Entering the Hormonal Tube…


I have had great short stirrup kids, ages 8-12 who were super cute, attentive, hard working, and eager to please who , when they turned 13-14 became a different person. Now unimpressed, lazy, with lots of eye rolling, starting all their sentences with “Yeah I know… but… “
My theory is that they are the same sweet kid, but have entered the Hormonal Tube. They are now being bombarded with hormones and distractions that prevent their true personalities from shining. Distractions such as middle school; keeping up or being one of the cool kids ;wearing the right clothes ;hanging out with the right people ; saying the right thing ; doing the right things… Not even on the radar earlier, all of this is now terribly important, and according to them, us adults can’t possibly understand what they are going through.
My theory is that if they entered the tube as a sweet kid, they will exit as a sweet adolescent. While they are in it I find it best to be tough but patient with them. Don’t try to win them over, just remain as you are and they will come back when they are out of the Tube.

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Quality Time with your Marble…


I saw a video clip over the internet the other day. The professor filled this jar with golf balls to the top and asked his class if the jar was indeed full . The answer was ; yes. He then proceeded to fill smaller marbles in the jar around the golf balls. When he couldn’t fit any more, he asked the same question again. Again the class said the jar was full. He then pulled out some sand and filled the jar to the top with many handfuls. The class was a bit more hesitant when they again said the jar was full and laughed when he then filled the jar to the top with water. It was with a resounding “YES, it is NOW full” that the professor agreed.

The point being made was that you can always fit more into your life, and to live life to its fullest you should experience as much as possible. Don’t, however, forget that the golf balls are the important part, the marbles a step down from what is truly important, and the sand and water only fillers. Golf balls are your family, health, and your job. I rate my horses as the marbles. They come before ALL the fillers. Spend quality time with your marble!

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Caring for Minor Injuries of Horses and Ponies

***The following suggestions are treatments for minor injuries.  If you have any concern consult the farm manager and/or your veterinarian.*** 





Basic cuts and scraps can be treated with Corona.  It keeps the area moist and prevents scabbing.  If the area looks irritated use a triple antibiotic ointment from your local pharmacy.  If the cut is deep, your horse may require stitches- a good time to call your vet.


FUNGUS Treatment:

I like to liberally apply Calm Coat or mineral oil on the affected area prior to riding, allowing the oil to soak in for about an hour and then with mild soap, gently wash the oil off. This will greatly help reduce the scabs with minimal irritation during the process. Don’t scrub and make them bleed, this can cause scaring and their hair to grow back white. You might need to do this a multiple of times depending on the severity of the fungus. To head off potential fungus; if your horse was rained on and comes in with small raised bumps, after using a gentle soap (anti-fungal or not) sponge on a mixture of white vinegar and water- about two cups of vinegar to two gallons of water on their entire body and leave- don’t rinse. The base nature of the vinegar will help neutralize the acidity of the rain. If they come in with lots of bumps, or giant bumps, this might indicate a more severe allergic reaction which might need the help of your vet to clear up. A steroid- Dexamethasone should help soothe and clear up the bumps. Antibiotics as well as immune stimulants such as oral SMZ’s and oral levamisole paste will help clear oozing fungus that goes beyond basic fungus.


SCRATCHES Treatment:

Scabs appearing below the fetlock are called scratches.  This can be very painful  as the irritation causes cracks in their skin where there is high mobility, causing them to be lame.  Clean with mild soap and apply a mixture of triple antibiotic ointment and Desitin. The antibiotic helps fix the issue while the desitin keeps the area dryer. Ideally keep them out of mud, or other irritating footing. Make sure that their legs are dry prior to putting them back in their stall since the bedding can stick to their legs and stifle air circulation- which leads to worsening the problem. If basic cleanliness and being  diligent about drying their legs still doesn’t fix the scratches within 10 days- try a mixture of triple antibiotic and hydrocortisone. I have had a few thin skinned Chestnut Thoroughbreds  that this really helped.



Puncture wounds usually cause the leg/area to swell and be warm/hot.  Keep the area clean and pull the scab off to allow for drainage.  Simple punctures will require oral antibiotics and Gentocin administered in the puncture hole.  If you aren’t sure about the depth or severity of the puncture, get your vet out to check and recommend treatment.   



If the leg is swollen with no puncture or apparent irritation you are most likely looking at soft tissue irritation or damage. Ice or cold hose the leg, apply poultice, and a standing wrap. Keep your horse stalled and alert your vet. More than likely you will need to have your horse ultra-sounded to see the severity of the injury, however ideally the swelling should be minimal to view the scan properly. Your vet might recommend pheno-butazolidin- otherwise known as bute administered orally or IV injection for a few days prior to his/her arrival. At best, your horse has simply strained a tendon or ligament and will be back to full work within a short time. At worst, you will need to stall rest, continuing to ice and wrap and when deemed appropriate by your vet, start the slow process of slowly bringing them back. Since tendons and ligaments whole job is to stretch- keeping them moving so that it heals with the maximum amount of stretching is ideal. The key however is to stretch while healing, and not further tear… your vet will help you with the tedious rehab plan. Where the injury has taken place, as well as the severity of the injury can dictate other options such as  Stem cell therapy,  Platelet-Rich- Plasma (PRP) Therapy, as well as ARP Therapy, all options that help create new stronger scaffolding within the tear of the soft tissue that will in turn heal quicker and stronger. 




Your horse’s hooves are very important.  It is a small surface area supporting a lot of weight.  If your horse has shoes make sure they are on tight and straight.  Do not ride if there is any question.  If the shoe is twisted or bent, remove it so they don’t torque any soft tissue being off balance, or step on nails or clips.  



When your horse is missing a shoe or has soft soles you should apply sole paint (it helps promote circulation and strengthens the sole which has been compromised) Wrap the hoof in a diaper to prevent further bruising and for good measure apply a layer of duct tape to the bottom to keep it from wearing off in their stall.  Make sure that you don’t bind their heel bulbs or their coronet band with the duct tape as this tape doesn’t breathe. The diaper/duct tape wrap will need to be replaced daily and your horse will probably need to be kept in their stall until the farrier can replace the missing shoe.



If your horse comes up acutely lame, and is non-weight bearing, I would suspect an abscess, since there is no where for a swelling in the hoof to go which makes it incredibly painful. However, contact your vet and or farrier to be sure, since this also could be a sign of something far more serious. Squeezing the sole and around the shoe/nails with a hoof tester might indicate the source of pain however your farrier might need to remove the shoe completely to check further. Close nails- which could have been properly driven in but with sloppy footing and/or a weak/compromised hoof wall, shifted and can create abscess tracts . If the hoof is bruised or you suspect an abscess you should soak the foot in Epsom salt and warm water. They make a handy soaking boot which facilitates this procedure (easier to strap the boot on then trying to keep your horse’s foot in a big bucket)  Follow with Epsom salt paste on the sole and again wrap in a diaper, and duct tape. This procedure ensure that the tract doesn’t close back up and start the abscess all over again. Typically an abscess will not require antibiotics since it is isolated, and once opened and drained will start healing quickly. The administration of a pain killer (bute) can be administered to promote further walking which will drive the infection out. While treating an abscess, it is important that your horse not be turned out in muddy footing which can clog up the tract if the diaper wrap falls off. A sandy small paddock turnout is ideal. 




When an injury or missing shoe requires your horse to be stall bound make sure you hand walk and graze them.  They will also appreciate a good grooming – they can’t roll in their stall very well! It is hard on them to be confined to a stall for 24 hours, so make sure you use a chain lead rope to give you extra control – they may be fresh. We hope that your horse stays injury free at all times but it is almost inevitable that they will have some sort of injury at some point- it goes with the territory since they are big athletes that can be hard on their bodies. Be patient when they have their off time, and appreciate the good times! Happy Riding!



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Responsibilities of Ownership or Full Leasing


Congratulations!!  If you are reading this blog you already own or lease a horse or are about to begin the wonderful experience.  It is such a privilege as well as HUGE responsibility.   There is so much more to horses than just riding.  You are taking on the care of another live creature.  Please understand what you are taking on before making the commitment.  


The first duty to your horse or pony is to find a suitable boarding facility.  The barn should be clean and well ventilated.  Stalls should have ample bedding and a constant water source.  Make sure the feed and hay available to your horse is of high quality.  Nutrition is very important to your horse’s well being and appearance.  Turnout options are also a necessity.  Many facilities offer both group and individual turnout.  You, as the responsible party, need to determine what option is best for your animal.  What does your board check cover?  Basic board should include use of the facility and riding areas, feeding, blanketing, stall cleaning, and turnout.  Many facilities give the option of full care (for an additional cost), which includes daily grooming and tacking.  Boarding facilities usually have established relationships with veterinarians, equine dentists, farriers, and other service providers.  If these services are not scheduled by the facility it is your responsibility to get your horse or pony on a regular schedule. 


Now that you have found a home for your new mount, what else?  Ideally you want to ride 4 or 5 times a week.  Depending on your goals your riding time may need to focus more on fitness building rather than pleasure riding or trail riding.  If riding is just a hobby, look for a facility that has access to trails where you can ride out.  Grooming as often as possible will not only give your horse a beautiful coat, but will allow you to learn the ins and outs of their conformation.  It is very important to know how your horse is built so you can recognize changes.  You need to rub your hands all over them feeling for heat, cuts, and swelling.  While picking feet check for thrush, soft spots, loose nails, twisted or sprung shoes.  Consult with your trainer, barn manager, vet and/or farrier for any suspicious changes. 


When an injury or missing shoe requires your horse to be stall bound make sure you hand walk and graze them.  It is hard on them to be confined to a stall for 24 hours. They will also appreciate the extra currying and grooming- since they can’t stretch and roll as much when confined. Make sure you use a chain lead rope to give you extra control – when you are taking them out of their stall since they may be fresh!!


Again, congratulations on your new lease or purchase.  Don’t be overwhelmed of these responsibilities but understand them! A well taken care of horse is evident by the sheen of their coat, the whiteness of their socks, the condition of their hooves, and the expression when they see you.  Riding is a very small part of the equation when you take on ownership of a horse.  It doesn’t matter how much homework you have or that your friends are going to the movies.  You have a live animal that needs you too!!  If you can’t make it to the farm to care for your horse make arrangements for it to be ridden, groomed, and treated.  Don’t forget your horse!!  Good luck and happy riding!!


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What to Wear for Winter Horseback Riding


Charlotte, North Carolina has had a particularly cold winter this year.  I have been amazed in the lack of clothes our young horseback riders have shown up to lessons wearing.  Quality lesson programs have a horsemanship session (grooming, tacking, cleaning, etc) as well as a riding session with their lessons.  This requires the children to be out in the elements for up to 2 hours.  They need to be prepared.  Here is what I have learned and recommend after 15 years of teaching and watching small children shiver in the cold.


LAYER, LAYER, LAYER!!!  For the upper body – under Armour, though expensive, does a great job as a base layer. It helps block the wind and hold in warmth.  If you break a sweat it dries quick and keeps you from getting a chill.  Turtleneck shirts or sweaters keep the cold air off the skin.  Not only can it be windy but you also create your own wind while riding.  These poor children end up with red chapped skin.  Fleece jackets are a great layer for providing warmth but they do not block the cold air.  A shell jacket, ideally waterproof, is a much better option.  It also amazes me how unprepared many students are for wet weather.  The back of my car looks like a closet – options for all weather because weather changes minute to minute and what is happening in town can be different in Waxhaw.  Down vests are also great to keep the body warm while leaving the arms free for movement.  


For the lower half – many riding apparel companies offer winter riding pants that are thicker and have wind reducing qualities.  Tights are a good layer to have under pants as well.  Tall wool socks are great.  They keep your feet warm and cover the whole bottom half of the leg.  Many of my riders show up in ankle socks with their paddock boots.  Not only do they provide no warmth but also no protection.  The riders push their heels down for balance and the boot creates a rub on the front of the leg.  


GLOVES – Grooming and riding are hands on activities so there is no time to put cold chapped hands into pockets.  It is very important that the gloves are designed for horseback riding.  The rider must be able to hold the reins and make adjustments.  Ski gloves are too think and do not allow the rider to close their fingers tight around the reins.  Woven gloves are too slick so the reins slide and they provide no protection against the wind.  There are equestrian brands that line leather gloves with fleece for warmth and allow the rider to function as well.  


HATS – Body heat escapes through the head.  Cover it!!!  Wool hats should be worn from the second your child steps out of the car.  It will keep them toasty while grooming and can then be replaced by the riding helmet.  Helmets need to fit snug so I do not recommend trying to fit the wool hat under the helmet.  


Hand warmers can be added to gloves as well as foot warmers to boots.  Scarves are good because they can come up and cover the lower half of the face.  Horseback riding is a year round sport and requires the rider to practice and compete in all kinds of weather.  Be prepared.  The key in winter is to never get cold.  Again – layer, layer, layer.  If you get hot you can always take something off.  Once you get a chill it is very hard to get warm.   


If your child has a true passion for the sport the cold will not deter them from riding.  But, as an instructor, it is hard to watch them shiver and shake.  Please send your children to the farm with plenty of options to stay warm and dry.  Let’s keep them riding and smiling!!

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What to pack in your Trunk? – A guide to shopping for Equestrians of South Charlotte, NC

Equestrian Supplies for every day usage- 

What to pack in your Smaller/Every Day Trunk (that you also take to Horse Shows)

Everyone who is taking the next step; committing to riding regularly, half or full leasing, or being a very lucky rider indeed and able to own a horse needs a trunk. A trunk keeps all your riding equipment at the right place- the barn.


Paul Helm's Trunks are beautifully made and include a lift out tray and tote.

Paul Helm’s Trunks are beautifully made and include a lift out tray and tote.

Before I go into details about what to put into your trunk however, perhaps I should make sure you have a trunk to start with!

Paul Helms makes some of the nicest, well made trunks for the money. He customizes each one with initials and handcrafted details that sets his apart from many others. However, because they are so labour intensive and artistic,  they need to be ordered 2-3 months in advance, depending on his busy schedule.

Paul Helms 704 609 6513

Small Trunk $ 350.

Here are my personal favorites places to shop. It is great to support the local tack shops- The Carolina Country Store in Indian Land, SC and Waxhaw Tack Exchange on Church St, Waxhaw, have a lot of this stuff… the Tack Room in Camden will have all of it, with the exception of items available from CVS and/or Target. Here are their web sites:

Waxhaw Tack Exchange


The Carolina Country Store


The Camden Tack Room


Basic Riding Equipment

Basic Riding Equipment

Sticky Spray... great stuff!

Sticky Spray… great stuff!

Riding Supplies for the Rider:

1 Paddock Boots

2 Chaps

4 Gloves

5 Helmet

6 Hair Nets

7 Spurs/ Stick

8 Sporty Haft-Spray- otherwise known as Sticky Spray

I am not going into great detail about my recommendations for Riding Supplies- Just note that you get what you pay for. If you aren’t riding regularly, inexpensive that don’t fit or wear super well might be okay …especially if you are outgrowing before you are outwearing your equipment. Everyone has their own priorities. I personally ride in Ariat Monoco  paddock boots- they  are super comfortable, fit well, look good, and have lasted me a long time. I ride in GrandPrix half Chaps, a One K helmet, and have a few sets of basic spurs and sticks of different lengths for different horses. My half chaps are full grain leather, rather than suede  which makes them easy to clean. Sticky spray is one of the best inventions ever. Spray it on the calves of your half chaps, tall boots, or if you are still in jodhpurs; the bottom skirt of your saddle where your calf would be. It truly does give you a more secure leg. Hair nets matching your hair color should be used once you put your hair up into your helmet. Admittedly I HATE anything on my ears and almost NEVER use a hair net. I consider myself an abomination to the George Morris fan club (of which I consider myself a key supporter) and yet they are just that uncomfortable for me personally…

 Riding Supplies for the Horse:

1 Boots- Black Eskadron- front and rear

2 Polo Wraps- Black, Hunter Green, Navy, or Burgundy- conservative color

3 Anti-Slip pad for clipped horse

I think for the money, Eskadron boots are a good buy. They last longer and fit better than similar looking Roma boots but aren’t as expensive as some of the other top end boots. They are easy to clean after use- otherwise sand and gravel caught in their fibers will start creating rubs. Boots are essential for jumping lessons in wet footing. Protection that doesn’t soak up water is needed on those sloppy days.

Polos are a good source of inexpensive protection for light jumping – as long as the footing isn’t wet. Polo wrapping is a bit of an art- ask your instructor if you have any doubts on the tightness or evenness of your wrap job.

An Anti-Slip pad isn’t necessary all the time. Typically right after you have your horse clipped, even the best fitting saddle will start sliding back a bit over the short, slick hairs on your horse’s back, making an anti-slip pad crucial. The anti-slip pad made by Professional Choice is shaped like a quarter pad- it is durable and breathes. The Nunn Finer version is shaped like a big rectangle. Don’t cut it to size! Either use it under your square schooling/jumper pad as is, or fold it in half to fit neatly under your fitted hunter show pad. Either brand will only work if they are clean. Dirt clogs the anti-slip abilities. I throw mine in the wash when I wash my schooling pad (but line dry) Expect them to last for about a year. They annoyingly lose their grippy-ness after then.

Everyday grooming supplies

Everyday grooming supplies- note I have included Sea Shore Acres Sole Paint

Grooming Tools:

1 Metal/rubber curry(My horse & I like metal curry that provides a good scratch)

2 Rubber grooming mitt

3 Hard Brush

4 Soft Brush

5 Hoof Pick

6 Towels (face, flank, sensitive areas)

Currying is ultimately the most important step to grooming. It is when you first really start looking closely over your horse and start removing the first layer of dirt, dead hair, loose skin, etc. Your horse should enjoy this step as a good curry is also a bit of a massage as well. Currying their withers and top of their neck will be a favorite spot for most. I personally like the metal curry- shaped just like the rubber curry- I am not talking about a smaller version of a shedding blade which is for cleaning brushes or shedding in only one direction only. The metal curry I like seems to rub my horse as if I had long finger nails (sadly I don’t) stroking, scratching,  and massaging, and loosening up all sorts of grime. The rubber curry also works well- plus they come in smaller sizes for smaller hands, but be sure to replace them once the pointed ridges wear out.

The rubber grooming mitt is useful to curry a more sensitive skinned horse, as well as to curry the more sensitive areas that should be avoided by your main rubber or metal curry- such as their legs and head. With time, even the most head shy horse will enjoy their forehead massaged and curried with a rubber grooming mitt. Luckily mitts aren’t too expensive since they do wear out probably quicker than any other grooming tool you have. Look for the hardy pliable rubber ones, as opposed to the cheaper hard plastic ones made in China…

Everyone needs to shop for their own brushes- what I might love and use religiously might not fit in your hand, or vice-versa. Straps going over the top are useful for some, yet constricting to another. Regardless- brushes are used to clean dirty horses, so presumably they will get dirty. I like plastic bristles that are easily cleaned in a bucket of soapy water, rinsed, and flicked dry every so often. I don’t want them super stiff, yet still hardy enough to follow behind a good curry, knocking off the loosened dirt and grit. I use a soft brush occasionally for a final polish when I have time.

A hoof pick – preferably one also with a hoof brush is crucial to the list of  grooming supplies. It is super important to check your horse’s feet before you ride, check for missing, sprung or loose shoes. A hoof pick is required for removing any sharp or hard objects, as well as getting out all the hard dirt that gets packed in, bruising their soles. The brush comes in handy to brush their soles when you are then applying Sole Paint, or Copper Sulfate spray.

Here are many of the grooming supplies that every horseman should have in their trunk

Here are many of the grooming supplies that every horseman should have in their trunk

Grooming Supplies:

1 Cowboy Magic Tail De-tangler

2 Thrush Buster

3 Effol Hoof Conditioner (They come with or with out the handy brush on their side… get the brush!)

4 Show Oil- Birdsall (note that you will also need a empty hoof oil/brush can to put this in)

5 Copper Sulfate Spray ( Home made remedy- see earlier blog for how to make)

6 Hair Moisturizer Leave On conditioner to use with a towel for surface wipe (you’ll need an empty spray bottle for the concentrate version)

7 Seashore Acres Sole Paint

8 Fly Spray

9 Mustad – Tuff Stuff

10 Calm Coat/Mineral Oil

I am a fanatic about tails. Nothing compliments a horse better than a naturally huge, beautiful flowing tail. Getting, or loosing them is not an accident. Keeping the tail clean and conditioned is key. After currying my horse I examine their tails. If they are in the slightest point dry, I hand pick debris out, then I slather conditioner on them (even though they are dry) and work it into both ends (the end which grows it, and the end which swishes around and frequently gets caught and broken off) I don’t rinse. After I ride, I then wash the tail thoroughly with shampoo and apply the de-tangler. It is ONLY then that I brush their tails out. Obviously I would only use this conditioning method when I am at home riding and training. I don’t want to show off a gooky tail loaded with conditioner while riding at a show, clinic, etc.

Thrush Buster is a strong, potent solution to bad thrush. There are other medications that do the same thing, however if you are religious about also applying my Copper Sulfate spray solution, you won’t have much of a thrush problem and Thrush Buster is a small bottle- using up only a fraction of the space the other bottles take up. Copper Sulfate Spray should be applied year round, every time you pick their feet. Spray it both on the inside and outside of all the hooves. This cheap homemade solution, made by heating white vinegar and copper- sulfate controls thrush summer and winter, as well as most of the bacteria that seems to dwell in the dew of taller grass which breaks down the hoof wall. Can’t say enough about how good this stuff is…

The hoof is a complex unit. Treat it like a living piece of wood. It needs to be sealed (Tuff Stuff) from the elements before it gets super wet like a varnish- it needs to be conditioned (Effol Hoof Conditioner)  from the elements when it gets super dry. Avoid using Fiebings hoof dressing, made with harsh petroleum  products which when repeatedly applied for the show ring breaks down the hoof wall and makes the foot mushy. I use Clear Birdsall Show Oil which has natural stuff which might not help the foot, but won’t hurt either when you want a finished polished look. To toughen the bottom of your horse’s soles, as well as to reduce the effect of bruising, I use SeaShore Acres Sole paint which contains DMSO and Phenol, I like it the best, despite it’s hefty cost.

Hair Moisturizer sprayed on a towel helps complete the look -a final polish when I am heading to the show ring, or to collect some of the fine dust that a brush won’t pick up when it isn’t appropriate to bathe. Also useful to spray on the tail before brushing (always brush sparingly!) This stuff comes in a concentrate (cheaper) or ready to use. Don’t forget to get an empty spray bottle if you go with the concentrate.

Fly Spray only works when it is on the horse. Sometimes. I have a hard time buying expensive fly spray in the summer and then washing it off after I ride them, reapplying,  and having them sweat it off. I personally don’t use it when I ride, I try to stay active enough to out ride the flies… except when I am trail riding amongst deer flies which most sprays work on marginally at best. One of those fly whisks are pretty effective for your walk in the woods, and you will feel your horse’s appreciation – it is like you are both on the same team- against those pesky bugs… Because of this I don’t really have a favorite spray-

Fungus on horses can occur a multitude of ways- but in all ways it is a bacterial skin infection. Could be due to a  suppressed immune system, could be because their skin was irritated by rain, caustic irritants in the footing, there are all sorts of ways your horse can contract fungus. There are many medications on the market. I have found that unless I am dealing with a serious amount of fungus on one particular horse (in which case I usually put them on systemic Sulfa tablets- prescribed by the vet) letting it dry up on its own is the best solution. I then apply either mineral oil or Calm Coat (which I think has mineral oil in it, along with other nice stuff) before I ride. After the ride, I use a gentle shampoo- Tea tree, Ivory, or Corona (but not Quic Silver) and clean off the mineral oil and hopefully the majority of the dry, dead fungus. It is important to WASH – NOT to scrub it off. The skin shouldn’t be picked at, or irritated by scrubbing. This preserves the skin’s own  natural defense against the current and future fungus. If it needs to be done more than once to get it all off- then do it again the next time you ride!

Bathing Supplies- the small bucket is supper handy to store all the bottles on the bottom of your trunk once you're done with the bath,

Bathing Supplies- the small bucket is supper handy to store all the bottles on the bottom of your trunk once you’re done with the bath,

Bathing Supplies:

1 Corona or Tea Tree Body Soap

2 Quic Silver – for whitening

3 Conditioner

4 Small Bucket

5 Body Sponge

6 Poly Fiber Brush- short bristles- for scrubbing socks, etc.

7 Sweat Scrape

8 Nylon Halter- Walsh or Hamilton

9 Aloe Vera  (use under wraps and basic leg rub down)

10 Vetrolin or Absorbine Liniment as a brace, coolant and rub down

When bathing a horse, presumably they are going to get wet. For this reason I cringe when I see our riders soaking their expensive leather halters during the bathing process. For everyday use I use a nylon halter, with or without a leather crown. I prefer either Walsh or Hamilton Nylon halters, well made, of a conservative color.  I also use for everyday a Walsh leather lead shank with a brass chain.  When leading- the chain belongs OVER the nose. This is NOT abusive. This is control, which enables everyone to be safe- horse and rider.

There are a bunch of equine shampoos on the market. I like to start the bathing process by wetting my horse, legs first, then applying Quic Silver on a plastic bristled brush ( I frequently use the same hard brush I had used to groom- especially if it needs to be cleaned) and then rubbing it on all the white markings- legs, face as permitted…etc.  Note that I said ‘rubbing” be careful about scrubbing- it all depends on if your horse’s legs are freshly clipped (rub)  or fuzzy (scrub), or if you have very coarse bristled brush (back to rubbing… with only a bit of scrubbing) on how much, or little rubbing and/or scrubbing you do. If you have a grey horse, apply Quick SIlver directly, mixing with water is a waste of time and soap. Don’t rinse yet. Letting the Quic Silver do its magic, I then put Corona, or Tea Tree Shampoo- a shampoo I just started to use that I like, into a small bucket, fill with warm water and scrub away with a sponge, top to bottom, front to back.  Don’t forget the belly where lots of dirt gets flung up, as well as between their back legs. Condition the tail with any good conditioner- I use Mane & Tail Conditioner, but also use Pantene – for people, which I get at a good price at Costco. You can’t have enough conditioner  for the tail- to use before the ride as discussed previously, or after the bath. As important as it is to scrub and loosen the grime, it is equally important to then rinse it off. I scrape and rinse a few times, to be certain.

At most shows, when your horse has jumped over 2’ and has to remain in his stall we wrap their legs, which helps prevent stocking up , which wouldn’t be the case is they could get turned out. Aloe Vera is a great gentle, cool, soothing product to rub their legs down with prior to wrapping, especially in the summer. Find this with Sun/Skin products at CVS, or Target.

I use Vetrolin, diluted with water for a refreshing leave on cooling treat after bathing them in the summer- especially after a particularly strenuous work out. Used too often however,the alcohol in Vetrolin will dry out their skin. I also use either Vetrolin or Absorbine as a  rub down after work outs- on sore muscles and legs.

Tack Cleaning Supplies, as well an assortment of grooming supplies, etc.

Tack Cleaning Supplies, as well as an assortment of grooming supplies, etc.

Tack Cleaning Supplies:

1 Tack Cleanser Spray ( I like to use regular Lysol diluted with water)

2 Conditioner – Belvoir or Effax Leather Balsam

3 Tack Sponge- ( I like the larger natural sponge- lasts forever )

4 Urad for polishing riding boots- black or brown.

Leather tack when properly taken care of will last a very long time. Clean it after every ride by wiping it with either plain water, or what I use- Lysol solution diluted with water. I spray the tack with this dilution, then use a small hand towel to wipe off the grime. My attempt is to wipe it OFF, not rub it IN. I condition my tack with a sponge smeared with Belvoir or Effax Leather Conditioner every second, or third time that I actually clean it – it needs to be cleaned far more than conditioned. While cleaning tack, I usually wipe down my half chaps and boots, conditioning them with the same regularity as the rest of my tack, only in the case of my black paddock boots- I use black Urad which gives them a protective shine.


1 Sharpie (to label all your tools and supplies!)

2 First Aid- Band Aids w/ Neosporin for you

3 Sunscreen for you

4 Corona Ointment for superficial scrapes for your horse

5 Seam Rippers – to remove braids at A Shows (look in the sewing department of Target/Walmart etc)

6 Treats- Carrots are best- otherwise check for sugar content for PSSM Horses…

7 Scissors

Not much to have to explain in this last bit. As daunting as this entire list seems- there is always more… Check out the trunks of some of us who have been with the horses longer… it is always amazing what one will find!

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How to Choose a Horse RIding Camp in Charlotte


Does your child want to ride horses?  Does your child already ride and want to strengthen their equestrian skills?  If you answered “Yes” to either question, horseback summer camps are a great way to accomplish these goals!  Many farms in the Charlotte, North Carolina area offer horseback camps … but how do you choose the best one for you?  Your first decision should be based on the style of riding you are looking for – English or Western?  If you are new to horseback riding and don’t know the difference, Western riding uses a saddle with a horn and is what you typically would see out west; working cattle, while English riding saddles are smaller, more suitable for jumping.  Next, you should look for a program that not only offers a portion of the camp day that is dedicated to riding, but also provides an overview of horsemanship (i.e. grooming, tacking, and equine safety).


Most farms allow you to visit, and should be happy to take you on a brief tour and explain their program to you.  The farm should be clean, horses and ponies should appear healthy (e.g. no ribs showing), and staff should be friendly and knowledgeable.  The stable should provide all necessary tack (saddles, saddle pads, bridles, girths) and grooming equipment (brushes, hoof picks, fly spray) as well as helmets for the campers.  Something to keep in mind is that horseback riding can be an expensive sport.  Much of the initial investment for equipment and supplies will be defrayed by a good program that provides the basic tack and supplies that you need, but it is always good to remember:  You get what you pay for.  Do not be deterred by price when choosing what is best for your child.  The more expensive programs are that way for a reason, as they tend to have higher quality lesson horses, better and safer facilities, and more qualified instructors and staff.

If your child is brand new to riding you need to make sure that they have a pair of boots with a low heel that also go above the ankle bone.  Athletic shoes and flat-soled shoes are unsafe.  Any type of long pants is also recommended to help prevent the saddle from pinching.

The ratio of campers to instructors is another very important factor to consider, especially for the beginner camps.  A low ratio allows for lots of individual attention and ensures that your camper will get as much as possible out of their week at camp.


Many of the farms offer multiple levels of camps in order to ensure that riders of all ability levels have the opportunity to learn and improve as horseback riders.  Cedarhill Farm, located in South Charlotte, offers four levels of summer camps conducted on sweet lesson horses and run by experienced and caring staff.  The 6-hour day is packed with riding, horsemanship, and fun.  The beginner camp ends the week with a horse show, allowing campers to show off their newly acquired skills and earn ribbons!!  The more advanced camps trail ride and travel off the farm to do some cross-country riding and jumping.


Whether you choose Cedarhill Farm or another qualified facility for a camp experience your child will treasure forever, remember, eyes up, heels down, and happy riding!!

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Indirect Reins and Resolutions- by Leah Worthy



I spend every New Year’s Eve with my dearest and oldest friends. It’s a tradition we’ve kept alive for many years. Now that we’re in our late twenties, our so-called “parties” involve baked goods, pajama pants, and Netflix rather than the glittering, champagne-popping festivities of bygone years, but the important thing is that we still come together at the year’s end. 

Inevitably, we talk about our goals for the upcoming year. Somewhere along the way, we’ve given up on actual resolutions, especially those that involve going to the gym or giving up sweet and scrumptious foods. In fact, our shared love for good food is somewhat of a religion with us; to give it up would be sacrilege. But even in our anti-resolution crowd, it’s only natural to look ahead, to think about how our lives might be different and how they might be the same the next time we’re gathered around the television in our pajamas, watching the ball drop and discussing the meteoric rise of Ryan Seacrest. 

My friends and I are driven people with super-sized goals that overwhelm, but there’s also a very simple goal that’s always in the back of my mind, 365 days a year – my goal to become a better rider. This goal is made up of the many goals we have as riders every time we get on a horse, the checklist that amounts to riding well. Keep the horse between four aids. Shape the horse around the corners. Don’t lean at the jumps. (As Andrea reads this, she’s thinking, “YES! For the millionth time, PLEASE sit up!) Pick up the correct lead. Stay on the correct lead. Leg on. Eyes up. Heels down. Our tiny goals rest right along side The Big Ones, the goals concerning career, education, and family. How are our goals, big, small, and equestrian, supposed to fit along side one another in our goal-cluttered lives? Oftentimes they don’t fit like puzzle pieces. They overlap, overshadow, and compete for our attention.

My friends and I have a similar, obsessive, and often unhealthy approach to achieving The Big Ones. We shut ourselves off from the world in order to work towards them. We become hermits on a mission. I’m a fiction writer and I’ve spent many days in isolation, writing against the grain, keeping my head down, my butt in a chair, and my fingers on a keyboard, accomplishing very little. Many writers would advise me to keep at it on days like this, to keep my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard until I’ve worked a certain number of hours or hit a certain word count. But I’m realizing the disciplinarian’s approach doesn’t work well for me. So when I’m frustrated and accomplishing very little, I stop working. I go to the barn and find those many, tiny goals patiently awaiting my attention. I get on a horse and focus on sitting up, shaping around the corners, and staying on the correct lead. I go through the checklist. Leg on. Eyes up. Heels down. When I come home and return to my fiction, I am able to write from a different place, and the work is once again a joy. 

The activities we devote ourselves to gain power from one another, however unrelated they might seem from the outside. We are nourished by the things we love and this nourishment carries over into all we do. A hermit on a mission will certainly starve. 

I think there’s a mysterious synergy between our ambitions. They can inform and inspire one another. They can combine in ways that are uniquely ours and give us unique perspectives. A good ride can make way for a good sentence on a page. A horse can give a writer something new to say. This year, I want to de-compartmentalize my goals and seek nourishment rather than discipline. I suspect this will lead to a more productive 2014. Perhaps I’ve made a resolution, after all.

Here’s to all of your goals, resolutions, and hopes for the New Year. 

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Dirt Transference

Your lesson on this pony in 30 minutes... start now!

Your lesson on this pony in 30 minutes… start now!

Have all those hours getting dirty at the barn made you oblivious to dirt? Take this quiz to find out!

Tis the season of muddy fields, orange ponies, and the disappearance of white socks. It’s during this season that riders are reminded of a powerful but little known law of nature called Dirt Transference. The fact that Newton overlooked this one tells us he was not a horseman because the law states that every speck of dirt, every clump of mud, and every other unsavory substance caked on a horse will end up on its groomer. Sure, you can try to stay clean, but let’s face it; you can’t fight the laws of nature. When you spend much of your time covered in the dirt that was once on your now sparkling mount, you get used to being dirty. Far from the barn premises, a rider is as clean as any other well-groomed person of healthy hygiene. We pick lint off our sweaters, we wipe our feet on welcome mats, we dab the corners of our mouths with napkins throughout a meal, but once we pull into the barn driveway, our level of awareness when it comes to cleanliness drops significantly. Early on in our riding careers, we learn not to care about the dirt, but eventually, we forget to notice it altogether and here in lies the danger. It’s a slippery slope. First, you might forget to wash the mud off your boots before you go home. No big deal. You can take them off before you go inside. But before you know it, you’ll forget to change out of those muddy boots before walking into someone else’s home and you probably won’t be invited back. Though we grow to accept it as a fact of life, it’s important to remember that our barn dirt is dirty. If you’re concerned that you might be too comfortable in the muck and mire of the season, take this quiz to find out if you’re impervious to barn dirt.

  1. You’re home from the barn. You’ve taken a shower and you’re about to cook dinner, when you notice some of that stubborn barn dirt is still under your fingernails. You…
    1. Back away from the food and scrub your hands with soap and water.
    2. Decide you’re too tired to cook anyways. Time for take-out.
    3. Figure the dirt’s stuck in there pretty good, so it probably won’t end up in the food.
  2. The hosepipe in the wash stall is lying in a questionable mixture of mud and something a bit greener. As you wash it off, you think…
    1. I better hose down the wash stall, too.
    2. Gosh I’m thirsty. Too bad all I have is the hose I just pulled out of the mud.
    3. Gosh I’m thirsty. (And then you take a sip.)
  3. A friend opens the passenger door of your car, and sees a dirty saddle pad in the seat, covered in horsehair, horse sweat, and, yes, plenty of dirt. Your friend makes a funny face and gingerly picks up the saddle pad between two fingers, holding it at arm’s length as though it’s full of head lice. You…
    1. Apologize profusely, put the pad in your trunk, and brush the dirt out of the seat.
    2. Watch as your friend finds a place to put the saddle pad and then sits down on her hands to make sure her pants don’t get dirty. “Good thinking,” you say, pointing to her squished fingers.
    3. Ask her what her problem is. She can be such a high maintenance diva.


  1. Your dog has spent the day at the barn, rolling in the ring, swimming in the pond, and getting into all sorts of muddy trouble with his barn buddies. Late at night, he jumps in bed with you smelling like the muddy trouble he’s been into. You…
    1. Get up and give him a bath.
    2. Make him sleep in his dog bed.
    3. Tuck him in and cuddle up.
  2. You’re at a horse show. You spend ten minutes in line at the concessions stand, until finally, you have a hot dog in hand. You’re walking back towards the ring to watch your friend show when the wiener in your hot dog slips out of its bun and falls to the ground. You…
    1. Mutter a four-letter word and get back in line.
    2. Consider washing the wiener off in a wash stall, but then think better of it and get back in line.
    3. Invoke the ten-second rule and stick that baby back in the bun. Bon appétit!

Did you answer mostly C’s? Then it’s time to get back in touch with your clean side.

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When the horse world collides with the real world…

“What do you do for fun?” It’s a harmless question, a staple of first dates and I-barely-know-you small talk. But I’ve found that something strange happens when you answer with the words, “I ride horses.” Sometimes, you morph into a cowgirl before their eyes, making a curiosity of the markedly non-western image before them – there’s the lack of a Stetson, no rhinestones on the back pockets of your jeans. Other times, you morph into an heiress, dollar signs popping up all around you – Ca-ching! Ca-ching! Recently, after sharing my favorite past time, I was mistaken for a girl in search of a sugar daddy. 

I was at a writer’s residency during my time as an MFA student, in the company of creative writing professors and aspiring student writers. Few people choose to write in hopes of it blossoming into a lucrative career, unless of course, they’ve mastered the spy-thriller formula. What I am trying to say is, while this particular cross section of the population might be wildly talented, it’s seldom in the top tax bracket. 

We were having lunch in the dining hall. About three different conversations were going on around the table when a hush fell over the group. Seeing that everyone was looking at me as if waiting for me to speak, I realized this hush had something to do with me. 

“You ride horses?” someone asked in an accusatory tone more apt for a question like, “You shoplift?”

“I do,” I said. I felt myself morphing in front of them, wondering if this would be a “ye-haw” or a “Jeeves, please bring the car” transformation. 

“And you want to be a writer?” someone else asked.

“That’s the plan.”

“Do you own a short skirt?” asked one of our professors, an acclaimed author and respectful gentleman. Surely I had misheard.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Isn’t this a banking town? We need to take you to one of the bank lobbies and find you a sugar daddy.” (For the record this story does not end with me sitting in a lobby wearing a short skirt.)

 “I married a banker,” a woman said. “She’s going to have to do better than that.”

A debate followed about what sort of banker would make for a good sugar daddy. There was also a side debate regarding just how short the skirt would have to be, after all, no one wanted me to send the wrong message. I blushed, laughed, and kept my mouth full of food because I didn’t know how, exactly, one is supposed to respond to a conversation about oneself, short skirts, and sugar daddies. 

Of course, it was all in fun, and I’m sure at least a large portion of these people believes in our ability to support our own horse habits, but this conversation got me thinking about the perception of horse people amongst non-horse people. In reality there are as many different types of riders as there are types of joggers, but there seems to be a few preconceived notions about equestrians. Post a comment and share your own stories. How do people react when you tell them you’re a rider?

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