Posts Tagged ‘Horse Riding’

Training Your Dog Around Horses

May 17, 2017

My black lab puppy!

I just moved my horse to a new private barn that just has my horse and a second horse. It is a quiet barn with miles of trails, which is exactly what I want! Riding trails weave in and out of the woods and across fields. With such nice landscapes, I’ve also been thinking about bringing my year old Labrador retriever on trail rides too; especially since my horse is great with dogs. The problem? My puppy has never been around horses.

Dogs that are trail riding partners have a few requirements. They need to be physically fit in order to go on long trail rides and they need the mental soundness enough to follow your commands. Some dogs are more independent than others and will run ahead, but they should listen when you ask them to come back to you, or wait for you to catch up. My dog loves to go on long walks. She is very independent and she is the type that will run ahead on walks through the woods to follow a scent. Even though she sometimes goes very far on a scent, she will come back as soon as I call her. Although dependent dogs might be easier to take on trail rides because they will stay close to you, a well-trained independent dog can also be a good trail companion.

Once I decided that I wanted to bring my dog around my horse, I started looking up ways to train dogs to behave around horses. Before you introduce your dog to the barn, or your horse, your dog should be well trained. She should be able to understand simple commands such as sit, stay, and down, both on and off the leash. The first thing I did in my training my barn dog journey, was bring my dog to the barn on a leash. I closed the barn off so she wouldn’t see the horses outside and let her sniff around inside the barn. After a bit of smelling on leash, I let her run around inside while I mucked stalls so that she could get used to different sites and smells. Once I finished doing my chores around the barn I pulled down one of my saddle pads that has my horse’s scent on it and let my dog sniff that for a bit to get used to the smell of the horse.

I brought my dog to the barn, and let her smell my horses scent a few times before introducing her to my horse. When she was relaxed enough around the barn, I decided it was time to introduce her to my horse.  I asked another person to be there, who had enough horse experience to hold my horse while I introduced the puppy to my horse. My dog was on a leash and my horse was on a lead. My horse of course has seen dogs before so was not too concerned about the dog. Observe your dog as you bring her closer to your horse. Does she show signs of aggression or fear? If she is showing aggression firmly say no and sit her down. Praise her once she relaxes and move a bit more closer to the horse. Once you’ve made it to the horse, make sure both the horse and dog are comfortable and let the dog sniff your horse, your horse may also sniff the dog because he has never met this particular dog. The whole interaction could take days or weeks to get to the point where both your dog and horse are comfortable together.

As you bring your dog to the barn more often she will easily become more relaxed. The next step is to keep your dog on a leash and allow your horse to run around in the pasture. Walk your dog on the leash around the pasture while the horse moves about.  Praise your dog when she does not show any signs of fear or aggression. Move closer and closer to the horse as you make your way around the arena.

Continue to teach your dog to respect your horse and his space. It could take months before your dog is calm enough to go on a trail ride with you. The important things are to take baby steps and be patient. This could be a long process! Good luck and wish me luck in the rest of my trail partner training journey!

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Kick Walls in Indoor Arenas

April 5, 2016

Gorgeous Indoor Arena kick wallsI’ve mentioned before, that my favorite part about selling footing is being able to go to lots of different barns and look at how each barn is designed differently. A trend that I have noticed a lot recently is more and more barns are installing kick walls in their indoor arenas. Let’s take a look at the importance of kick walls!

Kick walls are both aesthetically pleasing and serve a purpose. A kick wall is a wooden boarder around the base of the indoor arena walls. Normally a kick wall has a bit of a slant to it, around 15°, with the bottom being the most wide. You can build kick walls, or some companies such as Equitrend, has kick walls can be easily mounted.

Although kick walls make an arena have a nice, clean finish, they do have a purpose to them too! One main reason for having a kick wall is that it forces the horse away from the wall. Since the bottom of the kick walls are further away from the walls, the horse doesn’t ride right on the wall, which can save your legs if you have a naughty horse! Another major advantage of the kick wall is to keep footing from building up against the walls of the arena. Your groomer can get closer to the kick wall than the indoor arena wall because it won’t get snagged against a pole or beam. You don’t have to worry about the footing getting between the different poles in the barn and not being able to get it out from those areas.

Almost all indoor arenas that install our footing choose to install kickboards. For the fact that it is so popular, we designed a side-view of how the base of your arena in an indoor arena should look when kick boards are installed. Just like outdoor arenas, you have your base installed. The base consists of 2-3 inches of large aggregate stone, a layer of geo-textile fabric, and 2-3 inches of compacted stone dust. If you are going with the traditional wood kick wall, you would build them directly on top of the stone dust. Other types of kick walls may be mounted to the arena wall after footing installation is done. After the kick walls are installed the correct depth of footing is installed depending on what type of discipline is performed in the arena. Choosing one of our dust-free footings is the perfect addition to your new arena installation. If you have any questions on base installation, or footing installation don’t hesitate to call us! You can see the side-view of an indoor arena installation below!

indoor arena footing sideview kick walls base installation

Don’t Get Bored In Your Indoor Arena!

January 4, 2016

winter-1090649_960_720Winter is not my favorite season when it comes to riding my horse. If you’re like me, you get easily bored in your indoor arena. When asking an equestrian what their favorite season is, you’ll most likely hear Summer, or Spring, or Fall. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an equestrian say “I just love riding in the winter!” Shows and races start back up in the spring and continue into summer and fall. Sure the winter is beautiful to trail ride through woods that have a light snowfall, but once the snow hits a certain depth, we all are pushed into indoor arenas to ride. Indoor arenas can make both you and your horse feel confined. Riding a few times clockwise around the arena at a walk, trot, canter; then a few laps counterclockwise with the same routine. Not only are you bored at this point, but so is your horse. I pulled together a few different options for keeping both you and your horse from becoming bored in your indoor arena.

Start off by changing up how you ride around in the arena. Instead of doing the usual, riding on the rail around in a circle, try some different patterns. Work on riding in a big figure 8 in your arena. Place a cone directly in the center so that you have a visual of where your 8 should cross over. Be sure to pay attention to how you are bending him around the circle, and try to keep the circles as equal as you can. Another idea is to ride in a diamond shape. At each corner, create a swift turn to travel up the other side of the diamond. Be careful not to rush your horse. Start with a walk first, and then trot the diamond. One more variance to try is to be about ten
feet off of the rail towards the center of your indoor and ride in the same motion as you would if you were on the rail, a rounded rectangle. At the long sides, allow your horse to extend, but then collect him as you come into the corners and keep him collected or slower on the shorter ends of the rectangle. This will help you increase and decrease speed smoothly.

If you feel very motivated you can use various obstacles in your arena. Some obvious examples are setting up smaller jumps, or poles on the ground for you to work your horse over. But if you have long winters like we do in upstate NY, you have time to get creative. One example I read about is to set up various barrels around your arena and place a cone on a few of them. Work on walking to the barrel, stopping, picking up the cone and then walk to a second barrel and place the cone down. As you progress in this challenge, don’t stop at the barrel to grab the cone, make your horse move right past it while you grab the cone. A few other options are placing tarps on the ground and working with your horse to calmly walk over the tarp, even though it may make scary crinkling noises. I have also seen others use hanging noodles that you walk your horse through through. Walking through these various obstacles will build your horse’s confidence and trust in their riders. It is hoped that the horse will react calmly if they were to encounter something like these obstacles in real life situations.

Riding in an indoor arena can also be a hassle because of trying to deal with dust. Focus more on training your horse through various obstacles or different patterns than worrying about dust by switching to one of our dust-free footings. You will never have to water your arena again!

How do you stop from getting bored in the winter?

Picking up Manure in Horse Arenas

September 29, 2015

We love to catch up with customers. If we are in the area of where we know an arena is installed, we always like to see if we can stop in and check out the arena. I talked to a customer the other day that has had our footing for 9 years, and still tells me how much she loves it! Think of all of the time and water she has saved during the past 9 years!

One of the biggest mistakes that many of our customers make is to not pick up their horse manure in the arena. Many people don’t know this but leaving horse manure in an arena, actually adds dust. Manure is made up of organic material. When manure is left in an arena and is ridden over, it breaks into smaller pieces. Not only do these smaller pieces release airborne bacteria, but it also releases the dry particles that create dust. We had one customer who had our dust free footing in her arena, and her boarders were leaving their horse poop in the arena when they rode. She contacted us because her arena footing became dusty. After viewing the footing under the microscope, we discovered that it was full of organic material and there really was no way to fix the arena without completely removing the contaminated footing and replacing it with new footing.Untitled-1

Being sure that both you and whoever else rides in your arena picks up their horses manure is crucial. We recommend that every barn with our footing post signs around the arena that reminds boarders or trainers that the poop has to be picked up. We also urge everyone to keep a bucket with a pitchfork in the arena to further remind everyone to pick up their manure, and to stop anyone from having an excuse from picking it up. Whether riders pick it up immediately after the horse does their business, or after they’re done riding is not an issue. If they decide to wait until they are done riding in the arena or there is a busy class going on and don’t have time to pick it up during the class, it is important to not ride through the manure during the rest of the ride or lesson. When a horse rides over it, the manure will be pushed deeper into the footing, making it almost impossible to pick up without accidentally leaving some behind.

Always picking up the manure is going to increase the longevity of your arena. Our oldest dust free footing was installed in an arena over 14 years ago and is still doing great! If you have any questions about the maintenance of our footing or would like a sample please feel free to contact us!


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