I can’t even remember the age when I first started loving horses! I had my first Breyer model horse in 1st Grade and never stopped collecting them. Due to lack of room though, I’ve had to be more selective in what I collect as the years go by 🙂
So when I had the opportunity in 2005 to get a real, live, actual horse I jumped at the chance – with more enthusiasm than sense, if I had to tell the truth! But it has been an adventure that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
The links on this page are all products, trainers or things I’ve used or researched and use with my own horse. I can only tell you my opinion though, please research the sites for yourself and decide if it is right for you and your horse.
The first training we started with my horse was Parelli Natural Horsemanship, www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com. My horse was considered a rescue, and though he wasn’t starved and abused, he probably was not handled well at his last home before the rescue agency. With the Parelli techniques, my horse learned to trust me and I learned how to be his fair and trustworthy leader.
My horse also has some physical issues to overcome. He is night-blind in one eye, and has shoulder and back problems, likely due to poorly fitting tack over the years. I have had 8 different saddles since getting this horse! I would buy a saddle that fit him well, then as we worked on getting in shape and developing muscles, the saddle would no longer fit! Frustration finally led me to try Barefoot Saddles, www.barefootsaddlesusa.com. I haven’t been a big fan of treeless saddles as they can sit too much on the horse’s spine, but Barefoot has developed a protection system that my horse absolutely loves. It took about a month of riding several times a week for the saddle to really fit to my horse’s back, but even from the first use of the new saddle he started to move out more freely and round over his back. Our dressage scores started to improve immediately and the judges are no longer commenting “needs more energy”! I started with the dressage model and have since been able to get a trail saddle as well.
In order to combat the age related stiffness in my horse, we are currently using a joint supplement called Rapid Flex, a combination of Glucosamine HCL Chondroitin Sulfate, Hyaluronic Acid and 9 herbs. He likes the taste and it seems to keep him moving nicely, able to chase the other horses around the pasture with no problems.
For the everyday bumps and bruises, both my horse and I use Equine Arnica gel, www.essentialarnica.com. Arnica is a traditional medicine remedy for bruises, stiffness and muscle aches and pains. A “human” version is also available, but I like to use the equine version for myself as well. It is a little stronger and the carrot seed oil in the equine version doesn’t hurt me!
I do feed vitamins and supplements to my horse, as well as taking them myself. I do believe that the right supplements will help my horse stay healthy and prevent a lot of vet visits. Though never try to self-diagnose and always call the vet first! I feed garlic for flies, flax seed and sunflower seed for vitamins and coat quality. My horse, being Arab, seems to be super sensitive to any skin issues as well, so I also feed Wendell’s Stop Itch, www.wendellsusa.com. Before I started using Stop Itch, my horse would rub and scratch himself raw in places, mostly his tail and hindquarters. After determining it wasn’t a worming issue, and a vet check to be sure there was nothing else going on, we tried Stop Itch. It calmed his hyper-sensitivity and allowed his skin to heal and his tail to start growing again.
We also use Silver Shield in gel and liquid solution by Nature’s Sunshine, www.naturessunshine.com for cuts, scrapes, infections, and just about everything internally and externally. Silver Solution (similar to Colloidal silver but in a smaller molecule size) is a natural anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-viral that can be used internally and externally, and has been shown to even kill MRSA. Unlike Colloidal silver however, the Silver Solution used in Silver Shield will not turn skin blue or yellow with extended use. We actually prevented Strangles from going through our barn when the neighbor’s horses got it, just by using Silver Shield in the water and orally and rectally with any horse that appeared to be getting the infection. I use quite a few other Nature’s Sunshine products myself, mostly Everflex and Lymphomax for my own joint issues, Tei-Fu lotion for muscle strains (a natural warming lotion), and ALJ for respiratory and joint support.
We’ve been riding dressage since 2008, but never had a certified trainer, just several very good horsewomen who taught us a lot about the basics! After losing our last dressage coach to college, we found Paige Pierce. She has done wonders taking us to the next level (literally – we’re doing our first First Level test this weekend after I never thought we would be able to get out of Training Level!), truly understands horses and how to work with their personalities as well as the rider’s personalities. Even though I’ve retired Khal from showing, I still take lessons from Paige on her stallion, Bam. Paige also does equine therapy. Check out her website at www.paigepiercetraining.com.
Some of my other favorite horse links are:
Arizona Dressage Association, www.azdressage.org
If you have any questions about these links or want more details of my experiences with the products discussed here, just e-mail me!
For you horse lovers, check my Store page for my handmade saddle covers, bridle bags and stirrup sacks. The saddle covers will fit most English style saddles and some Aussies. They are made with regular cotton fabric with a flannel liner and fully elastic around the outside. The elastic can be pulled out a bit to fit smaller saddles. The bridle bags are also made of regular cotton fabric with flannel linings. The single bridle bags will fit a standard English bridle and come with a hanging loop and two Velcro straps inside to secure the bridle. The double bridle bags will fit a standard double dressage bridle with both sets of reins, and come with a double hanging loop and four Velcro straps inside. The stirrup sacks will fit up to 5 1/2″ English irons. These will protect the saddle from scratches when you slide your irons up for storage. The sacks secure over the iron with a drawstring and have plastic clips to hold them together when not in use. I also use the sacks to hold my irons when I’m riding without irons – I leave the sacks on the irons, cross the leathers over my horse’s withers then clip the sacks together to keep the irons from bouncing against my horse.