The Main Portuguese Horse Breeds at a Glance

The western-most Iberian country of mainland Europe, Portugal, is home to a handful of thoroughbreds that have become famous the world over. These are the Lusitano, Sorraia and Garrano Portuguese horse breeds. Each has a unique breeding history that essentially had their roots in the Iberian plains long before recorded history.

The Lusitano Breed

The most famous Portuguese horse is the Lusitano, named after Lusitania which the conquering Romans called Portugal in the first century BC. Modern Portuguese equestrian sports have been known to use the Lusitano horse exclusively for years. It is believed to have had its roots in a number of cross breeding between the local Berber pony and the Arabian horse that entered the country during the various waves of Carthaginian, Roman, Germanic and Arab Moorish conquests of the Iberian Peninsula.

But it was not until 1942 when veterinarians from the government’s National Stud officially christened the specific horse breed at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art as Lusitano, did the name finally entered the Portuguese Stud Book first published in 1889.

There have been other similar breeds found in Spain and in 1962, an agreement between Spanish and local breeders was reached on the specific traits that would distinguish the Portuguese Lusitano and Spain’s Espanhol breeds.

The Garrano Breed

With prehistoric roots, the Portuguese Garrano has it roots from the Iberian pony native to the northern mountainous regions of the country. Cave rock drawings in caves of Altamira and La Pasiega depict the ancestral Garrano origins used mainly as the main means for agriculture and transport needs of the early Portuguese.

Its subsequent breeding with foreign breed introduced over centuries of domination from various conquering peoples has produced other Portuguese horse breeds that now include the modern Garrano. Its straight head profile and short legs won’t give it equestrian qualities but they continue to be used in large rural farm communities.

The Sorraia Breed

In 1945, Dr Ruy D’Andrade discovered a unique horse that thrived in the valley where the Sorraia River flows through after getting merged from the Sor and Raia tributaries in the same northern regions of the country where the Garrano also roamed freely.

He aptly named it the Sorraia horse as one of the native Portuguese horse breeds of modern times. Like the Garrano, there have been rock engravings dating back to the Ice Age that reveal a prehistoric ancestral horse species resembling the character of the Sorraia horse. These are the least populous of the three breeds and are likewise used more for agricultural and transport needs of the rural communities.

For more information regarding Portuguese Horse Breeds, visit Portugal

Originally posted 2012-06-23 08:09:22.

Riding Lessons – How to Keep Your Instructor Happy

I thought it was a mistake as soon as she put her foot into the stirrup. Her non-stretch jeans stretched to a thin bare membrane over her bulging backside. The horse practically groaned as she hoisted herself up. I asked myself, “Why did I take her as a student?”

My impression was wrong. She was a great student. Three months later the same student fit and trim was cantering unaided and easily preparing her own horse for lessons. Why was she such a great student? She wanted to learn how to ride and she was teachable.

Whether you are a seasoned competitor or a recreational rider, consider the following to keep your instructor happy:

  • Be on Time

Remember that teaching riding lessons is a business. If your lesson starts at 10:00 then you should arrive at 9:30 – 9:45 to prepare your horse. Preparing your horse may be as simple as taking it from the previous student who was riding it, or it may include a trek into the back forty to retrieve, groom and tack up the beast.

If you are late for your lesson don’t expect the instructor to redo her/his schedule to fit yours!

If you think you may be late it is a great courtesy to call and let your teacher/trainer know you will be late or have to postpone you lesson. It is usual to have a 24 hour cancellation policy. This means if you cancel before 24 hours before the start of the lesson they will not charge you for your lesson. If however, you call after the 24 hour period they can and will still charge you.

Some may think this is a bit much but this avoids people abusing the system and prevents people scheduling lessons and not showing up for them.

  • Pay on Time

Most stables require that you pay for an eight week session in advance. This prevents students riding and then not paying. If your stable does not have this policy pay in advance anyway. This shows your teacher that you are serious about your riding.

  • Be Teachable

Wanting to learn, being teachable, is all about listening and following directions that are given by your instructor. It is not so much about head up, heels down, but also about how your apply yourself outside of the lessons that make a difference. It means trying, doing and not making excuses. I can’t because “fill in excuse here”.

  • Clean up After Yourself

Being courteous is always good. This means if you use the cross ties, then sweep up the mess you created. Or if your horse poops in the aisle way scoop it up and dispose of it. I know that putting manure in the wheel barrow is not enough for me. I go the extra few steps and then dump the wheelie. This does take a few more minutes but it goes a long way to keep things clean and to create great relationships with the stable manager.

After you have completed your lesson always wipe down your tack and equipment. This is a courtesy for the next rider and helps with the condition of the tack. Also at this time you can see the condition of the leather and see if any repairs need to be done.

If you keep these things in mind and help your instructor, s/he will be happier and more interested in helping you.

Being a coach, Judge and freelance riding instructor Laura May knows first hand what keeps her happy. Laura’s stable Thistle Ridge Stable is co-host of the popular Rising Star Series of Horse Show Clinics in Ottawa, Ontario. She likes it when people are on time and pay on time!

Laura specializes in the development and training of young horses with emphasis on the development of equestrians through systematic training techniques. School horses are available at Thistle Ridge Stables for your lessons and Laura provides freelance instruction/coaching at your stable.

Also available for judging and clinics.

Visit me at or contact me at (just remove the spaces).

Originally posted 2012-06-23 08:08:20.

Tips For Finding the Right Riding Instructor

Are you ready to begin your riding adventure? Or do you want to get back in the saddle after a long break? Here are some questions and tips on finding a skilled riding instructor that will meet your needs.

The first question you need to ask your self is what style of riding have done before? Or which style would you like to learn? Some examples are: hunter, jumper, dressage, trail, western pleasure, or reining to name a few. If you are not sure what is the difference then check with your local library or go online and do a search. This is the first step in determining what type of instructor you are looking for.

Questions to ask yourself:

What style of riding do I wish to learn?

What are my riding goals?

Do I want to be more comfortable on a horse and ride recreationally?

Do I want to participate in horse shows?

How much time do I have for riding?

Are there specific fears that I need to work with?

No matter what your riding goals are you should ride at least once per week. That way you have a chance to practice what you learned during the lesson, and it also allows you to progress quicker.

Most lessons last about an hour, however grooming and tacking/ untacking add another hour to your “lesson” time, and this is an extremely important part of your lesson. You need to learn how to groom and tack/ untack your horse, because this is necessary if you ever wish to own or share board a horse.

What is my budget for lessons, etc.?

Private lessons range from $40-90/hr.

Semi-private lessons and group lessons range from $20-50/hr.

Remember you will also be investing in the proper attire, which includes jeans or breeches, boots, and most importantly a safety helmet. This part of your riding investment should not cost that much. For example many of us already have a pair of jeans that will work for riding. A pair of inexpensive but serviceable breeches should be about $40-$50 a pair. The average boots to start riding with should be around $50 and a helmet can be $25-65. It all depends on how fancy or high end you want your items to be.

I recommend that you start with a reputable and professional instructor to teach you the basics of riding a horse. They should be certified if possible. Having an instructor with certification means they have passed tests and classes on riding instruction. An instructor must also carry Equine Liability Insurance.

Now you should compile a list of instructors/ trainers from the phone book, internet, recommendations, and instructors/ trainers listed at feed stores. The instructors/ trainers that are recommended by friends should be higher on your list. Word of mouth recommendations are a good way to find an instructor/ trainer. The person that recommended a trainer will have experience with that particular trainer and is familiar with their style of teaching, and how they interact with horses and clients.

Questions to ask potential instructors/ trainers.

Do you work with beginners?
Do you work with timid riders?
How long have you been teaching?
How many years have you been involved with horses?
Do you teach children? Adults? Can we ride together?
What are your prices?
Do you offer private, semi-private, or group lessons?
Can I watch you teach a lesson?
Can you give me some references – other students, resume etc.?
What are your safety policies (if any)?

Are you insured?

What are your certifications, if any?

Do you go to shows, and are you willing to take students?

Do you have any special requirements?

These are just a suggested list of questions to ask potential trainers/ instructors.

If you have narrowed down your search to a couple of potential trainers/ instructors schedule a time to meet with them face to face. I also recommend that you watch at least one of their lessons.

Some things to look for when visiting potential barns:

Do the horses appear healthy?

Is the barn neat (i.e. no pitch forks or shovels in the aisles)?

Does the instructor pay attention to the student?

Do they have a helmet policy? (This should always be a mandatory policy with EVERY rider)

Are the instructor’s requests during the lesson reasonable?

Are the instructor’s requests easy to understand, if not does the instructor explain them when students have a question?

Do the students look comfortable, and appear to be enjoying the lesson?

I hope that these suggestions assist you in your search for an instructor. If you follow these guidelines, then it will be much easier to find an instructor that meets your needs.

By Sara McKiness of Horse Logic.

Editor’s Note: Based in St. Charles, Sara McKiness is a Certified Horse Trainer who helps riders improve their communication with horses without punishment. She graduated valedictorian from Meredith Manor International Equestrian Center (MMIEC) where she majored in teaching and training, and minored in Farrier Science.

Classical Dressage, Western, and Hunt Seat Lessons. Come ride exceptional & experienced lesson horses. Based in Sugar Grove IL with travel to your facility available. Learn better communication with your horse and build your relationship. Fully insured with over 19 years riding experience. Contact Sara for more information 630-631-2746.

©Horse Logic 2008-2010

Sara McKiness
Horse Logic
Saint Charles, IL

Originally posted 2012-06-19 08:08:53.

Training Your Horse – How to Use Trot Rails

Is your routine getting stale? You can jazz it up by using trot rails. The rails themselves do not have to be fancy painted rails but they should be correctly placed to get the maximum training value.

Think safety first – Square rails are safer as they do not move if the horse happens to hit them. The lowest level of a caveletti is another good option. Round rails are the norm but they do move when they get hit. If possible find some squared rails or use caveletti.

Distances between poles – Placing random poles is a good way to vary your routine. Place poles at various locations around your riding area and practice trotting and cantering over the middle of each pole. If you want to place poles in a row they should be placed at a certain distances.

For the: Walk – place poles at 3 feet apart. Trot – place poles at 4 to 4 1/2 feet apart. Canter – place poles at 9 feet apart.

These distances are average and depend on the size of the horse, experience of the rider and exercise you want to accomplish. For example, ponies would have shorter strides and therefore would have shorter distances. Larger horses would have longer strides and therefore would require longer distances between the poles.

***HINT – When I ride I use 9 feet between poles so that I can walk, trot and canter without having to move the poles during my ride!

*** HINT – You can tell if the poles are placed properly when the horse goes through the poles he steps in the middle of the poles.

Exercises using poles
1. Setting poles on a circle. This is a great exercise. On a 20 m circle (large diameter circle) put a pole at the twelve, three, six, and 9 o’clock positions. While riding your circle aim and meet the middle of each pole.

*** HINT – Use your outside leg to prevent the horse from drifting out on the circle. This exercise can be made more difficult by making the circle smaller.

2. Fan three to five rails out like the spokes on a wheel. From center to center of each pole should measure 4 1/2 feet if the poles are to be used at the trot. When setting up make sure that your poles always point to the same center point. These can be spokes on a 20 m circle, 15 or 10 m circle. Making the diameter smaller makes the exercise more difficult.

*** HINT – Use your outside leg and rein to prevent the horse from drifting out on the circle.

3. Set 2 poles 60 ft. apart. This is a great exercise to count the number of strides between the poles. Then you can adjust the number of strides by lengthening or shortening the strides. Haphazardly placing poles in a row can spell disaster for some horses, so take some time and place poles carefully and practice your lines and circles. You will accomplish more in a shorter period of time and reach your goals faster.

Laura May is the owner of Thistle Ridge Stables in Ottawa, On. Canada which is host to the Rising Star Series of Horse Shows. She specializes in the development and training of young horses. Emphasis on the development of equestrians through systematic training techniques More information can be found by contacting me at thistleridge @ (just remove the spaces). Also visit for more horsey related topics!

Originally posted 2012-06-18 08:06:59.

Stable Tips and Tricks – Cleaning Your Tack and Equipment

Cleaning your tack and equipment comes with the territory of riding. If you ride, western or English or drive, you should clean your tack and equipment. Sometimes it seems like a chore but in the long run, it’s worth it.

Tip 1

  • After removing the bridle dip the bit in the horses water bucket. I learned this from a friend who rode several horses a day and cleaned tack for every horse every ride. This prevented any build up on the bit to dry before she had a chance to rinse it off
  • I like this idea because before you even get to the tack room the bit is already clean! Make sure, however, to use the horses water bucket. Do not dip it in another horses bucket in case of contamination.

Tip 2

  • Before removing your saddle, wipe the saddle off while it is still on the horse! I saw this done several years ago by a seasoned rider who hated being in the tack room. She had her sponge and cleaner in the aisle way with her and cleaned and wiped off her tack before she removed it off the horse! How clever is that?
  • Using spray on saddle soap made things easy as well. The tack is at a convenient level. There is plenty of room and you get your horse used to the spray bottle sound!

Tip 3

  • Brush off polo wraps, boots, bandages before you remove them from your horse’s legs. After doing this for so many years it is just a habit for me now. I started doing this after one particular ride my white polo wraps were covered in dirt. I really didn’t want to have to wash them again so I brushed the dirt off while they were on my horse’s legs. I used them again and again. It increased the amount of use between washings.

Equipment can be an expensive part of your horse budget. You should clean your tack because:

  • It lasts longer. – Taking care of your equipment, leather in particular, provides it with much needed moisture and protection. Feeding your leather with the proper products will ensure that it lasts in good condition for a long time. Unclean and ill maintained tack will crack, split and be unuseable.
  • It looks better – It is a great site to see clean and gleaming tack ‘put up’ in the tack room. You feel good about it and it enhances the look of your horse.
  • It feels better – The leather itself will feel soft and pliable. The buckles are effortless to do up and the leather is easy to manage.
  • You learn to know your tack. – When you are cleaning and checking your tack it is the perfect opportunity to ensure if any repairs are needed. This means checking for poor stitching, split or worn out leather. Think of it as an opportunity to review your equipment.

Riding and cleaning tack go hand in hand. After a lifetime of riding I should know. I remember going to my High school Graduation and the photographer told me to hide my hands (they were dirty from tack cleaning and I had a show the next day) Stay tuned for more Stable Tips and Tack Cleaning information.

I own and operate local stable, teach lessons and am a Senior Juddge. If you would like more information contact me at Also visit for more horsey related topics!

Originally posted 2012-06-17 08:06:28.

Find All of The Things on Your Horse Blanket Wish List Right Here

WeatherBeeta blankets may well be one of the most important investments you can make in your horse’s attractiveness and good health.

When thinking about what horse blanket/rug features are most important to you, why not write them down in list format. You are likely to find that WeatherBeeta horse blankets and rugs have the majority of, if not all of, the features you want.

Let’s look at some of the top reasons for the brand’s popularity as we go down the list of WeatherBeeta’s blanket features.

Remember that, in addition to other great features, WeatherBeeta turnout/paddock rugs/blankets are waterproof, breathable and are made with taped seams, Ripstop and ‘Repel Shell.’

So what does each of these features mean to your horse?

1. Waterproof

WeatherBeeta rugs/blankets have an outer fabric that is 100% waterproof in order to ensure long-term durability. This helps to keep your horse dry and, therefore, healthy.

2. Breathable

‘Breathability’ allows sweat and moisture to pass through the blanket to the outside air, where it can evaporate, which in turn helps to keep your horse cool.

In addition, WeatherBeeta Rugs/Blankets are made up of a hydrophilic, (water-loving) coating on the inside of the fabric. This draws excess moisture to it. Temperature differences between the air inside and outside the blanket then force moisture outwards, helping to keep your horse dry.

3. Ripstop

Weatherbeeta’s fabrics ‘contain’ rips or tears. This is done through the modification of the warp and weft of the fabrics. The unique checkerboard look of their fabrics comes from the fact that the fabrics feature hundreds of small squares. In the event of a rip, these small squares contain the rip and stop it from spreading down the length of the fabric.

4. Taped Seams

WeatherBeeta blankets are manufactured with fully-taped seams, adding an important physical barrier to the seam and helping to keep moisture out.

Weatherbeeta notes that, occasionally, in extreme weather conditions, the sewn in areas of the Rug/Blanket (such as the tail flap and surcincles), which cannot be seam taped, may allow a small amount of water to enter through the stitch holes.

Taped seams help to keep your horse dry, which, once again, equates to better health.

5. Detach-a-Neck

This special feature allows you to attach the neck for colder days and take it off on milder days, allowing your horse to be more comfortable.

6. Repel Shell

According to Weatherbeeta, “A number of our WeatherBeeta Rugs/Blankets feature Repel Shell.

This coating helps repel dirt and water while maintaining optimum breathable and waterproof qualities of the fabric.”

It’s easy to see that Weatherbeeta manufactures a broad and versatile line of horse clothing. You will find that their horse blankets come in just about every variety, size, color and style that you – or your horse – could want.

Most importantly, they are an economical means of protecting your horse from the elements, insects and so much more!

Carol D. writes reviews on many products, ranging from horse blankets and riding boots to clogs and backyard sheds. You can check out her latest website at Weatherbeeta Horse Blankets, where she provides information on horse clothing, including horse blankets, horse rugs and horse sheets. You will find reviews and buying information for other unique Weatherbeeta products for your horse at Weatherbeeta.

Originally posted 2012-06-15 08:04:05.