<![CDATA[Naturally Horse 101 - NaturallyHorse101 Blogged]]>Tue, 29 Dec 2015 10:08:41 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[They're Just Babies]]>Wed, 28 Oct 2015 02:52:41 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/theyre-just-babiesPicture
A couple weeks ago, I observed a few days of a foal gentling clinic by Anna Twinney. In the two days that I was there--the first day and that last--I learned more about gentling a foal and gaining their trust, and I also become aware of the harsh reality that many foals face being born into a society where many horses are used for profit and not treated as actual creatures and partners.

The Premarin Industry

Premarin stands for Pregnant Mare Urine and is a medication that contains estrogen which is taken from the urine of pregnant mares. For six months of every year, these Premarin farms keep their pregnant mares in 8ft by 3.5ft stalls where their urine is collected. They do not receive any exercise during this time, which creates health problems. Just before foaling, the mare is let out to pasture. However, once the foal is born, it is typically sold to a feedlot or slaughterhouse. In this industry, the mares are workers and the foals are collateral damage. The well-being of the horses is not considered, and as a result, countless foals are ripped away from their mothers and sent to their death.

Feedlot Foals

Feedlots actually exist, here in America. To me, this concept is unfathomable. How can this country allow horses to be put in feedlots, just waiting for the day they are bought and taken to slaughter? If it wasn’t for horses, America would not be where it is right now. Yet, somehow, countless horses end up in feedlots, and some are pregnant. Once this mare foals, she will be taken to slaughter and the foal will be left at the feedlot. The mare and foal are separated very early, and it’s not only traumatizing, but also incredibly unhealthy for the foal to be left without a mother. If the foal survives, it will be sold to slaughter as soon as it reached 600lbs.

The Nurse Mare Industry

Using a nurse mare is common in the performance horse world where the horses are there to show off and make money. Especially in the racing world, when a horse performs well, the owners want to breed the horse in order to pass down their amazing bloodlines. However, after 11 months of carrying a foal, and not being able to perform, some owners are ready to start showing their horse again and do not want to have to wait another 6 months or so until the foals is weaned.
    This is where a nurse mare comes in. There is an industry that exists where lactating mares are provided for performance foals to nurse so that their mothers can return to showing sooner. However, in order to have these mares, they have to have a foal. Yet these foals become unimportant once born and are usually killed or sent to slaughter.

The good news is that you can make a difference. Education is key; the more people that know and take action, the higher likelihood there will be of shutting down these industries. These horses did nothing to deserve that life. They were simply born into a world where humans care more about money than creatures. You can also adopt one of these foals, and give them a forever home where they will be safe and loved. After all, they’re just babies.

<![CDATA[Surprise Baby!]]>Fri, 31 Jul 2015 23:52:37 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/surprise-baby Picture
I volunteer at The Son and Reins Ranch (http://thesonandreinsranch.org/) and last month, a mare name Katura was rescud and became the newest addition to the herd at the ranch. A pure Quarter Horse, she was originally a broodmare at another ranch, but when she didn’t take to the stallion, she was given to a different ranch. There, the other horses did not accept her into their herd, which is extremely rare, and Katura was attacked and beaten up by the other horses. She finally came to Son and Reins Ranch and adjusted quickly. She was trusting and willing to learn, yet also extremely fat. Since Katura left the breeding ranch because she was not pregnant, everyone believed that she had just become heavy from too much grass and no exercise. No one expected her to have a baby. Yet to everyone’s surprise, on the morning of July 16, her little filly was born.

I was able to go out the next day to see Katura and meet her little baby. The foal’s curiosity really stood out to me. I realized that this little filly is the quintessence of all horses. She has never been treated badly by humans and knows no other way to behave than being a horse. I know that this little baby is going to teach us humans so much more about horses!

The other mares are so curious about baby!
<![CDATA[It's the Process that Counts]]>Sun, 19 Jul 2015 23:34:56 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/its-the-process-that-countsPicture
It always amazes me how much horses teach us humans, who are so often oblivious to our own emotions and actions. Horses give immediate feedback to whatever you’re doing with them. Too much pressure? Not enough? Too tense or stressed? The horses sense it all, even when we are not entirely aware of it ourselves, and they will tell us too.

I already knew all of this, but the other day, I was reminded again of how sensitive horses are to us and how we must always be aware of ourselves. I was doing an EAL activity with three other girls where our goal way to put a halter on a horse, but with limited movement and communication between one another. While we struggled to figure out what to do, the horses grazed calmly, but when we would get close, the horses would walk away from us. In the heat of the moment, we simply tried again and again, still with no luck. It was only afterwards when we were discussing the experience that we realized why the horses kept walking off. We had been so focused on our goal that we completely forgot about the right way to get there. While we were working, we were all so determined to halter the horse that we completely forgot to make sure our body language was calm, and that we were calm.

It made me realize how easy it is to become so focused on a goal with your horses that you forget about how to “behave”, if you will, during the process. Even if the end goal is to help strengthen the relationship with your horse, you do not want to forget about the relationship during the process. We were putting so much pressure on ourselves, and therefore the horses, to achieve the goal that it was impossible to actually get there. The process is much more important that actually reaching the goal--making sure that you and your horses have calm communication, and the trust and respect is not broken are the most important parts of working with your horse. Yet, the amazing part is that if you focus on having a process that is good for you and your horse, you’ll almost always reach your goal anyways.

<![CDATA[Little Book Cliffs Wild Horses]]>Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:51:17 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/little-book-cliffs-wild-horses
Located northeast of Grand Junction, in a secluded area of lush, flowering hills and jagged, rocky cliffs, there is a place known as Little Book Cliffs. This area of 36,000 acres is home to many species of wildlife, common to Colorado. However, there is one animal living in this area that cannot been seen everywhere in Colorado. In fact, this beautiful and powerful creature is becoming increasingly rare across many states. Yet, in this area, approximately 150 of these animals thrive. They spend their days grazing on the grasses, flowers, and bushes found in the valleys of Little Book Cliffs. Or, if they need to burn off some energy, they will all rise as one and gallop across the land, their hoofbeats sounding as thunder, conveying just how majestic they are.

What creature is this? Wild Horses. Pure, free, and untouched horses.

I was lucky enough to be able to camp in Little Book Cliffs and I spent 6 days following around the herds, observing how each herd and horse behaved and interacted, and constantly  being in awe of these horses.

There were 6-7 herds of horses who lived in the area where I was camping. I was able to find the herds most days, as they have their given “territories”, and all of their movement centers around these areas.

During my stay, I fell in love with these horses. I admired their purity, wildness, and power. There is no way that I will ever forget these horses, and in memory of them and the amazing time I had in their presence, it is only fair that I tell the story of each of them.

Knight’s Herd

June 7-Day 1: My family and I had just arrived in the Little Book Cliffs Area and decided to get out and wander down an offshoot path from the main road. I followed the road a short ways, and upon turning a corner, I found Knight’s herd. The black stallion, whom I later named Knight, grazed next to a white mare, and two other mares, a buckskin and a paint. I watched the herd for a while before I had to return to our truck to find  a place to camp.

June 10-Day 4: I didn’t see Knight’s herd again until the fourth day of my stay. They stood in the trees to the side of the road, grazing on the grass and trying to stay out of the drizzle that was falling from the sky.
June 11-Day 5: The next day, I saw Knight’s herd twice. The first time, they were grazing in a large valley which I dubbed, “The Valley of Horses” since I could always find herds there. When I reached the bottom of the valley, the crossed the road and traveled down the first road that I had seen them on. The mares of Knight’s herd were slightly wary of me, but Knight was comfortable with my presence.
June 12-Day 6: The next day, I found Knight’s herd in almost the same location as the day before. They seemed more comfortable with my presence.
This was the last time that I saw Knight and his herd, but I will never forget them, the first herd that I saw nestled in the sagebrush, grazing peacefully and living the life that all wild horses deserve to live.

Warrior’s Herd

June 7-Day 1: Shortly after arriving at our campsite, I noticed three horses trotting up the hillside towards camp: a white stallion (Warrior), a grulla mare (Venus), and their filly (Sage). At this first introduction, the herd was wary of my family, and quickly hurried away.

June 8-Day 2: The next day, I found Warrior, Venus, and little Sage grazing by the road close to The Valley of Horses. When I first arrived, Warrior raised his head and trotted towards me, trying to figure out if I was a danger. I slumped my shoulders and dropped my gaze, communication to him that I was no harm. Warrior returned to his herd and grazed. His actions of bravery, and going towards possible danger, earned him the name Warrior. While watching this herd, I was also lucky enough to see Sage nurse from her mother.

Sage nursing
June 10-Day 4: I found Warrior’s herd in the Valley of Horses, grazing next to Amigo’s herd (see below). I was amazed when I saw that Sage would wander over to interact with Amigo’s herd and Venus didn’t seem to mind at all.
June 11-Day 5: The next day, I saw Warrior’s herd twice, first grazing with Knight’s herd, and then again with Amigo’s herd.
Warrior and Venus
June 12-Day 6: On the last day of my stay, I only saw Warrior’s herd from a distance, but it was a beautiful view to end on. Warrior and Sage were lying in the grass, while Venus stood on guard.
Amigo’s Herd

June 8-Day 2: The first time I spotted Amigo’s herd was in the road by the Valley of Horses, grazing close to Warrior’s herd. I was amazed that the two herds could graze so close to each other, and neither of the stallions tried to steal mares.

June 9-Day 3: I only saw Amigo shortly this day, but it was the first time I saw a stallion pushing away bachelor stallions. I had noticed that in The Valley of Horses, there were only herds consisting of a stallion and his mares, no bachelor stallions. Evidently this was why. I first saw Amigo with the three bachelor stallions on the road before they cantered into the bushes. Thinking they were gone, I headed up the road, but suddenly heard hoofbeats pounding the ground. I stopped and looked up to see the beautiful blue roan, Amigo, galloping in front of me.

June 10-Day 4: On this day, Amigo’s herd was spending time with Warrior’s herd again. Amigo gained his name because his herd was such a friend to Sage.

June 11-Day 5: Amigo and Warrior’s herds were grazing together again, but much closer to the road, so I was able to get a better look at them.
Sage with Amigo's mares
June 12-Day 6: In the morning of my last day, I saw Amigo’s herd at the bottom of the Valley of Horses. Then, when I left, his herd was the last one that I saw.
Amigo’s herd’s kindness towards Sage helped to realize that even separate herds will spend time together, and in many ways, all of the herds in the Valley of Horses are one big family.

Pharaoh’s Herd

June 8-Day 2: On my second day, when I journeyed down to The Valley of Horses and down the off shoot road, I found a large herd close to Amigo and Warrior’s herds. I quickly realized that in this herd, the lead mare was a buckskin and I named her Pocahontas. There was also a black filly in the herd, probably close to a year old. I named her Echo. As I watched this herd, I suddenly heard pounding hooves on the dirt and I turned to see a bright bay stallion thundering down the road towards this herd. It was the herd’s stallion, probably returning from chasing off some bachelor stallions. He quickly greeted his herd before leaving with them. I decided to name this stallion Pharaoh because of his spunky personality and nobleness.

June 10-Day 4: This Wednesday was extremely rainy and made the ground become slick and muddy. I spent most of my day watching Pharaoh’s herd, who stayed in a green field grazing. Throughout the day, fog rolled in and out, sometimes almost covering the horses. Late in the day, I returned to camp. Shortly after, I heard the sounds of tons of hooves pounding across the ground. I looked outside to see Pharaoh's herd galloping across the hillside, kicking up their heels and getting exercise. The complete grace and beauty of them was breathtaking.
Pocahontas (left)
June 11-Day 5: I first spotted Pharoah’s herd on my way to The Valley of Horses. Later at camp, I watched as Pharaoh chased a lone stallion down the road and up over a hill. I guess I figured out how he got such a big herd!
Echo and Pharaoh
That was the last time I saw Pharaoh and his herd, but I will never forget that spunky stallion and his lovely, big herd.

Chase, Spirit, and Shadow

June 7-Day 1: Once camp was set up, my parents suddenly spotted three horses grazing next to our camp. They were three stallions, a bachelor herd. There was a dapple gray horse (Chase), a buckskin (Spirit), and a young looking black stallion (Shadow). This lovely herd stayed by our camp for a couple hours, slowly moving along the hill.

June 8-Day 2: That morning, I set out to look for horses. I climbed a steep trail which led to an overlook. In the valley below, I spotted Chase, Spirit, and Shadow in the distance. However, I had no idea how to reach them, so I watched them from a distance.

While on a hike, I looked up to see Spirit and Shadow on the trail. They stared at my family, a little wary, but we moved off the trail and they walked by, nibbling on the gambel oak bushes as they went by. They were not bothered at all by us, or even by my dog. I was surprised to not see Chase with his two herd mates.

That evening, I spotted Chase, alone, at the edge of our campsite. I was overjoyed to see the beautiful boy and followed him as he made his way into the trees on one of the many “horse trails” throughout the area. Chase didn’t mind me following him at all, and would only glance back at me now and then, as if checking to see if I was still there. This moment, walking with Chase, a completely wild horse who trusted me so much, absolutely melted my heart.
June 11-Day 5: I decided to head to the overlook into the valley where I saw Chase, Spirit, and Shadow together a couple days before. My parents had told me they saw the three reunited the day before, but I wanted to see it for myself. I reached the overlook and saw fresh hoof prints in the mud. They led to a trail that I’d never seen before. I followed the trail down the hillside, which was extremely steep, and slick with mud. However, it was obvious from the hoofprints that those horses had made it down the trail easily. I reached a spot to where I could see the valley below. I gasped. Chase, Spirit, and Shadow were below me, together again! Spirit stood and kept watch while the other two rested.
Later at camp, I saw the three again.
I was overjoyed to see the three stallions united again. I will never forget the three beauties who awed me with their love in the herd.

The Three Bachelors

June 9-Day 3: While these three stallions were never named, I still loved seeing them the one day that I did. These guys were the unfortunate three who dared to venture into the Valley of Horses and were chased off by Amigo. They later showed up at camp and calmly walked by.

June 11-Day 5: I saw the three bachelors in the trees when I was returning back to camp. They hadn’t seen me coming and trotted a short distance away, surprised. But, then they stopped there and watched me walk by.


June 11-Day 5: When I heard the sound of pounding hooves, I ran outside of camp to see what was happening. A stallion galloped down the road, followed by Pharoah. They disappeared over a hill and out of sight.

June 12-Day 6: My parents decided to name the stallion DeBeque, after the town we had driven through to reach the wild horse area. I saw DeBeque twice on my last day, first on a flower blanketed hillside, and later close to camp. I found out later that DeBeque is an old stallion who lost his herd to younger bachelors. However, he seems content living his life alone, and will sometimes try to steal mares just for the fun of it and to wind up the younger stallions. (What he must have done when Pharaoh was chasing him)

<![CDATA[5 Ways Natural Horse Care Saves You Money]]>Fri, 05 Jun 2015 19:44:51 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/5-ways-natural-horse-care-saves-you-moneyPicture
“How do you make a small fortune with horses?
Start with a large fortune.”

Horses are commonly associated with money. It’s no lie that horses can be incredibly expensive with feed, boarding, vet, hoof care, etc. However, while horses do cost more than dogs or any other typical animal, you can also save money on your horses using Natural Horse Care.

It’s obvious that Natural Horse Care is the best approach to caring for your horse, but it is also the best way to save money with horses.

1. You don’t have to pay for horseshoes

All horses have hooves that are perfectly capable of functioning without horseshoes. When a hoof is able to thrive, and is not constricted by a metal shoe, it is able to become rock solid and withstand any terrain that a horse might walk on. Barefoot horses have better circulation and less stress on their joints.

The average cost of shoeing a horse is between $65-$150. Let’s say it costs you $80 every time you shoe your horse, and he has new shoes put on every 6 weeks (thats 8-9 times per year). Horses generally live for at least 25 years. That shoeing is costing you about $16,000 for the horse’s life.

Looking at a barefoot trim, the lost is about $45 per trim. Using the same number of trims, the total cost is $9,000. Just by using barefoot hoof care, you can save $7,000 over your horse’s life.

2. No Expensive Horse Blankets

The wild horses of Montana withstand winter temperatures where the high is barely above freezing. Yet these horses thrive in the cold weather, even without blankets! Instead, their internal body heater is able to kick in, allowing them to grow fuzzy winter coats that keep them perfectly warm and healthy. Horse blankets prevent a horse from growing this coat, and actually mess up his internal heater.

Most “tradition” horse people have about 3 blankets for each horses: a heavyweight, midweight, and lightweight. A durable horse blanket costs between $150 and $200. Let’s say you have a heavyweight blanket that cost $200, a midweight that cost $170, and a lightweight that cost $150. Depending on how active your horse is and the strength of the blanket, you will have to replace at least one of these blankets, another $200. That totals at $720.

Instead, you could allow your horse to grow his own blanket, which is free! You could save $720.

3. Stall Bedding

Wild horses move 8-20 miles every day, grazing, escaping predators, and searching for water. This almost constant movement aids in their digestion, shapes their hooves, tones their muscles, and circulates blood. Without this movement, you get an unhealthy horse who is bored, stressed, and more prone to sickness. Horses are not designed to be stuck in little stalls all day.

Let’s say a bag of bedding costs $6.50 and you use about 2 bags each month for one horse. That’s $156 a year and $3,900 for a horse who lives to be 25.

Instead, allow your horse to live in a pasture, field, or create your own paddock paradise.
You’ll save almost $4,000.

4. Dewormers

The word "dewormer" is a nice way to say “poisonous chemicals that probably kill the bugs in your horse and hopefully don’t hurt your horse in the process.” Have you ever stopped to think that wild horses don’t take dewormers, yet they don’t get sick or die? So why is it that “domesticated” horses supposedly need dewormers, even though they are genetically the same as a wild horse? The truth is: they don’t. Wild horses keep their worm count down with their constant movement, diet, and overall immune system health. There are natural ways to keep worms out of your horses, without shoveling chemicals into their bodies. (Checkout my Natural Deworming page)

Deworming one horse costs around $30 each year, which is $750 over a 25 year period.

Joe Camp, who uses Natural Horse Care, swears by Diatomaceous Earth, which effectively kills worms without hurting the horse. A 50 pound bag that costs about $30 last for a long time. Other natural herbs can be given to your horses to prevent worms and boost his immune system. Also, a horse’s living conditions plays a role in worm control. Be sure that your horses are not grazing close to their manure and, if possible, rotate pastures every month.

5. Overall Lower Living Cost

When horses are allowed to live naturally, the way they are genetically designed to live, they are healthier. The risk of colic, laminitis, ulcers, sickness, and bad habits such as weaving and cribbing goes down.  A healthier horse means fewer vet visits, which saves you money. Natural Horse Care is the best choice, not only for your horse, but also for you!

<![CDATA[Put Your Green Thumb to Work...For Your Horses]]>Sun, 17 May 2015 18:23:25 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/put-your-green-thumb-to-workfor-your-horsesPicture
Mother’s Day has come and gone, marking the start of another gardening season. Flowers and other plants will soon be popping up in people’s front yards and gardens, and while these plants are beautiful, they only serve one purpose: decor. But did you know that you can use your green thumb and love of planting for your horses?

Wild horses eat a variety of grasses, weeds, shrubs, and herbs. Studies have shown that the consumption of these different plants and herbs each serve a purpose in keeping a horse healthy, some working as a natural dewormer, while others are quick cures for minor health problems. The truly amazing part is that horses are able to pick and choose what herbs they need and when.

Even when with keeping a horse in a natural environment. very few people think about providing their horses with a variety of free choice herbs. But with warmth on they way, you can easily grow a variety of plants for your horses to eat. You can plant the seeds in containers or in the ground around around horses pasture. There is no guess work or measuring on your part after planting. Your horse will know which herbs and how much to eat. Providing free choice herbs is an easy way to replicate another part of a horse’s natural life and allow him to live the way that nature intended.

Sage: Much of a wild horse’s environment has a variety of sage and sagebrush. This herb has antibacterial properties and can help regulate the amount of parasites in a horse’s body.

Yarrow: With anti-inflammatory properties, this plant also helps to repair body tissue and helps with detoxifying.

Chamomile: This plant can help a horse’s digestive system.

Cleavers: A great plant for detoxifying lymph nodes.

Dandelion: (yes, those yellow-headed devils) These plants can detoxify a horse’s blood and liver, and also help to clean the digestive tract.

Spearmint/Peppermint: Good for digestive system.

Rosemary: Besides having anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, this herb can also work as a natural insect repellent when consumed.

Parsley: Helps with function of the nervous system. Can also help horses with arthritis.

Stinging Nettles: This plant can do a variety of jobs. It provides horses with a variety of minerals, is a great blood clotter, helps with arthritis, and helps skin and coat.

Thyme: Great for the lungs and digestive system.

<![CDATA[The Horse Stereotype ]]>Mon, 27 Apr 2015 00:51:02 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/the-horse-stereotypePicture
Throughout my years of being involved in the “horsey world”, I've realized the terrible stereotype that has been embedded into almost all peoples’ minds, whether they are horse people or not. You can ask almost anyone and you’ll get a similar answer, all based on this stereotype. It’s supported in most “traditional” horse magazines, and upheld in much of the tradition horse world. The stereotype? Horses are here with humans to be ridden and that is just about the only thing that you do with them, besides feeding them and cleaning up after them.

The tragic thing is that people do not recognize that a) there is so much more that people can do to truly bond with their horses, and b) it’s genetically programmed into horses that a predator on their back is bad news. This doesn't mean that people should not ride their horses, because when a human has a strong, trust-based relationship with their horses, riding is enjoyable for the person and horse. But this stereotype that the only thing people can do with their horses is ride is seriously flawed.

Many people don’t realize that before they should even think about getting on their horses, they need to have a relationship. And not just “my horse comes to me when I feed him so he must like me.” Like most horse loving kids, I was introduced to horses through the common way: horseback riding lessons. Knowing what I know now, I see that these riding lessons should have been horsemanship lessons. Before I was allowed to ride the horses, I should have been taught how to bond with horses, how to read their body language, communicate with them, and show respect to them. Only then, when I had formed a relationship with a horse should I have been able to ride him. And even then, groundwork should have still been incorporated with riding. I’ve realized now how many stressful rides with a spooky horse and nervous rider I could have avoided if I had known to start a relationship with the horse and ensure that bond stayed strong, even while riding. If more riders took time to shape a relationship with their horses, riding would be easier, natural, even. Riders wouldn't use sharp spurs, hard bits, tie downs, or whips to force their horses to behave. Instead, the duo would work willingly together in harmony.

Only visiting your horse when you ride him is also rude. Take a moment and put yourself in a horse’s hooves. Let’s say you have a friend who only interacts with you when they need something. “No hello”, simply walking up and demanding a favor. It wouldn’t be long before you’d decide you didn’t want this person to be your supposed “friend” anymore. This is exactly what happens to many horses. Can’t catch your horse in the pasture? He’s trying to say, “You’ve been too rude! Every time you come around, you always make me work. We never have fun or bond, it’s simply you making me work for your pleasure.”

Moral of the story: this stereotype needs to change. People need to be educated about horses and how to respect them. They should realize that horses are more than just a pleasure ride. People can have fun with their horses from the ground whether it’s through desensitizing, obstacle courses, or simply spending quality time with them.  Horses can teach us patience, respect, and self awareness. It’s time to break the “riding stereotype” on horses and realize that horses are not in the human world to be beasts of burden, they are here to be loved, understood, respected, and to be our partners.

<![CDATA[Ladybyug]]>Thu, 02 Apr 2015 19:54:49 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/ladybyugPicture
The more that I learn about horses, the more I begin to realize how unnatural it is for a horse to have a rider on their back. In the wild, a wolf or mountain lion attacking a horse from his back would cause a panic, and the horse would do whatever he could to get that predator off of him. So how is it that we humans (who are predators) are lucky enough to be able to ride our horses without them freaking out? For some horses, they’ve been scared or forced into doing it. But for others? It all boils down to one word, one incredibly strong emotion, at the core of any relationship with horses.


Trust is what horses rely on. What they need not only to keep them safe and happy, but to keep them alive. Wild horse herds trust their band leaders to protect them and lead them away from dangers. A foal trust his mother to teach him the language of horses and guide him through his young years. Horses survive because they have someone to trust. If there is no trust, there is nothing.

But this trust isn’t limited to horse-to-horse relationships. Yes, even a human predator can gain a horse’s trust. No dominance, nor whips or spurs or beating. Simply showing the horse that you are there, that you can be a leader, that you will protect them, guide them, respect them, and love them. What do you get in return? Everything. Trust.

On April 1, I was able to experience the magic of trust first hand through a horse named Ladybug. I went out to Son and Reins Ranch, where I have been learning Natural Horsemanship and volunteering. Today’s goal: introduce Ladybug to her first rider...ever.

Now remember what I said about sitting on a horse’s back being so unnatural. But is it possible? Yes. Without force or pain or dominance? Most definitely yes. I have been working to gain Ladybug’s trust since last summer, trying to show her that I am a friend who will take care of her. The work has paid off. Together with Sharron, the amazing owner of the ranch, we spent time with Ladybug and were both able to sit on her back and walk around a little bit. The entire time she was relaxed, acting as if she had done this a million times. How? Because she had trust in us. Because we had both taken the time to work with Ladybug from the ground; building her confidence and showing her that we were the good guys and would never do anything to put her in danger; earning our spots as trusted leaders.

I was humbled to be the second person to ever sit on Ladybug’s back. To think that this prey animal, who is genetically wired to not trust predators, allowed me to ride her is overwhelming. It has opened my eyes to the amazing feats that can be performed with Natural Horsemanship. How treating the horse with love and respect instead of force and dominance makes all the difference in the world. This relationship all boils down to one element, so powerful it can override any fear instinct.


Ready to Introduce your Horse to a Rider?

Before you even think about trying to mount your horse for the first time, make sure there is a strong relationship. Your horse should trust you and see you as a leader who will guide him and keep him safe. Groundwork is key. Make sure that you are able to properly communicate with your horse, asking him to move forward, backward, and sideways with light pressure. Only when you have a strong relationship with your horse should you prepare him for a rider. Do not rush this process. Sharron has owned Ladybug for three years and only now had she had a rider. It is better to take time so that the transition to a rider is smooth, than to push it and cause stress for both you and your horse. 

When it is time to prepare your horse for a rider, take it slow. Sharron and I were able to both get on Ladybug's back in less than an hour, but this does not mean it will be the same for you and your horses. Remember: every horse is different! This process could take hours or days, depending on you and your horse. Only move from one step to the next when your horse stays calm.

1. Begin introducing your horse to having something on his back. Toss a lead rope over his back from both sides. This allows him to become comfortable with an object swinging over him. 

Find a helper that your horse knows and also trust who can hold your horse for the next steps. Do not think that you are cheating or showing weakness by having a helper. 

2. Either standing on the ground (if you're really tall) or a stool/mounting block, place your hands on your horse's back, as if your were about to get on. Using your weight, push your hands into the horse's back in 4 pules, then remove your hands. (The release of pressure is important!) Repeat a couple times, making sure that your horse stays relaxed. 

3. Put your hands in the same place and now jump 4 times, all the while putting the pressure on your horses back. Then, release and start again. 

4. Drape your arms over your horses back so that your body is on one side and your arms are on the other. If your horse still remains calm, shift so that your torso also drapes over his back. Be sure to keep your feet on the ground in case your horse becomes uncomfortable. In this position, take deep breaths to keep yourself and your horse relaxed. If your horse is really in tune with you, he will sigh with you. 

5. Change your position so that your entire weight is on your horse. Swing your legs over your horse so that they were over the horses tail and you are essentially "playing Superman". Keep your legs together, so if your horse becomes anxious, you can get off. Take deep breaths and stay relaxed. 

6. If your horse is ready, allow your legs to move to either side of the horse and sit up. Allow your horse to relax while you sit there so that he can become used to the pressure on his back. 

7. As long as your horse has stayed relaxed, your helper can ask your horse to "walk on" and make a couple circles. While on your horses back, stay relaxed. 

Other Tips
  • Make sure to do these steps from both sides of the horse. Because of the way that their eyes are positioned, horses see something different out of each eyes, meaning there are "two horses in every horse". 
  • Sharron and I were lucky enough to have this process go very quickly, but depending on the horse, is may be different for you. Don't get frustrated and take your time. This doesn't have to be completed in a day, but always end on a good note. 
  • You know your horse is relaxed when...he cocks a back leg, lowers his head, is licking and chewing, turns his head to look at you on his back, ears are tilted to the side. 
  • Make sure that your helper holding the horse also stays calm and relaxed. They do not need to clutch the head rope or hold the halter, as this will only stress out the horses. 

<![CDATA[Another Example of how Horses are NOT Humans]]>Sat, 21 Mar 2015 01:54:21 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/another-example-of-how-horses-are-not-humansPicture
Today’s blog topic is all about water. Yes, water. That wet stuff that flows in rivers or falls out of the sky and what living creatures can’t live without. Water is that thirst quenching goodness that flows crystal clear and clean out of our faucets whenever we need it. But did you ever stop and wonder if this clean water (which has only become clean by putting chemicals in it) is really the best for your horses?

Let’s take a look at our teacher, the wild horse. Wild horses typically only visit a watering hole once or twice a day at the most. Typical watering hole behavior includes drinking, pawing, rolling, and bathing. All in the same hole that they drink from. To us, this doesn’t sound very sanitary, but for horses, it’s exactly what they need. To drink the water, horses usually wade in the hole, allowing their hooves to soak and be slightly softened by the water. When the horses return to walking over rocks and hard packed dirt, their slightly malleable hooves are trimmed to perfection. Horses who roll in the water or mud are helping their coats and protecting their skin from bugs. This “dirty” water also provides the horse with bacteria that may help boost a horse’s immune system.

This means that providing your horse with crystal clear water at a water tank isn’t what’s best for him. He needs dirty water, and even more than that, he shouldn’t be drinking water that has been purified with chlorine or fluorine (which are found in tap water). If you’re lucky enough to have a stream running through the property where your horses live, then make sure that your horses have access to this water. However, if you’re like most people, you don’t have the luxury of a pond or stream on your property. There are multiple ways to create a “watering hole” for horses.

  • Using a watering tank, fill it up so that it overflows quite a bit and creates mud or even a small pond around the tank. Even if the horses don’t drink directly from the “pond”, they will walk through the mud to reach the water tank.

  • Dig your own pond in a corner of your horse’s pasture. If doing this, create a gradual slope into the water so that the horses walk in and don’t “fall” in.

In both situations, it’s ideal if there is a constant water supply trickling into the watering hole so that the water doesn’t become stagnant.

With a little creativity, it can be very simple to replicate another part of a wild horse’s lifestyle for your own horses.

<![CDATA[No More "Pretty Pastures"]]>Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00:04:22 GMThttp://www.naturallyhorse101.com/naturallyhorse101-blogged/no-more-pretty-pasturesPicture
Happy March! Spring is getting closer, and for many horse owners spring is a time of caution where horses are yanked out of their pastures to prevent them from eating all of the lush, fresh green grass. Why? Because those pretty blankets of grass commonly associated with a horse pasture can lead to grass founder (a type of laminitis)  in horses.

Grass founder happens when a horse is suddenly able to eat big amounts of lush grass (i.e. sugary, spring grasses) and their bodies are not prepared to handle it. During the spring the temperatures during the night still get cold which causes new grasses to store their sugars, raising their non-structured carbohydrate (NSC) levels. So what’s the big deal?  A horse’s diet is designed to consists of less than 10% NSC. When all of those fresh spring grasses pop up, the NSC level can rise and lead to laminitis. Grass founder/laminitis occurs when the tissue connecting the horse’s hoof wall and their coffin bone (which is inside the hoof) becomes inflamed. Laminitis causes incredible pain in horses can can cripple them. Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? When I use to take horseback riding lessons, I would take my horse out to graze after my ride, but the whole time, I would be terrified that he’d eat too much grass and founder. Looking back now, I’ve realized how silly I was being, but at the time, I had read so many horror stories of these poor horses eating grass and going lame that I was convinced grass was evil.

Hopefully by now you’ve noticed the major flaw in everything that I’ve been saying. I’ve been looking at horse care and laminitis from a “traditional” horse care standpoint. Founder and laminitis are problems that many “traditional” horse owners face. But here’s the really crazy thing: wild horses almost never founder or get laminitis. And since wild horses and domestic horses are genetically identical, then there is something wrong with the way we are caring for our horses that is causing these crippling hoof diseases.

One of the big causes? Horses coming out of the winter months into the spring nice and plump. During the winter, wild horses lose some weight due to the cold temperatures and limited supply of food. They do not become deathly thin, but come out of winter lean so that the high sugar content in the spring grasses does nothing but help them get their weight back up. No founder, no laminitis. For a domesticated horse, this means making sure that your horse doesn’t become overly chunky throughout the winter. I’m not saying you should suddenly stop feeding your horse, but if you’ve been feeding your horse anything extra to keep his weight up over the winter (rice bran, etc), in the few months before spring arrives you should consider cutting back. This way when your horse hits the fresh spring grass, his body will be prepared to handle the extra sugars.

Another big cause of grass founder is “pretty pastures”. You know the ones I’m talking about: that stereotypical image that everyone has of horses grazing in a green carpet of completely uniform grass. Well, newsflash, that thick carpet of grass (and usually only one type of grass) is a breeding ground for trouble and has one big flaw: it’s just not natural. Wild horses of the Great Basin live in desert like areas where their forage is spread out, encouraging movement. In a thick, grassy pasture, a horse can stand in one spot all day to eat all the food he wants. A wild horse’s diet consists of variety; grasses, shrubs, weeds, and bushes--not one uniform type of grass. This variety prevents a horse from getting too much of one thing and makes sure he eats all of the vitamins and minerals that his body needs. It’s time to ditch that idea of a pretty pasture and embrace an ugly one. If a horse is encouraged to move and has variety (living like a wild horse) he is much less likely to founder.

Joe Camp, who uses Natural Horse Care with his horses has a great article about his horses who live in Tennessee (a.k.a. Founder Valley) and who have never contracted laminitis. http://thesoulofahorse.com/blog/why-are-these-horses-eating-hay/

I’ve begun to notice that so many health problems common in “domestic” horses rarely occur in wild horses. That means that it’s the humans who are cause the problems. If we, as people, can better replicate the environment where horses are genetically designed to live, we can help to prevent these life-threatening problems from ever happening to our horses.