A Handy Hunter class tests skills you and your horse might use during an enjoyable day of foxhunting: short turns, a brisk pace, trot jumps, galloping, dismounting and leading over an obstacle, even opening and shutting a gate from the saddle. In Handy Hunter classes the judge rewards promptness, efficiency, a comfortable, easy manner and risks successfully taken, such as inside turns and "tidy" tracks. Sound like fun? It is!
This is the place to find tips and techniques that Mary, Sarah, and Julia want to share with their students. Read the articles, watch the videos, and see what you can apply to your riding and horsemanship!
Here’s a simple, but seldom practiced technique to improve lower leg functionality and position. In this topic, Bernie demonstrates an exercise he uses to encourage stability in the tack and to prevent the toppling effect of an improperly placed or weak lower leg.
The outside rein is the most underused and poorly understood of all the aids, and here’s why. Human beings, as bi-peds, are hand-fixated. That is, we do EVERYTHING with our hands. Being vertically inclined, we lean forward and almost in all interactions, reach toward something with our hands. It stands to reason that we should use this same mechanism when it comes to riding. For example, steering a horse is as simple as steering a bike – just grab the rein on the turn side and pull! The horse’s head turns in that direction, and the legs must follow. Right? WRONG!!
Quick: What's the key ingredient of most winning hunter rounds? Seeing every jumping distance? Wrong! It's rhythm—an even rhythm, consistent pace. In fact, a rhythmic round on a horse with a very average kind of jump is more likely to win a class than a round on a horse who has an outrageously fabulous jump but an erratic pace, slowing down to some fences and making big moves to others.
Though this exercise looks simple, for Belle, it’s about making sure the rider can make a decision quickly and smoothly on course. Although she’s an accomplished rider in the hunter and jumper divisions, Shachine Belle has a true passion for teaching. When she isn’t traveling to shows up and down the East Coast, Belle can be found at her Belle Equestrian LLC in East Greenwich, R.I., where she works with her equitation students on exercises they’re likely to see at the major finals.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO KEEP YOUR HORSES HEALTHY THIS AUTUMN
In the late summer to early fall there is a peak in laminitis cases. Headlines are already starting to appear blaming fall laminitis on fructans in grass. Don’t believe it.
Summer mowing – a never-ending chore. Such a pity to waste those soft, fragrant, tasty piles of clippings! Why not rake them and feed them to your horses? It’s recycling at its best, no? No! This should be the last thing you encourage your horse to eat. It has to do with that extra step: raking. Leave them to dry on the pasture after mowing, and they are generally not a problem. But never gather them into piles to feed them to your horse. Partly because clippings are too easy to over-consume, and eating large amounts at one time can lead spikes in insulin levels or to excess fermentation of sugars and starches in the hind gut, potentially causing colic and laminitis. Secondly, piles of clippings can rapidly invite mold to form (especially prevalent in hot, humid environments), which can lead to colic. Finally, because there is no air inside a dense pile, botulism can develop, which turns this “treat” absolutely deadly.
Courtesy of Getty Equine Nutrition, LLC -- Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D., Horse Nutritionist
For us, recruiting is a year-round activity, and our recruits come from all across the U.S. and abroad. All NCEA varsity equestrian programs are governed by NCAA, and coaches are not allowed to mail or email a recruit until September 1 of their junior year in high school. In addition, coaches may not call or make in-person visits until July 1 prior to a potential student-athlete’s senior year. However, the student isn’t limited at all, and can never start too early. She may contact us, visit the campus, and make her presence and goals known all the way through high school.
Gadgets are everywhere in the horse world; we might as well be as educated about them as possible. What's a gadget? In my classical world, it's anything beyond a simple snaffle and a plain cavesson, adjusted with two fingers' space underneath the cavesson. A large number of gadgets are available to us. For the purposes of this column, however, we are only going to discuss the use of draw reins.