Author: Gabriella Lowe

Buyer’s Guide: Different Types of Horse Saddles

For the most comfortable ride on a horse you need the right saddle to sit on. The saddle goes over the horses back and distributes your weight. Having it fitted properly on your horse is essential for both horse and riders sake.

There are a number of different saddles you can buy that are designed for specific purposes. Generally there are the English Riding and Western saddles. The objective when determining what to buy is to decide what you want it for, An example of your choices include pleasure riding, jumping or dressage. That way you already narrow your choice down to your purpose.

Before buying your saddle make sure that you are able to return it if it does not fit your horse. The best way to ensure it fits properly is to have it fitted by a saddle maker or saddle fitter. However there are some rules of thumb techniques you can use if there is no one available to help you.

You can measure the width of your horses back and the width of the inside/underneath of the saddle. Make sure that between the pummel of the saddle and the top of the horses shoulder (wither) you can place three fingers. So it is not just as simple as getting measurements, the real test is putting the saddle on the horse.

When it is properly fitted it will allow the horse to move freely with no strain or restriction. Minor fitting problems can be helped with the use of a pad or blanket. This type of padding will not correct or compensate for a poor-fitting saddle so take your time and get it right.

It is important that it fits and is comfortable for both horse and rider. A saddle that fits improperly can put pressure on incorrect points on the horse, resulting in pain for the horse.

Saddle sores can result and as a consequence your horse will strongly object to having it put on. There is also a risk to the rider as some horses have been known to buck off the rider due to pain caused by an improperly fitted saddle.

All saddles need to be kept clean and dry. Store it under cover, away from weather and dust. Regular use over time will give way to wear and tear, you should recheck your saddle for a proper fit every couple of years.

You can also have some padding added, not to mention the fact that your horse will develop and change over the years therefore minor adjustments should be made. With proper care and handling your saddle will last a long time.

Categories: Equipment

Buyer’s Guide: Different Types of Horse Bridles

Bridles are used for riding and driving horses (pulling a wagon or cart) and allow the rider to communicate with the horse. Depending on your style of riding you can purchase an English or Western Bridle. You certainly want to buy a bridle that fits your horse properly.

English Bridles have a noseband (leather strap that buckles around the nose of the horse,) these reins are then buckled to one another at the ends. Western Bridles generally have no noseband and the reins are “split”, they do not buckle at the end. Western Bridles are usually decorative with features on the leather and they can also be adorned with silver.

Double bridles are used for English Riding in the dressage discipline and use two bits in the mouth at once, a snaffle bit and a curb bit. The two bits allow the rider to have very precise control of the horse and are usually seen in top levels of dressage.

Effective riding occurs when the horse receives commands through the reins. Pulling on the reins can be used to steer or stop the horse. If you have done your homework and learned how to ride, you should not need to yank on the bridle. You must remember that your horse’s mouth is sensitive and you could hurt him if you yank too hard which could cause your horse to act out and resist the bridle.

A bridle that does not fit correctly could also hurt the horse. Leather straps could chafe and the mouth could be pinched by the bit. If you do not know how to fit a bridle correctly, ask your instructors, a knowledgeable horse person and even the sales clerk at the tack shop could help you.

It is always a good idea to start off using the gentlest type of tack possible, such as a cavesson noseband and snaffle bit for English riding. If you have difficulty knowing what would work best for your horse, find out if you could try out different styles, even borrow a bit.

There are a number of different bits and nosebands which give you more control; however they are more severe on the horse. If you are not an experienced horse person

always consult a horse trainer before buying a different bit or noseband for your bridle.

The cost of bridles can vary considerably. You can visit your local tack store to look at the styles and types. Tack stores often have used tack for sale which is also an option. Keep in mind that you really need to buy a quality bridle. Bridles made of cheap leather or a second hand bridle with a lot of wear and tear is easy to break.

You can buy a bridle at your local feed and tack shop. You could take a look locally and then shop and compare prices online too. Used bridles can also be found in your local newspaper under the classified ads.

Categories: Equipment

The Personality of Popular Horse Saddles

Horse Saddle – I am the lovely piece of work placed on the back of horses for riders to sit upon. I ensure stability for both riders and horses, and distribute the weight of riders evenly. I come in several forms, numerous enough to make your head spin. My variations are shaped in regard to location [e.g English, Australian, Western, German etc], tree type [e.g Wade, flex Tree, treeless etc], production technique [handmade custom or manufactured], material [Leather or synthetic], activity [parading, roping, show, endurance, racing, trail, reining etc] and several others.

English Saddle – I am the saddle used to ride horses in “English riding” disciplines world wide. Though with an English background, I am not limited in use by English speaking countries or in England alone. I have features that make me unique and stand out as envy in the equestrian world. My Stirrups can be detached from the saddle [in case of an emergency]. I have a piece of equipment known as a girth, which is used to keep me in place on a horse. It passes under the barrel of the equine, usually attached to me on both sides by two or three leather straps called billets. My rare end has a subtle and not-too-obvious feature known as the Cantle [or Seat]: This is used to provide greater comfort and security to riders. I generally cover a small surface area compared to others, yet have proven to be more effective with simplicity. Much of the weight bearing area in me is supported by a large internal flocking inside the panels.

Australian Saddle – I am the saddle used for activities requiring long hours on the horse. I came as a variation of the English saddle eons ago, but have soon developed my own uniqueness as time went by. I have a distinct feature known as the Knee pad [aka ‘poleys’] to provide security for riders who ride in rough conditions & spend long hours on horses. The ‘poleys’ are usually located around riders thighs in front of the saddle. I was designed to cater for conditions ranging from soothing to rigid. My seats are deeper than the typical English saddle and my Cantle higher. I am kept on with a girth attached to the billets under the flaps.

Western Saddle – I am the saddle used for Western Riding in the United States of America, mainly in the ‘western’ part. I am often tagged with the ‘cowboy’ name. I was designed to provide both security & comfort to riders and their horses, traveling long hours in harsh environment. I fancy being flashy and different. I tend not to like ’simplicity’ because I pride myself at being unique and robust. I don’t call my girths ‘girths’ [you bet] but cinch. My Stirrups cannot be detached from me in an emergency, but instead I have a wider tread; combined with the rider’s high-heeled boots- this design minimizes the risk that the rider will slip through the stirrups during a fall, and the rider being dragged. My Cantle is one of the most revealing of all horse saddles, providing greater comfort and security. I cover a wider surface area than the Typical English or Australian saddle. My cinch is tied on with a flat strap of leather or nylon known as the latigo. I have no padding between the tree and the external leather and fleece skirting… Okay, okay, it seems I brag a lot, but really, I’m truly unique because I am the most ‘modified’ and thoroughly customized to suit riders tastes. And I am often used for ’show’ purposes. Yeah, I show-off a lot! But there are no ‘best’ saddles anywhere, only suitable and familiar ones.

Horse – I am the tamed animal Humans ride upon. I know not of western, English, Australian, Portuguese, German or even youth saddles. I only know it when my back hurts if the seating equipment placed on it pokes my spine or is not properly fitted- I ‘neighhhhhhh’ at the rider, indicating pain and discomfort- and I know when it does not. I love humans, and would give my full agility and beauty to the ones who seat on me properly.

Categories: Equipment

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in North Dakota, is a must-visit destination for horse lovers. These animals represent a huge attraction for many of the park’s visitors. The feral horses here do not fall under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, but are instead managed by existing park regulations. For many years, the National Park Service attempted to remove all horses from the park, but the policy was reversed in 1970 when the horse was recognized as part of the historical setting.

The park is home to numerous bands, or groups, of horses, representing the experience Theodore Roosevelt may have had during the open range ranching era. The feral horses are preserved as a cultural resource. During the summer months, the horses may be seen grazing throughout the park. They are most often seen along the park boundary from Interstate 94. They can also be seen from high points, such as the Painted Canyon Overlook and Buck Hill. While there are no official horse tours operating inside the park, visitors are likely to see bands while hiking and exploring.

The feral horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park move in bands of 5-15 animals. Each group has an established social hierarchy. Once formed, the social group will remain remarkably stable and often range within an established territory. Foals are born in the spring after an 11-month gestation period. Horse numbers have been historically managed at the park through periodic roundups. Removed horses are sold at public auction. However, the park is exploring alternative methods for herd management, including contraceptives, low-stress livestock herding, corral trapping, an adoption program, and various genetics research.

The Park advises visitors to exercise extreme caution while attempting to observe feral horses closely. Binoculars are advised for optimal viewing. Horses have a very acute sense of smell, hearing, and sight, and they are extremely wary of humans. Visitors are prohibited from feeding, chasing, harassing, and otherwise approaching the horses.

 

Categories: Vacation Spots

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, Wyoming

The Cowboy State has vast valleys, snow-capped mountains, and more than its share of feral horse populations. If you’re in search of an adventure-filled but horse-oriented Montana vacation, head to Lovell, Wyoming, home to the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center. This organization is dedicated to preserving the future of the wild horses of the Pyror Mountains. These animals continue to roam freely in the Pryor Mountains just outside of Lovell, and they’ve been in the area for nearly 200 years.

The Pryor Mountain horses are special for several reasons. They’re stunning, there are a lot of them, and they have a unique history. The herd has a Colonial Spanish American heritage; they were derived from the horses of Portugal and Spain. If lost in any capacity, the herd cannot be restored. Its biological viability and history must be preserved—this is the mission of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center.

Visitors to the Wild Mustang Center have the opportunity to learn about the herd’s history and geographical significance. Visitors are educated to learn about the dynamics of a mustang herd, the social interactions within individual bands, and the mustang’s place alongside other wild species in the area. You will be able to view the mustangs in-person while learning about how the National Park Service works to preserve and promote a genetically viable herd of horses.

Tour season begins in May and runs through October. A full day trip begins at the Mustang Center and includes travel to the base of the Pyror Mountains. The views are nearly as spectacular as the horses, presenting a unique hiking trip horse lovers will never forget. Mustangs are likely visible for the duration of the tour, and it is recommended that participants be comfortable with hiking and high altitudes.

 

Categories: Vacation Spots

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: Oatman, Arizona

Oatman, Arizona is a town in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona. The compound began as a small mining camp during the gold rush. In 1915, two prospectors found over $10 million in gold; in the months following this discovery, Oatman’s population swelled to more than 3,500 people (up from just a couple dozen). In recent years, the town has experienced a tourism renaissance; laying close to Route 66, road tripping visitors stop in the tiny town to see the old buildings, gorgeous mountains, and the famous wild burros.

The wild burros of Oatman are descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors. Each morning, they wander into town looking for food. These burros roam freely through the streets of Oatman, feeding on treats provided by tourists. The burros are gentle, but wild—signs posted throughout the town advise visitors to exercise caution. However, tourists are welcome to approach, pet, and feed the burros without fear of disciplinary action. Currently, the animals are protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Oatman offers more than the ability to pet wild burros. A standard weekend in this town can include anything from classic car rallies to staged “Wild West” shootouts. The town is fiercely proud of its Route 66 heritage, selling souvenirs for tourists passing through on their way west. The town has a high desert climate and is significantly cooler in both summer and winter than the surrounding area, making it an excellent place to stop and spend a few days.

 

 

Categories: Vacation Spots

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Sable Island is a small piece of land situated around 200 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The island was inhabited, originally by sealers, shipwreck survivors, and salvagers known as “wreckers.” To address the number of shipwrecks occurring in the area, the governor of Nova Scotia established several life-saving stations on the island in the early 19th century. Over the course of several years, a humanitarian settlement was established for rescued seamen and women. Uninhabited since the late 19th century, the island now serves as an important science research center. It also, coincidentally, is home to several hundred horses.

The Sable Island horse, also known as the Sable Island pony, is a small, feral horse found only on Sable Island. In 1960, the Canadian government approved legislation to protect these feral horses. In the decades since, noninvasive herd and genetic analyses have been conducted on the group of horses. Otherwise, the herd is unmanaged and not subjected to any kind of interference. These horses generally stand at around 55 inches tall and weigh around 800 pounds.

Visiting this island is notoriously difficult, but the payoff is immense. The island is protected and managed by Parks Canada, which must grant permission to anyone wanting to visit. In 2013, Sable Island became a National Park Reserve; visitors must observe utmost environmental respect. Though not particularly accessible (the island can only be reached by plane or ship), tour companies have begun taking visitors. The trips are expensive, but travelers are rewarded with unique views of plants, animals, and—of course—horses.

Categories: Vacation Spots

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: Outer Banks, North Carolina

North Carolina’s Outer Banks is a 200-mile-long string of barrier islands splitting the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. A popular tourist destination, the Outer Banks are known around the world for their strange subtropical climate and the wide expanse of open, available beachfront. Visitors have the opportunity to camp out, swim at leisure, and browse the shipwrecks just off the coast. However, the Outer Banks are known for more than the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” and ample beachfront opportunities—they’re also known for feral horses.

The horses living on these islands are sometimes called “banker ponies.” According to local legend, they are descended from Spanish Mustangs who washed ashore in one of the centuries-old shipwrecks. Visitors can spot populations of feral horses on Ocracoke Island, Shackleford Banks, Currituck Banks, and the Rachel Carson Estuarine Sanctuary.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the horse population on these subtropical islands grew enormously; thousands of feral horses ran free along the islands. However, the increase in nearby beach resort popularity has made a dramatic impact on their habitat. Many conservationists feat that the horses might vanish altogether. Due to high levels of inbreeding, the herds lack necessary genetic diversity. Unfortunately, the also impedes the horse population’s survival.

If, however, you travel to this part of the country to spot feral horses, take care to search primarily in wildlife sanctuaries; visitors are asked to stay at least fifty feet away from the horses. However, horses are occasionally spotted in areas with higher human traffic. They spend time digging for fresh water near saltwater cordgrass.

Categories: Vacation Spots

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area

Colorado has everything: hiking, skiing, fishing, kayaking, and—unbeknownst to many visitors—a massive feral horse population. Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area is one of the best spots to view these majestic creatures; the area’s 36,000 acres of plateaus and canyons are home to between 120 and 150 horses. Local legend has it that these horses carry the genetics of the native ponies owned by the Utes, who lived in the area.

The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area is managed for several uses, but feral horse conservation is a primary concern. The rugged landscape means that these horses are best accessed by bike, horseback, or the hiking trails winding throughout the area. For the best views, visit Indian Park and North Soda in the summer and Coal Canyon or Main Canyon in the winter.

The Little Book Cliffs wild horses boast a diversity of colors, band sizes, and ages. They include palominos, paints, grays, blacks, bays, sorrels, blue and red roans, and even a few appaloosas. Within the past few years, a curly was introduced to the herd and has since foaled. The incredibly photogenic herds are beloved by both locals and tourists. In fact, due to high public visitation, these feral horses are less skittish than others around the country.

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse area is just eight miles northeast of Grand Junction. The wild horse area is characterized by four major canyon systems. While here, do your best to spot elk, turkey, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, quail, rattlesnakes, snowshoe hare, mountain lion, bobcat, and bear.

Categories: Vacation Spots

Horse Travel Vacation Spots: The Virginia Range, Nevada

Nevada is home to nearly half of America’s free-roaming horse population. Though the state is expansive, many of these horses are part of the Virginia Range herd, which occupies a region in the western part of the state. This famous herd is often referred to as “Annie’s Horses,” after the decades-long crusade of “Wild Horse Annie,” or Velma Johnston. Johnston worked to protect free-roaming and feral horses across America, and she hailed from Nevada. These horses, allegedly, inspired her campaign.

Annie and these horses also inspired The Wild Horse Annie Act. Johnston became aware of the ruthless manner in which feral horses were rounded up in Nevada; ranchers, hunters, and “mustangers” were responsible for harvesting wild horses for commercial purposes, pointing up an important lapse in animals rights upholding. Johnston’s grassroots campaign, which primarily involved school children, worked to bring these topics into the public eye.

The campaign worked—the public became enraged by the issue—local and national newspapers published articles about the exploitation of the feral horses. Finally, in January of 1959, Nevada Congressman Walter Baring introduced a bill prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles to hunt wild horses and burros on public lands. The bill unanimously passed and became public law in September of 1959.

Visitors can see these magnificent horses by hiking the trails east of Reno. They gather around watering holes, so tread lightly near water. For more information about Wild Horse Annie and her spectacular mustangs, see the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros’ website. Travelers will delight in the hiking, beauty, and accessibility of this U.S. horse destination.

Categories: Vacation Spots