Frog : The areas in which the horse is most sensitive are….

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CONTENTS Chapter 1: Understanding The Horse Behavior Patterns Senses Communication Chapter 2: Tack and Equipment Bridles Saddles Artificial Aids Other Equipment Horse Packing Care of Equipment Clothing Chapter 3: Handling The Horse At Halter Foot Handling & Care Trailering Chapter 4: Horsemanship Basics Saddling & Bridling Mounting & Dismounting The Aids Holding The Reins Seat & Position Basic Reining Leads & Pivots Transitions Pleasure Trail Riding Chapter 5: In The Show Ring Ring Generalship Showmanship Classes Equitation/Horsemanship Trail Class Games Chapter 6: Training: Ground Work Halter Breaking Whoa, Back, Pivot Lunging Bridling and Bitting Ground Driving Chapter 7: Training: Early Saddle Work Mounting Bending & Flexing Backing The Stop Gaits Chapter 8: Training: Advanced Movements Collection Lead Changes Side Pass Two Tracking Extended Gaits Sliding Stop Rollbacks This manual is intended for use by all 4-H Horse Project members, from beginner to experienced, and for all phases of the project.

The hope is that it will cover some areas of horsemanship and training not included in the other 4-H material available.

It should be used in conjunction with the National 4-H booklets, Horses and Horsemanship and Horse Science.

For additional information refer to books such as The Horse (Evans, et al) and Horses and Horsemanship (Ensminger), and the Horse Training Program Videos-Parts 1 & 2 (available in the Minnesota 4-H Horse Program Library.

This manual may be copied and distributed for educational purposes at a cost not to exceed reasonable cost of production.

This manual was authored by Rae Ann Bartz, Barb Jurgens, Laurie Ann Nelson, and Lynn Watland, horse project volunteer leaders.

This manual was reviewed and approved by Extension Educators Nico Cantalupe and Tina Hostager, and Office of Youth Development Staff Brad Rugg. Chapter One Understanding Your Horse Understanding the reasons why a horse behaves as it does goes a long way to becoming a better horseman and to improving your horse’s ability to perform the actions you ask of him.

Behavior patterns convey messages to other horses and to the handlers.

BEHAVIOR PATTERNS Protective Behavior–This includes all the ways horses react to predators and the environment.

Horses naturally respond in flight or running away when threatened.

To the horse something on its back is a predator trying to kill him.

So he reacts by bucking.

The horse also responds to the weather by seeking shelter, turning his tail toward the wind, standing in the sun to warm up, or seeking a breezy hilltop.

Ingestive Behavior–This is how a horse responds to food and water.

Because of the horse’s digestive system, he must take in small amounts of food at a time and eat frequently.

The horse is naturally a grazing animal, preferring open areas and young tender grasses.

Eliminative Behavior–The horse tends to deposit its urine and feces in certain areas and graze in other areas.

He also prefers not to urinate or defecate while walking.

Almost all horses will defecate when approaching a trailer or immediately on entering it.

Sexual Behavior–This involves courtship and mating and affects stallions, mares and geldings.

The mare’s behavior and personality change during estrus (heat).

Geldings may still be possessive of mares as a stallion would.

Keep the sexes separate if possible.

Care-Giving/Seeking Behavior–This is usually the behavior between the mare and foal.

An example is imprinting, where the foal at birth identifies with its mother.

The mother wants to 1 stay close to the foal and whinnies when separated.

Another type of Care Behavior occurs among other horses, such as standing head to tail to fight off flies or scratch each other on neck or back.combat Behavior (Agonistic)–Associated with fighting, aggression, submission, and attempts to escape.

This is also related to the “pecking order” in a group of horses, where one is dominant over others in the group.

Some examples are kicking, biting, and striking.

Gregarious Behavior (Mimicry)–Tendency to copy or mimic another member of the herd.

Examples are following the herd in the pasture, being hard to catch, learning cribbing or wood chewing from the horse in the next stall.

Investigative Behavior–This involves the way horses inspect their environment, especially new surroundings or objects.

They look at, smell, touch, listen, and sometimes run away.

These reactions must be considered when training or when riding in new areas.


The eyes and ears almost always work together and therefore provide an excellent indicator of where a horse is looking.

If the ears point straight ahead, the horse is looking straight ahead.

A wildly active ear can indicate blindness. Touch.

The areas in which the horse is most sensitive are the nose, eyes, ears, legs, flank, withers, and the frog.

Touch is the most important sense in riding and training.

The rider touches through the horse’s mouth, neck, and ribs as they cue the horse.

He can communicate his directions or cues as well as his emotions-tension or calmness, excitement, and doubt or loss of confidence.


Be aware of where and how a horse sees.

Many horses with shying, head tossing, and general confidence problems can be cured by education through vision.

Try to see yourself as the horse sees you.

This will help you avoid any training inconsistencies.

The amount of forward vision is related to the degree of trainability.

A horse with “pig eyes” (small eyes set too far to side of horse) or a Roman-nosed horse (face is convex, rather than straight or dished) cannot see in front of him as well.

The horse has monocular vision, which means that he can see separate objects with each eye at the same time.

This increases his side vision, but makes it harder for him to judge depth.

When the horse looks at one object, farther than four feet away, with both eyes he is using binocular vision.

The headset of the horse also determines what he is able to see in front of him.

His conformation influences this headset. The horse with a perpendicular headset can see the ground in front of him.

This enables him to see where he is placing his feet at a walk, trot, or lope.

At a gallop he can see farther ahead of him by extending his nose outward.


The horse uses smell to identify each other, to recognize humans, to detect a mare in heat, and to avoid certain feeds or feed additives.comMUNICATION Vocal Signals Snort–A warning signal to alert a group of horses to danger.

Neigh or Whinny–Distress call, expressing concern, anxiety, terror, being alone.

Nicker–A greeting for other horses, animal friends, the barn or people.

Squeal–This fighting means anger, usually when Stallion Call–A challenge, warning, or mating call that is loud and shrill.

The high-headed horse cannot see the ground, which makes it dangerous to ride Mare Talk–Soft nickers to the foal. 2 Visual Signals Ears and Eyes–These can indicate what the mood of the horse is.

An angry horse lays its ears back flat.

A sleepy horse’s ears are relaxed back and its eyes are partly closed.

An interested horse’s ears are pricked forward.

A watchful horse has one eye and ear forward and the other back.

A horse may have his ears back with his attention focused on the rider or something behind him Not Focused Backwards Split Attention—One On Rider, One On What’s Ahead Tail–This can also indicate the mood of the horse.

A tail held high indicates the horse is feeling good.

When tucked between the legs, the horse is afraid or ready to kick.

Tail switching indicates irritation.

Nostrils–When the horse is excited frightened, the nostrils are flared out.

Or — Picking Up The Front Foot For the hind foot (left), stand forward of the hindquarters, holding the lead rope in your left hand (if alone).

With your left hand on the point of his hip, slide your right hand down the back side of the cannon bone of the left leg.

Cradle the leg with your hand, just above the fetlock and lift it under the horse’s body.

When the horse relaxes, move toward the rear, standing close to the horse and being careful not to pull the leg out to the side.

Place the foot on your left knee. Cross Tying (From Grooming To Win by Susan Harris, c1977) 18 Picking Up The Hind Foot Routine Foot Care The horse’s feet should be cleaned daily.

Use a hoof pick to remove manure and dirt.

Pick in a downward direction away from the frog and towards the toe.

This will prevent the pick from getting caught in the commissures if the horse jerks his foot away from your grip. During the trip, provide hay.

This helps keep the bowels working.

Do not feed concentrates during the trip.

Frequently give the horse as much water as he will drink.

Some horses refuse to drink water from a different location because it tastes different.

A tiny bit of molasses may be added to the water, beginning a week before transporting, continuing while away from home.

Some have used unsweetened Kool-Aid with success.

Electrolytes may be needed for long trips.

The horse’s legs may be bandaged to prevent injury to the ankles and tendons.

Use quilted pads (held in place with track bandages) or shipping boots.

Some horses travel better without boots or bandages.

Pack tools (hammer, nails, pliers, flashlight, fire extinguisher, fork, broom), wheel jack & spare tire, extra halter & lead, first aid supplies and medications.

Check your trailer brakes, lights, hitch before each trip.

Check the wheel bearings yearly.

Teaching Your Horse To Load The most important thing to remember is to give the horse plenty of time to get used to the trailer.

Once you have begun the process of getting him into the trailer, don’t give up until you have succeeded.

If you give up, the horse learns that resistance works for him.

Make sure your trailer is safe.

Open the front escape door.

Do not force him into the trailer.

Ask him to approach it by leading him, allowing him to look at it and smell.

Then step into the trailer yourself, but allowing him to back off if he shows signs of fear.

Be sure to move over to one side of the trailer, not standing directly in front of the horse.

Reassure him and ask him to step in by leading him, again allowing him to back off if he resists.

Keep asking him to step in, even if he only puts one foot in.

Keep calm and don’t make sudden movements.

Don’t jerk or pull hard on the lead rope.

This encourages the horse to throw his head with the danger of hitting the top of the trailer.

If he still resists, have an assistant help you by coming beside the horse, clucking, and trying to keep him from shifting.

A second assistant 19 Clean the area around the frog and watch for signs of thrush (dampness and a dark, smelly discharge oozing from the frog).

Clean the sole and watch for bruises, rocks or nails.

Consult a veterinarian if you find any of these problems. TRAILERING The following things should be done before transporting your horse: Provide good footing—use mats or straw.

Clean the floor often to remove manure.

Make sure there are no nails or other dangers inside the trailer.

Provide good footing outside the trailer.

Don’t load in an icy area, or on concrete.

The sides of the stalls may be padded for extra protection.

Provide good, draft-free ventilation.

Teach your horse to load.

Make sure you have health information, Coggins Test certificate, and ownership papers.

Feed the horse lightly before and after the trip. can be used to keep the horse straight.

If all else fails, try tapping with a whip against the horse’s hind legs.

A butt rope can also be used to pull the horse in.

Once he is in the trailer, fasten the bar or rope behind the rump immediately.

The handler should tie the horse and exit by the escape door.

The tie should be short enough so the horse can’t turn around or get his legs tangled in the rope or in the manger.

It shouldn’t be so short that he can’t move his head.

There should be hay or a small amount of grain in the front as a reward for him entering.

Don’t make him stay very long in the trailer the first few times.

Reassure him by talking gently to him, petting him.

When ready to unload him UNTIE HIM FIRST, then detach the rope or bar across the rump.

Then back him out, walk him around, and ask him to enter the trailer again.

Teach your horse to back out of the trailer one step at a time, waiting for a cue from you for each step.

If your horse refuses to back, you may have to attach long lines to the halter and repeatedly pull and release the lines to get him to back straight out.

Training you horse to accept trailering will take time and should be started long before the day you plan on transporting your horse. 20 Chapter 4 Horsemanship Basics In this chapter there are many tools and techniques to improve your horsemanship skills.

It is important to remember that your most important tool is your mental preparation and confidence.

An alert, yet relaxed rider is better prepared to handle any situation that arises.

Learning the techniques and skills gives you the confidence necessary to be prepared and alert as you ride.

The horse should be taught to accept handling, saddling, or mounting from either side.

Pick up the saddle so that the fork (pommel) is in your left hand.

You will usually saddle the horse from its left side, so lay the cinch, or cinches, over the seat and hook the right stirrup over the saddle horn.

This prevents you from tripping and keeps them from hitting the horse’s side as the saddle comes down on its back, which could scare the horse and cause it to jump into you.

Never approach the horse carrying a saddle with a dragging cinch, as you could step on it and fall under the horse.

Also be sure there is nothing between you and the horse that you could trip on as you carry the saddle.

Raise the saddle as high as you can and set it down gently on the horse’s back.

This helps prevent back soreness and helps assure the horse that the saddling experience is nothing to fear.

Throwing the saddle onto the horse’s back can cause bruising and may aggravate any existing back problems.

Place the saddle so that at least an inch of blanket lies in front of it.

Placing it too far up on the blanket could cause the blanket to work its way backward on the horse as you ride.

Do not place the saddle too far forward, which restricts shoulder movement and causes discomfort, or too far back, which can cause kidney damage and sore backs.

Move to the opposite side by walking behind the horse, either by keeping a hand on the horse and walking as close as possible, or by keeping a distance of several feet to ensure that you are out of kicking range.

Talk to your horse frequently, especially when changing sides or starting something new.

This ensures that the horse is aware of your presence and it helps to calm a nervous horse.

Let the cinch and stirrup down, making sure they do not slam down on the horse’s side.

Never release the cinch and stirrup by pushing them over the saddle from the left side.

This could hurt or startle the horse. SADDLING When preparing to saddle your horse, make sure you do not lay the saddle on the ground where the horse could step on it.

Set the saddle on a saw horse or stand made for that purpose.

Before saddling, groom your horse thoroughly.

Be sure there are no sores on its back or in the cinch area, as this could cause the horse to wring its tail or buck.

If there are saddle sores, consider using extra padding or a girth pad, or give the horse time off until the sores heal.

Also check your blanket for foreign objects or dirt buildup, and be sure that the blanket is dry.

Place the blanket well forward and pull it back toward the rear of the horse until the front rests at the withers.

This pulls the hair backward in the direction it should lay.

Never pull a blanket forward, as it will reverse the direction of the hair and cause discomfort.

Make sure there are no wrinkles, and be sure the blanket offers adequate padding for the horse.

Some horses require more padding than others and some may require extra padding at their withers to prevent binding the shoulders.

Also make sure that the saddle cinch/girth is clean, as dirty cinches can cause saddle sores.

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