CategoryDebbie's Thoughts Archives - Ramm Fence Equestrian Blog

The Battle to Get Back Into the Saddle – A Re-Rider’s Tale

January 5th, 2016

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From the time I was 5 years old, horses have been my passion. I was the little girl that begged for a horse while sitting in front of the TV watching all the Westerns back in the day. My first horse was purchased from Pearson Park, where horses were ‘rented’ to ride. He was a kind horse with a hard mouth and a bad barn storming habit. I soon learned, after a sore head and knees, tucking and laying down on his neck helped to avoid bumps and bruises from any open doors at neighboring farms. Learning how to ride this barn stormer bare back taught me great balance. Lack of money for a saddle was actually a blessing in disguise. So I rode many horses for many years…My experiences with horses include a wide range of disciplines, Western riding then a big switch to English hunter/jumpers with a good dose of driving. I boarded horses, many horses and gave beginning to intermediate riding lessons. Life with horses was good. There were not too many horses that I felt I could not ride through most bad habits in hand or on the ground. Put me on that horse and I would go.

We eventually found property fit for our dream barn. Plans and scrolled architectural drawings were piling upon the kitchen counter until we decided we had the perfect layout for our barn. Soon dirt was being moved, building materials arrived and up went the barn. Better than I could imagine, we had our barn, our horses and property to ride around.

 

Not long after the barn was built I started feeling sick and doctors were unable to diagnose what was wrong. I soon found myself in and out of hospitals to no avail. Slowly, I found I did not have the energy to ride like I used to and for about a three year period, I was unable to do the normal things in the barn or ride. Just getting well was the goal and it took time.

Although I began to heal, I needed people to help with my barn and horses. I found that I wanted to try to ride, but did not feel confident because of being weak. I would brush the horses and return them to their stall or pasture. Going very slow, I could only hope that I would be able ride at a walk soon.

Getting back in the saddle was slow. And after being sick for a time I found that my stamina was not at all what it used to be. I not only lost muscle to sit confidently on my horse, but I also lost my breath! I could not trot for any length of time before I was completely winded. My confidence waned and my thoughts of having a good ride were memories rather than daily events. I became a secret worrier, concerned that I would not be able to do what I once did. And the thought of telling anyone about my fears would have been more like death rather than just being truthful.

So for a few years I would brush my horse, longe and barely ride wondering what was going on with me. I began to read some of the horse forums and found out that I was not ‘the only one’. Riders that have ridden and then for many different reasons take a few years or more off, find themselves lost and unable to confidently ride again. And we have a name, we are termed Re-riders! Any age, discipline or level of riding combined with an amount of time off can throw us into a Re-rider tail spin when we decide to get back to riding. Often it’s people that rode when they were young, took a break and then decide to come back to their horses. Perhaps the rider has returned to horses at an older age no longer having the physical strength they once had or the realization that fast reactionary time has decreased and fear or anxiety sets in. Confidence is lost and embarrassment follows leaving the rider disempowered and unable to do even the simplest aspects of riding – just getting on, moving from the walk to the trot, or riding outside of an indoor arena. The anxieties are varied and almost debilitating to the rider.

The good news is – these fears or weaknesses can be overcome. The first step is to be able to understand that anyone, any age, could become a Re-rider. Then with the help of an understanding instructor, horse friend or a support person, you pace yourself and work back into confidence. Having a safe horse is key to eliminating any further negative experiences. Also, consistency with riding on a regular basis keeps confidence in check over time. Finding a schooling barn with good seasoned horses, (even though your horse may be at your own home barn) and setting up a few lessons could be all that is needed. Having the lesson back-up may be just what you need to keep riding confidently, when once you rode alone. It just helps knowing you have support riders around you and a plan with goals to get back in the saddle.

I have been riding at a barn where experienced riding friends are there if I need to call on them. They have gently yet actively nudged me back to doing the riding I want to do once again. Since I have horses at home too, I have a friend that will ride with me on nearby trails – so I get both the indoor experience of schooling and the outdoor ride that fulfills my horses and myself even further. My goal – to jump something more than just small oxers again. And I know I will do it!

If you think you are a Re-rider, don’t be ashamed to talk with someone you know that will listen to your experience. Talk out a plan to move forward with their help and a good, quiet horse. Before you know it, you will be having all those fun experiences again, just like you remember!

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If you would like to share your experience with others, feel free to email me directly at debbie@rammfence.com.

Debbie Disbrow, owner of RAMM Stalls and Horse Fencing, has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She is a certified fence installer and has helped build fencing and stalls for horse facility owners across the USA as well as into Europe. Debbie is highly involved in horse ownership and riding. Visit her web site at www.rammfence.com,, or call 1-800-878-5644 for safer alternatives for your horses.

 

 

Four Easy Tips to Maintain Your Pastures Areas

June 5th, 2015

Spring showers that left us with puddles of mud in our pastures, are turning lush and green. That’s when I know its high time to get busy and evaluate my horses pastures, fence lines, gates, water areas and out-door sheds. Here are a few tips and ideas to help you save both money and time by maintaining your pasture areas now.

 

Brown-5.25in-Flex-Fence-3-Wire-(16)Walk or ride your fence lines and look for any repairs.

After seeing many accidents that could have been avoided, this takes the number one slot for frequent evaluations. Our horses spend most of their time in their pastures. It is basically their home and far too often over looked. Without safe fencing we risk accidents that could have been prevented. Not to mention, the cost of vet bills and not taking care of our best and largest investment – our horses and their well-being.

Ride or walk you fence lines and look for any protruding nails, screws, or unsecured rails. If you have wood fencing, be very sure all rails meet end to end and that they have not warped. Boards that do not line up flat can potentially injure and cut your horse. If you have rigid PVC fencing, be sure that all rails are fully secured into the post routings and that your secondary electric fencing is working to full capacity.

Take a notebook along with you as you walk your lines and jot down notes of what material you may need to do any repairs. Also take a versatile pair or fence pliers and ring shank nails for quick repairs, if needed. Tie bright plastic tape or string at repair spots. This will help to save time when you return to do repairs. If you see any high traffic areas where your horses are starting to push or lean on your fence, take measures to stop the abuse. Cut brush and trees away from your fence lines so that horses will not be tempted to lean over your fence. If your horses are eating under your bottom rail to get grass, consider adding electric and giving additional grass hay in your pasture to prevent this from occurring again in the future.

Is your pasture holding up to regular use? Do you have trouble maintaining your pasture grass? If so, you may want to consider cross fencing and use one area as a dry lot while allowing the other area to rest. Damp wet ground can become rutted and torn from happy horses. Cross fencing allowing rotational grazing, and can help to save your needed pastures. Additionally, by rotating you can knock down manure piles and help to prevent parasite problems in the resting pasture. If possible, the best option may be to add an additional pasture with an aisle in-between. Aisles help to eliminate the wear on and over common fence lines (cross fencing), and keeps your fences lasting longer.

 

gate Check your gatesWeather changes such as heat, as well as frost and thaw have a relentless way of “moving” some of our most leveled gates! Additionally, horses can do a lot         of gathering and leaning at gates.  After some amount of time or wear, gates must be re-leveled and checked to be sure that spaces between gate or latch posts are no more than 3 inches. Larger spacing could be potentially dangerous places for ponies and horses. Accidents can occur when a horse pushes their heads or legs through the space between the latch post and gate. When the horse pulls back, the gate pulls back to, catching the horse without a way out. Fortunately, you can avoid injury by checking your gate areas to make sure your posts are set straight with proper latch spacing.  Adjust “J” bolts at gate hinges for proper spacing also. Also make sure that the long end of the bolt does not protrude too far out on the opposite side of the post. If does, consider cutting the bolt shorter. Use washers and a nut to cover the remaining end of the J-bolt.

Chain closures can create movement with your gate if not snug around your latch post. A good alternative is to install a two-way locking gate latch that keeps the gate from moving. Additionally, these latches have a ‘no sag’ feature that holds your gates straight.

If your walkways to and from your gates are worn and tracked down from use, consider using stone screenings on walk areas. The fine screenings compact more than fill dirt and will allow rain and water to drain, helping to eliminate puddles and mud – which is so much nicer during turn out.

 

Behlen Waterer 01Check watering areas

Water is one of the most important things that you horse consumes. If you have metal water troughs, check for rusted and/or dented areas that can lead to slow leaks or loss of water for your horses. Also, look over plastic tubs for cracking. Automatic waterers should also be checked frequently for proper filling. All water containers should be cleaned, bleached and rinsed thoroughly on a regular basis. If your horses like to play in your water troughs, consider using fine stone screenings under and around your watering area, this will help to eliminate standing water, puddles and bug activity.

 

 

 

 

 

run-shed-1Outdoor sheds

If your hoses are outside all or most of the time, it’s important to have an area where they can get out of inclement weather – wind, snow and sun. A 3-sided shed provides a place for horses to get relief form the weather. Be sure to check existing sheds for any areas of abuse. Split wood, broken pipe, or broken siding can be places that an accident can occur. If your horses have “nested” on the dirt floor and made large impressions in the ground, refill those areas with dirt and consider using some sawdust, straw or stall mats in nap areas. It will be more comfortable inside the shed for your horse, and will help to avoid open spaces under the frame of the shed. Be sure, especially in windy areas, that you anchor your shed and that the back of it faces the prevailing wind direction.  Make your horses living areas the safest that you can!   Be ready to spend time with your horse early in the season by getting pasture area maintenance completed now.

 

 

 

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Debbie Disbrow, owner of RAMM Stalls and Horse Fencing, has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She is a certified fence installer and has helped build fencing and stalls for horse facility owners across the USA as well as into Europe. Debbie is highly involved in horse ownership and riding. Visit her web site at www.rammfence.com,, or call 1-800-878-5644 for safer alternatives for your horses.

 

Equestrian Children – Our (Horses) Future

April 15th, 2013

Back in the day – when I was in 4th grade – I had what I thought was one of the best opportunities of my life!  My favorite teacher, Mrs. Fleck, announced that we were all going to participate in ‘Show and Tell’.  My racing mind had only to think for a few minuets until I knew exactly what would be the best ‘show and tell’ that I could ever simmer up for my friends.  I would show them my horse!

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my elementary school

My excitement was too hard to contain as I told Mrs. Fleck what I had chosen for ‘show and tell’. Without blinking an eye, she assigned ‘my day’ to me.  I waited patiently day after day as other students talked about their toys and books.  I was bursting at the seams for my ‘turn’ to bring my horse to school!

I remember staying home that morning and when the time was right I brushed and saddled my horse, rode through the woods and went down the road, approximately 3 miles, to my school. Being on time was no issue because I often rode to school on weekends and knew exactly how long the ride would take. On that particular ‘show and tell’ day, I was throughly thrilled to tell my class all about my beloved horse, saddle and bridle out on the recess field. Questions went on for a while and then it was time for the students to return to the class room.  I rode back home, put my horse in his pasture and my mother took me back to school. What a memorable day.

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Today, it would hardly be imaginable for schools or parents to allow a student to ‘show and tell’ a horse! Im sure that most students would rather talk about their newest computer or electronic devices, of which there are many.  Times have changed drastically since I was in school. Our technology is allowing young people the opportunity to have any information right at their finger tips at almost any time. But with all this technology, I’m hoping that parents don’t forget to find balance for their children. Horses provide many life lessons as well as responsibility.

It takes time to teach anyone the proper basics of horse care and riding, but children catch on very quickly. Most children love to be in a barn and see the horses.  Hours can be lost in brushing feeding and caring for horses, let alone, riding them. Imaginations expand and many skills are learned and improved upon as time goes on.

As much as I am for new technology,  I can’t help but be an advocate for encouraging people to own horses – especially families with children. I personally know the lessons that can be learned (starting at the age of 5) from being with groups of riders or singly alone either working my horses or riding them by myself.  If you think about it, our children are our horses future. Without new equestrians, the vast number of horse owners will decrease.

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Bringing ‘little ones’ into our barns (with supervision), having clinics for new ‘horse enthusiasts’, supporting 4-H and pony club are all good ways to strengthen our future horse owners.  ~ Even talking to students about horses an animal husbandry will add balance to these great technological times.

Decompressing from life’s daily challenges by looking a horse in the eye and sharing time with younger people in the barn is an investment for tomorrows upcoming equestrians.  Share your ‘horse knowledge’ with a child and you will quickly see the wonder and delight in their faces. The time that you give will turn into long lasting memories for both you and the other ‘little’ person.

What do you think about children playing with electronic devices vs. children being taught about horses?

 

 

 

Cold Weather Gear for Horse Riding

April 15th, 2013

I’m told the groundhog did not see his shadow this year. This means, (providing you believe in the foresight of groundhogs) that there are just six weeks left to winter. Yet, here we are shoveling snow and still dressing in layers. As it turns out, Mother Nature still has a few deep freezes and probably another snow storm up her sleeve.

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Springtime Tulips

No matter—we’re horse folk, tougher than most everyone we know. We crack icy buckets with the heel of our boots, leap over snow banks in a single bound and…..well, you get the idea. But, no matter how tough we might feel on the inside, staying warm and dry on the outside is the key to enjoying winter with horses. This month, we offer tips on choosing clothing that keeps you comfortable no matter what the weather.

I often think of the early explorers as I trudge through deep snow to get to my barn. The British explorer, R.F. Scott, had pony snow-shoes crafted for his team of Shetland ponies he brought with him to Antarctica. Don’t get too excited. The pony show-shoes were an abysmal failure, leaving the ponies to struggle as best they could through the deep snow drifts. Read more »