And the Holiday Parties were Fabulous!!

What a bunch of party animals we are!!

 

The holidays were a great time to get together and spend some time catching up with each other!  Our Students, Teams and Staff were no exception!

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The Saddle Club Show Team party was held at Karen & Bryan’s house.  Pot Luck dinner followed by a hilarious White Elephant Gift Exchange was a blast!  We even got a new team mascot!  Meet Woody the Giraffe!

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Our Staff Party was a ton of fun with the most hysterical round of Musical Chairs I have ever seen!

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The Meringue Fairy arrived too!!

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Our Barn Decorating Party was wonderful and the Drill Performance was very exciting!

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The “Drill Bits” Adult Drill Team party was wonderful and held at Karen & Bryan’s house.  Lots of food, drinks and more silly gift exchanges that night too!

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See you all at next years parties!!

Bruno’s Happy Holiday

As most of you know, Bruno was voted 2017 School Horse of the Year by our Woodland family.  He has been enjoying some quality time off.  Lots of grooming, loving and Mother Nature has improved her attitude and sent us weather so Bruno can go outside and play as much as he wants.

Today Bruno received a special gift from the great gals at Anytime Tack.

He was given an Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball and boy has he been having an excellent time with his treat.  Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball is the perfect stall treat for your horse! Bruno will spend hours trying to lick and grab this entertaining and delicious ball made of corn, oats and some sugar.

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Bruno is not always the bravest horse so we introduced his treat to him carefully.  He had no problem and instantly fell in love with his stall entertainmnet system :))

I went into his stall about 30 minutes after the ball was hung and he had been having so much fun with it!  His head was wet and sticky from playing and he was smiling from ear to ear.

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Bruno says, “Thanks everybody for my treat!  Especially Anna from Anytime Tack and Uncle Jimmy.  You guys are the best!!”

2018 Horseback Riding Goals

Our students share their goals, wishes & thoughts for the upcoming year!!

Learning to ride is an extremely challenging endeavor.   If you have every taken a lesson you know this is true!  You are sitting on a 1,000+ pound animal with thoughts and feelings of his/her own.  There are bound to be times when you feel extra “challenged”.

Your instructor has taught you to recognize the small victories and build upon them.

I asked a number of our riders about goals for the upcoming year.  Interesting and perceptive answers…

Devon Crawford, one of our newer Western students, shares her thoughts.  “As an adult returning to riding after many years, my 2018 goals are to reconnect with my inner child (and her love for horses) and to continue moving forward. I don’t want to push myself dangerously fast, but I also don’t want to stagnate. I would like to feel like I am improving at all times, whatever the pace may be. Maybe I will also try entering a Woodland show for the first time to get back into the feel of competition!”  A great approach if you asked me!!

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Faye Griffith, a Western student who has been with me for many years said, “My goals for this year are to master getting the correct lead and to become proficient with the canter. Also, working to ride with legs and seat not relying so much on reins.”  I really like Fayes thinking as she know herself and her comfort level very well.  Having straight forward, fundimental goals gives you a very clear target.  You will get it Faye!!

Gegi Leeger, one of our English riders who just bought her first horse says, “My 2018 (yikes!!) is to establish a deep connection with my horse both while riding and on the ground. And to have more fun with all my barn friends, especially the Drill team ladies!”  Gegi is on track, if you ask me, as establishing a bond with your horse is key to the relationship.  And we all know the friendships developed at Woodland are forever and what make us so special…in my opinion!!  :))

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Whatever your goal(s), having a plan and a point to work toward will help you get where you want to go.  Sometimes it is a big thing, sometimes it is the little victories.  Whatever works for you…Go for IT!!

Saddle Club: Too Cold to Ride?

It may be but there is still lots to learn!!

This past Friday was a super cold day and the footing was too hard and the air temperatures too low to be safe for any living creature.  So what do we do for our Saddle Clubbers?

Saddle Club’s goal it to teach our members to be the most well-rounded equestrains they can be.  Learning to ride is immense fun but there is so much more to this sport.

On days where it is too cold or too hot to ride we work on our horsemanship skills.  Many of our members have horse ownership as a long-term goal.  Friday we reviewed all the saddle and bridle parts…then…we had them take their saddles and bridles apart or as apart as they come.  We cleaned our tack.  I mean really cleaned them!  Then the hard part came.  Putting their bridle back together.  There are so many bits and pieces, so to speak, that putting a bridle together can be really challenging.

 

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Were the gals up for the challenge?  Yes, there were!!

The first time I put a bridle together I made every mistake possible, I think.  They can be VERY confusing!!  Evelyn, Casey, Sophia, Izzy and Kennedy did a great job.  Only a couple of small mistakes!!  The gals learned a lot!!

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So why is this knowledge important?  You may not know this but when you buy a bridle it does not come assembled nor does it have a bit.  Your local tack shop may help you if you purchased the bridle and bit locally but if you order online, you are on your own.

Also, if you put your bridle on your horse and it is incorrectly assembled it could interfere with your communication.  It could also be uncomfortable for the horse.  That is never good as the horse can tell us in many way that something is incorrect.

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So, cold or hot or perfect weather…there is always something new to learn. 

Good job girls!!

 

 

Boy, is it COLD Outside!!

Horses are built for the cold…mostly!

Horses and ponies are amazing creatures and thru evolution have developed some pretty wonderful ways to keep themselves healthy in extreme conditions.  On their own they can handle he cold very well.

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Here’s the problem…humans interfere with the horses natural way of caring for themselves.  Silly humans!!

Most of us keep our beloved horses at a full board barn.  That’s great as there are many people around to keep a watchful eye on things.  They get turn out for the day then come into their stalls for dinner.  Once the horse is in his/her stall all natural ways for the horse to warm themselves ends.

We think we are doing them a favor but in the real world a horse that is outside in the cold can roll, play, move any way they like and that creates body heat.  Besides hay to eat and water to drink…that’s all they need!  They are very good at making the subtle adjustments needed for their health.

So, what happens when they are in the stall?  All rolling, playing, etc stops.  They do have hay and water so the heat generated in the digestive process is working for them but they can struggle in extreme cold.

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BLANKETS!!

It is so important if you keep your horse in a stall to have appropriate sheets and blankets for them to wear to conserve their body heat.

Courtney, with Anytime Tack shares, “an important thing to realized is if you don’t normally blanket your horse because they are extra fuzzy, when you decide to put a blanket on them you need to blanket as if they do not have a fuzzy coat.  The weight of the blanket  interferes with the horses natural way of warming themselves by puffing out their coat.”

She adds, “the breed and age of your horse needs to be taken into consideration too.  Thoroughbreds and Arabs typically have thinner skin and coats so need a heavier blanket.  Where your Fjord and draft breeds could use a little less blanketing.  Older horses need a little extra TLC too.”

If you come to the barn and your horse is shivering you need to pay attention as they are telling you that they need some support.

If we listen…our horses are “talking” with us all the time and it is our job to be listening all the time.  Stay warm out there!!

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Who’s It Going To Be??

Don’t forget to vote for your School Horse of the Year!

There are only a few more hours in 2017!  Make sure your voice is heard!!

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If you have not voted you still have a little time.  Just comment on this blog and I will add your vote to the final tabulations.

The winner will be announced tomorrow, January 1st!

From all of us at Woodland Horse Center, we wish you a very Happy New Year full of great times with your favorite horse or pony.  Thank you all for being a big part of our happy…horsey…family!

 

 

Reindeer Games @ Woodland

A festive night for our riders of all ages!

Reindeer Games are a great excuse to come ride and forget about the pressures of the upcoming Holidays.  Or as my husband calls them…”The Holler-Days”!  If you are a level 2 or up these games are for YOU!!

We played a number of games this past Saturday night to include Merry Musical Cones which is a mounted version of Musical Chairs and a whole lotta fun!!  We also play Sharks and Minnows just because it is so much fun and nobody gets eliminated!  We finish with the Comet’s Command Class which is an elimination game where riders have a certain period of time to execute a specific command.  Like Simon Says but on horseback!  Our participants were Jen & Malcolm, Hadley & Sochi, Ingrid & Rocket, Lily & Cher, Bryan & Peso, Kat & Carl and Evelyn & Jack!

Enjoy the pictures of all the fun and…nobody came off!!  Ho-Ho-Ho!!

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All dressed up!
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Evelyn and Jack…a fabulous pair!
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Hadley & Sochi had too much fun and took out Mom playing Sharks and Minnows!
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Bryan & Peso doing their thing!
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Lily feeling fuzzy on Cher 😉
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Giggling all the way!

 

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Malcolm sharing his Holiday Thoughts!!

Happy Holidays to ALL!!

Behind the Bridle: Bandit

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Rina & Bandit 2009

If you know him you gotta LOVE him!!

Bandit is one of those unassuming ponies of unknown origin but boy are we happy to have him with us!  He has quietly taught so many children and smaller adults the ins and outs of becoming an equestrian.

He stands about 14 hands high on a good day.  He is a chestnut colored Spanish Mustang.  He came to us in 2009 and he is well-aged…we aren’t telling!  He is a little shy but will trust you.  Just rest your hand on his shoulder to say all is fine and you are on your way to being a “Bandit-Lover”.

Ashley Christian was there the afternoon he came off the trailer and tells us about his famous arrival.  “When Mike unloaded him he was this little guy who didn’t look like he was spunky, at all!  Well…we learned quickly he is an escape artist.  Bandit was being taken to the round pen and then he suddenly took off and had a big run around the farm.  Checking out his new home!  He was eventually caught and from that day on we have been extra careful he is fully in his stall before we let go of him.”  What a character!!

Rina Levy is one of our original “Saddle Club” members and has love Bandit from the moment I assigned him to her those many years ago.  He has taught her to ride and to jump with confidence!!  Rina shares her thoughts about Bandit, “I learned everything on Bandit after coming to WHC in the 2nd grade. He was the first horse I ever jumped with, trailed with, and I rode him in my first ever show (WHC in house, I think Memorial Day). I rode him in 2 camp drills and countless lessons. Every time I have a student on him, they laugh when I tell stories of slow poke Bandit taking off with me in Saddle Club. He really does have a secret gas pedal! I rode him again in the instructor’s command class last year and we pulled a 3rd out of 12! Gallop to halt transitions, counter canter, halts with no hands- he does it all without complaint. I remember one quick transition, he came down from the gallop so fast my saddle was on his neck! I will forever thank this horse for teaching me the ropes and letting me love him to pieces, even 8 years later!”

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Rina & Bandit 2017

Bandit is a Rock Star beyond all compare.  He challenges you but with a kind heart.  He rewards you when you get it right.  He loves you back by being the best little man out there.  He may not look it from the outside but he is a spectaculer gem!!

Why are my eyes wet?  Sniff…

Remember…even though our horses and ponies are well-behaved and very talented, they are still horses and ponies. They can have a bad day and also be influenced by unexpected things. They are reactionary critters!

The Eyes have It!!

Our horses vision is amazing!!

Human beings tend to think that every living being in the universe looks at the world like we do…silly humans!!

Horses “see” the world differently in a number of very interesting ways.  For humans, vision is our dominant sense.  Not so with horses.

If the horse only sees the prey coming they are too late.  Their sense of hearing and sense of smell are their early warning systems alerting them to danger and to get moving away from it…NOW!

But we are talking about vision.  Let’s start with the most frequently asked question I get about horses vision and that is do horses see in color?  Veterinary researchers are always learning more and disproving myths created over centuries.  Through dissection their anatomy tells us that horses have rods and cones (cones detect different colors) in their eyes. Humans have more cones than horses so horses see color but a more muted version or certain colors may be interpreted as a human who is colorblind.

The 2012 The Horse Magazine article shared some great info.  Andrew Matthews, BVM&S, PhD, Dipl. ECEIM, ACVO (Hon.), FRCVS, an equine practitioner and ophthalmologist from Ayrshire, Scotland, gave an overview on what we know about equine vision.  “Additionally, color perception studies have shown that horses have dichromatic vision with a reduced cone density, meaning they’re able to see washed-out versions of colors including green, yellow, blue, and gray. It does not appear that horses can see reds.”

 

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Credit: HorseTalk.co.nz

Next question is where can the horses see.  We at taught that horses can see almost 360 degrees around themselves.  Almost true!

There are three places that horses cannot see.  It is extremely important to understand how this effects their perception and thus their behavior.

  • Right in front of their face
  • Right behind their tail
  • Underneath their head and neck

Because the main cause of injury from horses is getting stepped on, lets investigate the “under the head & neck” area first.  Horses are  always paying attention to their surroundings, particularly if there something on the horizon that may want them for dinner…sorry, it’s true.  They are not so worried about what is under them.  That is how they end up stepping on our foot if we get too close to them.  Keep them at the end of your elbow.  That works every time.

Just in from of their nose is another spot where they cannot see us.  It is possible to surprise a horse if you come up on them and pop your hand up in front of their face.  For them your hand comes out of nowhere!  Make sure you have their attention by touching their neck first and by speaking to them.

We have all heard to not stand behind a horse or pony.  Most people do not realize it is because they don’t know we are there as they cannot see just behind their tail.  Some folks think they don’t like us there.  That is MOSTLY untrue.  No horse responds well to surprises and their response is to protect themselves.  That’s just their natural self-preservation instinct.  Just keep your hand on them and speak to them so they don’t forget you are there.

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So this is just a little basic info to help you begin to understand how the horses see their world and us in it.  We will delve into more medical info down the line.