Understanding Horse Racing Gaits

Standardbreds Pace, or Trot; Thoroughbreds Canter, Run, or Gallop. In his time, the pacer Dan Patch was the fairest of them all, losing only two heats in his lifetime, and never losing a race. He was born fast, and he paced lights out in the late 1890s and the early 1900s. But like all pacers, trotters, and Thoroughbred runners, Dan Patch had to be taught to maintain his gait for a certain length of time, and to maintain a desired speed, easy, then faster and faster, around a race track. He was a quick learner and a great competitor.

What Is A Pacing Gait? Pacing is generally the faster of the two Standardbred gaits. Pacers have a lateral motion, that is they extend their right front and right rear legs at the same time in the same direction. That motion is followed by extension of the opposite side of their bodies – left front and left rear legs reaching forward at the same time.

Pacers have been referred to as “sidewheelers” because their gait, moving one side of the body, then the other, creates a lilting, rocking motion, one side to the other and back again. Pacers are trained to maintain their gait to compete in their races, usually for a mile on a mile track, or for two trips around a half mile track. To aid them, pacers wear hobbles, or leather (or plastic) straps that fit loosely around the upper portion of the legs. Leather strips attach the hobbles on the two legs that move at the same time, thus teaching the pacer to keep his gait.

Horseback Riding is a Dangerous Sport

Horseback Riding is a Dangerous Sport

I was recently reminded of the fact that whenever we work with a free spirit there is the potential for great harm. Most horse related accidents are caused when safety precautions are overlooked, however, that is not always so. If you can, tell me which of these does not belong:

A. novice rider on a somewhat green horse gets dumped when horse spooks and the rider suffers a broken back;

B. experienced rider gets foot broken when insisting young horse move over and young horse knows it can push through people;

C. intermediate rider gets tossed off several horses and hits head and receives concussions, each time not wearing a helmet;

D. and finally, the rider on trail that rounds the bend at the trot and horse stumbles and falls to the ground with rider who suffers a ruptured spleen and the horse suffers a ruptured intestine.

If you guessed the last, you are correct. Try as we may, we can only keep ourselves in a certain amount of safety when riding or working with horses. Some scoff at the use of a riding helmet, but there are those who are still walking and talking thanks to the protection a helmet has given them while on trail and even in an arena. The number one injury in horse related accidents is head trauma. Most people have sense enough to fasten a seat belt as they value their lives, so why is a helmet so different?

Choosing a suitable horse is a common fault as well. That first horse of our dreams may not know when to stop running into the sunset with hair blowing in the wind until someone ends up hurt. There is no shame in buying an older, quiet, seasoned horse. Think of all the time you can spend enjoying the horse when you don’t have to spend all your time and possibly money on a bunch of training or being laid up with injuries. Then when you become more experienced you can look for a younger more challenging horse. This is especially true for kids who have poor judgment on how much horse they can handle.

Yet, as I mentioned, even experienced horse people make mistakes. Once you have been around horses awhile you tend to forget your own safety rules. We sometimes forget we are working with a youngster that really does not know better. We skip lessons because we are sure he understands and then BAMM!, we end up with an injury. The point is to take all the safety precautions you can, remember you are dealing with a free minded and free willed animal, and don’t get over your head with that first horse. Although there is no possible way to be 100% safe around horses, there are ways to make it a much safer experience. So ride and enjoy the day with your partner.

About the Author:

Jodi Wilson is a recognized authority on the subject of horse training and has spent almost 30 years developing training techniques and solutions for horse owners no matter the discipline or breed. Jodi is an Accredited Josh Lyons trainer, and is Certified in John Lyons training techniques. Her website, http://Jodi-Wilson.com, provides a wealth of information to improve the relationship between horse and rider. Jodi is also available for clinics and demonstrations as well as lessons, apprenticeships, and horse training. Jodi has trained and competed in Reining, Sorting, Jumping, Dressage, English and Western Pleasure, Trail and Problem Solving.

How to Stop Stall Boredom During the Winter

How to Stop Stall Boredom During the Winter

If you live in an area where you have long winter seasons then you will agree that your horses will be inside longer.

Signs of stall boredom can include; chewing the wood in the stall, stamping feet, increase in aggressive behavior towards you or other horses in the barn, nippiness.

If you live in an area where you get a lot of snow it is likely that you won’t be doing a lot of riding. There are things you can do during the winter months that will exercise you and your horse and help take up your horse’s mind.

Going for Walks

Horses love to go for walks. If you have a plowed driveway or even a sidewalk that you can use you can take your horse out for a stroll. Horse’s love the snow and they like digging in the snow for grass. If you are turning out in a paddock that doesn’t have a lot of growth walk you horse around an area that has tall grass sticking out of the snow. They will love it!!! This activity helps keep the horse/person bond alive during the months you can’t ride as much.

Stall toys

If you buy stall toys I would recommend a toy that you can refill with a flavor. Likits are great because not only can your horse move it around with their head but they can enjoy the taste of many flavors. Because horse’s get bored very quick this gives them something new to taste with each refill.

Another thing you can do is take old laundry or milk plastic containers. Wash them out then fill them with horse treats. punch holes in the bottom big enough so that the treat will fall through but not too big so that all the treats will come tumbling out. This will give y our horse hours of entertainment. This is especially useful for a horse that gets nervous in storms as it keeps them busy.

Visiting with your horse

Horses like company and not just of the equine type either. Sitting with your horse in the stall is a great way to spend some quality time together. This is also good because you don’t want your horse associating seeing you with work. If you only see your horse when you want to ride then you may find it hard to catch your horse as they will associate the site of you with work.

Ground Work in a Plowed Area

You might not be able to ride but you don’t need a lot of area to do some ground work with your horse. You can work on basic showmanship commands such as forward, stop, backup and pivot in a small area. This is great because it keeps you horse use to being handled and also gives you the jump on getting them ready for Spring shows.

Radio in your Barn

Horses’ s love the radio. It is soothing for them especially if you can find a channel that plays soft rock. Heavy metal is out! Haha.

Some people even bring their Cd players to the barn and play relaxation music or chakra music for their horses. It is very cleansing

Horse Training

Horse Training

Shane will travel to your farm to work with you and your horse. He has a great track record for training and showing young hunters and jumpers both under saddle and over fences. Shane’s style combines a balanced seat with a strong leg and soft hands that bodes well for keeping a young horse on track. His methods are kind, consider the horse first and consistently produce winning results.

When your horse is in training with Shane, you can expect a healthy mix of flat work, gymnastics and cross country conditioning work. Shane believes a horse needs variety and is a stickler for conditioning. There is no “cookie-cutter” routine – every horse is treated individually from their feeding program to their work schedule.

Breaking and Starting

Shane can break and start your horse for any discipline. You can expect that your horse will be treated with kindness and that she will be given a thorough, solid foundation to go on to your discipline of choice. Sometimes owners want to be involved with this critical part of their horse’s life. You can either send the horse to Shane, or he can come to you to help you bring your horse along. (Location permitting) References are available upon request.

Problem Solving

Shane is also known for fixing problems in pleasure horses and show horses. If you have a horse that has performance issues such as refusing fences, missing a lead change, or simply having trouble maintaining pace, Shane has a patient and deliberate way to fix these types of problems.


Trailer Training

Trailer Training

Trailer Training is always a fun and positive day for everyone involved. The more I do this, I have discovered that the trailer training sessions often turn into a modified ground work session that helps both the horse and their handler become more confident in their partnership. I do this because I love the smiles, the positive energy and I really love watching a horse click with his owner. It really is a blast.

“What people need to realize before hiring me or anyone else to teach their horse to load well is that there are all different types of horses out there who have different backgrounds as well as attitudes. There is no cookie-cutter way to teach a horse to load. There are several common denominators for success, though. They include persistence, patience, consistency and common sense. A lot of problems can be solved just bearing these thoughts in mind. While many horses that I train take as little as two hours to get right, some require extensive work to fix the bad habits that they have learned. People must remember also that just the act of loading a horse can be very dangerous. So whether you have a good loader or bad loader, always get the help of a qualified professional to make sure you are handling your horse properly.”

“Once your horse is loading well, the handler has to keep up and practice on a regular basis what the horse has learned. This will increase the chances of a successful relationship in the future.”


Pasturing a Horse

Pasturing a Horse

Pasturing a horse year round offers easy maintenance and is low-cost compared to stabling a horse. However this does not mean you can leave your horse in a field and forget about him. A horse that lives outdoors most of its days can turn a suitable field into an unsuitable eye-sore if left alone to graze. To maintain the quality of grazing and to offer your horse a suitable field you will need to maintain the field for your horse. Good field maintenance is important to your horse’s health.

In order to maintain the quality of grazing for your horse, field rotation is best. A horse requires a minimum of 1 acre (0.4 hectares) for grazing. Dividing the area into separate fields will enable you to rotate the grazing. Horses graze selectively, so a field left unmanaged will result in areas grazed right down and other areas that the horse has left untouched will become overgrown with weeds.

Requirements for a suitable field:

• Fences should have rounded corners to prevent injury
• Supply fresh drinking water
• Fence off any poisonous trees
• The grass should be weed free and of equal height
• The field should not be too steep
• The field should offer shelter and security
• The field needs to drain well, particularly at the water trough and gate
• Avoid low lying areas as these tend to get muddy in winter
• An access road must be accessible in all weather conditions
• Position the shed with safety in mind
• Remove droppings from the field weekly
• Pasture is free of trash and foreign objects
• Check fencing and gates often and do any repairs if you note anything that needs mending.

Proper field maintenance will prevent your horse from escaping and straying or injuring itself. Select your hardware with your horses health and care in mind, such as when selecting the type of fencing for your field. Barbed wire is fine for sheep or cattle, but your horse is more than likely to sustain an injury as horses have fine skin.