Improving on my horsemanship skills

By Baxter Black: QCS columnist

I consider myself as progressive as any horseman when it comes to considering techniques and devices for improving my horse’s welfare or my horsemanship. Horse magazines are packed with testimonial and advertisements for all manner of horse improvement, supplies, seminars and secrets.

As I read the copy including bold print like “comfort, safety and style,” “the world’s largest,” “the only school of its kind,” “hands on experience,” “Action-packed, fun, beautiful, profitable,” “tested and proven,” or “the best ever made!…” I am reminded that humans have been riding horses for millennia and everything we take for granted today was once the brainstorm of some Mongolian or jolly old English knight’s trainer.

“I don’t know Cedric….When I heft my lance, it pulls me over and I fall off.”

“Funny, Sir Lancelot, I was just reading in the Camelot Horseman about a new piece of gear invented by a team roper in western Wales called a steer up, I’ll check into it.”

You would think after centuries of marketing geniuses trying to sell a horseman one more thing that we would have run out of ideas. I must have 25 different versions of hoof picks laying around: homemade, artistic, crude, sharp, shiny, worthless, fancy, functional and farrier approved.

I recently ordered a cow paralyzer. That’s not the trade name, but I’m going to avoid using trade names since there may be more than one company selling these devices. I am anxious to try it on horses. They didn’t guarantee it for horses but I can imagine many circumstances when “a twitch is not enough.”

I’ve bought stirrup swivels, knot eliminators, metal hondas, automatic gate openers, sweat less saddle pads, fly masks, cribbing devices, fence climbers, freeze brands, magic minerals and special secret supplements. My latest, “a unique hoof support system for the farrier, horse owner and veterinarian,” is a lightweight fiberglass unit with an interchangeable foot cradle and straight post. It has magnets to hold rasps, nippers, clinchers, and the like.

Actually, I like it. It replaces three “hoof support systems” I’m using now made of disc blades, 2-inch pipe, tire tread, and cotter keys, each weighing more than a good sized mastiff.

At a fair in Kanab I bought a patented stirrup extender for my neighbor Jack. He’s got a little age and is not of tall stature so mounting involves parking his horse next to a cut bank, water trough or hay bale. We installed the stirrup extender on his saddle which lowers the left stirrup a full three inches “with a push of a button.”

Three days later I asked Jack how his new stirrup extender was working. “Great,” he said. “But that’s once complication, I can get my foot in the stirrup OK but when I try and swing my leg over the saddle, I fork too soon.”