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.



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!!



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.


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.


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.



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!!




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!!

Ingrid D  033-Saddle-Club-Rina

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!!

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


Malcolm sharing his Holiday Thoughts!!

Happy Holidays to ALL!!

Behind the Bridle: Bandit

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!”

Bandit Rina1
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.”


horse vision1

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.


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.


Beyond the Bridle: Meet Munchkin

She is a Diamond!

There is no doubt she is an absolute gem!!  Munchkin is one of those great school horses that goes along doing her job without much muss or fuss.  She came to us in 2010 and is about 16 years old.  She stands about 13 hands high and she is a Strawberry  Roan Pony.

munchkin zoe2

She can be used in lower level classes as she is patient most of the time, remember she is a petite mare, but she excels in the higher level classes as she loves to jump.  Zoe Purser has been in love with this little gal for quite a while.  They have been showing for the last few years in both In-House shows and local Hunter/Jumper shows and in area Dressage competitions to include the PVDA Young Riders Summer Series.  Munchkin is always in the ribbons!!


Zoe shares a funny story about Munchkin from the PVDA Young Riders Series from last summer.  “Munch and I were at Young Riders, a 3 Day dressage competition in Virginia. We arrived a day before the first day of competition, June 15th. We unloaded, decorated, and let all the horses settle into their temporary stalls. Shortly after that, we all tacked and went out for a schooling ride so the horses could stretch their legs and get used to the new area. We had a great schooling ride, and when we came back to the barn, Munchkin decided she was hungry. When we walked into one of the side doors of the barn, she locked her eyes on a hay bale from a barn that WASN’T ours. I was leading her in, and out of no where, she snaps down and takes a big bite out of the hay! The hay was still tied so she threw it up, smacked me in the side with it, and shook it around to get some loose. I wobbled but luckily didn’t fall, or she would have been in loads of trouble!”

Zoe and Munchkin had a wonderful competition but you aren’t done til you have made it home.  Zoe’s story was not over…

“Then on the way back 2 days later, we got a flat tire on the truck. We pulled into a 7-11 to see what was wrong, so we all peeked in the trailer to check on our horses. When I look in, I see that Munch’s lead rope was no longer tied to the twine, it was dangling off of it, the knot I tied no where to be found. Roxi had untied her! She is an incredibly smart and funny horse, and she’s so so special.”

What a pair!!  And…Munchkin looks great in pink!!

If you are assigned Munchkin you are in for an excellent time and it means you are making great progress!!

munchkin zoe3

What a sweet, talented gal!!

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!

Annual Barn Decorating & Santa Party 2017

IMG_0706What a festive get-together at the Barn for Everyone!

We are so glad everyone could join us for our Holiday Party last night!  It was a beautiful evening with cold temperatures and a little dusting of snow still on the ground.  Felt like Christmastime!

The barn is now totally decked out for the holidays thanks to our enthusiastic students with the help of their parents…as needed!






Ashleys Jr. Show Team put on a beautiful Holiday Drill performance.  Well done to all our riders!  It was spectacular!!




Then it was time for refreshments and Santa made his annual appearance!



It was a wonderful night and everyone at Woodland Horse Center wishes you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season full of love!!




Oh, What a Time We Had!!

Our Annual Holiday Staff Party was last night!!

We had a grand time and big thanks to Katy, Ashley, Sam and Richard for turning our lounge into a very festive place.  So Christmas-y and smelled good too!  The food was delicious and plentiful for all us hard-working folks.


After dinner Katy had some wonderful words to share about her staff.  Big props to a great crew of people working in the same direction with our students and horses always coming first.  Thanks Katy!!

Then the Shenanigans began…

Like any Holiday Party there are games!  The first was a game by Ashley.  We were to draw a Christmas scene on a paper plate…held on top of your head!  Hysterical results and our winner was Jessica!

Then we had our Ugly Christmas Sweater contest with Ashley bringing home the prize!


Next was guess the number of horse treats in the large and heavy container…Jessica wins again!!

For those who have been playing the “Name the Flavor” French Meringues Game with Karen on Facebook, we had a mystery flavor contest.  Everyone tried the mystery meringue and put in their guess.  The winner was Kat and the flavor was Champagne!!  Kat won a basket of all twelve flavors Karen made for the holiday party as take home presents!


And then the Musical Chairs!!  Oh my…what a friendly but competitive gang!  So much fun to watch everyone’s “technique!  Check out the video that I will put on our Facebook page here in a minute.  We had two rounds.  Round One was won by Julie and Round Two was won by Elsa!  Well done and no injuries!!


It was a delightful night spending time with a great bunch of people!! XO!!

Here are some pics from our Holiday Photo Booth.

Mike and Sam
Kat, Karen & Ashley
Ashley, Liza, Erica & Cara
Kat, Liza, Erica (I think), Ashley, Karen & Cara
Ashley & Katy
Elissa & Julie

We wish you ALL a very happy Holiday Season full of great friends, delicious food and wonderful times!!