When tack hurts

When our horses start acting up when being ridden, our minds quickly think it’s some kind of internal pain or mental block that the horse is experiencing, resulting in out-of-the-norm behaviour. While it’s important not to ignore the possibility that that could very well be the case, we often overlook our horse’s tack. When tack hurts, it can easily impact ...

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Which is the most difficult Derby course in the world?

The Hamburg Derby is considered the most difficult in the world, and the original course was designed by Eduard Pulvermann, a hunt rider. He was never able to jump the dyke without incurring faults, hence its name, ‘Pulvermann’s Grave’. The course is reminiscent of old military tests, when cavalry horses were required to negotiate all types of obstacles as they ...

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Which was the first racehorse stud in South Africa and who started it?

The first Thoroughbreds were imported into South Africa in 1792 and informal races were held at Green Point, Cape Town from September 1797. The British governor of the colony, Lord Charles Somerset, imported a number of English stallions and mares in 1814 and encouraged other wealthy settlers to do the same. A government stud was established at that time. By ...

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Do horses really not have feeling in their mane?

It’s long been thought that horses don’t have nerve follicles at the roots of their manes, but a recent study has demonstrated an increase in the heart rate of horses having their manes pulled – a clear sign of stress. That said, some horses stand willingly while others show obvious signs of discomfort, such as tossing their heads and swishing ...

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What is the maximum weight that a recreational horse can carry?

Horses can carry between 12% and 20% of their body weight, but body weight is not the only factor that decides if it is justified to carry a certain amount of weight. You have to look at the muscles, build and breed of the horse in order to make a safe observation and conclusion. Is the back weak or strong? ...

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What does it mean if a rider has a hot seat?

A ‘hot seat’ is a pushy seat where the rider sits ‘on top’ of the horse, instead of ‘around’ the horse and ‘in’ the saddle. The cause of this problem could be a number of things and most often it can be traced back to the centre of the body: the buttocks, lower abdomen, lower back, pelvis and seat bones. ...

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What are signs that a horse is resisting the contact?

The most obvious sign that a horse has not accepted the contact is resistance. This can be displayed through snatching, falling behind, grabbing and hollowing. Snatching Horses usually snatch at the reins when you grip them too tightly. This can usually be fixed by gently sponging to encourage softness and suppleness. Don’t confuse this with sawing (pulling the bit from ...

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How can you teach a horse to be more reactive to the aids?

The principle of action is reaction. Horses naturally yield away from pressure. It is very helpful to teach the horse to move away from pressure, like in the washing place when you ask the horse to step aside. For example, when you place your hand on the hindquarters (action) and the horse steps aside to make room for you (reaction), ...

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When is a horse considered ‘on the bit?’

Riders in today’s age have lost sight of what it means for a horse to be ‘on the bit’. The expression has become associated with submission and obedience of the horse, and the aesthetic look of the horse with his head down and ‘in a frame’. Although we don’t know where the actual expression came from, being ‘on the bit’ ...

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How do I know when it’s time for my horse to retire?

Many horses retire due to an injury that dictates a poor or impossible working life post diagnosis. Leg injuries, back injuries and disease are the leading cause for working and competitive horses being retired. However, some horses tick on well into their golden years with no obvious signs of trouble – so how do we know when it’s time to ...

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