Training Ideas

How do you train your horse? Do you go for the dominance school which suggests that the most effective method of training horses is to be the “alpha” of the herd and “lets them know who’s the boss” or do you approach training differently, from a personality of warmth?

If you are like me, you’ve probably had trainers who ran the spectrum of both methodologies. You’ve also, maybe, been exposed to horses that only respond one way or another (much like people, one might argue). Yet, new research seems to indicate that the dominance school is not the approach to take and that a horse doesn’t view people as part of the “herd” so thinking you have to be the “alpha” horse is actually counterintuitive to getting the best from your horse. You can read the article here: “Dominance in Human-Horse Relationships.”

What do you think? What works best for you?

Fly Season Starts

OK, well it’s not full on us yet, but we have started seeing those nasty flies on occasion here in our area. Nobody likes flies, but they do serve a purpose in decomposing things and provide a food source for other insects as well as birds. That said, managing them can be a full-time job. Casey Bazay on Horse Network had a great article on managing flies naturally called “15 Ways to Ward Off Flies (Naturally)“.

Bazay writes that we have myriad ways of dealing with flies and as we (hopefully) want to do so with the least impact on our horses and on the earth, we should find natural solutions whenever possible. Here are some of her suggestions.

  1. Use a natural fly-spray (or make your own). We happen to like cedar oil but some people have an issue with cedar oil so make sure you aren’t allergic. Dr. Bonner’s eucalyptus soap also works wonders in keeping lots of bugs at bay but might be expensive for horse needs. Lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass along with citronella also work exceptionally well.
  2. Use plants (just make sure they aren’t toxic to your animals).
  3. Use your mower (seriously, shorter grass keeps insects at bay).
  4. Use fly-traps.
  5. Use fans.
  6. Use chickens. Chickens eat the fly larvae and if you have ticks, they do a great job keeping the tick population at bay as well. What is even better are guinea fowl if you can stand the noise. They are known to clear ticks out in a 24 hour period. Chickens have the added bonus of providing eggs and food.
  7. Use fly masks and sheets.

What are the ways you keep flies at bay? Have a secret recipe for warding the nasty bugs off? If so, we would love to hear it!

Remembering the Joy

Have you read the article “An Open Letter to the Little Girl Who Loves Horses?” It’s a wonderful blog post by Sarah Eder that celebrates the joy of a young girl and her beloved horse. How many of us were that little girl (or maybe, little boy) who was absolutely horse-mad? Were you one of those that only drew horses in the margins of your school papers? Maybe you were one of those who didn’t come from a horsey family but rather begged your parents for riding lessons.

Although I grew up in Kentucky, my parents were hardly horse people. In truth, my mother was terrified of the beasts and put off my endless badgering to learn to ride until I was about 11. That was when we moved to the next county over and into the heart of the local Pony Club haunts with a wonderful Pony Club DC named Mrs. Bennett. Convinced that I wouldn’t get horses out of my system, my mother, somewhat bewildered by my obsession, signed me up for riding lessons at one of the local barns.

Love at first ride! It wasn’t long before I was jumping cross-rails (my mother waited in the car convinced I was going to break my neck). Next came working extra hours at the barn to earn enough for my very own saddle. I joined Pony Club, borrowing mounts until I finally had my first horse at the old age of 16. She was a saddlebred mare named Wing’s Faith who wasn’t very good at jumping and had a somewhat surly attitude towards work she didn’t like, but she was MINE and a joy nonetheless. She had been donated to the Pony Club and was 12 but was a good sport about it all.

Then it was off to college, the college equestrian team and a more advanced horse who would jump anything but who was, in reality, WAY to big for me (I’m only 5’3″ on a good day) at 18 hands. After some knee surgery, job hunting, and life, my big boy was sold to a man who needed a horse that size to fox hunt. Then, like most things when you are twenty, life happens, bills happen, and horses, no matter how much you love them, become too expensive to own and time is filled with making ends meet.

Years later, with a little girl of your own, who wants to learn to ride, you take her to a local barn and discover your love is still waiting in the eyes of bay horse just the right size. Although your daughter isn’t as horse-mad as you, the love you always had is still there lurking under the surface and before you know it, you are coaxed back into the saddle and your life is never the same again.

If you are in the Bucks County area of Pennsylvania, come join us and discover the love again (or maybe for the first time!). We would love to have you.