When selecting a horse to lease, there are a number of questions you must answer before you start your search for an equine. First, you must determine how much time you actually have to ride. If you can only ride one day a week, it would be a waste of your money to commit to a full lease, so you will want to only consider partial leases. On the other hand, if you want to be the only rider of the horse during the lease, then you will want to contract for a full lease.
Second, you should be honest with yourself about your riding experience. In order to successfully lease a horse, you should at least know how to properly groom and tack up a horse.
In addition, you will also want to find a horse that best fits your riding ability. Too often, riders choose a horse for its looks, rather than its training level. To ensure that you are picking out the right horse, it is important to ride it at least once or twice in a situation similar to how you will be using it during your lease. For instance, if you are planning on doing a lot of trail riding, don't try the horse out only in a ring. Make sure to take it out on the trails before you commit to a lease.
Before you sign a lease contract, you and the horse's owner also need to decide how often and when you will be allowed to ride, the cost of the monthly lease, and whether or not you will be responsible for extras, such as shoeing, vet bills or feed bills.
Once you and the horse's owners come to agreeable terms and you are satisfied that the horse will meet your needs, then and only then is it time to commit to a lease in writing.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is made up of the fossilized shells of microscopic sea creatures. Over time, it fractures and basically becomes the equivalent of miniature fragments of broken glass. Food grade DE is harmless to larger creatures, including all mammals, but it is lethal to insects like flies and ticks.
DE can be used two ways to aid in fly and tick control. Lightly dusted over your horse’s coat, it will act as a repellant. It doesn’t take much, a light dusting is all. If you are creating a cloud of white powder, that is too much. One way to apply DE is to fill an old sock and gently tap it all over the horse.
Diatomaceous earth works because it is very sharp and abrasive. As an insect comes into contact, the sharp edges slice at the insect’s exoskeleton. The small pieces also work their way into exposed areas, like joints and other soft parts. This isn’t an instant killer, but it usually leads to death for the flies and ticks. Not only does it keep them off the horse, but any that do land on your horse will be killed, helping, at least a little bit, to population control.
This won’t necessarily stop the flies from landing on your horse, but they won’t stay long enough to bite or sting. Ticks are a little tougher than flies, but a regular program of applying DE should keep new ticks from becoming attached and should eventually kill any existing ticks.
DE can also be added to feed to control parasites. As an added benefit to this organic worming program, it is passed unabsorbed through the digestive system and is deposited in the horse’s manure, where it keeps all of its abrasive properties. Flies that land on the manure are injured and killed. It can also help prevent fly larvae from growing in the manure in the first place. All of this will drastically reduce the fly population.
One very important note: Be sure to buy food grade DE. The DE sold as pool filtering material, for example, has been heat processed and is toxic to animals and humans when eaten.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is composed of the fractured shells of microscopic, fossilized sea creatures. Basically, it is equivalent to tiny pieces of broken glass. Harmless to all mammals, it is lethal to insects, parasites and may even provide some control for bacteria and viruses.
Adding food grade DE to your horse's feed can provide a number of health benefits. One major benefit is in the control of internal parasites. DE is a highly effective organic wormer, and can be used alone or as part of your regular deworming routine. As it passes unabsorbed through the digestive tract, the sharp edges kill internal parasites.
You simply mix a small amount with the horse's daily feed. It can also be dusted lightly over hay or mineral blocks and supplements. The recommended amount depends on how much you are feeding, but it is generally a small percentage of the overall daily feed. By adding DE for horses that have a parasite problem, you can clear up worms and other internal parasites in about a month. However, once the parasites are gone there is no reason to stop adding DE. Not only will it help control re-infestation, the same daily amount is also recommended as a regular dietary supplement. In addition to controlling parasites, diatomaceous earth helps improve joint health by reducing arthritic inflammation, promotes overall digestive health and may help your horse have a fuller, shinier coat.
One very important note: Be sure to use food grade DE. The DE sold as pool filtering material, for example, has been heat processed and is toxic.
Natural aids are the easiest way to control your horse. Horses respond naturally to simple, clear signals that every rider can easily use. The natural aids do not require any special equipment or gadgets to work. Natural aids the rider uses to signal the horse are:
Understanding the three basic leg aids used to signal a horse will make controlling your horse much easier! All horses, unless they have been spoiled or abused, will react in basically the same way to these three natural leg signals. Three basic legs aids are:
1. Urging leg – used to urge the horse forward
The leg is used slightly behind the girth.
Example: Asking the horse to transition from a walk to a trot.
2. Bending leg – used to bend the horse around a turn
The leg is used at the girth.
Example: Used in cooperation with the urging led to turn the horse. Use of the bending leg will require the horse to carry itself balanced through the turn rather than falling in on his shoulder or evading by just bending his neck.
3. Displacing leg – used to control the hind quarters
The leg is used well behind the girth.
Example: Used often in a turn on the forehand to ask the horse to move his hindquarters.
No matter what style you ride, a good effective position must have these four basic elements in order to function well.
1. Unity of the horse and rider in motion
2. security of the rider in the saddle
3. Non-abuse of the horse by the rider's seat, hands or legs
4. The riders aids used efficiently and effectively
1. Unity of the Horse and Rider in Motion – Ever heard of the old saying “Be one with your horse?” Let's face it. Riding is not a static activity. Being able to move in rhythm and balance with you horse makes your riding experience exciting and fun for both the horse and the rider.
Unity comes from the proper blend of balance, rhythm and relaxation which creates the “one with your horse” experience to which most riders aspire. Being in unison with your horse makes the entire riding experience safer and more fun by allowing for easier, more efficient control and an easier ride for horse and rider.
To achieve unity:
2. Security in the Saddle – Riding without fear of falling is the best way to have the most fun with your horse! True security in the saddle means finding a way to stay on while not holding on with your hands or legs and still move in unison with your horse.
Many novice riders quickly find that holding the front of the saddle or gripping with their calves will either put them out of balance or cause the horse to run away. Balance, distributing your weight evenly into the stirrups, spring in your legs and proper use of grip in your knees, upper calves and lower thighs are the key ingredients to being secure in the saddle.
To achieve security:
3. Non abuse of the horse by the rider's seat hands or legs – Horses were not born with riders on their backs, so it is up to us to ride in a way that works with the horse's natural efforts and doesn't cause confusion, conflicting signals or even unintentional pain.
We have all cringed when seeing a novice rider unknowingly yank a horse in the mouth, bounce up and down on the horse's back or kick the horse's sides with every stride. Riding with soft hands, quiet legs, a well balanced seat and clear signals is essential to an effective position and a safer more fun ride. Your horse will respond more willingly and you both will gain much more enjoyment from your ride.
To achieve non-abuse of your horse:
4. Efficient Aids – Communication and cooperation with the horse is a key element in good riding. It starts with position. Placing your hands, legs and seat in the correct position will allow you to use your aids (tools used to communicate with the horse) quickly, easily and effectively. Learning to balance with your horse so you are not using the reins or legs to stay on will prevent you from giving conflicting signals.
Finally, it is very important to learn how to give signals clearly and then continue to give them in a consistent manner. Changing signals on a horse and expecting the horse to understand is simply unfair and will cause your horse to ignore your signals or react unfavorably.
Good aids are the key to communication with your horse and will give you a safer, better ride!
To achieve efficient use of aids:
Legs, hands and seat in correct position
Good balance independent from your hands or legs
Clear, consistent signals
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|