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Louisiana Equine Council Blog

Hoofbeat News

First things first, if you didn’t read that title jamming along with Hall and Oates,

we can’t be friends. As a trainer/clinician/coach, we pretty much never come

across a performance horse rider who doesn’t need a little more umph from their

mount at times (insert Western Pleasure joke here). In the English disciplines,

you’d commonly hear a trainer yelling, “More Leg,” while sipping a mimosa, pinky

out, and eating brie or caviar on an overly toasted cracker. In the Western world,

you might hear a trainer mentioning to their customer, “You didn’t kick him once.

I couldn’t see your legs moving at all.” Admit it. You sometimes simply run out of

more leg. What to do?

One of the things that I am consistently flummoxed by when working with new

customers is how silent many of them are when riding. Indeed you have two kinds

of riders, those who feel like they have to give the horse a running commentary of

absolutely everything, or those who get lockjaw. There is no in between. They

either completely desensitize the horse to verbal cues, or never give one. I’ve yet

to find a way to cue a horse that is lighter and freer for the horse than verbally.

While I’m not suggesting that every cue needs its own verbal command, there are

a few basic verbal commands that can enhance a lot. The Kiss or Cluck is chief

among these. This will be particularly useful if you have the sort of horse that tells

on your spurs with his tail.

I use the kiss/cluck to mean two specific things. First and most basically, a soft kiss

is a request for their attention. It might be translated as, “Hey!” Sometimes, a cue

given isn’t responded to simply because the horse’s attention was elsewhere. For

many situations a simple verbal wakeup call will bring the horse’s mind back and

their responsiveness returns.

The second way that I use the kiss is to signify, “Move Your Feet, NOW!” Using the

kiss this way begins when we are teaching basic forward motion during ground

work. Through good timing and escalating purposefully, it can easily be expanded

to any cue when I want the horse to add a little more TRY. This aspect applies in

many situations. If they are hesitant to load in the trailer, kiss. If they aren’t

stretching out into that long trot like they should, kiss. If your lead departures

aren’t crisp, kiss. If the side pass is dragging, kiss. If they aren’t backing as hard or

fast as you’d like, kiss. All it means is “Give me MORE!”

A constant in all of my articles is the importance of timing when training a horse.

Going back to that groundwork and forward motion stuff, I’ll assume you have

some sort of stick/whip/rope/plastic bag on a tree limb apparatus that you use to

help you get more umph and move those feet. In behavioral terms, this phase of

training is called sensitizing. If you consistently kissed to the horse prior to using

that training aid, that kiss would become the thing that happens before what

happens happens. Kiss and then enforce the kiss until the enforcement has been

unnecessary for a while. Horse s are great at anticipation, whether you want them

to be or not, and this time, we want them to be.

I find it particularly helpful to have an escalating series of kisses/clucks in my

toolbox. That means that I kiss once softly for their attention. By softly, I mean

that my horse can hear me, but someone 5-10 ft away wouldn’t. Hearing this, my

horse’s ears should come back to me, even if he was nervous at a show and

nickering to his buddy. He should prepare and know that a cue is coming when he

hears that soft kiss. This means that I should be able to give that cue very, very

softly and it will be recognized and acted upon by the horse, but relatively unseen

by everyone else. Sound helpful?

I might also be in a situation where I simply need more from my horse, and, for

any number of reasons, I just can’t kick him harder. Maybe, I have a horse that

has been soured to leg aids and now reacts by swishing his tail like a windshield

wiper. That type of horse will really benefit from having an alternate way to ask

for more that doesn’t involve spurring harder. Hopefully, I have worked at home

on kissing softer, then a little bit louder, now, a little bit louder now, just a little

bit louder now, hey ay a ay, and my horse knows that he’d better get to moving

some feet, or else I’ll have to Shout! Pick my heels up and SHOUT!!! And again, to

be clear, this way of kissing/clucking can be used in any situation. How I have my

body shaped up, whether on the ground or in the saddle, is what will tell the

horse how to move. The escalating kisses tell him to move, NOW.

Particularly when training young/green horses, I find this use of kissing/clucking

to be invaluable. Frankly, I put it in there so strongly that I almost want the horse

to get anxious if I get a few louder kisses in. This tension is what builds that

motivation. It is a valuable tool to help sharpen up skills and get responses

automatic, without thought, now. There is certainly a time when we need to give

our horses lots of time to think. There are also times when they need to simply

obey and move. All horses could use a little more Right Now in them. Indeed, as

this becomes developed, a double kiss becomes my cue for a lead departure. Not

to indulge in hyperbole, but I wrote this article because your kiss, your kiss, is on

my list, of the best things in life.

Author: Daniel Dauphin, LEC Board Member and Volunteer Writer

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Despite waking up to freezing cold temperatures, many folks from around the state attended the 18th Louisiana Equine Council Annual Meeting. And boy can we say FOOD, LOTS OF IT! Folks did NOT leave hungry! Each bowl of Shrimp Creole was over flowing with shrimp provided by the Louisiana Seafood Board! We appreciate our guests speakers who included Senator Heather Cloud, Senator Bob Hensgens, Dr. Rachael Cesar Martinez, and Bill Rodier. We also appreciate Daniel Dauphin for his bit clinic and Jessie Jordan for his horsemanship clinic. We thank our MANY volunteers who turned out to man booths and help with other various tasks, we couldn't have done it without you! Special thanks go out to The Busy Bees(Youth Brigade) for their service to community today as they worked tirelessly with any task assigned to them! Hats off to board member Sharyon Thompson who did an amazing job in coordinating this year's annual meeting, Robbin Rosalis for acting Master of Ceremonies, Lisa S. Bell for her culinary and kitchen skills, and Danielle Vale for manning the membership table.

If you missed it this year, we hope to see you next year. We also have an upcoming event that will be posted in the next few days. You can re-new your membership on our website by clicking the JOIN NOW button at the top and choosing your plan. All major credit cards are accepted as well as paypal. It even works on your smart phone!

Author: Ginger Schouest, LEC Board Member, Marketing Chair

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Updated: Jan 18

It’s no secret that proper detection and treatment of equine hoof problems is essential for their soundness and to prevent lameness and potential founder. It’s imperative that we as owners and caregivers be vigilant and frequently observe and address any issues related to our furry friends overall hoof health.

One hoof infection common to our climate is called Thrush. It is a fungal/bacterial infection which results in pain and discomfort and can lead to lameness. Thrush is most often found on or around the frog area of the hoof and can compromise its ability to distribute oxygenated blood to the vital hoof structures and then return the blood to the heart. Thrush is prevalent in equines who spend the majority of their time in moist pastures and/or unclean stalls. If thrush is present in the frog, the equine can have a noticeable limp. Upon gently cleaning and inspecting the bottom of the hoof you will notice that the frog and/or central sulcus may have a distinct dark color or is black. A noticeable crack between the heal bulbs is also a good indication of infection. If you gently press on the frog it may secrete a very foul smelling, dark pus. If the hoof is infected and tender, the equine may show signs of discomfort and or pain. It’s crucial that the thrush be treated immediately as it may eventually compromise the hoof structure and possibly the coffin bone. While it’s always best to consult with your Farrier and Veterinarian, if thrush is detected there are some natural home treatments that can be considered.

Home Treatments

OK, it is important that we have a thorough and comprehensive understanding of hoof anatomy, ailments and terminology to help us effectively recognize and describe hoof conditions to your Farrier, Veterinarian or Stable /Barn Manager. If boarders, staff or volunteers are novices when it comes to proper hoof care, please take it upon yourself to educate them based on what you know and what you have learned. Consult with your Farrier or Veterinarian thoroughly for an explanation of their experiences and treatments for thrush, and other hoof ailments, to increase your understanding and ability to correctly educate all equine handlers at your facility. We're all in this together. Remember, the happier our equines are, the happier we will be.

The Louisiana Equine Council (LEC) strives to educate its members and keep them abreast of important equine related issues. If you are not currently a member and would like to join us, just click the JOIN NOW button on our website.

Author: Matthew Stefan, LEC Member and Volunteer Writer

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