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In caring for your horse’s feet, you not only want to see how the left and right halves of the foot are balanced, you also want to evaluate the hoof’s front-to-back balance. We call this dorsopalmar balance when we’re talking about the front feet, and dorsoplantar balance when we’re talking about the hind. You may also see the term anterior/posterior balance, which is the same for both front and hind feet. Farriers and veterinarians may refer to this in shorthand as “DP balance” or “AP balance.”

TheEssentialHoofBook-horseandriderbooks

The foot on the left has poor dorsopalmer balance (DP), with much
more mass ahead of the widest part of the foot (blue line) than behind it
(green line). The foot on the right has nearly perfect DP balance.

What you ideally want to see is a foot with approximately 2/3 of its mass in the back of the foot, behind the true apex of the frog (usually located about 1/2 inch behind the front point of the frog), and 1/3 ahead of the apex. This also equates to a foot that has about 50% of its mass both ahead and behind the axis of rotation of the coffin bone, a point which corresponds to the widest part of the foot. A foot with these general proportions accomplishes two very important things. First, the foot will have a strong base of support, with the hoof set up well under the bony column of the leg, maximizing the hoof’s ability to bear weight and dissipate impact forces. Second, good DP balance allows for a point of breakover that puts minimal strain to the joints and soft tissues.

When the front part of the foot is longer than the back part, this is called dorsopalmar or dorsoplantar imbalance. An alarming number of domestic horses have this kind of imbalance, which most frequently takes the form of long-toe/low-heel syndrome. When a foot has this conformation, breakover will be delayed, which can cause a variety of problems for the horse.

 

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Your horse needs you to care about his feet.

Hands-On Exercise

To check out your horse’s feet for front-to-back balance, find the widest point of the foot, then draw a line across it with a marker. Next, measure from that line to the very back point of the heels that touch the ground and jot that measurement down. Lastly, measure from the line forward to the point of breakover (POB), which is the most forward point where the hoof would contact the ground if standing on a flat surface. If there is any bevel in the shoe or toe, the POB is the spot where the bevel starts.

Now compare your measurements. If you find that your horse has more mass in the front part of the foot, talk to your hoof-care provider about it. If he or she is not concerned, it might be advisable to get a second opinion from another provider or your veterinarian. Repeat this exercise on all four feet. You can also use your measurements to compare the left front to the right front, and the left hind to the right hind. Note any disparities and discuss them with your hoof-care provider as well.

THE ESSENTIAL HOOF BOOK by Susan Kauffmann and Christina Cline is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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DIY-SPA-DAY-horseandriderbooks

Ah, Valentine’s Day! That Hallmark Holiday we all love to hate and hate to love. But we don’t have to sit around longing for some demonstration of adoration to appear in our mailbox or on our doorstep. Instead, why not treat that best of all faithful and true companions, your horse, to a DIY Spa Day.

Give His Fascia Some Love

Ear Release Photo by Patti Bose-horseandriderbooksUmm…what was that? Don’t worry, as equine bodyworker Margret Henkels explains in her book IS YOUR HORSE 100%? the fascia (or myofascia) is tissue in the body that connects all the horse’s body’s parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems. As the “internet” of the body, fascia communicates with all parts instantly, while also giving the horse structure and organization. But this remarkable tissue changes under strain and accidental injury. It immediately builds many cross-hatching fibers in all directions around the area of strain, as well as faraway areas that help hide the strain for the horse. At first, these areas are warmer and larger as the fascia adds support. Eventually, they return to a more normal size and temperature, but the composition of the fascia changes. Over time, instead of flowing easily, it hardens into stiff fibers and lumps called “adhesions.” Strategic placement of your hands brings precisely the correct heat for fascia changes—that is, “melting” of adhesions and release of related emotional baggage. Henkels’ Conformation Balancing method, explained in her book and DVD, give us this easy technique to make our horses happy:

The ears are a “miracle area” for helping horses. Many have experienced trauma around the base of the ear as well as the entire ear, up to the tip. This can be caused by tight-fitting tack, or head strain. A gentle and effective technique is to hold the ear very softly. Once the horse understands you aren’t squeezing or grabbing at his ear, he relaxes and enjoys the changes. As your thumb sinks into the base of the ear, head changes occur. These releases often last many minutes and bring great relief from anxiety. One ear usually needs much more attention than the other. When you offer these often, the emotional progress for the horse is rapid.

 

Get Down…and Back

Hind End Release Photo by Deb Kalas-horseandriderbooksPositioning and movement of the hind limbs down and back can release tension in the muscles and structure of the hind end, including the hamstrings, the lower back, the gluteal muscles and the psoas. This can improve movements that require adduction and abduction of the hind limbs (think half-pass). Jim Masterson’s Masterson Method® Hind Leg Releases in THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED include this easy exercise:

Pick up the hind foot as if you are going to clean it. While supporting the fetlock with your hands, guide the hoof down and back so it rests on the toe. A couple inches farther back than the opposite planted hind foot is plenty. Keep your hand gently on the hoof, or slightly wiggling the hock, to help the horse relax. With the toe resting back, the hamstrings are fully relaxed. Gently stroke or lightly massage the area to further break up any tension.

 

The Eyes Have It

Acupressure for Horses-horseandriderbooksThere are many points around the horse’s eyes that can be accessed with acupressure. And, as Dr. Ina Gösmeier explains in her bestselling ACUPRESSURE FOR HORSES, acupressure is simple and safe for any of us to apply. All the meridians and organs meet in connection in and around the eye, so through acupressure there, disturbances in other parts of the body can be influenced and rebalanced. This technique also relaxes the horse greatly.

First, touch the Jingming acupressure point (at the corner of the eye) lightly, then slowly increase the pressure, using a clockwise, circular motion. Watch the horse’s reaction. When you see the corners of the mouth relax, the ears go sideways, the eyes begin to close, you know you are applying an optimal amount of pressure. Maintain pressure for one minute. Work you way all the way around the eye, working back to your starting point.

 

Tail Envy

WCG Grooming for Horses Photo by Jessica Dailey-horseandriderbooksGive your horse’s tail a proper wash and conditioning so he can parade his silky swisher around the barn. Professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford give us their tips for primping your horse’s hind end in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

Wet the tail, then use a gentle conditioning shampoo like Motions® Lavish Conditioning Shampoo to ensure the tail gets clean without becoming dry. Use a sponge to get the entire dock wet, paying special attention to the bottom of the dock where the hair gets really thick and oil can collect. Scrub the dock really well, getting your fingernails into it, to help remove the dead skin and gunk that can build up close to the roots. Run your sponge down the entire tail, then scrub the hair between your hands. Rinse the tail until the water runs clear. NEVER comb a wet tail! Use a non-silicone-based detangler such as eZall® Shine & Detangler and comb when dry.

 

Have a wonderful, relaxing, DIY Spa Day with your horse…and don’t forget his favorite treats for afterward! Here’s a recipe if you want to make your own: TSB’s Fun, Easy Valentine’s Day Horse Treats.

For more information about any of the books or experts mentioned, visit www.horseandriderbooks.com.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

 

 

 

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Here’s a quick tip to take you into your weekend when you’ll be puttering around the barn and hanging out with your horses:

“A blanket should always be folded neatly and hung up,” say pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford in their bestselling book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES. “Blankets chucked over the wall or railing are not only not very nice to look at but potentially dangerous. Belly and leg straps hanging down can get tripped over or get caught on a horse; then suddenly, you have a loose blanket attached to a horse! A blanket touching the ground can host mice overnight; as a consequence it gets holes or stains in it.”

In their book, Cat and Emma show us several ways to fold a blanket properly. In this 30-second video, you’ll learn the one likely to be of most use this time of year—best for lightweight coolers and sheets:

 

 

You can order a copy of the book Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton calls “unparalleled” and Grand Prix dressage rider Lisa Wilcox says “demonstrates impeccable horsemanship” from TSB’s online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs for over 30 years, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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In the bestselling WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford show us dozens of horsemanship tips and top techniques to give our horses at home the same conscientious and correct level of care the world’s best riders and trainers give theirs. It’s the little things that make the difference and set your horsemanship above the rest.

WCG-QUICK-REF(1)

Here are 6 steps to rolling a leather lead shank for a neat look and to keep your horse safe when not in use. (All photos by Jessica Dailey.)

1 Thread the end of the leather through the connection at the base of the chain.

2 Create a circle.

3 Follow the leather to the end and roll the lead rope tight, making sure you are rolling toward the inside of the circle you created.

4 Keep rolling; make sure it is quite tight.

5 When you get to the circle, tuck the roll inside it. It should be a little tough to push in.

6 Snap the chain to the opposite side of the roll. Nice and neat!

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

For more professional grooming tips and how-tos, check out WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by Cat Hill and Emma Ford, with over 1200 color photos by Jessica Dailey, available from the TSB online bookstore where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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ChainsGoneWrong

In WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford provide much-needed horsemanship guidance—it’s like having an internationally renowned equine care expert by your side, in the barn, ensuring your horse is given the same top-level management as our Olympic competitors! Along with lots of ways to care for horses the right way, Cat and Emma also point out common mistakes.

For example, as many of us know, some horses lose respect for a normal halter and lead rope. “If your horse doesn’t stop when you stop, drags you faster than you want to walk, or bumps into you with his shoulders, he is being rude!” they write. “Horses should should walk next to your shoulder on a loose, relaxed lead. When your horse is ‘rude,’ a lead chain might be necessary to remind him to pay attention.

“However, many lead ropes are sold with a short chain, and this can be quite dangerous. There are two issues: First, the chain needs slack to be properly used. When it is held tight, the horse will quickly lose respect for it. A quick, tug-then-release is the correct action for using a chain. Second, a short chain that only reaches across the noseband of the halter is unsafe.

“It is common to see chains hooked to the noseband of the halter, as shown in the photograph. This can lead to two problems: The chain can slip below the horse’s chin, and when the horse pulls tight, scare him into rearing. Also, the long end of the snap can jam into a nasal passage if pulled too sharply and break the delicate bones there.

“Instead, ensure your chain is long enough to thread through the noseband of the halter, wrap once over the noseband, thread through the other side, and snap to the top of the cheekpiece. If you have a bit more chain, cross it under the horse’s jaw, and snap the chain to the top of the cheekpiece on the other side. This prevents the halter from twisting when you need to use the chain.”

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

You can find photographs demonstrating how to correctly attach a lead chain, as well as over 1200 other photographs by Jessica Dailey and hundreds of other tips from the pros, in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Image used by permission (thelwell.org.uk).

Image used by permission (thelwell.org.uk).

 

Norman Thelwell was right, of course—and I’d say his wisdom is best followed in these first few days after Mother’s Day!

Many of us have, in fact, been “keeping our own ponies clean” for many years, but as rote as basic grooming may seem by now, there are still little things we can learn to keep our horses that much shinier, healthier, and happier in the days ahead. The new book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford is chock full of the kinds of tricks of the trade it takes a lifetime of experience in the barn aisle to acquire. Here are five pro tips they recommend that you might not have tried yet:

 

1  Pick your horse’s feet out while he is still in his stall to help keep your barn aisle clean and tidy. Do it over a small bucket to prevent mud from falling into the bedding and creating dust.

2  Use a hot towel laid over your horse’s mane to help train his mane to lie flat. Smooth a little beeswax pomade over the mane daily to create a nice, smooth mane.

Don’t overgroom the tail. Keep it tangle-free with gentle daily attention from your fingers and/or comb, always starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. On bath days, use a gentle conditioning shampoo, and scrub the dock really well, getting your fingernails into it, to help remove the dead skin and gunk that can build up close to the roots. Never comb a wet tail!

4  While you groom the horse’s body, look for any scratches, bumps, or skin issues. Once he is clean and before you ride, treat any problems you found while grooming. Thermazene or SSD cream is an excellent strong, gentle antibiotic and antifungal that can be used on many minor skin problems. First clean the area with witch hazel on a clean cotton square, then, if necessary, apply the cream.

5  When trying to get a light-colored horse clean, or one with a lot of “chrome,” you may need several baths with whitening agents to get the desired glow. Make sure not to uses these more than two times a week, though, because they can irritate the horse’s skin. Alternate between a gentle shampoo and a whitening agent. Put a very small amount in water, then sponge directly onto “white bits” of the horse, scrub with your fingers, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. (Note: More is NOT better, in this case, so don’t be tempted to go longer!) Rinse, rinse some more, and rinse again until the water runs clear.

 

You can hear more from Cat and Emma, and learn why Horse Radio Network host Glenn the Geek thinks WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is “The best book on grooming ever! Horse-Husband Approved!” by listening to last week’s Stable Scoop episode. Click the image below to check it out:

Click the image to listen to Cat Hill and Emma Ford on the Horse Radio Network!

Click the image to listen to Cat Hill and Emma Ford on the Horse Radio Network!

 

WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free excerpt or to order your copy.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

 

 

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As we leave the past weekend’s World Cup competition in Las Vegas behind and close in on Rolex Kentucky 2015 (April 23-26, 2015), it stands to reason we’d spend a little time in awe of the world’s top riders and the horses with whom they conquer massive jump courses and dance intricate dressage steps.

But there’s more to these successful partnerships than what we see in the spotlight. Outside the competitive arena, beside every great horse, stands a great groom (damp rag and hoof oil in hand). These hard-working individuals are often the earliest to rise and the last to leave the barn. They travel in the back of trailers and the underbellies of planes to keep watch over their charges. And they master the ritual, labor, and indeed, the artistry involved in ensuring healthy, happy horses that shine like the lucky side of a new dime, inside and out.

With the first jog at Rolex on the horizon (scheduled for tomorrow at 3 pm), Emma Ford, head groom to gold-medal-winning event rider Phillip Dutton’s string and co-author of the season’s must-have book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, stole a few precious minutes from her busy day to tell us what life is like on True Prospect Farm.

WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES and MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON are both available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Photo of Emma Ford by Amber Heintzberger from Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton.

Photo of Emma Ford by Amber Heintzberger from Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton.

For those of you not familiar with eventing, every work day for the event horse varies. Day 1 might be a hack day, Day 2 jog and flat, Day 3 flat and jump… For the purpose of this blog, I am going to tell you about a gallop day. For me there is no “typical” day at True Prospect. With so many horses in work, plans can change hourly, and who knows what is waiting around the corner to surprise us. Being flexible and being able to cope with last-minute decisions is a must.

6:00 am  Whilst I’m making my coffee and feeding my faithful sidekick Charlie, one of the working students feeds the barn of anywhere from 30 to 45 horses. We have a rotation for AM feedings and late-night check, that way no one person gets stuck doing it multiple times.

7:00 am  Arrive at barn. Immediately I go to check the legs of the three horses heading to Rolex. For me, I feel every day is primarily about the safety and care of the horses; however, after the Rolex horses have run their last prep run at the Fork Horse Trials in North Carolina, I become ultra-paranoid about the possibility of missing a small abnormal cut or swelling that could alter the horses’ chance of getting to Kentucky.

7:15 am  Horses on night turnout come in, and it is about now I start to hear, “EMMA!” called from numerous directions. The usual question: “What blankets are the horses to wear?” If I had a dollar for all the times I am asked that question, I would be a very rich groom!

7:30 am  Tack up Happy (Mighty Nice) for Phillip to go galloping. Phillip reminds me that NBC is coming to film at 9:00 am. Shoot! I do a walk through the barn, getting the guys to muck a little quicker while I tidy up—have to make sure those blankets are folded just so!! [Editor’s Note: Find out how in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES!]

8:00 am  Need to run to buy ice. Phillip will be back by 8:45. I always wonder what the local gas station attendant thinks I am doing, buying 12 bags of ice every four to five days. He never asks, so I don’t tell!

9:00 am  Phillip returns, the NBC crew arrives, the training log book has been done, so the first set of horses get tacked up for their riders. NBC wants to film in the tack room, so I grab as much tack as I think we might need in order to avoid disturbing the interview…Oh…and, “Everybody keep the noise level down!” Meantime, Happy is standing in ice for 20 minutes. He only tries to jump out once…that’s good going for him.

10:00 am I head to the feed room to make up lunches and dinners…Must remember to call in that grain order. That’s odd, Caileigh is jogging up the path. I ask what’s up and am told the neighbor’s pigs are out and Fred jumped out of his paddock.” GREAT!! Grab a bucket of grain and get everybody on the ground to put horses in stalls, grab halters, and head out to catch Fred! Luckily for us, Fred cleared the fence and stayed near the next paddock. However, I say, “Bacon anyone?!”

Emma feeding.

Emma feeding.

11:00 am  Feed lunch, bring in all horses, switch those round pens…”Everybody has been out…correct?” NBC want to film Evie and Phillip galloping the other Rolex horses, so I say, “Okay girls, they need to be show-ready in 10 minutes…hoof oil please! I’ll grab the sponsor pads.”

12:00 pm  I ice Happy once more and put him on the Vitafloor for half an hour, then groom him, check his legs, and turn him out to the paddock for downtime. Phillip and Evie arrive back from galloping, cameras in tow! I really want to clip their horses this afternoon, so they get full shampoo baths, and I ice twice.

1:00 pm Make up morning feeds. I then take a horse to the vet clinic to get evaluated. We are extremely lucky to have Dr. Kevin Keane’s practice located literally next door, so if I need medications, have an emergency, or have to get that passport stamped, it is all at my fingertips.

2:00 pm I check Jack’s (Fernhill Fugitive’s) legs. They feel nice and tight. So I start the clipping session. Whilst doing this I have to organize my team for the afternoon. Changes to night turnout, what horses still need grooming, and let’s not forget about soaking Jackson’s foot and re-wrapping it. I rely heavily on my team to let me know if any horse has a slight abnormality that needs attention. With the number of horses we have in the barn, I do not get a chance to personally check each of them over every day.

3:00 pm  On a good day, most of the riding is done by 3:00 pm. Then everybody shares in the afternoon chore duties.

4:00 pm  Jack gets his post-clip bath with apple cider vinegar to try and prevent his skin from breaking out. I get Happy in, check his legs, and they feel great, so I wrap him up for the night. I use Stayons Poultice Wraps, which have made my life so much easier. They are much more time-efficient and have put an end to clay poultice all over myself and the horse!

The barn is fed dinner around 4:00, so I let Cuba (Fernhill Cubalawn) finish his meal before starting his Rolex clipping session. It takes me over an hour to get him done. By this time the barn is hopefully cleaned, but I maybe still have to wrap, roll, fold, and put away that laundry pile!

Emma washing socks.

Emma washing socks.

6:00 pm Bathe Cuba, and groom and wrap Jack before turning him out for the night. I do a walk-through of the barn to ensure horses are happy and correctly blanketed. I put Cuba on the Vitafloor and this helps to dry him quicker. (It is a vibrating plate that helps with circulation.) Then, time to groom him, check his legs, and wrap him for the night.

7:00 pm I’m done for the day, so home to shower and have a little downtime with friends before heading to bed, hopefully by 9:30 to rest up for tomorrow. I wonder what that will bring? Hopefully sound, happy, healthy horses and no more escaped pigs!!

 

Get hundreds of grooming tips from the pros in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by Cat Hill and Emma Ford, with over 1200 color photographs!

 

And get find all you need to enjoy the thrilling sport of eventing in MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON by Phillip Dutton with Amber Heintzberger.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE GREAT HORSE BOOKS

 

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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