Survey says…”Yes!”

bhpA BIG thanks to all those completing our recent NickerNews & BestHorsePractices survey. We received excellent participation and input.

Here are some tidbits:

Who reads our newsletters and visits our sites?

— Most have been reading the newsletter for 2-4 years.

— Most are women, between 37-77 years of age.

header_home_02— Many are from New England, especially Maine. Numbers are growing in the western states as well as internationally.

What’s good to read?

It was virtually a tie between the many categories of content. From guest columns and research to personal anecdotes, DIY’s, and interviews, you said it was hard to rank them since you enjoy reading them all. Research and helpful articles for everyday riders, though, were mentioned as particularly popular.

Some comments related to content:

— Articles are getting better all the time.

farm fit1— They are fun, informative, and wide-ranging.

— Merging equine neurology with training modalities is fascinating.

— Thanks for the piece on Rider Fear. After an accident, I was going through it, too. It was so helpful.

— Your piece on Blanketing showed me that I don’t have to feel guilty this winter.

— Your article on Holes in Training made me aware to be more aware.

— At 74, I’m no longer able to ride or have my horse. Your work allows me to be close to horses vicariously and continue to learn.


With the Internet chock full of content, why do you read NickerNews & BestHorsePractices?

— Real people talking about real things helpful to the average person. Understandable language and real events.

— I feel confident sharing the information with others.

— I trust the source.

— I read it because you stay true to your topic, best horse practices.

— There’s research behind the information.

— It’s easy to read and packed with information, geared around everyday people who work with their own horses, not hired hands.

— It’s personal and familiar.

— Often you write about obscure but very interesting and effective horse people. It isn’t just about who is in vogue at the moment.

— I usually find myself reading every work even if I didn’t start out to do that.

— You target the real horse owners and view all sides of anything you air. It’s refreshing.

Miller Jordan works with Line Dancer

When asked what to change, most respondents gave a variety of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, there were some calls for more:

— Research

— Mulemanship

— Features on horse and/or human growth

— Reviews of products.

Thanks again for your viewpoints! By now, all respondents should have received a Thank You token via US mail. If you have yet to receive it, please let us know here.


Lessons in Listening

'Who's in charge?' is the wrong question!

‘Who’s in charge?’ is the wrong question!

“Listen to your horse.”

“Trust your horse.”

They sound earnest and profound, but what do those statements really mean?

And how can you listen to your horse and still be the Lead Horse? (Trainers tell you that, too.)

Finding the intersection between telling and listening, between leading and cooperating is a key component of horsemanship and a big part of what many call Feel.

I got a good lesson in this dynamic on two recent occasions with my horse, Pep.

1. We headed out after dark on a four-mile ride through the rough country of the Oquirrh foothills. Here, the trails are rocky and the landscape is full of juniper and scrub oak. Generally speaking, it’s open country. But on this ride, we stuck to tight, winding trails in the draw of a canyon.

The stars shined on this moonless night. I saddled up relying mostly on my sense of touch:

  • brushing her back and running my hands under her belly to check for burrs and whatnot.
  • threading the latigo through the cinch and snugging it slowly.
  • undoing her halter and bringing the bosal past her nose and the bosal hanger over her ears.
At night, "Listen and trust your horse" takes on significant meaning.

At night, “Listen and trust your horse” takes on significant meaning.

Without light, the routine of tacking up felt almost romantic. It was like getting dressed in the dark and sneaking out of your parents’ house without turning on any lights. Read more about night vision here.

We headed out with the dog, Kip. We all know the trails well, but it became quickly apparent that tonight, Pep knew them best. She chose routes that gave her the best footing and the easiest going. At various spots, she moved easily into a trot and then back to a walk as the trail got dicey-er.

I saw shapes and splotches of rocks, shrubs, and trees as we passed by. With my hands, seat, and legs, I remained balanced and supportive of anything she wanted to do (except turning around).

It seemed we all relied somewhat on memories, especially when approaching a meadow we call the “Meeting Place” where we often take a break, hand out treats, and let the horses graze. Indeed, both horse and dog paused without being asked and I dutifully broke open a granola bar for us to share.

Read more about place cells and cognitive maps in the brain here.

We turned and headed home. So far, I’d touched the reins just a few times to get away from overhanging tree branches.

night3Some say Zen moments happen when you set logic aside. Here, logic might require taking charge and being in control. It might insist on using a headlamp or flashlight. Instead, I trusted Pep and her better senses. I took stock of our connection, established through a few years of patiently learning one another’s cues. Letting go was liberating. Learning that our connection succeeded where domination would have failed was exhilarating.

2. My next lesson in listening and trusting was much more humbling:

Pep and I were doing some fine-tuning in a friend’s round pen: sidepassing, gate opening, transitions, etc.

I asked her to lope. The usually go-ey girl hesitated. I asked her again. She seemed to say, ‘I really don’t think it’s a good idea.’ But with the third request, she obliged. We made it halfway around before she slipped on the grassy dirt surface. We slid sideways, hit the ground, and landed on our sides and faces.

I got up, shook out the cobwebs, and looked at Pep, who’d popped back up, too. “Sorry, girl, for not listening. That was my fault.”

Exploring Evidence-Based Horsemanship DVD is here

Over the course of several months, Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black worked with Emily Kitching, president of Eclectic Horseman Communications, to 10351760_794633487259360_7475000953155685934_ndevelop an insightful debut DVD.

The new release serves as a welcome compliment to the book, Evidence-Based Horsemanship, which was published two years ago and has cultivated a steady following.

Order your copy of the DVD directly from BestHorsePractices and NickerNews.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER a single copy of the DVD.

To order more than one, visit this page on NickerNews.

Masterful videos by Masterson

jimFor more than a decade, Jim Masterson has been doing good works for horses in the way of massage, tension release, and interactive body work. He’s traveled with the US Endurance team to Malaysia, Germany, and Chile and treated the team’s equine athletes. He’s presented at major horse expos in the U.S. and Australia. He’s helping humans, too, by teaching his methods in the U.S. and the U.K.
Want a taste of the Masterson Method?

Here are links to scores of free videos:

General training videos

Clip from Masterson Method, Beyond Horse Massage DVD

Improving Lateral Flexion

Learn about the Bladder Meridian

Releasing Tension in a Resistant Horse

jim_masterson_relaxedWorking with the Horse’s Hind Legs

Releasing tension in the poll.

Releasing tension in the TMJ and Jaw

Ways to help your horse relax

Herd behavior and working with your horse

Masterson Method Head Down Technique

Release Tension in the Neck-Shoulders-Withers Junction

Thanks, Jim!

Equine Dentistry, a quick tale and a big man

mred090713.JPGI visited with Steve Akeley the other day. He’s is a talented horseman as well as one of Maine’s most popular equine dentists.

Steve floated my horses’ teeth for years. Always thorough. Always professional. Always willing to take the extra time horses often need during procedures. He travels with a cute, lively Jack Russell terrier riding shotgun. They make quite a pair as Steve has a lumberjack build with a full beard to match.

He shared that he was headed to Texas for some continuing education at the Texas Institute of Equine Dentistry, run by Randy Riedinger.

Riedinger is arguably the most accomplished equine dentists in the country. He perfected a method of molar extraction and developed the Riedinger Procedure, an internationally accepted method for correcting parrot mouth in young horses.

In Maine and elsewhere, there are two options for giving your horse proper equine care: a vet or an equine dentist.

  • Vets will argue that anyone providing equine medical care should be one of them. They say equine dentists don’t know enough veterinary medicine to do the job.
  • Equine dentists argue that when it comes to teeth, vets train less, practice less, and are generally less qualified to do the job.

steve akeley1Martin Black wrote about his preference for equine dentists here.

In the last several years, state governments and veterinarian associations have tried to strip equine dentists of their right to practice and force horse owners to hire only vets. Thankfully, they’ve had minimal success. Read more about it here.

A few years ago in Texas, the court ruled that the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners broke the law when they tried to restrict equine dentistry.

As with anything, it pays to do your homework, get recommendations, and check references. Consider this post a Thumbs Up for Mr. Akeley.


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