Handy Horsemanship – By Bella Harvey

Handy Horsemanship - By Bella Harvey

Handy Horsemanship – By Bella Harvey

Last Tuesday, a group of pony club riders braved the wet and windy weather to head out to Eurostables in Maungakaramea. These riders made the trip to hear some of Northland’s most experienced horsemen and women talk about what they specialise in. Jannette Klijn, the owner of Eurostables and Whangarei Pony Club’s head coach, very kindly organised this event to teach young riders some of the foundations of caring for your horse, all the while having their certificate cards signed off. 

Some of the professionals involved were Ria Gunson from Dunstan Horsefeeds, Warwick Berhns, Matt Breed and Sylvie Webbey from Northland Saddle Services. All of these brilliant horsemen and women gave up their time to help Whangarei’s young riders learn a bit more about caring for their equine friends. 

Ria Gunson gave an interactive talk about feeding your horse. She walked us through each of the feeds and supplements Dunstan provides, including what ingredients were in each feed and which kind of horse it would be best to. Next, she separated us into groups and gave us a scenario, which we would then decide on a feed best suited for the horse and the requirements of this horse. After this she very kindly gave each rider a sample of Dunstan horse feed to take home and feed to their own ponies. I personally found this very informative, and have taken home some new ideas to feed my own horses in a more tailored manner.

Warwick Behrns is a very experienced equine dentist who came along to demonstrate how a horse would have its teeth filed. Although the demonstration horses weren’t too keen, he showed us how to age a horse by looking at its teeth, and we all had a go on our own of aging a few different horses. Warwick also gave us the opportunity to put our hands inside the horse’s mouth while the clamps were fitted, and we got a rare chance to feel the horse’s molars.

Matt Breed is a talented farrier who came to teach us about shoeing, farriery and the structure of a horse’s foot. I was amazed with how much he knew about corrective shoeing and how particular he was with the shape and angle of each foot. He walked us through each of his essential tools and what he used them for. Matt also showed us lots of shoes I had never seen before, as well as telling us what sort of horse he would use the shoe on. He then ran over the parts of a foot and the signs of good shoeing and bad shoeing using a demonstration horse. 

Sylvie Webbey works for Northland Saddlery Services, where she helps riders fit saddles to their horses. She showed us all how to test our saddles tree and measure how large a weight bearing surface our horses have. I had never known a lot of what she told us, and so I found this particularly interesting. She then showed us roughly how to check if our saddle fits, but it was a bit more complex than we had time for. 

All of these horsemen and women were very kind and friendly, and they knew a lot about their jobs. They were all open for questioning and always had a good, understandable answer ready for us. As well as getting heaps of new horsemanship concepts marked off our cards, I think we all took home some new, valuable knowledge to aid us in better caring for our equine companions.

Photos courtesy of Amanda Ball

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