Keeping a horse is a labour of love, a passion that we throw ourselves into whole-heartedly. And despite all of the dirt and the hard work (maybe because of it!), time spent in a barn with your horse is always time spent well.
Here are a few different tricks, tips and ideas to make your barn-work a little more enjoyable and a little easier.
Soak hay cubes in water
Soaking hay cubes makes them soft and prevents horses bolting their food, which can cause problems with choke. These hay cubes look so good, I wouldn’t mind eating one myself!
Use C clamps as handles when shifting mats.
Stall mats can be very heavy and difficult to move, particularly if you’re doing it yourself. One of the things that makes it so hard is their awkward shape; it’s hard to get a grip. C clamps can be bought relatively cheaply from any hardware store. Attach them to your mat, clamp them down and you have the perfect makeshift handle.
Use a nappy when poulticing a foot abscess.
Nappies are great for this because they wrap around well, they can be attached securely and they’re watertight.
Use olive oil to remove scratches from leather.
Leather is bound to get scratched, but there’s a very simple fix. Put some olive oil onto a rag and rub it into the leather to cover up the scratches.
Use a headlamp for night work.
A lot of you might be onto this one already. The easiest way to see what you’re doing in the stables at night is to use a head lamp. This allows you to keep your hands free while you work.
Baby wipes can do anything.
Baby wipes are incredibly versatile. You can use them to clean yourself up after a ride, you can use them to cool down after a summer expedition (refrigerate, then wipe down your face) and they can be used on your horse. If you have any concerns about how your horse’s skin, buy sensitive skin wet wipes. That way, you can use them for hoof touch ups, wiping down bits and clearing out your horse’s eyes and nostrils.
Use bailing twine as a breakaway system.
Instead of tying your tack directly to your hitching post, use a loop of bailing twine to connect the two. If your horse pulls, the twine will snap instead of your nice leather halter.
Use old rosette ribbons as tail ribbons.
If you’re out and you need to put a tail ribbon on your horse but forgot to pack one, use an old rosette. You’ll need to get the colour right, and you’ll need to overcome your sentimental attachment to the rosette, but if you have no other options, this can do the trick.
Use potties instead of pole cups.
You can buy potties a lot cheaper than you can get pole cups. Try to avoid cheap plastic potties, which can shatter when trampled.
Cut an old milk bottle into a feed scoop.
In a couple of seconds, you can turn an old 2 litre milk bottle into a scoop with a pair of scissors. Just cut around the milk bottle at an angle, keeping the handle intact.
Save old worming syringes and use them to dispense treats.
Fill old syringes with apple sauce to give to your horse. This will get the used to the syringe and make it easier when do have to administer medicine.
Build ventilation gaps into your barn design.
Proper ventilation makes your barn a safer and healthier place for your horses. It will also make them happier and more content.
Use coloured tape to identify your belongings.
This is good for when you’re at shows, but it can also help you distinguish your things when you have more than one horse. You can see quickly and easily which object belongs to which horse.
Save silica gel packets to stop mould growing near your tack.
Save those little packets your get when you buy new shoes or new bags. They absorb moisture and can prevent mould growing. Throw them in your tack box.
Use vet wrap for grip.
Wrap vet wrap around anything you need to stop slipping. This work perfectly for handles and poles.
Add some apple juice to water to encourage your horse to drink.
A little bit of apple juice can encourage your horse to take a drink and get the hydration they need.
Use a soap dispensing dish-wand to whiten your horse.
Fill a dish-wand with whitening shampoo and use it to whiten up your horse’s coat.
Why Build an Indoor Riding Arena?
1. It protects you from the weather.
This is, of course, the number one reason for building an indoor arena. People who have unlimited access to indoor arenas ride more than 30% more frequently that those who don’t.
If you’re serious about a career in competitive riding, an indoor is an excellent investment.
2. It allows you to run a business.
Owning an indoor arena means you can give lessons in it. You can also rent out the arena when you aren’t using it.
3. It’s safer and more comfortable for your horses.
An indoor will protect your surface once you lay it down and will ensure that your horses are riding on level, comfortable ground.
4. It adds value to your property.
An indoor arena boosts the value of the property its on, particularly if the property is in an area known for its equestrianism.
If you ever look at selling your property, an indoor will be a big pulling factor and will drive your value upwards.
5. It reduces your costs.
Not needing to travel to an indoor for practise saves travel costs and rental costs. The protection of the arena means that your equipment stays safe and you surface needs to be repaired less often.
6. You can ride after dark.
Many indoors are fitted with lighting, allowing you to ride after dark or even before dawn (one of the great pleasures in life).
7. The experience of it.
There’s something very satisfying about designing, building and owning your own indoor. For equestrians, there no greater space than their own indoor and many find that it’s a space the entire family loves and enjoys.
How Quarantine & Television Is Ruining Australia’s Equestrian Sports
Megan Jones, 36 at the time, rides Flowervale Maserati, a powerful horse with a dark coat. As rain begins to fall, the pair of them continue to push themselves, hoofs beating ground and throwing grass into the air.
A variety of interesting jumps have been set up; huge logs balanced over low stumps, trimmed hedges and neatly crafted wooden huts. For this moment, Megan’s entire focus is paired with her horses. Their speed and their movements counterbalance each other’s as they hurtle over obstacles.
The exhilaration of the ride drives them both forward to win the event; a trial held in Ballarat. The skill it requires of the two of them is enough to take Megan to the Olympics, where she won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008. If that skill fails, the risk is severe – with injuries and fatalities occasionally appearing in the news. While Megan has suffered from the intensities of riding (she has a stress fracture in her back that required a 12 week rest from riding), others have lost their lives in the controversially dangerous sport. It is, by any sense of the word, an extreme sport.
With so much danger, intensity, skill and tradition, what kind of an audience does equestrian riding have in Australia? SBS made news recently for scheduling coverage of some of the top international equestrian events, including jumping and eventing. It’s a break from Australia’s surprisingly reticent history of equestrian sport coverage, which rarely makes news unless in the context of the Olympics. Yet equestrian events alone make up a $362 million dollar contribution to the Australian economy, and the equestrian industry in total contributes $6 billion. World-class athletes are being trained in Australia, and a nearly $1 billion a year goes into breeding high class horses.
So why isn’t the equestrian industry covered by television programming? It has everything; excitement, interest, an existing market – there seems to be no reason why equestrian events shouldn’t be all over our screens. And there’s one big reason; quarantine.
Horses coming into Australia are required to be in quarantine for 3 weeks in their country of origin and then for another 2 – 3 weeks when then land in Australia. That’s a potential total of 42 days of quarantine. Horses going into American, as a point of comparison – require only 3 days of quarantine, and 7 days for a small selection of limited countries. Australia is already geographically distant from Europe, where horse riding is more popular, but delays like this make it near-impossible for international competition to take place in Australia.
That means Australia ends up isolated and it becomes much harder to increase the quality, value and competition of the industry. There are no five star events held in Australia, only the four star Adelaide three-day event. Australian riders can become successful; Edwina Tops-Alexander of Australia was the first person to earn over $2 million in an equestrian event. But, much like Tops-Alexander, they move overseas to a European base in order to reach that kind of success.
What Australia is doing is exporting all of our equestrian talent. We’re not completely without hope. Grand Prix rider Lone Jorgensen moved to Australia from Germany and set up base here; proving again that the country has promise in the equestrian field.
The only way to invigorate the already solid industry is to modify quarantine laws to allow more efficient imports. If we can encourage world class internationals to compete in Australia, events will grow and television coverage will follow, unlocking the potential the market already has.