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January 2001

Your Horse Barn - DVD
How To Think
Like A Horse
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill

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Cherry Hill's
Horsekeeping  Newsletter
January 2001



    I received the most wonderful Christmas present from my talented husband Richard Klimesh. Two years ago on Valentine's Day, he surprised me with a hand-forged horse sculpture which he named "wild Sparky". I loved that little iron horse so much that Richard developed variations of the original sculpture: Spunky Sparky, southwest Sparky, Grand Prix Sparky, Lonesome Sparky, and Trojan Sparky. (Since friends have fallen in love with Sparky, I encouraged Richard to offer reproductions of Sparky on his web pages.)

    Well, this Christmas I was hoping to receive another Sparky for my precious collection and sure-enough, in the last package I opened, there was a Sparky so special that I have to show her to you. (The other Sparkys have all been "boys" to me, but this one is definitely a filly.) My new Sparky embodies the magic that horses hold for many of us - she is a Unicorn Sparky.



   January 1 is a special date for horse owners because it is the universal birthday of most of our horses. It doesn't matter if your horse was born in January or December or anywhere in between, when January 1st rolls around, your horse becomes one year older.

   For example, Sherlock was born May, 2000 and becomes a yearling on January 1, 2001, even though he will only be 7 months old. Similarly, on January 1, 2001, Zinger (AQHA Miss Debbie Hill) born March, 1975 becomes 26 and Aria born September, 1993 becomes 8.

   This custom makes record-keeping easier for breed associations and makes the operation of equine competitions run more smoothly. However, you can see where two foals, one born in February and one born in October would look quite different in a Yearling Halter class! The size disparity evens out by the time a horse is five or so.


   It is sometimes interesting to think of our horses in terms of their age in human terms. It helps us understand their needs and behavior and it is fun to say how old they are in relation to our age.

   There really isn't any standard scientific formula of horse to human years so I am going to just give you an approximation.

   Here is the way I view of human - horse equivalency. Read more about this in detail in
How to Think Like a Horse

"Approximate Human Equivalents to Young Horses:

At Birth: physically 2 years; emotionally newborn.
4 months: physically 4 years; emotionally 2 years.
6 months: physically 5 years; emotionally 3 years.
1 year: physically 8 years; emotionally 5 years.
2 years: physically 15 years; emotionally 8 years.

     "The foal is born with needs equivalent to a human infant's: it is preoccupied with hunger, thirst, sleep, and comfort.  However, within hours of birth, the foal has the physical ability and mechanical skills of a two-year-old human.  Twenty-four hours after birth the foal is able to run, using legs that are 90% of the length of an adult horse's.  Coupled with keen instincts, this physical advantage has helped the young horse survive over the millennia.  Sometimes this physical strength and vigor is expressed too exuberantly and foals over-stress themselves, especially when they are turned out following extended confinement.  In spite of their apparent vigor, foals are fragile, both mentally and physically, and need close contact and security from their dam.

    "The suckling foal is characteristically inquisitive yet timid; fractious yet vulnerable; feisty yet fearful.  Although it is advantageous to handle the youngster before he gets unwieldy, it is best to make the sessions short, firm, fair, and to the point.

    "By weaning time at 4 to 6 months of age, the horse has reached the human physical equivalent of about a four to five-year-old child and the emotional equivalent of a two to three-year-old.  With a short attention span and unpredictable outbursts, weanlings are best left to be horses, keeping necessary lessons safe and fun.

    "The weanling can experience deep emotional and physical trauma and is very impressionable.  Care must be taken to preserve his interest in eating and other routines so that he does not become unnecessarily depressed.  The young horse separated from his mother is uncertain about his safety.  In addition, he is being asked to form his own behavior patterns for the first time.  

    "The yearling spends much of his time experimenting with his skills and finding his place in equine and human society.  The equivalent emotionally of a five-year-old human and physically of an eight-year-old, the yearling horse is testy, and can be rambunctious or moody.  Fillies and colts are beginning to experience the effects of the hormones of puberty and sexually oriented games are incorporated into play-time.

    "It is imperative that the lessons started as a foal be thoroughly reviewed with the yearling.  Although sessions are still short, they can be more frequent and cover a wider variety of handling.  The yearling is receptive and capable of learning all of the ground rules.

    "With the two-year-old year comes serious sex drive and its subsequent effect on attention during training.  Although only a physical equivalent of a 14-15 year-old human and a mental equivalent of an eight-year-old, the two- year-old horse is too often treated as a mature horse. 

    "Many of the epiphyseal closures in the two-year-old's joints have matured, but he should not be made to accept the work load of an adult.  He lacks the stamina and strength to perform under a rigorous schedule.  His skeletal immaturity also leaves him prone to injury. 

    "The two-year-old has lost much of the silliness of his yearling year, generally pays attention, and will show the trainer his potential."

As your horse matures......

  • From age 2-5, you can think of your horse as being in his late teens and twenties.

  • 5-6 is considered "adult" in the horse so would be the equivalent of 21-30.

  • A horse is said to be in his "prime" from age 5-15 which would correlate to the thirties and forties.

  • A 15-20 year old horse is in late middle aged, like the late 40's and 50's in humans.

  • When a horse reaches his twenties, he is considered a senior, an equivalent of the 60's and 70's in humans.

    All horses, like all humans, age differently. That's why one horse might be tired and "used up" in it's teens while another in its mid-twenties is still sound, active, and shows no signs of aging other than a bit of grey hair.


    The best way to overcome fear is to have a very solid knowledge and skills in the "basics". The basics are the "how-to" of handling horses from the ground and riding. It includes everything from how to tie, how to use your aids, how various tack is fitted and used, how horses see, why they flee when they perceive danger, how to stop a runaway, and so on. The more experience you have and the more skills you develop, the more secure you (and your horse!) will be. The more you have learned, have experienced, and know how to do, the more confident you will be, even in the face of real danger.
Read more about
overcoming the fear of spooking.


When it comes to horses and people working together, I've observed several types of fear.
Read more about


When a young horse bucks during longeing, it can be due to youth, exuberance, and lack of exercise. The best way to PREVENT your horse from bucking is to turn her out with other active horses directly before her longeing lesson. This way she will burn off excess energy in a natural horse way. If you take your horse out of a stall or small pen or paddock and take her to the longeing area, it is no wonder she will kick up her heels. If you let her take the edge off with turnout prior to training, you will have a more profitable session.

Read more about bucking while longeing.


I'll describe the four main types of legwraps: 

Trailering Wraps (also called shipping wraps)
Wound Bandages
Exercise Wraps
Stable Wraps (also called Standing bandages)

Read more about leg wraps.


My husband, farrier Richard Klimesh, generously shares information about hoof care with us in a detailed article about the type of pads and packing that he recommends for the treatment of thrush and white line disease.

Read more about pads and packing.


Read about Cherry Hill's riding and writing career over the last 25 years in the article "Words of Wisdom" beginning on page 38 in the January 2001 issue of "Horse Illustrated" magazine.


To read the transcript of a live chat with Richard Klimesh about winter shoeing, log on to


"Shape Up Before You Mount Up", Part One and Two
December 2000, January 2001 Western Horseman

"Winter Shoeing", p.60
December 2000, Horse & Rider

"Give Him a Peel" (Ergot Removal), p. 35
Winning Ways, "Ride Forward with Finesse" Horsemanship Pattern, p. 46
"Trailer Shopping Made Easy", p. 68
November 2000, Horse & Rider


"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion."  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.


  Before you copy, forward or post anything from this newsletter or Cherry Hill's Horse Information Roundup, be sure you read this article!

  Don't forget to regularly check the Horse Information Roundup at to find information on training, horse care, grooming, health care, hoof care, facilities and more.

  Take the time to browse the complete Cherry Hill Horse Book Library at

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