Q & A for Hauling Horses

Question: How should you tie a horse in the trailer?

Answer: With a quick release halter or knot. Use a nylon or leather halter for tying a horse in the trailer, not a rope halter. A rope halter can get caught on things too easily and it is so thin, if it does get stuck, it can seriously injure the horse. If you use a nylon halter, make sure you tie the rope in a knot that will come loose easily in an emergency; or use a quick release halter; or a lead rope with a quick release snap. Also, make sure to tie the rope short enough so that the horse cannot step over the rope.

Please note, if the horse does not know how to give to halter pressure, do not tie this horse. Please see hauling an untrained/wild below.

Question: Is it safe to leave a horse loose in the trailer?

Answer: No, I do not think it is very safe to leave a horse loose in a trailer, especially in a two horse trailer. A large horse can get to walking in circles and cause the trailer to move too much. An untied horse can fall or injure himself much easier if he is not restricted.  Horses may also try to nip or bite each other which can lead to a multitude of problems. Ponies and mini’s under 500lbs are okay for short distances without being tied as long as there are no dividers in the trailer. However, I still recommend tying them. A horse or pony that is tied will not be able to move about the trailer.

Please note, if the horse does not know how to give to halter pressure, do not tie this horse. Please see hauling an untrained/wild below.

Question: What is the safest way to trailer an untrained or wild horse?

Answer: Loose in a stock trailer. Do not try to tie this horse because they do not know how to give to pressure; doing this can put this animal in serious danger to injuring himself. A stock trailer is open and stable enough for these horses to move around. Drive extra cautious because there is a risk of an accident, however, this is the safest approach for hauling the untrained horse. Do not have anything (no, not even a halter) on untrained or wild horses when hauling.

Question: If hauling on horse in a straight two horse trailer, which compartment should the horse be loaded into?

Answer: On the left side, behind the driver (in most parts of the world). This is because roads are crowned by design to encourage good drainage. Your trailer will want to pull a little to the right when driving on the right side of the road. By loading the horse in the left compartment in a two horse, straight load trailer, the rig is better balanced to counter-act the crown of the road.

Question: Is it okay to haul a horse that is already saddled?

Answer: It is not recommended to haul a horse that is already tacked up. The saddle and bridle can get caught up loading the horse in and out of the trailer. If the rig is involved in an accident a saddle or bridle left on the horse can cause even more injury to the animal. Instead, plan to arrive early at your destination to tack up your horse.

Other Quick Tips:

  • Make sure there is the proper amount of air in your tow vehicle and trailer tires. When airing trailer tires, make sure the trailer is empty.
  • Be sure to have mats in the trailer so the horse cannot slip around while he’s inside.
  • Never allow a horse to stick his head outside the trailer while on the move.
  • Always check your spare tires (for both the two vehicle and the trailer), even for a short haul.
  • If you must get in the trailer with the horse to load/unload him/her, make sure the escape door is open AND/OR there is plenty of room for you to get out easily and safely.
  • If there’s a butt bar, clip it before you close the rear trailer doors.
  • Close the trailer doors quietly so as to not startle the horses.

May you have safe travels with your equine companion.

~Kate with OCHS

Halter Safety

HALTER SAFETY!

To safely halter a horse, we must catch him first. If he is in a field, we need to approach so that he can see us and does not become spooked by our presence. Walk up to the horse’s shoulder while talking softly to him. You may want to walk in a zig-zag sort of pattern or even walk right past him if he’s known to be hard to catch. (I will talk about hard to catch horses in another article.) Once you reach him, give him a good scratch on the shoulder, whither and neck. If you rub him first, he won’t think you are just going to rush the halter over his head and put him right to work. Horses learn quick, and often times, they won’t like to work unless they enjoy their job. So let’s try to make their job more fun! Now that your horse is thoroughly enjoying the attention; it is the time to drape the lead-line over his neck so that you have control of him if he decides to leave at this point. You want to be on the near side, or left side, of the horse to put on the halter. Start by holding the halter in your left hand, unbuckled. Take your right hand and place it over the horses neck. Your right hand should be near to where his jaw bone connects to his throat. Now grab hold of the crown piece of the halter with your right hand so that your left hand is holding the nose piece. In this position, you have complete control of the horses head. With your right hand holding the crown piece, gently ask the horse to bring his head towards you. At this point, you should be standing between the horses head and his shoulder. Bring the horses head towards you then gently slip the nose piece over the horses nose; and at the same time lift up on the crown piece with your right hand. The halter will easily slide over the horses face into position where you can secure it on his head. Be sure that the nose piece is up high enough on the bone of the horses nose when it is fastened. If the halter is too far down towards his nostrils, you can easily injure the horse. Now you have a safely haltered horse.

good&bad_halterfit

To the left is an incorrectly haltered horse. To the right is a correctly haltered horse.

Horse_ropehalterProper

Above is a correctly fitted rope halter. Below is an incorrectly fitted rope halter.

improper_roperhalterfit

Below is a drawing of the horses skull. Here you can see where the bone of the horses nose ends.

horse_teeth_face

If the horses halter is on too tight, there is no wiggle room in the halter. You do want to have wiggle room all the way around the halter.

Question: Is it okay or safe to leave a halter on a horse while he’s out to pasture?

Answer: NO! I cringe every time I see a horse with a halter left on unattended. This is one of the most common problems (let me translate that word to: Dangers) I see today. Here’s why I believe it is not a good idea, and is very dangerous to the horse to leave a halter on unattended. Halters can get stuck on anything. A horse goes to scratch his head on something (probably trying to get that itchy thing off!), well, when he brings his head back up… he can’t! The halter is stuck. The horse panics, begins to thrash and before you know it the horse is all tangled up in a fence, his face scratched, cut or worse.

Another problem is that horses can scratch their face with their legs. A horse goes to lower his head, and intends to scratch his ear with his hoof. Lets say he uses a hind leg to scratch, like a dog would, only the hind leg is now caught in that halter! You can see all kinds of problems this can cause, right? Same thing can happen with a front foot. Lets say you can free this horse, and the horse is basically uninjured. You now have a head-shy horse on your hands even though you didn’t hit or physically cause this horse pain. The fear of the halter getting stuck is now always in this horses mind. It takes a tremendous amount of training to teach a horse that halters and people touching his face, will not always be a bad experience. Horses use their ears, nose, and sight to survive, so having their face caught, I imagine, is one of the scariest thing for a horse to experience.

One more thought on leaving halters on… if halters are left on too long (thus they are tight enough not to come off) they will imprint into the horses face. There are plenty of horses out there that have permanent scars from halters being left on too long. The worst case horses are usually terrified of people, will not let anyone come close to their face. Some horses will even have missing ears and eyes because of halter accidents. In other words, please please PLEASE do not leave a halter on a horse unattended and share your new knowledge with your horsey friends.

Sometimes accidents happen, and they can be totally out of our control. However, we can try to prevent some serious accidents from happening by being proactive in how we manage and care for our horses.

Thanks for reading.

Regards,

Kate Thomas with OCHS

Diving into the New Year

Hi y’all!

I know these notes seem to be getting farther and farther apart, so I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with those whom they love; spent Christmas enjoying the good things in life; and is starting the New Year off with a good note!

The New Year here at the ranch is off to a wonderful start. We have a new addition! His name is Joe Joe, or just Joe, for short. He is a gorgeous 13 year old sorrel registered paint gelding with striking white stockings and a bald face. He has gotten a reputation for being “Curious Joe” because he investigates everything. He’s a true sweetheart and is blending in well here at the ranch.

Here’s Joe story, the short version: He was a race horse as a youngster but retired because he just wasn’t fast enough. He was such a good boy that he’s been used as a pony horse at the race tracks in Colorado, Texas, and Arizona. His previous owner, Crystal, wanted him to retire from that fast pace life and thought he would fit in well here as a lesson horse. He arrived here on December 18th, late at night. His pasture buddy currently is Doc, but he will be introduced into the herd slowly over the month of January. Joe is currently in training to become a lesson horse for intermediate to advanced riders. He is doing well in his training thus far and it shouldn’t be long before he is helping teach others to become better horseman and women!

I have attached some pictures of Joe below, be sure to take a peek!

In other news, the Summer Camp dates for June, July and August are posted on the main website! We are VERY excited about camps this year. There are new games, new lessons, more hands-on learning, more one-on-one instruction and much more fun to be had! Be sure to reserve your child’s spot early because camps will be filling up. Please read all about our summer camp program here: http://www.owlcanyonhorseservices.com/horse_camp.htm

Thanks for reading. I will do my best to post more often. Please feel free to leave a comment or send a message about what topics you would like to see covered here!

 

Warm wishes,

Kate Thomas with OCHS

 

IMG_1602 IMG_1664 IMG_1622 IMG_1637 IMG_1643 IMG_1660 IMG_1665 IMG_1687 photo

 

 

2013 Summer Overview

Hey y’all,

I know it’s been a while since we’ve spoken, so I want to share a little about the events that have been going on here at the ranch this summer.

 

Summer camps were a real hit this year with 7 full weeks of camps. They were such a hit, in fact, that we had to borrow the neighbors trusted older gelding, Cruz, to accommodate another camper for 3 of the 7 weeks! Anira, Buck, Bandit, Ben, and Cruz were used for the week long camps. Biscuit and Gravy enjoyed helping during the two Kiddy Camps (ages 4-6) that we had in June. Please enjoy a few photo’s from camps at the bottom of this note.

 

In June, I had a client call and requested my help. Her daughters horse had gotten stuck in an irrigation ditch. The daughter had lead her horse from the far pasture to the pasture closer to the house, they crossed the ditch; which was their normal routine. However, this time, the water had washed out the rocks and left a muddy, boggy bottom. The horse got his hind legs stuck and panicked, flipping over on top of the little girl. Thankfully, the little girl was okay. She ended up with only a few bruises. We had to call the fire department to get the horse out of it’s predicament. It took 6 hours, 30+ crew of fire, EMS, vet, large animal rescue, and a large crane to rescue the horse. The horse was sedated and lifted out of the ditch to dry land. The horse walked to his pen under his own power and other than being a little dehydrated, he was perfectly fine. The little girl rode her horse just two days after the incident. To this day, they are both enjoying their rides around the property.

In July, Biscuit and Gravy had the pleasure of dressing up like clowns for a fun filled birthday party for two sisters. Ben, Anira, Buck, and Bandit allowed all 12 of these girls to take turns riding them. They taught them how to stop, walk, turn left and right in preparation for the trail rides. Put-put golf was set up in the driveway, along with horse shoes and croquet. Aside from riding the horses and petting the mini “clowns”; riding on the golf cart was the favorite. The kids had a blast riding around on the golf cart as they watched the other group ride the horses on the trail ride. After the rides, the kids ate lunch and had their ice-cream and cake. Before the kids packed up and headed home, they had to break open a horsey pinata! It was one tough pinata, but in the end, the kiddo’s got their candy.

The bleachers have been completed and have a wonderful roof to block the sun between the 10 o’ clock and 3 o’ clock hours in the summer. We have enjoyed having the families pile up on the bleachers to watch the campers demonstrate their abilities on horseback.

 

The summer went by so fast. We are so thankful for all the new families that have joined us this year as well as all the returning families. Because without you, what we do here at OCHS, would not be possible.

 

Many Thanks

~Kate Thomas with OCHS

 

IMG_5793 IMG_5937 IMG_4723 photo(61) IMG_8941 IMG_9164 IMG_9211 IMG_9489 IMG_0016 IMG_5134 photo(41) photo(44) photo(43)IMG_8880 IMG_6131 bdayIMG_9878

Almost Summer Project

Hi y’all,

The snow has melted and the sun has been shining bright! We sure are enjoying these longer days.

With summer camps around the corner, we started a project that I think all of our guests, especially as spectators, will enjoy. What better way than to enjoy the horses, the view and of course your friends and family participating from horseback, than from a set of bleachers?! Come on out and stay a while!

photo(22)

We plan to build a roof to provide some shade soon, too. Please bare with us, and the sun, until we can finish the project! (The handrails will be on before June 1st too!)

Below is the view you can see as you sit on the top seat:

south view

south view

East view (arena view)

East view (arena view)

North View

North View

West view

West view

The horses are all ready for you to come out and enjoy the beautiful Colorado summer from their backs!

Gravy says, "Please, oh please come visit!!! Oh and don't forget those apples!"

Gravy says, “Please, oh please come visit!!! Oh and don’t forget those apples!”

Summer time ponies and their sleek summer coats!

Summer time ponies and their sleek summer coats!

Warm Summer Blessings,

Kate with OCHS

April Snow brings May ..Snow.. Showers?!

Hi Y’all!

It has been quite an interesting Colorado spring so far, here on the northern Colorado plains. The beginning of April was t-shirt weather, followed by a week of snow, then more t-shirt weather followed, once again, by a week of snow and so-on.  Thinking May is just around the corner we started brushing the horses out real good. (See the picture of Ben below) Well, we got them brushed out real good and had to double-blanket Ben and Doc the very next day (May 1st) because we got a good foot of wet, heavy snow! So much for May flowers because we aren’t done with the snow just yet. We sure did need all this moisture though, so I can’t complain too much.

Here are a few pictures of the 3 snow storms we have had this past month:

Echo looking for some food

Echo looking for some food

Giddy Up!

Giddy Up!

Mini play time

Mini play time

Sky

Rosko helped me feed Doc and Echo by pulling the toboggan loaded with hay!

Rosko helped me feed Doc and Echo by pulling the toboggan loaded with hay!

Rosko loves the snow!

Rosko loves the snow!

photo(12)

Check out the drift behind the horse's loafing shed.

Check out the drift behind the horse’s loafing shed.

Snowy morning breakfast

Snowy morning breakfast

The snow behind our house.

The snow behind our house.

Sunset

The snow is melting leaving puddles and mud everywhere!

The snow is melting leaving puddles and mud everywhere!

Ben shedding out, before a snowstorm. He got two blankets put on him the very next day!

Ben shedding out, before a snowstorm. He got two blankets put on him the very next day!

Hope y’all are having a great start to your spring season. May the flowers bloom soon and the grass grow tall!


Kate with OCHS

Training Echo Day 12

Hi y’all,

Here is a video of the 12th day I trained Echo. The first video is just demonstrating the ground work we have done. He walks, trots, and canters on a long line, disengages his hindquarters, moves his shoulders away correctly, side passes long the fence, trots over poles, and most importantly: he’s very attentive to his handler and is very willing. He doesn’t have much spook about him either, he is quite the curious fellow!

Enjoy this video of the ground work done on Day 12 of training Echo:

In the second video, I will be riding Echo in the arena for the first time. This ride is the 4th time that I have ridden him. I have mentioned before that Echo has been ridden about half of a dozen times by his owner, Kelci, prior to his training here. So he has been ridden at a walk in a large round pen and an arena at the facility where she was boarding him in Greeley. During this ride I am just working on simple things, such as him getting more comfortable with a rider on his back, giving to the bit, stopping (which he does very well with just relaxation of the riders body and a verbal cue “Whoa”), and starting to work on the trot. This video shows his 3rd ride at a trot, but his first ride at a trot in a big open pen.

I hope y’all enjoy this video of day 12, part 2:

 

Best Wishes to all you horse enthusiasts,

Kate with OCHS