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Ask a stablehand!



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Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:49 pm
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mellifera says...



I've been riding horses for over four years on and off, and I work at my stable, cleaning and taking care of the horses. I ride English (so I know only a little about Western) and I play polo, so I can hopefully answer any questions about the game too (And feel free to ask me about other games, I may or may not be able to answer).
I'm a D3 level Pony Club member, although my trainer would certainly like me to have been a C1 a year ago (and for those of you that don't know, those are essentially "ranks" for members, and you have to do what's called ratings to get to the next level, in which you are tested on things such as horsemanship and horse management. Combined, these cover anything from riding to stable care to veterinary knowledge).

Ask, and I shall do my best to deliver!

I am not versed in medieval horse care or handling, so I'm not sure how well I can answer questions about these things. I can offer you ground work, but not accuracy.
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Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:14 pm
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Tenyo says...



Questions!

If I were travelling a long way with a horse, what supplies and every day care would I have to / be able to do out on the road, and is there anything essential that would specifically require doing at a stable?

How long does it generally take a horse to learn to trust a particular human, and does the amount of contact they've had with other humans make a difference?

How much to horses need to socialise with other horses? Do they suffer if kept on their own?
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Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:40 pm
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mellifera says...



@Tenyo

Well, first of all is obvious things like feeding and watering. Feed depends on the horse, because some horses need grain and some don't. They need to have access to hay (especially when they have little to no access to grass), water, and salt. I'd also say another thing that is super vital is picking their hooves out before tacking them up and after untacking them, because there's not telling what they've stepped over or what might have gone into their feet (and also to check for things like abscesses or thrush - a fungal infection in the frog of their hoof).
And I'm just going to add this because it's neglected a lot - horses roll. They get dirt on them, a lot. Brushing horses before you put their tack on is really important, because if there's anything underneath the tack, it's uncomfortable. My trainer has threatened to make us take off our shoes and socks and and run around our sandy arena, and then without brushing our feet off, put them back on. That's about the equivalent of not brushing your horse.
Also, making sure your horse is cooled down (their fur is not wet, their veins are not popping from their neck, they're not breathing hard, etc) after stopping and untacking. You also don't want to feed and water a horse right after they've just worked hard.
(This is, of course, assuming you are talking about riding the horse and not trailering them long distance lol)

It depends on the horse! Horses are all different and, whether people believe it or not, have completely different personalities. Some horses will be quiet and trusting, some will not. A horse could be aggressive due to neglect, abuse, etc. Another horse could go through that same ordeal and just be frightened (although I'll have to say that horses usually aren't trying to be mean. They're not carnivores, they have no reason to attack us. They're scared, the reason they may be aggressive is probably because they feel threatened).
We have one mare at our stable who is very aggressive. A lot of people have been injured because of her. She's only bitten me once, and it was because I was trying to catch her. I'm in her pasture and getting close to her every time I work or catch one of the other horses, and she's only ever pinned her ears at me. I can brush her sometimes, and other times she won't let me. She's usually fine with getting tacked up, however, and she's excellent under saddle if not a bit stubborn.
We also have two mustangs, who have been with us the same amount of time (they've been there longer than I have). Both are green (untrained), one is very friendly and curious towards people and the other who will walk away from you in her stall so you can't touch her.
Generally, the more time spent with a horse, the better. Some horses get attached to a person, some are happy with many.

They're herd animals, which essentially means they are very social. However! I've seen people have only one horse, but goat/s to keep that horse company, and it's worked out for them. We had one horse for a short time who was incredibly aggressive to the other horses and we had to keep him separated from the other horses. He was the first horse that I've ever met that I didn't like, because he was bored, he had dreadful ground manners, and he didn't know his own strength. I don't know where he ended up going or what happened, but I would contribute much of his ill temper to boredom and being isolated.
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Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:34 pm
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Tenyo says...



More questions!

Why isn't it good to feed and water them right after working hard?

Also, when making sure the horse is cooled down, is it okay to go from hard work to sudden rest or is it better to slow down for a bit first? And is there a way to help them cool down if necessary?

Thankyou! =]
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Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:24 pm
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mellifera says...



@Tenyo

Horses have no way to regurgitate, so if you feed/water them, their digestive systems may not be able to...y'know, digest it. This isn't always the case (sometimes I've had horses sneak away from me into their stall and drink right after working and they've been okay), and I've heard a few people says drinking is okay, but in my experience, you'll want to wait until they can cool down somewhat before giving them anything (unless they like, won't drink at all unless it's right after exercise, but I've? never seen that happen?).

It's better to slow down first (otherwise they're joints can get wonky). You'll want to walk them out until they're not hot (either in saddle or on foot) anymore. Some horses get really sweaty too, so you can also try to walk them out until they're not so wet, but as long as they're not hot and your can't see their veins on their neck, you can brush the sweat off or put a cooler on them (it looks, essentially, like a blanket). So, just to summarise, to help your horse cool down, you walk them until they aren't hot, and you can brush them or put a cooler on if they're sweaty.

Of course! Thanks for the questions :D
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