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GOOD ADVICE FOR ALL PARENTS WITH HORSEY KIDS ...

WHEN YOU'RE FAILING WITH A HORSE ...

THE WHY NOTS OF SUPPLEMENTS ...

STRESS & HORSES ...

FIRST A TRIBUTE, THEN A STORY ...

HAS IT OCCURRED TO YOU ...

DO YOU WANT ...

THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY...




New Yorker magazine cartoonist friend Warren Miller who said he was inspired by the bills he was paying for his daughters horse.

GOOD ADVICE FOR ALL PARENTS WITH HORSEY KIDS ...

... Created by our New Yorker magazine cartoonist friend Warren Miller who said he was inspired by the bills he was paying for his daughter’s horse experience.

Good advice for all parents with horsey kids.


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WHEN YOU'RE FAILING WITH A HORSE ...

... Last month we received for training an eight-year-old gelding from out of state. His rider had been battling problems for months and had given up.

The gelding's laundry list of offenses included attacking pasture mates, resisting bridling, refusing to stand at the mounting block, rearing and bucking when ridden, exploding and running at handlers when on the lunge, fighting the cross ties and the farrier. His problems were documented on a DVD.

So far, he has shown no bad behavior here. He arrived as a sweet, friendly, cooperative, talented horse. He has never said "no" and loves to work and learn. We love him.

Do we have a magic touch? Of course not. But we do know there's a lesson to be learned.

When you're failing with a horse, change what you're doing -- or get help. Don't make the mistake of blaming the horse for not hearing what you have to say. The truth might be that you don't know what you're talking about.

Full Circle horses are lucky because we have four trainers who speak four "languages" and love to listen.


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THE WHY NOTS OF SUPPLEMENTS ...

... Often, we are asked about feeding dietary supplements to our horses at Full Circle.

Our answer always is that we feed very, very few supplements, do not accept free supplements in exchange for endorsements, and ignore recommendations based on hearsay and superstition.

Now, in the March 2008 edition of The Horse magazine, we find information in an article that supports our opinion. It addresses the use of biotin, "the popular nutritional supplement administered to horses to promote and maintain the growth of healthy hooves and coats" and is written by Stacey Oke, DVM, MSC.

In addition to addressing current biotin research, Dr, Oke quotes veterinarian Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl ACVIM: "Nutritional supplements are not necessarily manufactured with the same degree of quality control as pharmaceutical drugs."

"As a result," Dr. Oke continues, "Nutritional supplements can be contaminated with other nutritional supplements during the manufacturing process, or raw ingredients can be contaminated with harmful compounds such as heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. While no known harmful interactions between biotin or any drugs have been found, there is no reason to believe any supplement ... is universally safe.

According to a recent article written by equine extension specialist & Rutgers assistant professor Carey Williams, PhD and quoted by Dr. Oke, "Adverse events associated with herbal supplementation are an under-recognized and potentially serious problem in the equine industry."

According to Williams: "These days it is easy to oversupplement your horse. Tack catalogs and supplement companies have hundreds of products available for every type of problem or ailment. Horse owners need to be careful when supplementing with more than one product. Some vitamins and minerals can be problematic -- and potentially toxic -- if administered doses exceed the recommended daily amount."

In this day when it is impossible to find grain or hay that has not been exposed to herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, the take home message for us is: be extremely cautious when supplementing horses. Often nothing is enough.


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STRESS & HORSES ...

... the horse’s brain is perfectly adapted for its life as a grazing herd member and a large amount of it is dedicated to the technical challenge of propelling 500 or so kilograms at great speeds over varying terrain and little (or none) is wasted on attitude.

A ‘naughty’ horse is one that is expressing behaviours that we deem to be inappropriate or incorrect, but from the horse’s viewpoint he is only doing what millions of years of evolution has programmed him to do when things get difficult. The horse is a creature of habit and he is very much trapped by his previous behaviours into giving certain responses to stimuli. He is obedient if he has been trained to be so and ‘naughtiness’ is a barometer, not only of the horse’s temperament but of the quality of the training he has received. Training the horse to be obedient will not only make him much easier and more pleasant to handle, it will also affect his responses under saddle and make him easier to ride as well.

Horses that are ‘difficult’ or ‘unreliable’are displaying what scientists call conflict. Conflict in any one facet of the horse’s training will negatively affect the other facets and will increase the likelihood of training difficulties.

Unresolved conflict leads to increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the bloodstream which leads to chronic stress. A prolonged period of stress may cause actual physical changes in the horse such as permanently elevated cortico-steroid levels, stress colic and stress ulcers and even predisposing him to developing stereotypes such as windsucking and weaving.

Although it seems highly unlikely to us as rational, thinking human beings that a bit of ‘bad’ behaviour could have all sorts of unpleasant side effects and even damage our horse’s health, science is hard to refute. Incorrect training leads to conflict and long term conflict leads to poor health.

Quality training produces clear, calm responses that are almost unconditional - that is they occur 99% of the time. The clearer the horse’s responses, the less he is at the mercy of his instincts and behavioural drives. That is, his neural pathways are very clearly established. Horses that display conflict in hand are far more likely to display conflict under saddle than their better trained stablemates, as the conflict created by the incorrect behaviour under saddle effects the horse both mentally and physically, predisposing it to develop even more conflict.

One of the most important tools that riders can have in their own repertoire is a basic working knowledge of modern learning theory. Wherever there are horses and riders there are horses that are destroyed because they are considered to be too difficult to ride and nearly all of these could have been saved if their trainers understood more fully the work of scientists such as Pavlov and Skinner.

The trainers of other animal species have been utilising modern learning theory in their own training regimes for decades but it seems that horse trainers, working as they do within a tradition that is centuries old, ignore advances in scientific understanding, preferring to blame their failures on the individual animal instead of exploring science for rational answers.

As horse trainers we work within a culture that expects training wastage and because our subjects are relatively benign our mistakes are usually not fatal, whereas the trainer of the killer whale or the elephant understands very clearly the need to avoid training related conflict behaviours and utilises all that science has to offer. The guide dog trainer also understands the importance of having clear unconditional learning invested in his charges, thwarting instinctive urges in these dogs such as the tendency to chase cats whenever they see them!


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FIRST A TRIBUTE, THEN A STORY ...

... Among the servicemen and women serving in Iraq is our farrier and friend of many years, Steve Spencer of Westport, IN. He joined the Indiana National Guard immediately after 9/11 because he believed it was his duty to help America in time of crisis. Everyone tried to change his mind by describing every possible bad scenario he might face, but, no, it was what he wanted to do.

2nd Lt. Steve Spencer was deployed to Iraq last fall and is in Baghdad now. His job is finding and detonating roadside bombs.

We worry about him every day, every time we hear the word “Iraq.” We search the faces of soldiers appearing in newscasts and listen with fear as names of the killed are read.

So far he’s okay. He emails family and friends when he can. He called us one afternoon on his cell. It was wonderful – but eerie – to hear his voice from so far away.

In his call he told us that on the wall of his room he has hung a horse shoe belonging to our first Morgan, Sugar Run Gay Don (Tas-Tee’s Firefly x Sugar Run Donuette). Gay Don died a couple years ago at age 32. Steve had saved his shoe, not only because he liked him so well, but because he was one of the first “good” horses he shod after he became a full-time farrier.

Steve always carried Gay Don’s shoe in his truck and now it’s with him in Iraq reminding him, he said, of what he did at home, back in another life, a better life where there are no roadside bombs.

We all hope that horse shoe is very, very lucky and will help keep Steve safe and sound until he comes home this fall.


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HAS IT OCCURRED TO YOU ...

... that the problem with your riding could be your horse's ability to be ridden -- not your ability to ride? Maybe you don't need more lessons -- maybe your horse needs to find a "base."

All horses, by nature, react to stimuli using their flight or fight instincts. Their willingness to be ridden depends on how well they have learned to listen to and trust their riders -- not their instincts. Those natural instincts don't always surface as aggressive behavior like a spook, buck or runaway. They can pop up in behavior as seemingly beguine as refusing to go forward or leaning on your hands.

A rider's success in all disciplines is determined by her ability to elicit a calm, obediennt response from her horse -- and her horse's ability to hear and respond properly to her request. Understanding what makes a horse "made" is the first step to making a horse.

Our goal for all our horses at Full Circle is to develop a strong base, that safe place where horses know they must automatically "go" when their natural instincts kick in. Call it respect, trust, obedience. We call it rideability.

Want to have more fun with your horse? Full Circle's professional trainers can help. Custom lesson and training programs for all levels & all horses by the day, week or month. We solve problems, start babies and tune up adult horses -- and riders.

Go to http://www.fullcircledressage.com/ourprogram.htm to see our trainer line-up. Phone (800) 627-5273. Email info@fullcircledressage.com.


WANTED! Small, well-trained dressage horses, ages 6-10 years, 15-15.3 hands. Must be trained to 2nd Level, easy to ride, pretty, sensible, simple, sound and safe. Suitable for women who love to ride and show, don't want large or green horses and have no FEI aspirations. All breeds suitable. Prices to $30,000.


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DO YOU WANT ...

... your trainer to learn from your horse -- or your horse to learn from his trainer?

Before you send your horse to a trainer or let an instructor "get on," ask how many horses they have actually started, finished and shown. Do the numbers reflect experience? Don't be taken in by "dressage spin" -- scores, levels and medals!

Experience, decades of experience is what we offer here at Full Circle and what counts when you halt at X.

Our trainers are dedicated, life-long horsemen who have started, trained and shown literally thousands of horses of all ages and many breeds. They are sensitive, horse-loving problem solvers who accept each ride both as a challenge and a pleasure. Their goal is make your horse perfect for YOU!

Want to have more fun with your horse? Come to Full Circle and get what you pay for.

Email us at info@fullcircledressage.com. Phone toll free at (800) 627-5273.


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THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY...

... of your horse's life is his first day of training. The second most important day of his life is his second day of training. The third most....

Who's training your horse? The assistant, the associate, the groom, the working student, the friend, the partner, the protégé, the daughter, the understudy, the barn manager, the spouse, the neighbor's kid?

Are you getting "the real deal" every time your horse leaves his stall? If not, you're getting a bad deal.

At Full Circle your horse is always handled by life-long professionals. We have no trainer "stand-ins" here -- ever. Our trainers start the babies, tune up the mature horses. They teach manners and basics, long lining, trail skills and dressage.

Why settle for less? We don't.


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