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September 2004

Your Horse Barn - DVD
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill

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    2006 Cherry Hill

Trail Riding Issue

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill  Crossing Water

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Working a Gate

This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.

Fall is the ideal trail riding season here in Colorado - crisp days, beautiful foliage, flies waning and frisky horses. Coupled with a good trail riding buddy, it doesn't get much better than that! This past week, Richard and I have been introducing two of our green horses to trail work. After a brief warm up in the arena, we head out to the pastures and foothills to see what we need to do. Two lessons our horses are currently learning are working a gate and crossing water, so I thought you might like to read a bit on those subjects for your trail riding.

Crossing Water

A friend invites you to bring your horse out to her farm or ranch for a ride in the woods. This is the third time she's asked and in spite of the fact you really want to go, you're already hunting for another invented excuse of why you can't go. What's the real reason you keep declining the invitation? The dreaded creek crossing! If you use a step-by-step procedure to prepare both you and your horse for the water obstacle, it will give you the confidence you need to cross the creek. The program starts on the ground and then progresses to mounted work.

To be successful, be sure that the water crossing has safe footing, is not dangerously mucky, and is at least ten feet wide. Horses tend to jump over narrow crossings to avoid touching the water and can create a difficult habit for you to change. Your goal is to have your horse walk calmly and slowly through the water and stop in the middle if you ask. At first, look for shallow, quiet streams. After you have mastered this basic lesson, you can challenge your horse with deeper waters.

Your horse should have good basic training so you can guide him across the water. During in-hand work, he must move forward in response to your body language or an in-hand whip and he must stop relatively square and stand still when asked. When ridden, he must be responsive to your legs so that he will go forward and straight, he must not bolt on a long rein, he must stop when asked, and stand relatively still when required. If your horse has this basic training, you should be able to cross the creek with no problem if you follow this procedure. Here's how I do it.

1. To prepare a horse mentally and physically, I review in-hand work over unusual but safe surfaces such as concrete, plywood, and a tarp or plastic sheet. If necessary you can place the sheet alongside the arena rail so that the rail helps you keep your horse traveling straight. I work the horse from both sides. I often work with an in-hand whip that is about 52 inches so, if necessary, I can use it to keep her moving forward and to keep her hindquarters from swinging off the straight line. I allow and encourage a horse to look down at what he will be stepping on or in but I keep the horse from rushing or bolting. Rushing indicates fear and uncertainty and once a horse starts rushing, it adds to his fear. I take the horse slowly across the obstacle as many times as is necessary to establish a calm routine.

To read the entire article, go here crossingwater.

Recommended Reading:




Working a gate smoothly and safely from the ground and from a horse's back is not only handy, but it can be the basis for introducing and using a good number of individual maneuvers. If you have a plan in mind before you approach a gate, things will go more easily. Before you try to ride a horse though a gate, be sure he has good manners as you lead him through a gate from the ground.


Especially with a young or inexperienced horse, it is best to begin the in-hand gate lesson with a halter and lead rope. Once the horse works the gate well with a halter, repeat the lesson using a bridle. When using the bridle, instead of grabbing both reins together and treating them collectively as a lead rope, separate the reins with your fingers and use them in a way that does not give the horse conflicting signals. At all times during ground work it is advisable to carry a dressage whip in the hand farthest from the horse (the left hand if leading from the near side).

The simplest gate configuration to work from the ground is a gate (when you are facing it) which swings away from you, hinges on the left, and latches on the right. With such a gate, you lead the horse from his near side up to the latch, halt, open the gate as you walk the horse forward until his hindquarters have cleared the latch post. Then halt.

Here there will be some variation depending on your horse's level of training. You will be asking your horse to perform a 180 degree turn on the forehand around the left front leg with the hindquarters moving to the right. Ideally, you remain facing forward and continue holding onto the latch with your left hand. Tip his nose toward you and cue him on the left rib cage with the whip you are holding in your left hand. This will make him move his hindquarters to the right while rotating around his left front leg.

To read the entire article, go here gate.htm

To add to your reference library, visit Horsekeeping Books and Videos book_list.

Read all of the riding articles at the Horse Information Roundup.

That's it for this month.

Happy Trails!!

Cherry Hill

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  2006 Cherry Hill 

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