Category Archives: General

First Impressions When Selling A Horse

What’s that old saying? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”?

Guess what?  It applies to horses as well!

When you’re showing your horse to a potential buyer, be sure to properly introduce them.  You don’t want to just throw the stall or paddock door open and say to the buyer “have at ‘er”!  Either go in with them or bring the horse out to meet them.  This way, it gives the buyer the opportunity to see how you interact with the horse and, more importantly, how the horse responds to you.

Take the time to talk to the potential purchaser about your horse.  Let them pet the horse’s face a bit and see you work with the horse.  If you haven’t already, this would be the time to discuss any of your horse’s idiosyncrasies.  For example, when showing my horse to a potential leaser, I always tell them that he’s finicky about his hind feet.  When you pick them up to clean them he sometimes swings his leg back and forth.  I have no idea why he does it and in the 13 years I’ve had him he’s never stopped!  It’s just one of those things I guess.

You may have to inform buyers of your horse’s less than savoury characteristics, but that’s not to say you can’t present them in a positive light!  Also, being upfront like this helps to build trust and establish a relationship.  One of the things I’ve learned from the business courses I’ve taken is that people typically buy from people they like.   With that in mind, don’t forget the other saying “first impressions last a lifetime”!

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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in General


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Selling your horse? Are you sure?

So you’ve decided to sell your horse. 

Are you sure?

Maybe you just want to put out some feelers and see what kind of response you get.

Don’t.  This may work for a well connected instructor or trainer (or other industry professional) but isn’t the best way to go for amateur owners.

Buying and selling horses is a risky business.  Buyers take a huge chance when buying the horse.  They’re betting that the horse hasn’t been drugged in some way to make it perform or act differently than what it normally would.  They’re betting that the person they’re buying from has disclosed all relevant information, including medical history (for example, whether the horse is prone to colic).  They’re betting their new horse will behave in the same way at its new home as it did at its old.  Let’s be honest, horses are sensitive creatures and even the slightest change can throw them off.  It’s a gamble.

Put yourself in the buyers place.  If you’re going to look at a horse and the owner appears to be at all hesitant or unsure, how are you going to interpret that?  You’re likely going to assume the seller isn’t telling you everything and you’re going to move on to the next horse.  Because as much as the purchaser is buying the horse, their connection with (and trust in) the seller does play a part in the process.  Keep in mind that in these tough economic times there are a lot of horses for sale – this is very much a buyer’s market.  Why would a purchaser take a risk with a hesitant owner when they have several other options?

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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in General


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Turn Out For Sale Day

I am probably the last person who should be talking about dressing well to make a good first impression.  No joke, I am the queen of the workout look.  That’s not to say I work out a lot (or at all), but I like the clothes!   That being said, first impressions do make a difference!  While it’s not imperative you show up in your show clothes, your horse should certainly look their best to meet any prospective purchasers.

For your horse, this can mean detangling, brushing, trimming and possibly pulling their mane and tail.  When I say “pulling” I don’t mean you have to pull their mane and tail – you can cheat and trim with scissors or a razor comb – just make sure it still looks good!  The goal here is to show off your horse in the best possible light.  Your horse should also have a nice, neat bridle path.

Some people insist on a trimmed muzzle which, personally, I am against.  Horses use those whiskers as feelers; they serve a purpose.  If you’re torn on this I would suggest going with what your buyer would expect.  For example, if you’re selling a young horse as a competitive hunter jumper prospect, the buyer will probably expect to see a clean shaven nose.  But, if you’re selling an 18 year old draft cross as a trail mount for a retiree, they’re most likely fine with a bit of fuzz.  The same goes for clipping a horse.  Neither are major issues though, as in, if your horse is suitable for the potential purchaser a few extra hairs are not going to waylay the sale.

The next items of concern are mud and dirt.  It doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, I know my horse is going to be dirty every time I go down to the barn!  If your horse is like that you may want to get a little proactive and arrive early to clean your horse up.  You may even want to consider giving them a bath a day or two before their big debut!  A horse with a shiny, healthy looking coat is going to catch the eye of a buyer over a dull coat 99% of the time.

Last, but certainly not least: the feet.  If your horse is due for a visit from the farrier, do not schedule an appointment for the day after a showing, schedule it for a few days before hand.   This goes with the theme of putting your best foot forward – although in this case I mean it more literally!  You don’t want to present a horse with long toes, it shows poor horsemanship and may cause your horse to trip or misstep more than he or she normally would.  Another reason to schedule a few days before is that if anything is nicked your horse has some time to heal.

All of these things contribute to a healthy looking horse and shows that you care for him or her.  This may not seem like such an important factor strictly in terms of selling, but it can subconsciously affect a purchaser’s opinion towards you and your horse.  Given the choice between two similarly trained and bred horses, which would you pick?  The well cared for one or the one with burrs in its tail?

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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in General


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Laurie Higgins & Core Connexxions

Lately we’ve been receiving some great articles from Laurie Higgins over at Core Connexxions and figured it was time we all got to know her a little better!  So we asked her a few questions (some more serious than others!), see below for her answers 🙂

How did you get started with all of this? (the various services offered at Core Connexxion)

  1. CranioSacral Therapy – I started out learning about massage and went to a massage school in southern California.  I wanted to massage horses but quickly found out that my body is not physically suited to massaging horses and wouldn’t hold up over time.  I found that I had some difficulty doing deep work on humans.  One of the methodologies I tried in massage school was CranioSacral Therapy and thought that I could do that.  CST is often described as “energywork with a physical base.”  It’s very light touch balancing the body through using the rhythms of the cerebrospinal fluid.
  2. Energywork – I also took classes from one of my classmates in pure energywork.  I had already been trained in and attuned to Reiki, a Japanese form of energywork and Ariel’s work furthered my study of energywork separate from Reiki.  Ariel Hubbard founded the California Academy of the Healing Arts in Costa Mesa, CA.
  3. Animal communication – From this background I wanted to learn more about animal communication.  I’ve had animals all my life and thought it would be great to be able to communicate with them.
  4. Pilates – I had danced for several years while growing up.  But since I had danced on the west coast (I grew up in Seattle), I had not run across Pilates until many, many years later while I was in massage school.  Pilates was huge on the east coast with the professional dance companies.  Once I tried Pilates on a reformer apparatus, I was hooked.  When I moved to Pennsylvania, I had a chance to take reformer classes for the exercise and then decided to become trained in it.  I trained with STOTT PILATES ® and was certified in mat Pilates in 2004.  A couple of years later, I found out about EQUESTRIAN PILATES ® and decided to become certified in that.  What a joy!  Combine all my loves into one thing – dance + riding+ Pilates!  However, classical ballet and riding don’t really mix and I gave up dancing years ago to concentrate on riding.

Are you a rider yourself?

I am a rider myself.  I’ve been riding since I was 12 years old.  I started out riding hunt seat, but soon switched over to dressage.  It appealed to my dance background, even though teachers of both disciplines were always wanting me to quit the other!  Classical ballet and riding use different muscles in opposing ways, so it’s counterproductive to try to do both.  My first horse was a western pleasure trail horse and I got her when I was 17.  We had blast doing all those things that teen-aged girls do with their horses – ride hell for leather across country and long, slow trail rides.  Then life intervened and I didn’t have a horse for about ten years.  I bought an older mare well trained in dressage and tried to learn on my own since I didn’t have enough money for lessons.  Along the way I got married, had kids, and moved across the country five times.  I was without horses again for awhile and then a friend gave me one just before we moved east this last time.  Unfortunately he crippled himself.  I’d been taking lessons with local trainers and one found me the horse I have now – Atticus.  He is a 7 y.o. Anglo-Hanoverian gelding about 16 hh.  My trainer put a year in on him and I rode him during this training time, too.  Then I brought him home three years ago.

How do you conduct your sessions? in person only or can you do pilates instruction via skype?

Pilates for Riders – Up ‘til now, I’ve only done my sessions in person.  But I have played with looking at still photos of riders while riding and done quite well – if the photo is clear, with good light, and the right view of the rider.  Ideally, I would need at least three and preferably four photos:  one from directly ahead, one from each side, and one from directly behind.  I need to see both legs in the front and rear views.  I haven’t tried Skype with this yet, but I suppose if the other person has a video camera, I could do it – either unmounted or mounted.  The mounted part, however, would probably be best done by video recording, but that would allow real-time corrections.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

What’s my favorite part?  I love teaching and sharing what I know with people so that they and their horses will be happier knowing that they don’t have to fight each other to have a nice, successful ride.  Not all riding instructors look at body posture in as much detail as I do so they’re missing important pieces of what will improve the ride.  But even if they do see the problems, they don’t always know how to correct it in a lasting way.

Who would win an arm wrestle? Big foot or Sylvester Stallone and why?

Big Foot, of course!  I’m from the Pacific Northwest!  No way would Sly Stallone win!  😀

Who is your favorite Muppet

Muppet – From the show, Ernie, I think.  But overall – Yoda!  😀  Yoda is my kinda guy!

If you could meet one famous person (horsey or not), who would it be and why?

Famous person – If you’re talking about sitting down and having a conversation, I would pick the Dalai Lama.  And I was so close, too.  My in-laws used to travel to Nepal frequently and they ran a trekking company that specialized in trips to Nepal.  They had many friends there.  One trip that they arranged was with someone who was writing about the displayed Tibetans and taking lots of photos.  They were able to meet with the Dalai Lama and they were even photographed with the Dalai Lama.  They both passed away this last year.  Why?  Because I think he’s an amazing man – great sense of humor, deep spirituality, complete humility, true understanding of human nature.  I think it would be an amazingly enlightening conversation.


Do you have a question for Laurie that we didn’t ask/answer here?  Send it to us and we can add it to this post!

Want to check out Laurie’s site and her services? Click here for her website!

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in General


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Tips for Stretching the Pecs

Stretching the pecs:

  • Stand in a doorway with your arms straight out to the side, touching the doorjamb.  Lean through the doorway and stretch the pecs.
  • Stand facing a wall, bringing one arm up nearly to shoulder height, straight or bent at the elbow.  Turn away from that arm and toward the center of the room.  Repeat on other side.
  • Clasp your hands together, stretch up tall and, with straight arms, raise your wrists as high as you can.  Overarch the upper spine and lift the breastbone.  Let go of your hands and let your arms drop, keeping the shoulder blades squeezed together.  Let your shoulders relax down and slightly forward, but keep the shoulder blades squeezed together.  Tuck the pelvis.
  • Lie on the floor face up on a rolled-up towel along your spine.  Let your shoulders relax toward the floor or have a friend gently add some pressure to help your shoulders go to the floor.

From Laurie Higgins of Core Connexxions

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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in General


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Uniquely Phrased Riding Tip

I was snooping around the internet the other day and came across the below post from Snarky Rider.  And while some people might object to some of the language, you have to admit the moral of the story is a good one!  Personally, I think it’s a great way to remember to keep your chest open and shoulders back while riding!  Without further adieu, I give you today’s guest blog post from Snarky Rider!

We found this photo on the forums.  It was posted a number of years ago and asked for critique from the general public.  The horse was apparently used for Huntseat and Western Pleasure.

This photo immediately reminded me of an old riding instructor and her unique instructions to me one lesson.  The first time I heard them I laughed so hard I almost fell off.  Before I tell you what those words were, let me first set the stage:

I was about 16 years old and my instructor at the time was a middle aged, petite, English woman.  The word that comes to mind when I think of her is “non-threatening”.  Her mannerisms were always very proper, very polite, very… English.  She never swore.  And 95% of the time she was sitting on her portable chair, coaching me in tones not unlike those of Mary Poppins.

One lesson, and I don’t even remember what we were working on, but I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes up or shoulders back.  My instructor must have been getting frustrated with me because all of a sudden she yells “TITS UP! POINT THOSE TITS TO THE SKY!”

I was shocked!  Flabbergasted!  Speechless!  Taken aback and floored, all at once!  All riding ceased, and my horse came to a confused halt as I attempted to collect my jaw from the floor.  Then the laughter started.  I couldn’t stop!  At one point I was lying on my horse’s neck.  Thankfully he didn’t do anything naughty because at that moment there was nothing I could do but laugh.  And then the lesson continued and wonder of wonders – my tits stayed up!  Best.  Instructor.  Ever.

Well kiddies, story time is over but the lesson is still relevant.  The rider in this photo needs to point her tits to the sky!  Her horse looks very cute and relaxed, but right now he’s moving heavily on the forehand and not tracking up behind at all.  Raising her chest will get her eyes up, her shoulders back and shift her weight back, which in turn will help her push her horse forward and lift it off its forehand.  It may just be the photo angle, but it looks like the horse is built downhill.  If that’s the case, it’s especially critical that she adjust her upper body, as a bum-high horse is going to be naturally inclined to move in this manner.

Once she has rocked her body back and started pushing him forward, she should take up more of a contact with her horse’s mouth.  It also wouldn’t hurt to get some more bend in those elbows.  A different instructor once told me that the rider’s shoulders belong to the rider, but the elbows belong to the horse and are meant to be elastic.  Without bend in the elbows, that elasticity is not possible.  These two small things (lifting chest and bending elbows) should make a world of difference in how her horse moves.

Oh, and she needs to stretch her legs down and put some weight in her heels.

That’s all!

(TITS UP!!!!!)

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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in General


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Tips for Sitting Up Straight in the Saddle

Sitting up straight in the saddle requires that you sit up straight all the time.  Try these tips:

  • Stretch up tall all the way from your pelvis to the top of your head, as if someone’s pulling on a string attached to the top of your head.
  • Lift the breastbone up and out, allowing the shoulders to drop, the head to come back, and the chin to come down, so that your ears are in line with your shoulders.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together, overarching the upper spine. Tuck the pelvis, especially if you have too much curvature in the low spine.
  • While driving, grab the steering wheel at positions 7 and 4 on the clock face with your palms up.  Bend your elbows and pull your ribcage up and forward to meet your elbows, allowing your upper arm to hang straight down with your elbows bent.

From Laurie Higgins of Core Connexxions

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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in General


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