Re: Newcomer

Linda S. Flemmer (
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 15:27:22 -0800

Daniel E. Hofford wrote:
> 1. I bought an Arab who is 3 yrs 8 months old and was told that his
> knees had not closed yet <snip>. What does the empirical
> evidence say about this?

The knees are not a major factor, but the entire musculoskeletal system
IS. Go slow with him and allow the bones & tendons to develop to the
requirements placed upon them. Remember that the cardiovascular system
"conditions" much faster than the musculoskeletal system.

> 2. I bought an Australian stock saddle and was told that the billet(?)
> that goes over the saddle would cause too much compression and ruin my
> horses back.

I think you are referring to an overgirth. While they aren't 100%
necessary, they do help hold the saddle in place & keep the flaps down.
You shouldn't tighten anything so tight as to pinch the horse. As you
go to some rides, you'll see a lot of riders with daylight between the
horse & the girth!

> 3. His feet, Caliente's, are hard and sound and unshod. What is the
> trigger to have them shod?

Some reasons to shoe your horse:

1) The hoof growth is slower than the hoof wear.
2) The going is rough, requiring pads, extra traction, snow pads, etc.
3) The ride requires shoes. This isn't an AERC rule, but some rides do
require a shod horse because of the terrain.
4) Corrective shoeing for a hoof defect.
5) You wish to contribute to your farrier's retirement fund!! :)

I'd shoe a horse for one or two sets before competing in shoes for the
first time. The weight of the shoes can alter his stride causing stress
on him. You also may weight the foot just enough that interference
becomes a problem. You would need one or two sets to work this through.

Personally, I'd ride the horse lightly and acclimate him to different
situations. A great start is camping out at a AERC ride (w/ ride
management permission) to experience the hub bub. You might also
consider marking trail or being a drag rider for a portion of a trail
next year.

My personal feeling is that 50 mile rides are better starts for young
horses. There are a large number of inexperienced folks/horses on the
25's. The 50 milers are usually more settled and experienced. I'd
rather enter a 50 with seasoned competitors and sane horses and plan to
drop out at 25 miles than get caught up in a horse race my first time
out. You want to teach your youngster manners - he can always learn to
race later!

Good luck! Have fun!

Linda Flemmer
Blue Wolf Ranch
Bruceton Mills, WV