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The Right Lead, and it's cyber companion The Right Lead On Line©, are reader-to-reader open forums. If you haven't visited the on line forum lately you're in for a surprise, we've updated and changed the format so it's easier to use- come check it out! Each month you'll find new questions, tips and suggestions, as well as answers to questions in previous issues, so hang on to all your back issues for easy reference. This column's primary focus is the horsemen and women of the Southwestern United States, but good information travels well and is welcome no matter what the region or country. We want to hear from you on any area of horse life, from breeding and barn management, to horse care and health, budgeting money and time, training, riding and showing. Keep you letters as brief, but as complete, as possible and photos or illustrations are welcome; please only send copies, as we may be unable to return them to you.

You do not have to be a trainer or recognized expert, we believe the lessons you've learned through the equine school of hard knocks and trial and error, could be of invaluable assistance to others and ask you to share them with the readers of this column. Anyone of any age, whether you own a horse or not, is encouraged to write in. English, Western, Dressage, Trail, Reining, Cutting or Barrel Race, equine professional or dedicated amateur, this article's success depends on your participation so let's hear from you!





Q. Can't Cut It:
Can anyone suggest a good, but inexpensive clipper? Our old electric "just ain't cutting it" anymore and we'd like to replace it without a lot of trial and error. We'd also like to find the best small, battery (or rechargeable) operated clipper for ears and face that can take a beating and won't die in a month. Finally, can anyone suggest a good book on clipping techniques? Thanks! Lindsey and Sidney G., from Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Q. The Young and the Rustless:
My husband and I just had the wooden posts in our fence replaced with pipe and we'd like to find an inexpensive way to keep the pipes from rusting. Linda F., from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Q. Relaxation Frustration:
I can't seem to get my back and shoulders to relax on (or off) my horse. My hips move with the horse, but nothing else seems to! Can anyone suggest stretches or exercises that can get the stiffness out? Thanks! Kathy S., from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.



Searching for a New Path (from September, 1998):
R: My favorite is the newly opened LCRA park called "McKinney Roughs." Beautiful river bottom trails on the Colorado River, lots of acreage to travel, and a visitor's center. There is an area for horse trailers and overnight camping is allowed. The cost is ten dollars a day and the park is ten miles east of Austin on Hwy 71 E (between Austin and Bastrop). Lin S.

School Daze (from October, 1998):
R: I have a problem with boredom as well. I ride and school my horses by myself and it's easy to get into a rut, but I've found it can be a lot of fun to come up with my own exercises and routines to challenge myself and my colt. A friend recently told me about a book that she said can help, it's called 101 ARENA EXERCISES by Cherry Hill. Check it out and send us a book review! Joy B., from Buda, Texas.

Necessary Shots (from December, 1998):
R: Whether or not you plan to show your horse, you really should keep him fully immunized! As my Vet, Dr. Tom House, DVM, in San Marcos, Texas, is fond of saying, "It's easier to prevent disease than treat it" The vaccinations your horse will need will be Tetanus/Encephalitis (VEWT), Influenza/Rhinopneumonitis, as well as Strep/Strangles. I would also like to encourage you to have your horse vaccinated for Rabies. In the state of Texas, you need to carry either the original proof of a negative Coggins report (yellow sheet), or you can take a legible photo copy as long as it is validated by the testing Veterinarian. In other words, take your photocopy to your Vet and have him sign or initial it again (I would suggest in a contrasting ink, i.e., blue). Good luck. Joy B., from Buda, Texas.

Gate Crasher (from December, 1998):
R: The word "suddenly" bothers me. In my experience with my horses, "suddenly" either means something in their environment has changed in a big, bad, way or I missed the signals! Play detective! Try to think ahead of your horse, see what he's seeing and you might discover some important clues to his behavior. Check his stable and stall for anything that could be upsetting him, i.e., light bulb on/off, going out or missing, hornet's nest, sharp objects and shorting wires in the stall or around the door frame. Check his vision, as a prey animal, going from a brightly-lit area into a dark place is more difficult for a horse than we (predators) understand. Try to wait about an hour after he's stalled to feed him and make sure he's getting enough to eat in the first place- food anxiety could also account for his behavior.

If he's trying to "outrank" you, try this. Lead him to the stall with the door closed, allow him to squirm until he stands quietly, when he does, reward him with strokes and praise and walk him away from the stall. When you can do this consistently and repeatedly, do it again but with the stall door open. Once again, strokes and praise when he stands quietly, but don't put him in the stall yet, lead him away. The next step is to lead him to the stall door, pause, and then lead him in. If at any time he starts acting out, start over again calmly and quietly- resist the urge to get excited and upset- it won't help and will probably undo all the hard work you've done up to this point. Hopefully, he'll get the idea and get past this, but it will take time. I would suggest starting in the morning on a day when there isn't a lot of activity at the barn so neither one of you would be distracted or feel pressured. Joy B., from Buda, Texas.

* More Sad Tails:
I did the same thing (Ed. note: see Sad Tails in October 1998 issue) and learned a harsh lesson. Now I wait until about five minutes before I enter the show ring, apply (lightly) baby oil to help settle down the dock hairs and wrap - LOOSELY- with a polo wrap. Next, just before we enter the ring, I slide it down and off and mount up. Anonymous from San Diego, California. 


* I think you'll like Four Legs and a Tale, a Canadian site that takes a while to load, but is well worth the wait. www.geocities/Heartland/3894/ Joy B. from Buda, Texas. (Ed. note: This site is no longer in operation. 17 Mar 2001.)

* This Australian web site is a handy, quick reference guide on vaccinations, symptoms and diseases, check out Joy B. from Buda, Texas.


* A book for people like me who ride alone is RIDING FOR THE REST OF US: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR ADULT RIDERS, by Jessica Jahiel. I haven't read it yet, but trust the recommendation from Allan Pogue of Creedmore, Texas, someone whom I consider to be somewhat of an authority on horse related books. Joy B., from Buda, Texas.

* CENTERED RIDING by Sally Swift is still a must read for all new riders, or riders wanting to brush up on their horsemanship, and is available at most tack, book, and "cyber" stores. Johanna C., from Collinsville, Texas.


* Pfizer Animal Health has introduced the Preventicare Colic Assistance Plan. This plan is a form of insurance that will help with colic related surgical expenses up to $5,000.00, for horses enrolled through their Veterinarian. This plan is free to the horse owner and could be invaluable in the event of an emergency. Talk to your Vet. about the conditions and requirements for enrolling your horse. Joy B., from Buda, Texas.





Q. Out of the Blue:
I have a real problem that is getting out of control so I'd appreciate any information your readers can provide. I have a horse that, out of the blue, has begun to rear and strike at me, and charge anyone entering his "zone" whether it is human or horse. He's been shown extensively and has points, so he's been trained and handled prior to my purchasing him six months ago. In fact, I bought him because he was already trained! I can't afford to pay a professional trainer right now, and in this condition I can't resell him- I'm stuck! I don't want to give up on this horse, but his behavior has me more than just a little concerned, frankly, we need help. Determined in Texas. 

Q. Mounting Trouble:
I know to some people this will sound silly, but I'm having trouble mounting my horse. Every time I try to get on him, either from the ground or from a mounting block, he turns his head into me making his butt swing away and I can't get my foot in the stirrup. His other favorite trick is as soon as I actually get a foot in the stirrup, is to walk off before I can swing up and I have to hop all over the place to get on! It's really embarrassing and I don't know how to stop him. Aside from shooting him and getting another horse, what can I do? Lexie from Belton, Texas.

Q. Slug Bug:
I'm having a hard time keeping my gelding moving forward at the walk and trot. I have to constantly push him. I don't carry a crop and my leg isn't good enough to wear spurs (in my opinion). Any ideas? Anonymous from Monroe, Louisiana.

Q. Changing Feeds:
I'm about to move my first horse from a boarding barn to my place and want to change his feed from the barn's pre-mixed sweet feed to something like a Purina Omolene feed. Any suggestions on which feed is best and how to switch him over? We'll be pretty active with horse shows, play days, and trail rides. He's a seven-year-old Reg. Paint, 15.3 hands, 1,100 lbs. and in good health with sound feet- I only want the best for Pudden! Laura A.



Are Slant Load Trailers Best? (from November, 1998):
R-1: I read articles on the subject for a long time and the best advice was to always go bigger than what you thought you would need. We started out with a two horse with tack/dressing area. Two months later went to a twelve-foot gooseneck. We go camping with our horses for the weekends so seven months later ordered a fourteen-foot gooseneck with closed in dressing/tack. I wanted a sixteen-foot slant with rear tack that would have hauled three horses, but men always get what they want. Well anyway, a couple of months later he wishes he had so when we sell this one&ldots; Kay S. from Virginia.

R-2: Another suggestion is look for options. Something you might want to consider is a four horse stock trailer with removable, adjustable partitions- that way you get the best of both front and slant load worlds. I would advise against a ramp and go with a step-up. We have a great trailer out here that can't be used until the ramp is repaired, so we're stuck at home for now. I've been advised a gooseneck is a more comfortable ride for your horse because the hitch sits right on top of your truck's shock absorbers, but a bumper pull is easier to pull if you've never hauled before because the trailer follows the exact path as your truck. You really have to practice making wide turns with a gooseneck! For stability, I would look for a trailer with a wide body and low center of gravity and I would suggest one with good ventilation, as Texas road heat can be a killer.

To me, a tack/dressing area is a definite plus as bending over and arranging heavy tack in a half compartment under the hay rack can really hurt your back and scar up your tack. I would look for one with an escape hatch big enough for you, but not so big as your horse is tempted to squirt through, and really check out the inside for sharp edges and rotten boards in the floor. Also, don't forget to check out the interior height to be sure that your horse can ride in it comfortably and safely. Good Luck! Joy B., from Buda, Texas.

Relaxation Frustration (from January, 1999):
R: You're obviously tensed up- try not to worry about moving your back and shoulders while you're riding. I have a couple of recommendations for you. First, get John Lyon's video RESISTANCE FREE RIDING- PART 2. It has some exercises for learning balance and relaxation, but you'll need a buddy to do some of the exercises. Second, take riding lessons. As soon as you tense up, your trainer will let you know!!! Toni B., from Chico, Texas.



* Show Prep:
This is a great tip passed on to me by a friend who swears by it. To clean wool saddle pads, use a steam clean carpet cleaner and a mild soap, such as Woolite. Hang your saddle pads and clean them the same way you would your area rugs. To facilitate quick drying, use a wet/dry shop vac. Has anyone else tried this and does it really work? Joy B., from Buda, Texas.

* Great Mud Remover:
I use my cat brush- the ones with all the tiny metal fingers- to remove caked on mud from my horses. It breaks up the mud balls so all I have to do is brush them off with my regular horse brush. The cat brush is quite small so it gets into places a curry comb can't, but you have to use it with a light touch or the horse may object! I have found it's the fastest way to get those mud smears and crumbs out of my horses' coats. Lynn F., from San Marcos, Texas.


* If you are interested in Cutting, Reining, or National Snaffle Bit Association sites, you'll want to check out these web rings at Joy B. from Buda, Texas.

* Are you trying to find out if the name you've chosen for your Quarter Horse foal is still available, or want to do research on a Stallion or Mare in your horse's pedigree? The AQHA has a special section in their web site that can help you out. You can access it through their "For Members Only" link, if you aren't a current member or need a pin number to access this page, all the information you'll need to get started is right there. The link for the AQHA is . Joy B. from Buda, Texas.


* If you are about to have a new foal, you might want to check out the book by Dr. Robert Miller, DVM, and titled IMPRINT TRAINING OF THE NEW FOAL. We used it last year with our second foal and I'm so glad we did, I really think it's made a difference. J. and L. from Plano, Texas.

* Anyone wanting to get into barrel racing needs to buy this book, BARREL RACING, by Sharon Camarillo. In my opinion, this book is the best out there on training and competing for both serious competition and fun days. Good Luck! Christy from Austin, Texas.





Q. Dull Coat Lacks Luster:
I can't seem to get my horse's coat to shine. I bathe him twice a week and use Show Sheen, but his coat still doesn't look right and his mane and tail are full of split ends. Can anyone suggest a better shampoo? Cathy S., from Enid, Oklahoma.

Q. What's a Blister Beetle?
I've heard, off and on over the past year or so, about a bug in Alfalfa called the "Blister Beetle" but never paid attention because I wasn't feeding Alfalfa to my horse. Now that I am starting to feed it, I wish I'd listened! I would appreciate a "heads up" on the bug, how to detect them and how much of a threat are they to my horse. Thanks! Jennifer W., from Austin, Texas.



Out of the Blue (from February, 1999):
R: I'd really like to know the age of this horse and it's background- if he has, as you say, "been shown extensively," he may be approaching burn-out. A month or two free in a pasture just being a horse might be in order. I'd also suggest you check your tack to see if you could have inadvertently been hurting him- even a too-tight halter will cause a horse extreme discomfort and make him a fighter. You might be feeding him a too high protein mix, anything more than twelve percent is going to make him "hotter," particularly if he isn't getting enough exercise. Nanci F. from Lockhart, Texas.

Mounting Trouble (from February, 1999):
R-1: You might need a helper to cure your hard to mount horse. Line him up next to a fence so he can't swing his butt away from you, have someone hold his head and (you) get on and off repeatedly- make him stand and not just walk off. Be sure you aren't accidentally gouging him in the side with your toe when you mount- he may be responding to something you are doing unintentionally. Keep it calm and quiet- but make him stand. This takes time, so don't get impatient- that's likely what caused the problem in the beginning. If you are short legged and he is tall, that compounds the problem but it is not unsolvable. Take your time. Nanci F. from Lockhart, Texas.

R-2: First, make sure the tack fits so he is comfortable when he's being ridden. If riding hurts, he will try different things to avoid being ridden. Be careful when you do get your foot in the stirrup that you don't poke him with your toe while mounting. Try lengthening your stirrups A LOT! Like to the longest hole while teaching him to let you mount. In a Hunt Seat saddle you can shorten it again after you mount. That's harder in a Western saddle and you may have to content yourself with a few days of walk-trot without stirrups. Lunge him before riding to get a trace of the energy out. Mount with a tight rein. Almost, but not quite, tight enough to make him back up. That will give you stop power if he starts to move while you're just half way up. Tell him "whoa" and enforce it with the rein, even if you have your stomach on the saddle at the time instead of your hips. Get in the habit of never mounting and starting up immediately. Teach him that after you mount you will always stand still while you get collected. Make "whoa" mean complete and full stop every time- no matter when it is used (from the ground, from a walk, or from a canter) so that it will get the stop even without the rein pull. Non of this is a quick fix. Good training takes time but pays off with good behavior. Dot F., from Cedar Creek, Texas.

Slug Bug (from February, 1999):
R: You need to start carrying a crop. First, make sure your crop is long enough to reach below the calf of your leg without having to move your hand. It should be used with a snap of the wrist and NOT a swing of the hand. Second, PRECEDE the use of the crop with a squeeze of both legs. You want your horse to start listening to your leg, so the sequence should be squeeze and release, THEN, squeeze and use the crop at the same time. Pop your horse only as hard as necessary to get a response. Your crop should be used to emphasize your leg squeeze and not as a punishment to your horse. Be consistent and your horse will soon not only maintain his "cruise control" but also respond to a light squeeze of the legs without the crop. Jack S., from Austin, Texas.

Changing Feeds (from February, 1999):
R: You asked a very good question and one for which there a lot of different opinions and answers! What I did with my horses, was I consulted with my Vet and Farrier first and got their input. Next, based on their recommendations, I read everything I could to decide which Purina product had the right amount of protein, biotin and vitamins, etc., for each horse. Once the decision was made, I then made the transfer over to the new feed very slowly. I would recommend you buy at least 50 lbs. of the boarding barn's formula the day you leave and start the changeover at your place where you can control the amount and monitor the horse.

Using a 2 1/2 lb. measuring scoop, I would fill the scoop with the horse's current feed in the normal amount, then take back out about an eighth, replacing it with the new feed. I would keep it at this level for about a week with the next week taking out about a quarter and replacing that amount with the new feed. The next half-and-half, etc., until you have a scoop full of the new feed.

I haven't had horse colic or founder by going this slow, and some people suggest going even slower, but the above mentioned regimen works for me. You'll have to monitor your horse closely and use common sense, keep your Vet and Farrier involved in the process. I know of people who just change their horses over and have not had problems, BUT, I wouldn't want to risk my horses that way and strongly advise against it. I feel it's better to go slow and head off trouble in the first place than try to repair the damage once it's too late. Joy B., from Buda, Texas.


* Sound Advice:
With this unusually dry weather, my horse's feet are as dry as they would be in July! My farrier suggested the simplest was to replenish hoof moisture is to let the water troughs overflow when I fill them so the horses stand in the mud when they drink. It worked great this past Summer and I'm already noticing a difference in their hoof condition, now. Word of caution though, if your horse is wearing pads, or has a hoof condition that requires special care, consult with your Farrier or Vet first. Joy B., from Buda, Texas.


* If you want to learn more about equine rescue, visit H.O.R.S.E.S. In Texas at their new web site Joy B. from Buda, Texas.

* For fans of Linda Tellington-Jones and the TTouch Method, you'll want to check out the web site for C and D Circle Star at They advocate the TTeam Natural Horsemanship Training Program. Joy B. from Buda, Texas.


* I just finished reading three books I'd like to recommend. THINK HARMONY WITH HORSES by Ray Hunt, a small book packed with information from a lifetime of experience with horses. PROBLEM SOLVING by Marty Marten uses the methods of Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman. Marty tells you how to solve the most common training problems. IMPRINT TRAINING OF THE NEWBORN FOAL by Robert Miller, DVM, is a must read for anyone planning on having their own foal to raise and train. I'm going to read this one over and over! Lynn F., from San Marcos, Texas.





Q. Good As New?
For the first time, I'm getting to CHOOSE the saddle for my horse, not just use the one that came with him! I've saved up enough to buy a good used saddle, but don't know if that is the best way to go. I'm worried about quality and how much it might cost to restore the saddle and the leather. Should I wait and save more and buy a new saddle, or are used ones worth the risk? L.W. from Waco, Texas. 

Q. REPRINT: Can't Cut It:
Can anyone suggest a good, but inexpensive clipper? Our old electric "just ain't cutting it" anymore and we'd like to replace it without a lot of trial and error. We'd also like to find the best small, battery (or rechargeable) clipper for ears and face that can take a beating and won't die in a month. Finally, can anyone suggest a good book on clipping techniques? Thanks! Lindsey and Sidney G., from Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Q. REPRINT: Simple Bookkeeping:
Can anyone suggest a computer bookkeeping program for a small horse farm? I'm using Windows95 and a Pentium 90 computer. Lizbeth from Dripping Springs, Texas.



Changing Feeds (from February, 1999):
R: Get the boarding barn to give you the "recipe" for their pre-mixed sweet feed and check at your local feed stores to see what they have that most closely matches the feed your horse has been eating. Grainland makes a feed called "C.O.B." (corn, oats, barley) that is sweetened with molasses and is a very complete feed- close to Purina Omolene 100. Switching to any new feed takes some time- take a sack of the boarding barn's feed with you so you can mix the new feed in until you have him switched over. Nanci F. from Lockhart, Texas.

What is a Blister Beetle? (from March, 1999):
R: A few blister beetles in a flake of Alfalfa can be FATAL to your horse. This is a serious threat, so don't take it lightly. I don' t feed Alfalfa myself, so I don't know all the details, but you can find the information you need on the Internet. Probably a search for "blister beetle" or "Alfalfa" would take you where you need to go. Lynn F. from San Marcos, Texas.

Dull Coat Lacks Luster (from March, 1999):
R: First thing, in my opinion, you are bathing your horse too much. I feel you're washing away your horse's natural body oils, which are essential to healthy skin and a shiny coat. Also, Show Sheen is a silicon-based product that, while I use it myself on show days, I don't feel it should be used on a daily basis. According to an article I read a while back, silicon coats the hair shaft and doesn't allow it to breathe, which I believe may account for the dull, brittle, split ends you described in your question. Try this for a while and see if it works for you:

These tips have been passed along, rider-to-rider, for years and have worked well for us. Use a rubber curry and brush to groom him at least once everyday, if possible, twice a day would be even better. You should do this before you ride anyway, but be sure to do it after you ride while his body is still warm and the pores are open to stimulate the oil glands. If you have to bathe him, be absolutely sure you've removed all the soap and follow up with a coat restorer or try V05's Hot Oil Treatment to replace oils stripped away by the soap. Try to avoid using any silicon-based product. Certain fly sprays contain coat conditioners and these will help as well. I like Absorbine's UltraShield best, but there are others on the market that will do the job.

You might want to consider a vitamin supplement with biotin and oil meal in it, the one's we use are Farrier's Formula or 707. A daily worming program, such as Strongid C 2-X will do wonders for your horse's coat, especially if you use a daily probiotic, like FasTrak. For good measure, I add one ounce of corn or canola oil to my horse's AM and PM feeds everyday, it's an old race track trick, but it works.

If you try these tips and nothing seems to be helping, then it's time to call your Vet in for a diagnosis. Good Luck and I hope this helps! Joy B. from Buda, Texas.


* Show Prep, continued:
This goes along with last month's tip about using a steam cleaner and wet/dry shop vac to clean saddle pads. We picked this tip up from somewhere, but I'm not sure where. Anyway, what we do, with mostly good results and one disaster I don't want to mention here (but it wasn't my fault!) is we take our everyday saddle pads that get really nasty to the car wash and hang them in the floor mat clamps. We use the full force of the jet to soap first, then rinse them out. They get really soaked and take a while to dry, but it's better than trying to sneak them into the laundry mat! By the way, if you try this, it's not a good idea to hit the hot wax button! Happy Trails! Joy B., too, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

* Safety Note:
All of us, at some point or another will feed our horse a carrot. If you like to chop them up to keep your greedy gut from eating the carrot too fast, you could be putting your horse at risk for choking. A tip just passed on from A.Q.H.A. is that if you feed your horse carrots, slice them down the middle in long pieces, not chunks. They stated that sliced pieces are less likely to cause your horse to choke than round chunks that carrot pigs are likely to swallow whole. I would like to add that it's a good idea (especially for small children) to feed any treat from a bucket rather than from your hand. Feeding from the bucket can help prevent accidentally feeding small fingers to horses as well as cut down the potential for developing bad manners, such as nipping, crowding and other aggressive behaviors. Joy B. from Buda, Texas.


* If you're struggling with this year's taxes and need the current publications, or just need a certain form, and it's too late to run to the Post Office, you can probably find what you need at . Click on "Other Web Pages" for the Internal Revenue Service's official links. Joy B. from Buda, Texas. (Ed. note: This site has been temporarily closed. 17 Mar 2001.)


* With Rodeo season in full swing, everyone is enjoying the Cowboy culture and celebrating all things Western, but do you really know what "Rodeo" is all about? The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, PRCA, has put out two publications free of charge which are full of rodeo facts and information you're sure to enjoy! You can order THE COWBOY SPORT and HUMANE FACTS from the PRCA at 101 Pro Rodeo Dr., Colorado Springs, CO, 80919, or order on-line at . Joy B. from Buda, Texas.





Q. Hoof war rages on!
At our barn, we're having a major disagreement about hoof care, in particular, hoof dressings and thrush remedies. My farrier has strongly advised me NOT to use oily mixtures on my horse's hooves, saying that it could actually damage the hoof wall and cause the nails to become loose. He advises me to use a lanolin product only on the coronet band to add moisture and stand him in mud if he gets real dry. The barn's farrier says that's bad advice and suggests his clients use oil based dressings and says he uses a mixture of burned motor oil and pine tar on his own horses and paints the entire hoof. I trust my farrier's advice but am outnumbered at the barn and would appreciate some outside advice.- Name and location withheld by request.

Q. Halters on pastured horses?
I moved my horse to a great barn that has community turn out and the only problem is all the horses are supposed to be haltered while they're out in pasture. I've always used nylon halters because they're cheap, but have always been told not to leave a halter on in pasture for a number reasons. The barn owner said not to worry about it, but I am worried because it cost a lot to move the horse here and I can't afford to buy a leather halter right now even if I knew how to pick a good one.- No name given.

Q. Hands on problem:
Can anyone help me find a way to get "good hands?" I've been riding for a year in weekly lessons and am really frustrated. I can't seem to keep my hands still and am constantly being yelled at by my instructor. I'm really trying with all my heart, but I just don't seem to be able to get it right. Please help.- Tanya from Texas.

Q. Nasty water troughs!
Hi! My question is how do you keep water troughs clean? We have large cement tanks and smaller aluminum troughs that get slimy, full of algae and are impossible to keep clean. We use goldfish to keep the mosquitoes down, so we can't drain the troughs. We have an old QH mare (27!) and a pregnant Pintarabian mare so anything we use has to be environmentally friendly.- KC from Rosharon, TX (on line).



Simple bookkeeping (from November, 1998):
R: Try HorseTrak Business, you can order it through their website or through Bookstable's website/catalog. I use it and am happy with it. - Lisa from Lockhart, TX (on line). (Ed. note: you can find HorseTrack- Horse Management Software at or by calling 1-800-798-4422.)

Blister Beetle in Alfalfa ( from March, 1999):
R-1: Lynn was right in her answer from last month's issue, there is a lot of information on Blister Beetles! While researching this question on the net, I came across an article by Donald Stotts out of Stillwater, OK, which covers the subject very well. He provides useful information and answers to questions on how the beetle actually contaminates the bales, how and when to select bales to lower the risk of contamination, the seriousness of the threat to horses, how to recognize symptoms and the treatments available. I would suggest talking with your vet to see if your horse really needs to be fed Alfalfa and what your options are and then check out Mr. Stotts' article at - Joy B. (Ed. note: This page is no longer available. 17 Mar 2001.)

R-2: It takes only a few of these insects to cause a problem. What happens is that these insects produce a substance called "Cantharidin" which aids them in defense of themselves. After an animal, or even a human, has either eaten this insect or touched it, it produces blisters, hence the name. So you can imagine if a horse eats a few of these insects what it can do to it's throat, as well as it's stomach. The best defense is to buy alfalfa after it's first cutting, although the quality is not as good, you run less of a chance of getting the beetles in your hay. - Erich P. from OK (on line)


* DMSO Reminder!
My gelding suffered a severe kick to the knee last January that could have caused him to be lame for the rest of his life. One of the tools I used during his recovery and rehab. in late January and February was a chemical called DMSO. It worked like a charm and April 16th, Gryphon was pronounced sound!!! DMSO is a miracle drug when used correctly but can be very dangerous if abused or used carelessly. Please remember, whenever you have to use strong medications and chemicals in the care of your horse, and the label gives you instructions on how to use the product safely, follow them to the letter- don't take chances with your own life to save your horse's. Be careful and good luck! -Joy B.

* Spoonful of Sugar...
I have to give my horse aspirin in his feed and have tried just about everything you can think of to get it in him, needless to say, neither one of us enjoys the experience very much. I just received this month's issue of a major horse publication that has a possible solution and I've already ordered the product. It's called AspirEase and the woman who wrote the article claimed it's worked for her. I'd love to hear a reader response on this product from any of your readers who have tried it. -Georgia P. from Temple, TX.

* Wormer Warning!
I would like to pass on a warning given to me several years ago when I was researching which worming program to use with my horses. If you show your horse in A.H.S.A. (American Horse Show Association) shows, be careful using wormers in the Benzimidazoles class of wormer like Panacur, SafeGuard, Cutter Paste, etc. They are highly effective wormers but are considered masking substances (they can hide the presence of some banned substances in blood samples) and you have to file paperwork before the show with the show stewards if you have used these wormers within seven days of the competition. They weren't recommending I not use these wormers, they just wanted to make sure I knew the rules so I wouldn't find out the hard way fifteen minutes before my class was to begin and have to turn around and go home. The A.H.S.A. can provide you with more information about which wormers and other med.'s fall into the category of "masking substances." - Joy B.


* EquineCanada hosts a nice site aimed at kids wanting to know more about horses. It's full of good horse facts and information and can be found at Enjoy- Joy B.


* A video that has been highly recommended to me for when my mare foals next Spring, is EARLY LEARNING by R.M. Miller, DVM. The video is two hours long, costs about forty dollars and is a companion to his best selling book on imprinting newborns. Good luck! - Joy B.

* The number one book on the market for horse first aid, DR KELLON'S GUIDE TO FIRST AID FOR HORSES, is now on video. The video guide is a two-tape set and runs about $70. It shows signs and symptoms as well as giving detailed information on what to do in those critical moments while you're waiting for the vet to arrive. -Joy B.





Q. Need advice on Bots...
For the first time in years, my horses came up with bot eggs on their coats. I keep manure picked up, keep the horses fly sprayed and that's always seemed to be enough. Can anyone suggest another strategy in "Bot Wars"? I'm really at a loss for what action to take and whether or not I should be worried enough to call my vet.- Pam C. from Austin, TX.

Q. New Treatment for DJD?
I've seen ads in major horse publications on a new drug called Hylartin V for the treatment of DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease) and were hoping someone who's used it could send in a product review or recommendation. My five year old appendix, Gryphon, has the beginnings of DJD in his front right pastern and, since his diagnosis two years ago in an x-ray taken during the pre-purchase exam, has received injections of Legend and been on a chrondoitin sulfate and glucosamine food additives. Subsequent x-rays have shown minimal growth, but this new drug sounds like it could substantially increase the protection for the joint and possibly replace the additives.- Joy B.

Q. Fungus Amongus:
Sorry, couldn't resist that one! We have a fungus going through our barn and my horse seems to be getting it too. We've tried Captan Powder, and touching up each area with Provodone Iodine, but it's still spreading. Can anyone suggest a product, or line or products, which will knock this fungus quickly? There are so many products on the market all claiming to be the best that I don't know where to start and don't want to waste a lot of time or money. Thanks in advance for the help!- T. from Hondo, Texas.



Hoof war rages on ( from May, 1999):
(Ed. note: There were many great responses to this question, too many in fact for this month's issue! If you answered this question, please be patient, I'll try to get as many responses as I can in next months column and will print them in the order they came in. Here are the first two responses.)

R-1: Your farrier is correct. Oily hoof dressings actually cause the hoof to become water repellent and, in time, will dry the hoof out. He's also correct in his statement that this will cause the shoes to loosen as it will dry out the opening around the nail hole, allowing them to wear and become enlarged. As for using motor oil as a hoof dressing, this is a very bad idea. Motor oil (fresh or burned) contains detergents and additives that will dry out the hoof wall even more, also again, oils will cause the hoof wall to become water repellent. Most all over the counter commercial hoof dressings are safe and effective when used as directed. Ask YOUR farrier how often you need to apply hoof dressing, as he is the only one truly qualified to assess the condition of your horse's feet. When applying any hoof dressing, the area around the nail holes should be avoided. You do not want that area too soft. It won't be able to hold the nails and shoes can become loose or thrown. It sounds like your farrier is on track and you should trust his judgement.- Stephanie Schriner, Certified Farrier, 26 years experience, via e-mail.

R-2: Hoof dressing is for keeping moisture in, yet, it also keeps moisture out. On rainy days, dressings are good since they prevent over moisturizing and minimize the possibility of thrush. Hoof dressings inability to "breathe" can actually be drying to the hoof. Natural hooves receive moisture when they see morning dew or step in mud to drink water, allowing for that daily moisture balance. Lanolin on the coronet band will add moisture without softening the hoof wall. I sometimes put Corona (lanolin) on the frog when it gets dry. Sounds like you have a good farrier.- Lisa (on line)

Halters on pastured horses? (from May, 1999):
R-1: I strongly recommend that you not leave a halter on your best friend at any time unless you are right there, but if you must do so, make your own break-a-way halter. Take an inexpensive nylon halter and remove the long strap that buckles. Replace it with a leather strap- you can use scrap leather for this project, or an old leather dog collar. The barn owner obviously has never seen a horse dead or injured from leaving a halter on- it's something you never forget.- Nanci F., from Lockhart, Texas.

R-2: I have a problem with halters on pastured horses aside from the sheer physical danger it places the unattended horse in, it also puts them at a greater risk for being stolen than horses that are not haltered. If horses in pasture with halters on are easier for the staff to catch, wouldn't that also make them easier for a thief to catch? Really look at this facility again, but this time with the eyes of a thief. Look for easy access, hidden areas where a fence could be cut and a horse caught quickly, how much activity is there on the road the facility is on and would a strange truck and trailer be noticed and reported? How often are the horse's checked and how long would it take for a problem to be noticed? Finally, a barn owner or manager should always take the legitimate concerns of the horse owner seriously and address them promptly and courteously. You should have received a better answer than, "Don't worry about it." I hope all goes well for you and your horse at this barn, good luck.- Joy B., from Buda, Texas.


* Killing to be kind!
In a major horse publication recently, a warning was passed along concerning worming newborn and young foals. It seems there have been several reported cases of overdoses leading to at least one documented death. The article in EQUUS by Christine Barakat was based on research conducted by Philip Johnson, BVSc, of the University of Missouri, who said the problems could have been avoided if the owners had read and heeded the wormer's package insert concerning recommended dosages and body weight. I want to point out it was not the manufactures negligence that caused the accidental poisonings, the foals were given a dosage ten times the recommended amount to be administered. If you have questions concerning worming foals, especially those under four months of age, please consult with your Vet.- Joy B.

* Bale-full tale:
I recently bought four bales of hay from a local feed store. I've bought hay from them before, it wasn't always the best quality for the amount charged, but it was safe for my horses to eat. The last bales I bought from them were full of Silver Leaf Nightshade plants apparently from last years last cutting. The seedpods were mostly intact and the plants were large with some of the leaves remaining. I don't know how long the toxicity lasts or how much they can consume before they get sick or abort a foal, but I wasn't willing to find out with my horses. I immediately dumped the bales in the dumpster and purchased more hay from the feed store that I normally use, I didn't have to check their bales because I am familiar with the pasture they bale from and know it's clean. I guess what I am trying to suggest is to check the bales of hay before you leave the store, especially if you aren't familiar with where the hay is coming from and who baled it. Caveat Emptor- "Let the buyer beware." Anonymous





Q. Stuck by "El Ninio"!
I hope someone out there has an answer for this problem, because I'm about to pull my hair out!!! I use Sport Med. boots on my horse every time I ride and for some reason this year (another thing to blame on El Ninio?) the stick tights and other stickers seem to have not only quadrupled, but decided to attach themselves to his boots and my dogs! I'm spending more time pulling the stickers out of his boots with tweezers than I am riding and it's getting to where some days I just won't ride because I don't have the time to deal with it. Any suggestions on how to save my frazzled nerves and his boots from further damage would be wonderful.- About to be bald from Kerrville, TX.

Q. Need advice for foundered horse:
HELP, I have a 12-year-old Quarter Horse that was just checked by our wonderful hometown vet, and was informed my horse was in the first stages of founder. We hurried and had the horse shoer put pads and silicon on, by the next day he was ten times better. After four weeks, he still shows signs of tenderness, but only on the front. My question is- is this normal? Should I be concerned that it could be something else? Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated!!!- Perry O from Colorado- on line.

Q. Give me the "creeps":
This is going to sound really silly, but what is "creep feed"? I keep reading about how to make sure your horse gets the best feed and supplements and everything mentions horses need a certain amount of creep feed, but they never say what that is and the people I've asked don't seem to know either. We've all got theories, but no answers.- Name with held by request.



Hoof war rages on ( from May, 1999):
R-1: Every time your farrier puts a nail into that hoof wall, he is weakening it. Most horses don't need shoes at all, so you might want to read up on some of the new publications on the natural care of horses' hooves. Add biotin to your horse's feed- this will help the hoof wall, and the foot in general, to be healthy. Biotin can be found at your local feed store or through any of the horse health catalogs. It (biotin) is not expensive, works very well, and is a natural supplement. Two excellent thrush remedies are: a strong bleach solution or straight formaldehyde, brushed on the affected areas of the hoof.- Nanci F. from Lockhart, TX.

R-2: Burnt motor oil and pine tar is an old dry hoof remedy that many swear by, but they have caustic agents in them that will irritate the coronet band that leads many to believe it stimulates growth. However, my farrier told me that this is not a natural or healthy growth. You also won't find a can of hoof oil in my barn because research I've done for my own horses lead me to conclude that any oil based product (chiefly petroleum) can block moisture and hold in dirt, debris and bacteria, as well as promote rot and weaken hoof walls. My farrier has me stand my horses in mud and use a lanolin product like Corona or Hoof Alive on the coronet band, heel and sometimes the frog as needed. I've also used The Right Step with good results. As for thrush, my farrier has me use Koppertox sparingly on the shod horses and for the barefoot critter, I use a ten- percent bleach solution. So far, everyone's healthy. As for the disagreement at the barn, stick with your farrier and let your horse's healthy hooves do the arguing for you. Good luck- Joy B.

Hands on problem ( from May, 1999):
R: This is a tough question to answer because I'm not sure what your instructor is trying to teach you! To me, "still" means completely at rest- no motion, and the only time your hands would be "still" to my understanding would be when your horse is halted and not moving. Could your instructor be saying "quiet" hands? There is a difference. I would strongly suggest you have your lessons videotaped so YOU can see exactly what you are doing with your hands, then go over the session with your instructor. I also might suggest you might want to consider riding with another instructor. It sounds to me that both of you are frustrated with the situation and he/she is unable to communicate to you what they want. This doesn't mean he/she isn't a wonderful instructor, it just seems that the two of you are not communicating and after a year, a change might be in order- hang in there and don't give up!- Joy B.

Need advice on bots ( from June, 1999):
R: I appreciate your upset, my horses came in with a few bot eggs this year and I wasn't happy. I'm taking basically the same steps you're taking and knowledgeable horse people and ranchers I respect passed them on to me. What we're doing is: spread the manure and soiled bedding in as thin a layer as possible on hot, dry days. In between spreading, I try to keep the piles covered with a tarp to bring the temperature of the manure up to bake the fly eggs so they won't hatch. I keep flytraps next to each stall and use Pen Pro or hydrated lime every month to keep the urine spots from becoming a hot spot for flies and gnats. I also use Absorbine's UltraShield fly spray and keep the horses on Strongid C2X with an extra dose of Ivermectin during bot time in May and October. Other than that just keep checking your horse's coat everyday and keep the eggs removed and your horses should be OK., but, I always feel you should keep your vet informed and get his/her advice on your particular situation. When in doubt- check it out! Good luck- Joy B.


* Saved by the bell!
For years I've had a problem with my horse pulling her front shoes! I can't remember how many farriers I've gone through and how many missed trail rides and horse shows there'd been, but that's all over now thanks to good advice from a new horse buddy. Bell boots! It's sounds too simple to work but it has for the last thirteen months and now my mare never goes out without them. Get a size larger than your horse would normally need so they'll touch the ground in the back and remove them at night. They'll get frayed and tear so you'll have to replace them, and you'll have to check them everyday for stickers, etc., but it's still cheaper than a call out fee and trying to find a new farrier every five weeks!- Carolyn E. from Georgetown, TX.

* New toll free number to report abuse:
H.O.R.S.E.S. in Texas has announced they have a new toll free number to report cases of neglect, cruelty and abuse. "We hope that it will be helpful in allowing us to respond to reports of abuse in a more timely manner." The number is (888) 301-6098 and they can be found on the web at Submitted by Toni B. of Chico, Texas.





Q. Barrel Racing and bits:
I have an eight-year-old paint gelding that I need a little more turning power on for barrels. I'm 15 and I trained him for barrels myself and we are now winning ribbons. I am using a rubber-nosed hackamore on him, but the sides of the hackamore dig into his jawbones when I put pressure on the reins. I don't want to go to a gag bit because I have enough "whoa" power, I just need more turning power on him. I have one more problem with him, he is also a Western Pleasure horse and he has trouble picking up his Right lead when he lopes. I know this is important, but I just can't get him to do it right the first time, no matter how many times I practice correcting leads with him. Any suggestions?- Sandi S from Minnesota (on-line)

Q. Spin techniques:
I need to know the proper technique to use to get my horse to spin- both to the left and to the right. Can anyone tell me how?- Marta H (on-line)

Q. Need advice on showing:
I've got a nice little Quarter Horse gelding, that I would like to start showing in A.Q.H.A. shows but I have to admit I don't have a clue what I'm doing ("Jax" already knows this)! I'm interested in trying Western Pleasure, Horsemanship and Trail classes, but I can't afford a trainer. Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated! I need help on everything from competition clothes to ring etiquette. Thanks!- Gracilynn from Austin, TX.



Fungus Amongus (from June, 1999):
R: Rather than treat a fungus only by topical applications of Captan, or other dressings, try boosting your horse's immune system with the herb, Echinacea Purpurea. This is easily obtained at WalMart, or other big chains- the pharmacies in these larger store generally has a large supply of herbal products. Buy a large bottle of Echinacea capsules- open them and put eight capsules worth of the herb in your horse's feed twice a day for a couple of weeks (or longer) and see if that doesn't do the trick for a pesky fungus. If the animal doesn't eat it readily in the feed, then mix the herbs with molasses (to paste consistency) place in a syringe and administer orally. I have used this treatment on many ailments from skin fungus to venomous bites (both snake and wasp) to respiratory problems in horses, ponies, donkeys, dogs and cats (adjust dosage according to weight of animal) and found it to be very effective. If the animal develops a loose stool, lower the dosage by one capsule until you find the bowel tolerance.- Nanci F from Lockhart, TX

Stuck by "El Ninio" (from July, 1999):
R-1: They make covers for Sports Med. boots that you can buy, or you could probably make them yourself fairly easily.- Lynn F. from San Marcos, TX

R-2: You can purchase vinyl covers for you boots at most tack stores and they should give adequate protection. As for your dogs, we've started using a spray in coat conditioner to make the hairs slick so the stickers comb right out and that's made life around here a little easier. Good luck- Joy B.

Give me the "creeps" (from July, 1999):
R: Creep feeds are specially formulated feeds for nursing foals and weanlings. There are a number of commercially produced feeds available that provide the special nutrition a growing baby needs from calcium and phosphorus to copper and zinc with the form of protein (usually soy protein) that they need and can easily digest. The word "creep" evidently comes from the way the foals were fed. A feeder is built with a barrier placed above the bucket at about two inches higher than the foal's withers (raised as the foal grows) so he/she can creep under and eat un-harassed by Mom.- Joy B.


* Udderly clean!
I have found the best way to clean my mare's udders is with Excalibur Sheath Cleaner. It uses a mild cleanser and tea tree oil to remove dirt and smegma from stallion and gelding's sheaths, but I found it works great on udders too! I apply the cleaner to the udders and let it sit while I bathe the horse and by the time I'm finished, the Excalibur has loosened the crusty material to the point all I have to do is gently wipe with a sponge and rinse. The mare never gets upset and the skin has never appeared to be irritated. Hope this helps!- Anonymous from San Antonio, TX.

* Deadly Combination- Wormer Alert:
A warning is being circulated in horse magazines and by word of mouth, concerning the potentially deadly interaction of Silverleaf Nightshade and wormers containing Ivermectin. In one major horse publication, Tam Garland, DVM, of Texas A & M University, has been reported to have documented fourteen cases of horses who consumed the toxic plant after being administered normally safe dosages of an Ivermectin wormer, and who later died of symptoms associated with Ivermectin poisoning. Experts insist that the wormers containing Ivermectin are not only extremely safe and effective, but very hard to over-dose a horse with, and point to the interaction with the plant as the cause of the toxic reaction. The reports vary, but there appears to be a twenty-four hour period before and after the actual worming where the threat is the most dangerous, and owners are being cautioned to monitor their horses after de-worming. If you have concerns about de-worming, consult with your Veterinarian about the risk to your horse. For more information on Silverleaf Nightshade, you can contact your local Agricultural Agent.- Joy B.


* A fun horse site I think you and your kids will enjoy is Shadowood Horse Quizzes at I took one of the quizzes and thoroughly enjoyed myself! The quizzes are multiple choice (guess), entertaining and will challenge your horse knowledge. My test results came in within twenty-four hours and I'm pleased to admit I did pretty well on the Unicorn quiz. Check out the quizzes and then go to the Shadowood home page, I think you'll enjoy the visit.- Joy B.


* If you're thinking about moving on to a five to ten+ acre lot so you can have your horse at home, or if you're just thinking about building a run-in shed or revamping your horse's run, you might want to check out HORSEKEEPING ON A SMALL ACREAGE by Cherry Hill and published by Garden Way Publishing. This book is packed with necessary and useful information from how many acres you need per animal to types of drainage and styles of barns to management issues. It's a good book to have around!- Joy B.


* Two new mane and tail products have been introduced by exhibitor labs that promise to strengthen and moisturize each individual hair, the products are called Quick Condition 1 and Quick Condition 2. To obtain a free sample, call 1-800-377-7963. If you try this product, please send a product review to this column and I'll get it into a future publication. - Joy B.





Q. Ready for the Rockettes!
Hi! My four-year-old mare has just gotten into the habit of kicking and it's getting out of control! She doesn't kick people, just other horses. When she is in the stall, she kicks the walls of the horse in the next stall that is bothering her. This has become a problem because she has damaged a trailer and she has capped a hock. Also, in under-saddle classes, if a horse gets near her she pins her ears back and kicks. She never used to do this! My trainer is afraid she is going to get seriously hurt. She is so sweet to people and with some horses she is fine, but you never know when she is going to kick so it's extremely hard to control. She is only four and I am hoping I can get her out of this habit quickly. Thanks for any advice. - Laurel (on-line)

Q. Dust-buster needed:
Has anyone come up with a way to keep dust down in barns? Our barn has dirt aisles and every time we rake up the loose hay we set off the smoke detectors! Seriously, it really is a dirty mess and it can't be healthy for human or horse to breathe in that much dust- any advice would be welcome.- Anonymous from Texas

Q. Water trough trauma:
This is a two-part question- I hope that's O.K.? First, we're having a major problem this year with bees, hornets and yellow jackets on the water troughs and tanks. We've had several horses stung this year and I had a real scare when my mare got stung below her eye and the eye swollen shut. She was o.k. in a few days, but now I can't get her to go near the water trough. She snorts and plants her feet, side steps and practically runs over me every time I try to lead her to it and I'm afraid she's not getting enough to drink in this heat. So, my second question is, how can I get her to drink from that trough again without either one of us getting hurt?- Amy from San Antonio, TX.



Fungus Amongus (from June, 1999):
R: If you have any question at all as to what type of fungus your horse has, I would suggest you consult with your vet first for a couple of reasons. First, I was advised that some fungal looking blemishes and sores could actually be a symptom of illness, the faster it's diagnosed, the greater the chance of successful treatment . Second, there are many types of fungi out there with very specific remedies and if you don't know which one you're dealing with, you could spend a lot of time and money on a product that is doing absolutely nothing to solve your problem. For the simple fungal problems that have turned up on our place, I've used MicroTek by Eqyss and been very pleased with the results. One horse out here gets a Spring itch every year and MicroTek usually takes care of it in one or two applications. A starveling we took in had a nasty case of rain rot and there was a noticeable improvement with his first bath, but it took about a week to get it under control and to be able to say it was clearing up. MicroTek can be hard to find in some areas and you may have to have your feed store order it- I've been able to get mine from Callahan's General Store on Hwy 183 in Austin- Joy B.

Need advice for foundered horse ( from July, 1999):
R: This is a tough question no one wanted to go on record to answer because there are so many variables! First, how was the horse diagnosed and did you get a second opinion? X-rays are probably the best way to literally see what's going on in your horse's hooves and from these you should be able to sit your vet and farrier down together to determine the best course of treatment. According to my farrier, the pads and silicon helped your horse initially because they took the pressure off his heels. As to the recurring tenderness being normal he said yes and no. Foundered horses will have good days and bad days but without x-rays, pictures of his feet, or being able to see the horse in person, he would not hazard a guess as to why your horse is still having problems. His recommendation was that you have your vet and farrier work together on the horse and take x-rays at regular intervals to determine whether or not he's improving. He also suggested you might want to discuss with your farrier squaring the toes and using wedged pads to support the heel (he may even need support for the frog) and look into the wedged shoes that are now available. Good luck- Joy B.

Need advice on showing (from August 1999):
R-1: First, do your homework- obtain a copy of the A.Q.H.A. Rulebook and study A.Q.H.A. show rules. Attend a few A.Q.H.A. shows and watch the classes in which you are interested in competing and check out who's winning and what they are doing in order to win. Watch the lower placements as well, you can learn from everyone. Most importantly, keep in mind those showing should be a positive experience for both you and your horse. A competitive spirit is fine, but don't let it rule your life and remember that judging is a very subjective matter- if a judge doesn't place you in a class at one show, the next judge may see things differently and place you high. Showing horses is definitely a field where the old adage "Practice makes perfect," applies. Good luck with your show career and have fun!- Nanci F from Lockhart, TX.

R-2: Keeping in mind you'll probably be going up against riders from all levels of show competition from newbies like you and me, to professional amateurs with top notch trainers, the more practice and confidence you can build in yourself and your horse, before you enter your first A.Q.H.A., event should go a long way to making the experience a positive one. To help with this, A.Q.H.A. has published a booklet to aide newcomers in their first show and it can be obtained free of charge from A.Q.H.A. by contacting them at (or click) P.O. Box 200, Amarillo, TX, 79168. While you're waiting for this, go to the local horse shows and watch the events to get a good idea of what you want to do. Next, you might want to look into a couple of books by Charlene Strickland dealing specifically with Western showing (clothes and presentation as well as how to prepare for each event) and go back to the shows and really study the classes and the judging. You might want to look for an instructor in your area with a reputation for bringing along new competitors then practice, practice, practice! When you think you're just about ready for A.Q.H.A. start competing at the local playdays and open shows to get your feet wet and work out the nerves- then when you're ready, go for it and don't forget to have fun! Best of luck to you!- Joy B.


* Stop Thief!
While at a horse show last year, our place was robbed. We lost hundreds of dollars worth of supplies, blankets, halters, and bridles, etc., but the worst blow of all was the loss of several working and show saddles. Nothing was marked with identification information. We had only a few pictures of the saddles in family albums and show books, but nothing to really identify our property. The sheriff took down what information we could provide, but offered us little hope that the items would ever be recovered. Since then, we've marked all our saddles and equipment with our family's brand in several locations, taken I.D. photos of every single thing in the barn- including the horses and placed them (catalog style) in an photo album with notes on tears, scars and any information that might help identify it. We've also installed motion sensor lights, smoke alarms, and instituted a barn watch buddy system with our neighbors. Most importantly, we've cleared away the shrubs that hid the thief's vehicle from the road and now use a combination lock instead of a regular key lock to stop someone who might have a set of master keys. Hopefully, the lesson we learned the hard way can help you stop thieves from visiting your place- and if they do and you've taken some of the steps we're now taking- you'll be able to get some of your things back. Theresa T. location withheld by request.


* Attention anyone interested in barrel racing! If you have a question you can't seem to find the answer to, or if you ever just wanted to learn more about the sport, such as what's the difference between 4D and 3D races or what it means to "fall in the crack," this is a site designed specifically for you. This is the only barrel-racing site endorsed by The National Barrel Horse Association and you'll find everything here from training tips to the latest info on new products and bits available. You'll also find helpful articles, an "Ask The Pro Q&A," classifieds, and the latest standings at Good luck- Joy B.





Q. Is Age Relative?
How old does a colt need to be before you can break it to ride? I've heard eighteen months is o.k. and I know they race Thoroughbreds at two years- but that seems awfully young to me. My colt is just now fifteen months old, as of September, and I'd like to start making arrangements for his training. Thanx- Lisa J. from McKinney, TX.

Q. Lacking Laterals!
I'm training my QHX by myself and he's doing great going forward at walk, trot, and canter and he's beginning to back well, but I don't know how to teach him to side pass, or turns on the forehand or haunches. I'd be grateful for any help anyone can give. I'm riding him in a full cheek snaffle, no tie downs or draw reins, I don't carry a crop with him yet and I don't wear spurs because I'm not sure of my leg and don't want to upset or confuse him when he's trying so hard. I know there are no short cuts and I'm willing to work hard to help him learn. Please advise. Hope B.- on line.



Barrel Racing and bits (from August, 1999):
R: Sonny Weakley, of the Bar S Equine Pro Shop's Mobile Tack Trailer, suggested that if you want to continue running in a hackamore, you should look into the Jim Warner hackamore. He showed me several while he was at the Austin Expo Center's Show Barn for two recent horse shows and I can tell you, I was really impressed with his knowledge and willingness to take the time to explain how each bit and hackamore would affect the horse's performance. For more information on Jim Warner bits and hackamores, contact Sonny at and go to the section on tack and equipment.- Sonny Weakley of Corsicana, TX by request (read pestering) of Joy B.

Ready for the Rockettes (from September, 1999):
R: I apologize in advance for the length of this response, but the question asked has no simple resolution. First, in my experience with horses, rarely does the phrase "suddenly started happening" apply. It appears to me highly likely your filly's kicking is a reaction, or response, to something else and has been slowly building in intensity until you finally recognized the problem when manifested itself through kicking. There are a number of factors that go into why horses behave the way they do, for example, your filly might just be a young horse growing up and trying to establish her "rank" in the herd. It is possible she has very strong heat cycles, or maybe it's a pain response (teething, ill-fitting bit or saddle, sore muscles, etc.), human mismanagement or, more likely, a combination of all the above plus a few others thrown in for good measure. You are going to have to play detective and find the root cause, or causes, and then you'll have a better idea of how to manage the behavior

The first question that came to my mind when reading your questions was, how was your filly introduced to the other horses when you took her to the trainer's? It appears to me that, among other things, you have a pecking order battle under way and your four-year-old is fighting for her position in the herd. In my opinion, if she was introduced slowly, by that I mean put in a pasture with one of the lower herd members and away from the others so they could bond, then adding another of the lesser members, etc. until you could put your filly's group back into population- then possibly some of her current behavior may have been avoided. I feel there is a possibility that she was not properly socialized in her new environment and was overwhelmed and struggling to assert herself the only way she knew how. Now that she may be succeeding with this behavior (learning to bully other horses into getting out of her way or leaving her alone), and apparently your trainer has not been able to, or willing to, correct it, it is possible that it could become a deep seated, dangerous habit. Why this is dangerous, in my opinion is, that while kicking at another horse in a herd/pasture environment is absolutely natural- most horses pull their kicks and do not make contact, they are simply warning the other horse of their intentions through posturing. Your filly, from what you said in your question, sounds like she is making full contact immediately and with little or no warning which makes her unpredictable.

I am very concerned that not only is she hurting herself and the behavior is escalating, but that your trainer has apparently done nothing but state concern that she'll hurt herself even more. My first suggestion to you, not having more information about the trainer or facility to go by other than what you stated in your question, is to consider finding another trainer at another facility and move her quickly. DO NOT wait to see if your current trainer will pull a rabbit out of the hat. He/she should have done this immediately when the problem first introduced itself. I believe the trainer should have realized your filly was at the age when she would begin to assert herself and seek her rank in the group. I also feel they should have known how to manage this inevitable fact of every horse's life and control the situation BEFORE it became the problem you described. If herd management is out of your trainer's control at this facility, then another question to ask yourself is whether or not this is the right trainer for you. Why did he/she allow this behavior to continue under saddle and why is the horse being taken to shows when the trainer can't control her at their own facility?

Assuming you had your horse vet checked when you bought her, I feel you might also want to consider getting another vet check with a different vet. A second opinion is always good to have when there are doubts, and you need to be aware of physical changes that might have occurred since the previous vet check. I would suggest a vet not associated with the training facility or the trainer. Check out everything that could be a concern, in particular her teeth. As a four-year-old, her mouth is changing- she's losing milk teeth and gaining her adult teeth, wolf teeth might also be presenting themselves. Check her eyes and range of vision- you'd be surprised what a difference eye placement can mean to a horse's personality. Go over your feeding routine and worming schedule while the vet is there. Growing and working horses need more protein, but the feed has to be balanced to what the horse actually needs. Too much protein can cause a horse to be nervous, aggressive and difficult to control. Discuss turnout scheduling with the vet and the facility manager, maybe she needs more "out" time to burn off that excess, youthful energy that the rest of us wish we still had! Check out your equipment, too. Ill fitting equipment can cause even the best performing, well-mannered, bombproof horses to pitch a hissy fit under saddle and make them difficult to catch for the next ride.

As for now, I would suggest you look into the books, LYONS ON HORSES by John Lyons, NO BAD HORSES by Mary Twelveponies, and HORSES BEHAVIN' BADLY by Jim and Lynda McCall, for ways to deal with your situation. Watch your own behavior around her as well and don't give her the upper hand or dominant position, i.e., do not let her stop in front of you when you're leading her- if she tries to get ahead, back her up and make her stand where you say. When entering her stall, do not walk around her- maker her move out of your way. Don't allow her to be hand fed and control other horses and humans access to her- you have to exert your control. I would also suggest you move her to a stall away from the horse she is kicking at- put her off by herself if necessary- and do not put her into a situation where she feels she can assert herself. I would also quit taking her to shows until you have her under control- as she is now, she is a menace to other competitors and you do not want to be responsible for another horse or rider being injured, and/or your horse being banned from future competitions.

You have to break the pattern she's been allowed to get into, and you have to re-establish control and position over your filly right now. DO NOT WAIT! I can't stress enough that the longer she's allowed to behave this way, the more ingrained the behavior will become to the point of becoming even more dangerous not only to other horses, but to humans as well, and next to impossible to correct in the future. Good luck and I hope everything works out for you.- Joy B. from Buda, TX.

Water trough trauma (from September, 1999):
R: Does your mare have free access to the water trough? If so, she is probably sneaking up on it and drinking while you are not with her. Trying to force the issue is just going to make her dig her toes in harder- the old adage about leading a horse to water is probably applicable here. A lot of her fears may be coming from you- you may be replaying the stinging scenario in your mind and she is picking up on (your) the tension that way. Be sure she has a water bucket- five-gallon minimum size- in her stall or paddock. Most of my horses have at least two water sources, so if something gets into one container, they have the other to choose from. Getting her to trust the water trough again is liable to take some time. Good Luck! Nanci F. from Lockhart, TX.


* The Ohio Hooved Animal Humane Society has been given three of the newest members of the No More Night Mares herd and will be raffling off the first of these on November 15, 1999, to help raise funds to replace their horse trailer. The raffle tickets are one dollar a piece and the toy being offered is "Moonbeam." For pictures and more information on "Moonbeam" (a plush Palomino stuffed toy that's also a night light), go to You can also go to the O.H.A.H.S.'s homepage at for more information on their organization. The address for the raffle is: Ohio Hooved Animal Humane Society, P.O Box 1176, Hartville, Ohio, 44632, they ask that you send a S.A.S.E. with your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail. Thanks to Toni of the horse rescue group, H.O.R.S.E.S. In Texas, for passing on this information. Good luck!- Joy B. from Buda, TX.




I hope everyone had a happy and thrilling Halloween and that you have a great Thanksgiving! With the holidays upon us, especially since this will be the last in this century, I've included a Christmas Poll that I hope may bring back good memories of Christmas past and possibly help out Santa as he's checking his list for 1999. Horse folk can be hard to shop for so please take a second and send in a suggestion! Joy B.



With Christmas rapidly approaching, I thought it might be fun to have a poll to see what was the best horsey gift you received and would like to recommend for others. Give a brief description and the age it would be appropriate for and what you liked best about it. Ho! Ho! Ho! (pun intended!)



Q. What's in a sole?
Our parents are getting our horse crazy little sister riding lessons for her birthday and we were thinking about getting her boots. Question is what kind! She'll be getting to ride English and Western and go to horse camp this summer and we were wondering about which brand is best and what type of bottom would be safest. I've seen other kids ride in tennis shoes and was wondering if boots were a "have to." Between us, we can spend one hundred and twenty-five dollars and will need to find them in the Austin/Round Rock area. We don't want to spoil the surprise so please don't use our names!- Austin, TX.



Water trough trauma ( from September, 1999):
R: As far as I know, there is no way to stop yellow jackets, hornets and wasps from hanging out at water troughs and I really wish I did because we're having the same problem at our place. I have noticed that they seem to fly in from all over when I'm filling the troughs and tanks, so I try to fill them early in the morning before sunrise or late in the evening after sunset while they are in their nests and the horses are in their stalls. If I have to fill a trough during the day, I do it after they've all just had a drink and are well away from the trough.- Joy B.

Dust-buster needed (from September, 1999):
R-1: We tried using a mixture of mineral oil and water (1 to 4) to lay the dust in our working pens and barn, but it only made a oily mess on the horse's hooves. I've heard there are products out there for barns and arenas, etc., but why spend the money when plain old water from a spray nozzle will do the same thing?- Susan from Dallas, TX, on-line.

R-2: A couple of the tips that have been passed on to me about keeping dust down are:

1- Do all the dirty work after the horses are put out so the dust has at least four hours to settle before they are put back in.

2- Sprinkle the areas to be raked with enough water to dampen and lay the dust- then drag the rake in long, smooth strokes instead of using the usual raking motion.

Good luck- Joy B.

Lacking laterals (from October 1999):
R: First and foremost, you have to make sure your horse is moving away from pressure when you put your leg on him. If you are not sure of your leg, try teaching him from the ground first. Have him fully tacked up, use a blunt, but pointed, rock (or something like that) and face him into a "safe" fence, wall, or side of barn- face his side and put the rock into his side and bump him right where your heel would be and cluck to him. Keep the reins in your other hand so you can keep his head facing straight so he won't turn or try to leave. Start walking toward him, bumping and clucking all at the same time while you keep his head straight. When you've got him doing that real good both ways, then get on and do the same thing on his back- use your heel, bump and cluck. With practice, it should work. Hope this helps! - Jana Copeland from Cedar Creek, TX, by e-mail.

Is age relative (from October, 1999):
R-1: Yes, indeed, age is relative- please keep in mind that the race horse industry runs on one thing and one thing only- money. They want those baby race horses out there on the track earning money- unfortunately they are killing, maiming, and crippling more of them than ever see the pay window- for the racing business that doesn't matter because of the money involved. You are right on when you say you think eighteen months and two years is awfully young- it is awfully young. At this age you can start working your yearling in a round pen, or on driving lines. Letting your youngster carry a lightweight saddle, mouth a bit, walk riderless through a trail course, be ponied from an older, more experienced horse- all of these things will be useful for his development, but I highly recommend that you don't get on it or let anyone else get on it until age three or four. All beings, whether they are horse or human (or anything else) need time to develop and grow and mature and horses just aren't mature at eighteen months or two years old. You have a friend in your horse that could reasonably live until his thirties or forties- don't burn him out at this stage in his life. - Nanci F. from Lockhart, TX.

R-2: The right age to start breaking your horse depends on the individual horse (breed, size, previous knowledge). The Quarter Horses that I raise tend to grow real fast physically (usually close to 14.2-15.0 hands and about one thousand pounds by the time they are eighteen months old) and mature fast mentally, too. They are worked with and taught all their ground work so by the time they are about eighteen months, they are more than ready to get on and do light riding. That means- depending on the weight of the rider (under one hundred fifty pounds only on such a young horse is a good rule) and ride about fifteen minutes at a time and at a walk or trot- then work up to more time and harder riding month after month. Usually by the time mine are twenty-four months, they are broke enough to haul to trail rides or open shows. Each horse is different- with a smaller "stock horse" you might want to wait a little longer, a lighter breed like an Arabian- they usually don't start breaking them out until closer to the end of their two year old year. The main thing you have to worry about is the knees and whether or not they are closed. You don't want to do much at all with a young horse whose knees have not closed. You can have your vet x-ray them to find out. Good luck!- Jana Copeland from Cedar Creek, TX, by e-mail.


* If your favorite horse web sites have a specific page you go to on a regular basis and you don't want to wait while the main page is loading, you can cut down the load time by bookmarking that specific page. I've done this with THE RIGHT LEAD- ON LINE's page and it's saved me at least four minutes on the load time.- Jack S. from Austin, TX, by e-mail.


* The web site for the Equine Studies Institute has a page dedicated to conformation and analysis that is really interesting, you can go to it at it takes a while to load on some machines so be patient- it's worth the wait.- Lynn F. from San Marcos, TX, by e-mail.

* We've added two pedigree services to The Right Lead- On Line's web page. One lets you look up horses from several different breeds and registries, and the other allows you to make a pedigree for your horse to place on your own web page. For the pedigree search service from Cyberhorse(TM), simply scroll down past the picture of Kasov, Gryphon and Hope, and follow the prompts- bear in mind that this site is under construction and growing daily as more people send in their horse's pedigrees. The second service by the SitStay GoOut Store can be reached by accessing one of the example pedigrees of PEPPY TAR BOY, INVESTNHOPENDREAMS or HEZA BOY NATIVE. You can build your pedigree for free by clicking on the link to SitStay GoOut Store at the bottom of the pedigree page (thanks to my friend Lynn for sending this page to me).- Joy B.




Happy Holidays! With Thanksgiving behind us and a refrigerator full of leftovers to sustain us for a long, long, long while, it's time to get down to the serious business of shopping! This special edition of The Right Lead contains the results from last months Christmas Poll, a gift suggestions list for Santa, and great locations for Internet shopping. The Right Lead will return to it's regular format in January. I hope that the Season, in which we celebrate the greatest miracle of all time, fills your hearts and lives with lots of little miracles and joy! Joy B.



Wow! What a response to this question! Thank you to everyone who wrote or phoned in, I couldn't include all the responses due to lack of column space, but here are a few of the best, or most frequent, responses.

1- Number One! First pony or horse as a child or adult came in from Judith B.,Lindsey, Sandi B., Sandra, Joe S., Margaret S., Elizabeth B., Sammye R., Melissa P., and Amy.

2- My daughter, Holly, arrived on Christmas Eve sixteen years ago and has been my best friend and trail companion for fourteen years. I couldn't have been given a better gift. Margaret S.

3- A Christmas tree made of stacked sacks of horse feed was made for Nanci F. from Lockhart, Texas, by ten of her co-workers. She said it was wonderful!

4- A saddle that Jana C. of Cedar Creek, Texas, had been saving up for, for a long, time, showed up under the Christmas tree from one of Santa's special helpers (a.k.a. Dad).

5- Saddles and show tack came in from just about everyone who responded, but the most touching response came from Joe S. His father bought him his first horse, saddle, and rope when he was six, then spent almost every afternoon with him teaching him to "rope & ride." Joe lost his father last year to cancer, but continues the tradition with his own children, Tori, Jamie, and Mark.

6- I was given the best gift of my life (bar none!) two years ago when I got to spend six days and seven nights in Bandera trail riding with dear, wonderful friends. For me, it was pure "heaven on earth." Joy B. from Buda, Texas.


1: Nanci F. of Lockhart, Texas, sent several great suggestions! She gives her horse friends various horsey items from homemade apple and carrot wreaths, tack, homemade horse treats, and grooming supplies, etc. Another favorite gift she loves to give is photographs of the friend's horse. She says this is particularly great if you can sneak around and get good photos without the friend's knowledge. With a nice
frame, she feels this makes a wonderful and timeless gift.

2: Jana C. of Cedar Creek, Texas, likes to give horse buckets full of goodies like grooming brushes, hoof picks, sweat blades, and other great bucket stuffers.

3: Judith B. of Kyle, Texas, suggested silk/lycra cycling tights to wear under jeans and britches. She says they're better at preventing chaffing than pantyhose and regular silk riding tights. Judith says you can get them on line or at cycling shops, and are absolutely wonderful for when you have to spend long hours in the saddle.

4: Joy B. of Buda, Texas, suggests all weather, insulated/thermal coveralls for your favorite horse person (Hint! Hint!) They aren't pretty, but boy are they welcome
on cold, wet days when you're feeding and working around the barn.

5: A great stocking stuffer that no one ever thinks about, came in from Stacy S. She likes to give little felt stockings with the horse's name on it, and filled with hair nets,
plastic hat covers (cowboy and helmet) and collar pins or barrettes.



Q. Clean and simple:
Has anyone come up with a simple way to clean brushes and boots?- Susan from Dallas, Texas.

Q. Ducking out on the job:
Hi! I've been trying to teach my six year old Paint to do Hunter/Jumper. We're doing o.k. on everything but the jumps, sometimes he'll do everything fine, then the next day, he'll do a few then he'll decide to be a jerk and start ducking out to the left or right.- Lisa M. from Austin, Texas.



Lacking laterals (from October 1999):
R: I would recommend getting some dressage videos or books to help you learn the cues. My favorite book is 101 ARENA EXERCISES by Cherry Hill. It has mini patterns, lateral movements, circles, etc., and describes the benefits and no-no's for each exercise. Most of the exercises benefit both Western and English riders, but if an exercise might make a horse flex more, it might warn that this is not as desirable for Western Pleasure horses. 101 ARENA EXERCISES describes the cues in detail- I use it myself to make "lesson plans" for the horses in training.- Lori Savage, head horse trainer for Champagne Royal Arabians in Floresville, Texas.

What's in a sole (from November 1999):
R-1: I feel boots are a great gift, but you might was to get her a helmet as well. You can get both and stay within your price range. You can get her an ASTM/SEI riding helmet for between $35 and $45 dollars, and have enough left over to buy her a pair of boots. Helmets are so important for riders your sisters age, I feel you should go for that first. Callahan's General Store, The Leading Rein, and Capitol Saddlery, (just to name a few here in Central Texas) all carry helmets and most will have a lay-a-way plan or gift certificates. Using this option could help keep the present a surprise, then you can take her to get the helmet and boots fitted at the same time.

The helmet needs to fit snug, but not tight. She should be able to shake her head vigorously without moving the helmet, too much. Troxel EQ Sport Riding Helmet is a good place to start and should be easily within your budget. Bicycle helmets are not acceptable- they are not rated for the types of falls associated with horseback riding and, in my opinion, no riding instructor or camp should allow their use.

As for the boots and types of soles, I personally have no preference or slick or rubber soles as long as they have a one-inch heel. While your sister is learning and just finding her seat, a rubber soled boot might help her keep her feet in the proper place in the stirrup. Riding in street shoes or tennis shoes is not a good idea and, in my opinion, should not be allowed by an instructor or camp. Tennis shoes don't allow you to get your heel down properly and can permit the foot to slip dangerously through the stirrup- causing the foot to get caught. Having said that, there are athletic type riding shoes, like the Athletic Style HorseShoe by Roper, that are comfortable and have the steel shank in the sole for support. More importantly, they have a good heel to keep the foot from slipping through. Good Luck! Joy B.

R-2: The PetsMart in Round Rock, Texas, has a State Line Tack store in it as well. State Line has everything the horse crazy could possibly need or desire. Take your little sister shopping on her birthday! Boots and helmets need to fit correctly. Besides, she'll see a hundred other things she wants for future gift occasions!- Lynn F., from San Marcos, Texas.



In honor of the Season, below you'll find a list of on-line gift and
catalog sites, hope these help! Joy B.

1-State Line Tack: Western/English, casual and show apparel, tack supplies and more&ldots; You can shop on line at:, or call toll free (800) 228-9208. You can also visit your local PetsMart. If you're looking for something from The Cowboy Tack Catalog Co., you can find a special ordering section for them at State Line's site.

2-Wild Heart Ranch: Delightful, plush, stuffed pony toy/nightlight that will charm child and adult alike! Their site:

3-Drysdales Western Wear: Western casual and show apparel, boots, hats, and jewelry, etc., can be found at:

4-Dressage Extensions: Dressage riding apparel, tack, and jewelry, etc., can be found at: or call toll free (800) 541-3708.

5-Kreature Keepers: Nifty tack and grooming products, etc., can be located at, or call toll free (800) 446-0324.

6-Valley Vet Supply: Casual, work, and show apparel, boots, tack, supplies for horse and ranch, gift items, etc. Valley Vet does offer free shipping and handling on products ordered. The deadline for this offer is December 31, 2001. Their site is: or call (800) 356-1005.



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