Monday, May 22, 2017

What are windswept legs?

Windswept legs are a deformity of the legs in foals that make the foal look as if he's being blown to one side. It's a rare disorder that affects either both front legs or both hind legs. It's believed to be caused by poor positioning in the womb or inadequate nutrition. Some foals recover on their own, but some require minor surgery to straighten them out.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Can horses walk on their hind legs?

For very short periods, but it's not really a natural thing for them to do. However, an Arabian horse called Desert Kismet holds the Guinness Record for "Fastest 10m on hind legs by a horse" (9.21 seconds). Teaching a horse to do this requires teaching them unnatural coordination and muscle development. The typical horse can't even stay on their hind legs for that long at a stretch - physically can't. They aren't made to do it.

Here's a video of Desert Kismet doing his signature trick.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Does it really take "ten falls to make a good rider"?

That's a saying that circulates in Britain, and I've heard variants in the US too (usually the number of falls).

I'm well past my ten falls, as it were (I'll be honest and say I'm thinking of this topic because I took a stupid tumble yesterday, off of the tallest horse in the barn, because I do nothing by half measures) - but what the saying really means is this:

If you worry too much about falling off, you will never progress as a rider. An occasional failure to keep the horse between you and the ground is a normal hazard of riding - and something you have to learn to deal with.

It might not take ten falls to be a good rider, but you can't become a good rider without falling off.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why don't horses generally jump out of a field?

Horses are quite capable of jumping their own height, so why do they stay in fenced paddocks?

There are several reasons. The biggest is that, for the most part, horses simply can't be bothered to jump the fence to get out. (The exception is horses that seriously love to jump, and they often have to be kept in by putting electric wires in a strategic location to teach them a lesson when they try to jump out). They will, though, run out of an open gate.

Most horses, though, are more inclined to stay put as long as they have water, company, and enough food. Why bother going looking for better? (They will, though, often lean over the fence because for some reason the grass outside HAS to be tastier, right?)


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Which side do carriage people put the taller horse?

Ideally, a properly matched pair of horses should be exactly the same height, but that was not always possible. A one or two inch height difference is not uncommon.

So, which side is the taller horse put?

Typically, if driving on the road, you want the taller horse to be towards the edge of the road - that way the camber will help the horses make up the difference. In other words, if you drive on the left side of the road, you put the taller horse on the left, and if on the right on the right.

If in doubt, the taller horse is put to the right - which apparently makes the pair easier to drive.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Can horses see behind them?

Horses can see almost directly behind them - but do have a blind spot in their immediate rear (when told not to approach a horse from behind, we're really saying to stay out of that blind spot - if you approach a horse from behind at an angle they can see you fine).


Friday, May 12, 2017

Do horses hate the rain?

Generally not. In fact, horses that are provided with a free use shelter will often still stand out in the rain. They don't seem to mind it at all.

However, some horses do seem to hate the rain. And most horses will seek shelter if they hear thunder - they're tall and don't want to be hit by lightning. Horses will also try to turn their back to the rain or wind and may get mad with a rider who won't let them do that.