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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mel writes the columns... you don't have to buy the magazines!

I don't currently subscribe to any horse magazines, (AERC excluded) because with the exception of one (Equus) I find them rather repetitive, trivial, and simplistic.

While waiting in line to buy cat food (at TSC, taste of the wild, if you most know) I observed the following headlines:

Gear you need for your new horse

Getting your  own horse - Make it happen!

5 ways to be a better rider

Here's what I'm going to do.  As much as these titles make you want to run to your nearest horse store and grab this issue off the shelf, we are all busy people.  So, without actually reading a word of these magazines I'm going to give you a summary of what the magazine probably did not say - but they should have.

5 ways to be a better rider

Ummm...take riding lessons? This seems an obvious one, but hey- if spending the big bucks on a magazine to learn this sage advice makes it sink in a bit better, then that's money well spent!

Ride anything (that you can safely) get your hands on.

Watch good riding.  It's amazing how visualization transfers to the saddle.

Chose suitable mounts.  While a hint of desperation helps, fear isn't generally a state where cognizant learning occurs - especially considering that riding often entails doing the OPPOSITE of what your body thinks it needs to do for survival.

Watch National Velvet.  Just to remind you why you started riding in the first place.

OK - that wasn't too bad.  Let's move on to the next one shall we?

Getting your own horse - Make it happen!

First off - if you need to look towards a magazine for your inspiration to get your own horse, I'm not sure I want you owning a horse.

Why aren't you leasing or borrowing?  I did that for YEARS before ever getting my own horse.  And when I got my own horse, let's review what I had:

1.  A job.  That paid my bills in full, BEFORE getting a horse.
2.  A place to keep the horse
3.  A way to transport the horse
4.  The time to ride, caress, and care for the horse.
5.  The time to educate myself about the horse.
6.  A health insurance plan for myself.

You want to get a horse?  Get a job.  Do your homework.  Arrange your life to make it possible.  Then, go talk to the 3 best horse people you know for advice.

Gear you need for your new horse

I'll give you a hint - you don't need half the crap you think you need, and you'll pay twice what you budgeted for the crap you do need. 

Let's leave the typical "grooming, blanket, and that-fancy-saddle-pad" lists behind and take a look at what you REALLY need.

  • 2 halters, 2 leadropes.  I'm not kidding.  And let's make sure the leadropes are cotton so we end the day with all our fingers OK?
  • A hoof pick.  A really good one.  
  • A good brush.  Medium stiff that doesn't annoy the horse, that still gets dried dirt off the coat.  
  • A fly mask - because when your horse needs that mask, he needs it.  Don't make him wait miserably while you remember to go by the tack store on your way home from work.  
  • A thermometer.  Trying to find one you like when your stable is having an infectious outbreak and you want to do BID not fun.  Keep one handy.  
  • Proper foot wear.  Do as I say, not as I do.
  • A helmet - it's not just for riding.
Now we'll assume you want to actually DO something with the pony.  Here are your priorities.
  • A bit that doesn't annoy your horse.  Rule out your hands and riding first, and then put something on the horse's head that they don't hate.  That is YOUR responsibility as a rider.  
  • If you can't afford a decent saddle that fits your horse well enough to not cause sores and pressure points, don't use one.  Borrow one or ride bareback while you save your pennies. 
  • Reins you don't hate
  • A saddle pad that doesn't slip, bunch, or annoy you.
  • A blanket that will fix a shivering horse.  I suggest having several on hand.  
  • A couple of grooming tools you really like, so are likely to use.  
Here's some general guidelines I would follow if I was starting over with a new horse
  • Figure out what you want the first time, and buy it - even if it's expensive.  Buy quality.
  • Borrow gear to test first if you can.  I hate doing it - you probably hate doing it, but it will keep you from buying unnecessary stuff you will take a loss on later.  
  • Once I have the basics, make purchases that will help me have experiences with my horse - not look pretty.  
  • Spend money where it counts - a perfect item that does exactly what I want, while saving time. 
What do you guys think?  Did I miss something by not reading the articles?  Do you have anything to add?


  1. This is hilarious. And so true. I don't subscribe to any magazines either because there's only so many times you can read the same articles rehashed. Reading blogs is a lot more interesting and informative :)

    Your advice is very good.

  2. BAH hahahahahaha!!!!

    You are so right. Go, girl!

  3. Pretty funny, and as we all know, very true!

    I do receive several magazines - Equus (which has actually gotten quite predictable after more than a decade of subscribing), CDS Newsletter, USDF Connection, the USEF publication, and Dressage Today. I actually really like Dressage Today - it's quite good!

    I don't subscribe to any others because they all get repetitive. I guess the problem is that there isn't a lot of new stuff to write about.

    Karen from

  4. Buy the Carhartt coveralls. They're worth it. No matter what horse you have or where you move with it, you're going to be really happy that you have the coveralls. Also, buy the muck boots.

  5. When I became a USDF member I was pleasantly suprised at the quality of their magazine. I will probably even miss it once I stop renewing my membership. The USEF magazine is a joke in my opinoin.

    Funder - I LOVE muckboots. We have ot have rubber boots for school and I rewarded myself with a new pair, and retired the ones that have served me faithfully for the last 7 years to backups only (the tread is gone and it makes them very slick). And coveralls - I'm so sad when Matt stopped wearing them because I don't get his cast offs anymore. At the dairy where I lived and worked in college they were GREAT - and later they were my choice for all barn chores.


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