Horse Sense

I would embrace profound quotes written about horses.


This is a terrific collection of horse quotes, and you too may have a hard time picking a favorite.  Whether the quote be from an unknown author or a famous quote from Sir Winston Churchill or Will Rogers, they all express the feeling I get around my horses.  Let me know your favorite listed below, or send me your own to include!


“Before I loved horses, I had nothing to live for. Now I love horses and can’t stop seeing things to live for.”

~ Author Unknown

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

~ Sir Winston Churchill

“Whoever said a horse was dumb, was dumb.”

~ Will Rogers

“A pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.”

~ Rebecca Carroll

“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact
with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.”

~ Sharon Ralls Lemon

“No heaven can heaven be, if my horse isn’t there to welcome me.”

~ Author Unknown

“To see the wind’s power, the rain’s cleansing and the sun’s radiant life, one need only to look at the horse.”

~ Author Unknown

“Half the failures in life result from pulling in one’s horse when it is leaping.”

~ Author Unknown

“When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours,
and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your spine…you know you are loved.”

~ John Lyons

“I have seen things so beautiful they have brought tears to my eyes.
Yet none of them can match the gracefulness and beauty of a horse running free.”

~ Author Unknown

“The way to heaven is on horseback.”

~ Author Unknown

“Virtue shall be bound into the hair of thy forelock. I have given thee the power of flight without wings.”

~ Author Unknown

“I’ve spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I’ve just wasted.”

~ Author Unknown

“The horse, with beauty unsurpassed, strength immeasurable and grace unlike any other,
still remains humble enough to carry a man upon his back.”

~ Amber Senti

“To many, the words love, hope and dreams are synonymous with horses.”

~ Author Unknown

“All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.”

~ Author Unknown

“A true horseman does not look at the horse with his eyes, he looks at his horse with his heart.”

~ Author Unknown

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.”

~ Helen Thompson

“A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient horse walks in front of you,
but a noble companion walks beside you.”

~ Author Unknown

“A large and liquid eye…the swirl of dust around pounding hooves…these, then, are the images that move us.”

~ Author Unknown

“Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem.
They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls. They give us hope!”

~ Toni Robinson

“One can get in a car and see what man has made. One must get on a horse to see what God has made.”

~ Author Unknown

“The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.”

~ Arabian Proverb

“If you have seen nothing but the beauty of their markings and limbs, their true beauty is hidden from you.”

~ Author Unknown

“Wherever man has left his footprints in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization,
we find the hoofprint of a horse beside it.”

~ John Trotwood Moore

“To understand the soul of a horse is the closest human beings can come to knowing perfection.”

~ Author Unknown

“For one to fly, one needs only to take the reins.”

~ Melissa James

“His is a power enhanced by pride, a courage heightened by challenge.
His is a swiftness intensified by strength, a majesty magnifed by grace.
His is a timeless beauty touched with gentleness, a spirit that calls our hearts to dream.”

~ Author Unknown

“Horse thou art truly a creature, for thou fliest without wings and conquorest without sword.”

~ Author Unknown

“You and your horse. His strength and beauty. Your knowledge and patience and determination and understanding and love.
That’s what fuses the two of you onto this marvelous partnership that makes you wonder…
‘What can heaven offer any better then what I have here on earth?’ “

~ Monica Dickens

“A good rider can hear his horse speak to him. A great rider can hear his horse whisper.”

~ Author Unknown

“Horses lend us the wings we lack.”

~ Pam Brown

“The love for a horse is just as complicated as the love for another human being…
if you never love a horse, you will never understand.”

~ Author Unknown

“He has galloped through young girl’s dreams, added richness to grown women’s lives and served men in war and strife.”

~ Toni Robinson

“A dog may be man’s best friend…but the horse wrote history.”

~ Author Unknown

“The horse. Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity.
A willing servant, yet never a slave.”

~ Ronald Duncan

“Bread may feed my body, but my horse feeds my soul.”

~ Author Unknown

“When you are on a great horse, you have the best seat you will ever have.”

~ Sir Winston Churchill

“We kept him until he died…
and sat with him during the long last minutes when a horse comes closest to seeming human.”

~ C.J. Mullen

“Our hoofbeats were many, but our hearts beat as one.”

~ Author Unknown

“Your horse’s behavior always seems to depend on the number of people watching you.”

~ Author Unknown

“When a horse greets you with a nicker and regards you with a large and liquid eye,
the question of where you want to be has been answered.”

~ Author Unknown

“No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses.”

~ Herman Melville

“At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other.
Each is the selfless guardian of the other’s very well-being.”

~ Author Unknown

“If your horse says “no”, you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong.”

~ Pat Parelli

“I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh it was. My very heart leapt with the sound.”

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Through the days of love and celebration and joy, and through the dark days of mourning –
the faithful horse has been with us always.”

~ Elizabeth Cotton

“Ask me to show you poetry in motion and I will show you a horse.”

~ Author Unknown

“There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse.”

~ R.S. Surtees

“And indeed, a horse who bears himself proudly is a thing of such beauty and astonishment that he attracts the eyes of all beholders. No one will tire of looking at him as long as he will display himself in his splendor.”

~ Xenophon

“The history of mankind is carried on the back of a horse.”

~ Author Unknown

“You took me to adventure and to love. We two have shared great joy and great sorrow.
And now I stand at the gate of the paddock watching you run in an ecstasy of freedom,
knowing you will return to stand quietly, loyally, beside me.”

~ Pam Brown

“One must think when looking at a horse in motion, that he hears music inside his head.”

~ Author Unknown

“In their eyes shine stars of wisdom and courage to guide men to the heavens.”

~ Jodie Mitchell

“He knows when you’re happy. He knows when you’re comfortable. He knows when you’re confident.
And he always knows when you have carrots.”

~ Author Unknown

“The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse.”

~ Author Unknown

“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”

~ Winston Churchill

“When the Almighty put hoofs on the wind and a bridle on the lightning, He called it a horse.”

~ Author Unknown

“A man on a horse is spiritually, as well as physically, bigger then a man on foot.”

~ John Steinbeck

“To see a horse is to see an angel on earth.”

~ Author Unknown

“A dog looks up to a man. A cat looks down on a man.
But a patient horse looks a man in the eye and sees him as an equal.

” ~ Author Unknown

“Many people have sighed for the ‘good old days’ and regretted the ‘passing of the horse’.
But today, when only those who like horses own them, it is a far better time for horses.”

~ C.W. Anderson

“Let a horse whisper in your ear and breathe on your heart. You will never regret it.”

~ Author Unknown

“To ride on a horse is to fly without wings”.

~ Author Unknown

“There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something,
even when you ain’t a thing.”

~ Will Rogers

“We have almost forgotten how strange a thing it is that so huge and powerful and intelligent an animal as a horse
should allow another, and far more feeble animal, to ride upon its back.”

~ Peter Gray

“A canter is a cure for every evil.”

~ Benjamin Disraeli

“When you’re young and you fall off a horse, you may break something. When you’re my age and you fall off, you splatter.”

~ Roy Rogers

“One who believes that he has mastered the art of horsemanship has not yet begun to understand the horse.”

~ Author Unknown

“Stay away from a horse long enough and you’ll start tapping your fingers to the beat of a trot.”

~ Author Unknown

“On the back of a horse you will find Paradise.”

~ Stella A. Walker

“A horse in the wind – a perfect symphony.”

~ Author Unknown

“A horse can lend its rider the speed and strength he or she lacks –
but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more then a loan.”

~ Pam Brown

“In the steady gaze of the horse shines a silent eloquence that speaks of love and loyalty, strength and courage.
It is the window that reveals to us how willing is his spirit, how generous his heart.”

~ Author Unknown

“His hooves pound the beat, your heart sings the song.”

~ Jerry Shulman

“The horse you get off is not the same as the horse you got on.
It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better.”

~ Author Unknown

“There are many wonderful places in the world, but one of my favorite places is on the back of my horse.”

~ Rolf Kopfle

“The horse moved like a dancer, which is not surprising.
A horse is a beautiful animal, but it is perhaps most remarkable because he moves
as if he always hears music.”

~ Mark Helprin, A Winter’s Tale

“God, forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses.”

~ Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham

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I would want for the New Year…


new years list

As a horse owner, I hope in the new year to continue to learn from my horses and provide us the tools needed to have a successful horse and owner relationship.

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I would like the excess candy canes off the Christmas Tree.

Every year when Santa visits your home and puts the candy canes on your tree, before you throw them out, think of the horses!  That’s right, horses love candy canes, the peppermint to be specific.  From the moment I take the candy cane out to the barn, then start to unwrap the cellophane off the candy cane making a crinkle sound, my horses are front and center waiting for the delicious treat.

Bailey hat IMG_2220(1) Cheyenne teeth 1 fullSizeRender

If you are wondering if they are good for horses, let’s just say in moderation, they aren’t bad for them!  Plus the candy cane has a healthy shelf life of a good 3 years…but with horses enjoying them, that will never happen!  If you time it perfect you can get the boxes of candy canes on sale after Christmas.  A few years ago I did time it perfect at a cost of ten cents per box.  I left the store with a grocery cart of 100 boxes for a whopping ten dollars!  We were enjoying those for a year!  My friends and family are also a great source for excess candy canes for my horses enjoyment

.Here’s some fun facts on the candy cane…

  • The original candy cane had a shape different then the modern day design. It was straight, all white, and hard.
  • A candy cane turned upside down reveals the letter J, which many believe represents Jesus.
  • National candy cane day is celebrates on December 26 in the United States.
  • The first candy cane was made over 350 years ago.
  • According to folklore, in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Christmas Eve service, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them.  In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus.
  • The first historical reference in America to the candy cane dates back to 1847. A German immigrant from Wooster, Ohio decorated his Christmas tree with candy canes.
  • The red and white striped candy canes were first made around 1900.
  • The traditional candy cane flavor is peppermint, however, it is also made in a variety of other flavors and colored stripes.
  • Over 1.76 billion candy canes are made each year.

Bailey ears

This Christmas when you go out to see what Santa left in the barn for your horse, take a candy cane along for a great treat!  I guarantee your horse will love it!



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I could be happy with only you.

I must have heard a hundred times that I need to get another horse before I move Bailey home to my barn so Bailey wouldn’t be alone.  After all, she had always been with other horses.  She was the alpha horse of any herd.  How will she survive alone.  It is cruel not to have a herd for her. I too was concerned about how she would react alone.

P1110930(1)(1)Bailey PeaBrain Riley

The setup for a horse at my location I think is almost ideal.  The barn is about 100 feet directly behind our house.  We own the property behind both my neighbors houses so a horse can watch people coming and going, children playing all from the pasture.  I also work out of my house so I am home all day.  Bailey was never going to be alone!  Plus there are our cats and Riley our golden retriever who always accompanies me to the barn and trail rides.


The first day I brought her home she was a bit confused of course, but not overly distraught.  She whinnied every once in a while the first week, but with nice grass and treats and me and the pet gang around the transition was uneventful.  She was very happy as an only horse in my situation.  I still was concerned she was alone so two weeks later I brought another horse in for a trial week but the horse did not pass a vet check, so she went home.  Bailey did not care one way or another when the horse left.  It was at that point that I decided Bailey was happy with only me and the pet gang.

Bailey and me0photo

Having only one horse has so many pluses in my opinion.  If you are a trail rider and ride alone, there is no herd bound issues.  My trails start in my backyard.  I could jump on Bailey with no problem for a ride and she never wanted to rush back to another horse or herd.  We just enjoyed the ride together.  There is also not the problem of the second horse left behind throwing a fit when you leave.  One horse is less of everything- food, manure, vet care, tack.  Getting your horse in a pasture with other horses can be a problem, but with one horse, no issue.  In fact, I never had to go get Bailey in our pasture, as soon as she saw me heading toward the barn she would come in ready for whatever was happening.

Bailey Cheyenne RileyIphone copied 6-2015 1628P1120885

Life was pretty perfect then.  Why would I want two horses?   I really didn’t want or expect to still have two horses.  Cheyenne joined our herd in July 2014 because of the deterioration of Bailey’s life with high ringbone.  I did not think Bailey would survive that upcoming winter.  Little did I know the effect Cheyenne would have on all our lives, especially Bailey’s.  My two alpha mares started out living together.  Bailey stood her ground immediately and let Cheyenne know she was the alpha horse at this barn, and for 9 months they lived without any problems.  After the 2015 harsh winter and a hard heat cycle by Cheyenne, there was a violent change of hierarchy with three consecutive challenges that resulted in me permanently separating them.  The details of that will be shared in the next article.

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Although both horses do their own thing in the pasture or choosing to go into the barn, they are aware of what each other is doing all the time.  For me it is better with them separated, as each horse comes into their barn stall area to greet me, and there is no pushing or shoving.  I can enter the stall and brush each individually and spend time with each horse without competing for my attention.  All summer and fall I took Cheyenne off the property away from Bailey for day ride trips and a weekend trip and Bailey was fine with Cheyenne gone.  Now that Bailey is being ridden, I have friends come over and we ride both horses.  With one horse I was alone most of the time at the barn, but with two nice trail horses, it is fun to have other horse lovers enjoy them with me.  It is fun to watch them interact with each other even separated by a wire.

emily and kathyboth horses 1

I guess one horse was perfect, and now two horses are perfect.  I do think my husband would have an opinion with a third!

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I would not want to be cross tied.

Yes, I am sure this will get a lot of disagreement from horse owners, but remember, my site is based on “if I were a horse”. What horse really wants to be confined to a rope tied on both sides of their head so they can’t see what dangers may be behind them?  Definitely not my Cheyenne and I think now that I don’t cross tie Bailey anymore, she is not missing that confined feeling either.

Bailey cross tieclose up halter cross tiecross tie

Bailey was previously kept in the typical large barn format of cross tying your horse when grooming and tacking up. The barn feature stalls on both sides, and when the owner brings out their horse to brush and tack up, they attach a type of lead rope to each side of the horses halter, confining the horse right down the center of the aisle. When I first looked to purchase Bailey she was cross tied, and she stood like a champion. I never had an issue or thought regarding cross tying Bailey or any horse for that matter.



All that changed when Miss Cheyenne joined the family.  I went to look at Cheyenne to purchase her and she was at the owner’s home. She stood ground tied outside while we saddled her up. When I brought her home to my barn, I did what I always had been doing with Bailey, I cross tied her between my barn doors. I didn’t realize the potential for danger until it happened.  The first time I cross tied her, there was no problem. It was a fast tack up and I never left her side. The next day I cross tied her again, and I was spending some new owner quality time grooming her. She was calm, and everything seemed fine until she exploded from the cross ties pulling the rings with the lead ropes attached right out of the barn molding. She almost flipped over. There was no warning, and it was very scary to witness. I was using safety release cross ties that did not release as intended and were mounted at the proper height and length as recommended for my horse and location.  I tried to come up with a reason for the unexpected behavior of my new horse.  Was it a painful horse fly bite or bee sting that startled Cheyenne?  Now day three of owning and cross tying her, and we are all tacked up when she explodes again with no warning. This time I only had lead ropes looped on hooks on each side of the barn since she had pulled the rings out the day before.

I knew, at least temporarily, I could not cross tie this horse.

I started googling, how to teach your horse to cross tie, but of course, that also led to the dangers of cross tying that I had already witnessed. There were lots of great suggestions to teach her, but I had a horse that didn’t seem to have an issue standing quiet as much as being confined in cross ties.  So I asked myself, why does she need to be cross tied?

Horse owners cross tie for many reasons, but from what I see, it is for the owners purpose, not the horse.  Here are the reasons I have been told by owners.  The horse stands straight in the aisle, so its easy to pick up manure.  It is the rule at the barn I board at.  I can leave the horse when I need to and the horse will be fine for a few minutes.  It is easy for my farrier to do my horses feet without me being there.  A well trained horse should be able to cross tie.  Now here is what the horse may be thinking.  I can move for you to pick up my manure.  Dumb barn rule.  You really should never leave me tied unattended.  Who is this stranger picking up my hooves?  I am trained to stand nicely, I don’t need any ties.

cross tied backfarrier

Cross ties are difficult for horses who are afraid of things behind them, because it makes it hard for the horse to turn his head to see what’s going on around him.  When a horse feels trapped, it doesn’t think, it reacts.  Unexpected behavior is something every horse owner needs to remember happens with a horse and especially with a new horse.


A lot of cross tying does seem to lend itself to the environment.  Many horse owners in Australia do not have barns, so consequently cross tying is pretty much unheard of there.  Private horse owners with run in sheds or stalls only probably do not cross tie.  Many show barns do use cross ties.  What you choose to do is your choice. My lesson learned is don’t assume all horses have been taught to cross tie.  Take precautions to introduce that method of tying as it can be dangerous to your horse.  Consider using a quick release knot on your cross ties.

I groom and tack my horses in their stall or in the barn doorway with just a single lead rope attached to the bottom halter ring with a quick release knot on a wall ring.  I feel more relaxed with this setup and so do my horses.


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I would like a teaspoon of salt added in my feed.

Salt is something I have started adding to both my horses feed since my mare Cheyenne suffered an impaction colic on July 6, 2015.  With winter upon us, we know how important it is that our horses drink water.  This simple little teaspoon of table salt might just do the trick to encourage your horse to drink more through winter and all seasons.

Cheyenne colic #1.jpgCheyenne colic #2Cheyenne colic #3

It was a beautiful 4th of July day when Cheyenne and I were invited on a fabulous trail ride a few miles away from our barn with 5 other friends.  It was warm out, mid 80’s, and just a simple walk, when I noticed Cheyenne seemed to be sweating more than normal and seemed winded.  In horse terms- she just seemed off.  The day before, hay was delivered to my barn.  Cheyenne has 24 hour access to grass pastures, but she also enjoys her hay.  I gave her some flakes of hay and she never moved from the spot.  It is likely she never took a drink the entire time eating hay and due to the hot temperature outside she was sweating, causing her to become dehydrated.  The day after the ride I noticed significantly less manure piles in Cheyenne’s pasture.  This is important for every horse owner to be aware of.  What is the normal amount of manure for their horse?  I continued to monitor Cheyenne that whole day as I was suspecting an issue.  Cheyenne had no interest in food, totally unlike her, and she seemed lethargic.  She was not laying down, or pawing, or showing other colic symptoms.  The next day there were no piles of manure, so Cheyenne was taken to my veterinarian for impaction colic treatment.  She did great as I had caught the issue fast, but she still needed to be tubed.  I learned that this mare needs a teaspoon of salt added to her feed to encourage her to drink year-round.  Even with a fresh water trough and salt and mineral blocks in her stall, she doesn’t hydrate properly for her own good.


The horse has a complex digestive tract which includes a relatively small stomach (about the size of a football), a very long small and large intestine, and a cecum that contains fiber-digesting microbes. Given the length of the tract, it makes many turns to fit into the abdominal cavity of the horse, and also changes in diameter periodically. These turns and diameter changes provide locations where dried feed and foreign substances may get caught, blocking the flow of digestion through the tract and causing an impaction. If the impaction is not released (relieved), gas may be produced, which distends the tract, ultimately producing pain, or colic.
When it’s cold, horses are not inclined to drink as much especially from cold or frozen water buckets. They are not grazing on fresh grass, which is about 75 percent water, compared to hay, which contains less than 20 percent water, so to compensate, horses may need more water to maintain a correct and natural digestion.  Both my horses have a 16 gallon heated water bucket in their stall and on super cold days I bring out 2 gallons of hot water for them.
 Cheyenne winter hayheated bucketsalt
If you are concerned your horse isn’t drinking enough in the winter, supply a heated water bucket and a teaspoon of salt in their daily feed this winter.  It may make a difference.


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I would love my carrots microwaved for 22 seconds.

It is Dave that believes 22 seconds is the perfect amount of time to properly heat a carrot for his girls.  Who am I to argue with a husband who wants to do that, crazy as it sounds!  I am thankful on this thanksgiving day for so much in life, and to have a spouse that supports my crazy love with horses.

Bailey and DaveBailey and Dave 1

But seriously, there is actual facts that microwaving a carrot is good!  Yes, that is what I researched last night before posting this.  Everyday when Dave goes to see Bailey and Cheyenne with his daily carrot for a kiss, he microwaves their carrots once the temperature in Syracuse gets below 50 degrees.  He feels the carrots should be warm when served in that outside temperature.  Gotta love Dave.

So what could the benefits be?  Aren’t microwaves bad?  The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria.  Carrots in general are a great treat for the healthy horse.  They are best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene, plus a wide variety of other antioxidants and health-supporting nutrients.  They are high in crude fiber, potassium, vitamin A and sodium.

iphone transfer 11-2015 a 83912295414_10206663122710259_6825581781092253122_nBailey and Patty

My horses are completely spoiled and I have no problem with that.  Not only are they spoiled by my family, but by my friends as well.  The best man in our wedding and my best friend of over 30 years compete for providing the largest fresh grown carrots for my horses.  How great is that!

Happy Thanksgiving, and to all my horse friends, spare a carrot from the dinner table tonight for your best friend horse but remember to microwave for 22 seconds.


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I would not want my halter left on.

This is a personal issue for both my mares, and consequently it is a personal issue to me as their owner.  The halters left on my mares have two different stories and two different outcomes, one was lucky and one left a permanent mark.

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Bailey was being boarded at the time of her scary incident when her halter was left on overnight while she was in her stall.  It was a mistake made by the barn workers, that had to be traumatic for Bailey, and could have resulted in a very serious injury.  Bailey had been out in pasture all day and brought into her stall for the evening.  Routine at the barn was to take off the halter when the horse was in the stall and hang the halter on the hook by her stall.  The next morning I arrive to get Bailey ready for a ride.  Her halter is not hung up in its place.  After a quick search, I see laying in her stall the halter, but what is shocking is the metal ring is cut off!  The stall at the barn I was boarding at had metal rungs on the door and the stall window had rebar on it.  On the stall next to Bailey a few of the rebars were separated at the weld junction.  I was aware of this as earlier in the day the owner of the barn had done some welding on that particular stall since we had witnessed the horse get hung up with his halter.  It appeared during the night Bailey had reached her head over to visit the neighbor horse and the pressure of her head pushed against the un-welded rebar and caught her halter that was left on that night!  Who knows how long she was stuck like that!  It had to be a long time of struggling back and forth until the thick metal ring on a Hamilton halter was cut and she was free!

Still think leaving a halter on is ok unsupervised?

nose skinCheyenne tongue IMG_0491

Now Cheyennes story.  This story will be hypothetical as I don’t know for sure why she is missing fur on her nose where the halter strap lays.  Cheyenne has had a handful of owners due to some of her previous issues.  One of her issues was she was hard to catch so I assume a halter was left on her 24 hours a day and very tight, and possibly too small of a halter as she has a big head.  I have owned her a year and a half and the fur has not come back and never will my veterinarian told me.  She was missing it with the previous owner too.  I feel embarrassed when people see Cheyenne’s nose as I wonder if they think I caused that by leaving a halter on her incorrectly.

You say you need the halter on to catch your horse?

Cheyenne was a difficult horse to catch when I got her.  That was solved in a couple of days without leaving a halter on her.  Like anything with horses, it is not them, it is us and how we interact with them for their success.

horse pasture poolThey sell breakaway halters, so if you must, please at least invest in that halter so your horse has some chance in a crisis.

Halters left on a horse can cause so much havoc.  Not being properly fitted that causes rubbing on the face, or so loose that the horse can actually get their hoof caught in the halter when in a grazing position.  A halter can easily get caught on obstacles in pastures like fences, branches, get caught up and drag branches, even water buckets with handles.

It’s just a bad idea to leave a halter ever on a horse unattended.



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I would maybe, kinda, I think, probably yea want to keep my whiskers.

Well that’s a lot of adverbs in one sentence.  Do horses not know if they need them?  I doubt that.


I have two very different mares.  Bailey is the princess.  She is regal looking and acting, with feminine facial features.  She loves attention, is an extremely picky eater except for treats, and hates mud puddles.   She was a past show horse, so shaving her muzzle was not a big deal at all.  I even bought her a beautiful ruby Andis cordless electric shaver.

Cheyenne mud face photodirty photo(1)

When I bought Cheyenne I thought I would clean up my new mare to look like a princess too.  Cheyenne’s looks and actions are tomboy through and through.  She has a stocky build, will eat anything you put in front of her, has a big head, and likes mud puddles.  But she does not tolerate anyone messing with her whiskers.  No one, no way, no how.  Believe me, I had tried everything and everyone’s advice.

It was now time to access the google gods for help.  Who would have thought there would be so much discussion on horse’s whiskers!  I soon learned how very important horse whiskers are to a horse.  It is such a big deal that Germany and Switzerland governments have banned shaving the whiskers on a horses muzzle.  Horse eyes are positioned in such a way that objects immediately in front of or below the horses nose are beyond their range of vision.  Their horse whiskers help them see these objects. Horses grazing are constantly relying on their whiskers to guide their muzzles toward edible food and away from other objects. The long whiskers near their eyes also warn them when there is a risk of bumping into obstacles, such as branches poking up out of the grass.  Whiskers are thick, rigid vibrissal hairs with shafts made up of non-living protein called keratin and they contain no nerves or nerve receptors. Each whisker grows from a specialized follicle containing an encapsulated blood sinus that is rich in sensory nerve receptors. When a whisker comes into contact with anything in the environment, it vibrates or bends and stimulates the sensory receptors in the follicle to instantaneously alert centers in the brain to trigger immediate motor responses.

This seems to all make sense although I haven’t noticed a problem with Bailey grazing when I shaved her, but my pastures are pretty horse friendly.

horses eating hay

So this is great news for Cheyenne since I will not be shaving her whiskers or Baileys.  I have to admit though, to me a shaved muzzle is prettier, but if it is not in the best welfare for my horse it won’t be done.

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I would not want a bit in my mouth!

Did you expect any other response?  To bit or not to bit…that is the question.  I am of the “not to bit” group of riders, but I haven’t always been that way.  First, I have never liked putting a bit in a horses mouth.  Even when I was young taking lessons, that part of tacking up always bothered me.  I honestly didn’t understand where the piece of metal belonged in the back of mouth.  As an adult I kept researching on the bit, trying to understand what each bit did and hoping I had the best bit with the least amount of pain to control my horse .  I should have stopped shopping right there and never put a bit again in my horses mouth with that statement, but instead I bought a D-ring snaffle with copper rollers.  This would be a good choice for Cheyenne, currently the horse I was riding.

As luck would have it, I had a high school girl come for February break to college shop and ride my horse.  That week the high temperature during the day was 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was a beautiful cold sunny day, so we headed for a quick ride.  I had warmed up the bit before attempting to put it in Cheyennes mouth, but the 2 seconds getting it ready for her mouth, it had gone cold and she wanted nothing to do with it.  Can you blame her!  I didn’t even attempt a second time.  That was the moment I said never again.  There was 3 feet of snow around us, if she acts up, it will be a safe landing.  We snapped 2 lead lines on her halter and rode her around my snow blown paths.  Cheyenne was better than ever.  A happy horse.  I instantly saw a difference.

Cheyenne lead photo(1)Cheyenne 2-2015 photo(1)

I borrowed a friends Dr. Cooks bitless bridle to test on Cheyenne.  In the mean time I was researching all the available options in bitless bridles and came to the conclusion after testing the Dr. Cook bridle it was the closest to the current bridle I was using, just no bit.  Perfect!

Cheyenne english photo.JPGBailey head

“Prior to 1997,” Dr. Cook says, “I might have listed 12 problems as ‘aversions to the bit.’ From research completed since then I now list over 200 negative behaviors and 40 diseases…I kick myself for not having recognized sooner that the bit causes so much mayhem. Bronze age man made a mistake putting a piece of metal in a horse’s mouth.”  “One of the most deeply rooted myths in horsemanship is that a bit controls the horse. It doesn’t. A bit doesn’t act like the brakes on a car. On the contrary, it often acts like an accelerator. Horses run from pain. If you hurt your horse, it speeds up,” he explains.

Spring was around the corner and I will admit, I was getting anxious about using a bitless bridle for real trail riding.  I started to think about the couple of times my horse took off and how the bit did nothing to stop the horse.  I had to train myself that the bit doesn’t control a panic situation.  In May 2015 I had my first chance to test the bitless bridle on Cheyenne off my property at Highland Forest, New York.  It turned out to be an enthusiastic 4 hour ride with lots of opportunity to rate the control of a horse in a bitless bridle.  When the ride was over, my horse had earned an A+ for so many reasons and so did the bitless bridle.

I now have 2 horses that are being ridden in a Dr. Cooks bitless bridle and I am lucky enough to have a bunch of experienced and new rider friends come ride with me.  I am more relaxed putting people on my horses with a bitless bridle as I am not worried they are constantly pulling on the reins and inflicting pain in the mouth.  When I put a new rider on my horses, the rider doesn’t even realize if there is a bit or not.

betty photo(1)both horses 1Bailey woods photo(1)

In Australia a movement towards the use of the bitless bridle in horse competitions is taking place. Equestrian Australia (EA) and Federation Equestrian International (EFI) are the main governing bodies of the Equestrian Sport in Australia. Rules have been amended to allow the use of bitless bridles in show jumping and at event competitions in the show jumping and cross country sections, a bit is still expected to be used as a component in dressage. Oddly enough the two activities in which the bitless bridle has been allowed for use are viewed as dangerous horse sports.  Pony Club Australia, governs its self and does not allow the use of the bitless bridle in any of its events. Bitless bridles are permitted at all endurance events and trail-riding clubs. Bitless bridles are not permitted for show horses, driving or vaulting.

The good news is there is discussion going on worldwide.  I truly believe it is just a matter of time when it will be obsolete.  I hope in my lifetime.

Most people I ride with use a bridle.  I did too till February 2015.  The saying “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” is an ok saying, but there is also a saying “try it, you might like it”!

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