First you will need to determine exactly what your needs are. Do you have an extremely green horse, are you a green rider with a made horse, do you have a horse that is changing from one discipline to another, are you changing from one discipline to another, etc… It is always important to watch the trainers you are considering give riding lessons or training sessions. All trainers have their own personal style and techniques. By observing them in action, you can determine if their style and personality suit you. When observing them, you should determine if they effectively convey the concepts and ideas they are teaching to either the horse or rider. Make sure their expertise matches your skill level and those of your horse. The trainer you choose has the job of helping you reach your personal goals or the goals you have set for your horse.
There are a variety of training options available and vary from trainer to trainer. You can trailer your horse in for lessons or training. Some trainers may come to your farm or ranch. Others will board horses charging for full care or partial care.
Here are some basic questions to ask the trainer:
• What are your qualifications and accomplishments?
• What is your training philosophy?
• How often will my horse be ridden or worked?
• Who will be training my horse?
• How many days per week can I ride or work with you?
• How will I be billed for board, training, shoeing and vet care?
• Will I be kept abreast of my horse’s progress?
• Can I watch you work with my horse?
• Who is responsible for the daily care of my horse?
• Do you attend shows and will you take my horse?
• What is the cost of care and training at the shows?
• If you sell my horse, what is your commission?
• Will I be notified in advance of expenses beyond regular training and boarding fees?
• How much turnout will my horse get?
• How often and what do you feed the horses?
Once you have chosen a trainer, being a good client will make the training experience more enjoyable. Here are some recommendations:
• Be clear about your training objectives;
• Abide by your trainers recommendations;
• Arrive on time for appointments;
• Pay your bills in a timely manner;
• Purchase mortality and major medical insurance on your horse;
• Respect your trainer’s time and respect other clients;
• Keep out of other clients business;
• Allow your trainer to do the job you hired him/her to do; and
• Communicate clearly with your trainer and request the same.
Once you choose a trainer, enjoy the relationship with your trainer and the opportunity to learn and grow. Your trainer will be there to answer your questions, hear your concerns, lend a shoulder when things are not going so well, give you a push when you need one and praise you for doing a job well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ASEA Senior Certified Equine Appraiser Bridget Brandon owns ValueMyHorse, an Equine Valuation, Consulting and Expert Witness Services company specializing in Sporthorses and Performance Horses.
Bridget has 30 years in showing and breeding Warmbloods n hunter/jumper, dressage and eventing and has held numerous German Oldenburg Verband inspections at her farm. She was a former board member of the North Texas Hunter/Jumper Club and has judged numerous local horse shows. Bridget also sits on the advisory board for Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses, 2010 WEG Gold Medal Winner in reining and USEF Horseman of the Year. Bridget holds her Property and Casualty Insurance license and sells equine and farm and ranch insurance. Bridget is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and has worked for both Bank of America and Verizon in marketing and strategy for new product development.
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Draft horses, they are the gentle giants built to work. A draft horse is a large horse bred to be a working animal doing hard tasks such as plowing and other farm labor. There are a number of different breeds of draft horses with varying characteristics but all share the common traits of strength, patience and a docile temperment. They were invaluable to past generations of farmers and loggers.
Today, draft horses can serve a number of functions, such as farming, logging, maple syrup production, and recreation. They are also commonly used for breeding to lighter riding breeds such as the thoroughbred for sport horses. Most draft horses are used for driving but they are also great riding horses due to their gently nature.
Draft horses are generally taller and have an extremely muscular build. They tend to have broad, short backs with powerful hindquarters best suited for pulling. Draft breeds range from 16 to 19 hands high and from 1,400 to 2,000 pounds. They are costly to feed because of their size, but do well on good quality grass.
There are many breeds of Draft horses. Belgians are the most popular breed of draft horses. They are big, strong, kind-natured and beautiful. Some other breeds include: American Creams, Brabants, Clydesdales which we all know from the Budweiser franchise, Percherons who are generally black or grey, Suffolk Punch, Shires, and Halflingers to name a few.
They are truly beautiful, gentle giants in the horse world and very loyal animals to own.
The Art of Making Hay. We all know cows and horses and goats eat hay and you can buy bales of hay from your local farmer or feed store, but what is involved in making hay? It’s a pretty arduous task from field to barn.
The whole process starts with cutting the hay. Most use a tractor and a rotary mower. Weather plays a big part in making hay. You’re looking for three days in a row with no rain and hopefully sunny, warm weather. The less humidity the better. The goal is to dry the hay as quickly as possible.
After the hay is cut, the next step is to tedder the hay. This process involves a tractor pulling an implement called a tedder which fluffs the hay and helps it to dry. There are different types of tedders but the idea is the same: fluff and toss the hay to get air through it so it dries faster. A good time to tedder is around 10:30 AM after the dew has dried. Depending on the weather, you may need to tedder the hay a few times.
When the hay is feeling drier, it’s time to rake the hay into windrows. This gets the hay off the ground to dry better and gets it ready to be picked up by the baler. The windrows are long rows of hay down the length of the field.
The tricky part is deciding if the hay is dry enough to bale. Damp, waxy grass is not a good sign, too wet, it may need another day to dry. The optimal situation is to tedder and rake the hay until it’s dry and bale it within 2 days. If you wait too long, it may turn brown and not be as desirable. Baling wet hay can cause it to grow moldy after it’s stored. It can also heat up and cause a fire in the barn. Making sure the hay is dry is important.
The last step if the hay feels dry is to get out your tractor and baler and finish the job. The baler basically picks up the hay squashes it together either into a square or round bale and wraps twine around it to keep it together. The hay is then loaded on a truck to be stored in the barn or sold to hay customers.
There is first cutting hay which is cut and baled around June and is the grass which has grown all winter. Usually if the weather cooperates, there is a second cutting in August or September. This cutting is usually greener and a favorite for horses. First cutting tends to be browner and coarser. Some animals prefer first cutting and some second. Second cutting is usually more expensive because it’s richer and there is usually less of it than first cutting.
Weather plays a huge part in making hay. A hot, sunny, windy day is optimal for drying. A sudden rain shower can ruin the hay. Once it’s wet, it loses a lot of its nutrition and needs to be dried again. Most of the time this hay will be sold as construction hay at a cheaper rate.
It’s a hot sweaty job, but in our family everyone helps and it can be a great family activity.
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