtesy of SmartPak

I show my gray horse so we need all the help we can get staying clean before show day! My routine is to give him a bath the day before the show and then spray him head to tail in ShowSheen (avoiding the saddle area so it won’t be slippery), and then brush it over his coat and through his mane and tail to protect him from stains. I can say that it honestly truly works and even after he rolls, the dirt is so easy to remove. With him being gray, it’s hard to get him “shiny,” but you can actually see his coat shine in the sun after using this product.

Also, being a Thoroughbred, he has pretty thin hair, so I love that ShowSheen helps prevent breakage when brushing. I can really see a difference with broken hair strands collecting in the brush when I don’t use it! He also has a very long tail that’s prone to knots, and this product really helps to prevent those.

Photo courtesy of SmartPak

Beyond the numerous perks from regular use during grooming sessions, ShowSheen as a few lesser-known uses that make it a staple in my barn year-round! ShowSheen is awesome in prepping horses for clipping. I typically do a trace clip on my horses for the winter, and this product is great for getting that extra fine layer of dirt off either before or after. And while we’re at it, maybe the least-known use is helping to cut down on blanket static! Horses sure hate getting that unexpected shock, and so do we. Spraying down coats in the winter between blanket changes has made a big difference in how willing me and my horses are to swap out layers, the lack of static makes the whole process so much more pleasant for everyone involved!

I have fond memories of using ShowSheen on my childhood horses, and it’s a brand that every horse person recognizes and trusts. When a product can truly stand the test of time and is still the most popular go-to, it really speaks for itself. I’m a firm believer in ShowSheen, and I feel that anyone who tries it or is not familiar with it will feel the same!

You can find tips like this and more at the SmartPak blog. Go SmartPak, and go riding.

Training in the Right Way: Knowing When It’s Time To Stop 17 Jun 2024, 7:45 am

When training, how do you know when it’s too little, or too much, or enough? It’s important to differentiate between doing too much and doing too little, as well as considering how each end of the spectrum can appear in — and affect the — training.

Dressage training is supposed to be the process of training ANY horse to be a better riding horse. The more the horse learns, in theory, the easier it is to communicate with and therefore complete more complex tasks with. Although competition dressage training often is more focused on training for the dressage test, that is not what the original intention (and original judging requirements) were for competitive dressage. Initially, it was designed to give riders and trainers a way to determine how their training measured up to the theoretical ideal of the training process. That said, it is critically important to understand the meanings and reasons for some of the terms we use to describe dressage training and what to look for when observing training and competition (and videos and photos), regardless of whether you intend to compete or just train your horse to be a better whatever you do with him. That, ultimately, is the main purpose of my articles. To provide education and knowledge for riders to understand and improve their eye and understanding of what dressage training is supposed to be. While there will always be some differences in practice and theory, good horse training is always recognizable to the educated eye. That said, it absolutely is necessary that we remember and understand that limited knowledge is limited judgment.

* * *

I was always taught that there are two ways to ruin a horse: doing too much and doing too little.

To be a successful trainer, or student of dressage, it is absolutely necessary to recognize when to push for more and repeat an exercise one more time, just as it is equally important to know when to end a training session or stop repeating an exercise. Doing too much and doing too little are both damaging to the training process. Knowing when the horse has done enough requires both empathy and determination, and of course knowledge and experience.

Gwyneth McPherson riding Eskandar during a training session. Photo (c) Gwyneth McPherson.

Everyone who has ever tried to improve their own riding and training of horses has been faced with trying to decide whether they need to press on and repeat an exercise or if they should call it and end the lesson. As with so many other aspects in riding and training, knowing when to stop doing something is not based on hard and fast rules. Most riders tend to trend towards one end of the spectrum or the other. That is, they either habitually do too much or too little. Occasionally they they go from one to the other.

One overarching aspect to consider in the conversation regarding doing too much and too little is that of ride duration.  Most riders focus on working a horse for one hour per day without realizing when or where they learned that that was an appropriate amount of time to spend riding said horse. Generally speaking, the idea of riding for an hour at a time comes from riding schools and instructors needing to structure their teaching time. Most riders have ridden in a program with an instructor who taught in one-hour allotments, and many then assume this is the correct—or at least an appropriate—amount of time for a training session. In reality, there are many reasons why a horse might need to work for a longer or shorter amount of time each day. This depends greatly on what the horse is being asked to do in the work, how fit the horse is, how educated the horse is, and what the purpose of the exercise is. The examples range from racehorses running a 2-minute race to cow horses being out working cattle all day. Both are work. Both require preparation and stamina, but the amount of time spent working varies and is closely linked to the type of work being done.

Gwyneth and Flair taking a break during the warm up. Photo (c) Gwyneth McPherson

In dressage training, there is a wide range of how much work should be done and how long a horse should be asked to do it. The amount of time spent in work each day has to be tailored to the horse’s level of education and understanding as well as his fitness and energy levels. In order to have optimal development, some horses may even need to be worked more than once a day. This is a case where the “one hour” rule is not applicable. Some horses learn best if they come out and work two, or three, or four times a day, but NOT FOR AN HOUR EACH TIME. In these instances, each session would be maybe 20 minutes or less, with the goal being to prepare the horse for better results in each subsequent session. Often this is particularly helpful with in-hand work.

Piaffe in-hand. Photo (c) Gwyneth McPherson

While some horses may thrive on 20 minutes multiple times per day, on the other end of the spectrum, other horses may need a full hour of work once per day to best develop them. Additionally, just because the horse does best with one schedule right now does not mean that he won’t need a different schedule at another time. Some horses really thrive with a mixture of short and long training sessions within a single week or do better getting out twice a day for a half an hour each time. What specifically works best for your horse is less important than your ability to discern what exactly that is and continue to modify it as needed for consistent success.

Young horses in particular may need many adjustments to their training schedule in order to meet their changing developmental needs. Photo (c) Morgane Schmidt

The duration of the ride itself isn’t the only thing to be considered when discussing doing too much or too little. In practice, one of the areas this most frequently comes up is while performing specific exercises and attempting to discern if the results are ‘good enough’ to end on or if you should try again. This is a particularly nuanced area that doesn’t always have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. The challenge in deciding between whether one has done enough or not is that often the results of doing too much and doing too little look very much alike, in that they both can show up looking like disobedience to the aids. i.e. “He’s not listening to me!” This is one reason knowledgeable eyes on the ground are so vital for riders of all levels. Having an excellent instructor can help the rider discern when to accept the results or ask for a bit more.

In the interest of foundational knowledge, let’s look at what both ends of this spectrum may manifest as.

Too much:

There are at least two forms of too much. There is repeating something too many times and there is expecting something to be maintained too long. This applies to riding too many of the same exercise over and over, sustaining a specific exercise or way of going too long, working the horse without enough breaks, or just simply continuing the training session so long that the horse is too fatigued to perform the exercises. Muscle fatigue is an enemy to good training.

Any time you are asking your horse to do something hard or new, remind yourself what it would be like if you were asked (forced) to stand with both your arms straight out to the side, at shoulder height, and you are not allowed to wiggle, drop your arms to your sides or change your positioning without being reprimanded. Now imagine being asked to hold your arms out at shoulder height and jog in place at the same time. Try this sometime and see how quickly you have to start being “disobedient.” You can stay working longer, however, if you alternate these exercises and, if you are allowed to rest between each one, you can stay working even longer. Eventually you will be too fatigued to continue, but you can do it again later that day, or the next day without a problem. This is a very good way to think about how to gauge being too repetitive— working an exercise or group of exercises too long or too hard— for your horse.

Many riders, often unintentionally, go way past their horse’s point of muscle fatigue trying to perfect an exercise or movement and then keep on going because once the horse is fatigued, he does it worse and worse and they don’t want to end the ride “on a bad note.” Once you have hit this point you have clearly done too much.

Too little:

Too little can occur in the same two ways. Not repeating an exercise enough or expecting the horse to maintain something for too little time. When a horse is not worked for a long enough time or isn’t asked to repeat an exercise or sustain it long enough, the point of the exercise or the training session is lost, and the desired result isn’t achieved. Doing too little will result in a horse that is not supple enough. Or maybe too excitable because it hasn’t used up enough energy to be able to be supple and on the aids.

An example of too little work can be likened to whether you are supple enough to touch your toes. If you never try to bend at your hips and touch your toes with your fingers while keeping your legs straight, you will, over time, become stiffer and stiffer and will continually not be able to touch your toes. No matter how much someone pressures you to “touch your toes right now!” you can’t do it. However, if you try to touch your toes 4-5 times in a row, for a few minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day, it will get easier for you to touch toes as the day progresses and over many days, you will see an improvement. Reproducing touching your toes becomes easy and you can do it more often and sustain it longer because of the repetition.

Many times, riders shy away from doing the things a horse has trouble with because it’s hard, it feels uncomfortable, or the horse reacts unpleasantly, and by doing too little of that work, or those exercises, the horse never gets better at them. This is also a training dead-end.

Meeting your training goals requires thoughtful attention to details and a systematic approach. Photo (c) Gwyneth McPherson.

Ultimately, to successfully train, the rider must be able to differentiate between doing too little with their horse and doing too much. Both in the length of the required work and in the repetition of it. Gaining this knowledge will require time in the saddle and likely the help of a proficient trainer, but being able to meet your training goals and correctly develop your horse is well worth it.

Remember: Limited knowledge is limited judgment.


Gwyneth and Flair in competition at Grand Prix. (c) flatlandsfoto.

Gwyneth McPherson has over 35 years experience competing, training, and teaching dressage.  She began her education in in the late 1970s, riding in her backyard on an 11 hh pony. Her first instructor introduced her to Lendon Gray (1980 and 1988 Olympian). who mentored Gwyneth for a decade during which she achieved her first National Championship in 1984, and her Team and Individual Young Rider Gold Medals in1987.

In 1990 Gwyneth began training with Carol Lavell (1992 Olympian) who further developed Gwyneth as an FEI rider and competitor. Gwyneth achieved a Team Bronze in 1991 and a Team Silver in 1992 in the North American Young Riders Championships, and trained her stallion G’Dur to do all the Grand Prix movements while riding with Carol.

In 2008, while Head Trainer at Pineland Farms, Gwyneth began training with Michael Poulin (Olympian 1992). Michael was trained by Franz Rochowansky (Chief Rider for the Spanish Riding School 1937-1955). Michael has shared much of Rochowansky’s knowledge and wisdom with Gwyneth, completing her education as a Grand Prix rider, trainer, and competitor.

Gwyneth’s teaching and training business, Forward Thinking Dressage,is based in Williston, FL. In addition to teaching riders and training, Gwyneth also loves sharing her knowledge of the sport and art of dressage as well as discussing relevant topics pertaining to the training itself and the current competitive landscape.

Holiday Horse Names: Father’s Day Quarter Horses 16 Jun 2024, 8:42 am

Happy Father’s Day, Horse Nation. Today, we’re celebrating by highlighting some Quarter Horses with Father’s Day-themed registered names. Check them out below:

Last year we started a series for various holidays! In this series we research and share registered horse names that are related to the holiday. Each year we’ll pick a different breed to showcase. For 2024 we picked Quarter Horses and will be looking at American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) registered names.

Here are some AQHA registered Quarter Horse names that go right along with Father’s Day:

My Fathers Dream

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2014 horse by Skips Beyond and out of Bucki Seal.

Scat Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2006 gelding by High Brow Cat and out of Sweet Peppy Again.

Daddys Girl

There are two AQHA registered Quarter Horses throughout history with this registered name. Both are registered as mares.

DMac Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 1998 horse by Smart Little Lena and out of Moms Stylish Kat.

Fathers Pride

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 1958 horse by Pelican2 and out of Red Runner.

Daddys Money

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2023 filly by Corona Cartel and out of Montevina.

Big Daddy Cartel

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2009 horse by Corona Cartel and out of Miss Racy Eyes.

Dont Tell Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2013 mare by Docs Spin n Tell  and out of Little Miss Mac2.

One Moore Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2003 horse by DMac Daddy  and out of One Moore Spin.

Whos Ya Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2003 colt by DMac Daddy  and out of Docs Spin Sum More.

Whoze Your Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2012 horse by Paddys Irish Whiskey and out of Frenchmans Violet.

Lenas Sugar Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 1978 horse by Doc Olena  and out of Bit of Sugar.

Beaus My Daddy

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 1976 horse by Beau Bonanza and out of Miss Ponjet.

Cat Daddys Lil Girl

There is only one AQHA registered Quarter Horse throughout history with this registered name. It is a 2016 mare by Big Daddy Cartel and out of Girlonthego.

Do you have a horse with a Father’s Day themed name? Let us know in the Facebook comments!

Heat Stroke in Horses, Presented by Kentucky Performance Products 16 Jun 2024, 8:36 am

As we head into summer and temperatures begin to rise, it’s always a good idea to know how to recognize and address heat stroke in horses. Fortunately our good friends at Kentucky Performance Products have these helpful tips.

Canva/CC

What is heat stroke and how do you recognize it?

Heat stroke occurs when you horse’s natural cooling mechanisms fail to keep his body temperature at a normal level. If left untreated, heat stroke could kill your horse. The best way to avoid heat stroke is to closely monitor your horse when riding in warm weather. Know your horse’s normal vital signs, know the symptoms of heat stroke, and take immediate action to cool your horse off when he gets too hot!

Normal vital signs:

  1. Temperature between 99°F and 100.5°F
  2. Heart rate between 36 and 44 beats per minute
  3. Respiration rate between 8 and 16 breaths per minute

Signs of heat stroke:

  1. Rectal temperature over 103°
  2. Heart rate over 80 beats per minute that does not decrease after a few minutes of rest
  3. Respiration rate of over 40-50 breaths per minute that does not decrease after a few minutes of rest
  4. Lethargy
  5. Profuse sweating or absence of sweating

Canva/CC

Ways to cool off your horse:

  1. Stop riding immediately and un-tack your horse.
  2. Move to a shady, breezy spot (use a fan if need be).
  3. Hose your horse with cold water (the coldest you can get and don’t worry, it won’t hurt his muscles), scrape and repeat. Concentrate on the largest muscle areas and large blood vessels that are close to the surface, such as the jugular vein and saphenous vein inside the thigh.
  4. Offer water and allow the horse to drink.
  5. Call your vet as soon as possible and give electrolytes as directed.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:

Fight back against dangerous dehydration and electrolyte imbalances with Summer Games® Electrolyte.

Summer Games is a unique blend of both electrolytes and trace minerals specifically formulated to replenish critical electrolytes in the proper ratios. Summer Games supports healthy electrolyte balance so horses stay hydrated, perform at optimal levels, and recover faster after exercise or in stressful situations.

Summer Games contains a research-proven electrolyte formulation that was originally developed for the horses competing at the 1996 Olympics. Formulated using the results of extensive research studies investigating the composition of sweat, Summer Games contains both key electrolytes and trace minerals in the actual amounts that are present in the sweat.

  • Adjustable serving rates allow you to easily meet your horse’s individual electrolyte needs.
  • Affordable price allows you to consistently replenish key electrolytes in appropriate ratios.
  • Concentrated formula ensures your horse receives both critical electrolytes and trace minerals, not sugar and other fillers.
  • The unique ingredients in Summer Games support optimal performance and speedy recovery during exercise or stressful situations.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit KPPusa.com.

#goriding Grams of the Week 14 Jun 2024, 9:09 am

Another week (or so!) of horse life, rounded up in your images.

 

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Join the conversation! Follow us on Instagram at @go_riding and tag your public photos with #goriding2024. We’ll share our favorites daily.

Summer School: Thank You, Sintashta. 14 Jun 2024, 5:17 am

Scientists have traced the origin of the modern horse to a lineage that emerged 4,200 years ago.

The earliest horse ancestors evolved in North America and made their way across the Bering Strait into Asia a million years ago. Domesticating wild horses was a process, not a single event, and scientists have found evidence of people consuming horse milk in dental remains from around 5,500 years ago and the first evidence of horseback riding 5,000 years ago.

But a new study, published in Nature, now suggests that widespread “horse-based mobility” can be linked to a single culture, the Sintashta, which existed between 2050 and 1750 BCE.

East of the Ural Mountains, the Sintashta built heavily fortified towns dedicated to protecting scarce resources. They were not farmers, with archaeological evidence showing little to no evidence of agricultural development. They were pastoralists, depending entirely on grazing livestock. They were also an extremely aggressive war culture made up primarily of horse breeders, trainers, and metallurgists specializing in weapons.

It was in this environment, 4,200 years ago, that the lighter, faster, spoke-wheeled chariot and one particular lineage of horse were born. The importance of both is highlighted in the numerous burial mounds discovered by scientists.

But what was so different about the Sintashta horses?

What researchers refer to as DOM2 horses are distinguishable from their predecessors primarily based on two genes: GSDMC and ZFPM1. GSDMC is linked to chronic back pain in humans, and ZFPM1 is linked to mood regulation and aggressive behavior.

Long story short, DOM2 horses had better backs and better temperaments, and ancient humans loved them.

“DOM2 horses dispersed outside their core region, first reaching Anatolia, the lower Danube, Bohemia, and Central Asia by approximately 2200 to 2000 [BCE], then Western Europe and Mongolia soon afterwards, ultimately replacing all local populations by around 1500 to 1000 [BCE],” states another study from 2021.

Petroglyphs depicting steppe Chariots, Indo-European c.2,000 BCE, From Indo-European.eu

“We saw this [DOM2] genetic type spreading almost everywhere in Eurasia—clearly, this horse type that was local became global very fast,” said the most recent article’s co-author, Ludovic Orlando, a molecular archaeologist at the Centre for Anthropobiology and Genomics of Toulouse in France.

The DOM2 genetic lineage, now believed to be the ancestor of all domesticated horses, became so widespread that within less than three hundred years, the horses as far as Spain were genetically similar to those in Russia.

Wild horses in Rostovsky nature reserve, Wikimedia Commons.

The Sinstashta evolved into the widespread Andoronovo culture that would eventually lead to archaic Iranian-speaking and archaic Aryan-speaking peoples, notable in that both grew into powerful horse cultures. The Indo-Aryans went so far as to worship the horse for its speed, strength, and intelligence.

For more information, watch this mini-history lesson by Dan Davis History.

Go riding.

Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_uechi_ronan.

Reader Photo Challenge: Foals 13 Jun 2024, 5:18 am

Enjoy these seven photos of foals!

This week we asked to see those babies! Enjoy these seven photos of foals!

Photo by Delaney Witbrod

Photo by Kathi Crites

Photo by Moments by Mularz

Photo by Layne Shaffer

Photo by Kendra Pardee

Photo by Heather Jackson Miller

Photo by Kathi Crites

Keep an eye out for next week’s photo challenge! We announce challenge subjects on Monday around the end of the day on both Instagram and Facebook.