Covering the essentials of equine care in a language appropriate for teen and preteen horse lovers, this guide provides everything young equestrians need to know to safely and enjoyably keep their horse healthy and happy. Veteran trainer Cherry Hill starts by making sure that the right animal is matched with the right rider, then progresses through feeding, grooming, behavior, safety, and health care. Encouraging their passion, Hill provides a roadmap for young horse enthusiasts to responsibly care for their cherished companion.
|Product dimensions:||7.50(w) x 9.75(h) x 0.31(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 14 Years|
About the Author
Cherry Hill is an internationally known instructor and horse trainer and has written numerous books, including 101 Arena Exercises for Horse & Rider, Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage, How to Think Like a Horse, What Every Horse Should Know, and Horse Care for Kids. Visit her at www.horsekeeping.com, where you can find information on her books, DVDs, and horsekeeping knowledge.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1 - Understanding Horses
Horses are some of the most interesting and beautiful creatures on earth. If you learn as much about them as you can, the more you will think like a horse and the better horsekeeper you will be.
Horses behave the way they do partly because of how they evolved. For thousands of years before they were domesticated, horses roamed grazing and browsing. They were prey animals who banded together in herds for protection from predators.
Horses are horses. They are not people. Although you may want to kiss your horse to show him how much you like him, he might think you are acting odd and pull away suddenly. Or worse yet, he might nibble your lips to see if there is anything in them to eat, and you could be hurt. Your horse will be most comfortable when you do things that he understands. While he is learning more about you, you will learn more about what it's like to be a horse. For example, you will find that your horse will appreciate a good scratch on the withers or neck more than a pat on the nose.
You and your horse can be good buddies, but don't be careless. You must always pay attention, because, just when you least expect it, your horse might suddenly jump sideways and smash your toes. Never fool around when you are handling a horse, no matter how much you trust him.
Horses like to be near other horses. Horses that live in herds may become herd-bound. When you try to remove one horse from the herd, all of the horses may become nervous and try to stay near the horse you are taking away. Or, the horse you are trying to take away might stop and refuse to leave the herd. To prevent this, you should not let horses get too attached to each other. A horse that is kept in his own pen or paddock and is handled regularly by you will think of you as his "herd-mate" and will look forward to your visits.
If you have three horses together on pasture, one of them will be the "top" horse in the pecking order. When you feed them, the top horse will be the first one to get the hay or grain. That's why it is important to spread feed far apart so all three will get some. Otherwise, the "bottom" horse might not get anything. Sometimes horses bite and kick each other to prove who is the top horse. Don't come between two horses that are determining their pecking order or you might get hurt.
Horses are wanderers. By nature, horses like to roam around and take a bite of grass here and a bite there. This gives them exercise as well as a way to eat while they are on the move. If you put your horse in a pen or a stall, you must provide him with feed and exercise every day because he can no longer roam and take care of those things himself. If you confine your horse too long, he will become restless. Then, when you finally do take him out, he might be hard to handle because he has so much energy to burn. How would you feel if you had to stay in your room for a whole week!?
Horses would rather run than fight. If your horse sees something he thinks is dangerous, his instinct is to run away from it rather than face it. Your horse's ancestors survived for millions of years because of this instinct. When a mountain lion approached a horse in ancient times, the horse did not try to fight the sharp teeth and claws; he just broke into a gallop and tried to outrun the mountain lion. That's why some modern horses are so spooky and flighty. They imagine that a piece of blowing plastic or a huge rock might be an enemy in disguise. But even if a horse is afraid of something, his curiosity will usually get the better of him, and he will try to figure out what the unfamiliar object is. It might take quite a long time, but eventually a horse will walk up to a suspicious object, sniff it, and touch it with his nose.
Horses have keen senses. A horse keeps a watchful eye on everything around him and immediately notices when something changes. If your grooming bucket has been in one spot for weeks and you move it to the other side of the grooming area, watch your horse's reaction when you lead him into the barn. He might stop for a moment and get a look on his face that seems to say, "What the heck is going on here?" He may even whistle and snort a little while he figures out that the bucket is okay in its new place. A horse's senses protect him and help him identify and locate things.
A horse uses his sense of smell to identify people, other horses, and objects. Mares and foals bond with each other by their individual smells, and horses use smell along with vision to recognize objects and specific people. Your horse will learn to recognize your smell so that even in the dark, he can identify you.
Horses have better vision than you do in many ways. Horses are alert to even small changes around them. If a tiny squirrel moves in a tree quite a distance away, you might not see it, but your horse probably will. Also, your horse can see better at night than you can. But sometimes a horse has a hard time focusing his eyes to get a clear picture. He might have to raise or lower his head or tilt it to see certain things. Horses have blind spots, places where they can't see things unless they move their heads or bodies.
Your horse has excellent hearing. His ears can detect sounds above and below the range of sounds you can hear, so he will pick up sounds that you don't even notice. Sometimes a horse will jump when he hears a noisy truck or a high-pitched whistle -- sounds that seem perfectly normal to you.
When a horse really wants to know what something is, he looks at it very intently, with his ears pointed toward the object. His ears act like funnels to catch even the faintest sound. Since horses have such good hearing, they can learn to distinguish your voice from other voices. And you don't have to talk loudly or yell at your horse. He can hear you fine when you are speaking in a low or normal voice.
Your horse can easily feel a fly crawling around on the tips of the hairs on his belly. Horses have a keen sense of touch, so you shouldn't use harsh aids with your horse. Often just fingertip pressure or a slight weight shift is all that you need. Your horse's nose, lips, and other areas on his head are very sensitive, so be very careful when handling them. Also, whenever you use a bridle on a horse, use light pressure with the reins.
Horses can be "A" students. They have a great ability to learn what we want them to do when we use proper aids. It takes a good horse trainer to make a well-trained horse, but once a horse knows, for example, that when you squeeze him with both legs he should trot, he will remember it for life. The horse's memory is almost as good as an elephant's!
Besides remembering good things, a horse also remembers bad habits. Be sure your horse does not develop bad habits; once he does, it will be very hard for him to "forget" them.
Beware of mares in heat. Once a month during the spring, summer, and fall, when a mare is in heat or "in season," she might have a period during which she is silly, grouchy, spooky, or even mean. Some mares are never grouchy, but if you have a mare that is difficult to handle when she is in heat, ask your veterinarian to examine her. There is a small chance the vet might find something wrong with the mare's reproductive system. Even if there is nothing wrong, it might be best to give such a mare a few days' "vacation" every month when she is in heat.
Table of ContentsA Note to Readers viii
A Note to Parents ix
Understanding Horses 1
Finding the Right Horse 8
Horse Safety 28
Feeding and Nutrition 38
Grooming and Bathing 50
Shelter and Pasture 62
Health Care 70
Enjoying Your Horse 90
Recommended Reading 112