June 2012

Since hazy, hot and humid seems to be the theme for at the least the next month or so, I want to share Susan Harris' recommendation about riding in hot weather. Susan Harris wrote and illustrated several excellent books on proper equitation and how horses move and use their bodies correctly. I believe she was the first to apprentice under Sally Swift, the founder of Centered Riding.

HOW HOT IS TOO HOT TO RIDE? from Susan Harris

What would be considered moderate exercise under temperate weather conditions can have the same effect as intense activity when the heat and humidity rise. When is it too hot to trot?

A good rule of thumb when assessing how the heat will affect your workout is to measure the Heat Stress Index (HSI). If the sum of the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees plus the percent of humidity totals less than 120, all systems are “go.”
If the sum is greater than 150, particularly if humidity contributes to more than half of this number, your horse’s natural cooling
mechanisms will be compromised. You should consider lowering the intensity of your workout, shortening the length of time, or riding later in the day. If the HSI is greater than 180, a horse cannot regulate his core body temperature naturally, so he should not be forced to work. For instance, if it is 100 degrees with 80 percent humidity, leave your horse in a shaded paddock with plenty of cool, clean drinking water and go have a cold drink yourself.


Lisa Capp from L and B Farms in Hershey, PA is hosting a saddle fitting lecture on Monday, July 9, at 6:15 pm at the Lawn Fire Hall; 5596 Elizabethtown Road, Lawn, PA 17041 following the 4-H meeting. This is a free lecture and no sales pitch! Please RSVP at tpeiper@aol.com


Sadly, my Family & I had to say goodbye to my Grandmother, Theresa Kahanovitz last week.  That is Grandma in the picture above, behind her is my Aunt Eva and next to me is Aunt Sandie.  Grandma was 93 years old. Although she lived and stayed in Baltimore all her life, she was a part of many of our lessons here in PA in my stories. I even told her one day that I tell my students to get their horses to slow down, they needed to walk like her. To walk with my Grandmother down the halls of the assisted living facility where she resided these past few years, I had to slow down and shorten my steps dramatically. If I walked normal, I would be waiting for her at the end of the hall. So, I would take a big deep breath, lean back a little bit, shift my weight back to my heels, take shorter slower steps, then exhale again, and take shorter slower steps. Richard Shrake called this "Granny walk" and it was. When I ride down a steep hill or cross a creek, I think about walking with Grandma so that my horse takes slow steady short steps rather than rushing down or jumping like horses love to do.

In lessons and clinics we practice the Granny walk between 2 poles. Space the pole about 5 normal paces apart. Then walk your horse over the poles and count his steps. Start counting with the first step in and end with the first step out. If you walk through in 5 steps easily, so should your horse. Then go back and shorten your step and your horses step and put in 6 steps, then 7. You could also stretch out your steps and see if you can do it in 4. This is a great exercise to help improve your feel and communication with your horse. One year the girls challenged each other and got up to 10 steps!

Private and group lessons are still being offered at Buck N Horse Hollow (inside on hot days). FMI contact me at tpeiper@aol.com


One of the areas that we measure on our horses during a saddle fit evaluation is the cross section behind the shoulder. We measure the width of the tree to determine if the saddle is as wide as the horse. We also measure the angle of the shoulder and compare it to the angle of the saddle tree. These are two totally different measurements.

A common misconception is if the saddle is tight behind the shoulders, the horse needs a wider tree. A saddle that is tight on or behind the shoulders could be too long, billets out of alignment, tree too wide, tree too narrow, tree twisted, horse could be uneven or built downhill. Usually if the saddle tree is too narrow, it sits too high in front and there will be room for more then 3 fingers on top of withers. Usually if the saddle is too wide it sits too low in the front and there will not be room for 3 fingers on top of withers.

To check your tree angle compare the angle of the shoulder to the angle of the tree with a crop on the horse's shoulder and see if it matches up to the piping or tree point on your saddle. This video clearly shows the movement of the withers and the shoulder at all 3 gaits in slow motion so we can see why we need that clearance. If the saddle were too tight on this horse's withers, he would not be able to stride out like he is. His steps would be shorter, his back would be hollowed and his head would be up. Compare your horse's movement with the saddle (without a saddle pad) and without the saddle on the lunge. Look at the position of his head and neck, the length of his stride, his ears, eyes and tail. Is he the same?

Favorite Link of the Month http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOXpKaw_MQg

Plan to attend one or more of my lecture's on proper saddle fit and schedule your personal saddle fit evaluation by contacting me at tpeiper@aol.com.

As always, thank you for reading our e-newsletter and for all the responses. Call, text or email me and if I don't respond, please try again. I don't think cell phones and computers are always dependable. I always try to respond within 2 days. Happy riding everyone!

TTYS & God Bless