June 1989 Horse Science: Behavior and Nature of the Horse While the horse’s center of gravity is located about six inches behind the elbow, the center of motion, however, is located approximately over the 15th vertebra.
This bony structure is the most upright member of the spinal column and on a mature horse is about 10 inches back of the center of gravity.
The horse in motion goes with these two centers in their relative positions.
The position of the center of gravity, however, can be altered by the rider shifting his weight from side to side or front to rear.
The horse himself can even shift the center of gravity by raising, lowering or extending his head.
In contrast, the center of motion appears to be rather fixed.
A rider’s weight, positioned as nearly as possible over the center of motion, offers the greatest stability and interferes with motion the least.
Weight too far back lessens the horse’s propelling power. Page 6 to teach a horse a particular movement or response, the appropriate signal must first be given and then followed immediately with some stronger force or punishment which will result in the horse responding in the desired manner.
Once the horse has learned the lesson, the punishment must be stopped and not used again except as a necessary reminder.
Reversing the sequence of signal and punishment will only confuse the horse.
Horses are born with a certain amount of intelligence which must be developed by training and good habits.
What a horse knows he must be taught by man and, depending on training, this can either be good or bad.
The horse may shy at unfamiliar objects.
He may also shy at familiar objects not in their usual place.
Regardless, the horse must never be punished in such situations or due to his power of association he may develop the bad habit of shying at every strange object he sees.
With his attention focused on the unfamiliar object the horse, if he can think at all, blames the object for the punishment.
It is, therefore, better to let the horse study the object until he learns he will not get hurt and thereby gain confidence in the rider.
This may be a rather new idea to many present-day horsemen but the fact was observed by Xenophon, the Grecian soldier and scholar about 350 B.C. The Power of Association In the struggle to survive through the ages, the horse has learned to avoid or escape situations in which he might get hurt.
He has, therefore, developed a great power of association.
This is the basis of horse training.
To capitalize on the horse’s power of association, signals or cues and punishment in training must be in proper sequence.
For example, June 1989 Horse Science: Behavior and Nature of the Horse Page 7 NOTES June 1989 Horse Science: Determining the Age of a Horse by Its Teeth “How old is your horse, mister?” To such a 4-H question, the owner might answer full mouthed, smooth mouthed, he still has corner cups or I don’t know as he isn’t registered.
Such answers tend to confuse the youngster of the motor age, nor can he readily find these answers too easily until he questions the grandfather age group.
General features of horses which indicate advanced ages are grey hairs around the eyes and muzzle, deep depressions above the eyes, slender and hardened muzzles and loose heavy lips with a longer “grin” than younger horses.
But, these features are not accurate enough to estimate ages on younger horses.
Since the horse is most useful to us from 3 to 15 years of age, we need more accurate methods for age determination during this period.
The teeth of horses under 12 years old can be most closely identified with their approximate age.
In general, we must examine the incisor teeth for most accurate results.
Of course, the registered horse has a recorded birth date, but many horses are not so fortunate.
However, this technique is not foolproof as prolonged droughts, short grazing on sandy soils, cribbers, parrot mouths etc.
All tend to make the horse appear different than his actual age.
For instance, a horse at 7 years of age grazing in sandy country over a prolonged period might appear to be 8 or 9 by his teeth.
The technique of horse age determination is not new nor especially scientific as it has been passed down for many generations.
The basics for determining the age of horses by their teeth are rather simple and is not an art only to be guarded by the horse trader or veterinarian.
Age can best be estimated by examining the wear and slant of the incisor teeth. 1) Number and anatomy of teeth. Page 3
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