Haille Margarite offers riding lessons for a variety of disciplines.
- Western Pleasure
- Speed Events
Students ages 10 and up are welcome to sign up. Contact Haille today by clicking here or calling 209-604-0523 to be added to the schedule.
In the past, cowboy boots were made to keep cowboys protected when riding their horses and herding cattle. Because of western radio shows and cowboy movies, by the 1920s, western type boots became a fashion item. Cowboy boots are still popular today, and come in a variety of styles and colors. Understanding what to look for when selecting boots may help you find a pair that will bring your feet comfort rather than pinching your toes and producing blisters.
Step 1: Decide what you will be using your boots for. Western type boots fall in to 2 general categories – fashion and traditional.
- Select fashion cowboy boots if you desire boots that make a personal statement. Fashion boots cannot be used to ride a horse or rope a calf, but these western type boots may be used for dancing or worn at office jobs.
- Choose traditional western boots if you plan on using them to ride a horse or perform outside work, such as herding cattle or cutting trails.
Step 2:Shop for boots at a western store, farm supply outlet, shoe shop or online.
- When selecting boots, try them on and walk around in them before you make a decision.
- When shopping online, make sure the retailer has a refund policy, so that if the boots don’t fit, you can return them.
Step 3: Determine what type of material the boots are made from.
- When choosing cowboy boots, you should look for boots made with real leather that is soft and supple. Genuine leather may cost more, but will last longer.
- Cowboy boots made with crocodile skin, ostrich hide or snakeskin usually are high-end boots and may be expensive. These materials are soft and wear well, while adding style to the boot.
Step 4: Pick the length of the shaft. The shaft is the sleeve of the boot and may cover your ankle or extend to just below your kneecap. When selecting boots, shaft length is a personal choice. Traditionally, taller boots were worn so as to provide maximum protection from thorns, brush, etc., but shorter shafts are perfectly acceptable and are becoming more popular nowadays.
Step 5:Decide if you want a pointed, round or square toe.
- Toe shape is usually a personal choice. People with a wider foot may want to select a boot with a square toe for comfort.
- When choosing cowboy boots for riding, you need to find boots that will fit in the stirrup. Some stirrups have tapaderos, which protect the rider’s feet from brush, and you may require a pointy-toed boot when using tapaderos.
Step 6: Select the heel length. Western type boots come in a variety of heel lengths, including stilettos.
- Keep in mind what you will be using the boots for. If you plan on dancing, you want a boot with a shorter heel. If you’re riding, you may find that a higher heel is better for keeping your boot secure in the stirrup.
- When choosing cowboy boots for use with riding spurs, be sure to select boots that have the outer lip on the heel, which will prevent spurs from slipping off the boot.
Riders must learn to problem solve and make quick decisions from the back of the horse. For instance, if a horse is set on going one way and the rider wants to go the other, he/she has to determine how to make a 1,000-pound animal go the direction that the rider has chosen in a humane and safe way. The unexpected can happen and riders must think quickly in the saddle to remain safe and in control.
Horses are social creatures just like humans. Being able to communicate and interact with an animal has already been shown to have a positive effect on people, as has been experienced by those involved with therapeutic riding programs. As a past volunteer for therapeutic riding programs, I have seen children who would not talk much with people. But when they were around horses, they opened up and communication was not a problem. The children saw the therapy horse as their companion and confidante. According to the BHS study, one of the biggest motivations for going horseback riding was “interaction with horses.” Horses make wonderful companion animals and many equestrians call horses their best friends.
Grooming is very beneficial for horses, not only because it cleans their coats, it adds beauty to the appearance of the horse, and also because it promotes healthy emotional bonding between the horse and the person, and helps to develop trust. Grooming a horse helps to release natural oils into the coat that help protect your horse from natural elements such as wind and rain. It also helps to promote healthy blood circulation.
Grooming should be done on a regular basis to keep a horse’s coat and skin healthy. In addition, grooming gives you the chance to check over your horses body to make sure that your horse is healthy and has no external wounds and such. Thankfully, unlike dogs and cats most horses respond positively to grooming, making it an easy and enjoyable task because the horse would stand there but be careful; always go round the back of the horse keeping a hand on it’s back, that way it knows you are there and think, if it kicks it will kick your leg instead of your head. Don’t go in front of the horse because if you go in between the horse and what it is tied to, you could get trapped if it shifts.
Step 1: Secure your horse. Although some horses are trained well enough to stand still while grooming, many will feel the natural need to walk away from you after a time. Keep them in place by tying the lead rope in a quick release knot, securing them to a post, or having a friend or colleague (if you are working with horses) hold them
- If you’re tying your horse to a ring or post, always use a quick-release knot. Should something spook your horse and they try to run or fall, a regular knot could cause them to break their neck which is dangerous to the animal but also make sure you don’t make the knot too loose that they can escape from you.
Step 2:Pick your horse’s hooves. To pick up his foot, run your hand down his leg and gently squeeze his tendon. If he doesn’t lift his foot, lean against his shoulder and lift it off the ground. Using a hoof pick, start at the heel of the foot and pick forward to the toe, carefully removing all rocks, dirt and other foreign objects. Make sure to clean the grooves on either side of the frog. The frog (the V-shaped squishy part of the hoof) is more sensitive, so avoid using the hoof pick there. Using a hoof pick on the frog could cause lameness as it is very sensitive.
- By picking out the feet first, you are more likely to notice lameness before you’ve finished grooming the horse. It is highly recommended as not only can you spot any lameness, but you can help prevent it by removing stones and dirt that could pierce the frog or cause bruising. Picking the hooves out before riding is almost essential, especially if your horse is shod, as it makes it a lot more comfortable for the horse. Picking you’re horses feet can also help remove and prevent thrush, a sticky black fungus that develops around the frog.
- There is really no specific time in grooming as you can take your time to pick a horses feet, as long as it’s done before and after your ride as it is important to remember this.
Step 3: Use a curry comb to remove loose hair from the horse. Rubber curry combs are built to loosen up dirt, mud, and bits of things caught in your horse’s coat which generally you follow the direction of the way that the fur goes. It should always be used before brushing for the best results and to keep the horse well maintained. Use the curry in vigorous, small circular motions over the horse’s muscles, avoiding bony areas like the face, spine and legs.
- On one side, work your way from the neck, to the barrel, and all the way to the rump. Then, repeat on the other side of the horse.
- The curry comb should be rubbed in a circular motion in the direction opposite of the hair growth. This will pull up loose hairs and dirt that otherwise would just be brushed over.
Step 4: Use a dandy brush (also called the hard brush). A dandy brush is a hard-bristled brush used to take off the dirt and hair brought out by the curry comb. Use the brush in short straight flicking motions to allow the bristles to get all the way through the coat and whisk the dirt out. Start at the neck and work towards the tail. It’s not recommended to use a hard brush on the horse’s legs as they are much more sensitive than the body. The legs are bony and narrow and it is uncomfortable for the horse if brushed too hard with the dandy brush.
- Do not use on the face, ears, mane, tail, legs, or any clipped area, as this can cause the horse to be in immediate discomfort. This can stress the horse or make them scared or startled.
- If necessary use a soft cloth on any parts of the horse that the horse resents being brushed with the dandy.
Step 5: Clean up with a soft brush (also known as the body brush). The soft brush, as its name suggests, can be used on all areas of the horse as a result of its texture( Be careful around the face though). The soft brush removes any remaining surface dust, and hair. Finish up your body-grooming by brushing down the entire body, including on sensitive areas like the face and legs.
- If you want to use a separate brush for the face, use a face brush. They are designed for brushing horses’ faces. They look like miniature soft brushes and are much easier to fit on a horse’s face.
Step 6: Clean the horse’s face. Take a wet sponge or washcloth and wipe your horse’s eyes and clean out his nose. Use a different sponge/cloth/wipe for the dock area (under the tail). Because these areas are constantly moist, dirt and mucus build up and need to be cleaned out. Always remember to be gentle when doing this; these areas are sensitive.
- Use different sponges/cloths for each horse (if you are grooming multiple) to avoid spreading infection.
Step 7: Brush out the mane and tail. Use a wide- bristled mane comb or brush to get tangles out of the mane and tail. Before you start, use your fingers to separate the hairs caught in large tangles. Hold the whole tail/large section of mane in one hand (to avoid tugging) and brush it out with the other. When brushing the tail, stand to the side of the horse to prevent startling them or causing them to kick. This way if the horse kicks out you are in a safer position and less likely to be hurt. Continue taking small pieces from the side until you have brushed the whole tail.
- Make sure to talk to the horse and keep your hand on the horse so that it does not get spooked.
- If you want to use hair product, use natural mane/tail sprays that are all natural rather than silicone based. Spray it on, work it in, and other than helping with the detangling, it will moisturize and make the hair look shiny
Step 8: If it is summer or hot, you may want to spray the horse with fly spray as flies can be very irritating. They can build up around the face, spread infections and large flies, called horse flies, can bite and cause pain. The flies will most likely annoy you, too. Just spray the horse being careful to avoid the face.