Horse Handler Manual

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1 Horse Handler Manual

2 Table of Contents I. The Role of a Horse Handler... 1 Promoting Independence... 1 II. Horse Handling... 2 Grooming... 2 Tacking up the Horse... 3 Leading in Class... 3 Arena Etiquette... 4 III. General Horse Safety... 7 I. The Role of a Horse Handler Volunteers who come to the program with some horse experience may be asked or want to be a horse handler. Horse handlers are primarily responsible for the horse and must be alert and aware of the horse s movement and behavior at all times. A horse handler must be able to respond appropriately to provide safety for everyone. Horse handlers should arrive 30 minutes prior to session. It is your responsibility to ensure that your assigned horse is well groomed and the tack is put on and adjusted properly. If at any time, you are unsure of your assignment or the resources needed, please seek advice from a staff member. At High Hopes we use the terms horse handler and horse leader interchangeably. Promoting Independence Each rider will need a different level of support based on their abilities. Our goal is to promote riders to be as independent as possible. Here are some basic levels of support that riders might need from their horse handlers. On lead with leader controlling the horse: used for riders who are unable to independently control the horse due to physical or cognitive challenges. However, they may be working on cueing the horse, so allow for processing time, taking direction from the instructor. The sidewalkers, typically are responsible for reinforcing the instructor s directions to avoid confusion which allows the leader to remain focused on the horse. If there are no sidewalkers, the leader may be asked to help relay information to the rider. 1

3 On lead with rider controlling / directing the horse as much as possible: As the rider progresses, the leader should allow them to practice the skills being taught to them. This may require allowing the rider to make mistakes. This is fine as long as safety for everyone is maintained. The rider may be off lead for the walk and steering practice, but on lead for trot work and trail. Off lead with rider controlling the horse: The leader should remain in the correct leading position while the rider is off lead; allowing rider to make safe mistakes. Watch for safe spacing between horses, obstacles, etc. If the horse gets too quick with the rider off lead, do not chase the horse. Reinforce directions to the rider sit tall, pull back, say whoa. Off lead with leader spotting from instructor designated point in the arena: Staying on the inside of the arena (never between horse and wall), continue to have awareness of horse s behavior and rider position; bringing any concerns to the instructor s attention. As a spotter you may be asked to assist other riders in class who are in close proximity to you. The instructor will provide instructions if this is needed. IN AN EMERGENCY, THE HORSE HANDLER STAYS WITH THE HORSE. II. Horse Handling When entering a stall, get the horse s attention, speak gently and move slowly so that you do not startle them. Close the stall door three quarters of the way behind you. Place the halter on the horse s head, and connect the lead line. Hold the lead in your right hand, fold excess in left, open the door all the way and lead the horse out of the stall by standing on the horse s left side. Ask the horse to walk on and step out into the aisle, be sure to keep the horse walking next to you. Place the horse on cross ties facing the indoor arena and remove the lead line. When a horse is on crossties the leader should be able to see the horse at all times. Upon returning horses to their stall, remove halter, close door securely and leave the halter and lead rope hanging on the stall door. When leading a horse a halter and lead line should always be used for safety. Grooming: Thirty minutes prior to class begin by thoroughly grooming the horse. Please check the information card on the stall door to indicate if horse is to be groomed in the stall or on cross ties. If it is not clear, please ask staff. Each horse has their own grooming bucket. Please never share grooming buckets. It is important while grooming to check the horse for any signs of illness or injury (unsoundness) and alert the staff. Begin by picking hooves. To lift a horse s hoof, begin by running your hand down the leg below the knee until you reach the fetlock, gently pull and ask the horse to lift their foot. Holding the hoof securely, pick from the heel and forward to the toe, removing any caked dirt, and clean well between the frog (V shape) and the flat sole of the hoof, especially where dirt gets packed 2

4 at the back corners near the heel. Use the brush side of the hoof pick tool to brush away loose debris. Notify the barn staff of any foul-smelling discharge, tenderness, or hoof cracks. Continue by using the oval Curry Comb in a firm circular motion starting with the neck area and working down the body to the hind end to remove loose dirt and hair. The oval Curry Comb can be used anywhere but the face, being mindful of pressure used on the legs. Each horse also has a soft, rubber fingered round curry comb that can be used anywhere on the horse including the face and legs. Next use the hard brush with a flicking motion to remove hair and dirt, brushing in the same direction as the hair, always working from the neck to the back of the horse. The hard brush may be used on the legs and with gentle pressure on the face. Finish with the soft brush, to remove fine dust from body, legs and face. Horse s manes and tails are maintained by staff, please only use the hard brush to remove any caked on mud or shavings. Grooming should take about 15 to 20 minutes and all major dust and dirt spots should be removed. Once the horse is groomed, please remove hair from brushes, place grooming tools back in their bucket and return it to the tack room. If any brushes are missing from their bucket, please let the staff know. Tacking up the Horse: The horse s bridle, assigned saddle, pads and girth should be placed outside the horse s stall when you arrive. If it is not, please refer to the Daily Assignment Sheet for scheduled equipment or check with staff. Saddle the horse first by placing the cotton saddle pad on the horses back, covering the withers with the Velcro on top. (If the horse has any corrective pads, i.e.: non-slip, gel lift, black bump pad or mattes pad; check with Team Captain or other barn staff for proper placement). Place the saddle on top of the pad, pulling the pad up into the pommel so the pad will not rub on the horse s withers. Then, fasten Velcro saddle pad keepers to the billets and pass the girth through the bottom saddle pad keeper before attaching to the billets. Next, attach the girth to the billet straps on both the right and the left. (If a saddle has three billets please use the first and third billet.) Please leave the girth comfortably loose at this point. You should be able to fit your fingers between the horse s sternum and the girth. A final tightening will be done by the instructor in the arena, prior to riders mounting. To bridle, place the reins over the horse s head to go around the neck, unbuckle the throat latch and slide the halter around the horse s neck. This help to keep the horse in place. Place the grooming halter on the horse. Then, holding the bridle crown in one hand, and the bit in your other hand, slide the crown piece toward the front of the horses head working the bit into the mouth GENTLY. Your arm should be under the horse s head, reaching up around and up to guide the crown piece into position. Place the crown piece over one ear at a time. Taking care to not rub the cheek pieces into the eyes. Attach the throat latch leaving enough room to place the width of your four fingers between the horse s throat and the strap. Tie up the end of the reins so they don t drag. Please note: never take the bridle apart or adjust the length of the cheek pieces. If you have any concerns, please see the Team Captain or a staff member. Leading in Class: The horse may then be brought into the arena. Please call horse before entering, wait for the response enter, closing the arena barrier behind you. Begin by warming up, walking the horse in both directions making large circles and transitions (halt, walk, trot). During this time a staff member will check the tack to assure proper fit and condition. 3

5 Please bring any problems or concerns regarding horse or tack to the attention of the instructor. During class, handle the horse according to the instructor s direction. To help save stress on the horses backs, all riders mount from a mounting block or ramp. Instructors will advise regarding dismounts. Dismounts may be done from either the mounting ramp or the center of the arena, depending on the rider. The Horse Handler s primary role during mounts and dismounts is to prevent the horse from moving away by heading the horse. Horse Handlers use a double-ended lead line, which may be attached to the bit or the halter as directed by the instructor. The Horse Handler leads from the horse s left or right side as directed by the instructor. When leading, keep slightly behind the horse s head, but in front of the shoulder. For mounts, dismounts and extended halts, Horse Handlers position themselves in front of the horse about two feet away, facing the horse s head with a loose lead. This is referred to Heading-off your horse. When a horse has finished a session, if they are not used in the next lesson, please bring the horse back to his stall and untack. Then pick the horse s feet and groom their saddle area, and return the horse to the appropriate paddock under staff supervision. Wipe bits clean and return all saddles, bridles, blankets/pads, and grooming tools neatly to their appropriate place. Arena Etiquette: Announce Your Intentions: Tell the other riders what you plan to do: "passing on your left", "leaving arena", "entering arena". Cue Quietly: Voice commands should be done quietly. Try Not to Interrupt Lessons: When warming a horse up in hand with a lesson going on, please give them the right of way and try to stay out of the way. Keep Two Horse Lengths Between: Please keep at least two horse lengths between you and the horse in front of you. When passing to the inside, please leave two horse lengths between the horses. In Case of Emergency: Stay with the horse. Move the horse away from any people on the ground and to a safe space if possible. Await further instructions from staff. Keep all doors or gates closed. Be Aware: Be respectful if another leader is having problems with a horse, is a beginner, or timid rider. Give Right of Way: Be generous, giving right of way even it if it is not technically the correct right of way. Common Arena Figures: 20 meter circle: Large circle using about one third of the arena 10 meter circle: Smaller circle Change direction across the long diagonal (K to M, or H to F): used to change direction via shallow turns and without a large group running into each other Change direction across the short diagonal (for example, K to H) Centerline (A to C) Quarter line: Half way between center line and rail Figure 8: combines 2 circles Serpentine full arena: S shape down the arena, with several loops of equal size and shape. 4

6 Proper Leading Position: A leader should stand between the horse s head and shoulder. A loop is left in the line so that the horse is allowed to walk with the leader, rather than being pulled. Horses can be lead from either the right side or the left side. Common Leading Mistakes: Leading from too far back: Leading from too far ahead: 5

7 Adjusting the Rider s stirrups: this should be left to the sidewalker Holding the lead too tight: Wrapping the Lead around your hand: Heading the Horse: The leader stands just in front of the horse and slightly off to the side. 6

8 III. General Horse Safety Always think safety first! Never wrap a lead line around your hand or yourself. Hold the lead with the hand closest to the horse, and fold the excess in your opposite hand. Walk beside the horse when leading, not ahead or behind. Approach a horse from the side, avoiding quick movements, and speaking in a low voice. Pat horses on the shoulder, not on the face. When on cross-ties, have horses facing the indoor arena. Never allow horses to pass each other in the barn aisle. Walk under the cross-ties to switch sides. Do not duck under horse s neck or walk behind. Never let reins or lead lines hang to the ground. Always call horse or door before entering the arena with a horse. Maintain a safe distance between horses (two horse lengths). Shouting and/or running may startle horses. Use quiet voices and avoid quick movements. Avoid walking around the back of the horse or approaching a horse from the back end. When working near the hindquarters, stay close and keep one hand on the horse. 7

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