Fibre Products

Graze On Gold
Graze On Gold

Some of Horsemanship Journal's favourite 'feeding fibre' products

GRAZE-ON GOLD BLEND

Northern Crop Driers01759 318396/ www.northerncropdriers.co.ukMade from a combination of 100% natural dried grass and specially conditioned soft straw, this feed is dust extracted and dressed with a touch of low-sugar molasses and soya oil to provide a highly nutritious, palatable and free-flowing forage. A high-fibre maintenance feed, it provides slow-release energy in the form of highly digestible fibre. It also aids good digestion by slowing the passage of food through the gut and has similar feed values to good quality hay.

Dengie-Alfa-A
Dengie-Alfa-A

ALFA-A RANGE

Dengie0845 345 5115 / www.dengie.com Developed to meet the nutritional requirements of working horses and ponies, the Alfa-A range also promotes improved condition and weight gain. Alfalfa provides the quality protein essential for improving top line, muscle condition and repair. Naturally low in sugar and starch, independent research has shown that alfalfa can aid digestive health by acting as a natural buffer. Research also shows that feeding alfalfa improves hoof quality due to its abundant levels of calcium and other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

Baileys Keep Calm
Baileys Keep Calm

KEEP CALM

Baileys Horse Feeds01371 850247 / www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk Keep Calm is a fully balanced high fibre feed designed to provide non-heating energy to maintain condition while helping encourage a calm temperament. Its combination of Speedi-Beet and soya hulls supplies a high proportion of easily digestible ‘superfibres’ and, along with additional natural fibre sources, means the overall starch and sugar content is kept low. Quality protein, for muscle tone, and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

The HaynetFiller
The HaynetFiller

THE HAYNETFILLER

Smith & Hedberg01580 715814 / 07887 954097 / www.haynetfiller.comThe Haynetfiller is a simple and safe device for filling haynets of any size over and over again at speed, saving you time and money. It makes haynets a pleasure to fill! The sturdy, lightweight device solves all the challenges of regular haynet filling, from dust spread to water drainage. The four unique air flow ports help push dust and air particles to ground level, trapping them and creating a safer working environment.

Alfalfa Pellets
Alfalfa Pellets

ALFALFA PELLETS

Emerald Green Feeds01526 398236 / www.emeraldgreenfeeds.co.ukBy cutting the alfalfa during its optimum stage of growth and flash drying at a high temperature we are able to seal in all the vitamins and minerals that naturally occur within the alfalfa plant. Our alfalfa pellets are ideal for horses both young and old, as they are very palatable and high in fibre. This combination results in a steady release of digestible energy. They are also great forage for horses that have, or are prone to, laminitis as alfalfa is naturally low in sugar and starch.

Interview with Luca Moneta

Luca Moneta
Luca Moneta

Dubbed the ‘Carrot Man’ by his peers, this world class Italian showjumper attributes his success to an alternative approach. As told to Melanie Crouch

A chance post on social media got us intrigued by Italian showjumper Luca Marai Moneta, an international rider with unconventional methods. Following his 2013 Puissance win at Olympia, which landed him on the front cover of Horse and Hound, we were determined to meet him and find out more about his horsemanship approach. We caught up with him at the Longines Global Champions Tour in London.

HJ: Luca, how did your horsemanship journey begin? I began riding at a young age, like many people do, and soon was jumping up to 1.45m competitively in the traditional way. I was not able to afford expensive show jumpers and was riding horses owned by others. One day, at a competition in the UK, I picked up a magazine with a front cover that astonished me. The rider was jumping barrels with no saddle or bridle and I wondered how this could be? Back in Italy I found a Parelli instructor and began learning the Parelli basics. I became very interested in this method of training horses and quit competitive riding completely.

With new eyes I began to seek more knowledge and spent three months at a time with Pat and Linda Parelli in America. I continued to practice my new found skills at home and owners started coming to me with ‘problem’ horses to reschool. Before long I was training with renowned showjumper Michel Robert and started to compete again on these retrained horses that had been labelled as difficult.

Jesus-La-Commune-and-a-Ball
Jesus-La-Commune-and-a-Ball

HJ: What’s your favourite training method? Depending on the mental pathways of the horse I use a combination of positive and negative reinforcement techniques, although I don’t use a clicker. I use positive reinforcement when training certain horses to jump to encourage them to bascule over a fence. When the horse makes the correct effort and shape, I reward with whatever treat they like. Quova de Vains likes carrots and will make the correct jump for the reward. This is how we won the Puissance in 2013 at the London Olympia horse show.

I start slowly developing the mental pathways of the horse and make a deal with them - if they perform when I ask them to then I allow them to be horses in their down time. It is my goal to unite equine ethology and sport at the highest level.

HJ: How do you enrich your competition horses’ lives while travelling around Europe? We have a network of stopovers all around Europe to rest the horses while travelling. The rest stops have fields and paddocks for the horses to be turned out in instead of them always being stabled. Jesus likes to play football so we use this to relax him before a competition or instead of schooling at home. Sometimes we longe the horses or take them for a hack.

When I am at horse shows I try and hack the horses in the surrounding countryside or in the city parks. Fontainebleau is my favourite as the surrounding riding is spectacular. My groom of nine years, Nora, has a similar Parelli background and also trained with Ian Benson from New Zealand and Mel Fleming who advocates horsemanship as a way of ‘being’ not ‘doing.’

Luca Moneta horses in herds
Luca Moneta horses in herds

HJ: How are your horses different from other top showjumpers on the circuit? My horses are allowed to be horses at home. They live in small herds, are often unshod, and training between competitions can involve liberty work and play. They all have different abilities and personality traits. Neptune wants to be the leader so we play games to allow him to believe this and he is happy.

In 2014 we successfully competed in the Global Champions tour with the best riders in the world. We took Neptune Brecourt to the World Equestrian Games and have a super team of horses at Grand Prix level. The Olympics in Rio is next on the list to aim for and I hope the horses continue to stay happy and sound.

HJ: When you come back to London for the Puissance again, will you ask to compete in just a neck strap? I asked before if I can compete without a bridle but your British Showjumping forbids this. At home in Italy I compete some of the horses at 1.45m in just a neck strap.

For more information on Luca visit www.lucamoneta.com

HORSES

NEPTUNE BRECOUT 2001, Selle Francais gelding - Cumano x Kayack “He has definitely taught me not to make assumptions. He is not a constant horse, and my awareness and respect of this nature is perhaps the only fixed point between us. There is no rule with him - the only rule is that there are no rules!

JESUS DE LA COMMUNE 1997, Selle Francais gelding - Diamand de Semilly x Rocky du Carel “This is the most wonderful horse I have ever known. I still remember the stage of the World Cup in Oslo when we finished a beautiful round and he immediately turned his head to ask me for his carrot. He then started neighing insistently! A faithful friend of Neptune, Jesus is undoubtedly the mascot of the team.”

CONNERY 2001, Westphalian gelding - Cordobes II x Polydor “I fell in love with Connery at first sight. It took time to earn his trust. I always have to warn him of everything, waiting for his time. It is the same in competition. Known in stable as ‘The Prince’ for his elegance and finesse. He is the playmate of Jesus and Neptune.”

QUOVA DE VAINS 2004, Selle Francais mare - Robin Z x Narcos II “My champion. Generous, sincere and faithful.”

Make A Change

You’ll never get your horse right until you get yourself right, writes Monty Roberts as he recounts a turning point in his life. Before: These pictures are accurate depictions of my body weight before and after my decision to change my diet. The before pictures were taken one month before being diagnosed with near lethal Type 2 Diabetes. I was in trouble!

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures are accurate depictions of my body weight before and after my decision to change my diet. The before pictures were taken one month before being diagnosed with near lethal Type 2 Diabetes. I was in trouble!

As a younger man I was a competition rider, worked hard, stayed fit and ate a lot. Past injuries started causing pain in my adult life so I significantly reduced my physical activity but my appetite remained in place.

One would not believe the list of excuses I utilised to justify my appetite with reduced physical activity. ‘Oh I’m very heavy boned. I really don’t eat that much, but my metabolism has changed. I carry my weight well, and it doesn’t bother me. I am drinking diet beverages now.’ I used all these and more. The facts will show that I was obese and my horses told me so.

In the racing industry there is a category called the handicap division. Races within this segment provide for the horses to run with various weight assignments that they are to carry on their backs. I have heard world class trainers scream to high heaven when an official assigns two or three more pounds to their horse than they believe appropriate given the competition for the day.

It is the goal of the official handicapper to apply weight to the runners in an attempt to cause each horse to reach the finish line at the same time. This method significantly increases the gambling potential on the race. Typically, the race official works with approximately 10 to 12 pounds (5.44kg) in this effort. One might ask, ‘Is a horse really that sensitive?’ They are.

Over centuries racing people have come to know that as little as two or three pounds can make a huge difference. It is my intention to bring several factors to mind that will cause readers to reconsider any preconceived notions as to weight and the effects of it on horses and humans. I have not always been a good role model when it comes to body weight but good sense and certain individuals in my life have encouraged me to make a change.

Would you believe that my life insurance was more expensive at age 63 than what it is today at age 76? Why do you think that is? It’s because the computers at the various medical offices in charge of examining me concluded that I have a better chance to live through the span of my policy then I did 13 years ago. The medical community is overwhelmingly impressed with this outcome.

The significant change I made was in diet. I can drink anything I want and as much as I want so long as it’s water. No alcohol, fruit juice or sweet drinks, only water. My diet consists of steamed, boiled or raw green vegetables (as well as tomatoes and onions), brown rice, and white chicken or white fish (spices and seasonings are OK). That’s it, three times a day, seven days a week, with the only snacks being cashews or almonds.

The doctors told me to eat this food with a significant amount of water. To me, this constituted a soup, or some might call it a stew. Each meal consists of approximately one litre of these ingredients. That’s a lot of food, which means I’m eating like a horse!

Love is a wonderful thing, and I firmly believe that each of us must begin with loving ourselves. Many horsemen like the Dorrance brothers and Ray Hunt expressed the theme, ‘You’ll never get your horse right until you get yourself right.’ I whole heartedly agree with this statement. I also believe that we will never get ourselves right until we succeed in liking ourselves.

Once we love ourselves we open the door to loving not only the people closest to us but our horses as well. We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones and our horses to maintain health to the fullest extent possible so that we assist our bodies to remain vital for the maximum amount of time. It is not only length of life that should concern us but the quality of life as well.

The horses that I ride now (and I certainly ride more than I did when I was overweight) like me better and perform far more generously than when they carried that extra 75 or 80 pounds. I feel sure that I did my body significant damage with years of obesity. I am just as sure that I am adding time to my existence since coming to my senses and choosing a better quality life.

The joy that I feel for having made this decision should encourage every reader to think hard on their goals for life and certainly the best interest of their horses if they are a rider. I am working harder than I’ve ever worked in my 76 years, but I don’t consider it work. I am having more fun than I have ever had as well. I love what I do and this means that I never have to ‘work’ another day in my life.

Horseman's Calling

Horseman’s Calling is a natural horsemanship competition taking place on 5-6 April. It is loosely based on the US competition Road to the Horse and brings together different horsemanship techniques. Here we chat to event organiser Stephanie Oliver about what spectators can expect. What is the thinking behind the event? Having been involved with natural horse practitioners in the States, we were very familiar with the US events Road to the Horse and Way of the Horse and decided it was time to bring this kind of competition to the UK. The element of competition is fun but the event is really about educating a large audience about natural horsemanship techniques and their benefits.

Explain the event’s format The event is run over a weekend with three teams of two competing against each other to load two non loading horses and start two young horses under saddle. The teams will be judged by a panel of equestrian experts on their methods and not necessarily on how far their horses have progressed. At the end of the two days there will be a set test to ride.

The action will be commentated on by well known horseman Richard Maxwell and judged by a panel of industry experts from different fields of equestrianism. The judging will be on the competitors’ methods and how their horses respond, not on the end result. Trainers will be marked down if their horses look stressed or over faced at any point.

Who are the main players at this year's event? The three teams will be headed up by Grant Bazin, Guy Robertson and Jason Webb, all established horsemen working in the UK with a range of methods influenced by Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli, Craig Cameron, Clinton Anderson and more.

What can spectators expect? It will be a really exciting event. Three teams, 12 horses and two days of non stop action. As well as the main competition arena, there is a shopping village and demo area, which will feature some outstanding displays of horsemanship including liberty work, free riding and educational seminars on horse health.

What future plans do you have for Horseman's Calling? The event is actually part of a European circuit and it will be held in Germany at the end of next year. We have plans to make this an annual fixture in the UK, introducing new trainers and horsemanship methods, and are already planning the 2015 event.

What two things would you like to see change about horsemanship in the UK? First the way many horses are trained. I would like to see more mainstream trainers looking to incorporate natural methods into their programmes. Secondly I would like to change the remaining stigma that surrounds natural horsemanship techniques. I would like to see them embraced by mainstream equestrianism as practical, effective and ethical alternatives to traditional methods.

2014 COMPETITORS

Grant BazinGrant Bazin and Dan Wilson Our first competitive team to be announced is Grant Bazin and Dan Wilson from Practical Horsemanship. This duo worked and travelled the world with Monty Roberts for 10 years learning his methods and riding his demo horses. They now both have very successful yards based in Cornwall and Northamptonshire where they take in problem horses and young starters. www.practicalhorsemanship.co.uk

Guy-RobertsonGuy Robertson and TBA Guy has travelled extensively and has trained and started horses all over the world, including Australia, USA and New Zealand. His methods have been strongly influenced by studying some of the world’s great trainers including Martin Black, Pat Parelli, Craig Cameron, Clinton Anderson, Buck Brannaman, Bill and Tom Dorrance, and Ray Hunt. He has a very successful, established yard in Rawcliffe Bridge, East Yorkshire, where he takes in horses. He also runs clinics and demonstrations all over Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire. www.guyrobertsonhorsemanship.co.uk

Jason-WebbJason Webb and Tom Mitchell After a very successful Polocrosse career, Jason found himself sought after for starting young horses using the methods passed down through his family in Australia. He is in demand for demonstrations and has performed at prestigious national and regional events including Your Horse Live in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also contributes to national magazines Your Horse and Horse & Rider, is an ‘Ask the Expert’ for Horse & Country TV and a blogger for Horse and Hound.

Tom works alongside Jason with most of the horses that come through the centre. Growing up with the Pony Club and competing in all disciplines, he went on to work for the Suffolk Hunt and top eventing yards, where he bought on young horses and competed in affiliated events. He also retains very close links with the racing industry with his family involved in Newmarket life. www.australianhorsetraining.co.uk

The One for You

Linda ParelliEveryone who owns a horse starts off with a dream of riding off into the sunset with their best friend. A lot of times we pick our perfect partner and that dream becomes a reality. Other times however we end up picking our perfect poison. The purpose of this article is to help people pick their perfect partner. As we get into horses we begin to understand that there’s more than just a horse and a person. There are ‘Horsenalities’ and ‘Humanalities’ as well as experience, confidence and goals. It is these last three factors that I’d like to address first.

If you’re inexperienced and lacking in confidence, you’re going to want a certain type of horse. If you’re inexperienced but very confident, you’re probably going to want a different type of horse, both in terms of nature and spirit level. Couple this with whether your goals are low, moderate or high, and you’ve got a lot to consider when it comes to picking your perfect partner. Try answering the following questions:

  • How much experience do I have (1 to 10)? Let me give you an example: If you’ve won three or more world championships and you’ve been riding for more than 40 years, you could probably put yourself up there at around a 9.
  • How much confidence do I have (1 to 10)? If you’ve won a couple of world championships in saddle bronc riding, you can probably put yourself right around a 9.9.
  • What is the level of my goals (1 to 10)? If you want to have a world class performance horse, English or western, then your goal is probably around a 9.5. If you want to go to the Olympics, put it up there as a 10.

So, those are the three big factors when it comes to deciding which type of horse to partner yourself with. Even with that in mind however we find a lot of mismatches. Oftentimes this happens when you buy the right horse for you when you get started, but over time you outgrow that horse.

Let’s say you buy the perfect horse. You’ve got little experience, medium confidence and low goals. As you continue to improve, one day you could look at that horse and think, ‘Wow, my experience and confidence and goals have increased. I think I’m ready for a horse with a higher capacity to grow with me.’

Buying and Selling Buying and selling is a two part story. First, the buyer needs to have a realistic view of themselves; they need to get themselves a horse lover’s mirror. The seller also needs to adhere to this message as well. Making sure both sides are educated really is the solution.

So, let’s say we get into a situation: either the dream horse turned into a nightmare, or we’ve simply outgrown the horse and we’ve decided to sell. Now the buyers have turned into the sellers. As the seller, you need to employ the same strategies you used when you were the buyer. Make sure you have a realistic view of who you’re selling to.

Pat Parelli CuttingI’d like to offer a quick point on Humanality and Horsenality, the system I have developed to categorise horse and human personalities (read more at www.parelli.com). It’s important that we use that information to create strategies, not excuses. If you’re a Right-Brain Introvert (low energy and perhaps nervous) and your horse is a Left-Brain Extrovert (high energy and confident), that doesn’t mean you should just throw up your hands and say, ‘This’ll never work!’ You’re actually in a great situation, because you can begin to understand what your horse needs and how to make adjustments for that.

I believe we should all look at our commitment to our animals as stewards for life; we can compare it to children. There will come a time when children will cleave and leave. They’ll move out and get married and create futures of their own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this situation occurring with horse owners, as long we do our best by our horses. We need to be realistic about what kind of horse we have, because that will increase the chances of finding a good partner for them moving forward.

The Perfect Fit In my lifetime, I’ve personally sold over 300 horses and mules. I would say I have around an 80-90% success rate when it comes to matching horses to humans. The best matchmaker I’ve ever been around was the man I learned so much from, Troy Henry. He had a knack for knowing which horse fit with which person, and here’s a quick story that illustrates this.

There were two women at the stables. Each one had a horse that was their nightmare. One woman’s goal was to do reining, and her horse was kind of a plodder. The other woman wanted to trail ride, but her horse was perfectly suited for reining. Now, one woman had paid quite a bit more for her horse than the other. Mr Henry suggested they trade horses.

The One for YouThe woman who had paid a lot more sort of scoffed at this idea, so Mr Henry said, ‘Try this. Just trade horses for two weeks.’ They did, and after two weeks you couldn’t have pried those horses away from their new partners with a crowbar! They found that Mr Henry had in fact matched them up with their perfect partners.

Again, there are plenty of exit strategies that maintain the horse’s dignity and respect. Here on the Parelli campus we’ve had horses that simply got too old to be of service for what we do in the Parelli University, but they made ideal pasture horses for people who were just looking for that.

An essential part of this decision is knowing who you’re selling to. The first thing I look for in passing on this stewardship is someone who shares that same attitude. They also need to have the means to be a good partner. Some people have big hearts and no clue. Some people have big hearts, all the clues and no financial means. And some people, well, they just don’t have big hearts. I make sure they have enough knowledge, skills and natural habits.

My basic philosophy when it comes to buying and selling horses is this: In general, horses themselves are worth between $1,000 and $2,500. Beyond that, you’re paying for the training and the breeding. And, in the not too distant future, you’ll be paying for the feeding as well. In the USA, feed has tripled in price over the last couple of years. So let’s say I buy a horse for $2,500 and we put a lot of training into it here on the campus, and we keep it for a year. Now that horse could be worth around $20,000. But it also cost us another $5,000 in feed, shoeing etc. So when I decide to sell that horse, I’m going to sell it for around $25,000. That’s how I see it - you’re paying for the training and everything else that has gone into that particular horse.

To conclude, it’s important to look in your heart, apply the strategies we’ve talked about and focus on the stewardship that a horse / human relationship truly is. It’s up to you to make sure that the horse has a bright and natural future, whether or not it’s with you. It all comes down to the philosophy of stewardship.

Meet Warwick Schiller

Warwick SchillerInspirational clinician Warwick Schiller will be visiting the UK for the first time in June 2014. Schiller, like many of his peers, originally hails from Australia but is now based in California. Acknowledged as a gifted teacher, his own brand of horsemanship bridges the gap between the ideals of natural horsemanship and the demands of real world performance. Where were you born and where are you living now? I was born in Young New South Wales, Australia, and now live in Hollister, California.

When did you start riding? My father rodeoed, and we always had horses around. I probably started riding when I was around six or seven on a bay mare named Mary Rose

What are you passionate about? Teaching people how easy it is to train horses and get along with them. It is easy as long as you understand the true nature of horses.

What are you working on right now? Right now I have a full on training business in California and an online training site where I post videos of real time training on real problem horses. This way people can learn what I know from the comfort of their office or lounge.

What’s on the cards for the year ahead? I’d really like to do more clinics. I love doing clinics and helping people achieve their goals with their horses. I will be visiting the UK for the first time this June to teach some clinics and demos.

Where would you like to be in five years time? You know, as much as I love the reining, my true talent lies in my ability to explain things to people in a way that they understand it. As much as I’d like to be a superstar reiner, my abilities in that field have their limits. My ability to explain things in a way people really understand however is surpassed by very few, so you have to go with what you are good at. In five years time I would like to be doing a lot more clinics. I’ve had people for years now tell me that they had heard it all before but didn’t quite ‘get’ it until I explained it to them. It appears that’s my gift so I should use it.

What achievement are you most proud of? Being chosen to represent Australia at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games in reining was a huge honour, and really one of the highlights of my life. An experience I will never forget.

Outside horses what would you consider your most memorable moment or achievement? Marrying my wife Robyn and raising a son that I am extremely proud of.

I would change how people lead their horses. I know it sounds like a small thing, but many major issues such as separation anxiety and anxiousness come from doing that wrong.

What motivates you to go out and train each day? I really love to see the progress with horses, whether they be really talented reiners or a mentally messed up dressage horse that has totally lost the plot. I like to see them get better, both physically and mentally.

How do you prepare mentally for an important event? I’m not an aggressive person by nature, which I think really helps me train horses, but to really show well at a high level in the reining you have to go out there and challenge the pattern, so I do a lot of visualisation over and over about what I’m going to do and where I’m going to do it. I ride the whole ride in my head over and over, and make little mental adjustments each time.

Which two things would you like to change in the horse world? Firstly, I would change how people lead their horses. I know it sounds like a small thing, but many major issues such as separation anxiety and anxiousness come from doing that wrong. Horses, in a herd situation, do not walk side by side. The leader leads, the follower follows. When people try to bring a sense of equality and have a horse walk beside them the horse gets confused. I have had people fix many of their horse problems by just changing how they lead. Many times these are problems that don’t even seem related to leading.

Secondly, I would want everyone to be educated as to the nature of the horse - that horses don’t learn from pressure itself but from the release of pressure. The horse will always seek the place where the pressure is the least.

Warwick Schiller clinic

What would you do if you weren’t working with horses? Probably something artistic, or at least creating something. I like to do leatherwork, woodwork and build things.

Who do you admire in the horse world? In the reining world I really admire the guys who can produce the high end horses who do their job with a smile on their face like Shawn Flarida and Andrea Fappani. I also really admire my friend Martin Larcombe, he is such a natural and things come so effortlessly to him. Outside the reining world, anyone who really takes the nature of the horse into consideration when dealing with them.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given? Make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy.

What has been your biggest lesson? My biggest lesson early on was to learn to keep my mouth shut. Now I think it’s funny I’m getting paid to talk all day!

Where can we find out more about you? You can go to my website www.warwickschiller.com, or follow me on Facebook. I also have a YouTube channel with over 100 videos and an online training site where I currently have over 24 hours of real time training with problem horses and horses learning things for the first time.

Forward Thinking

So, you are thinking of breeding you mare?  Great - this can be a rewarding experience but before you go any further, please take a few minutes to read this article and ask a few questions, writes Mike Gulliford. Responsible breeders set themselves a target as to what they want to breed and why. First of all list your aims and objectives in creating a foal. What do you plan to do with it? Answer honestly and define your reasons and goals.

Mare and foalThe next thing you need to do is to take a good long look at your mare. It is very difficult to be objective about your own horse but you need to have an idea of the bad points which you would like to try and improve upon in any off-spring. You also need to know what good points you wish to enhance. Sit down with a piece of paper and write a list of good points and bad points. Ask other people for their opinions but be prepared for criticism and the possibility that expert opinion may advise against you passing your mare’s genes onto the next generation.

Breeding a foal is not cheap and you should decide upon your budget. Ask yourself how much have you got to spend on the stud fee? What are the keep costs likely to be? What other costs are likely to be incurred such as vet’s bills, transportation costs and so on?

Having decided upon your aims and objectives, the quality of your mare and your budget, you can now go stallion shopping. Look in equine publications and online where the adverts will give you an opportunity to see what the stallion looks like.  Make a list of the stallions you like and which you feel will meet your criteria. Armed with this, contact the studs and ask for details of stud fees and keep costs. Once you have the information, make a short list of stallions and, where possible, arrange to see the stallions in the flesh or on video. At the end of the day this is the best way of judging. Only by looking at him can you assess his movement and temperament. Ask to see any progeny as this will give you an idea of whether he stamps his offspring as being of a certain type. Also, ask about his fertility.

The stallion of your choice will be offered for natural covering or artificial insemination (AI). Studs that accept mares in for breeding will normally ask that your mare be swabbed for Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) but they may also ask that she be tested clear of Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA). You also need to know what terms apply with regards to stud fees and pregnancy and whether a live foal guarantee is offered. As with all things, this advice is open to interpretation. But, if you do nothing else as you embark on producing your first foal, do bare in mind his future. Fast forward four years - you want to make sure that your three year old is a horse that is valued be it by you or someone else.

IN BRIEF

  • Ask yourself why you want to breed a foal and what his purpose in life is going to be
  • Be aware that you rarely make money out of breeding
  • Be realistic about your mare’s good and bad points and select a stallion that compliments her
  • Make every effort to see stallions in the flesh or on film. It is also wise to check out their progeny
  • Take into account the whole cost of breeding
  • Make sure to have your mare swabbed for CEM
  • Visit the stud before you send your mare away and raise any concerns well in advance

Mike Gulliford established the Artificial Insemination Centre in Bristol www.theaicentre.co.uk

The Buzz

At some stage of horse ownership, you will come across a horse that doesn’t like to be clipped. To us, clipping seems like something very acceptable. We know the clippers aren’t going to hurt but the horse doesn’t. Remember, horses are prey animals; they perceive anything new as potentially life threatening. Until you prove to them otherwise, they are not going to willingly accept anything in the ‘unknown’ category. Clinton Anderson ClippingThe good news is that there is an easy way to teach your horse to accept clipping. Follow these steps and, with practise, you will be able to clip your horse without having to fight him or restrict him in any way. The key is to break the process into steps and teach the horse that the noise and the feel of the vibrating clippers are not going to hurt him. The smaller the steps, the easier it is for him to understand. The name given to this process is ‘desensitising.’ When you’re desensitising your horse, the goal is to maintain the pressure until he stands still, relaxes and pays no attention to what you’re doing, at which point you should retreat. This is the behaviour I’m looking for when I clip my horse – for him to stand relaxed and not worry about the clippers.

STEP 1

Can you rub your hand all over your horse’s face and ears? Can you wave them around his eyes? If your horse has any resistance to your bare hand on his face and head, you can hardly expect him to stand still for clippers. You would be amazed at how many people wonder why their horse won’t be clipped, when the truth is these same people can’t even touch the horse’s ears with their hands. The first step is to get your horse to accept your hands on his face, muzzle, ears and around his eyes and then anywhere else on his body. Once you have accomplished this step completely, move on to Step 2. Don’t move on if there is any resistance from the horse, no matter how long it takes. If you find an ‘Oh no! Don’t touch me there!’ spot on your horse, continue to rub him in that same area until he stands still and relaxes. When that happens, retreat and rub him somewhere else on his face or body that he is comfortable with. Then approach the sensitive area again. Continue using the approach and retreat method until there are no off limit spots around your horse’s body.

STEP 2

Now place the clippers in your hand (turned off) and desensitise the horse to having the clippers around him. Let him smell the clippers. Then rub them over his face and wave them around his eyes and ears. If your horse won’t stand still for the clippers when they are not even turned on, he won’t stand there when you use them properly. Using the approach and retreat method, make sure that he will tolerate the feeling of the clippers on all parts of his face, eyes and ears. Be patient. This may take a few days, but it will save you time in the long run if you take the time now to do this step right. As before, make sure that the horse is showing no resistance to this step before you move on.

STEP 3

Remove the blade and turn the clippers on to let the horse get used to the noise. Without touching him, wave the clippers around the end of his nose, his eyes and his ears. Don’t touch him with the clippers yet. Desensitise him to the sound and movement first. When clippers are close to his ears, he will probably lift his head and act a little frightened. Leave the clippers up there eight inches from the horse’s ear and wait until the horse relaxes his head. Once he relaxes, turn the clippers off and rub him. Remember, you are not trying to touch him right now with the clippers on – all you are doing is getting him to stand still with the clippers on and moving anywhere around his body. Pay particular attention to areas where reaction is high – this is usually around the ears. You may have to spend more time here.

Clipping MuzzleSTEP 4

Once the horse accepts the clippers around his head while they are turned on but not touching him, it is time to rub them all over his face and nose, around his ears and poll and over the rest of his body, with the clippers turned on (but with the guard in place). This will create a new sensation since the clippers will vibrate against his skin. If the horse gets frightened, just keep rubbing the clippers around the area he is uncomfortable in until he begins to relax. As soon as he does, turn the clippers off and rub him. Remember, approach and retreat. In the beginning, work on one area at a time. On his head, start with his muzzle and work your way up to his ears. As he relaxes in each area, you can expand the places you are rubbing until you can do it anywhere.

STEP 5

Once your horse is absolutely perfect with all of the previous steps, you are ready to begin clipping the hair on his body. However, if you are still getting resistance from the horse to any of the steps up to this point, you will only make matters worse by proceeding. Actually clipping the hair is another new feeling, and the horse may react to the sensation. Again, don’t start in a sensitive area. When dealing with the head, start at the muzzle, go under the chin, up the face, around the eyes, then onto the bridle path and poll area. Then you can start to work on the ears.

Continue the approach and retreat method when you are actually clipping, it is a good idea to do a little bit of clipping and then go back and rub the clippers over areas that you have already clipped. Find a starting point, clip a little bit and then rub that spot with the clippers for a few seconds, then clip a tiny bit more, then rub. If he gets suspicious or frightened, going back to rubbing the areas already clipped will help him relax, then turn off the clippers and rub him with your hand to show him you’re not trying to shove it down his throat. If you work on these steps a little bit each day, after a week or so you should be able to clip anywhere on his body with no resistance.