Category Archives: Breeds

Arabian gelding has serious anxiety issues

Question: I have a 10 year old arab that I’ve switched from the Arab circuit to eventing. I bought him as a 5 yr old and did Arab shows for a couple years. He’s a gorgeous horse and an amazing mover, but has a really hard time keeping himself under control. He is always a happy horse, with ears pinned forward. My problem with him is when we get to shows he gets so excited that he literally can’t contain himself. He ends up rearing/jumping/bucking nonstop. I’ve had a chiropractor out, a vet out, and he has no issues with back or saddle fitting. If I take him to school at a place, he’s a pretty good boy. He just really feeds off the commotion of the show. Eventing has been better, he loves to jump and does great on cross country and stadium. But dressage is the first phase and he usually rears and leaps through our test. I’ve tried lunging him for an hour before, and he just gets more excited. We generally get there the night before and that hasn’t made a difference either.
If you have any suggestions on how to get him to calm down, please let me know!!!! He has amazing talent, but he is just like a child with ADHD.
Thanks! Stefanie

Answer from April Reeves: Arabians are one of my favorite breeds: they are highly sensitive and intelligent, and learn fast. And they’re just incredibly beautiful as well.

They also can get a little out of control, which always brings me back to groundwork. An Arabian can never have enough groundwork. It’s great for their minds and they catch on to it faster than many breeds.

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My Percheron/Belgian cross has heavy feet. Any advice?

Question: I recently bought a 2 and a half year old gelding. His mother was Percheron and his father was a Belgian/1/4 horse cross. He is a big boy and his feet are humongous and very heavy. I can usually get him to lift his front ones but he still has issues with his balance, that just needs some work. My problem is his back feet, they are too heavy for me to lift. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

Answer from April Reeves: I’m going to give you 2 tricks I use to pick up feet. The first one is to pinch their chestnuts. This is irritating and almost every horse will lift that leg up very quickly, so be warned. Make sure you always catch the foot, and hold onto it especially if he puts up a struggle. If you drop the hoof it may hurt him, with will discourage him even more to pick up a foot. When you start to pinch don’t quit and start again. Keep it up until he responds.

The other trick is to put your fingers on both sides of his leg and as you move your hand down his leg, when you get just below the knee or hock, start to press in quite hard into the middle just behind the cannon bone. This forces blood down into the hoof quite quickly and becomes uncomfortable. They usually lift their leg with this technique. Once the horse gets this, they usually lift just by the feel of your hand start to slide down the leg.

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How do I feed my yearling Arabian filly correctly?

Question: I have a yearling Arabian filly that I want to feed correctly. I have gone through countless pages of books, online websites, and opinions from feed stores, friends, trainers, and breeders. EVERYONE is an ‘expert’ – no one has a consistent opinion and I’m getting frustrated.

What I DO know, is that she is doing really well on her Orchard/Alfalfa (30% alfalfa or less) and now that she’s a yearling I want to drop her protein from 16% to 14%. She gets 2 qt/day of the grain. She’s ok on the feed I was giving her, but I DON”T like how sweet it was. She has free access to the hay, and I want to put her on something that she will truly benefit from as far as her graining. I saw in another post your comments on Arabians and sweet feed and its effects on their coat and system.

What are your opinions on feeding the Growing Arabian Yearling? Do you think their tendency to take a little longer to mature physically should change the “regular” young horses diet? In what way?

Answer from April Reeves: When it comes to feeding first ask 2 things:

1. Are there foodstuffs in the product that a horse would not find in the wild (molasses, sugars, especially refined, corn, soy, oils)?

2. Do the feeds you purchase (concentrates) have studies done by the manufacturer themselves? Many companies are jumping on the ‘trends’ bandwagon, meaning they build what horse owners want. Problem is, not all horse owners have a clue as to what their horses actually ‘need’. We tend to overfeed our horses, pumping them with chemicals, diets and concentrates that they really don’t need and their liver and kidneys sure don’t! I’m always questioning the motives behind a feed company’s choice of ingredients. Many are in it for the quick dollar, not the simple science of the horse.

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Meredith Hodges: Is Your Mule Getting The Right Workout?

Meredith2MulesTraining Mules & Donkeys Looks at Athletic Conditioning

Is Your Equine Getting the Right Workout?
By Helen T. Hertz

Photos courtesy of Meredith Hodges

At a recent training clinic hosted at Meredith Hodges’ Lucky Three Ranch in Loveland, Colo., Meredith and her good friend Joanne Lang, an animal massage therapist and rehabilitation expert, held a special session on athletic conditioning. Their subjects were two of Meredith’s molly mules, April and Vicki. April was born at Lucky Three and has enjoyed the benefit of Meredith’s training and maintenance program her whole life. Her superior physical conditioning and steady temperament are evidence of her meticulous upbringing.

Vicki was also born at the ranch but, at a young age, was sold. For several years she was left alone in a pasture, neglected to the point that her halter had actually begun to grow into her face. About two years ago Vicki was purchased and brought back to Lucky Three.

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My horse keeps needing harsher bits and hackamores. Help!

5-ring-bit

This bit, in the wrong hands, is abuse

Question: Hello I have an 8 yr. old reg. quarter horse and he is the most wonderful, trustworthy horse ever!. But the problem is throughout training  him (since he was 2) I have had problems with his listening to a bit or hackamore. I have everything from a snaffle to a severe curve bit. Same for the hack – I have a hack that has a metal band and a snaffle bit on it and he does listen but I hate it! I feel like it is abuse :(. Im at my wits-end its to the point that I don’t want to ride him sometimes and will pick one of our other horses. I need some new advice if you could help me I would love it. Thank-you

Answer from April Reeves, Horseman’s U.com: You have good gut instincts, as the harder the bit, the tougher the horse is going to be, and some of the equipment you have is abusive, even in light hands. There are very few harsher bits that have any purpose being near a horse, and they must have some result that is acquired without heavy handling.

Horses that do not respond to tougher bits and equipment are not bad or insensitive. They are a result of improper training.

Problem is, humans resort to harder bits because they don’t want to take the time to train the horse properly. The horse just gets use to the pain and pressure, which causes the bit to stop working, so the human seeks a harder bit, and so the evil process proliferates. Some humans don’t care about the horse’s well being either. This is life.

Whenever you get a tough mouthed horse, lower the harshness on the bit – find the softest one on the market and use it. Why? Horses will fight pain. They will become resistant and irritated, and that always plays out in “bad” behavior (human’s interpretation). The behavior is not bad to the horse: he’s just trying to protect himself. When you take the pain away, you give the horse a chance to work for you. A happy horse free of pain is a horse that will work harder, learn faster and bond with you better.

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My Thoroughbred cross is suddenly behaving badly!

Horse BuckingQuestion: I bought a 4yr old tbx gelding 3 months ago and am concerned by his behavior. He was initially very stubborn to lunge (he would rear and refuse to go out on a circle) but I managed to get him going well within a week or two. He was very friendly and easy to handle on the ground. Then I began to ride him (he was only backed at this point). He has been riding really well and learning quickly. I’ve been careful to praise him a lot and have not had much need to scold him. Then suddenly he changed. I rode him and he refused to go forwards, instead cowkicking and bucking whenever I put my leg on. He’s also started to kick out violently when asked to move over in his stable! Out of the stable, he will move over fine! The only changes I have made are bringing him in overnight and feeding him! please help! Im scared of my 17hh youngster!

Answer from April Reeves, Horseman’s U.com: I’ll be honest: this is a problem for a professional that is not scared. From here, it will take a very firm hand, and a very brave heart.

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Am I on the right track training a dangerous, rearing horse?

Rearing horse won't go forwardQuestion: Hi there like you I have a reputation for riding and re-training horses that are deemed dangerous untrainable or non ridable however I have just bought a lovely ex-racehorse who is terrified of life. He has been completely checked over from head to toe and there is nothing physically wrong with him however he trembles if he sees his tack, rears when being bridled and has progressed to rearing and going over with his current rider. I am bringing him home tomorrow and plan on riding him as he was great when I tried him out. He did try to rear but got a good boot and a slap on the bum with my stick and sent fowards and then he went lovely.

I believe he just needs a firm hand but am concerned for his well-being mentally as his tack terrifies him and his rearing has already broken bones of his previous rider.

It would be great if you could give me your insight as to the possible cause of his fears and how you would rectify the situation.

He will not be sold on as I believe he has had a rough enough life, so I expect him to work, and after an initial tantrum was a well behaved, well balanced horse. Thanks for your time.

Answer from April Reeves, Horseman’s U.com: When you get a horse like this, unless you dig and ask questions you will never know the history that made the horse what he is today. On the other hand, does it matter?
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