Since the last newsletter we went from drought
to record snowstorm. Right around the first day of Spring we received 54 inches
of wet, heavy snow, then a few days later, 8 more inches. So just in March, we've
received over 6 inches of moisture which, in this semi-arid climate, is A LOT!!
More than 1/3 of our annual precipitation. As I write this newsletter, we still
have 18 inches of ice-covered snow on the ground. And we love it!
Books from my Library on eBay
snowed in, we did some spring cleaning and found that we had duplicate copies
of several excellent horse books by other authors in our library. We've listed
them on eBay, so if you'd like to browse through them, go here:
spring cleaning is next, so we'll be putting some tack on eBay soon too. Happy
April Book Special
Free Tack Booklet
keeping with our tack theme, this month we are offering a free copy of "Tack
Care and Cleaning", regularly $3.95 (http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_books/booklets.htm#tack).
If the total cost of the books in your order (not including shipping) come to
$45, just type "Free Tack Booklet" in the comment section of our shopping
cart or PayPal, or write a note on your mail-in your order.
Your free booklet
will be included with your order.
A bit is your means of completing the
communication equation with your horse via your hands. Along with your weight
and leg aids, the bit can give you the means of balancing your horse left and
right as well as from front to rear and of shaping the energy that comes from
his hindquarters. Specifically, a bit is useful for teaching your horse to bend
his neck and throatlatch so that he can be turned in both directions. It is also
useful for teaching your horse to flex vertically in the lower jaw, at the poll,
and at the neck muscles just in front of the withers. Vertical flexion is necessary
for gait and speed control as well as for stopping.
"go wrong", the most common question asked is "What kind of bit
should I be using?" Often the problem is not the bit but.........."
(continued in the article) http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_tack/bit_advice.htm
There are many options to consider when
selecting a snaffle. Snaffle types include O-rings, Egg butts, D-rings, and Full
Cheeks. The O-ring is the most common type of snaffle used on young horses because
of its loose action. The rings moving through the holes in the mouthpiece set
up a vibration in the horse's mouth that keeps the horse attentive and responsive.
Most other types of snaffles are less moveable so are more static.
snaffle's mouthpiece can be solid or jointed......(continued in the article) To
read the complete article, go here: http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_tack/bit_advice.htm
Bits are commonly made of stainless steel,
cold-rolled steel, and nickel or copper alloys. High-quality, bright stainless
steel has a smooth surface that won't rust or pit and is very long wearing. Cold-rolled
steel is a type of steel compressed to form a uniformly dense yet softer material
Although prone to rust, cold-rolled steel
fans call the rust "seasoning" and say that the nutmeg-colored oxidation
on the mouthpiece makes it sweet to the horse, thus the term "sweet iron".
"Silver" show snaffles usually have cold-rolled steel mouthpieces but
are called silver bits because of the engraved silver which is inlaid on the rings.
Copper alloys with their reddish gold hues are used as solid mouthpieces and as
strips inlaid in cold-rolled steel or stainless steel mouthpieces. Although salivation,
a sensitivity-enhancer, is a result of the position of your horse's head and his
overall suppleness and flexion, the metal you put in his mouth can either encourage
or dry up the flow of saliva. Copper and cold-rolled steel enhance salivation;
chrome and aluminum discourage it; stainless steel tends to be neutral.
found that although my horses work well and salivate in stainless bits, they do
indeed seem to "take" to bits with a sweet iron mouthpiece and have
a moist mouth throughout their work.
To read the complete
article go here:
For more on bits and using them, see:
Making Not Breaking
From the Center of the Ring
for Short Backed Horse
am trying to fit my mare with a saddle that doesnt hurt her back. I have
tried an Arab tree and a semi QH tree but they both left dry spots and welts on
her back. She has a short back and has been 4 higher at her rump than at
her withers for years. She is 8 years old and 15.1 hands.
am currently using a gel pad with the rear 2 pads removed and replaced with thin
felt pads. She seems to move much more freely. I am 6 and 190 pounds........
here to read the rest of the question and the answer:
Pad for High Wither Horse
I truly enjoy your site and refer friends
and family there continually. You have one of the most useful sites on the web
and we appreciate it!
My question is this: I have a
20 year old TB gelding. Recently purchased. Due to his age he has a slightly swayed
back and high wither. is there a particular pad you recommend for such condition?
I have an
English saddle size 18 and I've seen pads advertised for this specific
problem. they basically have a big hole cut out where the wither is to relieve
tension. will this help?
I want to clarify "relieve tension". There should never be tension or
contact on the withers from a pad or saddle. All saddle blankets and pads should
be peaked above the withers with at least two fingers clearance between the withers
and the pad WHEN THE RIDER IS MOUNTED. The weight of a rider causes the saddle
and pad to "seat" down onto the horse and could cause the pad or saddle
to contact the withers.
Choose a pad that looks like a horse's back - one
that has a contoured topline - the wither section will peak up higher than the
rest of the pad AND the portion that lays on the horse's back will be contoured
(to the shape of a horse's back), not straight and flat (like a board). Take a
look at the following pads in stores or catalogs to see how they would work for
your particular horse (I mention brand names not as endorsement but just to shorten
your time finding the answer):
By the way, the big hole cut in some pads CAN help, but also could cause rub marks
on the withers if the hole does not match up to your particular horse's withers.
Also, you could use a pad that is split at the withers or cutback at the withers
which results in NO pad at all being over the horse's withers. Realize that with
split or cutback pads, the withers are bare and if the saddle does not fit (such
as bars too wide or gullet too low), the saddle could contact the withers - ouch!!
My personal favorite is a contoured wither pad, one that is
molded to raise above the high withers. If you see these pads in person or a picture,
you'll know what I am talking about.
or Western Saddle for First Rides
plan to use an English saddle to ride my 2+ year old quarter horse mare. She has
had a little over 30 days of riding. Several folks have tried to discourage my
choice of saddle, saying that a young, green horse should be ridden only in a
western saddle so that one can better "hang on" through the inevitable
spooks, jumps, etc. which are so common to young, green horses.
My thinking is that no saddle can hold a person on a horse if that person has
not developed a balanced seat......is this correct thinking???? I do not have
much riding experience, but what I have had has been in an English saddle and
I feel more balanced in that type of saddle. Again, am I correct in thinking that
I am more balanced in an English saddle????
so much for any comments and suggestions. Jane
I ride dressage and western. I use a western saddle on
my young horses mainly because of the larger bearing surface of the bars to the
unconditioned back of a young horse. Definitely you should use the saddle that
fits the horse the best, fits you the best and you are most secure using. You
didn't mention what kind of saddle the young horse was ridden with during the
30 days of riding. If it was a western saddle, it would probably be best to stick
with a western saddle for a few weeks anyway. Sometimes young horses react to
the concentrated pressure from the small bearing surface of an English saddle's
panels so could tense their backs, especially if the horse was never ridden with
an English saddle before. The horse is going to be getting used to a new rider,
so it would be best if it was not being ridden with a new type of saddle at the
same time. One change at a time would be safest.
don't mention what kind of English saddle you use. A well balanced dressage saddle
is hard to beat but other English saddles (jumping, all purpose, saddle seat)
might not be as balanced, appropriate, or secure for riding young horses.
a rider is more balanced in an English saddle or a Western saddle.....well, a
good rider in a good saddle of any type (or no saddle) will be balanced.
close, here is one sentence from The Horse and His Rider, by Sir Francis
B. Head, Bart., London 1860 (Note: "Bart." is the abbreviation for Baronet)
a saddle does not come down upon the withers and back-bone of a horse, the closer
it approaches them, the firmer it fits; and as, in the matrimonial alliance which
exists between the quadruped and the biped, whatever is agreeable to the one is
usually so to the other, a roomy saddle, on which the rider can sit with ease
and comfort, is also beneficial to the horse, because it spreads the weight he
has to carry over a large surface, and the pressure per square inch being thereby
diminished, a sore back is less likely to be created, and per contra, for the
very same reason, the human skin is less likely to be rubbed."
Choosing a Western Saddle
I was wondering if you could tell me how to
go about purchasing a western saddle. I live in a town that has no places to buy
a saddle. What brands are the better ones. How do I fit it? Do I need to trailer
my horse out of town to make sure that it fits him correctly? My horses have wide
shoulders. Do I need to get him in great shape before I try the saddle on him?
(he is out of shape, because he hasn't been worked in 2 months.) I don't know
if I should try to order one. the shipping might get expensive if I have to keep
trying saddles. I am new at this so I hope that I can tell if it fits correctly.
I hope that I can trust the people that are going to try to sale me one. How can
I tell if the saddle is centered? Any advice will be helpful and truly appreciated.
thank you Jill
A western saddle purchase is a major decision so you are wise to ask
the things you have.
In your case, I'd suggest requesting
catalogs from State Line Tack, Schneider's, and perhaps Jeffers, Horse Health
USA and Weise. You should be able to request the catalogs on line by typing the
names into a search engine such as google.com.
will give you a spectrum of saddle choices so you can compare.
Some brands that you will probably find in these catalogs that would be good to
consider are Crates, Circle Y, Big Horn, and Schneider's might have their own
brand. There are also other good brands but I am not sure what you will find so
don't discount a saddle if it was not on my list above.
horse's shoulders should NOT affect how a saddle fits him as the saddle sits behind
the shoulders. However, it is best if the horse is in working shape before you
try saddles on him.
Most tack shops and catalog companies
do allow you to try a saddle on a horse and return if it doesn't fit. You are
right, it can add up to considerable freight if you try 3 or 4 saddles before
you find the right one. Sometimes, hauling a horse to a saddle shop that has a
large inventory is a better bet than the catalogs. And it is possible you could
get some good advice if the shop has a knowledgeable sales person.
really should find an experienced horse person help you evaluate the fit of a
saddle - it is not something that can be easily explained in an e-mail especially
without me being able to see your horse and the saddle(s).
From the sound of your letter I wonder if your horse is a Quarter Horse? If so,
and he is wide and well-muscled, you'd probably start with a full quarter horse
tree saddle and then go from there. If that type of saddle is too wide for him
and sits down on his withers, then you might try a semi-Quarter Horse tree next.
A saddle needs to fit the contours of the horse's back without rocking from side
to side or from front to back. When you put the saddle on your horse's back (over
one layer of a clean bed sheet material for the test fit) it should just find
the right position. If you think you've found a contender, keep the bed sheet
layer on your horses' back (to keep the saddle clean) and place a very thin pad
or blanket on top of it, then the saddle. Cinch up and mount. See if you can put
two to three fingers in the gullet while you are mounted. You want there to be
plenty of space in the gullet - it would be disastrous to your horse's withers
if the saddle rested on his withers. Also be sure the back corners of the saddle
should not come near to hitting your horse's hip bones.
is no simple, quick way to find a saddle that fits you and your horse - you must
invest time and money just to FIND the proper saddle. Things will go much smoother
if you take your mentor along with you to advise. You'll learn a lot by trying
on various saddles, and who knows, the first one might fit!
more on various types of English and Western saddles, see:
From the Center of the Ring
That's it for this month. Don't
forget, when you ride, keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.