Breeds

The Quarter Horse has had a significant influence on the face of Australia's horse industry. It has brought a whole new range of performance events to this country such as Western Pleasure, Cutting, Reining and Working Cowhorse, which continue to skyrocket in popularity: while his temperament and versatility has increased his acceptance among the more traditional fields such as Hacking, Dressage, Jumping, Polo, Polocrosse and Campdrafting.

The Appaloosa is an average sized light horse with most standing 14.2 to 15.2 hands at the withers and weighing about 1000 lbs. The Appaloosa breed can provide a colorful horse with distinctive coat patterns to meet any equine interest. As with most light horse breeds, within the breed there are bloodlines or families that have become specialists. These bloodlines show a predisposition to specifically desired physical traits and behaviors. For example, some bloodlines are renowned for their speed in racing and gymkhana events; some display exceptional cow sense for cutting and roping; others are jumpers or dressage horses. For the recreational rider, the personable Appaloosa horse offers plenty of variety to meet any interest, taste and pocketbook.

The Paint Horse has a particular combination of white and any color of the equine spectrum: black, bay, brown, chestnut, dun, grullo, sorrel, palomino, buckskin, gray or roan. Markings can be any shape or size, and located virtually anywhere on the Paint's body. Although Paints come in a variety of colors with different markings, there are only three specific coat patterns: overo, tobiano and tovero. These colors, markings and patterns, combined with stock-type conformation, athletic ability and agreeable disposition, make the American Paint Horse an investment in quality.

The Palomino is not strictly a breed but a colour although recognised as a breed in the US. It is believed that the Palomino existed in China although they were introduced to the US from Spain where their colouring was popular and their breeding was encouraged by Queen Isabella. Likely to have originated from Arab and Barb stock they were taken to the US by Spanish settlers where some escaped and became mixed with herds of Mustangs. They were lated used by the cowboys as saddle horses.

Page Top

Basic Training

What age should I start training my young horse? You can start training your young horse or foal practically from the moment it is born. Imprint training the new born foal can be very beneficial, providing it is done correctly. The age you actually start breaking in and riding the horse will depend on a lot of factors. Including the horses breed, what sort of riding you want to do, the horses individual maturity, and how big you are compared to the size of the horse. Most horses can be safely started at two to three years old. Providing they are only worked lightly and not forced to work over jumps, in heavy sand, rough terrain, tight circles or for long periods.

Teaching the Horse to "Face Up" I first teach the horse to face me, then to walk to towards me, follow me and allow themsleves to be touched and rubbed. So the first task is to teach the horse to turn to face you. First with their head and later with their whole body. If you have the horse facing you, then you are not as likely to get kicked, so you are safer. You gain the horses full attention so that you can direct that attention into their training. We also develop the foundation of yielding the hindquarters through this process.

By teaching the horse to turn and face us, we will teach them not to run away from us. Instead they will face us and be easy to catch when the time comes to put a rope on them. Some people are very handy with a lariat and can rope a horse in a quiet and gentle way. If you can get a rope on the horse, then your first task will be to teach the horse to turn and face you. The rope can help to give the horse the idea. However if you are like me, and would not be able to rope the horse without taking an eye out or giving the horse a fright, then it is just as easy to teach the horse to face up without the rope.

We can then teach the horse to come towards us, and then tolerate us first standing near them, and later rubbing them all over with our hand and then a rope. This way, we will have a much easier job when we do get up to teaching us to face us from a feel on the rope. The horse will already be turning to face us when we walk around to the side, so we will only need to use minimum pressure on the rope. We can classically condition the horse to the rope as a cue without having to actually use very much pressure on the rope.

Page Top

Feeding

What should I feed my horse? The most natural food for horses is good quality pasture. Most mature pleasure horses doing light work will do well on pasture alone if they have sufficient grazing. However, horses are selective grazers and need a large area to meet their nutritional needs. Just because a field is green does not mean it contains sufficient grazing for a horse, and depending on where you live, for a large part of the year pasture is not available. You can optimize the amount of grazing available by dividing your pasture into sections and rotating your horses through the different paddocks. That way, you give the grass a chance to grow back and can pick up the manure.

Hay is the basic food of domestic horses. Only feed good quality hay to horses. Inspect hay carefully before buying it, asking the seller to open a bale. Make sure the bales are green and dust and mold free. Stick your hand down into the centre of a bale to make sure it's not warm. Feeding moldy hay can cause colic and dusty hay can cause respiratory problems. (To avoid dust, it's a good idea to pull the flakes apart and shake them out well before feeding. As a precaution, you can also soak hay before feeding.) The type of hay available varies according to the area you live in. Three basic types in Alberta are grass hay, alfalfa hay and grass/alfalfa mix. Common grasses are timothy and brome. Alfalfa has a higher protein content than grass. Many horse people consider a grass/alfalfa mix the best for horses, and timothy/brome/alfalfa is a common combination. Alfalfa is also available in cubes and pellets. However, horses need chew time to be content, so except for veterinary reasons, most people feed some hay. Some horses have a tendency to choke on cubes. To be safe, you can soften cubes with water before feeding.

Page Top

Riding Skills

Both beginner and expert riders are always looking to further improve their horseback riding skills. You can either learn to perform some tricks on your own or sign up for a riding class where a professional can help you enhance your horsemanship skills. Use a balance ball at home to practice your balance and posture. To do this, practice sitting on the ball the same way that you would sit on a horse. Now raise your arms out to your sides and lift up one leg while keeping your balance. Rate your horseback riding skills. You will want to decide on what type of classes to sign up for based on your level of physical fitness as well as your equestrian skills. Find the best stable and instructor in your area. Look for a successful stable that has expert trainers that can help you improve your horseback riding skills. Sign up for a class that covers the basics. This is especially important if you are a beginner. You will be unable to improve your horseback riding skills if you do not know the basics of proper technique and good communication with a horse. Take a more advanced class when you feel that you have the basics covered. Advanced classes can help you learn cross-country jumping, classic dressage, and tips on how to master difficult technical moves.

Page Top