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The Problem-Free Horse

The Owner's Guide to Safe, Sensible Horse Management, by Claire Lilley, 292pp, hardcover. JA Allen. RRP £19.99. ISBN-13: 9780851319193.

September 5, 2007

At last, an owner manual for horses! This is an excellent book with tips, techniques and practical advice for handling a horse - and hopefully ending up with a problem-free model.

Each of the sections outlines the correct way or ways, and then looks at specific problems and how to tackle them. For example, how to lead in hand. Problems that may crop up include a stubborn beast who refuses to budge - or the opposite, with a horse who runs off or barges at you.

Great for not only novice horse owners, but also for those wishing to cement their skills when working with horses. Already got bad habits? This will help you work through some solutions.

There is a section on training the horse to tie up - what the safest equipment is to use, knots, where to tie up, and the dreaded pulling back.

There's a veterinary care section which explains the behaviour of a horse who isn't sick, and one who is, and when to call the vet. There's also how-to information on things that an owner can do before the vet comes, for example taking the pulse and temperature, and interim care for wounds and other injuries. Preventing common ailments is also covered.

A very in depth-section on clipping (and how to perform this task on a reluctant horse) is given, and as well as detailed information on clipping each area of the horse, outlines what equipment you will need.

No user manual would be complete without tackling transportation, and there are plenty of horses who have issues with getting on a horse float or trailer. The book explains how to load and travel a horse for the first time, and includes teaching the horse a lot of the skills that will enable him to take the act of getting into a small box in his stride. The author recommends exercises including leading between poles and jumps, walking and lunging over different surfaces including plastic and ply, and teaching the horse to reverse over such objects.

Care of the horse "at grass" is also covered; including general paddock equipment and maintenance and horse husbandry, horse behaviour in a herd, and catching.

The final three sections are also very in-depth: lunging, double-lunging, driving or long-reining and loose schooling including free jumping. Correct procedures to follow are outlined, and methods to coax the uncooperative trainee into their work are explained. If you've never before tackled lunging over jumps or free jumping, it might just give you the confidence to try it.



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