Category: Trailer

Horse Chores For Your Springtime Checklist

Rex-Zeus-Feb2011It’s amazing how just a few weeks can impact the weather.  At the first of February, northern Oklahoma had it’s second ever blizzard warning.  Where I live, there was a record 25″ of snow.  Just a few miles north, there was a record setting 50″ and that area also set the record for the coldest temperature of -23°F.  There was snow for over 2 weeks, which is also out of the normal for Oklahoma.

Now, the temperature was close to 80°F today and the daffodils in my yard have been in bloom for about 2 weeks.  We had our first actual thunderstorm  just a few days ago.  Spring is officially around the corner!  So, it may be a good time for some spring chores.  Here are some chores that you may want to do.

At the barn:

  • Clean and condition your leather tack.  Make sure the leather is dry before applying a leather conditioner.
  • Inspect the leather for any cracks, cuts or splits.  Replace any leather that is damaged.
  • Go through your grooming kit.  Replace any tools that are broken.  This would probably also be a good time to wash your brushes.
  • Clean your clippers.  You can do this yourself or take them to a professional.  You can also have the blades sharpened at the same time.
  • Wash your winter blankets, if you are not going to need them anymore.  Store them in a dry place.  Most blankets come in a zippered plastic bag.  I have kept these to  store my blankets for the summer.  This makes for good dust free storage.
  • A warm dry spring day would be perfect to strip your stall completely (if you have one).  Let them air out for a few hours before you put bedding back in them.  If you have full board, this is probably done periodically through the year.
  • Give your trailer a good cleaning.  Do a thorough inspection and make note of any damage to floors/walls/ceiling/tackroom, worn tires, damaged lighting/wiring, etc.  Make a plan and time frame to get damage fixed.

For the vet:

  • Get vaccinations, if you haven’t already done so.  Check with your vet as to which basic vaccinations are recommended for your area.  Your vet may also have suggestions for additional vaccinations based on the age of your horse and also whether or not you show or trail ride.
  • Don’t forget to get the Coggins test.  A negative Coggins is required if you plan to show, trail Daffodils-Mar2011ride or take your horse to a riding clinic.  Most events want a Coggins that was done within a year, but a few require one that has been done within 6 months of the event.
  • Spring is also when I have my horses’ teeth checked and, if necessary, floated.
  • My gelding will have his sheath cleaned, if needed.

There is a multitude of chores that you can do in the spring.  This is just a small sample.  Plan a work day and make a list of what you want to accomplish that day.  If you don’t finish your list, add it to the next planned work day.  Don’t try to do everything all in one day . . . . your body won’t like it.

Trailer Training Is Not A Last Minute Task

Dollar is my 6 year old palomino gelding.  I named him after the horse John Wayne rode in his movies.  Never mind that the movie Dollar was a sorrel, I am just one of those avid “Duke” movie fans.  Anyway, Dollar is just about as laid back as a horse can get.  I haven’t found anything that bothers him.  He also has as much curiosity as any cat.  He’s always looking to see what you are doing and at times it seems like he would really rather help you with whatever it is you’re doing.  He’ll walk along side of the tractor while the pasture is being mowed looking like he’s trying to tell you how to drive & mow.  He stands guard by a ladder while you are on the roof.  He also likes to floss his teeth with the tail of the lead rope you have him tied with.

Dollar has had his moments where he didn’t want to load in a trailer.  I have had to do last minute trailer training while trying to go to a show.  I have also had him refuse to load in the trailer when trying to leave the show.  Almost all horses at one time in their lives will be difficult to load in a trailer.  But consistent training and practice rides have helped immensely.  He now just walks into a trailer like an old pro.

My trainer, Ellen, told me she had to use Dollar this last weekend.  One of the other horses (let’s call him Teddy) at the barn had been sold and was leaving.  The new owner could not get Teddy to load in the slant load trailer.  Teddy is just a big kid (about 16.5h) and really had little training.  He stopped at the trailer door and refused to budge.  The new owner decided some trailer training was going to be necessary before leaving.  After several failed attempts, Ellen offered to get Dollar out of the pasture.  Dollar was Teddy’s “pasture and play mate”.  Dollar was loaded first and then Teddy was led up to the trailer.  He was quite reluctant to load.  He did get his front feet in the trailer and immediately backed right out.  He did this a few times, each time inching further in the trailer.  Finally, Teddy stepped all the way in and stood nervously beside Dollar.  Ellen told the new owner to just let them chill there for awhile, so Teddy would become adjusted to the trailer.  Then both were unloaded so Teddy could be loaded by himself.   Next Dollar was tied to the outside of the trailer as an enticement for Teddy to load.  It took a while, but Teddy was finally coaxed back in the trailer.  Ellen took Dollar back to the pasture.  Before she walked back to the barn, there was Teddy standing at the gate ready to go back to the pasture.  The new owner told Ellen that Teddy had managed to get his head over the divider bar and his neck was caught between the trailer wall and the divider.  He couldn’t get loose by himself.  To keep him from becoming terrified, he was freed from his precarious predicament and he immediately escaped from the trailer.

Well now, you can just imagine how hard it was going to be to get Teddy back in the trailer this time.  No amount of coaxing or bribing with his favorite treat seemed to work.  So it was back from the pasture for Dollar.  This time, tying Dollar outside the trailer did absolutely no good.  Since Teddy was wise to this trickery, Ellen decided it was time to actually load Dollar in the trailer again.  By this time, Dollar was a little tired of the this game also.  He balked.   But after being walked around in a circle, he loaded right in.  Teddy took some convincing.  He was  convinced by 2 people locking arms behind his haunches & helping him in the trailer.   Ellen told the new owner to tie Teddy in the trailer.  This way he wouldn’t escape again.

Now, how to get Dollar out of the trailer.  The new owner offered to let Teddy out so Dollar could be unloaded.  Ellen graciously declined this offer because it had taken literally 3 hours to get Teddy to this point.  Spending another 3 hours loading this big baby was not what Ellen had imagined for her afternoon.  She said she would get him out through the escape door.  She threw the lead rope over Dollar’s back, opened the escape door and called for him.  She had placed the bucket with the remaining food about 3 strides away from the trailer.  Dollar looked at the food and started out.  He then saw the ground which was a very long drop.  He backed up, looked at the grain and Ellen called him again.  Dollar once again stepped towards the escape door, once again looked at the ground.  Then he stepped forward enough to get both feet on the ground.  He never balked after that and just stepped right out the door and walked over to the bucket that held his treat.  The new and old owners just looked in amazement.  All Ellen said was “He’s not for sale” , turned and walked Dollar back to the pasture.

The point of this story is not about the loading/unloading methods (through the escape door) that were used on Dollar.  Neither Ellen nor I advocate this method used for anyone!  It was used because we both know the temperament of Dollar and knew his trailering abilities.  Please do not try this with your horse.  So what is the point of this story?  If your are selling a horse, be honest about the experience your horse has with trailering.  If you are buying, ask to see the horse load in trailer and maybe even take a small trip to see how the horse rides.  If you are going to a show, trail ride or even just to the vet, don’t wait until you need to leave before you trailer train your horse.  All you’ll get is frustrated with your horse and your horse will probably develop a very negative attitude towards trailering.  Take the time to trailer train your horse properly and take him on small trips every now & then to reinforce the training.  Nothing takes the place of preparing you and your horse for anything, whether it be riding or trailering.

How do I know this . . . don’t ask!

Leave a comment & tell us one of your horse trailer stories.

Come See The Palomino Youth World Show

Palomino Horse in Driving RigThe Palomino Youth World Show is now in full swing.  If you live in the Tulsa Oklahoma area, THIS IS A MUST SEE!!!!  No where else can you see so many beautiful golden horses in one place.  No where else can you see so many different variations of the golden horse.  Whether you like trail, English, Western or Halter, there is a class that will catch your attention.  Come out to the Tulsa fairgrounds and see the kids guide these horses around the arena and put them through their paces.  Go to for a tentative show schedule.
There’s no excuse, it’s free admission!

Meet My First Horse

My first horse Igette was a race bred quarter horse

I’ve been referring to my first horse in several posts.  Let me introduce you to Juniper Moon Wind, affectionately called Iggette.  If you’ve read my posts on what & what not to look for, this is a very good lesson in what NOT to do for your first horse.  Iggette, in her younger days, was an absolute nightmare for any novice.  I will add that in time with a lot of patience & training, she became the best horse ever for both me and the countless students that she taught how to ride and overcome their fears.

Iggette is a race bred Quarter horse.  In 1979, she was in training at a smaller track in my area.  She had about 60 or 90 days of training.  To be quite honest, I just don’t remember anymore.  As with a lot of young race horses, her legs just couldn’t stand up to the strain of hard training.  Before she ever had an official race, she hurt her front legs.  This wasn’t a life threatening injury, but it did end her race career.  The only good therapy was complete rest.

Iggette was taken off the track to recover at her owner’s home.  She was put in a pasture with feeder cows.  Unfortunately for Iggette, she has a lot more cow sense in her that a race horse should have.  She herded the cows around the pen, cut them into corners and wouldn’t let eat.  She did this several times a day.  Let’s just say she wouldn’t let the cows fatten up and a skinny cow is not what you want to take to the butcher.  To top this off, Iggette bucked off the owner’s wife when she was ridden.  Remember Iggette only had race training, she didn’t know how to be a pleasure riding horse.  This just added insult to injury.  It was time to sell her.

My and Igge at CavalierThis is where I come in.  I had never owned a horse, I had never taken care of a horse and I had only ridden a few backyard pets that my friends had.  I was a stupid 20 something and was just as horse crazy then as when I was at 4.  Oh yeah, I was also recuperating from a very bad fall off a lesson horse trying to learn how to jump fences.  I was told Iggette was going to the sale barn and I just couldn’t let that happen.  I talked my husband into buying her.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with her, but I knew I couldn’t let her go to the sale where she might end up in the hands of the killers.  I bought her without even going to look at her first.  This is how I became a novice owner.

When I went to get her, her former owner had offered to trailer her for me since I had neither a truck or trailer.  Being off the track, I thought she would just jump in the trailer & off we’d go.  We tried loading her the normal way by just walking into the trailer, she won that battle.  We tried a rope around her backside to try to pull her in, she won that battle.  We tried backing the trailer in the ditch so she wouldn’t have very far to step up, she won that battle.  We finally had to put her in a stall and back the trailer up to the door.  After an hour of trying to coax her in, we won – sort of.  She did get in the trailer, but she did the 4-foot shuffle all the way to her new home.  Whew, was I glad that was over.

Iggette’s new home was a stable not far from my house.  I did the good owner thing and walked her around the pasture so that she would know the fenceline.  Just as I took off her halter, a jet flew overhead as it was taking off from the airport.  The airport was less than a 1/4 mile from the stable.  Needless to say it was low and loud.  Iggette reared up at the sound of very loud jet engines & took off running.  She had never heard this sound before & it scared the daylights out of her.  I couldn’t catch her the rest of the day.  Within a week, jets didn’t phase her anymore.  Catching her while in the pasture remained one of her biggest vices for quite a few years though.

As for riding her, I quickly learned race training is just what it implies.  The only gaits she knew how to do were a fidgety walk and run at top speed.  I needed help and decided to use the resident manager/trainer.  This was another big mistake.  ALWAYS – ALWAYS – ALWAYS check out the trainer before hand.  Talk with some of their customers, watch a few of their training sessions and talk with other people in their barn.  If the trainer discourages or flat out won’t let you talk to their clients or watch them train, pass them up.  Don’t even think about it.  After finding out a few of his “training techniques”, I knew this was definitely not the trainer for me or my new horse.

I suffered through trying to train her myself or maybe it was Iggette who suffered through a complete novice trying to train a green horse.  We didn’t get very far.  Since I had no idea of what I was doing, the best I could manage was a somewhat slower walk and a trot that would jar your teeth out.  I didn’t try to lope at this point.  To be quite honest, I was intimidated and she knew it.  She never tried to dump me or rub me off on the nearest fence, but she was never willing to give to in to me either.  She seemed to do better with women than with men.  My husband would ride her and she would do little bunny hops sideways.

So to sum up this part of my novice experience: I bought a 3 yr old horse. I bought a horse off the racetrack. I bought a horse that only had race training and no other type of training. I bought a horse I had never even seen. I bought a horse from sheer emotion. I bought a horse that at times was almost impossible to catch. I bought a horse that would not load in a trailer.

How many more wrong things can a person do?

You can see now why I am passionate about helping other novice horsemen out there.  It can be mighty painful without some experienced help.

Magazine Must Haves For The Novice Horseman

I just received my Horse & Rider magazine.  This is just one of my magazines that I read front to back.  There is an article in this issue that you, as a novice looking to buy a horse, MUST read!!  The article is “7 SIGNS YOU SHOULD WALK AWAY FROM A HORSE FOR SALE (OR SELLER)” by Bob Avila.

This article tells you what bad habits to look for.  The article goes into bad attitude, this would be cranky, rude or impatient.  It tells you about being barn sour and also about not respecting your space.  There is a small section of information about lameness.  There are also signs to look for in the seller.  This article is only 4 pages long, but it does give you information that you will need when you go to look for that dream horse.  READ IT!! & READ IT again!!

And when you are done with this article, read the one from Clinton Anderson on getting your foot shy horse  to let you handle those ticklish feet.  Oh and don’t miss YOUR HORSE YOUR LIFE for a few pointers.  There are some really good common sense things a novice horse owner may not know.  There are also on going articles on conformation, riding & horsemanship.  AND THIS IS JUST 1 ISSUE!!!

If you don’t have this magazine . . .  go out now & get it at your local bookstore, drug store or grocery store.  It is well worth your time and effort for this one.  This is just one MUST HAVE magazine for any novice.  It is just full of information.  There is also EQUUS.  I highly recommend this magazine for the latest in  horse health.  Practical Horseman & Dressage Today are outstanding magazines for the owner who leans more towards English riding.

These are the magazines that I subscribe to for the latest information in health, riding and horse related products.  Over the years, I have gotten an enormous amount of information from these magazines.  There have been articles on legislations that effect the horse world.  There have been articles on which hay may be better for your horse, oats vs sweet feed and which plants in your pasture are deadly to your horse.

If you don’t have a subscription for any of these, check out the MUST HAVE MAGAZINES in the right column of my blog.  Just click on the magazine that you would like to subscribe to.

Subscribe today, don’t miss another issue!

What Horse To Look For – Part 1


Have you done your homework?  Have you figured out your budget?  I truly hope you didn’t skip that assignment.  You are finding out that even if you have your own place, owning a horse is NOT CHEAP!  It’s better to find out the cost of horse ownership on the front end of this process.  You don’t want to find out in a couple of months that you have to sell your dream horse because you under estimated the cost of upkeep.  It is far more important for you to make your mortgage payment and feed your family. 


If you’ve found that your finances are in order and you can afford the maintenance of a horse, you are going to ask what horse is best for me?  For a novice owner, there are sooo many choices.  There are also some that you should steer away from for now.  I’m going to break this down into several posts.  This way I don’t have to try to condense the information too much.


In my Jan 9 2008 post, I suggested a mature horse.  By this I mean a horse that is an 8-15 year old, I would even go as far as a 20 year old for the right horse.  Why?  Because these guys have been around a bit.  They probably have years of training/riding and unless they are the nervous type, they are well out of that fidgety young horse mentality.  Beside this, there are a few other manners that they probably have learned with age.  They should have good ground manners, they have probably learned not to lean on the farrier, and they shouldn’t try to hurt the vet at shot time.  If the horse has been shown or was a ranch horse, it will probably load in a trailer easily.  I absolutely can’t emphasize enough just how much that is worth.


You want to find a horse that has a kind soft eye, not one that only shows the whites and has that wild scared look all of time.  You want a horse that stands quietly no matter if it is tied to a fence, on crossties or tied to your trailer.  You want a horse that respects you, your space and your authority.  You don’t need a horse that strikes at you, tries to walk over you, or challenges your leadership.  You want a horse that is reasonably trained.  While it doesn’t have to be a "push button" horse, it should be a well broke horse.  You want a horse that is healthy in both body & mind.  You and the horse should have mutual trust for each.  Without trust, you will never develop a rewarding relationship, you will never become a team.


Where do you find a horse like this?  Like in the post mentioned above, your riding instructor may know of a prospect.  Try your horse friends.  They may know a youth or amateur who has outgrown their current horse and is looking for more of a challenge.  Horse shows, especially the big breed shows, always have horses for sale.  Use caution here though.  You may find a good prospect.  But if the owner is from out of town, they may want to sell while at the show.  This could make it more difficult to test ride the horse a couple of times.  It would also make it very hard to get a pre-purchase exam (I’ll discuss this more later).  Working ranches will also have dispersal sales.  This would be a good place to pick a nice ranch horse.  This is also an instance where you need to be careful and taking a knowledgeable horse person with you would be best.  They could help steer you away from a horse that may not be right for you.  There are the classified ads in both the paper and on the internet.  And finally, there are the bulletin boards at feed stores, tack stores and livestock sales.


Remember what I said about being in too much of a hurry.  You don’t want your dream horse to turn out to be your worst nightmare.