One thing I have noticed about training jumper horses in the US versus training in Europe is we do not train enough on natural jumps. Europeans are putting water jumps in their classes for horses as young as 4. The water starts out very small, maybe 3' to 4' in length and as the horse gets older, the water jump becomes longer... over 8' in length.
At the World Equestrian Games this year, there was a double liverpool combination, one liverpool vertical and an open water jump. After seeing that, it dawned on me that we are doing a poor job of training horses on water. We have a 10' open water jump at home, but there is nothing in-between to train on. That's when I decided I needed to do something!
First off, I built the the take-off element. This was constructed with some pressure treated 1x4's and 2x10's. First, I cut 6 total right triangles from the 2x10 pieces of wood. Then, I cut 1x4's into 6 foot sections. I put three 1x4's on the front of the ramp, equally spaced apart, and then supported the other two sides of the triangle with 1x4's. I used 1.5" screws to put everything together. Finally, I painted everything white. The result is two identical 6' take-off elements. When you put them side by side, you have a 12' take-off.
The second thing I did was find a training water jump. You can make this out of a 12'x12' tarp, or you can have Dandy Products make one for you! You can get a custom quote here: https://www.dandyproducts.net/liverpool If you want to make your own, one very important piece to remember is to include a white landing tape so the horses have a defined landing spot. You can either paint a 1x4 piece of wood for the landing band and put it at the end of the tarp, or you can buy the real thing here: https://olaf-petersen.com/accessories-water-jump/
Finally, you need to add a simple 12' white pole just to give the horse the feeling of the jump actually being a jump. I used one of our old poles that had been repainted white, and a pair of simple standards.
We started Evelyn over the water jump today. The first thing we did was make the pole very low and brought in the blue water to about 2' in length. After she got comfortable with that size, we unrolled the water by 4". The goal is to keep everything positive. If you roll out the water too quickly, the horse could get nervous and not want to do the job. Never ask the horse to do something they are not comfortable with doing! Also, make sure you throw some regular, easy jumps in-between jumping the water. This will keep everything happy and positive. If you just train only on one thing, a horse can start anticipating and get nervous. You don't want that!
I hope after reading this blog, you will want to build a water jump, too! By making the take-off ramp and using a tarp, this project will cost you less than $100!
I love learning how people train their young horses. I was recently in Germany and went to a training barn where they breed 1,000 horses a year. They send hundreds of these horses through a training program to learn both flatwork and jumping skills. I had the good fortune to see how they train their 3 and 4 year old warmbloods how to jump.
The first step in teaching a horse to jump is to send it through a free jump exercise. Typically, it is a pole on the ground, 6 feet in distance, then a low jump (cross-rail), then one-stride (18 to 20 feet) to an oxer. The pole sets the horse up for the low jump and the low jump sets it up for the oxer. As the horse gets more familiar with the exercise, they raise the oxer. There are several goals with free jumping. First, it teaches the horse how to jump without putting a rider on its back. Second, it creates a positive experience for the horse as there is not any real chance for error. Third, it gives people an idea if the horse has talent to be a jumper.
Setting up the free jump exercise has to be done on the long side of an arena. You have to be able to send the horse down the jumping “chute” without them figuring a way out. This is done by having the arena wall on one side, and then creating a fence with standards and poles on the other side. You need to be able to move the horse through the chute and also give them enough room before the pole on the ground to establish the pace you want.
Before setting any jumps, the horse needs to go through the exercise several times with all the poles on the ground. Allow them to get comfortable with moving over the poles and get use to what you are asking. After they have gotten comfortable with that, put up the cross-rail and leave the oxer down. Then, make a vertical out of the oxer, don’t start with an oxer. Do this once or twice and then add the oxer pole to the back of the vertical. If 18 feet gets too short for one-stride, lengthen the space out to 20 feet. You want to make sure the horse is doing it comfortably.
When free jumping, you need to make sure you do not allow the horse to rush the exercise. They should come into the exercise at no more than a trot. The goal is to trot over the pole to the cross-rail, then canter one stride to the oxer. The horse needs to learn to not be nervous and to enjoy the jump. This exercise needs to be relaxed… if you horse gets frazzled, then stop and do something different. If you horse is doing well, you can raise the height of the oxer as you see fit.
I would not do this exercise more than 10 to 12 times in one session. Also, when you are finished, lower everything back to just poles on the ground and have the horse do it one more time. This will guarantee you end on a positive experience.
Remember, when training a horse to jump, everything you do needs to be positive and fun for the horse. If the horse gets scared, or knocks a jump down, just lower that jump and do it again. Besides teaching a horse to jump, this exercise builds confidence. When a horse can jump without the weight of a rider on its back, it learns its own form and will continue what it has learned when a rider does jump with the horse .
Stop the Drama Going Through the Free Jump Exercise.
We would like to welcome our newest member of THR Thoroughbreds... Sister’s Image (a.k.a. Camille). As a racehorse, she had a total of 31 starts with 3 firsts, 1 second and 4 thirds. She retired on 5/31/2018 and was up for adoption through the Gulf Coast Thoroughbred Network. After seeing her pop up on our Facebook newsfeed from time to time, we decided we needed to bring her up to Nashville. She has an upright build, big shoulder, and kind eye. She came to THR with no injuries or problems. Before we start working with Camille, we are going to give her some time off to be a horse. Also, we want her to be 2019 RRP eligible so do not want to start her training program until December 2018.
Feeding and Turnout:
Camille will receive a 3 quart scoop of Tribute Kalm Ultra twice a day to increase her weight and build her top line. This feed contains minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and antioxidants that help horses in high performance jobs. She will also have Tribute Essential K as a top dress on her Tribute Kalm Ultra feed. Tribute Essential K contains essential vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids that will help increase Camille’s strength. Camille will not be given any supplements at this time. She is currently on full turnout with the option to go into her stall if she so desires.
We are going to give Camille off until December 2018. We want her to gain some weight, recover naturally from the wear and tear on the track, and build muscle by walking/moving out in the pasture. In December, we will start her in a 5 day a week workout regime. This will be discussed in a later blog.
We will have a vet come and check Camille’s health and see if there is any issues that may have been missed. The vet will check her teeth to see if she needs any dental work and she will remove the Bot Fly Eggs that her on her legs and stomach (as shown in photo). Camille will given Panacur Powerpac as a 6 day dewormer. She will be sprayed with Banixx to treat the fungus on her hind legs. Luckily, Camille’s hooves are in great condition, so nothing needs to be done for them. We have found a lump on the side of her neck, so we will ask the vet about that and see anything needs to be done.
We will revisit Camille’s health and progress in 30 days.
Bending lines are not easy. Do you steady and do the line in 7? Do you ride it more direct in a 6? How much bend do you want to put in the line? There are so many options, and a lot of times, you have to see how you ride the first jump to make your decision on the number of strides (that is unless you are jumping over 1.20m, then you better have a good plan!). The best way to practice bending lines is by schooling frequently at home. To prepare for a competition, you need to make the course tougher than what you would see at the show. For example, having the course include a double bending line rather than just one bending line will allow yourself and your horse to become more comfortable when this question presents itself at a show.
Increasing the difficulty of the course doesn’t necessarily mean making the jumps higher, it can often mean making the course more technical. The main focus of creating a technical course is to build confidence for both you and your horse, increase accuracy, as well as building on the fundamentals; therefore, making the jumps higher will likely prevent these points from being the main focus of the activity. At home, it's not about the height, its about the accuracy.
If you are hesitant to start with a full course, it's best to begin with a S-shape pattern of poles on the ground with about 6 canter strides between them. You can start by trotting the poles and changing your bend between. After you are confident with trotting, then canter the poles in a bending S-shape and do a flying change over the middle pole. After practicing this exercise and feeling comfortable with the poles, you can begin to move to a course.
This video shows one of our favorite examples of a great course to establish more confidence in preparation for any bending lines we may be faced with at a show. Pay attention to jumps 4, 5, and 6. Between jumps 4 and 5, the rider did 6 strides and between 5 and 6, the rider did 5 strides. For this exercise, you can do either 7 and 6 strides, or you can go very direct (the rider put a nice bend between jumps 4 and 5) and do 5 strides and 5 strides. Feel free to replicate this at home!
Road to Rockport (Remy) came to The Horse Rescue with various (but fixable) problems. He has no topline, fungus on his hind legs, bad hooves, and a very sun-bleached coat. To get this guy back into shape, we developed a plan specific to him. The plan is made up of four sections: feeding/turnout, grooming, riding, vet/farrier.
Feeding and Turnout: Since Remy isn't underweight, but rather just lacking a top line, he will receive ½ scoop of Tribute Kalm Ultra twice daily. Remy will also get Hoof Aid Special by Cavalor. According to our farrier, he has no hind foot to even put shoes on him. He has torn so many shoes off due to poor management, he has no good hoof to put a shoe on. Hoof Aid Special will help him grow hoof so we can eventually get shoes on his hind feet. We are also going to put Remy on Cosequin ASU to help him feel good as we increase his work. For his forage, we will give him two flakes of alfalfa daily and will also get free choice grass hay. Remy’s turn out schedule is four hours a day in a grass pasture. We will not turn him out until the field is dry from the dew. Wet grass can play havoc on a horse's hooves, so we are taking that into consideration with his turnout plan.
Grooming: Grooming will be done daily to help remove the sun-bleached hair. We will apply Farrier Barrier on the hooves 4-5 days a week. Remy has had some bad luck with his hooves. Farrier Barrier will help prevent any thrush from developing while hardening the sole and wall of his hooves. Washing with anti-fungal shampoo will be done twice a week for the hind legs, and Banixx will be applied on the infected area daily. Banixx helps eliminate fungus and bacteria.
Riding: His riding schedule is five days a week of work, starting with 15 minutes. We will then increase 5 minutes every week, until we reach up to 30 minutes of riding. We walk every 5 minutes of work to allow him to catch his breath and revover. Just like interval training. This plan is to help Remy increase his stamina and improve his topline, but also making sure we do this gradually to account for the other problems Remy currently has.
Vet & Farrier: The vet and farrier schedule includes multiple tasks. First, Remy’s shoes will be switched from aluminium to steel shoes (only if he has enough foot for the shoes to go on, but if there isn’t, Farrier Barrier will continue to be applied on feet until there is enough healthy foot). The vet will administer fall vaccinations, check teeth to see if he needs his teeth floated, and deworm Remy using Panacur. If we feel the need, the vet will perform flexion tests.
We will revisit Remy’s progres in 30 days and update you on his improvements.
A very effective, but simple exercise to help train any horse are pole exercises. A pole exercise is when one or multiple poles are laid out on the ground, usually making one or more box shapes. The horse can do poles at walk, trot, or canter, and in different directions.
First, it is a bodybuilding exercise for the horse. The poles encourage the horse to pick their legs up, allowing them to build and gain more muscles. The effect of this depends on how high the poles are. You can use risers under the poles in order to make them lift their legs higher and engage their back-end more. Another way the pole exercises help the horse is that it forces the horse to gain an understanding of where they are putting their feet. With the horse now having to consider the poles as an obstacle that they need to go over within their strides, it forces them to look and judge where and how large their strides should be. The more a horse practices this, the more likely they will be able to put this ability into action when jumping.
This exercise also allows the horse to get used to changing the size of their strides depending on a certain course. Once again, if this exercise is continuously reinforced, the horse will become more comfortable with changing the size of their stride when given bigger and more technical courses. Finally, the pole exercise also teaches the horse to learn how to wait. A common problem seen in horses when doing this exercise is that they try to gain more speed when going over the poles, and effectively running off with the rider. This is an instinct that many horses also have when doing any type of jump or gymnastics. Therefore, doing this exercise tries to prevent the horse from doing this and get them to understand how to wait.
A suggestion for anyone wanting to do this exercise is to make sure you are using 9-foot boxes for cantering. You can add more poles or boxes and use raised poles depending on the difficulty you want.
A video of DeeDee (a resident warmblood) and Evelyn doing this exercise is posted below. DeeDee’s main problem is not waiting and the video shows what this looks like. Whereas Evelyn was completing this exercise correctly, and shows what it’s supposed to look like.
Horses are strong, beautiful animals. Like all animals, however, they suffer from their fair share of health conditions. Here are a few of the most common equine health problems, including their symptoms and possible treatment options.
Arthritis is a painful joint disease that is also known as Degenerative Joint Disease. It affects many horses, and it can be difficult to manage. The most common symptoms include stiffness while running, walking, or moving; inflamed joints that appear larger thannormal; and heat in the joint area. If the arthritis has progressed, your horse may become lame. If your horse has arthritis, you will need to exercise her much more carefully than usual, giving her plenty of time to warm up and exercising for shorter periods of time with less intensity. Your vet may recommend oral medication or injections to help control the inflammation. He or she may also recommend certain exercises to help increase your pet's mobility.
Colic is not a particular disease, but rather a term used to describe a range of gastrointestinal horse ailments. Signs of distress may include constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive salivating, rolling, lethargy, and other signs of pain. Your vet may recommend changing your pet's diet or water, better hydration, better eating habits, and deworming.
3. Hoof Problems
Your horse may experience hoof problems, like laminitis, from time to time. Laminitis is the inflammation of the inside of the hoof, and it's quite common for horses. Horses also commonly experience other issues with their hooves, including injuries. You should watch for anything abnormal, including smells, cracks, shoe problems, or signs of pain. The horse may also avoid using the afflicted hoof. Treatment for laminitis includes cold packs and anti-inflammatory drugs. Treatment options for other injuries depend on the type and cause of injury.
4. Eye Problems
Horses commonly experience eye problems such as infections and injuries. These range from mild concerns like conjunctivitis to larger issues like glaucoma and serious injuries. Signs and symptoms vary but may include tearing, watery eyes, redness, thick discharge (which may be yellow or green if infected), cloudiness, sensitivity to light, and squinting. Your horse may exhibit signs that the eye is painful or itchy. If the problem is an infection, the vet may recommend a treatment like Terramycinto clear it up quickly. If the problem is caused by an injury, the treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury. If your horse has developed glaucomaor another serious eye condition, your vet will review long-term treatment options with you.
Horses are especially prone to a range of parasites because they spend almost all their time outdoors. These parasites include ticks, lice, tapeworms, roundworms, lungworms, and pinworms. Check your horse thoroughly at regularly intervals for signs of external pests. You can usually spot them easily. However, internal parasites are more difficult to catch. Look for signs of distress, such as scratching (by rubbing against objects) or hair loss. Your horse should be dewormed on a regular basis, and you can remove other pests manually with your vet's guidance.
Most horses will develop some health condition over the course of their life. However, many of these issues can be solved quickly and easily. If you believe your pet has any of the conditions mentioned above, see a vet for assistance ASAP.
Listed below are some helpful resources referenced in the article that can provide some guidance for those looking for helpful information on pet supplies & medication:
We are very excited to announce a new division of The Horse Rescue... THR Elite Horses. While some of our horses are true rescues, others are not. The majority of our horses that come into our care are actually owner surrenders with little to no past lameness issues. We decided there needed to be a way to distinguish the "Elite Horses" from the horses who are in rehab, will be pasture or walk horses, or are retired.
To become a THR Elite, the horse must pass a health and wellness exam by an independent vet. The vet first does some basic checking of the eyes, ears, lungs, teeth and heart to make sure they are okay. Then, he hoof tests the horse to check for any sore points that might make them uncomfortable when they move. Last, he does flex tests of the front ankles and knees and hind ankles, hocks, and stifles. Lameness is scored on a 0 to 5 scale with 0 being no lameness and 5 being extremely lame (think a hoof abscess and how they move). If the horse scores a 2 or below, the horse qualifies to be an THR Elite Horse. If the horse has any known past injuries from racing, we will x-ray or ultrasound that area to confirm it is 100% healed.
The horse has to either have a show record or be actively in work to show. We typically compete at local shows, but if it permits, we will take them to away shows as well. We will also take the horse off the property to trail ride, jump cross country, or even fox hunt. The goal is to expose them to various places so they become comfortable with trailering and new surroundings.
While in the program, a THR Elite Horse will receive up to 6 days per week of training, various therapies to keep them feeling good, and premium supplements based on their needs. Our training sessions are typically 30 minutes long per day. They are different every day and are based on the horse's current ability. If the horse just started jumping, we will do a lot of gymnastics, where as if they are very knowledgeable in jumping, we will do more courses and technical work, like two stride to one stride combinations. We also do a lot of flatwork, such as cantering over poles, trotting poles in a row, and jumping small cavalettis. When they need a break from training, we take them out in the field for long hacks to increase their stamina. With the strenuous workload, we use different types of therapies to keep them feeling good. We love our vibrating floor and try to put them on it every day. We also use Centurion magnetic therapy, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture when necessary.
We are super excited about this program and look forward to offering quality, sound, and well-trained off-track Thoroughbreds to potential adopters. Check out our new website here: www.threlite.org.
I like to keep my horses on as few supplements as possible. My thought is to provide quality grain and forage, and you really won't have to supplement all that much... but there are some cases where supplements do come in handy for certain issues that arise. Here are some examples.
Louisa was in season earlier this year... so she was acting super mareish, and her ability to concentrate while riding was at an all-time low. I try to stay away from Regu-Mate if I can, so I decided to give Venus by Cavalor a go. It is all-natural and really was a game changer for her. She went from super grumpy to just a little grumpy, and her ability to listen and concentrate did a 180. I highly recommend this product for anyone who has a mare that acts like a mare. You can buy Venus by clicking here.
When Howdy first came to rescue, his system was not use to high quality feed and hay he was starting to eat. He had diarrhea, and it wasn't pretty. We used Probios Equine Paste to help his system while adjusting to the new foods. It contains live, naturally occurring microorganisms to help maintain a healthy microbial balance during times of stress. It works like a charm... every time. You can buy Probios Equine Paste by clicking here.
For any of the horses at the rescue, if we work them hard one day, or are in a competition, we will give them Equioxx tablets. Equioxx is an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. You can use it as a competition driven pharmaceutical or you can use it every day if you have an older guy that is a little more arthritic. It is a very cost-effective way to make your horse feel his best. You can learn more about Equioxx by clicking here. Remember, it is a pharmaceutical drug, so you will have to have a prescription from your vet to order.
Venus, Pro-bios and Equioxx are my most recommended supplements. None are long-term (unless you have a really special mare, then Venus can be long-term), but they provide great results when a specific need has to be met. If you have any questions about any of these, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been around quite a few Thoroughbreds over the years, and I have heard some pretty great stories about a lot of them. I was in Wellington FL this past weekend watching my husband compete, and I had a great conversation with one of his old friends. He was saying that back in the 80s and early 90s, most all the horses competing in show jumping were Thoroughbreds. They all had their quirks, not all of them were 100% sound, and they were hot. Heck, even Touch of Class, double gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics, cross-cantered half the time. She was perfectly fine cross-cantering up to a 5'+ oxer. You see that now and people would tell you the horse was lame. I am sure there was something wrong, but it didn't stop her at all.
This conversation got me thinking about how people these days are searching for a unicorn when they are wanting a new horse. The biggest issue I have when I show people horses at the rescue is they want the whole package. Here is a list of what people are looking for in a horse.
With my horse, I gave up calmness, a loving nature, and when I originally bought her, she wasn't sound. But in exchange, I have a horse than can compete in the 1.10 meter classes. Sure, I can't love and hug on her, and jigging is just a way of life, but I can compete. I am personally willing to give up a lot of things to have a horse jump. But that is just who I am.
We have horses at the rescue who are incredibly sweet, but don't have the talent or soundness to jump 3'. We have others that aren't so sweet, but are brave and will jump anything you put in front of them. It is really up to you on what you are looking for. With our rescues, I try to be as upfront and honest as I possibly can with people. I don't want to waste my time or your time on looking at a horse that doesn't fit your must-haves. The best thing you can know upfront, before coming to try a horse, is what are your must-haves and what you are willing to give up.
I know there are some amazing horses out there that have it all, but there is not one horse at our rescue that checks all the boxes.... but I am okay with that, they are all special and unique in their own way.