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12 Smart Tips for Horsemen

Brush up on 12 smart practices that will make your life easier when it comes to horse training, showing and management.

The American Quarter Horse Journal
April 15, 2014

how to hold your reins right

Get the low-down on rein-holds in “Hold Your Reins Right!” (Credit: Journal) BELOW: Take a look inside the April Journal.

Seven ways to cut down on horse bedding costs. Five vaccines your horse can’t live without. Eleven money-saving secrets for horse-show competitors.

Don’t you just love numbers? So do we, which is why we’ve rounded up 12 smart tips for horsemen – from recreational riders to weekend warriors, and even small-time breeders. 

These bits of great advice hail from the April American Quarter Horse Journal. Just for April, you can read the Journal digital edition for free. Head to www.aqha.com/journal to either read the digital Journal on your computer or download the free Journal app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.

  1. Stretch your horse bedding budget with stall mats. The easiest way to cut costs starts with rubber stall mats, says Carey Williams, an equine extension specialist at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center. Carey dishes on seven ways to save on bedding costs in “Sleep Tight.”
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for abnormal stresses within the foot. Those stresses predispose the foot to injury or disease, and stress will manifest itself in a variety of ways, says Dr. Stephen O’Grady in “Hoof in Detail: Easy Evaluation.” 
  3. Use the flag to get the patterning down on your cow horse. Matt Koch, trainer for Wagonhound Land & Livestock, practices stop, back and draw with the flag so that the horse will learn to do it on his own, easily applying the procedure later to live cattle. Matt and Chance O’Neal, trainer for the Four Sixes Ranch, share their training secrets in “Making Cow Horses.”
  4. Transition between the snaffle to a curb bit with a “trainer’s hold.” This rein hold can serve as an introduction to neck reining. Get the low-down on rein-holds in “Hold Your Reins Right!”
  5. Try a forward-back-forward exercise when teaching a horse to lead. This is AQHA Professional Horsewoman Charlene Carter’s technique that gives the horse impulsion and some urgency, both desired traits in showmanship and halter. Look for Charlene’s step-by-step instructions in “Borrow a Trainer.”
  6. Bring your own grub to the horse show, like cheese, sausage and crackers. That’s just one tip from “11 Money-Saving Secrets” for the horse-show competitor.
  7. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate – that’s the easiest way to keep your horse from becoming sick or dying. Even if your horse never goes to town or interacts with other horses, there are still a handful of core diseases to protect your horse against, says Dr. Thomas Lenz in “The Core Five.”
  8. Look for athletic ability and mental capacity in show prospects. Those were two traits Whitney Walquist-Vicars saw in Southwestern Gunman, her homebred teammate she showed to the 2013 Farnam all-around amateur title. Whitney dishes on how their partnership almost wasn’t in “Farnam All-Around Amateur.” 
  9. Consider creep feeding your foal prior to weaning. Equine nutrition experts, plus multiple American Quarter Horse breeders weigh in on their creep-feeding quantities, techniques and schedules in “Mother’s Milk and More.”
  10. Think quality more so than quantity when hauling for a year-end title. That was the tactic for the promoters of Romancing The Chics, the 2013 Farnam all-around senior horse. The bay gelding was hauled to only 10 shows in 2013, says AQHA Professional Horseman J.D. Yates in “Farnam All-Around Senior Horse.”
  11. Communication is key when working with multiple trainers. Amateur-owner Joanne Garnett proved that success can come with more than one coach, as long as team work is on everyone’s mind. With the help of AQHA Professional Horsemen Tami McAllister and Brett Clark, Joanne honed A Sudden Illusion’s talents into a big win, featured in “Farnam All-Around Junior Horse.”
  12. Start early if your plan is to win the year-end award. That was 2012 Markel all-around youth Erika Rodenski’s advice to Ellexxah Maxwell. Sure enough, the advice, coupled with Ellexxah’s discipline to perfection, paid off in 2013. Get the low-down on Ellexxah’s journey with Zips Bossy Chip in “All-Around Youth.”

The learning doesn’t have to stop here. Visit www.aqha.com/journal to read the April Journal digital edition for free.