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Horse Care and Comfort

Warning! Mistakes we should not make


I am a first owner and, if it hadn´t been for my further-up neighbour, I would have lost my Willow.
There is this small field with fruit trees opposite our home and the owner lets me turn Willow out in it as long as I tether her to a pike in the ground. I had always been careful that the rope came short of the trees, to avoid tangling. But you can never be safe if you don´t check and re-check. I didn´t take into consideration that every time Willow rolls or runs around, the pike shifts a little so that Sunday, when I unwound it from the pike and straitghtened it out in preparation for the following day, I didn´t check the length again.
A young friend of mine turns Willow out for me when she comes from school the days I work in town (I live way out in the country), so she was just doing what I had asked her to. But during the day Willow got really and badly tangled with the rope around a tree. Our neighbour, an elderly man who is still recovering from his second hip replacement, saw the top of the tree shaking furiously and ran out to check. Willow was thrashing her legs and head on her side on the ground, all tangled in the darned rope. He went for a knife and cut the rope and Thank Heaven Willow got up, completely unscathed and didn´t bolt on him as if she knew he had freed her. Willow is perfectly alright and I baked a cake for our neighbour.
I decided to share this with you because as first horse owners without experience we may make stupid mistakes like this. I could have lost my horse. It was obviously not her time. Maybe if we share the mistakes we make it will help others not to make them.
Check and re-check!
best wishes,

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Thanks for sharing Christy, although I dont tether my Sugar I had a real scare just last Sunday afternoon. At the end of a long day of work my son and i were moving the tanks we use to provide fresh water for our horses. They are on a trailor we pull with our tractor. We were bringing them back into the barn through the gate that opens into our side yard. Sugar, our 9 year old Quarter Horse, saw the gate open and the nice green grass in the yard bolted at the first oppurtunity she saw. The yard is fenced but the gates arent up yet. She ran out of the pasture and finally stopped over by our shop, which is very close to a state highway. She could have easily ran onto the road and got hit. Thank God she was more interested in the long grass and began grazing. To compound matters, my son's 4 year old Pony/Quarter horse mix ran out as well. She isnt halter broke yet and very stubborn. We got both horses back into the safety of the pasture without anyone getting hurt. A lesson learned we will be more carefull in the future when moving their water tanks through the gate.
Always error on the side of safety when dealing with your horses. Makes sure any possible routes of escape are guarded.


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Hi Christy,

That must have been a truly terrifying incident for all involved. Please can I suggest that you find some other way of turning Willow out that doesn't involve tying her to a pike in the ground or tethering her in any way at all? This is a recipe for disaster and another (perhaps more serious) accident waiting to happen. Is there a reason why the owner of the field won't let her roam free? Maybe you could set up an electric braid fence (which is very inexpensive) that would at least allow her an area to be untethered. This would be much safer and allow Willow the opportunity to wander around as nature intended :)


Hi ailsafb,
sorry I didn´t reply to your concern. we´ve had busy holidays.
Since the incident I haven´t tethered Willow again. and now the fruit trees are bigger and stronger so I can set her loose in the little field. This field is almost like a pool, being sunken as regarding to the road, so it already has a wire fence and just where we go in, I put extra plastic fence that she believes is electrified.
We have three fields we can turn her out in: our own which is the continuation of our garden and has an electric fence (here they call it "electric shepherd", the little fruit orchard infront of our home and another small field which we close with electric tape. She can run, roll, kick and Nature - indeed- intended.
Nevertheless, it is common practice, if you have no safe closure, to tether horses with loooong ropes where we live and this worked well for her first year. But never more!
Thanks for your concern.
Is it possible that everyone else who reads this is so wise they never make mistakes we, begginners coukd learn from????
Bill, I hope things are safe with Sugar and the pony!

Vio Berlin
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Hi Christy, I like the idea to share mistakes we made. I am working with a young colt I fell in love with and I do appreciate the fact that just checking on the forum I can find all these tips that help as a first-time-horse-owner. hope to read more and will share mine ! VioBerlin

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So talking about mistakes, here is one for you!! :-)
A while back, when it was a bit hotter and flies were having a blast with horses, I was getting my horse ready for a ride. I tied her to the poll (horizontal poll) in front of my shed to groom her first. Since I needed to brush her and THEN fly spray her, I decided to give her just a bit more rope so she could reach her back a bit more to scratch herself or whatever. This is a very calm, wise horse and so of course, I trusted everything to be good. She apparently had reached down to the ground and a bit in front of her pole where she was quick release tied. Something startled her, having been bent in the neck to eat off the ground, she banged her head on the pole which freaked her out even more, she twisted her head and now the rope was around her neck. All of this in a fraction of a second and very very scary. Good thing she calmed down quickly and was patient since my 'quick release' knot was not so 'easily and quickly releasable!!!! The lesson: Flies are nasty but dont sacrifice safety no matter what and no matter how calm your horse is. Did I know that the rope had to be short? YES. Am I doing the same thing now? NO!!!

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I have taken several classes at Monty's farm and ridden his horses as well. The one lesson I learned as a child from my first trainer was the the horse was not a pet, a cat or a dog but a member of the flight animal community. They would not(all) hurt you out of meanness, but they might hurt you out of fear. I was never bitten, kicked, or stomped because of her rules. I have been bucked off and suffer the fear of a run away horse but is was always my fault. My mother was raised in California, her grandfather taught all of the children the safety lessons for the farm. When you go to the barn or stable you sing or whistle, works for horses and cows. Never go into the pig stye and stay away from the irrigation ditches. Monty has two knots for tying that he says are the real deal, In his book "From My hands to yours".


I always sing to Willow. She seems to like it and it makes a good start for the day!

Horse addict (From the good old USA)
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Hi everyone! I'm new here.

Horse addict (From the good old USA)
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Can anyone give me some tips on how to feed a horse?

Kicki -- Sweden
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Hi horsesmi!
That's not an easy request! :) The subject is huge - entire books are written on it. Unless you're looking for the answer: "carefully so you don't get bitten", ;) it's hard to get it sorted out in this tiny space.
Very short tip; you feed your horse what it needs.
The knowledge lies in knowing what that is, and how to find out, but hat's not something you can cover in one easy answer.
Furthermore, to give advice on how to feed any one particular horse, you need to know what kind of horse, what workload it has, the age, and if it is a mare in foal, plus what kind of feed you have access to.
Basically, good hay and all the water he wants. If the hay has enough protein and energy in it, it will suffice for almost any horse in light work.
If not, or if the horse is in training, you need to add some sort of grain. Oat and barley is best suited for horses, corn (flakes) is common in USA, and there are any number of mixes of muesli or pellets.
Food is given in small amounts and several times over a day, and you need to do some counting on what the feed contains (protein, MJ, calcium/phosphor to name just the 4 most important things) vs what your horse needs.
I guess the best tip I can give you is to go to the local library (or bookstore, or find a couple of books on the subject and start reading them. :)

Horse addict (From the good old USA)
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Kiki, thanks for the advice!


thankyou this really helped with my horses jemma milo freddie ruby rainbow justin rainbow magic sundance!!! thanks

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As a horse rider, then an owner, what a different experience it can be! one of mine was stuck in a gate recently due to another owners horse pushing the gate (yes that right) one horse being led out whilst another horse was jamming him in. The result wasnt good, the farm owners had left barbed wire in the hedge and guess who got it, his back legs were a mess.

fortunately the farm has cleared up the wire etc and no lasting harm has been done, but it aint nice watching a horse panic and another pushing the gate on top of you, with you stuck in the middle. needless to say the other horse owner has removed him from the field. Ironically that horse always wants to meet people at the gate so in essence his basic behaviour is ok, its the barging that needs to be sorted. but some people cant be told!

Mine well he may only be 3 but there is an experienced laid back hand at the farm, who took him out the next morning, as there is no element of worry with this man, it meant the horse didnt develop any association with the gate being pain or simillar.

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I have an interesting gate story, but it involved me getting hurt, not the horse... I was caring for an older morgan that wasn't real responsive (to put it lightly; he pretty much ignored people!). One morning I was taking this horse and my horse out of one pasture and into another, where their food was waiting. The morgan couldn't wait to get to his food (did i mention that he was also obsessed with food??). I was just opening the gate, and he pushed into me, slamming me against the gate. It was a sort of flimsy wooden gate, but didn't open out. He pushed me onto the gate, bent the gate down to the ground, breaking it, and walked over me, stepping on my legs three times. Needless to say, it hurt like the dickens, and I'm surprised I didn't have any broken bones! Meanwhile, my horse was just waiting patiently!! He's the best!

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I am new so a big hello to all on this post. I have been riding for almost 3 yrs now having leased a horse for a while and cared for a few for friends horses in between. I love this journey of horsemanship I am on and I have never been so eager and hungry for knowledge and posts like these are great so we can share our stories of laughter and tears.
Around 2 yrs ago after watching a very inspiring You Tube clip with a famous western rider speeding around a huge arena with no saddle or bridle I thought to myself "hmmm I can do that"! (depsite having never ridnen him with no bridle before)
so off I went with my big 16.2hh Quarter horse x Stock horse gelding with no bridle or saddle (I am laughing at my own maddess as I write this!) into his open paddock with just a stick in my hand. I put my leg on his hindquarter to suggest a turn to the left (turned out he did not know this one) and he took that as his canter cue and off we went at full speed straight into a tree and fence. I managed to stay on him until he reached the tree and he dodged it...I fell off and was winded. I was more emotionally upset and so was the horse.
Anyway I survived :) but it was VERY scary for both of us.
What did I learn from my experience? Too much to write down but mainly not to run before you can walk!
Happy and safe riding :)

Kicki -- Sweden
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Welcome annalouise82!
On the subject of barging gates, I would warn every one from teaching the horses to walk home on their own unless this can be done in a very orderly fashion and aways will be done that way. As well as talking it through with all owners of the horses it will affect before starting this practice.
What happened at my place was that someone had the very bad idea the other week, to open the gate and let the horses march themselves into the stable. It's just a turn around a walled off corner, so not far, and everything went very well both times. *That* was not the problem!
The problem arose when same person wanted to remove just one of the horses from the field. My youngster, who was quite well behaved and well trained about waiting patiently at gates up till then, had just been taught that opened gate = run home, so he barged through, knocking over the person holding it.
No harm to any one, but I was very upset that he could've caused an accident as well as seeing how all my previous efforts had been ruined so swiftly.
Needless to say, I was not aware of the new idea until after the fact, but after the crashed gate it was decided no one was to do so ever again.