How to Turn Your Love of Horses into a Barn Side Job

April 27th, 2015

horse groomed

Our horse hobby is an expensive one, but did you know that you can actually use your love of horses to earn a little extra money on the side? If picking up a part-time job isn’t for you, perhaps one of these money earning activities could help, instead.

Be a Ring Steward

Many horse shows need extra staff. Acting as a ring steward can be a great way to earn money while being right in the thick of a horse show. Other potential ways to get involved in a show are to act as a scribe for dressage tests or even to volunteer at a larger, prestigious event. Working as horse show staff requires that you be available on horse show weekends, but it leaves your other weekends open for your own riding and competitions. If you’d like to find a staff position at a horse show, try contacting local breed registries and clubs that host shows to see if they need help.

Pull and Braid Manes and Tails

If you are talented in pulling and braiding manes, you can make fast cash during horse show seasons. Braiding a mane and tail well is an art and requires the utmost of patience and early morning hours, so if you have these skills, you may find yourself in high demand.

Looking to establish your braiding services? Make sure that your skills are up to par with the demands of the competition levels that you will be preparing horses for. Practice braiding on a number of different horses to hone your skills, and make sure to get photos of the results. Show these photos to anyone interested in your services, and be prepared to be on time and reliable each and every show morning to truly build your business.

Body Clip

In addition to braiding and pulling manes, body clipping is another much sought-after service in the equestrian world. If you are talented in body clipping, consider offering your services to your barnmates and to outside clients. Be sure to account for the wear and tear on your clippers when deciding what to charge.

Barn Sit

Many horse owners have need for reliable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable barn sitters for when they travel or are otherwise unavailable to care for their horses. One of the best ways to get into barn sitting is by means of referral through your horse friends, trainer, and other equestrian connections, but you can also occasionally find barn owners looking for barn sitters and caretakers.

Take Sale Photos and Videos

If you’re skilled with a camera, you might consider lending your services to horse owners. Owners who are selling horses often need quality sale photos, and even if owners aren’t selling their horses, they might appreciate having nice photos or videos of their horses. Maybe riders at your barn would be willing to pay to have their lessons videotaped for them to review later on. There are many ways to make use of your photography and/or videography skills.

You can earn extra money in the horse world using a variety of techniques. Be sure to keep track of your expenses and the money that you earn so that you will have good records when it’s time to do your taxes at the end of the year.

Original source: How To Turn Your Love of Horses into a Barn Side Job

Does Your Horse Like Hearing Music?

April 24th, 2015

horse after eating

Radios are common in many barns, and some barns even play music in riding arenas during rides. But does playing music actually benefit your horse? You’ll find differing opinions, but here are some factors to consider when making up your own mind.

Calming Nervous Horses

It is common belief that having background music can help to calm and soothe nervous horses while in their stalls. On racetracks, grooms whistle and sing to their horses as they care for them. You will often find barn radios playing softly, even when horses are left alone in the barn. Many horses seem to enjoy the music, as long as the setup is designed with a horse’s natural habits in mind.

If you want to play a radio in your barn, remember that horses are naturally sensitive animals. They have excellent hearing, and their hearing is a sense that they would use for self-preservation in the wild. Taking away their ability to hear threats by playing loud music may put horses on edge.

When playing a radio in the barn, keep the volume low enough to just establish a background sound. You will also want to carefully choose the music that you play. While hard rock or heavy metal might be your preference, your horse might not feel the same. According to a study by British researchers, horses seem to be relaxed when listening to classical or country music. On the other hand, jazz and rock music resulted in horses exhibiting stressful behaviors.

When you set up your barn radio, make sure that it is positioned well out of reach of any curious horses. You will also want to be sure that no horses can reach the electrical cord.

Riding to Music

Many riders also like to ride with music playing. While playing music through arena speakers is a popular option, some riders choose to play music by using their mp3 players or phones.

There are many advantages to riding to music. Music can help to relax a nervous rider, helping to relax a nervous horse in turn. Music also establishes a tempo, so you may have an improved sense of variations in your horse’s pace.

On the other hand, music can be a potential distraction while riding, leaving you less focused on your horse and the cues that you are transmitting to him. If you play music too loudly, you may miss out on important communication from other riders.

The decision to play music, whether in the barn or while riding, is one that only you can make given your individual situation.

Original source: Does Your Horse Like Hearing Music?

5 Ways To Build Your Confidence in the Saddle

April 23rd, 2015

horse running through water

A lack of confidence when riding your horse is a significant and widespread issue. A fall, an injury, or even riding a spooky horse can quickly shatter what confidence you have, and even aging often results in reduced confidence. If you find that you’re lacking confidence in the saddle, these tips can help you to build it up again.

Work with a Trainer You Trust

One of the most important steps to regaining your confidence in the saddle is to work with a trainer whom you truly trust. It is your trainer’s job to push you a bit past your comfort zone, but a trainer also needs to be able to do this safely and in a way that will result in positive rides, rather than an experience that will only further lower your confidence.

If you suspect that you and your current trainer are not a good match, start looking for a new trainer whose goals and approach to riding will match yours. A bad match with a current trainer will not help to build your confidence, and can actually have the opposite results.

Use Positive Visualization

The power of visualization is enormous. Before you mount up, visualize yourself being relaxed and confident in the saddle. Picture your perfect ride, with your horse behaving well and you being secure in the saddle throughout the ride. Visualization can help to prepare you mentally and emotionally for what you need to do to have a relaxing and enjoyable ride. Practice visualization before mounting up, but also practice it while you’re at home or doing chores around the barn.

Put the Power Pose to Work

Have you heard of the power pose? The power pose is a particular stance that can actually change your body chemistry and give you more confidence. Useful before job interviews, speeches, and a variety of other intimidating situations, the power pose is also perfect for riders.

Before you mount up, put the power pose to work for five minutes. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your hands on your hips, lift your chin up, and push your chest outward. While in the power pose, strike the most powerful stance you can, and hold it. This pose builds your confidence, which will transfer to your rides.

Practice Deep Breathing

When anxiety strikes, it is important to get your breathing and heart rate under control. Deep breaths slow your heart, transmitting confidence and relaxation to your horse. Additionally, deep breathing relaxes your muscles, allowing you to sit more securely on your horse. When you’re feeling nervous while riding, focus on deep breathing and allowing your lungs to expand all the way down with every breath.

Reflect on Your Accomplishments

To further build your confidence, think about your strengths as a rider. Look at what you have accomplished over your riding career – when you first climbed into the saddle you couldn’t trot, canter, or do many other things that you can now do. Think about the spooks, bucks, and other behaviors that you have ridden out successfully. This is evidence of your skill as a rider; don’t forget that you are talented!

Building your confidence when riding is a slow process, but with time, you can ride confidently again.

Original source: 5 Ways To Build Your Confidence in the Saddle

How to Reduce the Hay Wasted In Your Barn

April 22nd, 2015

hay in field

Chances are that your hay bill is one of your highest bills in caring for your horse. The last thing that anyone wants to do is to waste hay, especially when the cost of hay is so high. Luckily for you, we’ve got some great tips to minimize hay wastage in your barn.

Store Hay Correctly

Did you know that before you even feed hay, you may be wasting it? Storing hay properly in your hay loft is important to preventing mold or wastage. Your hay should always be placed up on pallets to keep it directly off of the floor. As you stack hay, alternate the orientation of the hay on each level to promote air circulation.

Additionally, make sure that you inspect each hay delivery before accepting it. Break open a few bales of hay and inspect the quality throughout the entire bale. Look for mold or darkened spots toward the center of the bale. If you find that the hay is poor quality, it is better to discover this before loading the entire delivery so that you can still easily send it back.

Use Hay Nets or Hay Feeders

Much of the hay that you feed in your horse’s stall may be wasted when it is trampled down into the bedding. To reduce the amount that this happens, use hay nets or corner feeders in your horse’s stall. The net or feeder holds the hay up off of the ground, requiring that the horse pull just a bit at a time out. This lessens the amount of hay that falls, uneaten, onto the floor, and it reduces your stall cleaning time as well.

Use Hay Nets or Bags in Pastures

Pastures are another area where hay wastage occurs. You may opt to use hay nets or hay bags in your pastures. If you are feeding round bales in the pasture, consider using a round bale feeder. Remember that the bale needs to be protected from the rain, so a specially designed hay feeder may be well worth the cost when it comes to keeping the hay protected and in edible condition.

Feed Only What Your Horse Will Eat

While it’s healthy for your horse to always have access to hay, remember to adjust your feedings so that you are only giving your horse about as much hay as he will eat. Overfeeding your horse will only result in uneaten hay, so adjust your feedings to how much hay your horse actually consumes.

Hay is a precious commodity in the horse world, and isn’t one that you will want to waste. What other methods have you used to reduce the amount of hay wasted in your barn?

Original source: How to Reduce the Hay Wasted In Your Barn

The Renovation of Margaux Farm’s Thoroughbred Barns

April 21st, 2015

Horse entering Margaux Farm barn

Just outside of historic Midway, Kentucky, lies a very unique Thoroughbred racehorse facility. Margaux Farm, an expansive 640-acre farm, focuses on Thoroughbred starting and training, rehabilitation, layup, and boarding. With eight barns spread across the property and two more in development, this impressive facility houses approximately 115 horses.

Incredibly picturesque, Margaux Farm is surrounded by the South Fork of the Elkhorn Creek on three sides and boasts limestone-rich soils, natural spring water, and lush rolling pastures. In addition, a training facility complete with a synthetic gallop track, a turf course, and an all-weather straight flat track accommodate the training and rehabilitation needs of its Thoroughbred racehorses.

What truly sets Margaux Farm apart, though, is the history found throughout the property. Its barns are actually old tobacco barns that have been converted into horse barns. Renovating these facilities into horse housing is a fairly popular practice in the Kentucky area, since the spacing of the tobacco barn posts makes for a large and airy stall. The design of a tobacco barn is intended to maximize air flow while keeping the weather out, a major health advantage in a horse barn. Beyond the practical benefits, there’s the added incentive of preserving Kentucky history by renovating these established structures, rather than building new ones.

Margaux Farm horse barn converted from tobacco barn

The tobacco barns are striking in appearance, and many are over a century old. The structures have 20-foot walls with a 35-foot gable end, giving them impressive height. They also feature a notable crisscross railing system inside. Originally intended for hanging tobacco, it now creates a beautiful aesthetic touch. Some of the oldest barns on the Margaux Farm property were built without the use of nails, and you can still see wooden pegs that hold the posts together if you look up.

The process of converting the barns was a multi-step renovation. First, the Amish raised the barn so that the lower half could be cut out then replaced with a foundation and block wall. Next, the barn was lowered back down onto the sturdy base. With it firmly in place, the barn was prepared for the incorporation of horse stalls, and finishing touches were later made.

Michael Hardy, General Manager at Margaux Farm, notes that the process of converting the tobacco barns was made easier by starting with a solid plan and working with the right people to execute that plan. All of the stall fronts, stall partitions, exterior doors, and barn end doors used in the Margaux Farm renovation are Classic Equine Equipment products. Hardy notes that “the Classic Equine Equipment product stands the test of time. The pre-galvanized metal really makes a difference in a few years when the horses start scratching the powder coat. The stalls also look great – they are strong, well-made, and have a great finished appearance.”

Horse in Margaux Farm stall

With a goal of developing strong, sound, and durable racehorses, and offering boarding services to mares, foals, and yearlings, Margaux Farm had very specific needs for their barns. Classic Equine Equipment works hard to meet the individual requests of every client, and was able to customize products for the Margaux Farm facilities. The stall doors were made taller than standard stalls, giving riders going into and out of the stalls plenty of headroom for safety. Classic Equine Equipment was pleased to provide top-quality stall components designed with the safety of both riders and horses in mind.

Want to learn more about Margaux Farm? Visit the farm’s website, and stay tuned for our upcoming article highlighting their Thoroughbred barns and facilities.

Margaux Farm tobacco barnMargaux Farm renovating horse barn

Margaux Farm barn constructionMargaux Farm barn

Margaux Farm stall contructionMargaux Farm completed barn stalls

Images Source: Margaux Farm

Original source: The Renovation of Margaux Farm’s Thoroughbred Barns

How to Give Back to the Equestrian Community

April 20th, 2015

mom daughter and horse

Chances are that somewhere in your years with horses, you have been touched by the generosity of another equestrian. Whether mentored by another rider or given free rides on a borrowed horse, generous acts in the equestrian world are abundant. Would you like to give back to the equestrian community? Here are just a few of the many ways that you can do that.

Foster or Adopt a Horse

Consider fostering or adopting a horse. By fostering a horse you are giving a horse in need a temporary home and day-to-day care. If you opt to adopt a horse, you are reducing the number of homeless horses in this world by one, and you’re giving a rescue the ability to help another horse in need.

Mentor a Young Rider

Do you know a young rider who could use some guidance or instruction? Consider mentoring that rider in topics like horse care and riding. Oftentimes, having an older rider to look up to can help ensure that young riders stay safe and learn good lessons about horse care.

Free Lease Your Horse

If you’re considering leasing your horse out so that he gets the time and attention he needs, you might consider free leasing your horse out if your financial situation allows for it. Many young riders or riders who cannot fully afford a horse of their own will be grateful for the free lease. Just make sure that you draw up a thorough lease contract and that both you and the lessee sign the contract.

Volunteer at a Rescue or Nonprofit

Equine rescues and horse-related nonprofits often need volunteers. Look into whether local rescues or nonprofits could use help. You might volunteer to hand walk horses for a local therapeutic riding center, or spend a few hours cleaning stalls at a local equine rescue. If you have other skills, equine nonprofits will likely be very happy to put your skills to use.

Donate Old Equipment

Wondering what to do with the old tack and other horse equipment you have hanging out in your tack room? Have you replaced your horse’s blankets with new ones and haven’t yet found a purpose for the old ones? Consider donating your old horse equipment to an equine nonprofit, or give it away to a horse owner in need.

There are countless ways to give back to the equestrian community. What are some of your favorite do-good actions in the equine world?

Original source: How to Give Back to the Equestrian Community

Caring for Your Horse’s Hooves in the Spring

April 17th, 2015

stable-ity

Good hoof care is important year-round, but with the weather and footing changes that the spring brings, it’s especially important to take good care of your horse’s hooves right now. Are you following these spring hoof care tips?

Minimize Mud

Mud is full of bacteria, which can cause thrush and other springtime hoof issues. Additionally, standing in mud can soften your horse’s hooves and can even lead to tendon and ligament strains or tears.

For your horse’s safety, it is best to minimize the mud that is present in your horse’s pastures. TheStable-Ity Grid can solve this mud issue in particularly troublesome areas of your pasture, such as by the water trough, in low-standing areas, and by pasture gates. The Stable-Ity Grid is placed down over a layer of crushed rock, then covered over with a coarse sand or other similar material. By facilitating excellent drainage, the Stable-Ity Grid can eliminate or minimize the amount of mud that you have to deal with each spring.

Pick Hooves Often

With the mud and softened terrain of springtime, your horse’s hooves can get softer and be more prone to stone bruising and abscesses. Make a point of picking your horse’s hooves regularly, even on days when you don’t ride. The sooner that you remove a rock that is lodged in your horse’s hoof, the better an outcome he is likely to have.

Keep Legs Clean

The care of your horse’s legs goes right along with taking proper care of his hooves. If your horse comes in from the pasture with muddy legs, hose off the mud or wait until it dries and gently curry it off. Leaving mud attached to your horse’s legs can result in issues like scratches, so pay special attention to your horse’s legs in the spring.

Find Lost Shoes in Pastures

Deep mud can suck the shoes right off of your horse’s hooves. Unfortunately lost shoes which remain in a pasture can provide a serious hazard to horses, and can potentially puncture a horse’s hoof if he steps on the shoe or on the nails. If a horse loses a shoe while in the pasture, do your best to find the shoe. If you suspect the shoe is in a deeply muddy area, a metal detector can help to pinpoint its exact location.

Keep Hooves Dry

With moisture and wet ground abundant in the spring, it is important to give your horse’s hooves a break from being wet. Hooves that are too wet can be weakened, so make an effort to feed your horse in dry areas of the paddock. You will also want to provide your horse with a dry area to stand on when he is turned out, or consider drying his hooves off when he comes inside at night.

Springtime presents a unique set of challenges for hoof care, but with attentive maintenance you can help to keep your horse’s hooves in good condition.

Original source: Caring for Your Horse’s Hooves in the Spring

Important Lessons You Can Learn From Horse Shows (Even If You Don’t Place)

April 16th, 2015

trophies

With horse show season beginning, you will likely, at some point or another, come home from a show without placing. And while it might seem like you lost out in that situation and didn’t have asuccessful horse show, there’s still a lot you can learn from the show. Here’s what you should think about.

Asses Those Who Did Place

Take a look at the horses and riders who placed above you in the class. Consider the differences between their ride and yours. What are their strengths, and how do they compare to your strengths? If a friend has recorded the class, reviewing the video later on once you are back home can be a great way to understand the differences between your ride and the top-placing rides. Once you understand those differences, you can then think about how to improve your performance.

A quick note: When a class calls for judging that may be subjective (as in, a hunter round is judged according to preferences, whereas a jumper round is judged on fences cleared and time), a judge’s individual preferences may become strongly evident. If you suspect that preferences are the reason that you did not place, then reviewing the class can still be productive, but don’t try to rebuild your riding to suit a single judge’s preferred style. There will be other shows and you will ride under other judges, probably with different results.

Think About What May Have Gone Wrong

You might know exactly what went wrong in the show or class, but sometimes talking with your trainer afterwards can identify additional areas for improvement. Once you have identified what went wrong, it is important to change your focus to how you can improve and fix those issues for future shows. Problems that reveal themselves in the show ring should become a part of your regular training so that you can fix them and improve as a rider.

Talk With the Judge

Depending on the show that you’re attending, talking with the judge after the results are announced might be a possibility. Talking with the judge can be eye-opening, since it can reveal things the judge saw that you’re not aware of.

If you opt to approach a judge, do so during a time when you are no longer emotional about your placing. Try to approach the judge during a time when he or she has a few moments to talk; don’t try to speak with them while they are in the ring or while others are exiting the ring after your lineup. When you talk with the judge, ask if they would be willing to share their thoughts on your ride so that you may improve; do not approach the conversation as if you are questioning the judge’s decision.

While a show that you don’t place in may feel unproductive, it can actually be more productive for your riding than a show in which you and your horse come home as champions. What have you learned from these less-than-ideal shows?

Original source: Important Lessons You Can Learn From Horse Shows (Even If You Don’t Place)

How to Choose the Right Retirement Facility for Your Horse

April 15th, 2015

horses

When your horse can no longer be ridden due to old age or injury, retirement becomes a popular option. While retiring your horse at your current barn may be impractical due to facilities, space, or boarding rates, retirement facilities offer great environments for your horse to retire in. But how do you choose the retirement facility that is right for your horse?

Consider the Distance

Quality retirement facilities are somewhat limited in areas. When choosing a retirement barn for your horse, you may have to face the fact that your horse will be located far away from your home. Before you start looking for retirement board, think about whether you are comfortable sending your horse to a barn where you cannot see him often. While a facility closer to your house might be more convenient for you, a retirement barn farther away might offer better options for your horse. You will need to weigh these factors and decide what is best.

Factor in the Climate

Horses dealing with medical conditions such as arthritis and back issues may benefit from a warmer climate with a milder winter. On the other hand, many older horses do just fine with cold winters. Definitely think about how different climates might affect your horse as you look for a retirement barn.

Ask About the Experience of the Staff

When you send your horse to a retirement facility, you need to be able to trust the staff who will be caring for him. Be sure to ask about the experience that all of the staff have, but also ask about the experience of the barn manager in particular. The more confidence you have in the staff, the better you will feel about sending your horse to the facility.

Consider What Your Horse Needs

When looking at different retirement barns, think about the specific situations and services that your horse will need to be able to thrive. Is your horse accustomed to coming into a stall at night, or might he be more comfortable in a field with a run-in shed? Arthritic horses may do better with flat ground, and horses who are highly social may appreciate a facility where group turnout is an option. Your horse’s specific needs may quickly narrow down your search for a retirement facility.

Compare Rates and Services Offered

Every retirement facility offers a different set of services at different rates. Think about the services available at each facility that you are considering. Will they feed supplements? Do blanket changes? Put on fly spray and fly masks? You may end up paying more for such services, but it can also be worth it if you know that your horse is receiving the care he needs.

When choosing a retirement facility for your horse, there are many factors to consider. Take your time and research each facility carefully so that you can ultimately make the right choice.

Original source: How to Choose the Right Retirement Facility for Your Horse

What To Do If Your Horse Has Hives

April 13th, 2015

horse in meadow

If you’ve ever had a horse who has had hives, you know how alarming the appearance of hives can be. Hives are more likely to occur in the spring and summer, so let’s brush up on what causes them and what to do if they occur.

What Hives Look Like

A horse with a case of hives will have patches of raised skin that are somewhat circular in shape. Hives can be small and in small patches on your horse’s body, but more serious cases may feature hives larger than your fist which are located across your horse’s entire body. In some cases hives may be itchy or painful. Regardless of how hives are present on your horse, understanding what made them occur is important.

Why Hives Occur

The causes for hives in horses are widespread, which can make pinpointing the exact source a challenge. There are countless environmental factors which can cause a horse to develop hives, such as hypersensitivity to insect bites, an allergy to something in your horse’s diet, reactions to medications, and even an allergic reaction to items like vaccines, dewormers, fly spray, coat conditioner, or bedding.

Determining the Cause

If your horse suddenly develops a case of hives, the best first move is to consider what may have changed in his environment during the previous two weeks. Have you changed the grooming products you use, de-wormed your horse, or added a new supplement to his diet? Perhaps you are trying out a new fly spray, type of bedding, or hay source. Turning your horse out in a new field can expose him to weeds which could potentially be the source of his hives.

One technique to pinpoint the cause of your horse’s hives is to eliminate the items which could potentially cause the hives. This needs to be done slowly, and each item needs to be removed you’re your horse one at a time for two weeks so that you can identify the culprit. With potential causes for hives being so widespread, this elimination method can be a challenge. Your veterinarian may recommend that you have your horse tested for sensitivities, much in the same way that humans undergo allergen testing.

Treating Hives

Many horse owners treat minor, localized cases of hives on their own by means of cold hosing. However, hives generally indicate an allergy, so it is always best to get your veterinarian involved right away. Depending on your horse’s case, your veterinarian may treat the hives with steroids, antihistamines, and topical medications.

While you wait for your horse’s hives to resolve, you can keep your horse more comfortable by cold hosing the affected areas. Using a fly sheet, a fly mask, and leg fly wraps can give your horse protection against flies in case fly bites are to blame, while you might also consider keeping your horse inside during the day when flies are at their worst. Practicing good fly management techniques can also help your horse.

The source of a hive outbreak can be a challenge to diagnose, but hopefully the hive outbreak is minor and will quickly resolve on its own.

Original source: What To Do If Your Horse Has Hives