Ask Horse Journal: 03/99

Care For Your New Saddle
I have a new Barnsby dressage saddle and don’t want to make any mistakes caring for it, especially initially. In the past, I have successfully used Effax leather balsam. I was told using oil on leather is a no-no. The dealer told me that the Effax would be too heavy for this saddle’s good-quality leather, so I should at least start by applying two light coats of a good-quality oil, suggesting Hydrophane. An oil! I am confused.

-Penny Croll

With a new saddle, the best bet is to go right to the manufacturer for suggestions. Barnsby recommends using synthetic compounds, such as Flexalan or Hydrophane, sparingly and on the flesh (underneath) side of the leather only. On a new saddle, you can “roll” the leather, not crease, as you apply the compound. Do not over oil, and do not oil the billets (Barnsby billets are laminated, which can cause separation and stretch). Oil again only when the leather “asks” for it (dry climates may require more care). Then use a good-quality saddle soap for regular cleaning and to remove excess oil. Do not use Murphy’s Oil Soap, since it can strip the color. Care for your saddle as you would your own skin: Don’t bake it in a hot car or store it under humid conditions. A climate-controlled tack room is best, but this is often not possible.


Reading About Dressage
I am a beginner dressage rider in a small, remote west Texas town and am trying to find help near me. I also work, so I am a weekend, fair-weather rider. Can you suggest some books to help me’ I try to learn what I can through reading.

-Barbara Dankworth

There seems to be more books written about dressage than for other disciplines. This leads to the perception that somehow dressage can be learned through reading. Books and magazines can offer useful insights to experienced riders, but they’re no substitute for the feel and attention to basics gained through proper instruction. However, we also appreciate the problems faced trying to find that instruction in many locations throughout our wide country, so we’ll suggest some books to help you get started. While there are dozens of fine books available on dressage, their literary styles are often as individualized as an instructor’s training style and may not suit a certain reader’s experience level and learning style.

Since you can’t go to a local tack store to look them over, we’d like to suggest the USDF Manual, which is a 500-page anthology of articles in a binder on a full range of dressage topics. Among the many authors are Reiner Klimke, Harry Boldt, Alois Podhajsky and Bengt Ljunquist. If you find authors you particularly like, you can then look for the books. It costs $65. Call or write the United States Dressage Federation at PO Box 6669, Lincoln, NE 68506, 402/434-8550.

If you still want some specific titles, we’re impressed with a new book that presents a clear and systematic approach from the basics to grand prix, Dressage in Harmony by Walter Zettl ($25.95), published by Half Halt Press, PO Box 67, Boonsboro, MD 21713, 800/822-9635. The German National Equestrian Federation’s The Principles of Riding is an introduction to the basics of training and riding. It was recently revised and is available through many catalogs or the USDF ($28.95). For the basics of showing, we still haven’t seen anything to improve on Dr. Max Gahwyler’s popular and highly readable The Competitive Edge, also published by Half Halt ($29.95).


Trailer Problems
I haul my six-year-old Arabian mare to dressage lessons weekly. When we are hauling, whether alone or with another horse, she pops up in her rear and kicks the wall. We have lined the trailer with pads, so she isn’t hurting the trailer, but I’m concerned that she may someday hurt herself. When we are waiting at stop lights the trailer literally rocks with her hopping around.

This mare has been hauled for almost three years now, so it’s not a matter of something new. It appears that her nerves just get the best of her, and she can’t control herself. Do you have any suggestions to break this pattern’ I have been told to haul her to town and leave her in the trailer and let her kick it out until she stops. I don’t think she would stop.

-Dixie Montgomery
Monroe, WA

Assuming your rig is suitable and you are willing to devote the time, the solution is simple: distraction. Load her up at home, get a chair and a good book. Sit in the chair and read. Whenever your mare kicks, do something to capture her attention. What you use to distract is secondary — you could use a flag made from a dressage whip and a plastic grocery bag. Lightly tap the outside of the trailer. Try anything that is startling enough to get her to stop and look at you, yet not so scary she jumps. This is important — you want her to feel good about the trailer, so use as little as possible to get her ears up. For that moment, she “forgets” her anxiety and the pattern is interrupted.

The secret of this too-simple solution’ Repetition. And patience — don’t correct her with your voice and don’t indulge your temper (that’s why a good book is useful). Many moments of “pattern interruption” will add up to change, so get to work. Over the course of the afternoon, move your chair farther and farther away, as she settles down. Eventually, you can be almost out of sight.

And if she then kicks when you are on the road’ If you have done your homework, use the same principle — distraction. Drift a bit; brake softly. You want to help her overcome her fear, not add to it. Stay patient.


Feed Calculations
I have been using Flex GL, which has glucosamine plus vitamin C, in the dosage recommended by the article. Since I feed a pelleted complete feed plus a biotin supplement (with methionine and zinc), I try not to overfeed some of the added nutrients provided by some of the brands of joint supplements. However, my horse does not like the Flex GL, so I am considering Grand Flex. Your November 1997 article says not to use Grand Flex with high manganese/zinc products. What is the danger, and what is a “high manganese/zinc product”’

-Kristen Fowler
Minden, NV

When feeding concentrated minerals, you must be careful not only to supply the total amount recommended for daily intake but also to make sure that the minerals remain in balance. Oversupply of one can lead to under absorption of others. Generally, zinc and manganese should be present in equivalent amounts, with copper at 1/3 to 1/2 the level of those two.

One serving of Grand Flex provides almost half of the daily requirement of manganese (250 mg for 1,200-pound horse requiring about 545 mg), slightly less of zinc (200 mg) and about 1/4 of the 205 mg requirement of copper (50 mg). It is formulated to complement alfalfa, which has a rich copper level.

Copper is the mineral you have to watch if feeding Grand Flex. However, since most complete feeds are well supplemented with copper these days you will probably be OK. Check the label for copper level. If it is 40 ppm (mg/kg) or above in your feed, you can use Grand Flex without additional copper supplementation. (We will update joint nutraceuticals recommendations soon.)


Won’t Go Forward
I am 14, and two years ago I bought an appendix Quarter Horse. I have shown him for one year. He did great the first year. But now it is time to start showing again, and he is a nightmare! We ride in an indoor arena, and he hates it. He won’t pick up a canter. My trainer and I have worked on this, and he won’t behave. He starts bucking and getting slow till he stops. If we hit him with the crop he bucks then backs up and rears. I have no clue what started this behavior, but I sure would like to fix it. He does it outside now, too.

He also doesn’t want to extend his trot or move forward. I have been trying to get him to respond to my leg better, but he just gets into this up-and-down thing where he doesn’t go forward. What can I do’

-Tiffany Bragg

Your first step should be to rule out any physical causes for your horse’s change in behavior. Have your vet check him for signs of lameness or discomfort in his teeth, back, legs and so on. Also, have your saddle checked by someone knowledgeable. Even if the saddle fit when you bought your horse, the shape of his back may have changed as he matured and developed more muscle.

If there are no physical reasons for this behavior, you have a serious problem on your hands. It sounds like your horse is bored and unhappy, and he has learned that he can get away with throwing tantrums instead of going forward.

Put safety on top of your list. You may need to consider a trainer who has experience dealing with problem horses. This trainer must also be willing to work with you once they have made progress with the horse, so the horse doesn’t revert to the behavior when you get him back. One month should be enough time to see some improvement.

If working with another trainer is out of the question, get your horse out of the ring and start hacking with other horses. Longeing, long-lining and round-pen work will all also help focus your horse’s attention on you. Vary his routine as much as possible.


Long-Sleeve Clean-Up Gloves
There is no shortage of messy jobs around the barn — poultices, packing feet, applying medications, liniments, using creams, salves etc. Clean-up time can be shortened by keeping a supply of rectal examination sleeves on hand. These are much less expensive than form-fitting rubber/food-service gloves, although these can be used on top if more “feel” is needed. Applying a rubber band at the wrist or elbow avoids problems of the “one size fits all” glove slipping. The arms can also be cut to size, opened up and substituted for plastic wrap on sweats or poultices. Most feed stores or livestock suppliers carry them.


Ivermectin, Moxidectin May Affect Your Pastures
The modern, highly effective “-ectin” family of dewormers (moxidectin, ivermectin) do a fantastic job of controlling intestinal parasites. However, the drug in the manure is also deadly to many flies and species of beetles responsible for feeding on and degrading manure in the fields. This certainly seems like a small price to pay, but over time the loss of these insects can lead to 50% (or more) greater loss of pasture grazing area than with other types of deworming drugs. Not only won’t the horses graze where they defecate, the palatable grass may be killed and other grasses take over. The solution is manure removal or harrowing — something that is actually a part of a good, complete parasite-control program anyway.


AHP Student Award
College students interested in equine publishing are eligible to compete for the American Horse Publications 1999 Student Award. Applicants must be a junior or senior at the start of the 1999-2000 college year with at least one semester left. The award is $500 and an all-expense paid trip to AHP’s annual meeting/seminar in Nashville, Tenn., this May. Applications are due to AHP by March 15.

Contact: Chris Brune, American Horse Publications, 49 Spinnaker Circle, South Dayton, FL 32119; 904/760-7743;


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In “Does Your Sweet Feed Measure Up'” (February 1999), there was an error in the listed levels of chelated minerals. While Hallway Race 13 does contain chelated minerals, the manufacturer declined to reveal what percentage, and Culpeper Feeds’ Pacemaker 130 and Banks Mill’s Olympic Gold contain 20% chelated minerals. Also, there is a difference of opinion regarding Kentucky Equine Research and the compliance of KER Team Members to KER standards. We’ve invited Dr. Joe Pagan, President of Kentucky Equine Research, to elaborate on this in the next issue.

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