Western Performance - Quick Tips from the Experts
• My feeding program varies from horse to horse, as they all have different requirements, based on work schedules and show times, to ensure they peak at the right time.
• I don’t like to over feed my pleasure horses with high energy feeds, I still want them fat and shiny, but avoid any hot feeds. I do give flaxseed and rice bran oil, which gets their coats really healthy and keeps weight on, whilst they are in work.
• I predominantly feed good quality hay.
• I use a lot of leg to soften their belly and rib cages, by doing a series of exercises, asking the horse to move its shoulders and hips, this promotes softness, allowing them to just melt into my hands. I use soft fingertip hands (avoid heavy hands), to give the horse confidence to move freely underneath me. I like the horse to be confident, trusting and waiting for my next directions.
• One of my favourite exercises is working on getting the hindquarters in at all 3 paces, beginning at the walk and then progressing to the jog and finally the lope. This exercise encourages slow, soft strides and the horse stays on the ground a bit longer. If the horse starts anticipating, I will play around with the exercise, so I might push him over for a few strides and then straighten up and walk off in a straight line. I like my horses to be soft, supple and responsive.
• Last of all, I really take pride in my showing and training, and I respect my rivals!
• The 2 most important feeds in my shed are; the best quality lucerne hay I can buy and the best quality oats. And the rule is... ‘keep it simple!’
• I evaluate on a daily basis, whether my horse needs a little more or a little less feed. At different times of a horse’s age, growth and workload they might need a bit extra, but I find that usually once a horse reaches a certain point you have to be mindful that the horse’s rations can be cut back, even if it’s only a little bit. You do not have to feed them the exact same amount of feed the whole year through.
• I never do a lot of small circles with the babies, or mature horses either for that matter.
• Always strive to do the best job you can and BE PATIENT! Results don’t happen overnight.
• Don’t expect to see the same results from a horse that has been in work for 6 weeks, as opposed to one that has been in work 6 months. For example if someone sends me a horse and expects the same results in 6 weeks, as a horse I have had in the barn for 6 months, it won’t happen!
• Have pride in your work and attention to detail!
• Most of all Enjoy showing!
I feed Hygain Showtorque and Hygain Allrounder, along with Rice Bran Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar. Plus unlimited amounts of lucerne hay.
I do lots of exercises to get my horses listening, soft and supple...
• Reverse arc into a lope on the correct lead.
• Jogging, stopping and backing-up, is a great exercise to encourage softness.
• Jogging into the bridle, with my legs on, to encourage the horse to lift its back up and move its front end out of the way, is another one of my favourites.
Once I get on I make sure the horse is listening to my legs and spurs, to ensure it is locked on to what I am asking; If we are doing pattern classes, I make sure that each of the manoeuvres are set. If the horse isn’t completing one very well, I will work on that more than the others.
Travis Humphries & Natasha Humphries
• Feed according to your horse, eg. hot horses need less grain. Skinny horses need more feed than fatter horses. Remember when entering the show arena all eyes are on you and the judge is drawn to well conditioned, shiny, healthy looking horses.
• We like to feed a grain that is low in energy and high in oil for their coats, along with a joint formula to assist in maintaining healthy joints.
• The quality of feed helps ensure healthy coats.
• Horses learn from reward, give credit were credit is due, every horse is different, therefore learns in different ways.
• If you are stuck in a rut, always go back to basics. Basics such as teaching them to move their shoulder and teaching them to move their hips.
• Your legs are the most important part of riding, more push, less pull, that’s our motto.
• Rug according to weather conditions, some horses are hotter blooded than others. For our winter show coats we feel for warmth up along their kidneys, so even though they may be hot in the flank their kidneys can be cooler.
• Full cotton rugs are a must year round, to prevent sun bleach and biting insects.
• In winter we like to have a wool close to their skin, aiding in better warmth and pulls any loose hair out. Plus extra rugs as necessary.
• Routinely wash and condition your horse.
• And always wash all the sweat out of their coat after working, as sweat makes a dull coat.