Making sure your Horse Trailer is ready for hauling

By Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

Spring (yes, it is coming) is a great time to check out your horse trailer and make sure it is ready for hauling.  Many of us use or rely on our horse trailer being ready year round but we do need to stop and think about a trailer check-up.

Here are some important ideas we need to check out on our trailer…at least once a year.  Sometimes it is best to check on these before we haul…each and every time.

1) Make sure the lights work.  Not just the turn signals but also the running lights and especially the brake lights.  Make sure when you hook up your vehicle the lights all function correctly.

2) Grease the ball that you use to connect to your trailer (either gooseneck or bumper pull hitch.  You do not want to over-grease and leave gobs/messes to stain your jeans or pants…but just a little grease helps the metal on metal of the ball to the coupler have reduced friction and make for easier hook-up and turning.

3) Check your tires.  Make sure they are properly inflated (good to do before each haul) and have good tread.  Look for cuts or wearing that might cause a blow-out or loss of tread.  One of the least enjoyable aspects of hauling horses comes with being stopped on the side of the road and trying to do repairs — it is not safe.

4) Clean up that tack room.  Make sure you can easily use and access everything you need in your tack room.  To much clutter can cause damage to your saddles, tack, and possibly you if you fall in the “mess.”

5) Check the trailer floorboards and mats.  Makes sure the flooring is sturdy and not rotting, make sure the mats are in good shape and provide safe footing for your horse.  To properly check the floor boards it is best to pull out the mats and give the boards a good visual inspection.  In some trailers, boards are not in place…so check out the flooring and make sure it is sturdy.

6) Check that your tie straps are in good shape.  Not everyone uses tie straps or breakaway or quick release ties…but if you do, make sure the quick releases work and that the ties are not worn out.

7) Check your emergency medical kit (both human and horse).  Each trailer should have an emergency medical kit for you (the human) and for the horse.  Check to make sure these are stocked with what you might need until you can get additional help.

8) Visually inspect he trailer for rust or other sigs of damage or corrosion.  Let’s face it friends…we spend lots of money on horse trailers and so we need to take the time to protect the investment and stop rust, corrosion, or any damage from spreading.  In many cases we will have a horse trailer for 20+ years, longer than we might have the truck that pulls the trailer.

I hope some of these ideas will be good reminders for how best to care for your horse trailer and keep you and your horse safe when hauling.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

Advertisements

Keeping your bit in good shape — your horse will thank you!

By Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

When I teach lessons or riding clinics I like to take a few minutes to discuss with people how to care for the bit they are using with their horse.  It is important that you regularly inspect the bit for dings or abrasions and clean some of the feed or grime off the bit.

Cleaning your bit — 

Scrubbing with plain hot water usually gets most of the grime off. If you need a little more power, add a splash of white vinegar in the wash water. Soak the bit if there is a lot of really gummed on grime. Scrub the bit, being sure to get inside any joints. I recommend that water and elbow grease are your best options for cleaning a bit.  I do not like to put any chemicals on bits since that could get into my horse’s mouth.

After you have cleaned the bit thoroughly, dry it off with a cotton terry cloth.  always you something soft when drying or wiping off your bit (I will explain why in just a few more sentences).  If you have a sweet iron bit, do not try to remove the ‘rust’. This is considered part of the seasoning that makes horses salivate with the sweet iron bits.  Just wash it and scrub off the grime.

Checking your bit for abrasions and dings –

Take a few minutes before each ride to rub your fingers all over the bit.  Feel the bit for rough spots, dings, abrasions or anything that comes into contact with your fingers that you think feels rough.  Look the bit over and see if you find teeth marks or small holes and ridges on the bit.  Anything that takes away from the bit feeling smooth can be a sign of wear and the need to either fix your bit or get a new one.

Why am I concerned about these dings or rough spots?  Well when you put the bit into the horse’s mouth, all of these rough spots come into contact with the mouth and tongue of the horse.  These rough spots can cause cuts or sores on the horse’s mouth or tongue.  If the bit is hurting your horse, this will lead to problems when riding.  Any hurt from the bit will cause the horse to try and get away from the bit.

My rule of thumb is that when I clean my bits, if I find any abrasions or dings that are rough on my hands…I replace the bit.

Copper bits (either entirely copper or large parts of the bit being copper) are the most prone to getting dings and abrasions.  If you use a copper bit (and they can be really good for promoting saliva and good taste as well), be especially careful with checking your bit for dings and abrasions.

As with all pieces of tack, if you have any questions or are concerned it is not right for you or your horse, consult a professional trainer, rider, groom, or someone you trust to help you make sure your tack is in good shape, good for your horse, and safe to use.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

Saddle Fitting — some thoughts to help you succeed

By Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

A few months back I was asked to help a client find the right western saddle for her horse.  This client has ridden with dressage and western saddles for a good portion of her riding career but she decided a few months back to ride most of the time in a western saddle and needed one to call her own.

As we set out on this project, my client shared with me a story about her custom-made dressage saddle. She had her horse fitted for a custom saddle and spent a few thousand dollars on the saddle.  In the end, the saddle never seemed to fit her or the horse very well and of course…there was lots of time and money lost. With some trepidation, this lady was now looking at finding a western saddle that fit her and her horse.

There are individuals certified/trained in saddle fitting.  One organization is the Certified Saddle Fitters, and there are many other organizations, training courses, and certification programs.  Even if you hire a professional, there are some things you need to look for and consider in this saddle fitting process.

1) Every good fitting saddle will leave (after the horse is worked), a uniform sweat pattern wherever the saddle touches the horse.  There should be no sweat on the backbone of the horse.  If the sweat pattern is uneven, a different saddle or pad needs to be used for that horse.

2) A good fitting saddle will not bounce up and down when the horse is lunged without a rider.  There will be some movement (generally in rhythm with the movement of the horse) but if the saddle is bouncing up and down, it is not fit correctly to the horse.  Sometimes you can change the rigging of the saddle to keep it from bouncing up and down on the horse.

3) A good fitting saddle sets over the withers and upper shoulders and does not pinch downward and forward.  Any pinching at the withers can cause pain for your horse.  You should be able to wedge a bit of your hand between the saddle and the horse…if not, you need to look into another saddle.

4) The saddle seat needs to be the right size for the rider.  If the saddle pushes you forward or makes you feel pinched or squeezed, it is not the right fit.  So many people purchase a smaller seat when they need a seat that is 1/2 to 11/2 inches larger.  For Western Saddles we most often fit a Youth in a 12″-13″ seat, Adults range from 14″ to 16″, and extra large adults fit 17″ seats.  You measure a western saddle seat from the base of the horn to the cantle.  Numerous online calculators are available that take your height and weight into account and help you find the right size seat for you.

5) When you can, borrow saddles and try them on your horse.  Find a type of saddle that fits your horse and you.  For this client of mine, we tried on 8 different saddles and found one that fit the horse very well…but needed a larger seat for the rider.  We took that saddle into the local saddle shop (100’s of saddles to choose from) and the owner of the shop was able to find the same shape and style of saddle that fit the horse…and with the right size seat for fitting the rider.

In summary — follow the above five guides and take your time when seeking a saddle.  This is an investment that will impact your safety, comfort and most importantly, the comfort of your horse.

As always I look forward to your comments and additions.  Saddle fitting is a very important part of your riding.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

Hyrotherapy is GOOD for your Horse

This is a Guest Blog from my mentor — Dr. Robert Keene, DVM

“For many years veterinarians, trainers and other equine enthusiasts have used water as a therapy for sore limbs and muscle injuries. After a long day of work, or a vigorous exercise routine, many people take the opportunity to indulge themselves in a few moments of pleasure with a water-jet massage in their home spas or showers. Hydro-therapy spas are wonderful for people but not practical for the horse owner or trainer when you consider cost limitations and design problems. Ideally, a stream in our backyard or training facility would provide an excellent means for relaxing not only the rider but also the equine athlete.
With the advent of the Equine Hydro-T™ the benefits of a human hydro-therapeutic spa, along with the convenience of a backyard stream, are combined into one product. The patented Equine Hydro-T™ attaches to a hose at the barn and directs a pleasant, pulsating hydro-therapeutic massage to the tendons, joints and muscles that have experienced a workout or injury.
Throughout the years in my veterinary practice I recommended using a regular garden hose to help reduce swelling and provide a therapeutic treatment for medical problems associated with injury or strenuous workouts. When describing this therapy to clients I often used a shower massage analogy to explain how this treatment could help their athlete. While driving away I always contemplated the need for a massage unit like those found in most people’s showers or spas. I also was discouraged at the inconsistencies inherent in using a garden hose. The Equine Hydro-T™ answers this need by providing inexpensive, consistent, pulsating hydro-therapy using a convenient handheld instrument. With routine use of the Equine Hydro-T™ your equine athlete will stay on top, whatever the discipline.” Rob Keene, DVM
Check out the Equine Hydro-T at www.hydrot.com