Monday, August 24, 2009


So much happens during the summer that it's hard to keep track and up to date! Here's our attempt at filling you in on some of the goings on at the farm...

At the end of July our friends Carolyn and Marilyn came to camp here for their annual horsey vacation. They spent several days with their horses Gunnar, Bear, Sky and Dash and got in lots of trail riding. We always forget to take pictures of these ladies, probably because we're having too much fun! The best we got was a picture of their base camp.

One of our favorite trail rides takes us off Thompson Creek Road along a wooded ridge, down a hill, and out underneath the powerlines with a view of Mt. Rainier. Below Cheryl and friend Theresa got ahead of us on the trail for a little perspective.
We have five Haflinger geldings here at Nayborly Farms: Arron, Mikey, Precious, Chucky and Pippin. They're kind of like our farm mascots. During the day the boys tend to nap or crowd around and watch us ride the training horses, until it is their turn to ride that is!

One of the best times of year is when the Skookumchuck hay fields are mowed and baled. The fields become pristine turf for galloping and the hay bales are fun to dodge or jump. If you have a need for speed, open mowed hay fields are horse riding heaven!

Our friend and fellow rider Jesse came and spent several days with us earlier this month. She brought along her two horses, Stuey and Bravo. Both Stuey and Bravo are past summer campers, so we love having them around! Below Jesse and Brav strut their stuff.

When Jesse was here we decided to practice our jump positions and work on our horses' technique. We set up a grid of fences and built the height of the jumps up as we rode. Gridwork is great for horses because it allows them to work out jumping challenges fairly independently of their rider; gridwork is great for riders because it allows them to practice their position, balance, and truly "going with the horse."

Sandy, a Trakehner x Quarter Horse mare shown below, was here for three weeks and spent time working on consistency in her trot and canter work. We now have Blaze, her Thoroughbred cross colt, for a month to start under saddle.

Spencer was here for a month. He boarded at Nayborly Farms during his yearling summer so he could have some youngster playmates, and the following year we broke Spence out. This year he came back for a month for some continued education. Below Spencer demonstrates "bumping up" to the trailer. We teach horses to step over to the fence, the trailer, and/or a mounting block so that we can easily get on and off of them. Spence is a pro at bumping up from his first summer with us, but we make sure to challenge him from time to time by asking him to do it from the right side (generally people mount on the left and horses get in a habit of doing things from that side).

Our friend Melissa brought her niece and nephew out to do some pony riding on Mikey. We thought this picture was cute with Kelsy and Bravo in the background!

As the months change so do the weeds and flowers around the farm. Now we mostly have ugly stuff like tansy, thistles, and ragwort; but whatever this weed is looks pretty.

Some horsepeople don't believe in feeding their horses treats, but that is not the case around Nayborly. Our horses are expected to have manners when it comes to hand feeding, and if done properly hand feeding does not make a horse pushy or harder to handle. In fact, we like to teach our horses tricks and use treats as a reward. Below Hux demonstrates his flexible bowing skills.

Our old little farmhouse is also home to all sorts of animals, some by invitation and others not so much. This was the first time the frog made an appearance.
Our summer is not over yet and there's still lots of horse activity taking place. We've also already started a waitlist for horse training next spring/summer. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Update on Sewickley's Lameness

Shortly after we x-rayed Sewickley's lame right front hoof and determined he had a small fracture, I consulted with a lameness specialist for a second opinion on treatment options. Much to my surprise, the lameness specialist did not believe that the spot on the x-ray was indeed a fracture, rather he thought it was likely a spot that didn't develop properly into bone during adolescence and is NOT the cause of Sewick's current lameness. He recommended we keep looking for other causes. Thereafter Sewickley went back to our local vet to finish up the x-rays of his hoof, all of which came up clean (the first x-ray image below is his left front hoof for comparison, and the second is his right front from the back showing a clean navicular bone).

Sewick has been sounder than he was, but he is not 100% and some days he's more sensitive than others. We have also started to notice the lameness show up slightly on a straight line. He sometimes responds to the hoof tester on the front half of his hoof, but this could be because we have started soaking the hoof to see if an abscess will draw out. Save rest and good care we are mostly at a loss for treatment since we don't know the underlying problem. He remains in his small, soft footing paddock and overall his morale is good. He looks forward to his daily grain, hay, and cookie snacks (the photo below shows him after his favorite soaked pellet meal).

Monday, August 17, 2009

For Sale: Gunnabeslick

Gunnabeslick is a seven year old registered APHA gelding for sale by owner. He is currently here at Nayborly and then will return to his home in Ocean Shores. "Slick" is a big, sturdy, pleasant horse with beautiful red dun color and an excellent temperament. He has a solid foundation and is ready for more! Click here to access his dreamhorse account. You can also take a peek at his photobucket pictures or youtube video. If you're interested in Slick please contact us or his owner Nancy at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Update on a Past Training Horse

Three years ago a good friend and Haflinger breeder sent us two of her three year olds to get broke out. Both youngsters had been troubled and difficult to handle from day one, particularly the gelding Stuey. Stuey was hard to catch in a stall and generally scared of EVERYTHING. Here is Stuey's Training Journal from three years ago.

After two months of training Stuey remained with us at Nayborly Farms to find a forever home. Well September came and the weather was changing to cold and rainy, and no one was showing any interest in poor Stuey. However, our good friend Jesse had been out several times that summer and had ridden Stuey well (below pictures are from the first time Jesse rode Stuey).

At the time, Jesse and her mom Kathy were not looking to buy another horse, in fact they had a horse to sell. But Stuey with his Haflinger charm and Jesse's begging finally talked Kathy into taking Stuey on a care lease for at least the winter months. The deal was Stuey would remain with them unless we found a buyer for him, at which time Jesse had first right of refusal to buy him. After Jesse had Stuey for only a month someone emailed Chesna about wanting to come out and look at him. Of course by this time the whole family had fallen in love with Stuey, and Jesse bought him.
Now three years later Stuey is primarily Kathy's riding horse. Kathy does mostly dressage with a little bit of jumping here and there. Husband Chuck, family friends, and pony clubbers also ride Stuey. And to top it off, Stuey is being evented by Jesse and is competing very successfully at Novice level. He has won both of the Novice Events he's been to this year. We at Nayborly Farms couldn't be happier with how Stuey turned out or the home he ended up with!

Stuey we knew you had it in you man!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What to Wear?

When you start a green horse, you have a lot of decisions to make. One thing you must decide is what you are going to ride the horse in for the first time. Now we're not talking about what you personally are going to wear (thankfully horses don't have an eye for fashion), we care more about what your horse is going to wear the first time you climb aboard. When we do preliminary groundwork with young horses we usually introduce them to a bareback pad, English saddle, and Western saddle. Each has a unique feel and gives the horse a chance to experience different sensations. When it comes to actually riding them for the first time, you must decide which "outfit" works best for you and your horse.

English Saddle:
PROs: English saddles are generally much lighter than Western saddles and less cumbersome. They give the rider more freedom to use their leg and develop a strong independent seat. If you get into trouble on a young horse, it is pretty easy to do an emergency dismount from an English saddle. In a really bad situation, English saddles have stirrups that pull off to avoid an unfortunate dragging.

CONs: Like any saddle, an English saddle that doesn't fit properly can do a lot of damage. The most common ways English saddles don't fit are either by bridging (the tree panels do not lay evenly across the horse's back and instead bridge in the middle) or by creating pressure points in the shoulder/whither area.

Below is a picture of Chai in an English dressage saddle at the Nayborly Farms Trail Challenge. Though he is very comfortable bareback, riding in the saddle gives us a bit more support should he have difficulty with any of the obstacles.

Western saddle:
PROs: Western saddles are usually designed to hold you very securely in place. Your leg has minimal range of movement and you have a deep seat and horn to hold onto if you get into trouble. These saddles can also be quite comfortable to sit in. In addition, properly fitted Western saddles are meant to distribute the weight of the rider more evenly across the horse's back. Riding in a Western saddle may familiarize the horse with extra leather straps and different noises.

CONs: As mentioned before, Western saddles hold you very securely in place (some brands more than others). This means if something goes wrong, you are in for the ride. Think about it, cowboys use Western saddles to stay put. It is not easy to do a clean emergency dismount should you need to, especially since you must watch out for that horn. If you or the horse falls, there is a chance your feet may get caught in the stirrup (which does not break away) and/or you can get hung up on other parts of the rigging. Plus, just because Western saddles are holding you in a secure position does not mean they are holding you in a good position. Also, many Western saddles do not fit horses in the shoulder and can create unpleasant pressure points. On a young/small horse, Western saddles can be too long and push down uncomfortably on the horse's lower back. Western saddles are heavy to lug around and are extra weight for a horse with developing back muscles. Also, a Western saddle in the hands of a weak rider may be dropped heavily onto the horses back during saddling. This can make the horse sensitive to the saddling/girthing process (watch for signs of head tossing, nipping, tail swishing, and ears back). We have never started a horse in a Western saddle, and I can't imagine that we ever will.

Below is a picture of Katie during her last month of training at Nayborly Farms. Kelsy is riding her in a Western saddle on this trail ride because her owner rides Western, and Kelsy needed to make sure that her cues were understood through the extra leather. Plus, this saddle fit Katie better than our English saddles.

PROs: Bareback is cheap and easy. If you can ride your horse bareback, you have the freedom to ride anytime and anywhere. You can feel the horses back and they can feel you. You have a wide range of movement and most importantly can easily get on and off. If it hits the fan, you are free of any equipment (stirrups/horns). You will not be stuck on your horse's back, you don't have to worry about getting dragged, and you'll never have to watch an expensive saddle get beaten up. A bareback pad doesn't add extra weight on a developing back. In our experience, if you break a horse in bareback they have no trouble adjusting to a saddle (if they can tolerate you bouncing around bareback, then the saddle is nothing!).

CONs: Bareback requires that you have a very secure seat and good sense of balance. It's not a wise idea to ride a youngster bareback if you aren't able to have clear and effective aids. If you are bouncing around too much, this will not encourage a horse to lift and use their topline correctly. Some horses have uncomfortably shaped backs (padding can usually help this, but let's face it, there are some horses that will always give you a wedgie!).

Below is a picture of Kahuna, a three year old Arabian gelding in for training, learning to trot and follow a direct rein on his second ride. We chose to start him bareback due to his diminutive size and smooth gates. We start the majority of horses at Nayborly Farms bareback, at least for the first couple of rides. Please note that we do not recommend anyone use bareback pads with stirrups because bareback pads are not known for their stability. Also, don't expect the small handle on the front of some bareback pads to save you if you are falling, always reach for the mane!
In conclusion, we suggest you put some thought into the way you start your horse. We also believe that if you cannot ride effectively no matter what your tack is, then you have no business starting young horses. Safety first!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lincoln Creek Pony Club Event

Last weekend Patti and I loaded up Arron and Huxley and headed out to the last of the Pony Club Events of the year. Sewickley couldn't make it to this one because he's still on lameness recovery and Pip sat it out too because Ches was busy. Patti competed Arron at Novice level. It was her first time Novice and only her second event in many years. Even though Patti was nervous Arron pulled through and earned himself the title of "Perfect Pony" instead of "Practically Perfect Pony."

It was hot--well in the 80's--for Cross-Country, but as you can see in the pictures neither the height of the jumps, distance of the course, or the heat slowed old man Arron down. He completed his Novice courses just fine and was still perky at the end of the day. Not bad for a 26 year old!
Huxley also competed at Novice level. He had a very fussy dressage test and an even fussier/spooky cross-country round. He was sure the tiny Grasshopper level jumps next to our Novice fences were going to eat him. Nevertheless we made it around the course with no refusals, though it was not from lack of trying on Huxley's part. The round was reminiscent of eventing my Haflinger Precious and having to WORK to get the horse over EVERY fence. Huxley did redeem himself a little in the Show Jumping and finished the day with a sixth place ribbon. Though it wasn't the highest finish he's ever had, oddly enough Ches and I where excited about it because neither of us have a sixth place ribbon and we always thought the green ribbons looked neat!

FYI: Traffic

If you are planning on traveling out here to Nayborly Farms in the next few months, please be advised that there is road construction taking place on Skookumchuck Road. Currently, part of the road is no longer paved and instead is just gravel. Expect delays if the construction crews are working. We apologize for any inconvenience and can't wait for the project to be complete!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To Hobble or Not to Hobble?

Hobbles seem to be one of those things in the horse world that people either love or hate. At one time or another all of our horses have been hobbled. Some have spent a considerable amount of time hobbled and others have only been hobbled once or twice. There are many reasons to hobble a horse. For example, you could use hobbles if you're camping and want your horse to be able to graze on grass and not leave you in the woods to pack yourself out. Lots of people hobble train so if their horse gets caught in fence or wire said horse hopefully won't struggle and cut its legs off. Others hobble if they have a horse who paws while tied.

The majority of our training horses don't get hobbled unless the owner asks us specifically to hobble train them. Even on the best of horses hobbles can leave rub marks the first few times as the horse gets used to the idea of having their feet tied together. Most people are not fond of their horse having hobble rubs. Unless we find a specific training issue that truly needs to be addressed with hobbles, we don't hobble other peoples horses.

The most common issue we address via hobbles are horses that have trouble with giving to pressure. When you hobble a horse you take away their ability to run from a predator or away from a situation they do not feel comfortable in. Hobbling done correctly can make a big mental change in some horses; for them to let go of their flight response is HUGE.
Before we hobble any horse we first make sure the horse is okay with having ropes on all four feet. The second thing we do is teach the horse to give to the pressure of a rope on their foot (as seen in the picture below). We do this by asking them to lead forward with each foot. The horse pictured is Sandy, one of our current training horses, who is here to improve her flat work, be exposed to new things, and maybe start some jump training. Sandy's owner asked if we would hobble train her.

Once the horse is relaxed about leading by all four feet the only thing left to do is put the hobbles on. As a rule I do this in an arena or enclosed space with good footing in case the horse decides to have a panic attack and try to run.

I also always keep the horse on the halter rope until I am sure the horse isn't going to have a panic attack and try to run. If the horse does panic I will try to get them stopped via the halter rope, however horses with hobbles that are paniking generally do not have a lot of control over their body. So stay out of their way, never get in front of them!

Often when the horse tries to move for the first time they will lose their balance because their feet are tied together. Many horses will go down on their knees the first time they try to move. Stay relaxed, the horse will regain its balance. In the picture below you can see Sandy trying to work out the constraints of the hobbles.
Once the horse has the basic idea that it can't move, walk around the horse holding onto the rope. Make sure not pull on the rope. If the horse follows me with its head but does not try to move its feet, then I will take the halter off. You can see in the picture how Sandy is watching me walk around her but has no plans to move her feet.

In the picture below you can see Sandy is standing relaxed looking around at the other horses. She later figured out how to shuffle her feet along and munch on the grass at the edges of the arena. We will repeat this experience a few times to make sure she has truly grasped the concept. Remember, just like any new thing, training your horse to hobble is a process that requires understanding and patience.