Master Sgt. Cindy Babb competes in World Cavalry Championships

Master Sgt. Cindy Babb

Master Sgt. Cindy Babb

“POZNAN, Poland (April 25, 2012) — An Army Reserve Soldier won first place for the show jumping portion of the 2012 World Cavalry Championships held 200 miles west of Warsaw, Poland, April 18-22.

Master Sgt. Cindy Babb, a noncommissioned officer assigned to the 200th Military Police Command, based at Fort Meade, Md., competed against some of the best military equestrians from around the world for a week. She also teamed with Polish cavalrymen to take third place for team scores in the inaugural competition.” Read More: Army Reserve Soldier competes in World Cavalry Championships

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It’s As If He Knows – Eric Bogle-Peter Pratt (Cavalry and Lighthorse

A great song about the Australian Waler Horses left behind in the Middle East after World War I.

This is the thanks that these horses got for the service they provided.

Also see: – Waler Horse Society of Australia

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Optimum times for grazing horses

Safest grazing times made easier

“f your horses are prone to laminitis, or you just want to keep you gravel crunching barefoot horses striding out, then you really need to know the safest times to allow grazing, especially in the spring or autumn when there are growth flushes.”

An interesting article concerning the optimum times for allowing your horses to graze. Especially informative for those who have horses that are prone to laminitis.

From: Natural Horse World Blog

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90 Year Old Man Saves Girl From Runaway Horse

The very definition of a hero.

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Susana Martinez, New Mexico Governor, Asks Federal Officials To Stop Horse Slaughterhouse

“ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Friday she is asking federal officials not to allow a southeastern New Mexico company to open the nation’s first slaughterhouse for horses since 2007.

Martinez plans to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking it deny a Roswell meat company’s request for inspections that would allow it to operate.”

Susana Martinez, New Mexico Governor, Asks Federal Officials To Stop Horse Slaughterhouse.

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Look into my horse’s eyes

Something from my old website.

From time to time, I have heard people say, “it’s only a horse” or “it’s just a dumb animal, it has no soul.” There’s something about that concept that makes me feel just a little bit ill at ease. Somehow, it reduces a horse to the status of an “it” instead of a “thou.” It diminishes a horse from a living, thinking animal to the status of an soulless, inanimate object and that’s a dangerous thing because machines are disposable. They get manipulated, used up and thrown away. This should never happen to a horse.

How we interact with our horses is the foundation of how we work with them. If our training techniques treat the horse like a machine that is to be programmed, we end up dominating and controlling a horse as though it were a machine. One should not try to dominate and control a horse; we should use techniques that gain cooperation by putting us in accord with the horse. I tend to think of horses a “someone” and not an “it.” I remember a story that I was told when I was about four or five years old. It has been passed down through at least four generations of my family, originating with my great-great-grandfather. According to family legend, it was told to my great-great-grandfather while he was hunting buffalo on the Great Plains shortly after the War Between the States. Apocryphal as the story might be, it bears a kernel of truth.

* * * * * *

When the closing of the American “Frontier” was about to be completed, White settlers were rolled over the Great Planes and changed the land forever. They brought with them, not only railroads with the “Iron Horses” that cut the prairies but the iron plowshare that cut it skin. They brought with them disease that not only decimated Native American Populations, but, as my great-great-grandfather and great grandfather contended, was the actual cause of the demise of the great herds of buffalo (10,000 well armed buffalo hunters could not have kill the estimated 60 million buffalo in the allotted time span of the great buffalo hunts if they tried). Another thing the settlers brought with them were the missionaries who were out to convert the “Heathen, Uncivilized Indians” to Christianity.

Now this, to make an understatement, did not sit too well with most Native American tribes whose religious practices tended to view nature as something to be in accord with and not to dominate. Some Indians refused to be converted to this new religion, and, as the story goes, and at least one Indian remained unconverted because of his horse.

According to legend, a missionary approached a plains Indian of unknown tribal affiliation and began to preach to him. The missionary told this particular Indian that in the religion of the White Man, when you die, you go to Heaven if you’re good and faithful and do not sin.

The Indian asked the missionary, “will my wife and family follow me to this Heaven?”

The missionary responded, “yes, if they convert to the Whiteman’s religion and are good and faithful and do not sin.”

“Will my horse follow me to this Heaven you speak of?” added the Indian.

“No,” replied the Missionary.

“Why will my horse not follow me to this Heaven?” said the Indian.

“Because your horse has no soul. Only Man has a soul.” preached the missionary.

“Well,” said the Indian, “Your religion must be a false religion. You look into my horse’s eye and tell me he has no soul.”

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The importance of making an educated decision in choosing a trainer or riding instructor

What are the signs of a good method of training horses and riding instructions? What should one look for in a trainer’s philosophy and methods? What questions should I ask myself when choosing a trainer or riding instructor?

There are an endless number of possibilities in terms of answers to these questions, I suppose. However, the best answers to these questions can be distilled down to a short checklist when looking into any method of training or riding instruction to determine the suitability of a trainer to your specific goals and needs. Here are the specific questions I recommend when looking for an answer to these questions.

Are the trainer’s methods rational?

In other words, do they make sense and are they logical? Sound methods involve the rational principle that above all else, the methods and philosophy should be ethical and that the main intent of the methods be the education of the horse and the rider. As such, any excessive methods should be avoided under all circumstances. And what is considered ‘excessive’? Anything that can be considered abusive, unethical. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then chances are you are right in your assessment.

Do these methods put the welfare and well being of the horse and rider first?

This item actually might fall under the previous question, but there is one item here that needs to be addressed. No sound method or philosophy involved asking horses or riders to do things they are not yet capable of, or forcing either horse or rider to do anything that is dangerous or unethical.

Does the trainer have a working code of ethics? -See: The Ethical Horseman

Does the trainer apply his system with consistency?

That is, does the trainer develop a program of work and instruction that is applied with regularity in a consistent fashion? Is progress made or are you and your horse being subjected to a never ending repetition of the first lesson without progress? An appropriately applied system of training and riding instruction should produce progress, otherwise the scope of the method or system is neither affective for a specific case due to a possible inflexibility of the method or system.

Do the trainer’s overall methods and basic philosophy involve flexibility?

Flexibility is one of the most important qualities in any horse training method or program of riding instruction. Any good training system or system riding instruction, regardless of discipline, should be flexible enough to cover a sufficiently wide range of horses and riders. Any system should be concerned with the instruction and education of each individual horse and rider, taking into account the conformation and abilities of both rider and horse.

If a trainer has the philosophy that they have a set method of training and if a horse doesn’t fit his ‘methods’ he sends the horse ‘down the line’ to someone else, he is not a flexible trainer. In general, a trainer in any discipline should have proper flexibility in his methods or system to cover a wide range of horses, riders and situations and not be ‘stuck’ in the process.

Be an ‘educated’ horseman.

Being ‘educated’ means learning as much academically, so to speak, about horsemanship. Read the works of great trainers of the present and the past and understand the methods and which ones are valid and which ones are obsolete.  – See “The Horseman as historian – Advice to Young and Old Riders”

I could probably add another 100 items to this list, which I may do at a later time.

Only you can make the proper choice as to which trainer or riding instructor is best for you and which one will best suit your needs and goals. But most important, actually interview a prospective trainer or riding instructor yourself. Find out exactly what they are all about. See how they interact with you and especially with the horses. Invite them over to see how interact with your horse, especially. In other words, do your own investigation, see for yourself and make the best decision you can based upon what you find out first hand.


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Secrets of Horse Training – Part 1

The secrets of horse training: Part 1 –

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

Why the Thoreau quote? Because I believe that when you ride, you should be deliberate and ride like you really mean it.

As an old cowboy once said, “riding horses is done 90% with your head and 10% with your arse.” It’s largely a mental game when you get right down to it.

When riding horses, training horses or giving riding lessons, you have to be deliberate in what you do. What do I mean by ‘deliberate’? I mean you have to be rational and consistent in your approach.

There is another item that is required: time. You have to have the time available to accomplish whatever goals you want to accomplish when working with horse, or riders. No one has the time to do something right but they always have the time to do it over again, and over again, and over again.

I’ve found it hard to impress upon people who contact me for help with their horses or their riding that the one main ingredient of success is the very simple recipe of deliberation, rational approach, taking the time needed and consistency.

(more to come).

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Outer Banks Wild Horses – Corolla, NC

I stumbled on this nicely made video of the Outer Banks Wild Horses on Corolla Island, North Carolina. Remember, these horses are just as, if not more so, endangered as the Mustangs on BLM lands. The Corolla Island ponies are one of America’s national treasures. Visit: The Carolla Wild Horse Fund

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Average life expectancy for a cavalry horse? – An interesting question

Caprilli's Forward Seat

Italian Cavalry Horse circa 1906 (Rider using Caprilli's "Forward" Seat)

What is the average life expectancy of a cavalry horse? Or rather, “what was the average life expectancy of a cavalry horse?” would be a better way to ask that question. That’s an interesting question to ask and there are a number of variables involved that makes a definitive answer difficult to arrive at.

I get any number of emails concerning this particular question and as such, I thought that I would ramble on a bit about it a bit.

From the literature that I have read containing statistical data, and from anecdotal evidence from former cavalrymen in the US Army I actually knew, there are a number of answers to this question.

General W. H. Carter, US Army notes in his 1906 edition of Horses, Saddles and Bridles that there was one particular horse that was still in active service at around thirty years of age, but that was an exception rather than the rule. I don’t have the book in front of me right now but if I recall correctly, the horse was a veteran of combat.

That said, there are a number of variables involved in coming up with a definitive answer, most particularly whether we’re talking about peace time or war time and which war we are talking about. Another item to be called into question is how long a horse was expected to survive under the rigors of the combat environment. This last question is the easiest to ask given the body of military documents and other literature more or less commonly available.

Generally, as a sweeping rule, a cavalry horse (trooper’s horse, artillery horse, teamsters horse, or any horse in service for that matter) was expected to last, or rather survive under optimum conditions, thirty days or so in the field. That was the expected performance under the harsh conditions and requirements demanded of the horse.

Horse in the US Army Remount program were chosen upon conformational requirements, overall health conditions and temperament. One of the major consideration was whether or not the regulation saddles actually fit a given horse’s back. This was largely because the Army found it easier to make one kind of saddle with little variation in design and find horses that fit the saddles rather than fit thousands of saddles to horses of varying conformations. This was later changed with certain modifications (like a felt covering for the bars of the McClellan Saddle used on modified M1904 and later models which could have various felt wedges sewn in for a better fit – “How to Properly Fit a McClellan Saddle” )

The McClellan Saddle’s bars were allegedly designed to fit a wide variety of horses and improve in the quality of fit as the horse’s back ‘fell away’ during the hardships of service in the field. I say allegedly because in war time horses were only slightly less expendable than the trooper that sat on its back. You can always get more troopers but good horses are hard to find. But that is part and parcel of warfare.

Now, excluding disease, mishandling, exposure to disease, proper veterinary and general care, and levels of usage, and proper rest and rehabilitation after hard field service a cavalry horse can live just as long as any other horse, if it survives service in the field relatively unscathed.

The survival of a horse in combat is an altogether different proposition. There are a number of stories of horses surviving incredible hardships resulting from combat, especially in WW I. Most of these stories, no matter how absurd they might appear to be on the surface are probably true. Horses and humans have a number of things in common one of which is that both are extremely hard to kill as a general rule.

A horse can survive several cavalry charges and many years in service and yet live to be more than thirty years old. Then again, it could live less than thirty seconds if the enemy had machine guns or the rider made a fatal mistake. One has to remember that on the Western Front in WW I, both sides in total suffered about 9,000,000 equine casualties from combat, disease and complications from poor handling or lousy horsemanship. Essentially, the life expectancy of horses in the field and in the combat environment in WW I (or any other war) wasn’t much different from the life expectancy of the human in the same conditions. Once the festivities started, all bets were off and survival became mostly a crap shoot for everyone involved.

One of the things that was noted after WW I was that horses also suffered from the same maladies their human counterparts did (that is, those who survived). It’s been noted that horses that survived combat also suffered from ‘shell shock’ or what we might call today Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is a nice way of saying Shell Shock. And that’s just the mental aspect. If a human can suffer from the effects of combat, horses can too and in the same ways from the same causes. Either way, it’s not a winning proposition for either.

So, all things considered, the sweeping generality of the question of “what is the average life expectancy for a cavalry horse?” is essentially the same as to the same question when asked of humans. The answer all depends upon the individual, whether it survived combat in the first place, and in what condition that survival was.

To echo and paraphrase Vladimir S. Littauer on this subject, I, for one, am quite happy that horses are no longer subjected to warfare service on such a massive scale (or any scale, hopefully) as in WW I (or any other war for that matter).

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