Trailer Loading Basics 

Working with a horse at a clinic

Several years back, I had posted an article about Trailer Basics For Loading on my old blog. 

While there’s a ton of great information out there about getting horses to load on trailers, it’s still an issue that owners often deal with, and it’s a question that is frequently posted on forums and Facebook pages. 

Most often, the root cause traces back to not having a foundation on a horse – being able to control their feet lightly – before ever trying to get them on the trailer, or they’re asking the horse for the next step too soon. 

Working on loading with Dynamic Host

Here’s some simple big picture points to keep in mind any time you’re working with your horse. The same principal applies no matter what you’re doing. 

  • Horses have the mental capacity of a three year old child – always keep that in mind. 
  • Horses learn by repetition. 
  • Quit asking for anything when they give you the slightest try. 
  • Make the right thing easy (rest) and the wrong thing hard (work) 
  • Always end on a good note even if you have to set them up to get it. 
  • Encourage curiosity and you build confidence. 

 

So applying this to trailer loading and unloading…. 

  • Before you ever approach the trailer, make sure your horse knows how to move forward on their own. 

You need to be able to point or tap at the hip and they move forward without hesitation. The reason they need this is so they load on to the trailer by themselves. 

 

  • You need to be able to move all four feet forward, backward, and sideways by a simple easy tug of the lead rope. 

Think of a showmanship horse. They can get a horse to square up or do a pivot by moving the lead just an inch or two. When you’re loading your horse and asking them to put a foot on or take a foot off, you need that same lightness. 

 

  • Make the trailer a place of rest and away from or off the trailer a place of work. 

If your horse wants to go away from the trailer, let him but put his feet to work. Then come back to the trailer – or as close as you can – to let him rest. 

  • Don’t immediately make your horse get close to the trailer if they’re afraid of it. 

If you horse starts acting up six feet from the trailer, don’t automatically try to get them right next to the trailer. Instead, ask them to work their feet at seven feet away and gradually move in closer. Don’t ask them to move closer until they’re relaxed at the distance they are already at. 

 

  • Ask them to put one foot on and off a million times until they’re bored and falling asleep. 

You need to ask for it so many times that the horse is completely relaxed and keeping their foot on the trailer on their own. If they want to take the foot off, let them but ask for it to go right back on and leave them alone. Too many times people ask them for that next step too soon and the horse regresses in their training. 

 

  • Ask them two feet on and off a million times, then three feet a million times, then four feet a million times. 

The same principal applies to the rest of the feet. Ask them to put that same foot so many times that they’re comfortable with it and keeping those feet in place on their own. If you get three feet on and they want to back out, let them back out and then ask them to come right back and try again. Don’t ask for that fourth foot until they’re keeping those three feet on by themselves. 

  • Because they’ve already loaded and unloaded all four feet a million times, they already know how to unload as a side effect. 

 

Horses want to come off the trailer for two reasons. 

  • One is they are truly not comfortable being on the trailer – they need more work on being taught to load until they are. 
  • Two is that they’re anticipating coming off – remember horses learn by repetition?

Think about your hauling and unloading routine. Do you have the same process every time you haul somewhere or when you come home? Change it up and keep your horse guessing when they’re coming out of the trailer. Instead of unloading as soon as you stop, try opening one door and waiting a while. Then open another door and wait again. When you go to unload, unload them and put them right back on and then unload for the day. Anything to mix up the routine will help. 

 

A few thoughts on safety…

 

  • My number one safety rule is to make sure they are untied any time the divider is open or the butt bar is down.
  • I don’t tie until they’re locked in, and I always untie before I open the divider or unsnap the butt bar. 

 

  • If a horse isn’t comfortable staying on the trailer on their own, don’t shut them in. 

Wait until they’re standing on the trailer and not coming off before you shut and latch the divider or trailer door. If a horse is scared of being in a trailer, locking them in is not going to magically cure the fear. It’s only going to make them feel trapped. 

 

  • Pay attention to how you drive. 
    • Horses will start having trailer trouble if your driving is causing them to become unbalanced. 
    • Be slow and gradual with your stops. 
    • Take turns slowly and easily – be sure to gradually slow down when coming into a turn. 
    • Wait to accelerate coming out of a turn until your trailer is completely through the turn. 
    • Gradually accelerate. 

 

A few more tips… 

  • Incorporate your trailer training into your daily turnout routine

Every time you turn your horse in and out, you can spend a couple of minutes on trailer work. You don’t have to fully load your horse. Just ask for a step or two on and off the trailer and then quit. Be sure to quit on a good note. 

 

  • Haul your horse to town for simple errands. When a horse is getting used to hauling, frequent short trips are a good way to get some seasoning. 

 

  • Don’t get in a hurry – no matter what. Horses are a mirror of our emotions and frame of mind, and our body language. If you feel yourself getting impatient or worried because you have somewhere to be, take a big breath that your horse can hear. Horses look to us to be leaders. If we’re calm and confident, they will be too. 

How well does your horse load? What steps can you take to help your horse load better? 

Dynamic Host on the trailer — it took a lot of work to get to this!

 

 

 

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Sundial Show Clothing

This time I talk with Kaitlin Lorman who owns Sundial Show Clothing

Tell us how the company got started, how long have you been in business?


My name is Kaitlin Lorman and my company Sundial Show Clothing is based out of Cleveland, Ohio. I had an apprenticeship at another clothing company for several years after graduating from the Equine program at Lake Erie College. Going in, I did not realized how badly I wanted to be creative and really bring my style to the forefront. I am all about technical, chic, and fabulous styles that are flattering for every figure and can fit a variety of different riders flawlessly… and allowing for versatility for different events.

What is your mission statement or goal, and philosophy behind the company?

Help other talented and beautiful cowgirls feel fabulous while creating a “team” that can collaborate and lift each other up positively through a network of support, fun, and good vibes! 

What types of clothing do you carry?

Limited Edition Show Shirts

Sundial’s Second Skin Compression Wear (like Spanx)

Statement Swarovski Jewelry (Mostly Earrings)

“Squad Gear” Casual Wear

Accessories (like Belt Buckles & Hats)

Sundial is co-branded with Intelliskin to provide “Second Skin” liner garments that reduce fatigue and enhance posture to prevent injuries and provide peak performance to our athletes.

What are some of your favorite pieces, and why?

I love my show shirts–all of them. I have personally designed and crafted a figure flattering fit that I am so proud of. I have been told many times from my girls that they never want to ride without their Sundial!

Do you plus size clothes run smaller or larger?

They run true to size. The shirts are made from Spandex… they allow for give in all the right places! There is a wide range of stretch and allow for a tailored fit even if you fluctuate between sizes like I do!!

What new items are you looking at carrying?

Painted Feathers
Matching Equine Accessories

What stores carry your brand? 

We are mostly an independent brand that keeps operations close to home. We can be found with multiple traveling vendors. You can find up to date information through our social media!

ADDITIONAL INFO

I encourage people to contact me, the deisgner, directly with any questions about fit, etc! kaitlin@sundialshowclothing.com

Rustic Nation Outfitters

This time I talk with Candace Larson who owns Rustic Nation Outfitters. I’ve known Candace for several years now through social media. She’s the real deal in that she doesn’t give up and she has a huge heart and that translates to her business.

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Tell us how the company got started, how long you’ve been in business?

Back in 2015 I signed up as a distributor for a rustic shop while sitting at hotel in Savanna Georgia, while waiting for my daughter to get ready for her college freshmen orientation. It was free to join and I thought, “hey, I could make extra money selling clothes and help pay for the hefty tuition bill that was about ready to roll in.”

Within a few months I had a team of six women under me and was collecting cash on their sales as well. As I started to expand with my marketing and networking reach my sales volume was continually rising….when suddenly I hit a massive hurtle of returns, complaints, random price increases, and other issues; all of which I had no control over.  I quickly realized that the corporate business was in trouble and I had a decision to make. I either had to jump ship or build my own; one that I could control.

Without thought I closed down Sassy’s Rustic and applied for my wholesale license. Within four months I had numerous vendors, a new website, and the new name of, “Rustic Nation Outfitters.

BLACK SHORTS PLUS

 

What is your mission statement or goal, and philosophy behind the company?

 

Mission Statement/Goal: Affordable Pricing for everyone!

This is why our plus sizes will NEVER be a different price than non-plus. We would rather lose the difference on our side, even though we paid a tad more at wholesale. Why? Because how can we say we are treating you like family and yet charge you more for having curves?!? We are wanting to break the double standards that the fashion industry has set. While we understand that plus sizes uses more fabric, it still doesn’t sit well with us that stores charge significantly more for plus size, because they are making more than enough for their non-plus sizes to off set the difference. For example….sometimes we pay $2-4 more at wholesale per piece, but we will not pass that on to the buyer because we make it up in other places. Now some would say this is a horrible business decision but it goes against our philosophy. Plus, when God tells you do something, then you do it and you don’t ask questions.

Western wear is expensive and not everyone has the deep pockets to stay up with the costly trends. Our goal is to change that! Now while we can’t mark everything below retail, you can bet your sassy donkey we marked it as low as we could. We are committed to providing the highest quality at the lowest prices we can, while staying in business.

It’s funny how I started this business to make extra money but now God is using it to help people afford clothing that they otherwise couldn’t, so needless to say, making a large profit is no longer my motivation, or reasoning, or goal to stay in business.

YELLOW HORSE.jpg

 

Philosophy 

Treat all customers like family….why, because it is a proven fact that family gets the VIP treatment. It’s natural for our subconscious to go above and beyond for family members or people we care about over strangers.

This is why we take the time to truly get to know our social media followers. As a matter of fact, when someone follows us, we send them a personal message welcoming them to the family and we ensure we know their real name; and not just their social media one. IG is where we connect the most because the platform allows us to like, comment, and engage with our followers better than other social media sites.

This is why we are able to take the extra steps to ensure that we engage with at least two different followers a day by liking their posts and or commenting, if their profile is in public view. This practice has helped us keep our returns down to Zero for the last six months; because now we recognize when someone, accidentally or unknowingly, orders the wrong size. Had we not of taken the taken the time to connect and learn more about our customers, then we would have never been able to  recognize a buyers name and know when the size ordered is wrong. In cases like this, we pause the fulfillment process and reach out to the buyer and start a dialogue  to ensure we send the right product the fist time.

In closing, every item we send out is prayed over, wrapped like a gift, and includes a personal handwritten thank you note that welcomes them to the RNO Family; some also include scriptures, encouragement, and or etc. All of our packages are hand addressed because it feels more personal. I know at some point we won’t be able to keep up with this practice, as our daily sales continue to grow, but for now it’s about every little detail to let the RNO Family member know we truly care.

We also pray for our RNO Family members daily and for those who have utilized our anonymous prayer request tab on the website.

SKULL

 

What types of clothing do you carry?

 

We have it all really. We have Traditional Western, Boho Chic, Gypsy, Rodeo Wear, and Farm Style.

 

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What are some of your favorite plus size pieces for riding and why? 

 

Hands down it would be our Bullet Blues Bombshell Jeans. They are made in the USA which means they will last. Most jeans nowadays are extremely thin and wear in the seat rather quickly. One of our Ambassadors, has worn hers for over a year at dang near every barrel race and they have yet to breakdown in the seat or inner thigh which are the two hot spots for can chasers. They are durable and yet giving in the places that a rider would need.

Also, can I please disclose that I absolutely HATE the term plus size??? I don’t understand why the industry is separating women into categories! Women are beautiful and we come in all shapes and sizes. I have battled using this term on our website but have found that it is necessary because otherwise our products wouldn’t be found in any google searches. However, I want it on record that I despise it!

Do your plus size clothes run smaller or larger?

This is a loaded question because every brand of clothing runs differently, which is something we are trying to change. Any item not manufactured in the USA will be a hit or miss, which is why we try our best to only buy USA made products. Which takes us back to the price war lol. Anything made over seas is cheaper wholesale and yet sold at high market prices….which is nuts!

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What new items are you looking at carrying? 

We are really excited to have Kimes Ranch Apparel soon! We landed an account awhile back but couldn’t find a way to resale their gear at reasonable prices, until now.

We are doing our best to get Grace In La, however, we have to buy a full run which is about 4K out of pocket! The only way we can make this worth the risk is to sale them  at market value and even then nothing is guaranteed.

We are talking to a designer in LA right now who is apart of the LA Fashion District. If things go according to plan then we might have an exclusive jean made in LA that is targeted to riders of all sizes and under $60 a pair retail!

We also are treasure hunting for new jewelry designers. Our inventory is low right now for a reason. We don’t want to buy everything that is trendy anymore, we want to be the shop where you can get a piece that is unique and yet fashionably acceptable, if that makes sense. This is why we have the Consignment Barn Of Handmade and one of a kind pieces. I think women want jewelry that no one else has and yet they want to pay responsible prices for said unique pieces. We are doing our best make that happen.

We are also going to start looking for models to represent our clothing brand/style in sizes 14 on up. This is a little ways in the future, but it is something we are starting to prepare for now.

CHERYL

Brand Ambassador & Rodeo fan Cheryl

Original Cowgirl Clothing

I have had some requests to do a series on plus size clothing for riders. This time I talk with Mike Satterfield of Original Cowgirl Clothing brand. 

My name is Mike Satterfield I am the creative director for RBR Inc. and designer for Original Cowgirl® and M&P Speed Shop™ and have worked in design and marketing my entire life. We are based in Southern California, with a showroom in Denver, Colorado.

How did the company get started & how long have you been in business?

Original Cowgirl® as a brand grew out of my family history, the concept was based on my Great Grandmother, my Grandma, my mother and aunts. Our parent company RBR Inc. which stands for Red Barn Ranch was founded in 1985 by my mother, Kathy Satterfield, back then it was more focused on home décor. In the early 2000’s I introduced our first clothing items and they proved popular locally. The brand really took on its own in 2007 and we shifted our focus to wholesale, with an emphases on independent retailers.

What is your company philosophy and goal for the company?

Original Cowgirl® is not your average apparel company, nowadays; anyone can have a t-shirt or garment made, but unlike most brands, each Original Cowgirl® shirt is hand prepped, loaded, printed, finished, and tagged, by us, right here in  Southern, California. Our design studio is in a 110 year old barn on the family ranch, that allows the creative process to be inspired by the surrounding ranches and farms. We draw from our heritage and strive to channel the history and passion that built the Ranch into each garment.

What types of clothing do you carry?

We are known for our graphic t-shirts and caps, but we also have a great line of accessories and jewelry.

What are some of your favorite pieces, and why?

That is hard because as the person to does the art each one tells a story and is based on a real person, place, or event. I think the road trip inspired graphics are some of my favorite since I am an avid traveler.

Do you plus size clothes run smaller or larger?

It will depend on the cut and style of course, but we try to keep everything true to size and on our retail site we have sizing charts. Some of our dolman cuts allow women to go up or down a size depend on the style they want. Our clearly listed size charts keep returns to a minimum.

What new items are you looking at carrying?

We come out with new prints and styles every month, so it’s always changing. But we expect to expand in to more outerwear and other garments down the road.

 

What stores carry your brand? 

We have retailers all around the country including Lil Bees BohemianCamo and Lace in Wilburton OK,  Maverick in Fort Worth Texas, and countless others around the country. Of course you can always shop at OriginalCowgirlClothingCo.com.

Plus Size Options? 

Are you a company that offers Plus Size clothing and boots for riders? 

Breeches from Fuller Fillies

I’ve had several requests to do a series on clothing and boots for plus size riders. If you carry riding and working attire in plus sizes, give me a shout! I’m looking to interview companies that carry english or western options as our readers come from all disciplines. 

Plus size jeans from Kimes Jeans


Each vendor that participates in the blog series will be featured in an individual post that talks about their company and the products they have to offer. The post will include a full interview, pictures of the items you have to offer, and two profile pics. The post will be shared on the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page, and Twitter page, as well as my author pages on social media. 

If you have clothers for actually working in the barn, that’s a bigger plus – no pun intended! 

Drop me an email at qheventer (at) yahoo dot com to get started. 

I Support Rodeo

This week’s post is actually a commentary I made on the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page last week…

After a comment about abuse on a rodeo meme pic, I feel like I need to make a statement.

I try not to post political crap on this page because that’s not what it’s about. This is a place for we as horse folks of all disciplines to come together and be encouraged and get a laugh every now and then, but I will take a stand on this.

I support rodeo and I will always support rodeo. I personally have only barrel raced at NBHA jackpots and a couple of futurities, but I’ve never ran rodeo. It’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid in the 70’s watching the Hesston commercials for the NFR, and one day I will rodeo, good Lord willing. I have lots of friends that rodeo, have been involved with rodeo ministry in years past, and the love of my life is an old bull rider. So my ties with rodeo come from the heart.

Some folks might assume I’m this way because they think I’m just a barrel racer or that’s all I do. They are sadly mistaken. Yes, I love to barrel race but that’s not all I do or all I am. I’ve shown hunter, trail, western pleasure, judged hunter/jumpers and gaited horses, sorted cows, and even trained saddleseat, western pleasure and halter Arabs for a few years in my twenties. I’ve taken a stretch of lessons for eventing, and even had an event prospect off the race track. I’ve gone to ranch clinics and roped calves for doctoring, and I’ve broke more colts than I can count, a few older horses to boot. So I’ve got a pretty well rounded perspective when it comes to horsemanship and what is and isn’t abuse.

I don’t support true abuse in any event or discipline – rodeo or otherwise. But when someone calls out rodeo and makes a blanket statement that it’s abusive but other disciplines get a pass, I have to stand up. There’s abuse that happens in ALL disciplines. Look at Rolkur in Dressage, or riding horses with broken legs in the Kings Cup Endurance Race, pushing horses past their ability in Eventing, or tying horses up for hours in Western Pleasure.

If putting a flank strap that’s as tight as a rear cinch would be on a ranch saddle or a packing set up, on a horse is considered abuse, then those horse riding/showing folks calling it abuse might want to be aware of the fact that there’s a whole other world out there that adamantly states even riding a horse is abuse because  horses had rather be out grazing and we’re making them carry us around. People say the mere act of trimming whiskers is abuse too, as well as using ANY type of bit. If that’s the definition of abuse, then a ton of us are abusing our horses!

As someone else pointed out in a comment on the post, the folks that call the mere act of riding abuse are out to ban all aspects of riding, and instead of bashing each other’s disciplines it’s important that we come together and support one another. 

Oh, and while I’m at it, they don’t break horses in rodeos and the bucking straps on bulls are not around their testicles. And as far as spurs, I’ve seen far more reining, western pleasure, and gaited horses with bloody sides than I ever have bucking horses.

In addition, if it weren’t for rodeo the bucking horses would be bound to a Mexico slaughter house because they like to buck and no one wants a horse they can’t stay on or that’s dangerous. I’d much rather a horse have two square meals a day, get vet care, and only have to work at most 16 SECONDS every weekend than to see them on a truck for 48 hours without food or water just to be cut up while they’re still alive at the end. Heck, my horses work a LOT harder than they do!

Maybe not all the stock contractors or competitors are perfect when it comes to dealing with bulls and horses (I say get some first hand ranching experience and dealing with irate stock without pens and then you can judge.) But then not every rider that rides a dressage pattern, jumps a cross country course, or rides a class down the rail is either. There are poor horsemanship and stockmanship examples in every facet of the horse world but they aren’t the example of what it’s about, and the exact same applies to rodeo.

Rodeo, the people involved, and all the things it stands for will always be near and dear to my heart. I love and appreciate all disciplines because in the end it’s about what a horse and a rider can do together.

Copyright F.J. Thomas

Tips For Making It Through Fall & Winter

Fall is here and the days are already getting shorter. If you’re like most folks struggling to get quality horse time in between family, working and life in general, you’re probably feeling the pressure of these short days –  especially if you compete or stay active with your horse throughout the fall and winter. While there may be less daylight to fit in actual riding, there are a few things you can do that will help to keep your horse tuned up, and keep you feeling less stressful.

While most folks think of ground work as something only for young horses, it’s actually a terrific tool for seasoned horses. Ground work not only helps keep a horse responsive, but it helps their body to stay freed up as well so that they bend and balance much easier. Things like lateral work, working on bending from the ground, and fine tuning foot work can maintain or help a horse’s ability to perform.

Horses learn through repetition instead of quantity of time. The great thing about ground work is that you can get a lot accomplished in even 5 minutes. If you incorporate ground work into your turn out routine, you can fit a ground work session in twice a day when turn your horse out, and when you bring your horse in.

In years past when I was breaking colts, I would do ground work every time I took them in or out, and sometimes even while they were eating. Not only did it make the breaking process go much quicker, but it also cut down on boring round pen sessions.

My general rule of thumb in incorporating ground work into turn out time is to ask for one to two moves each session. If they do a great job of what I ask on the first try, I quit right then and turn them out. If they struggle, I’ll aim for asking no more than 3 times and quit on their best effort. That way they don’t get over-schooled and get irritated.

You can use the actual turnout as a reward after ground work. More laid back horses will usually try a little harder and will get lighter in their efforts when working when they realize they get to go out. For a more nervous horse, you can delay the turnout so that they don’t anticipate. Those types of horses, I’ll wait until I feel them relax before I quit and let them loose.

Although the work is very short, just a few moments, because it’s consistent and on a routine, they catch on very quickly. It’s a good way to set them up for success.

While you may think that actual ride time is the only way to ultimately improve or maintain your riding, the right type of exercises can have a huge impact on how well you ride. Planks with weights and kettlebell exercises are some of my favorite exercises to help maintain core strength.

If you feel you’ve gotten in a rut with your exercise routine, try to find new positions or moves that reveal body weakness. Just like patterns reveal weaknesses in our horsemanship, changing a position or trying a new exercise can reveal weaknesses in our bodies. It doesn’t necessarily take a big change, sometimes just a change of angle will work completely new muscles in a different way.

A big part of riding comes from the mind. Shorter days and grayer skies can play havoc on our mindset. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real condition that affects many people throughout the fall and winter.

To help combat the winter blues and keep you motivated and focused, be sure to fuel your body with foods that help support your brain. Foods high in vitamin D can help improve mood. 

Also, pay attention to gut health as recent studies suggest that probiotics can have a significant impact on depression and anxiety. Eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables also helps to keep a healthy intestinal tract that encourages the growth of good bacteria.

 Finally, don’t be afraid to just take a break during the winter. Horses and riders both usually come back better and more dedicated after a break. 

There’s a lot of pressure out there to ride through the winter, that if you don’t ride you’re not a real horseman or cowgirl, or you’re not dedicated. That’s just not the case. 

Horsemanship is not about riding the most, it’s about doing what’s right for the horse and keeping your horse where they want to work. You have a limited amount of rides, make the most of them. Sometimes that means taking a break. 

Plus, if you are giving your horse a break that gives you an opportunity to focus in yourself a little more. Use the time to exercise and find inspiration. 

Do you feel pressure to get a lot done as the days get shorter? How do you deal with those feelings? What are ways you can start to feel less pressure when it comes to being a rider?