(194) Start a horseback riding academy
A horseback riding academy is a business that provides horseback riding lessons to children and adults. It is usually run by a riding instructor or a barn manager, and could have as many as several hundred students. If this sounds like a career you would enjoy, you will need plenty of start-up capital as well as equestrian knowledge.
Horse riding holidays can be a great way of mixing relaxation with adventure as well as enjoying horse riding in different countries. There are many horse riding holiday destinations located all over the UK as well as a great many in other countries. So whether you want to go trail riding in Wales or take a horse back safari in Africa, you are sure to find the riding holiday you are looking for. There are however, several important considerations to be taken into account when making a decision regarding your holiday destination:
- As with choosing any holiday, decide exactly what you want to do beforehand and select your destination accordingly.
- Before booking, find out as much as possible about the surrounding areas, the facilities on offer, the standard of instruction and the type of horses available.
- When booking, ensure your potential host knows what you expect and how experienced you are. Do NOT overstate your riding experience or you may arrive to find there are no suitable horses available.
- Take your own riding hat to the current safety standard, plus suitable boots and clothes for riding - some establishments have strict dress codes to ensure your safety and comfort. Remember to ask before booking!
- Find out what other activities are available - sightseeing, other sports etc. and what dress, equipment you might need to take.
- Ensure you are insured - horse riding is not a risk-less sport and proper precautions should always be taken, if you are injured or become ill, you don't want to be left stranded.
Instructional horse riding breaks: One thing that even Olympic-class riders will happily admit, is that there's always room for improvement. An instructional horse riding break is ideal for those looking to improve their skill. Based at equitation centres, they vary from intensive 'learn to ride' courses to those that specialise in a particular discipline such as dressage or jumping. It's best to look for a centre that has some official recommendation. In the UK, the British Horse Society has a list of approved centers which will have well qualified instructors and a variety of well-schooled horsemasters.
Trekking holidays: Trekking or trail-riding varies depending on the standard of riding in the group and the terrain of the destination. There will be a holiday suitable for all standards but to truly enjoy a trail-riding holiday, beginners will benefit from having some lessons at home first. Some companies will ride out from a single base while others will transport your luggage for you and stop at a different accommodation each night. Accommodation varies dramatically and will often be reflected in the price. Holiday companies offer a range of accommodation from shared bunk rooms to the full luxury of a hotel or private mansion house. Expeditions: This is a trail-riding holiday taken to the extreme and a very appealling prospect for experienced riders offering true adventure as you travel across dramatic scenery, often camping. For the ultimate challenge, consider a charity expedition and tackle some fundraising too.
Horse Safari: For those who want to get a clearer view of wildlife, a horse safari offers an alternative to traditional safaris where game viewing is from a four-wheel vehicle. Mainly in south and north African countries where the most varied game can be found, safaris generally involve camping with camps moved several times during the holiday. But horse safaris are not just about viewing wildlife. In a broader sense the term means exploration and it is widely used in India to describe holidays that travel through remote regions and deserts, with the options of swapping your horse for a camel. Horse safaris are also available in Europe and in New Zealand and Australia where there is less wildlife but the scenery is wild and dramatic.
Ranch holiday: True ranching holidays take place in the wild expanses of America with Arizona, Montana, Utah and Mexico being typical destinations. Often called 'dude ranches', these outback cattle stations offer the city weary traveller an experience as far away from the city as they can dream of. Think 'Blazing Saddles' and you've got a clear idea of what a true ranching holiday is about. Learn from experienced cowhands how to work the cattle and take part in a round up or cattle drive. On this site, just as 'safari' sometimes means any equestrian exploration, ranch is used to describe holidays outside America which offer riding from a base.
Owning a horse is a huge responsibility. It means hard work and dirty chores for a long time, along with considerable expense. It is important to understand that the initial purchase of a horse is only the first step in your new experience with horses. You will have to consider whether the horse will be kept in a paddock, or whether it must be stabled. You need to discuss feeding costs with a reputable feed merchant. Paddock horses may need some supplementary feed when grass becomes eaten down, and stable horses will be fed continuously on procured feed.
Basic necessities for a horse include a bridle, saddle, and saddle blanket, grooming brush, feed tin and water container. It is wise to enquire about these costs first as they can be very expensive items and time and care is needed in their selection. It's a good idea to have a safe storage area for your equipment when it is not being used on the horse. Your own riding outfit has to be purchased as well, and this should include a suitable hard hat and good quality riding boots.
There will also be costs for shoeing, veterinary attention for your horse's teeth, worm control, coughs and colds, and for vaccinations against diseases such as strangles and tetanus.
Most young people purchasing their first horse are strongly advised to join the local Pony Club where they will receive expert tuition on riding and advice on horse care.
Choosing a Horse
Buy your horse from a reputable source. Beware of choosing a horse from anyone who cannot provide a satisfactory history of the animal. Make sure the seller knows what you wish to use the horse for. It is important that you and your horse are well-matched so great care should be employed in its selection.
Find out all about it: age, background, vices (e.g. buck, kick, bite, and bolt). Make sure your first horse has a quiet temperament. Examine the horse and have an experienced friend ride it for you and ride it yourself. If it feels right ask for a one week trial, then ride and handle the horse daily. Have your own veterinary surgeon cheek the horse for fitness and suitability prior to purchase.
Responsibilities of Horse Ownership
All horses have certain basic needs irrespective of the husbandry system under which they are kept:
- Ready access to food and fresh water to maintain health and vigour.
- Freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down.
- Regular exercise.
- Social contact with other horses and people.
- Accommodation that neither harms nor causes undue strain, and provides adequate protection.
- Protection from disease and regular inspection to assess the need for attention to feet, teeth and worm control.
- Rapid identification and treatment of lice, injury and disease.
All horse owners should be fully aware of the general and specific husbandry requirements of the horse. Many municipalities restrict the riding of horses in certain areas, prohibit taking horses to specific places (e.g. a beach or public park) and have regulations for keeping horses in their areas.
There are many basic routine tasks involved in taking care of your horse, here are just a few: -
Grooming a Horse
Grooming a horse is primarily carried out for appearance's sake, however, it has other objectives as well. Grooming cleans the skin so that it can work to maximum effect. Grooming and strapping, when the horse is rhythmically thumped with a pad on the shoulders, quarters and neck, also encourages muscle development and tone, and promotes circulation.
Stabled horses that are clipped, kept under artificial conditions, and fed quantities of heating food, create additional waste matter. Much of this waste is removed through an increased rate of breathing and through excrement, but much is also disposed of through the skin, the pores of which must be clean if the function is to be fulfilled.
Horses kept out at pasture should not be overly groomed since you remove the waterproofing layer of grease from the coat. It is sufficient to brush off the worst of the mud before going for a ride.
Grooming is best carried out from front to rear, starting high up on the horse's head behind the ears. Stand away from the horse, the secret of grooming lies in getting one's whole weight behind the brush, which cannot be done when too close to the horse.
The object of shoeing is to protect the hoof of the working horse from being worn away more quickly than it could be replaced by natural growth, and it also improves the gripping property of the hoof.
The farrier's job is to preserve its natural function and the horse's natural action. He also seeks to remedy conformational defects resulting in faulty movement, and to counter the effect of disease.
The horn grows between 1/4" and 3/4" per month, therefore, the shoes need to be removed every four weeks so that the excess growth can be removed. A new set of shoes should be fitted if the old ones are unserviceable.
The shoe is fixed to the hoof either by hot or cold shoeing. Hot shoeing involves heating the shoe until it is red hot. It is then placed on the hoof for a few seconds, burning a brown rim where it touches. The object is to check the fit and to ensure the whole shoe is in perfect contact. If the brown rim is incomplete, the hoof must be rasped again until the surface is level. A well-made shoe follows the rim of the hoof wall and is neither too wide, too long nor too short. Hot shoeing allows the farrier to make adjustments to the shape of the shoe more easily and it should ensure a perfect fit. Cold shoeing is when the completed shoe is nailed to the prepared hoof without first being heated, and it is not thought to be as satisfactory.
Horse Hoof Care
The basic tools for cleaning your horse's hooves are a high-quality hoof dressing, hoof sealer and a hoof pick. Begin by holding the hoof in a comfortable position, with the hoof well supported by one hand. Holding the hoof pick in your other hand, loosen the mud, manure, and bedding by inserting the point of the hoof pick near the bulbs of the heels. Often you will be able to pop off a large disk of mud and manure with this technique. Next, make downward swipes with the hoof pick in the clefts of the frog. With practice, you will know exactly where the clefts are even if they are covered with mud. Now do a more thorough job of scraping all debris from around the inside edge of the shoe or hoof. Be sure to get any mud or material that has become lodged under the heels of the shoes near the opening of the clefts of the frog.
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