Easy Ways That You Can Make Your Barn Safer

July 3rd, 2015


We all know that horses are injury and accident prone – if there’s an unsafe area around, they’re sure to find it. Want to make sure that your barn is as safe as possible? Here are some easy ways to make your barn safer.

Invest in Quality Stall Door Latches

When you turn off the barn lights at night, are you 100% certain that your stall door latches will keep your horses safely contained? A faulty or weak latch can mean an escaped horse. Rather than deal with the aftermath of an escapee, invest in quality stall door latches. Look for latches that close securely, that don’t have any sharp edges, and that cannot be opened by curious equine noses.

Create a Barrier Across Open Barn Doors

Ventilation is super important for your horses, and who doesn’t want to leave their barn doors open during the summer to help keep the temperature down? Consider installing a barrier, like a single panel board or a rope which extends across the open doorway. This barrier can help to slow escaped horses, keeping them contained within the barn and out of busy roadways.

Reinforce Your Feed Room Door Latch

When was the last time you took a look at the latch on your feed room door? Your feed room is the first stop that most escaped horses will make, so you will definitely want to make sure that it’s secure. Spend some time reinforcing or replacing the latch to keep the feed room closed off.

Replace Aisle Footing

If your barn aisle’s footing is worn, uneven, or slick, then it’s time to replace it. Installing rubber aisle pavers can be an easy way to revitalize your barn’s footing, while creating a safe, textured, and forgiving surface for horses and humans, alike.

Install and Check Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are so important in horse barns. If your barn doesn’t yet have fire extinguishers, then purchase some and place them in easily accessible areas throughout your entire barn. If there are already fire extinguishers in your barn, then check to make sure that they haven’t expired and will be ready to use if you need them.

Check for Protruding Nails and Screws

Over time, the wood in your barn can swell and recede, causing nails and screws to work loose. It’s a good idea to walk through your barn and stalls and perform an occasional check for any protruding edges that your horse might scrape himself on. Nails and screws are easy to put back into place, avoiding a possible injury.

What other easy ways have you found to make your barn safer for your horses?

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/07/easy-ways-that-you-can-make-your-barn-safer/

What You Need to Know About Starting a Horse Rescue

July 2nd, 2015

Two horses graze in a meadow with haystacks

Is it your dream to open a horse rescue of your own? Rescuing horses in need is a noble cause, but there’s a lot to know before you set out to create your own rescue.

Filing Nonprofit Status

If you plan to run a rescue, you will be looking at filing for nonprofit status. When your rescue is deemed a nonprofit, people who donate to your rescue can write those donations off as tax deductions.

Filing for nonprofit status is a complicated process, and it’s often recommended that you hire a lawyer to ensure that you file the paperwork correctly. It can take anywhere from three months for a year for your nonprofit status to be approved or denied.

Creating a Board of Directors

In order to apply for nonprofit status, your rescue needs to have a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors should consist of varied people who care about rescuing horses and who can make strong contributions to your rescue. Board of Directors roles such as Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary need to be filled. These people will help govern and oversee the rescue’s operations.

Securing a Facility

One of the largest challenges for any horse rescue is securing an adequate facility. While donations may come in, they are often small, especially for a start-up rescue.

If you already own a barn for horses, you may be able to dedicate part of that barn’s use to the rescue, if you’re planning on keeping the rescue small. Already having a barn and some property can help you overcome one of the most significant obstacles you’ll face in starting your horse rescue.

Considering the Time Involved

Starting a rescue takes time. You need to build a Board of Directors, create bylaws and plans for your rescue, gain donor support, and even apply for grants. There are so many horse rescues out there and limited amounts of grant money available, so your donors will become even more important.

Starting a horse rescue is not an overnight venture. It can take years to get your rescue up and running, and there’s a steep learning curve, especially when you are establishing yourself as a nonprofit.

Not sounding as romantic as it had originally? That’s okay – the decision to start a horse rescue is a big one, and it’s not a process that you should hurry into lightly. If starting your own rescue sounds like more than you want to take on, then think about volunteering at an established rescue. Remember, too, that you can always “rescue” a horse on your own.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/07/what-you-need-to-know-about-starting-a-horse-rescue/

How to Stay Safe When Riding Your Horse in a Parade

July 1st, 2015

dressage hors

With parade season in full swing, are you planning on riding in a parade with your horse? Riding in a parade can be a great experience, and it’s fun to be able to share our horses with others. These tips can help to keep both you and your horse safe during a parade.

Check Your Liability Insurance

You can be held liable for any damage that your horse causes to a person or to their property. When you take your horse into a parade setting, you’re increasing the possibility that your horse might injure someone or damage someone’s property. Even the most bombproof horses can get into situations that unsettle them.

Liability insurance helps to protect you in case you are ever sued as a result of injury or damage caused by your horse. Before you ride in a parade, it is an excellent idea to make sure that you have good liability insurance coverage.

Prepare for the Parade Atmosphere

Before you consider riding your horse in a parade, make sure that he is ready to handle the chaotic atmosphere that he will face. Work with your horse ahead of time and expose him to distractions like baby carriages, balloons, loud music, loud vehicles, and bicycles. Your horse needs to be able to stay calm, even when dealing with unsettling distractions in a close area.

If your horse seems unsettled by any of the situations that you expose him to, then it’s a good idea to leave him at home or only lead him by hand on the day of the parade. You can always work on desensitizing him with the goal of riding in a parade next year, so make sure that your horse is parade-ready before you bring him.

Bring Your Horse Up to Date with Vaccines

You and your horse may encounter horses and riders from other stables in a parade. If your horse isn’t up to date on all of his vaccines, then schedule an appointment with his vet to make sure that he will be fully protected by the time that the parade comes around.

Use Studded Shoes or Hoof Boots

Your horse will probably need to walk on pavement during a parade, and standard horse shoes can be very slick on pavement. Talk with your farrier about the best option for your horse – it may make sense for him to wear studded shoes for extra traction. Hoof boots with rubber bottoms can also provide your horse with better traction than plain horse shoes will.

Enlist the Help of Handlers

It’s a good idea to always have at least one handler on the ground with you when you ride your horse in a parade. A handler can help to calm a nervous horse, and if your horse needs to be led, a handler can help to get both of you safely to the end of the parade route.

Riding in a parade can be a great experience, but it’s important to make sure that both you and your horse are prepared for what the day will bring.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/07/how-to-stay-safe-when-riding-your-horse-in-a-parade/

Signs That You’re Ready to Build Your Own Barn

June 29th, 2015


Building a horse barn of your own is a big decision. There’s lots of planning and research that needs to go into your barn in order to ensure that you get the barn of your dreams. Have you been thinking about building a horse barn of your own? These points can help you determine if you’re ready to move forward with the project.

You’ve Looked at Other Barns

Looking at other horse barns with an eye for their functionality can be a great way to gather ideas for your own barn. As you start your plans for your barn, you will definitely want to take the time to explore a bunch of different barns. Look at their styles, their layout, the accessories that they use, and how they function. Spending time doing your research can help ensure that the barn you build has everything that you want and need.

You Know What You Want

A major aspect of designing a barn of your own is knowing what you want. What’s your plan for your barn, and what do you need to make it function the way you want it to?

In addition to having plans for the barn’s general layout, you will also want to think about the specifics of how you plan to run the barn. Are you building a barn that will be a business, either for training, boarding, or as a breeding barn? Is it your dream to have a small, picturesque backyard barn for your personal horses, or do you anticipate this barn expanding into a larger operation one day? Knowing just what is so important when you start to plan and actually build your barn.

You Have Experience in Horse Care

When you bring your horses home to your own barn, you may be without the resources of a barn manager or trainer. While you can certainly bring in a barn manager or trainer, will they be on hand for an emergency that occurs at 2 am? Before building your own barn, consider your situation. Do you have enough experience in horse care to be able to confidently handle equine emergencies? If not, then building a caretaker’s apartment may be a wise idea.

You Are Ready for the Responsibility of Having Horses at Home

In addition to having experience in horse care, it’s important that you’re ready for the responsibility of having horses at home. If you’re planning a smaller barn and won’t have a caretaker or manager on staff, then remember that your schedule will now need to be based around horse care. Whether you’re going on vacation, want to celebrate a holiday with family, or simply get stuck at work, you will need to bring in another person to care for the horses in your absence. Having horses at home is a big responsibility, especially if you’re working with a busy schedule.

Building a barn is a dream of many horse owners. If you’re ready to move forward with your barn building projectgive us a call – we’d love to help you.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/signs-that-youre-ready-to-build-your-own-barn/

How to Keep the Horse Smell Out of Your Home

June 26th, 2015


While many of us don’t mind the smell of horse at all and would even welcome it into our homes, our other family members might not feel the same way. Keeping the horse smell from permeating your home can be a bit of a challenge, but with a little planning, you can minimize how much l’eau de horse enters your home.

Have a Designated “Horse” Room

If possible, have a mudroom, section of the garage, or other small entryway which is designated as your horse area. Use this area to shed any outer garments that you’ve worn to the barn before you enter the house. Have a few coat hooks available to hold jackets and other items, and be sure that there’s a boot mat to hold your riding boots.

Always try to keep your boots outside of your home, since they will very quickly spread that horse odor throughout any room that they’re kept in. Cleaning your boots regularly can help to keep the smell at a minimum, but your best bet is to never bring the boots inside – instead, leave them in a mud room or other separate space. If you have to step into the house briefly while wearing your riding boots, then using boot protectors or even slipping plastic bags over your boots can help to keep the mud and manure from spreading through your home.

Immediately Change Your Clothes

If you don’t immediately head for the shower once you get home, then at least make sure that you change your clothes. A quick clothing change can do a lot to minimize the horse odor that you carry with you, and it also reduces the amount of horse hair that you trek in through your house.

Use a Separate Laundry Hamper

Invest in a separate laundry hamper specifically for your barn and riding clothes. If possible, try to find a fully enclosed hamper with a secure top. Drop your clothes inside the hamper as soon as you’ve taken them off; laying your clothes on a couch or chair for even a few moments can leave a strong smell behind.

Arm Yourself With Air Freshener

Air freshener is your friend when you have horses. Products like Febreze and plug-in air conditioners can help to mask and remove what horse odors you do carry into your home with you.

While we love that good old barn smell, other family members probably don’t. These tips can help to keep that horse smell out of your home.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/how-to-keep-the-horse-smell-out-of-your-home/

Tips for Taking Good Horse Show Pictures

June 25th, 2015

dressage hors

Horse show season is in full swing, but capturing great photos of friends at a show is a challenge. These tips can help you take great photos of horses and riders in a show setting.

Get Space Ringside Early

Just where you position yourself in relation to the competition ring will have a big effect on how your photos come out. Get to the ringside early so that you can find a position that works best for your photography. If you’re capturing a jumping course, try to find a position that gives you a clear view of at least a few different fences. Shooting reining, flat classes, and dressage tests is a bit easier, but whatever the type of class you’re shooting, try to anticipate where the horses will be and what position will give you a clear view of the action.

Know Your Camera’s Settings

Depending on the type of camera that you have, you may be able to manipulate the camera’s settings to better capture quality photos in a variety of situations. For instance, if you are able to change the shutter speeds on your camera, then you’ll have an advantage when shooting a show jumping or reining competition. Similarly, you will need to know your camera’s settings in order to avoid having to use a flash when shooting indoor shows. DSLR cameras are versatile and powerful enough to be able to help you get some great shots at horse shows – just be sure to study up on the camera’s manual and camera settings first.

Seek Out an Attractive Background

Horse shows can make finding an attractive background a bit difficult. Generally you want to find a background that doesn’t distract from the photo’s subject, but that’s not always possible when you’re photographing a horse show class. However, when you take win photos after the class, try to find a flattering background, like some trees, an open field, or even the side of a building.

Keep Your Camera On Hand for Unplanned Moments

Some of the best photo opportunities arise when you don’t expect them. If possible, keep your camera on hand all day long to capture candid photos. Whether it’s a quiet moment between horse and rider before mounting up, or a pat of congratulations at the end of the day, having your camera with you continuously will give you a chance to get some great shots.

Taking photos at horse shows definitely takes a bit of practice, but with some patience and a little skill you can take photos which capture the memory of the day.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/tips-for-taking-good-horse-show-pictures/

Tips for Designing an Ideal Grooming Stall

June 24th, 2015


Are you planning to include a grooming stall in your barn? Grooming stalls are great to have, since they can keep horses out of busy barn aisles, but a grooming stall is only as good as the planning that goes into it. Consider the following when planning your grooming stall.

Find the Right Location

If possible, try to locate the grooming stall in a quieter area of your barn. It’s handy to have the stall near the exit to the riding ring, but most importantly, try to locate the stall in an area where it’s easily navigated but also out of the way.

Build the Stall as Large as Possible

When using a grooming stall, a rider will generally have to navigate between the horse and the surrounding stall walls. The more space that you can provide in the grooming stall, the better. There’s nothing worse (or more dangerous) than trying to work in a tight, cramped grooming stall where both the horse and rider have little space to move or avoid each other. When planning your grooming stall, be generous with the space that you allow – you won’t regret it.

Provide Safe Footing

Make sure that the footing in the grooming stall is safe and provides excellent traction. Using rubber stall mats or rubber aisle pavers can ensure that both horse and rider have excellent grip while in the stall, and these surfaces are also forgiving and cushioning.

Create Areas for Grooming Tool Storage

It’s important to have a way to store grooming tools where they’re easily accessible, but are also out of the way. Small baskets or totes can be stored on shelves, but you might also consider creating small boxes directly in the side of the grooming stall itself.

Use Breakaway Ties

Securing your horse with crossties in the grooming stall can help ensure that he stays properly positioned. Be sure to use breakaway ties so that your horse can free himself in the event that he panics or becomes caught up while in the stall.

Locate a Saddle Rack Nearby

saddle rack and a hook for the bridles is a necessary addition to any grooming stall, and will speed along the tacking up and untacking process. Consider using a collapsible saddle rack to save space. If the bridle rack is located in an area that the horse could access, then cover any sharp edges or hooks or use a bridle rack made of flexible, safe rubber.

A grooming stall is a wonderful luxury to have in your barn. The better that you plan out the grooming stall, the more pleased you will be with the results.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/tips-for-designing-an-ideal-grooming-stall/

The Hidden Costs of the Free Horse

June 22nd, 2015


We’ve all seen them – horses being offered up as free to a good home. It can be so tempting to bring them home to the barn, but oftentimes free horses are actually quite expensive. Here’s why.

Underlying Issues

Oftentimes horses which are being given away for free have significant physical or behavioral issues. If the owner is honest, then these issues will be disclosed up front in effort of finding a new home that is a good match for the horse.

Unfortunately that’s not always the case, so in taking on a free horse, you may also be taking on underlying issues. One way to lessen the chance of this is to vet out the horse in the same way that you would when horse shopping. Having a pre-purchase exam performed on the horse can help to identify physical issues, while test riding the horse can sometimes reveal behavioral issues.

Cost of Care

If you already own a horse, you know firsthand how expensive just simply caring for a horse from month to month can be. A horse may be initially free, but you’ll need to be prepared for the long-term costs of owning that horse.

In the case of a free horse, the cost of care may be even more expensive than it is for your average horse. A free horse may need rehabilitation time, professional training, special barn facilities, or special shoes, diet, or medication. If you are considering taking on a free horse, then you will want to be prepared for the potential costs associated with it.

Too Good to Be True?

When it comes to free horses, it’s best to listen to your gut if you think that the deal is just too good to be true. In some cases, yes, you might have a close friend or former trainer who truly wants to see their horse go to a good home or new situation. But when you’re dealing with an offer for a free horse from a stranger, and that horse seems like it would otherwise be marketable, then there’s probably a reason that the horse is being offered for free.

Which isn’t to say to never take on a free horse. Sometimes the situation works out wonderfully, and you’ll hear of many horse owners who got some of their best horses for free or for a steal of a price. But remember that even if a horse is free, he can quickly run up hefty bills. Be careful when taking on a free horse, and treat the process with the same caution that you would use when buying a new horse.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/the-hidden-costs-of-the-free-horse/

Battling Sweet Itch

June 19th, 2015

brown horse attacked by flies

Midges. These tiny little biting flies are pests to both human and horse in the spring, summer, and early fall. But these flies can be more than just pesky – they are actually the source of an equine condition called Sweet Itch.

What Is Sweet Itch?

Sweet Itch is an overreaction of your horse’s immune system to the saliva left behind by bites from midges. This reaction results in itching and swelling in the bite area. Your horse may scratch himself to the point where the skin is raw, and infection can become a concern. Sweet Itch is most commonly seen along the crest of your horse’s mane and along the dock of his tail, but it can also be found on other areas of his body such as his legs and belly.

Sweet Itch presents as lesions, bleeding skin, and even bald patches of skin. If the area becomes infected, then the itching gets even worse. Your horse will continue to scratch himself to relieve the itching, which can prolong and worsen the infection. This can quickly become a vicious cycle.

Managing Sweet Itch

Once Sweet Itch has set in, it is very difficult to manage. Your best bet is to prevent Sweet Itch entirely. However, if your horse has Sweet Itch, antihistamines can help to reduce the itching, while antibiotics may be necessary to control infection. It is best to call your vet for advice on your horse’s individual case.

Preventing Sweet Itch

Since Sweet Itch is so difficult to treat, you will want to do your very best to prevent the condition from ever occurring. The more that you can protect your horse from midges, the better a chance you’ll have of preventing Sweet Itch.

One of the best ways to prevent midge bites is to keep your horse in his stall during the late afternoon hours when midges are most active. If you do stall your horse, then try to maximize the ventilation in your barn to further reduce the presence of flies. Installing stall windows and barn fans can help to keep the air circulating and the flies out.

When you do turn your horse out, using a fly mask and a fly sheet with small holes can help to keep midges off of your horse. Use a quality fly spray, too, and practice good manure management to help reduce the fly population both in your horse’s pasture and around the barn.

With good preventative practices, hopefully you and your horse will never have to deal with a case of Sweet Itch.

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/battling-sweet-itch/

Quick Fixes to Make You a Better Rider

June 18th, 2015

two woman jockeys doing training in riding hall

We all know that horseback riding takes hard work, dedication, and many hours in the saddle, but these simple quick fixes can help to make you a better rider. Try these solutions to common riding problems and see how they work for you.

Hold a Crop Across Your Hands

If you have a crop handy, try using it as a tool to stabilize and quiet your hands. While holding your reins, lay the crop under each thumb and across the knuckles of your pointer fingers. The crop will make a straight line across your horse’s withers, and will alter how much you can use your hands independently.

Riding with a crop across your hands will quickly develop your awareness of how much you move your hands during your ride. If you’re active with your hands, the crop will suddenly restrict that. Quieter hands lead to improved communication with your horse – try riding with the crop for a few minutes at the beginning of each ride to quiet and improve your hands.

Ride Without Stirrups

Riding without stirrups is a tried and true way to improve as a rider. Riding without stirrups strengthens the muscles in both your legs and your core, teaches you to wrap your legs down and around your horse, and improves your seat. When you work without stirrups you can quickly develop your ability to move with and stay with your horse, leaving you better prepared in case you ever accidentally lose a stirrup mid-ride.

Stand In Your Stirrups

Develop and improve your balance in the saddle by standing up in your stirrups as your horse walks forward. This can be a difficult exercise at first, especially if you’re riding in a new saddle and need to find your center of balance. Be sure to drop your weight down into your heels and keep your back relaxed. Test yourself by seeing how long you can stand in your stirrups without losing your balance. For an added challenge, try to ride in circles or over ground poles while you’re standing up.

Count Out Loud

If you need a way to regulate your horse’s rhythm, counting out loud can help. Count 1, 2, 3, 4 in time with your horse’s strides, then start again. Counting out loud can help you to not only feel, but also hear the differences in your horse’s rhythm, whether it’s at the walk, trot, or canter.

Try putting these quick fixes to the test, and let us know which ones worked for you!

Original Source: http://blog.classic-equine.com/2015/06/quick-fixes-to-make-you-a-better-rider/