Where tradition ends and horse welfare begins

Tradition, in many respects, is a wonderful thing and I personally think it is great that we still ride in jackets and stocks despite the new and fancier options that we could potentially have adopted. I’m such a stickler for tradition that I still wear my stock under my XC colours in the cross-country phase and have an older style jacket for showjumping (to the despair of my friends who tease me about it frequently!). That said, the training system we use, while it still includes many of the traditional ideas, is completely new age, science based and built on…

Bitless Riding Differences

Is it the same as riding in a bit? When riding with a bitless bridle, there are some perceived, and a couple of real differences to riding with a bit that will help with your transition and training. Confident riders and well educated horses who have a good basic foundation generally won’t have a problem adapting to a bitless bridle because essentially the principles are the same – ride with your mind and seat first, then legs and hands second, keeping the feel soft and light. But if you lack confidence or knowledge and are not riding a responsive educated…

What’s Happened to Good Horsemanship?

By Ross Jacobs Most of my clinics are attended by people with a wide range of experience and interests. As well as many amateur and occasional riders I often meet very experienced horse people at my clinics. Many have been riding most of their life. Some have even competed successfully at a high level in various disciplines. I get a smattering of trainers from various horse sports. A few have been judges in various disciplines such as dressage or jumping, reining, halter breed classes etc. These are people will a lot of experience and many skills in their chosen field.…

Unconscious Incompetence and Wilful Ignorance

I was recently talking to a life coach about an interesting theory known as the four stages of competence. A subject highly related to the practice of horsemanship. I won’t go into great details here about all the stages of competence, but want to focus specifically on the first stage – Unconscious Incompetence. Every horseperson goes through this stage at the start of their journey. But the tragedy is that a great majority of horse people (amateur horse owners as well as professional trainers and instructors) will never actually leave this stage.

10 Reasons You Should Buy Your Daughter a Horse!

Sorry Mums and Dads of the world, but I’m about to make your life difficult. I am such a believer in the fact that growing up around horses is just the best upbringing, for so many reasons! It’s character building, it’s healthy and I feel that it taught me so many lessons that I’ve taken with me through life and have made me a better, more well-rounded version of myself.

The Overweight Horse Who Won’t Stop Eating

Your horse is overweight. You’ve been told to feed him a lot less hay and you’re desperately trying to do the right thing. But it won’t work! It won’t work for your horse any more than a strict diet would work for people. We have known this for years when it comes to human obesity. The reason is simple – dieting restricts calories, which lowers the metabolic rate. Weight loss may occur at first, but the body goes into “survival mode” and starts to hold on to fat and becomes sluggish in burning calories, making it extremely easy to put all…

What’s Wrong with a Bucket and Sponge?

It’s a sight we see at many a horse event – hot, sweaty horses standing in line waiting for their turn at the wash bays. Debatably, it’s a great time for your horse to have a pick of grass and you a chat to your friend or debrief your round with a loved one, but what is happening on the inside of your horse? While he may appear to be enjoying a pick of grass as he waits his turn for a wash, on the inside his temperature is rising and every degree counts. If a horse’s body temperature rises…

The Nervous, Anxious, Spooky, Reactive Horse- Part 3

Understanding the Worry Cup The final part of this series from Shelley Appleton: I am now going to provide a short description of each category but please make sure you consider each of these dimensions of stress in each individual horse as a worry cup can be clog up with more than one type of stress and to address the problem you may need to target more than one issue. (If you missed them, click here for Part 1 and Part 2) 4) Frustrations & Desires This aspect elaborates on from a horse’s thoughts and feelings existing at the root…

The Nervous, Anxious, Spooky, Reactive Horse- Part 2

Understanding the Worry Cup Part 2 of this series from Shelley Appleton: I am now going to provide a short description of each category but please make sure you consider each of these dimensions of stress in each individual horse as a worry cup can be clog up with more than one type of stress and to address the problem you may need to target more than one issue. 2) Lack of Trust or Obedience or both I could write pages and pages on this issue and this sits at number #2 worry to discuss regarding the worry cup because…

The Nervous, Anxious, Spooky, Reactive Horse- Part 1

Understanding the Worry Cup I have always loved horses and have spent the majority of my life surrounded by them. But it is only in the last few years that I have actually started to understand the horse and its behaviour. I believe the reason for this is that horses are not intuitive and neither is the way we train them. We tend to get wrapped up in traditional practices and misconception about them that further complicates things. In fact my life up until 5 years ago is evidence that you can love, own horses and even compete horses in…