Blog

What does a horse’s frog do?

When it comes to long term soundness, the hoof is the most important part of the horse. Therefore, taking care of your horse’s hooves is your first priority. There are…
Read More

The Physiological Benefits of a Strong Topline

Many people will tell you that building up your horse's topline is important for proper movement and collection. This is true. However, not all of them know the physiological benefits…
Read More

How do I pick up my horse’s shoulder?

Do you have problems with picking up leads? Dropping leads? Lopsided circles? A horse that is heavy on the forehand? Do you know what all these problems have in common?…
Read More

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Impulsion

The concept of impulsion was briefly touched upon in my article on the Classical Training Pyramid. However, this vital building block of collection deserves a more in depth discussion. If…
Read More

How to Build Up Your Horse’s Topline

A strong topline is vital to any horse's training. A strong topline helps ensure correct saddle fit, long term soundness, and overall ability to perform demanding physical tasks. Some people…
Read More

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Counter Arc

Uses for the Counter Arc The counter arc is often used by trainers to correct a horse with a tendency to drop his shoulder. It is an especially important tool…
Read More

10 Habits of Highly Effective Riders

Have you ever wondered what qualities set the best riders and trainers apart from the rest? Unfortunately there is no magic formula, however, there are some common habits that highly…
Read More

What do I look for in a good boarding barn?

We've already discussed the common types of boarding available in many areas, but choosing what type of boarding is best for your horse is only the beginning of the process.…
Read More

What is the difference between full board and partial board?

Being a first time horse owner can be a bit intimidating. The process of just finding the right horse to buy is hard enough, but if you don't have anywhere…
Read More

How do I ride inside leg to outside rein?

Riding inside leg to outside rein is one of the foundation exercises of classical dressage. Really, it should be the foundation for any discipline. It is a vital component that…
Read More

What is pressure and release training?

You've probably heard about pressure and release training at some point. It's become all the rage with this "natural horsemanship" movement. However, this is a very misunderstood method of training.…
Read More

What is Line Breeding and how is it affecting the Quarter Horse breed?

Line breeding has become a point of contention in the equine industry. It is the practice of inbreeding family lines; sisters to brothers and fathers, mothers to sons and grandsons, fathers…
Read More

The Language of Silence

So often we forget that horses are none verbal creatures. We teach them verbal commands like walk, trot, canter, and whoa. However, responding to verbal commands goes against their nature. In…
Read More

5 Mane and Tail Grooming Myths Busted

  There is a lot of information out there on mane and tail care for horses. What many people don't know is that much of it is sponsored--either directly or…
Read More

The Secret to a Soft Mouth

    Softness is a key part of collection in any discipline. There are many exercises and theories behind creating a soft mouth in your horse. However, softness is not…
Read More

10 Ways to Afford a Horse on a Budget

Owning a horse can be a very expensive endeavor. A half ton animal with a near suicidal propensity for self harm requires a great deal of food, maintenance, and--if you…
Read More

Disclosing A Disability to A Trainer

Last year I did an article on dealing with chronic illness as an equestrian. This was inspired by my own struggles with severe asthma and epilepsy. However, I recently got…
Read More

Horse Selling Red Flags

  Selling a horse can be a tumultuous experience. As a continuation of Tuesday's article A Beginner's Guide to Horse Selling, here are a few red flags to avoid setting…
Read More

A Beginner’s Guide to Horse Selling

  Deciding to sell your horse is a difficult decision. There are many different reasons why you might decide to go through with it. Often, this decision has to do…
Read More

Horse Shopping Red Flags

  Buying a horse can be an overwhelming experience for first time horse buyers. As a continuation of Tuesday's article A Beginner's Guide to Horse Shopping, here are a few…
Read More

A Beginner’s Guide to Horse Buying

It is easier than ever to shop for a horse online. Thousands of horses are listed for sale on all kinds of websites--some more reputable than others. With so many…
Read More

Battle Show Ring Burnout

  If you do a lot of concentrated training with your horse, there is always a danger of burnout, particularly with younger horses. Even if you are careful not to…
Read More

Open a Gate While Mounted: A Step-by-Step Training Guide

Learning to open a gate while mounted has many uses. Whether you just want to make use of the skill around the farm or need the maneuver for pattern classes,…
Read More

Rhythm and Cadence in Classical Training

  The concept of rhythm was briefly touched upon in my article on the Classical Training Pyramid. However, this deserves a more in depth discussion as as rhythm -- or…
Read More

Equestrian Problems: Part 2 (GIF Edition)

1. Can't drive by a horse, look at a picture of a horse, or even watch a movie with a horse in the background without picking apart all of the…
Read More

Equestrian Problems: 5 Problems Only Equestrians Will Understand

No matter how big the tack room gets, it will never be big enough If you've owned or leased a horse for more than five minutes, you've probably encounter this…
Read More

The Mechanics of Bolting (and How to Prevent It)

Bolting is one of the most terrifying habits for a horse to develop as well as one of the most dangerous. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of riding…
Read More

Consistency vs Repetition

  In horse training we talk a lot about horses' need for consistency. However, their need for consistency is too often mistaken for a need for repetition. There is a…
Read More

Habitation vs Desensitization

You probably hear a lot about desensitization in horse training. It is a common approach used to acclimate horses to strange objects and environments. The most common application of this…
Read More

The Spay Debate: Why do we spay dogs but not horses?

Most people are familiar with the concept of spaying dogs and cats. But have you ever heard of anyone who spayed their mare? I haven't. As a mare owner myself…
Read More

The Classical Training Pyramid

  One of the governing principles of classical dressage is the training pyramid. It lays out the roadmap for the entirety of the horse's training journey from very first day…
Read More

The Mechanics of Lateral Flexion

Lateral flexion is a bit of a hot topic in horse training. Most people know it is necessary to achieve softness in the bridle, but too many people do not…
Read More

Achieving Softness Throughout the Body

Softness is something that most equestrians strive for. Softness is the bridle, through the rib cage, moving off your leg, responding to your aids. It is vital to putting a…
Read More

Straightness vs Bend: How Much is Too Much?

We talk a lot of about bend when training horses. "You have to get him supple." "He needs to be soft in the poll to achieve bend." "You need to…
Read More

The Importance of the Counter Arc

Does your horse constantly drop his inside shoulder in a turn? This is a common problem in all disciplines, but it is a particularly pervasive problem in barrel racing. The…
Read More

The Mechanics of Rearing

  Rearing is every rider's nightmare. The biggest fear for most riders when a horse rears is that they will flip over backwards. This is a legitimate concern for some…
Read More

Bucking the System: Mechanics and Prevention of Bucking

Bucking is arguably the most dangerous behavior a horse can develop. It can quickly become a habit if not addressed immediately. But, before you can understand how to stop your…
Read More

The Panic Button: How to Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse

  Even the best horses have bad days. No matter how broke your horse is, no matter how seasoned or how well trained, every horse can have a bad day.…
Read More

The Art of the Perfect Circle

  The circle is the basis for so many pattern classes in the show ring today. It seems like such a simple maneuver, but creating a perfect circle really is…
Read More

Sequence Your Aids: How and Why

We've talked several times now about the importance of consistency. Horses are creatures of habit. This is why we use set cues to ask for certain behaviors. This may seem…
Read More

Mud Management Solutions for Pastures and Paddocks

Spring is here. The snow is melting and the ground is thawing. The days are getting longer and better riding weather is just around the corner. But with the spring…
Read More

Horse Show Fever: Getting Started in the Show Pen

So, you've decided you want to start going to horse shows. That's fantastic! But where do you start? Many trainers go to a horse show at least once a month.…
Read More

For the Love of the Horse: My Seizure Story

The other day I got a rather nasty comment from a certain individual. I will not name names, but you know who you are. This person took the time out…
Read More

Spirals: Their Value and How to Use Them

Spirals are a very valuable exercise for any discipline. They really help with shoulder and rib cage control. Spirals test a horse's balance and collection. They can be done at…
Read More

The Intelligence Factor: Are Horses Really as Simple-minded as We Think?

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about equine intelligence. A common comment I hear about horses is "oh, they've got a brain the size of a walnut, they…
Read More

Lead Changes: The Secrets to Successful Flying and Simple Changes

  Lead changes are a vital component of all disciplines; from dressage to barrel racing, show jumping to reining. Every discipline aspires to perfect this seemingly simple maneuver. What are…
Read More

What does it mean for a horse to have a good handle?

It is fairly common in the western industry to hear trainers remark about what a "good handle" a horse has. Many newcomers to the industry get confused by this statement…
Read More

Leg Yield: The Basis of All Lateral Movement

The leg yield is perhaps the single most important maneuver you will ever teach your horse. The leg yield forms the basis for every other lateral movement from the sidepass…
Read More

Conformation Decline in the American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is an icon in western disciplines. While opinions on ideal conformation may differ widely from discipline to discipline, the older conformation ideals are starting to come…
Read More

4 Great Rider Fitness Exercises

Last week we discussed conditioning your horse after a layoff. But, just as important as horse fitness is rider fitness. No matter what level of exercise you maintained during the…
Read More

Conditioning Your Horse After a Layoff

Many horses are not kept in consistent work over winter. This, of course, leads to a lack of fitness and muscle tone that must be taken into account when starting…
Read More

Jackpot vs Divisional vs Rodeo vs Futurity: What’s the difference?

Barrel racing is an iconic rodeo sport that is rapidly growing in popularity across the US and even internationally. But not all barrel races are created equal. There are four…
Read More

Synthetic Saddles: Pros and Cons

    Last week we started the discussion of synthetic vs natural materials by  addressing the issue of saddle pads and cinches. Today we will address the pros and cons…
Read More

Natural Fibers vs Synthetics: A Guide to Pads and Cinches

    This is a long standing debate in the equine industry: natural fibers vs synthetics. With so many new technologies and synthetic materials being produced every day, the market…
Read More

4 Items in Your Tack Room That You Can Repurpose

With winter in full swing in the northern hemisphere, riding time is limited. But that just means that you've got more time to clean out that tack room and sort…
Read More

Teaching Your Horse to Take Responsibility for His Own Feet

A few weeks ago, we discussed the dangers of micromanaging and why it is detrimental to your horse's training. However, that discussion raises the question of how do we teach our horses…
Read More

Making a Barrel Horse: Push Style vs Free Runner

In barrel racing there are two kinds of running styles: push style and free runners. They both have their pros and cons. Push style is the more common of the…
Read More

4 Ways to Improve Your Horse’s Winter Fitness Regimen

With winter in full swing, many of us in the northern hemisphere are dealing with plummeting temperatures and the ever-present threat of snow. Those of us not lucky enough to…
Read More

Micromanaging: Are you helping or hindering?

You’ve got a wonderfully trained horse. He’s dead broke, bombproof even, if there is such a thing. He listens to your every cue, attentive to the smallest shifts of body…
Read More

Halloween Costume Ideas to Fit Every Budget

Halloween is upon us and with it the last minute rush to figure out costumes for all those fun Halloween barn parties everyone has planned. In case you are still…
Read More

Horse Blankets 101: Types of Blankets

It’s that time of year again. Time to start breaking out those blankets in preparation for winter. For those who already blanket on a regular basis, you probably already have…
Read More

What makes a barrel racer?

Most people in the horse world have at least heard of barrel racing: a somewhat controversial rodeo event that consists of a three-leaf clover pattern around three barrels and the…
Read More

Hobbyhorse Revolution: Horsing Around…With Stick Horses

The other day I stumbled across an interesting new craze from Finland called hobbyhorsing. Most of us were horse crazy kids at one point and we all probably had a…
Read More

The difference between the reining horse and the cow horse

The reining horse and the reined cow horse, the flashy show-offs of the western showpen. We admire them with their grace, beauty, and refinement, but what is the difference between…
Read More

Supplements 101: 3 Supplements Every Horse Owner Should Know

  Every year, ongoing scientific research helps us better understand the nutritional needs of our equine partners. As our understanding of equine nutrition advances, feed companies scramble to promote new…
Read More

Mastering the Reining Spin

The reining spin is a coveted pinnacle of achievement for many amateur western riders, yet if you don’t have access to a reining trainer, it can be difficult to teach…
Read More

4 Medical Evaluations You Should Know How to Do

It is important for all horse owners to be able to take their horse's basic vital signs so they can establish a baseline. Establishing a baseline is important because it…
Read More

Teaching the Western Rollback

  The roll-back is a vital maneuver for the western showpen, especially for reining and cowhorse class. Fortunately, it is a relatively simple maneuver once you break it down. Prerequisites…
Read More

The Secrets of the Sidepass

Sidepassing is an important maneuver to master for the western showpen. Many pattern classes – especially ranch horse classes – will ask for sidepassing maneuvers. Sidepassing can be done over…
Read More

Healthy Horse Checklist

As a horse owner, it is vital that you know your horse's normal behavior and routines so that you can spot any abnormalities and catch problems before they become life…
Read More

The Anatomy of Collection

Collection, the great holy grail of horsemanship. It’s the unicorn many amateur riders spend years of practice and thousands of dollars chasing. In its simplest form, collection is raising the…
Read More

The difference between a halt and a stop

No matter your discipline, at some point in the show pen you are going to be asked to halt. The halt is a deceptively simple maneuver that is often overlooked…
Read More

Bits 101: “Specialty” Bits

Well, our Bits 101 series is finally drawing to a close. It looks like we'll wrap things up with one last post on "specialty" bits. This article does contain affiliate…
Read More

Bits 101: The Bitless “Revolution”

    Bitless bridles are one of the most controversial points of the horse industry. They can be anything from the traditional vaquero bosal to the increasingly common mechanical hackamore.…
Read More

Bits 101: Leverage Bit Basics

Let’s start with some basic parts of all leverage bits. There are the cheeks, which are made up of the purchase and the shank. Then there is the mouthpiece which…
Read More

Bits 101: Western Snaffle Basics

Friday’s article kicked off the new Bits 101 series with a discussion on the most common mouth pieces in bits. Today we pick up with a discussion of snaffles, the…
Read More

You know you’re a horse person when… (GIF edition)

You know you’re a horse person when… 1 …rather than slowing down for a speed bump in your car you assume the 2-point position because efficiency is important people. via…
Read More

Common Mistakes That Many Riders Make When Catching a Horse

Catching is one of the most common problems faced by horse owners. So, if you are struggling with catching your horse, know that you are not alone. Most of us…
Read More

You Know You’re a Horse Person When…

  You Know You’re a Horse Person When… 1 …you think nothing of showing up at the grocery store in sweat pants and muck boots with a hair full of…
Read More

Why the “Rescue” Label Can Do More Harm Than Good

This is a direct follow-up to Friday’s article on The Secret to Turning Every Horse Into Your Dream Horse. When you hear a horse labeled as a “rescue,” what is…
Read More

The Secret to Turning Every Horse Into Your Dream Horse

I’ve had several friends ask me “how do you always manage to find these amazing horses?” They look at the horses I have and seem to think that I have…
Read More

10 Things You Should Have in Your Equine First-Aid Kit

1. Self-stick bandages There are so many uses for these around the farm. In a first aid situation, they are invaluable for keeping dressings in place or helping to support…
Read More

Ranch Halter: The Most Overlooked Versatility Class

Ranch Versatility has taken the stock horse show circuit by storm, providing a fresh arena for competitors to flock to. Versatility is generally made up of six classes -- ranch riding,…
Read More

5 Things Your Horse Should Know Before Going to a Horse Show

I know, a little late to the party. With summer drawing to a close (please don’t remind me), most show circuits are winding up as well, but it’s still not…
Read More

Why your horse is the best trainer you will ever have

As equestrians, we are always (or should always be) on the lookout for good teachers we can learn from. As amateur equestrians though, we don’t always have the resources to…
Read More

5 Tips for Trailering Your Horse Long Distances in the Summer Heat

Headed for a world championship? Trailering a new horse in from out of state? Going on a horsey camping trip? There are so many reasons you might be trailering your…
Read More

Clicker Training: Dogs vs Horses

Clicker training is a controversial topic in the horse world that gained popularity along with the rise of the natural horsemanship movement. Some hail it as a humane way to…
Read More

No frog, no hoof

  A common saying in the horse industry is “no hoof, no horse.” I’ve taken that saying one step further: “no frog, no hoof.” I am studying under my father…
Read More

Is “anthropomorphizing” really as dangerous as people say it is?

Oh yes, I just went there. This is a huge taboo to some people who insist that horses are working animals who should be classified as livestock while others prefer…
Read More

Training a Bombproof Horse

This one of the most common questions in the industry: how do I get my horse bombproof? First, I don’t like the term “bombproof.” It implies that a horse will…
Read More