Harnessing the Miniature Horse for comfort, safety and performance.
Join me on February 20th for a webinar!
|Classical dressage training is used to help horses of all disciplines become better athletes. Learn how to apply these same basic dressage principles to your Miniature Horse. We’re not going to be talking about advanced dressage movements, but instead exercises to benefit every driving horse. This webinar is geared towards those who are driving in the show ring, but the concepts presented are applicable to all driving horses.|
You can sign up here: Webinar Registration
Horses evolved to eat for 18 hours a day. They’re supposed to travel a lot and graze constantly on large amounts of roughage.
Humans evolved to eat when food was available, in meals. As a result, we produce stomach acid in response to eating. This isn’t case for horses. Since they are supposed to always be eating, they always produce stomach acid.
For our convenience, our management systems tend to make horses eat the way we do, in large meals. This means that for much of the day or night, horses are fasted, with little or no food in their stomachs, but still producing stomach acid. It’s our modern feeding practices that are the crux of the epidemic of ulcers that are seen in competition horses. Between the fasting between meals, a concentrate based diet, and confinement housing, it’s estimated that 60-90% of all performance horses have ulcers, whether or not they show clinical symptoms. And those risk factors for ulcers, are the same ones that can increase the likelihood of colic, the number one killer of horses. Continue reading
Driving your Miniature Horse is one of the most fun things you can do with them, and if you’ve been busy training your horse yourself, you’re probably extra excited to show him off this summer, and I don’t blame you! Training your horse to drive is a great accomplishment and hopefully you’ve become close partners during the process.
A show is different than driving at home though, and you owe it to your horse to do everything you can to prepare them and make their first show a pleasant experience to set them up for a long and successful driving career.
You can never be sure of what you might encounter at a show, but here’s 10 things that you can do to set your horse up for success. Continue reading
3 Skills Your Horse Needs to Have Before He is Introduced to the Cart
Starting a horse in harness is one of my favorite things. It’s so much fun to watch a horse as they learn and figure things out, especially the moments when they realize, “Hey, this is fun!”
But in training a horse to drive, we have a responsibility to keep them safe. We’re going to be firmly attaching a large projectile that, with driver, quite likely outweighs them. In that situation, when things go bad, it can quickly become very dangerous for both horse and driver. There is always the chance of something going wrong, so we owe it to our horses to have done everything we can to prepare them. Continue reading
In most breeds of horses, the majority of people don’t own stallions. If they do choose to breed their mare and raise a foal, they pay a stud fee and take her to a breeding farm or veterinarian. Only those with the knowledge and facilities to manage a stallion are likely to own them, or those with the resources to board them somewhere with those who have the knowledge and facilities.
With Miniature Horses, it’s a different story. Due to the small size and generally good nature of Miniature stallions, nearly everyone has their own stallion (or two or three or eight). It is important to remember that just because they are small doesn’t mean that they should be forgiven for misbehaviour. Continue reading
Autumn; the leaves are turning, the air is crisp … and it’s time to wean those foals.
Up until now, the responsibility of making sure the new additions are well fed and cared for has been pretty much up to their momma, but now her job is done and it’s time for us to step in and take our turn. Foals grow extremely quickly, achieving 90% of their adult height in their first year of life. In order to sustain that growth, they need more nutrition than at almost any other point in their lives. This means that plain oats and hay are not enough to give a growing weanling all the nutrition they need to develop properly.
In order to make weaning less stressful on foals, and to make sure they understand that their complete feed is for eating, it’s a good idea to introduce the feed prior to weaning. If babies haven’t learned to eat their feed at mom’s side, you may have to put an older horse in with them to show them that it really is tasty. It is a good idea to supplement the foal from three months of age, even before they are weaned, as that is when the quality of the mare’s milk begins a significant decline.
As soon as they’re weaned, foals should be fed with good quality hay, as much as they’ll eat, and they need to be supplemented with a grain mixture with 14-16% crude protein. There are commercial complete feeds available specifically formulated for foals, but it is the percentage of crude protein that is most important. It is recommended to feed the foal 1% of it’s body weight in concentrate. If an average weanling Miniature Horse weighs 50 pounds, then they need a half a pound of complete feed at each feeding, and the amount will increase throughout their first winter, as they continue to grow.
How many times have you been to an auction, reached down to pet a fuzzy little weanling or yearling, and been horrified to discover how skinny they were under the hair? Or maybe you’ve done the same thing with your own horses. With Miniature Horses, we have a unique challenge when judging body condition … all that wool! You have to put your hands on your horses regularly throughout the winter to ensure that they have a healthy covering of fat over their ribs, backbone, and hips.
Many, many times I’ve been asked by caring, well meaning people, about what they can do to get the belly off their weanling or yearling. “I’ve tried everything,” they say, “I pulled him off all his oats and I’ve got him cut back to a handful of hay and he’s still got a huge belly.”
You know those telethons that are raising money for orphans in third world countries? Those starving children have big bellies too … it’s actually a symptom of malnutrition.
Just as it would be unthinkable to put a baby on a diet, it’s the same for a young, fast-growing horse. They need all the nutrition we can give them in order to grow healthy and strong.
For more information: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4634