Triton Barn Systems

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Hill work increases your horses’ muscle and strength – part 2

horsrs climbing thru waterWhere you ride is also important. A competitive horse  in almost any discipline will benefit from hill work.  Make sure  some stamina  and conditioning is in place  before adding hill work.


The gait
The gait used on hill work will also affect the horse’s development. Start off slowly and have your horse already warmed up so soft muscles don’t get  injured. An out-of-shape muscle may pull or tear if subjected to sudden stress. As the horse becomes more fit and its muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints are able to take it, you can increase the speed.

Walking or trotting up hills is ideal for strengthening the lower leg, and the thigh and gaskin of the hind leg. A gallop uphill works the muscles in the rump. This should not be overdone, however, and should be attempted only after the horse is already quite fit.


The Terrain
A good way to build up strength, wind and stamina is to climb hills. Climbing up a grade forces the horse to use  its body weight, exert more and use its muscles harder. Climbing a steep bank now and then will make the heart pump faster and lungs work harder and strengthen the muscles in the hindquarters and forearms.

Start with jaunts up gradual slopes, and increase the grade and length of time spent in “climbing” as the horse becomes more muscular. If your horse has a particularly weak side, negotiate the ups and downs on the diagonal, with his weaker side toward the crest. The “high” side of the body has to exert more muscle to maintain balance and coordination.horses on mointains

“When going around the face of a steep hill, especially if the footing is a bit uneven or loose, the horse must develop more dexterity and coordination, picking up each leg and moving it around the other, perhaps having to scramble a bit if its feet are sliding,” said Heather Smith Thomas.  This improves agility and teaches the horse to balance itself to its best advantage. An agile horse is less apt to strain a leg or fall down when footing is unpredictable.

Riders on flat terrain can use man made “hills,” such as dry drainage ditches, in place of natural terrain; or they can practice jumping even if their horse doesn’t otherwise use those skills.

It sounds easy to work your horse over some rolling hills to get him in condition. However, if your horse isn’t in good condition to start with, or if he’s never done hill work, it will be quite an adjustment. As in part #1 of this article, monitor your horse during his strength training: heavy blowing or trembling muscles indicate that he needs a break. If he’s sore the next day you pushed him too far, so do less the next time out.


Conditioning your horse for summer and fall trail rides – part 1

183258_10150151044681800_205291171799_8169917_7635004_nSummer officially begins with Memorial Weekend. The weather gets warmer, days are longer and there’s more daylight for trail rides. Your horse ought to be in good shape by now and in most parts of the country,  the weather is nice enough to continue trail riding well into October.   If your horse isn’t in shape for those enticing four or five-hour trail rides, what kind of fitness program can you start with?

If your horse has been outside with other horses in a space that allows at least three acres of “running” room per horse, he’s probably been more active than you think and he can be ready for long trail rides in about a month. If he’s been stabled with limited turn out or in a small paddock space that doesn’t encourage play, it may take longer to get him in shape.

If you live somewhere that makes it difficult for your horse to be turned out for extended periods of time, a tread mill or hot walker can help get your horse in shape as well as reduce boredom.

If your horse is ridden three days a week and kept in a large pasture with other horses the other days that will provide some basic conditioning.  The following schedule may be too intense for some horses and not enough for others.

Week 1: 30 minutes per ride with 10 minutes trotting/ 5 minutes cantering
Week 2: 30 minutes per ride with 10 minutes trotting/ 10 minutes cantering
Week 3: 40 minutes per ride with 15 minutes trotting/ 10 minutes cantering
Week 4: 40 minutes per ride with 20 minutes trotting/ 10 minutes cantering
Week 5: 40 minutes per ride with 20 minutes trotting/ 15  minutes cantering


Start with 30-minute rides and gradually, over a four-week period, work up to 90 minutes per ride. And, if you can, ride 4 days a week.  For the first few rides, walk for 15 minutes of the ride and trot for 15 minutes, breaking those minutes up into any increments you’d like. Over time you can add canter work.

A good four-week goal is 90-minute rides with 20 minutes at the walk, 50 minutes at the trot and 20 minutes at the canter, again, broken up and ridden in any order you’d like.

summer drinking horse

As your horse’s fitness increases, the above schedule will become easier for him. He won’t become “winded” as easily, his body will become more muscular and he will be “forward” and eager in his work for longer periods of time. You can also go on shorter trail rides and increase the length of the rides.

Once you’ve gotten your horse fit, it will be fairly easy to keep him in shape.  Horses retain their conditioning easier than people do. Ride him three days a week with continuous turnout all year, and he’ll be in great shape.  And check with you trainer to make sure what schedule is best for you and your horse.



Five Best Fairs in the 50 States

Its summer and the state fairs are rolling out their tried and true events and some new surprises. State fairs are a tradition for many families, and what’s not to love? Fairs, parades, watermelon, baseball games, and fireworks are the stuff summer is made of.

Although fairs seem to offer the same food, rides, events and music, look more closely. There are subtle differences. State fairs reflect the culture and agriculture of the state they’re held in. Try out a different Fairs this summer, just for fun and look for the differences. If you can’t travel to another state, look for a smaller fair in the next county over. What’s your favorite fair?

Alaska State FairKeevan-Cabbage-CJM-378x240

When one thinks of large produce, Alaska isn’t the first state on your mind. Even though the growing season is quite short compared with southern states like Florida; from June through August the state gets roughly 18 hours of sunlight. The short season doesn’t seem to matter to vegetables and fruit; they grow when they have the chance. At the annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off, contestants compete for a $2,000 prize and the media spotlight. Previous winners have included an 83-pound rutabaga, and a 23-foot long corn.  In addition to a line up of great concerts, check out the Knights of Valor Jousting Tournament — full contact jousting on horseback as seen on the History Channel. This year the fair dates are August 21 through September 1. For more information go to Alaska State Fair


Wisconsin State Fair
Known for its famous cream puffs, the fair also offers a wide variety of cheese, butter, honey and other dairy products. New this year is the K-9 Sports Arena, which offers everything for the dog lover: dog dock diving, dancing dogs, the new rage Frisbee and agility courses, and Police K-9 units.  Now in its second year is the WI State Fair Food Competition, aptly named The Spoorkies. The top eight finalists include a Loaded Twisted Dog, Chicken n Waffle Cone, and a Peanut Butter Bacon Bison Burge. Fairgoers can also vote for their favorite via social media after tasting the 8 unusual foods from local restaurants. The fair runs from July 31 through August 10, for more events check out their website at Wisconsin State Fair.


The Big E Fair
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Eastern States Exposition is actually New England’s regional fair, bringing together six states: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. For 17 days every September almost a million people visit the vast fairgrounds to enjoy Maine lobster, Cape Cod cranberries, Vermont maple syrup and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. A walk down the Avenue of States, with scaled down replicas of the original statehouses standing on lots owned by each state, brings together the regional focus. Other favorites include the Eastern States Exposition Horse Show, and the European-style Super Circus and a chance meeting with the wandering Mechanical Man. More details can be found at The Big E.


alaska-state-faiir (1)

New York State Fair
Like many other state fairs, New York has a strong agricultural presence in the United States. Known for its vineyards, dozens of wineries host tastings at the fair, more than any other state including California. Representatives from a variety of New York wineries talk about the differences between red grapes and white grapes and which wines ought to be served with certain entrees.  There are also demonstrations on making homemade wine and homemade brew. For concerts, dates and more information, go to


State Fair of Texas
Established in 1886, the Texas  State Fair is big just like everything in Texas. Even the 52’ foot tall mascot, Big Tex, is huge and not to be missed. Many fairs have pig races, but have you ever seen an ostrich race? You can see both at this fair. The fair also offers a huge Chili cook-off, a BBQ cook-off and the Great American Spam Championship. Other food choices include the awesome Deep-Fried Nutella, Fried Cuban Roll and a battered, deep-fried cheese, pepper and bacon dish called The Texas Fried Fireball.  If you really don’t like crowds, this may not be the fair to go to. Last year the fair took in over two million people in less than two weeks. For a detailed schedule, check out State Fair of Texas.

Tips to keep your horse cool during hot weather


Ben%20and%20BeBoplink%20pixThe summer months are hot and humid in most of the United States. Horse owners need to take steps to make sure their horses are healthy, cool and comfortable. Unlike people, most horses prefer cooler weather. 

When its hot, ride your horse early in the morning, before 10:00 am  or later in the afternoon after it cools off around 4:00 pm. Make sure to cool your horse off after riding by spraying your mare or gelding down with cool water and give them plenty of water to drink. If your horse has a white muzzle, use at least 15 SPF on his nose. 

Water: Horses, like humans, cool off by sweating. When the weather is hot and humid they need access to large amounts of water so they don’t become overheated. If they’re in a stall, water should be available at all times, preferably from an automatic watering system so it’s fresh and clean.  Horses also need a salt block or mineral block since they sweat during the hot weather.

Fly Sheets, Fly Masks & Fly Spray: When they’re turned out during hot weather, horses use a huge amount of energy stomping and walking to get rid of horse flies, mosquitoes and gnats especially around their head and legs. A light colored fly sheet and mask will keep some of the bugs away and fly spray will also help.

Ventilation: Barn doors and windows need to be open to allow air to flow through the building. Box fans can be installed in stalls, and overhead fans in aisle ways and indoor rings to keep the temperature and humidity lower.  

Pasture: Horses that are outside in hot weather will need shade trees or a three-sided shelter to get out of the sun during the day. Fresh water should be available at all times, since horses drink up to 25 gallons of water a day in hot weather.

Feed: An adult horse in training or competing should only have 12-14% of protein in their total feed; anything higher may cause a horse to heat up as it digests its food, making it harder to stay cool.  A horse not showing;  just on pasture turn out only needs 10% protein in its daily feed.


Toys and Treats – stall rest #4


Keeping a horse on stall rest occupied and entertained is a must.   Whether a “stall buddy” is available or not, it is often beneficial to provide the horse with other forms of entertainment. These include stall toys and treats.  Owners can purchase pre-manufactured horse toys from most local feed stores.  Some of the most common are Jolly Balls ®, the Jolly Mega Ball ®, the Horse Pas-A-Fier   ®, or Jolly Apples.

Owners can also cheaply and easily create their own stall toys by hanging a milk jug, ¼ full of water; hanging a giant tennis ball (softball size or larger) or hanging an old lead rope that has been knotted a couple of times in their horse’s stall.  Any of these will give the horse something to play with when he/she becomes bored.   

Owners can also keep their horse occupied by providing salt or sweet licks.  Some brand names for these treats are: Pony Pops ®, Himalayan Rock Salt ®, or Jolly Jumbo Licks ®.  By keeping a horse on stall rest entertained, there is less of a chance that he/she will develop many of the vices that are caused by boredom.  

If an owner follows the recommendations laid out in parts 1 – 4 of this article, most horses will effortlessly get through their confinement with little or no complications.

Does your horse like goats? – stall rest # 3


Even though location, cleanliness, feed, and exercise are quite important when a horse is on stall rest, keeping the horse occupied is even more important.  A bored horse is often a destructive horse.  If the horse does not become too bored, then stall rest can actually be restful and not torment for the horse or owner. 

The biggest downfall with stall rest is that the horse often becomes bored.  This listlessness is what causes the hose to develop bad habits.  Just as dogs chew and dig when they are bored, horses crib, kick, rub, chew, and paw.  To help prevent a horse from adopting these habits, it is beneficial to keep the horse occupied.  

There are many options owners can choose from when it comes to keeping a horse entertained.  The first is extremely beneficial.  However, it is not a probable option for everyone.  The easiest and most steadfast way to keep a horse occupied is by providing the horse with a “stall buddy.” This “buddy” is often another horse in the adjoining stall. 

If another horse is not available, some owners opt to purchase a goat.  Goats are small enough that they can be housed in the stall with a horse that has been put on stall rest. In turn, the horse will have a constant companion.  Nevertheless, it is important to ensure (both for the horse’s and the goats safety) that the horse does not have a hatred or fear of goats.  Otherwise, the goat would be more of a hindrance than a benefit. 

In addition, make sure that the stall is large enough to comfortably accommodate both the horse and the goat.  If a stall buddy is not an option, owners can also purchase toys and treats to keep their horse occupied.

How to get disaster relief funding to rebuild your barn

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...

Image via Wikipedia


When a natural disaster strikes —  a tornado, blizzard, fire, flood or hurricane — it’s always a horrible event. And its even more difficult when your animals are hurt, traumatized or homeless after the disaster is over.

After Hurricane Katrina, the United States Equestrian Foundation (USEF) established a permanent USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund to prepare for future disasters. Monetary contributions from individuals and organizations are collected and distributed to provide feed, veterinary care  and shelter for horses and ponies of all breeds and disciplines.

The USEF in Kentucky acts as a collection point for information and distribution of all funds and in-kind donations. While each state may also have a disaster fund, contact the USEF first to let them help you through the red tape and paperwork to help feed your horses and rebuild your barn.