"Ask the Trainer Online"
Hosted by Lonnie Lavery

"A well trained horse is not an accident but the product of many thoughtful hours!"

Technical Support by
PLEASE Visit Our Guestbook!
We'd love to hear your comments
and now you can enjoy some entertaining anecdotes..
We welcome your suggestions or complaints.
Above all, we look forward to hearing of your training progress!
CAUTION: Many procedures recommended by Mr. Lavery are best administered by an experienced Professional Trainer.

July & August 2008's POSTS
August 30, 2008


I am a middle aged man today reborn. My youth was out with my dad at the race track barns visiting and working with and around horses. Watching them come and go, later we stood in the stands betting on horses as he watch with bino,s looking for his winner.Spent many days and nights both sides at the stable and track. I can remenber when the cold weather froze the water pails for the horses. Can I still ride-race at my age again? My dad would not let me then, maybe bacause of bigger stakes.He is gone now and I would like to take up the hobby once again. I am starting my education with books again. Can we ride-race again? Thanks!

Tip of the day- I have learned that sometimes an old dog doesn't need to learn any new tricks!

Thank you so much for your question, although I am not sure I am qualified to answer it. I too, have some vivid memories of the water buckets freezing.....especially when I was sleeping in the stall next to the bucket. Seriously, I am a firm believer in the old adages "You are only as old as you feel" and "It is just like riding a bicycle, you never forget." As far as age goes, they say "60 is the new 40." As far as training goes, Charlie Whitingham and Woody, trained well into their 80's. As far as riding, my good friend Bill Shoemaker rode into his early 60's. (Remember, he kept his weight, and rode every day for at least 45 years.) So my humble advice GO FOR IT! (I see a reference in your letter to Pat Day, to my mind, one of the best there ever was, not just a Jockey, but an inspiration to many.)

I wish you very good luck in your endeavors and look forward to reading of them in the Guest Book.


August 27, 2008

We have a lot of Whoa..but no Go
( Correcting the Stable bound horse)

Hi Mr. Lavery. Sorry to bother you. If you have time I was needing some advice. My 8 year old daughter has a 3 year old buckskin. She is broke and gentle. We have been working with her on barrel racing. When my daughter gets on her (she gets on her by our porch) she will kick her to go and than she will have to kick her harder and she still will not go. My daughter will lead her around the first to barrels and than after the third barrel, my daughter will get on her and she will come back to the porch. When my husband and cousin gets on her she will go with them just fine. But when I get on her she does the same thing like my daughter. Do you have any advice on what to do? Thank You

Tip of the Day - Horses are truly beasts of habit......sometimes, bad habits.

Thank you very much for your question. I can easily see that not being able to leave the porch would definitely have a negative impact on your daughter's barrel racing scores. Some of what you have described is not an unusual behavior and some is a bit of a puzzle. Let's see if we can't get your daughter riding the mare fast enough that if she smiles she'll get bugs on her teeth.

To begin, refusing to leave the porch is not such an unusual behavior. It has many names, such as, "Barn Sour", "Stable Bound", "Road Balky" etc. The stable or in this case your porch is a place where they have place of rest and this kind of horse enjoys being a "couch potato", if you will. For a multitude of horses, they are truly at their happiest when they are doing nothing. To turn their "leisure" time into your idea of happiness can take a great deal of encouragement from the rider. It seems it takes much more encouragement than your eight year old can proffer. This is proven by the fact your adult husband and cousin have no problems with her. You must understand that each time you have a "disaster" at the porch, you are rewarding her bad behavior and enabling her to become even stronger at it. First course of action....NEVER AGAIN have your daughter mount at the porch. If she is mounting there as the height of the porch makes it easier for her to get on, get a mounting block. As you have mentioned, at the third barrel, your daughter has no trouble moving her. Help your daughter mount from there a time or "four" and let her start the mare moving but never again let her go to the porch. If she doesn't want to go forward in on direction, turn her until movement is achieved. Go a different direction each time and keep moving until your daughter asks her to stop. After a while, change where the mounting takes place and, of course, change the direction of the barrels. Keep varying these elements so as not to allow her to form a habit. By doing this, you will be challenging the mare's mind, forestalling boredom, correcting a bad behavior, and encouraging her dependence on your daughter's direction. It is also possible that the mare might need some encouragement from someone on the ground and, a crop or cautiously applied spur might level the playing field for your little daughter. If practiced regularly, this "treatment" should have the ability to replace the mare's unacceptable behavior with correct conduct.

Now for the puzzling part, the mare's refusal to perform for an eight year old can have many excuses. The child's weight, the child's lack of strength to correct and even the off chance the mare might be in some way trying to protect her because she is a child. You, however, are an adult. She is treating you the same as the child. If you have been assertive and commanding with her I am at a loss as to her behavior. My only suggestions are to be more assertive and commanding and to follow the same regime as your daughter. Remember to reward the mare for good behavior and be very strict when you feel taken advantage of. Sometimes, tough love makes for an easier ride.

Again, thanks so much for your question. I hope this in some way helps you. I hope to read of your success in the Guest Book or at the least watch her win the barrel finals at the PRCA finals. Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

August 24, 2008

If the Olympics offered Pulling, We could Win!
( Dealing with a hard mouthed horse )

Dear Mr. Lavery,

I have a 6 yr old mare that I purchased a little over 2 years ago, we show 5 gtd. pleasure. She has a really HARD mouth, she was that way when I purchased her. She really tends to grab on to the right side more than the left, but really bares down on the bit at all times. She's had regular dental work, she did have an extra tooth, or one that she should have lost but didn't (I can't remember what he said the name of the tooth was) that was pulled soon after I purchased her. Since then, just floating when needed. She is in full training, however, I haven't seen any improvement in her mouth. Is this something I should expect some improvement on, or should I just realize that this is the way she will always be? I've been considering moving her to another training barn to see if maybe that might help. I really like my trainer, however, I would like to see some improvements in her mouth.

We use a bicycle chain in my work bridle, and a twisted wire snaffle and arch port curb, wrapped in latex and curb chain is also wrapped. I personally ride her once a week, except when showing.

Any thoughts, ideas, or recommendations?

Thanks for any help!

Tip of the day : When renting a horse for a trail ride, it best not to tell them you can ride anything with hair on it……they might try to prove you right!

Thank you so much for your question. It is good to hear you understand the importance of having your horse's teeth floated at least once a year. The discovery of what must have been a broken wolf tooth is a very important one for your mare's comfort. What you are telling me, however, is now she has a perfect smile but she is still pulling. The dental work is an excellent first step but is not always the answer. In your case, we have a mare that has been pulling on you for at least two years. As we have established many times, a horse is a beast of habit. She is used to pulling. She is good at it. She will be hard to correct. Let's try to find some answer beside you taking up weight lifting.

First and most important, as I have said many times, talk to your trainer and mention your concerns. A trainer's business is to make your "hobby" a pleasure. He or she has many tools at his or her disposal to try to correct this behavior but your hands and seat must be up to the task as well. Sharper biting in the show bridle is a standard, but as mentioned often, it takes two to pull. Continued pulling, on either end of the reins, after increasing the severity of the bridle will offer no correction. (The bridles you describe are made very "tame" by the seal-tex). I seldom bit the horse and more often bit the rider.

A better "fix" involves many hours of biting rig, long line and snaffle bit work. This, of course, is not the time of year to start this but when show season is over, a concerted effort should be made to try to affect some correction.

As far as a change in trainers, it is entirely up to you but personally I hate changing "horses" in mid stream.

I must be honest and tell you I have seen some horses that whether through poor training as a young horse, genetics, deformities or mind set, genuinely like to pull and will always pull.

Thank you once again for your question, I hope I may have been of some help. I look forward to reading in the Guest book of your progress.

LF Lavery

August 16, 2008

(importance of conditioning)

I currently own a half arab country, show hack, costume, halter gelding named Boomer that has been out of profesional training for about 2 years due to moving and other circumstances. I'm working him on my own (in a double) but he has recently started not rolling over enough. I ride him in a medium curb and a dr bristol bradoon. He is very out of shape because i can't work him everyday. Do you have any suggestions to help him roll over more with out being overly harsh to him. I have included several pictures to give you an idea, the last 2 are pictures of us at a show back in 2006 when he was in training. Also my equitation has fallen apart. Do you have any suggestions for that?

Thank you,

Tip of the Day- How long a horse is worked is not nearly as important as how often!

Thank you for your question. I just looked up the word versatile in the dictionary and found Boomer's picture there. What a wonderful horse that can be competitive in all those disciplines! These wonderful "before" and "after" pictures you sent me tell the whole story, I am afraid. I think you already know the answer to your question.

Training a horse at home, on your own, can be a wonderful experience. In fact, AOT's are the backbone of most breeds. Sometimes though, like exercising on your own, people find the results not as satisfactory as those obtained with the help of a personal trainer. As the famous Cher said, "If a good body came in a bottle, everyone would have one." I think you can see by these pictures, it applies here. Boomer is easily 250 lbs over weight and obviously out of shape. Why? Although I do not doubt your talent and ability, your program lacks the structure and discipline of a professional's training program. Why? That is what they do for a living, 7 days a week. I marvel when I hear the comments of "drugs" and "politics" coming from some AOT's and some "supposed" professionals when a trainer's fit horse ties ahead of their horses who are out of shape and condition. In the horse training business there is no substitute for daily training.

Being this overweight, has caused Boomer's throttle to expand making it nearly impossible for him to set his head where he once did. Additionally, being this out of condition means he does not have the muscle tone or endurance to carry his head where you would like it or to perform at the level you are used to. Without the head set and drive from the hocks of a fit horse, proper equitation can be difficult to achieve.

I am in no way insinuating that you must send him to a trainer to solve your problems, but unless he can get structured, daily training and exercise, your problems will persist. You must be realistic about it, if what he is getting now is all you can give in your situation, you'll simply have to lower your expectations and just enjoy what seems to be a wonderful horse. I would sign him up for Jenny Craig or Nutri System, however!

I wish I could have been the bearer of more positive news but hopefully, this has answered some of your questions. I look forward to reading of Boomer's weight loss in the Guest Book.

Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

August 9, 2008

What a Tacky Question!
(Uses of Martingales and various other pieces of equipment)

Dear Mr. Lavery, I realize you are very busy this time of year, so I will be patient for your insightful response. If you could explain the merits and disadvantages of certain pieces of tack I would be very grateful for your knowledge. When would you use a german martingale vs. a plain old running type? For longlining and bitting , why would you use sideckecks vs. an overcheck? Should side reins be able to stretch (elastic) or not? What about draw reins vs. any type of martingale? I always ride with a "free" snaffle rein and use any rein run thru a martingale like a curb rein and use mild bits because my mare is still young.

Tip of the Day- As the great Jimmy Williams liked to say, “It's what you learn after you know it all that counts"

Thanks so much for your excellent questions. If you have all of these pieces of equipment..you must have a large tack room. You are quite right to assume there are different uses for these "tools".

A running martingale, when used and adjusted properly, is nearly indispensable in the process of training a young horse. Although it steadies the head and the effects of the reins on the bit, it is still a forgiving device that can "let go" almost instantly. A young horse should never be made to feel constricted as the horse's defense to this type of "hemming-up" can lead to many unacceptable behaviors. One can supple and soften a hard mouth horse as well as teach a young horse to set it's head and wear it's bridle with proper use of a running martingale.

The same positive aspects are not as present when using a German martingale or draw reins. Although these tools are also capable of the head setting and steadying effect, they rely on unyielding pressure to accomplish this, thus setting the conditions for a defense behavior as mentioned above. These are better suited for use on older horses to keep their headsets in check and should always be used with intelligent caution. (Every day I see these being used on horses that pull and I cringe as the only thing this teaches them to do is to become better at pulling.)

It is a true statement that both a side-check and an over-check can raise a horse's head but that is pretty much all they have in common. They each work on a different principle. Raising the head entails lifting the neck up from the wither and then a bending of it so the horse is not staring at the stars. It is where the bend occurs that really separates these two.

By it's design an over check lifts the neck and head and encourages the neck to bend and flex at the horse's poll. This is of course the attitude most desirable in the Harness horse. Not every horse has the conformation to wear the over check correctly just as not every horse can be a true harness horse. Without this proper conformation, this type of check can become quite uncomfortable to the horse as it allows little leeway for other "bending" places.

The side check, on the other hand, can be used on most any horse, regardless of conformation. Because of it's design, it allows many options for this flexion to take place, least of which at the poll. It is the most used in the daily training procedure as these options allow the horse to find his own flexion point and maintain a certain degree of comfort while still raising his head.

As far as side reins, if safety is your main concern, reins that stretch should always be your first choice when unsure how a horse will react.

I feel it is personal opinion that dictates when to use "solid" reins.

The way you describe your use of the running martingale is of course the classic style and the way I have always used them in conjunction with a snaffle bit. I would never use one with a curb bit's rein!

I hope I may have been of some help to you, thanks again for your questions. I look forward to hearing from you in the Guest Book.

LF Lavery

August 6, 2008

Is it my fault he is out of step?
(dealing with out of balance horse, shoeing, consequences of changes)

Hi Mr Lavery!

It's me again! I am working very hard on your suggestions regarding my hands and seat. However, something has come up since I brought my boy home that has me very concerned. He seems to stride short on the right front. When I first brought him home he was shoed differently on the front two feet. We equalized his pastern angles, significantly reduced the weight of the shoe package and now have this short step. I have called the vet to attend (although he vetted sound in the prepurchase) and xray him. However my vet is not familiar with Saddlebred shoeing. I have also asked my farrier to look at the videos however he is enjoying a much needed vacation with his family.

Just thought I would see if you had any ideas about what might be going on for this lovely young gelding; and what I could do to address it.

Tip of the Day- Nowhere is it more important to remember that old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", than when dealing with horses!

Thank you for your question. The recent video and that sent before (not available here) gave me a good deal of insight into your problem and also allowed me to see how well you have been working on your hands. Unfortunately, it is quite obvious "Speedy" is not comfortable in front. Although one would usually look to a soundness issue first, especially as rapid and as drastic this change in motion is, I think we can rule that out in this case. Not only is he off in his left front, he appears to have lost most of the motion he had when you purchased him. I can't begin to tell you how often I purchased a horse and after some time decided he was shod incorrectly, at which time I threw his shoes away and had him shod the way I thought he should be. I won't tell you how often I went looking for the old shoes! The shoeing you did on him might have seemed like the best thing but it is obvious it was not. Weight, angles, length of foot, all go together to put a horse in balance to use his legs comfortably and correctly and it probably took the previous trainer a long time to get this horse balanced correctly. Often a drastic change can wreak havoc with the process. I feel that is what has happened here. My advice, find his old shoes, call his old trainer and ask about angles and length and try to put him back to where he was when you liked his motion well enough to buy him! Enclosed is a little "homework" that may help you further understand this type of issue.

We can Win the One legged Race

Once again, thank you for your question. I hope I may have been of some help with your question. Keep up the good work on your hands. Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

Aug 4, 2008

My Little Guy has Taken the Lead
(training issues with the foal)

Hello Mr. Lavery. I have a question for you. I have a 3 month old colt out of my RWC saddlebred mare. He looks to be quite talented, and he is certainly built to be a show horse--which is the direction he will be headed for his career. This is the first colt I have ever personally foaled out and raised here at home, so I have a few questions regarding his 'training'. He will be sent to my trainer later in life for saddleseat/harness training, but because he is here at home I must be able to safely deal with him and care for him. He never was a very good "follower" foal, and by necessity (namely, an escapade away from his mama into the equipment shed when we were trying to take them into the barn) he was halter-broke at an early age. I did this myself, teaching him slowly to allow the halter to be put on and taken off, to bend to pressure, and to follow his handler. My problem is now that he is too comfortable with leading. He has learned well to "whoa", which comes in handy because he tends to enjoy playing "hannibal" with the lead as I try to lead him. It seems that every two seconds he opens his mouth and takes an opened-mouth dive towards the lead. I try to correct him (telling him "No", firmly snatching the lead, etc), and although correcting him does help momentarily, he soon begins again. This would not bother me as much if he didn't do it with such... vigor. He does not ever come towards me or my hand-just the rope piece directly under his halter. It seems to be worse when he is just being led around the field for practice. When I actually take him "somewhere" outside his normal space, he pays attention to what's going on around him and he leads like an angel. Should I stop doing 'lead lessons' in the field, and only lead him when I take him to a more interesting location? Is this oral-fixation on the lead something he will grow out of, or should I continue to address it with discipline? Do you think that leaving a halter on him 24/7 would be beneficial? If so, should I put a short catch-rope on it to get him used to the rope being there? I would appreciate any insight you can offer. Thank you

Tip of the day : It has been said, "You tell a gelding what to do. You ask a mare............. You have a discussion with a stallion."

Thanks so very much for your question. You really seem to have a good grasp of your situation as he seems to have a good grasp on your lead line as well. It sounds as if you have a good start on teaching him to retrieve, but you'll probably want to ride and get a Golden to pick up pheasants. Seriously, the older this colt gets, this behavior will become increasingly troublesome so it is a behavior not to be encouraged. As I have mentioned, many times before, having the respect of the horse is the first step in a successful training program. This conduct shows none. Let's see if I can give you a few ideas for correcting his behavior.

The described conduct is the start of behavior usually displayed by a Stallion. Left uncorrected, it will escalate and could eventually become dangerous. I trust gelding is in his future, as this will be a great help to you.

In the meantime, I would suggest:

If you are using a lead rope switch to a lead shank or run your rope through the halter and over his nose so that when you correct him it is very uncomfortable and continue reinforcing your correction with some other strong word that does not sound like "whoa". With a lead shank the chain shouldn't have to go over his nose but can be shaken in a way it bumps him on the chin or his teeth when he displays the behavior. Often a youngster will not like the taste of chain which will work to your advantage.

It seems you have done a good job halter breaking him so I see no need to practice in the field so curtail the "lead lessons". It sounds as if this has turned into play for him so let's not encourage it.

Leaving the halter on 24/7 will not hurt him. If you are going to put a "catch rope" on him in the stall, I would not make it short so he can be encouraged to play with it but long enough he can step on it with both his front and rear legs. A shorter rope can be swung around and could potentially hurt an eye. Also, make certain the rope is cotton rather than nylon etc.

If all else fails, a cavesson would stop this for all intents and purposes

Do not treat him as a pet or your best friend. He may someday be your partner but he must have respect for you.

As you have perceived, stopping this behavior now is of the utmost importance. Anything he will respond to along that line is a good thing. You know him better than I so give it some thought.

Once again, thank you and I hope I may have been of some help. I look forward to reading of your progress in the Guest Book. Good Luck and Good "Leading".

LF Lavery

Aug 3, 2008

Which Colt Gets Checkmated?
( form to function, conformation vs motion)


As far as action and headset. you have a horse with chess piece headset, trots a little over level and a horse a little forward that has same trot. both 2 yr. olds not yet in training. when sent out for training will the forward one have more motion when brought along and raised up, then the one who's neck is already where you want it?

Tip of the Day – When selling a horse, it is best to always point out his good points….the bad points seem to have a way of speaking for themselves

Thanks so much for your question. The answer to your question could be quite like a game of chess....the out come might be very different each time. As we have discussed, the horse's center of balance is in his head so generally speaking, for the type of motion we desire, the horse that trots with his head up and neck in balance over his wither, would be the one to bet on if for no other reason that his weight will be balanced over his hind quarters. The forward headed colt is at the bigger disadvantage with his balance tending to encourage a longer stride with less height of motion and less propulsion from the rear. Think of the type of motion a good Hunter displays and then think where his head is or think Quarter horse. I am certain your one colt is not that extreme but none-the-less it still boils down to form to function.

One should keep in mind, however, that motion is not always evident before training and it is the trainer's job to give nature a hand and develop a horse that is all it can be. This includes improving motion and setting the head and neck. Who knows, you might well end up with two perfect headsets and two colts that go extravagantly high. Like the chess game the next step is your move.

Thank you again, I hope this clears a little up for you. I look forward to reading in our guest book about which you feel has turned out the best. Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

July 23, 2008

We're having Trouble Cowboy-ing Up
(Western pleasure, lope, jog, neck reining)

Hi Lonnie,

I finally got my western mare into the show ring. She did great, wasn't nervous at all and had a beautiful headset. However, she went a tad faster than I would have liked her to both at the trot and the canter. When I tried to slow her down, she would break gait. She also had a hard time taking a lead when I neck reined her but did fine at when I direct reined her. What do I need to do to slow her down and how can I improve her neck reining? Thank you so much for your time.

Tip of The Day - To train well, it is always a great help to be as smart or smarter than the horse.

Thank you so much for your question. As you have so astutely recognized, there is much more to showing "Western" than having the proper tack and wearing the right clothes. Speed can truly "kill" your chance for a ribbon in these classes not to mention getting caught using two hands on the reins! I think this all must have to do with how costly the hats are. You need to go slowly so it doesn't blow off and with one hand free, you can keep screwing it down on your head if it gets loose. As I have covered, partially, both of your topics before, I am including some "homework" links that may be of help to you.

Ok Cowgirl, let's talk Western. The ideal Western Pleasure horse should be a very calm and willing horse. He should be awaiting rider impulsion to speed up not rider correction to slow down. This can only be accomplished with a relaxed horse working on a loose rein. As you know, when you take hold of the bridle, it is a signal to the horse of a change of some kind where as the loose rein is a signal you are happy with the status quo. In Saddle Seat, we have the luxury of contact and control off the snaffle while the horse stays behind the curb. In the Western discipline, contact is minimal. Achieving this is no easy matter and should give you a lot more respect for Gene, Roy, Tex, Hoot, Ken, Lash, Johnny Mack, Cisco, Pancho and even Tonto.

The key is a perfectly relaxed horse that has confidence in his rider. Only hours and hours of correct repetition can accomplish this. Using the techniques described in your "home work", remember, you are striving for a horse that is more behind the bit than on it. (most race horses stop running when the Jockey lets go of the bit) Time and patience are instrumental to a relaxed horse. Your horse must be encouraged to go slowly not held back. Lunging and lining, riding in small circles, backing, loose rein walking, rewarding correct behavior, trail riding and working in a snaffle as well as a curb are all things that will improve your mare's performance.

I hope this is of some help to you and I trust you will accomplish your goals. Look forward to reading of your progress in the Guest Book. Good Luck and Good Riding,

Lf Lavery

July 20, 2008

We can Win the One legged Race
Shoeing a pony that is not square.

I have a 4 yr old Hackney I show as a Road Pony. He wants to "pitch" his left front (bad enough to want to canter at speed gaits). I tried standing him up with wedge pads and it made a hug difference. Now he wears a light anklet on his RIGHT front (he seems to have more muscle on the left leg??) in his stall. Someone suggested a lead weight. Should it go in his toe or heel? Do you have any other suggestions?

Tip of the Day –The guy was terribly disgusted with how his horse was working and proceeded to tell an old cowboy how terrible "Old Paint" was.."He starts out all crooked in the bridle, his head is way over to the right, then he kind of trips and then he goes to bucking and throws me fair and square every day. Got any suggestions?" "Yep", the old timer says, "He needs 2 oz of lead in his left ear and that will stop all that." "Really", the guy says, "how do you get the lead in the ear?" Old timer says................"With a Pistol!"

Thank you so much for your question. Even though speed is important in a Roadster class, cantering is a no-no especially when he is on the wrong lead one direction.

Pitching a front leg is no fun to deal with and surprisingly, there are many more things that can cause this than you would think. Let's talk about some... As we have discussed many times, the equine's center of balance is in his head. If the head is not straight, the front legs will not be square in their flight path. As always, dental work should be current to insure the bridle is being worn straight and our student is comfortable. If his head is straight, let's take a trip to the South end. Yes, troubles in front can well come from the rear. As the trot is a diagonal gait, opposite front and hind legs must work in complete unison in order to achieve correct cadence and identical flight paths. A horse that hops or is even slightly "off" behind, will often "throw" a front leg as you describe. If he is guilty of this movement both ways of the ring, closely watching his strides behind can tell you if this is this is the cause. Of course, unmatched front angles, as you have learned by raising the heel, can have a great effect on the way a horse travels in front.

As far as the lead in the foot, I remind you of the one hard fast rule of showing....there is no rule as every horse is different. Generally, 2-4 oz of lead should be placed in the heel if you want more "fold". But as per the rule, it may work better in the toe, or in the center of the foot for that matter. The only way to find is to get with your farrier and try.

Thank you again for your question, I hope I have been of help. Our readers in England always love it when we talk about nailing lead in. I look forward to hearing of it worked out in the Guest Book. Good Luck and Good Riding.


July 15, 2008

He's Got a Lot of Nerve

Hi Lonnie,

I recently returned to the show ring after a long hiatus. My question concerns the school horse I showed as he can be gimpy and unsound. The trainer and the horse shoer - is that a word? - think he needs to be nerved. What does that mean? Thanks

Tip of the Day - When all things are going wrong in the show ring, always remember.....The rail is your friend.

Thank you so much for your question, let's see if we can better understand Nerving.

When horsemen have to deal with chronic lameness as in Laminitis and Navicular Disease, they have many "tools" in the fix it box to make a horse more comfortable. Mostly anti-inflammatory products such as the NSAIDS, Bute and Banamine. Procedures such as Shock wave therapy, corrective shoeing, can make a difference. When all else fails, nerving, a procedure called a Neurectomy, is the accepted "last Resort" to make the horse comfortable.

Putting it as simply as possible, the procedure involves the cutting of the two posterior digital nerves (pain conduits) just below the Sesamoid joint. The interruption of these Palamar nerves essentially insures a stop of all pain coming from the very sensitive rear of foot. It is important that the entire foot is not so anesthetized as having no feeling in the foot would not be conducive to showing. Recovery is very rapid and the therapeutic benefits almost immediate.

This procedure can be performed with a scalpel or by freezing with a Co 2 laser. It can be done standing up but it is better under anesthesia. Side effects are rare. It can last up to 3-4 years if done properly but it is not a permanent cure. As I said, it should be considered only when all else has failed.

I hope this is of some help to you. Thank you again. Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

July 7, 2008

Important Information about Cushing's Medication - Pergolide

You can definitley share the info with your readers. I have a saddlebred rescue as well. Anything that I can do to help a fellow saddlebred especially a rescue is a no brainer!!! Please feel free to let the general public know that there are means of getting quality pergolide for a reasonable price. The vets won't tell you this info. They want you to get it from them so that they can make a huge profit. I order my pergolide from Professional compounding pharmacy in freeport PA for around $80 for 3 months including shipping. That is for the apple flavored powder. They also have a liquid form that you can get a one month supply of but I don't know the price. I was getting it from my vet for around $75 a MONTH and started calling around and found it MUCH cheaper. I had to get a little forceful with my vet to get them to call in the prescription. But eventually they did it!! I spend enough money at the vet that they can save me some money with a phone call to a pharmacy. :-)

Their website is under construction but their phone number is listed on it. http://www.compoundingpros.com/

Also in the yahoo groups equine cushing's group (wow that's a mouthful!!!) there is a huge list of other pharmacies and prices for pergolide.

I hope this helps. If I can help in any other way just let me know.

Tip of the Day - I guess it is true...sometimes it is not what you know, but whom you know!

Thank you so very much for taking the time to send this information to us. I was not aware of this so I am going to give you this month's award for being "The Trainer's Best Detective" for finding this information. The money you have shown us how to save can be quite staggering when dealing with this syndrome. I have your contact information if any readers need to converse with you. It is great to see how this site can work to everyone's advantage, thanks to you. Good Luck and Good Riding,

LF Lavery

July 3, 2008

Which Halter "Top" Should She wear?
( Showing a Horse In Hand for 4-h )

I have a saddlebred x quarter horse cross and she is a beautiful girl! Mystique has the build of supreme sultan, but she has the height and head of mr san peppy, shes only like 14.1-14.2 hh

I am in my last year of 4-H, and I want to at least win 1 event with her in our local fair. Both of us are fine with riding, though I am having trouble figuring out how to set her for halter/showmanship. Is it the quarter horse way or the saddlebred way? She goes either way but has more of a streched out appearance. When I show,I just put on a studed country style blouse, khaki pants, beige cowgirl hat, and rounded tip boots for both shows. they are not too picky just have on dress pants and shirt tucked in, a cowgirl hat and boots

She would do better at halter and the gaming, she is very fast, and she has really good muscle on her. the only problem is that the judges hardly ever choose the smaller horses to place Please e-mail me with some answers

Tip of The Day - It is extremely difficult to win the Blue ribbon in the class when you are only riding hard enough for Honorable Mention

Thank you so much for your question. I must say I am not really certain if this is a "Blue Ribbon" question or a "Red Carpet" one. Mystique already! She sounds like an interesting and lovely mare let's see if we can figure out what to do with her.

I just happened to have a set of 4-H rules for Showmanship at Halter and the way I read them, there should be a much greater difference, than you suggest, in the attire for Western vs English. For example,

NYS 4-H Showmanship at Halter


A. Required

  1. Approved protective helmet
  2. Long sleeved western shirt or short sleeved shirt with jacket *shirts must have collars*
  3. Western type boots with distinguishable heel
  4. Western riding pants or denims


A. Required

  1. Approved protective helmet
  2. Saddle suit of conservative colors or Kentucky jodhpurs with matching jacket (informal attire)
  3. Jodhpur boots with a distinguishable heel
  4. Tie
  5. Shirt

If, unlike most associations, these rules vary from place to place, they will be of no help and we can assume the attire you describe is acceptable for either discipline. We can, however, utilize them as guidelines for what is the correct way to exhibit in these classes.

In these rules are the criteria used by the Judge when scoring a class:

Appearance of the equine (40 points)

Condition and Thriftiness (15 points)

Grooming (15 points)
  • Hair coat clean, well brushed
  • Mane, tail, foretop and wither tufts free of tangles and clean.
  • Hooves should be trimmed properly. If shod, shoes must fit properly and clinches should be neat.
Trimming (5 points)
  • Manes and foretop should be trimmed according to breed type and/or division shown. Wither tuft must be left.
  • Inside of ears may be clipped.
  • Long hair on jaw, legs, and pasterns should be clipped.

Tack (5 points)

  • Tack should be neat, clean, and in good repair.
  • Tack should be appropriate for the division shown.
Appearance of Exhibitor (10 points)
  • Clothes and exhibitor are to be neat and clean.
  • Appropriate clothes should be worn for the division shown.
Showing the equine (50 points)
Leading (15 points)
  • Enter the arena leading the animal at an alert walk in a counterclockwise direction unless otherwise directed by the judge. Walk on the animal's left side, holding the lead/reins in the right hand, 8 to 12 inches from the animal's head. The remaining lead/rein is held neatly and safely in the left hand. A tightly coiled or rolled lead/rein will be considered a fault at showmanship. The equine should lead readily at the walk or jog/trot.

Here I find no mention for a scoring penalty because a horse is small?

Additionally, there are detailed descriptions of what equipment is proper and what is not. Details, as well, for the conduct of the class and the execution of the patterns. If it is truly your desire to place yourself and your mare in position to win..I strongly suggest you follow all of these rules to the letter. To be a winner, it is not good enough to just be acceptable, you must excel!

Judges will always strive to find the exhibitor who even while conforming to the rules, is superior to the rest in the efforts of execution of the criteria to be judged upon. A stand out, above the rest. A Winner!

Since we can do little about your mare's size it is up to you to fine tune your attire, her tack, the grooming, the class execution and all things mentioned above. Decide which way you'll be able to show her to both of your advantages and go after it with winning gusto!

Hope I have been of some help but it is only you who must decide to be that winner and to give it your all. I hope to read of your next victory in the Guest Book. Good Luck

LF Lavery

Links To Questions & Responses
Date Subject Search Criteria
Aug 30, 2008 Restart Older rider
Aug 28, 2008 We have a lot of Whoa..but no Go Correcting the Stable bound horse
Aug 24, 2008 If the Olympics offered Pulling, We could Win! Dealing with a hard mouthed horse
Aug 16, 2008 1-800-JENNY importance of conditioning
Aug 9, 2008 What a Tacky Question! Martingales and various other pieces of equipment
Aug 6, 2008 Is It My Fault He's Out of Step? out of balance horse, shoeing, consequences of changes
Aug 4, 2008 My Little Guy has Taken the Lead foal training
Aug 3, 2008 Which Colt Gets Checkmated? form to function, conformation vs motion
July 23, 2008 We're having Trouble Cowboy-ing Up Western pleasure, lope, jog, neck reining
July 20, 2008 We can Win the One legged Race Shoeing, not square, pitching foot
July 15, 2008 He's Got a Lot of Nerve Neurectomy, Soundness Treatment
July 7, 2008 Important Information about Cushing's Medication - Pergolide Cushings, Pergolide
July 3, 2008 Which Halter "Top" Should She wear? showing, 4H

Archives ===>