The Importance of Flatwork

Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional trainer. Anything I say is based off of my own personal opinion and experience. You should contact a professional for help with your horse’s training program.


This is something most equestrians are already knowledgeable about, but I’ve become increasingly aware of the amount of equestrians who aren’t. It could be for a variety of reasons- lack of a trainer/mentor, not in a lesson program, or misguidance. Many I’ve found just truly don’t know -and that’s ok! I have been there myself. I used to think flatwork was the most boring thing ever and would spend every moment jumping if I could. In the past year, I have learned so much more about horse care and training, so I decided I would like to share my opinion and personal experience on the matter with you all.


Too Much, Too Soon

I grew up at a barn that taught the basics to jumping small courses. I had Z there for a year when I first bought him. I truly believe that Z took so long to progress because of the lack of flatwork and foundational training he received up front from me. I pushed him into jumping (small, but still jumping) almost immediately and he was NOT ready for it. He crashed through them, refused them, and jumped them erratically to the point where he could’ve gotten hurt. I wasted a lot of time trying to force him over jumps when he couldn’t trot in a straight line, couldn’t canter more than a lap, and had zero sense of frame/self carriage. It was a big mistake on my part, but I know now for the better! Things didn’t start to improve until I back tracked and worked on his solid foundation.

In my opinion, before you start seriously trying to jump a horse and focus on courses, you need to have accomplished:

  • Stamina at the trot and canter
  • Moving off of the leg forwards and laterally
  • Good upward and downward transitions
  • Beginning to self carry

Stop Jumping Everyday

Once you have accomplished the basics and are jumping with your horse, it is very easy to get caught up in all the excitement. All I wanted to do was jump when Z first started getting the hang of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a trainer or mentor that let me know it wasn’t healthy to jump my horse 5 times a week at decent heights. As I put all of my time and effort into jumping, I noticed our establishment on the flat started to fail. Not long after that, it started affecting the jumping. He couldn’t sit back and push well off his hind end to take off and landed extremely heavy in the front. Refusals and rails were becoming more consistent.

At the point when I switched barns and trainers, I learned much about horse care and training that I did not know before. The most important reason to lay off the jumping is to protect your horse! Their legs only can support so many jumps in their lifetimes. Do you really want to waste them on silly attempts? Even with proper leg protection, jumping is hard on the joints and tendons. You can easily shorten a horse’s career and increase the risk of serious injury by over jumping.

Flatwork Can Be Fun!

Mix it up! Quit trotting and cantering laps around the whole arena. Of course that’s going to get boring! Do circles, serpentines, figure eights, upward and downward transitions, ground poles! One of my favorite/least favorite exercises is the “circle of death” in which four ground poles are placed equally apart in a circle. The goal is to keep your horse cantering bent on the circle and get the same distance in between each pole. It’s a lot harder than it sounds!


Even the most well trained jumpers need refreshers and conditioning on the flat. I once heard a trainer say that a jump course is just flatting with jumps in between. If you perform poorly on the flat, you will perform poorly over fences.

Since Z is half leased, he jumps over 2′ once a week at my lesson, and under 2′ twice a week with our half leaser. I focus on flatting on all my other hack days. Occasionally I will do a few cross rails or cavaletti in my hacks, but only with someone there to watch me.  This is just our personal schedule and everyone’s is going to be different depending on the horse. If you have read this far, thank you for hearing me out on my opinion of the importance of flatwork.

Happy Flatting!

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Hannah + Z

 

Photo Credits to Kaitlyn Muzio @kaitlynmuziophotography

Ecovet Fly Spray Review

Not too long ago, I posted about my fly care routine for the summer and which products I recommend. We all know every fly spray claims the same exact thing, but we’ve watched as the flies come back to bite our horses only moments after we just sprayed them. My final recommendation on my previous post was the Ultra Shield EX. I’m all about natural and nontoxic products for my horse, but let’s face it. The fly sprays just don’t work! I had given up on finding something healthier for my horse and decided to just accept the nasty chemicals to give him some relief.

Enter Ecovet

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I recently purchased the trial size of Ecovet (4oz) at Dover to try on my horse, as I was at a complete loss of what to do about our fly problem. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just try it.  Ecovet completely surprised me by stopping the flies in their tracks! They stopped landing on him entirely! His stall is home to many flies, especially when it hasn’t been freshly mucked. He can now stand in the middle of all his mess, swarmed with flies, but they don’t hardly touch him. Let’s be real, nothing is going to keep 100% of the flies off 100% of the time, but this is the closest we have ever gotten.

Why is Ecovet Different?

Ecovet is a completely different approach to fly protection. It is made up of three naturally derived fatty acids that attack the insects’ normal directional ability. The pests are no longer able to locate your horse as their next host, as the fatty acids mimic some of the repellent smells that animals naturally have on their own skin. You’ll notice on the bottle that the ingredients listed are 5% Octanic Acid, 5% Decanoic Acid, 5% Nonanoic Acid, and 85% other. So what is that 85% other you ask?! 84% silicone oil and 1% fragrance. That’s it!! No more harsh pesticide chemicals! The oil’s job is to carry the fatty acids as they are applied to the horse, and it evaporates in 20-30 minutes leaving only the acids and fragrance behind.  Another great thing about Ecovet is that you don’t have to apply as much as you would a normal fly spray. Quick spritzes down the legs, belly, and around the head should have you covered! I usually do an extra spritz across the top of Z’s back and bum because the flies are particularly rough in the barn.

Still Skeptical?

I admit, there are two things about Ecovet that have the potential to scare you away. First, it’s price. For an 18 oz bottle, most tack shops charge $25-30. That is more than I would usually be willing to pay for a bottle of fly spray! However, this stuff works so well that I am telling you that you are NOT wasting your money. Buying any other cheaper fly spray is! You will just be back for more and more! Like I said before, you are not going to go through as much Ecovet fly spray as quickly as you would others. It is going to last longer. Second, the smell. By no means does Ecovet smell bad! It actually has a wonderful herbal lemon scent to it. It is just a very strong smell if you spray a lot! If you stick to the application directions, you shouldn’t be overwhelmed with the scent. I tried to apply it like a normal fly spray the first time and let’s just say it cleared my sinuses. 🙂

Sales and Discounts

I just got my 18 oz bottle off of Amazon for only $15.91 and with free prime shipping! This is the lowest price I have ever seen it at so GO GO GO! They also have the one gallon refill for $80, when retail price is around $125. If Amazon is not your thing, use code 25%-OFF-FIRST-ORDER on the Ecovet website to get 25% off!

 

 


Let me know what your experience is if you decide to give Ecovet a try!

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Hannah + Z

The Truth About Cribbing

If you know me, then you know my horse is a cribber. I didn’t know hardly anything about cribbing before I got Z. Since owning a cribber, I see there is a wide range of opinions on the matter- specifically coming from those who don’t own cribbers or have much experience with them. I want to get down to the bottom of things, and make the truth about cribbing clear- coming straight from evidence-based research and the owners of horses that do so!

What Cribbing Is and Isn’t

Cribbing is when a horse bites down onto a surface (typically a fence or stall), pulls back with their neck arched, and sucks in air. It releases endorphins, which give the horse a stress relief. It is more commonly known to give horses a “high”, but researchers are saying it is not so simple. Windsucking is the same act, but without the horse biting down onto a surface. Cribbing is not the same as wood chewing or gnawing. It is a bad habit, that has to proven to be dangerous, but is also manageable. Despite many opinions on the matter, cribbing is not a habit learned from other horses. Cribbing has several underlying causes, but copying another horse is not one of them.

So Why Do Horses Crib?

Cribbing is a boredom and stress-related habit.

  • Trauma and/or severe stress can trigger cribbing as a coping mechanism. It is believed that Z was taken from his mother too soon, as he is constantly sucking on things, mimicking nursing. He will suck on lead ropes, the stall, even my arms and hands! This early life trauma could be a contributing factor to his cribbing habit.

 

  • Horses who are kept in stalls too often with little turnout can easily pick up cribbing out of boredom and stress from the confinement. Before I bought Z, he was kept at a barn with ZERO turn out for horses in training or for sale. They would get out once per day to be ridden or lunged and that was it. Not only is the lack of turn out time stressful for horses, but it limits their natural forage diet. This can cause gastric ulcers and increase risk of colic. Gastric ulcers are very painful, therefore causing more stress and further contributing to the cribbing.

 

  • Horses DO NOT crib because they learned how from another horse in the barn. This is an opinion that many people have, but it is not backed by facts or evidence. In fact, there is evidence of the opposite.

“There are many non-cribbing horses kept in stalls next to cribbing horses who don’t learn this behavior,” says Amelia S. Munsterman, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACVECC, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Julia D. Albright, MA, DVM, and her colleagues at Cornell University surveyed horse owners about cribbing. Although 49% of owners thought cribbing was a learned behavior, only 1% of cribbers actually started cribbing after exposure to another cribber.

“Cribbing is complicated and probably caused by many factors,” said Albright. “These horses aren’t ‘bad,’ and we should stop physically and verbally punishing, shocking, and isolating them. For the health of the cribbers (and barn), the behavior should probably be stemmed with a cribbing collar, a diet low in concentrates and high in roughage, and pasture time. These horses have a true neurologic pathology, comparable to obsessive compulsive behaviors in humans,” she said.

I have had Z for almost 2 years and he has been at 4 different barns in that time. He has been stalled and turned out with various populations of horses, who would see him attempt to crib daily. Never once did any of them start to try to mimic the behavior and pick up the habit. It’s simply not true.

Interestingly enough, some research points to genetic dispositions to cribbing. A study showed thoroughbreds 13% more likely to develop the cribbing habit and quarter horses and warmbloods 5% more likely.

Hear from other Owners of Cribbers

I asked other owners of cribbers for their input on cribbing based on their firsthand experience. Here is what they had to say.

What has it been like for you to own a cribber?

Elysia @crosspolequeen: I wasn’t entirely certain what I was getting myself into, but it actually has been very low maintenance. I’m proud of his abilities despite this. 

Jamie @jamie.blatz: I would say it was a bit stressful at first because I didn’t know much about them, but after doing some research and talking to my vet, we’ve found a way to manage him now.

Kelly @wine_dine_and_pones: It’s frustrating at times because I know Finn shouldn’t crib, but I also know that if I prevent him completely from cribbing he will get really stressed out and cause himself to colic. Finn’s cribbing can be managed though. 

Kinsley @kinsleymarie__: Azzie is the first horse I purchased on my own. I have heard of cribbing horses and seen a couple. Most notably an OTTB named Simon who is far worse than Azriel is. And I spent a few months watching Simon’s habit and learning about prevention. So I at least had an idea of what exactly cribbing entailed. But to say owning a cribbing horse is easy is a bit of an exaggeration. It is something that definitely requires monitoring and it is not a cheap habit. Cribbing collars can be expensive and often rub hair off in areas even when sheepskin is placed for protection. At my barn, we also chose to metal plate all of the surfaces prone to cribbing. That way the barn wasn’t being chewed apart and Azriel’s teeth would be protected, as he cannot grip onto smooth stainless steel. 

Stephanie @sephasaur: For me, it’s mainly just been a source of worry. I’ve only owned my horse, Tex, since December and nothing bad has happened. But I definitely worry about the possibility of colic/weight loss. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes he’s more interested in trying to crib than eating. 

Would you discourage others from looking at a horse to buy if it is a cribber?

Jamie @jamie.blatz: Absolutely not. I advise everyone to do their own research, discuss it with their vets, and know what they’re getting into. But I would never write a horse off just because of cribbing. 

Elysia @crosspolequeen: Certainly not. This is an unproven and outdated belief that cribbers do not make good horses!

Kelly @wine_dine_and_pones: To someone looking to buy a horse, I believe cribbing can be a risk factor, but there are different levels of cribbers, some are worse than others. Personally, I don’t think cribbing should be the only thing keeping you from purchasing a horse. Cribbing can be managed, but every horse is different so I believe it depends on each specific horse. 

Kinsley @kinsleymarie__: No. To overlook a horse for a habit that they cannot control isn’t fair honestly. There are some horses who are absolutely amazing athletes that crib. Some horses (particularly Thoroughbreds) are lined genetically and are more prone to cribbing. Therefore, they are more likely to pick up the habit just because it runs in their family tree. And although cribbing isn’t “curable” it is definitely preventable. As long as the horse is monitored and cared for properly, there really is no issue with owning a cribber. I think it boils down to a few things. If you are looking at horses that crib, do your research. Learn as much as you can. It definitely won’t hurt to be as educated about it as possible. And know that it will take a few extra dollars to help prevent the cribbing by investing in a collar or muzzle. Finally, be prepared for the health risks that accompany a horse that cribs, as they are at a higher risk to colic. 

Stephanie @sephasaur: I wouldn’t necessarily discourage it. If you’re looking at two horses that you like equally and one is a cribber, I’d say pick the other. I think Tex is the best boy in the entire world, even though he cribs. No way would I ever trade him for a horse that doesn’t crib. 

How do you manage your horse’s cribbing?

Elysia @crosspolequeen: Miracle collar and redirecting his attention. I see it as more like a nervous tick… it’s especially important to not have any wood around and to let him graze and be outside as much as he wants. 

Jamie @jamie.blatz: At this time, we use Cribox to keep him away from anything we don’t want to be ruined. He has free choice hay in a slow feeder net, lives only in a paddock, never stalled, and gets daily turnout in pasture. Other than that, we don’t restrict him because it stresses him out and increases his risk of colic. 

Kelly @wine_dine_and_pones: I have Finn in a French cribbing collar. (Dover and Smartpak both sell it.) Finn used to be in a miracle collar before I purchased him, but it had caused really bad rubs so I switched him to the French collar instead. He will also wear a grazing muzzle during his turnout to keep him from messing up the boards!

Kinsley @kinsleymarie__: Metal plated stall surfaces and a cribbing collar

Stephanie @sephasaur: I just use a nutcracker collar, but it doesn’t always help. I’ve tried selenium supplements, but that hasn’t worked. 

Do you know how your horse started cribbing?

Elysia @crosspolequeen: I was told that it was likely due to him being separated from his mother at a young age as a racehorse. 

Jamie @jamie.blatz: We don’t know exactly what started it. He’s an OTTB that was passed around, so my guess was it started during his career and is something he’s held onto. He did come to us with ulcers. Once those were treated, we noticed he did slow down on how much he cribs. 

Kelly @wine_dine_and_pones: Finn’s previous owners told us that he has pretty much cribbed for much of his life! His mother wouldn’t let him nurse so he has to be bottle fed so they believed that could have been part of why he started cribbing. 

Kinsley @kinsleymarie__: Cribbing is common in many Thoroughbreds. It can be a driven quality that was inherited or a later learned behavior. Azriel cribs for enjoyment. As a racehorse, he was stuck in a stall for hours and I’m guessing he resorted to cribbing. But his favorite time to crib is when he is eating. It’s like having his “glass of wine” with his dinner to put it in a human analogy.

Stephanie @sephasaur: I have no idea. Like I said, I haven’t had him very long. He is an OTTB, so came off the track, went through a couple different homes, and was ultimately rescued. So, unfortunately, there is no way to know when he started cribbing. 

What is something important you would like people to know about cribbing?

Elysia @crosspolequeen: I would like people to know that often cribbing has nothing to do with their performance. As long as it is managed and understood as a mental health issue and treated as such. You can not be a lazy owner or buyer, as they do require extra attention. But they are just as worthy as any other horse to put time and training into them!

Jamie @jamie.blatz: I think it’s important for people to know cribbing is rarely a learned behavior. It almost always stems from something, whether it’s ulcers, gastric upset, extreme stress, diet, or anxiety. Before just trying to stop the behavior, really try to find the reason why they’re cribbing and treat it at the source. Once you find the “why”, you can work with your vet or an equine professional to come up with the best solution for your horse. 

Kelly @wine_dine_and_pones: Cribbing is bad, but it’s not the end of the world! It is manageable and you just need to find what works best specifically for your horse. 🙂

Kinsley @kinsleymarie__: It cannot be corrected. You cannot “untrain” or retrain this behavior. It is a physiological drive within the horse’s brain that causes him to crib. It is similar to a severe addiction to a drug. Reprimanding your horse by scolding him etc, will only make the problem worse, especially in cases where anxiety drives the horse’s urge to crib. 

Stephanie @sephasaur: I would say people should know it’s not the worst thing that could happen. Every horse has something. I don’t think the perfect horse with absolutely no vices or issues exists. Cribbing can be managed depending on the horse, and I would never rule out all horses that crib if I was shopping for a new horse. 


 

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Hannah + Z


Resources

Check these out for some more reading on the research behind cribbing!

https://equusmagazine.com/behavior/thinking-about-cribbing

https://thehorse.com/153190/cribbing-not-a-learned-behavior-researchers-say/

Cribbing: Not Always Just a Bad Habit

Half Leasing- Showing Together

We are about two months into half leasing Z out now. Things are settling in and smoothing out. Last weekend, we did our first show together, sharing Z. It was a little hectic at times, but it was a great experience for Z and very helpful on the wallet!

Sharing the Show Fees

We all know that with shows come show fees. Seemingly small here and there, add them all up and you have got quite a hefty price tag. Sharing Z at the show helped reduce many of these costs in half. Hauling, stall, tack stall, night watch, office, medic, and preschooling fees were able to be split, saving us quite a great deal of money.

Here is a first-hand look at how this cut down on the bill for me.

Hauling- $65 > $32.50

Stall (Thurs-Sun) – $85 > $42.50

Tack Stall – $15 > $7.50

Night Watch- $10 > $5

Office/Medic- $60 > $30

Preschooling- $20 > 10

Saving $127.50 in total!

Of course, we still have to pay our own coaching and division fees, but it was so nice being able to cut out a portion of the expenses!

Sharing the Horse

Sharing Z at the show had pros and cons, but in my opinion, the cons were manageable. At this show series, horses are allowed in no more than 7 over fences classes per day, including warmups. So, we had to pick out our classes carefully so that we each got to compete a fair amount without putting Z over his limit. Schooling and show times could get a little hectic since we were in different rings. Our show is really good about handling trainer conflicts though. At times, I felt like Z was being pushed a bit too hard having to carry two riders each day, but I know his work is very light with our half leaser. They only flatted and trotted cross-rails.

We were able to tackle daily care tasks like cleaning his stall and bathing faster and more efficiently together! This saved us both some much needed time and energy. Z is still a green baby, so the more experience in the show ring, the better. It was great for him to get to perform in more than 1 show ring with different populations of horses. He is still getting used to show life in general, so I’m glad I have the opportunity to expose him to it more.

As you can see, sharing a horse at a show has great benefits for both the owner and the half leaser! You both get to cut out some of the expenses and responsibilities, making for a smooth show weekend. Let me know if you have any questions about half leasing a horse, as either the owner or the half leaser!

Here are some pics from the weekend. 🙂

 

 

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Hannah + Z

 

All photo credits to Paula Sebusch Photography 2019.

Don’t let flies ruin your summer, or your bank account!

Fly season is here and it is in full force. They are everywhere! The nasty little things drive me crazy. They have been nipping Z to the point of bleeding on his legs. They interrupt our hacks and lessons by being a constant distraction to both Z and myself. I have tried so many different products to battle the flies, and they usually fail miserably. This summer, I feel like I finally have found the best routine to alleviate the flies, as much as I possibly can, and I didn’t do it by purchasing a $300 fly sheet! I’ll share with you what products I am using this summer and also direct you to similar products around the same price range. Many places are having sales and deals on fly gear right now as well!


My Routine

Fly Sheet

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I fell in love with the Weatherbeeta brand over the winter when I purchased Z’s blanket and turnout sheet from them. They have held up so well and didn’t cost a fortune! I decided to go with Weatherbeeta again when it was time for a new flysheet. When picking a fly sheet, you need to go with the ones with the lightest material, such as mesh. Last year, I had a thicker one that made Z way too hot! Weatherbeeta has a few different options, but I have the ComFiTec Essential Mesh II. It has held up well with Z’s romping in the pasture and has yet to make him overheat. It’s on sale at Dover for $64.95 right now (originally just $70)! Stateline Tack has the first edition of the sheet for just $51.96.

Fly Mask

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A good fly mask WITH EARS is a must! If you follow along my Instagram, you read about the horrors we went through when Z got ticks in his ears. I do not wish that upon anyone. The tall grass and wooded areas in turnouts are prime places for invasive bugs. The mask I use and have used in the past is the Cashel Crusader. Its runs for $26.99. Make sure to get the one WITH EARS! Cashel also makes a mask that is just for riding. A friend of mine has it, and I want to look into getting one soon! There are so many quality fly masks out there. It seems every brand makes their own, so you have many options. The important things are that the material feels strong, the velcro straps are quality, and it has good ear coverage.

Fly Spray & SWAT

 

Oh fly sprays. There are a million different kinds and they all claim the same results. I feel like I have tried every spray out there. I wanted to go with the all natural ones to avoid the harsh chemicals, but honestly they didn’t work at all for us. I tried the Ultra Shield Green and the Espree Aloe Herbal sprays. Neither held off flies for more than a couple minutes. The one fly spray that I have found to be consistent yearly is the Ultra Shield Ex that comes in the black bottle. That stuff is strong. They redid the bottle this year to offer horizontal, vertical, and upside down sprays. It retails for around $20-23 depending on where you buy it from. Another option is to buy fly spray in bulk. Almost all fly sprays come in gallon sizes. It seems like a big purchase upfront, but you get more for your money in the long run. The only other fly spray that I have had success with is the Farnam Endure Sweat/Water Resistant. It also contains coat conditioner and sunscreen. It retails for $25-$30.

If you’ve never used SWAT, then you are missing out! This stuff comes in a small container and is like super concentrated fly spray in ointment form. SWAT is perfect for covering wounds and specific areas to keep flies OUT. When Z was having tick issues, I was putting SWAT all in his ears. He also gets bitten really bad on his pasterns, so I usually slather some on there too. Look out because the original SWAT comes in a neon pink color! This is nice because you can see exactly where it is applied and if it has stayed. However if you don’t want pink splotches all over your horse, they do make a clear version. 🙂

Keeping Clean

This is one of the biggest factors in controlling the fly population around your horse. The dirtier things are, the more flies you can expect. Z’s stall gets cleaned for me at our farm, but if I am out and notice he has dirtied it up a bit in between cleanings, I immediately scoop it out and cover with the fresh shavings. I like to keep his food and water buckets wiped clean. They tend to get icky build up around the edges after a while from food falling out of his mouth. Lastly, keeping Z clean plays a huge part in this. I already notice a difference in the amount of flies on him since we got him clipped. He is sweating less. After rides, I always make sure he is completely hosed down and washed with soap in the dirtiest areas. He has a horrible habit of letting his poop run down his back legs, so I put forth a huge effort to keep that cleaned up. I typically wash all of his legs with soap after I ride. Flies are attracted to poop, food scraps, stink, and sweat. Minimize these and you will minimize the flies.


 

Sales and Deals

Smartpak

Stateline Tack

  • Up to 56% off fly sheets

Dover

 


 

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Hannah + Z

 

 

Photo Credits to Dover Saddlery and Mikail McVerry @mcverry

Half Leasing – Getting Started

Half leasing is a great opportunity for both owners and potential leasers. There are many benefits for both parties. I have previously been a leaser in the past, and this is my first time being on the other side of the deal. Half leasing out Z has opened up many doors for us that were not previously available. However, with any situation like this, there are going to be challenges. Over the next six months, I plan on writing about my half leasing journey to give you insight on if it is the right situation for you, either as an owner or a potential leaser.


Benefits

Owner

Half leasing out Z has lifted a huge burden from us financially. Z’s expenses are now split between myself and the leaser, including but not limited to board, vet, and farrier. Previously, I was not able to afford to put Z in full service board. Since the half lease started, he has been in the best care at our new barn with his own stall! That doesn’t sound like much, but since I’ve had him, he has always been on pasture board. It has been wonderful to not have to worry about his daily care and knowing he is in the best hands. In the past, showing was only an option a few times a year due to how expensive it is. Now that we can split show fees and I’m saving money in general, I’m looking forward to more frequent show opportunities this season. Z is a younger horse, still in training, that needs to be working 5-6 days a week. Usually with my schedule, I have only been able to ride 3-4 days a week. It is so nice to not feel guilty about not making it to the barn enough. No matter what is going on with me, I know Z will get 3 days a week of work with our half leaser. Lastly, I am not committed to this situation long term, which is a feeling of relief. We have signed a six month lease, and if at the end of the term I do not want/need to lease out Z anymore, then I am not obligated to.

Leaser

If horse ownership is something of interest to you, but you are not ready to make the time or financial commitment, half leasing can show you what owning is like, without jumping the gun. Typically half leasers have three days of access to the horse per week. They can be used as lessons or hacks. Working with the same horse, you will have consistency in your rides and (in my opinion) begin to see improvements quickly. You get a good view of the expenses to expect when owning a horse, and how often they come up. That can really help you determine if ownership is right for you in the future. If you want, you can step up your amount of showing without breaking the bank. Splitting shows with the owner will result in half of the travel/care expenses you would expect in a show weekend. Finally, like the owner, you are also not committed to this situation long term. Unlike purchasing a horse, you are able to walk away from the lease when the term has ended. If you want to look at other options, you are certainly able to.


Challenges

Owner

I’ll admit that it has been a huge adjustment for me to begin this new schedule and learning to share Z. Z is the first horse I’ve owned and he is VERY special to me. He is my baby and I am super protective of him. Giving him up for another rider to have complete control three days a week was hard for me. As the owner, you have to learn to back off and let the leaser enjoy their time with the horse. That time can be riding, grooming, bathing, or just loving on Z. I am still struggling some, but I know that our leaser is under the instruction of our trainer and is being guided through out this process by her. I completely trust my trainer’s judgement and I’m accepting that it is ok for the leaser to not do everything the exact same way as I do with Z. Having a set schedule of days has been very different for me. I was so used to just going to the barn whenever I wanted. Now, I have to work around the three days that he is with the leaser. Having him used for special events without me, such as clinics and shows will effect my days with Z as well…. something else I’m learning to be flexible with.

Leaser

Personally, as a leaser in the past, I know how easy it is to get attached to the horse. You spend so much time with them and form a special bond. However, if you are going to half lease, you have to be able to accept the fact that it is not your horse. Some things are going to be out of your control and you will not get to have a say in them. You have to keep in mind that at the end of the term, you may or may not be with this horse anymore. Like the owner, you will have to learn to work on a schedule. You will have designated days with the horse and they will not alternate. Sometimes days can be switched with the owner on certain weeks, but for the majority your scheduled days will stay the same. You may or may not have other limitations on what you can do with the horse on hacks and what shows/events you can take it to.


 

I am only one month into this journey, but so far I am content with how things are going. With shows approaching, I will definitely write about the experiences of showing in a half lease. If you have any questions about half leasing (as an owner or a leaser), please reach out to me!

 

Happy Budgeting!

-Hannah + Z

 

Rider Spotlight: Ally, Mikayla, and Ella

Check out these three talented ladies that won my latest giveaway!


Ally

Aly has owned her unicorn of a quarter horse named Moe for just over a year. He has helped her regain so much confidence from when things didn’t work out with her first horse, which left her feeling very timid and anxious about riding. Ally has been riding Hunter/Jumpers and Equitation for over 16 years, dabbling in local and circuit shows. She hopes over the course of the next few years to venture into the CT and eventing world, which has been a dream of hers for a long time. This year Ally’s riding goals are to get comfortable cantering over fences again, do a few low level schooling shows, and go trail riding with Moe this summer. Ally is so happy to have a horse that she can enjoy and expand her skills with.

Follow Ally and Moe’s journey on Instagram at @purplepianist92!


Mikayla

Mikayla Alexis is a 17 year old 4-H rider. She rides her 4-H project horse, Jewel, who is a 17 year old mare leased by her trainer. Jewel is a true mare, but Mikayla Ioves her! She is a well-trained horse in Western Pleasure and she’s an amazing Hunter/Jumper, but Mikayla only rides her for English Pleasure and shows her in Showmanship classes. Since this 4-H year is almost done, Mikayla sadly won’t be riding and working with her for much longer and she will miss Jewel a ton!

Follow Mikayla on Instagram to keep up with her equestrian journey! @mikayla.equine


Ella

Ella Thompson is fourteen years old and has been riding for about seven years. She started to help train horses when she bought her first pony, Cody, at age eleven. At the beginning of last summer Ella sold Cody, and moved on to her current horse, Feef. Feef is a seven year old Hanoverian. They have been competing at hunter/jumper shows throughout Washington and Oregon this past year. Feef is super sweet, and although she is not as experienced as some others, she is very willing and always tries her best.

Keep up with Ella and Feef on Instagram at @ellajo.equestrian!