Rider to Rider: Biggest Horse-Care Mistake

Practical Horseman readers confess the horse-care faux pas that taught them valuable lessons.

My biggest mistake was listening to others about how I should be treating my horse, and how to continue his training. I look back and think, “What was I thinking for listening to them?” To this day, still see mistakes in their methods. I’m glad I woke up one day and started listening to my horse.
Karissa Wozniak, via Facebook


Not reading the labels your horse’s grooming products. Whether dilute in water before application or use gloves. Read the label and directions; it might save you hours of working up a lather ? with conditioner. It takes longer to wash it all off then it did to lather.
Brooke Anderson, Texas

The biggest mistake I ever made was getting so caught up in moving up the levels and training that I forgot why I did it anyways. I lost that feeling you get when you accomplish something and the moment you cross the finish line after a clean cross-country and you feel as if you are walking in the clouds. Don’t ever lose that relationship with your horse where you are simply inspired by riding them and the partnership you have built. Because at the end of it all, whether you win or lose, you have a best friend for life who will try their heart out for you. ENJOY THE MOMENT!
Bobby Ann Christensen, via Facebook

Trusting someone else to feed my horses.
Elizabeth Brix, via Facebook

An acquaintance fed her horse’s hay on sand = sand colic.
Sally Weaver Lampson, via Facebook

Leaving my horses in someone else’s care and they ended up starving him… needless to say I care for my horses now and they never miss a meal.
Cayln Elliott, via Facebook

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.
Natasha DeFeudis, via Facebook

Not having enough patience. It is easy to get frustrated on a bad day with your horse, but anger and violence never work with horses and never will. Its important to learn how to step back when you start to get angry and re-evaluate the situation and try to find a positive way to get your point across.
Maria Strong-Zupan, via Facebook

Never let anyone ride your horse! No matter how experienced they say they are!
Cheryle Klein, via Facebook

Not trusting my gut as to what was right for my horse. I am his voice, and I must speak up for him.
Trish Muskus, Florida

Having a “trainer” tell me how to ride/ fix problems on my horse when she was too afraid and inexperienced to ride her own horse. Once I saw her in action at her barn, I began to realize she had no idea what she was doing.
Dee Kellner, via Facebook

From a trainer’s point of view, I have learned to take boarders that trust in me that I have their horses and their own best interest at heart, listen to what my team (vet, farrier) says and take a consultation lesson with me before they make the move. Not everyone “meshes” and it’s a big decision.
Tulip Pond Farm, via Facebook

My biggest mistake was using a General Large Animal Veterinary Practice. Although the primary veterinarian was a well-respected horseman, his partner was not. A dog ran into the arena and started chasing my colt. He broke free and jumped out of the arena and slammed into the barn wall! He took a couple of seconds to get up. My least favorite vet that showed up. At the time I thought we did proper treatment. We did take x-rays, but he did not recommend splinting. Later he called and told me that the x-rays where okay. I did ask him to get his partner to look at them, but I didn’t hear anything. By Saturday night I was greatly concerned and I called in an Equine Specialist. Repeat digital X-rays did show a fracture! With his age, there was a decent chance with surgery. But this colt had heavy halter breeding, so his weight at that time was a concern (over 650 pounds). After a stiff splint was applied we drove him the 2 hours to the recommended University, but too much damage had been done and they we not able to approximate the fracture. Hard lesson learned, I should have immediately called the Equine Specialist when the Cow Vet showed up! To this day I only use Equine Vets and refuse to allow any vet I don’t trust on my property.
Jan Makens, via Facebook

My biggest mistake was not knowing the signs of Cushing’s disease. Neither the vet nor farrier caught the signs of foot trouble and thyroid issues (although they were separate from the Cushings). He went probably more than a year untreated. If I had known the symptoms, I would have gotten him tested. His last four years were very expensive, but I learned so much about him and diseases and ailments that I wouldn’t have given it up. He ended up passing (via euthanasia) last March because his arthritis had gotten too painful after three months of quarantine due to Strangles… But that’s another lesson.
Gina Hoeft, via Facebook

Pay the veterinarian. Other opinions are just that.
Kevin Cottrell, via Facebook

My biggest mistake in horse care when I was starting out was not finding a great coach to show me the way. If you work with the wrong people and don’t ask questions, you do yourself and all your horses a big disservice. Safety is overlooked, nutrition can be overlooked and bad habits are developed. My advice is to find a great coach or mentor who is certified or highly qualified to show you the ropes, so you don’t miss out on the right experiences.
Claire Ziff, Alberta

Read more answers to this question in the June 2013 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

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