Post-Care for Choking/Choked Horse

Well, I guess you can’t avoid the scary parts of horse ownership, with the good, comes the bad and the very scary. I will get right to the point, because chances are, if you are reading this, you are in the same boat. My arab choked on beet pulp as he gulped his food. Luckily, we were right there and able to treat him quickly.
Treatment: This is what was prescribed by my Veterinarian who was unable to be there, but consulted via text messaging. First we administered Banamine intravenously. That did not stop the choking, so we gave him a dose of Dormosedan Gel. We waited 30 minutes, and voila, he was sedated and feeling better. So then we had to come up with a post-care plan. Luckily he did not have to be tubed or scoped, which would have had to happen if the sedation didn’t help. Sedation assists the horse in releasing the contracted muscles and dropping their head, often times the blockage will work its way out or clear up with the saliva being produced.
Anyways, post care. I was instructed to only feed him his pelleted food in oatmeal form, absolutely no hay, and take his temperature daily to be sure that pneumonia didn’t strike from something getting in his lungs while choking.Once he was cleared with a healthy temperature, he would receive 2 grams of Buteryol (bute) each day. 
So here we are on day three. I wanted to share his regime in case there are other people out there like me that feel better about having step-by-step instructions.
Day 1: He received 1 scoop of pellets in sloppy soup form about 6 hours after the choking incident.
Day 2: 3 scoops of slop spread out over 3 feedings (1 scoop each feeding) one 30 minute grazing session on lush grass.
Day 3: 3.5 scoops of pellets spread out over 4 servings throughout the day, (increasing his feed since he is not getting hay) and grazed two times for 30 minutes each on lush grass.
Day 4: 4 scoops of pellets spread out over 4 servings throughout the day (this was the last increase) and grazed 3 times for 30 minutes each on lush grass
Day 5: 4 scoops of pellets spread out, but increase his 3 separate grazing times to 45 minutes each.
Day 6: Start to integrate hay slowly back into the diet and try to get him back to his healthy weight. The first two days thinned him out more than I would like to see. 
I hope this helps anybody going through something similar, all feedback and comments are welcome!

Asking for a Flying Lead Change


First, lets define a lead: When the horse is loping in the right lead, the footfall pattern is left hind (beat one), right hind and left fore almost simultaneously (beat two), right fore (beat three). The right legs will be reaching the farthest forward and the horse is loping in the right lead.

To ask for a lead change, it is important to understand that the horse might pick up two leads, one with their front legs and one with their hind, if you ask incorrectly. This is called "Crossfire". If you ask the by moving their hip, they should always pick up the full and correct lead. So in order to ask for the correct lead, you need to get the horse to bend his body. So for example, to ask for the right lead, you:

- tilt the horses head to the inside (right)
-keep your inside leg on the cinch to have them lift that front shoulder
-apply pressure with outside leg behind the cinch to ask them to move that hip to the inside.

To ask for the lead change from right to left:

- you are currently applying inside inside (right) leg pressure at the shoulder
- tilt head to the left
- apply left leg pressure at the girth to ask to bend
- apply outside (right) leg pressure behind the cinch to ask them to shift their hip

When first asking for lead changes, bring the horse down to a nice controlled trot and ask for the change from there, then you can move up to flying lead changes.

Training a horse for lead changes is different:
Start with asking for a half pass as seen below

Half-pass to lope on correct lead:

Walk your horse in a large circle on the right rein.
Make sure your right leg is not in contact with your horse.
With your weight to the left (it helps to really exaggerate this at first), apply right rein pressure in a “give-and-take” in the direction of your left shoulder – a rein of opposition.
I find I need quite a short rein to do this so my hand doesn't get too high.
Apply left leg pressure and steady direct left rein pressure until your horse steps to the inside of the circle with forward sideways steps.
Your right rein will be holding your horse on the circle and your left leg will be moving his hind quarters into the circle.
Ask for only a step or two at the beginning, using your voice or bumping softly with your inside leg for forward motion. Release all aids and repeat, then repeat to the left.

Half-pass to the inside several times, releasing after your horse performs the maneuver and walking a few steps. When you want to lope from a half-pass, keep your weight on the outside seat bone, release the rein pressure and “kiss”. Repeat a few times until your horse understands. Reverse and half-pass to lope in the other direction. Don’t expect too much too soon if your horse is learning. I accept any attempt to lope, then do it again.

A training method For the beginner horse and flying lead changes:

Right to left lead change: I counter canter a large half circle to the left (right lead on left circle) on one end of the arena as in the previous exercise. I do that exercise once or twice, each time loping back to the small “comfortable” circle. When I decide to try a lead change, I position him for a counter canter as before as I leave the small circle in a straight line (in the right lead) as before to the far corner. If he is not resisting my aids asking him to stay in a counter canter (head and neck down and moving off my inside leg), I change my weight to the outside (right), taking my inside (left) leg off at the same time and keeping his head in the direction of the new circle (left). I do not change anything about his head because it is already correct for the new lead. He is now in a half-pass position (to the left) at a lope, an exercise he has already learned. At that point, I encourage forward motion with my body and I “cluck” for the change. Often, my horse changes leads and hardly knows why he did. If that happens, I sit down and allow him to walk, rewarding him with a pat and a “good boy”.

The Vaquero Way and Bridlehorses



I recently picked up an Arabian and after having my dentist chiropractor horse whisperer Loren Hardie come inspect him, I decided to see what he knew. I realized that this horse had a lot of buttons, and I had no idea how to go about riding him. I took Loren's recommendation and got on him bareback with a halter and lead rope to.

When I purchased this horse, I was told that he is very responsive and was trained by hispanics down by the Texas/Mexico border. The can mean many things, so I still wasn't sure what I had.

Now, I have ridden this horse several times under saddle (Western and English) and tried three different bits on him. He hates bits. I have to give him treats to accept the bit. This horse was good, responsive, but not nearly as responsive as he was with nothing on.

He side passed, spun around both ways for me, and could perform a dead stop, not a sliding stop. A dead stop. So I asked around and learned that I have a bridle horse on my hands. How cool is that! So now I must learn.

The goal of the Vaquero was to get a horse that worked one-handed (since they needed to rope) with the lightest of cues. The spade bit that is traditionally associated with the Vaqueros was intended not to be harsh (despite their appearance) but, rather, to communicate very subtle cues from the rider to the horse. A working bridle horse will look very similar to a Dressage horse in that it operates in a very collected manner. The difference is that a bridle horse does this with very little rein input. The cues to collect are mainly seat and legs with only a miniscule input from the reins. (the finished horse can actually be
ridden bridleless and show his refinement


The traditional Vaquero training procedure was to start a young horse (about 3 years) in the snaffle bit and start teaching it to work off a direct rein. Then, still in a snaffle, they start using more neck reining.

After the horse is going good in the snaffle (a year or more) they will switch to the bosal. This moves the cues from the cheeks to below the jaw and starts to prepare the horse for the feel of the spade bit. You also continue the change from direct rein to neck reining since you can direct rein in a bosal without mouth pressure. The hackamore is usually 3/8″ to 7/8″ in diameter.

The vast majority of horse owners use leverage bits. The leverage bits are simple to understand; pull until they stop, and if that doesn’t work, pull harder. The spade is what is known as a “signal” bit. The long tapering port, complete with spoon, cricket and copper covered braces is configured in such a way as to encourage and allow the horse to “pick up” the bit in his mouth and “carry it.”

According to Traci Davis: "The end result of a true bridle horse is called “straight up in the bridle”. This means to have a horse educated enough that he can be ridden and work in a spade bit..Although the path may change from person to person the most common sequence is snaffle bit, hackamore, two rein and then straight up.

Next they go to the two-rein where the bosal and spade bit are used simultaneously. You start out with the horse just carrying the spade and the bosal providing the cues and end up with the spade providing the cues. Finally, the spade is used by itself. Despite the apparent size of the spade it DOES NOT jab the horse in the roof of the mouth. The side of the spoon (the end of the port) presses against the roof of the mouth over a fairly large area. The other areas of pressure are the bars and the chin- just like any curb bit. The other parts of the bit like the roller (called a cricket) in the port are intended to give the horse something to play with their tongue and help keep the mouth wet. You can hear them buzzing as they play with them even when standing still. The braces (curved wires going from the hinge at the cheekpiece to the spoon are intended to help keep the horse from ever getting its tongue over the bit. It doesn’t have a pressure function.

There is weekend cowboys and cowgirls that ride with their hands and not their bodies, some if you took the reins out of their hands they would fall off. The Vaquero style of riding is body and leg ques. So many are happy with just riding and not becoming refined this is a choice each of us make of wanting to stay where you are in your horsemanship or go further and learn more about you and your horse and truly become one."