From the category archives:

Equestrian Updates

The Proper Hunt

by Staff on June 3, 2014

Virginia Fox HuntingThe equestrian world is an interesting and varied place.  Similar to other locales, Central Virginia horse riders can choose to participate in trail rides, shows, breeding and boarding horses,  jumping horses, dressage, and combination eventing as well.

But in Virginia, one prized tradition is The Hunt.   Yes, it involves horses, riders, and prized hounds … all looking for the fox.  If you’re unfamiliar with this aspect of equestrian events and if this sounds like a helter-skelter scene, be assured that it is definitely not random.  The Hunt comes with its own set of rules, proprieties and etiquette that have been formed over centuries in the genteel estates of folks fortunate enough to reside in hunt country.

The ultimate authority for all hunt decisions is the Hunt Master who leads the hunt, and his/her instructions are to be obeyed without question.  A hunt may include more than one Master if the Field Master invites masters or ex-masters from other hunts to join in.  The next-ranking participants are Gentlemen and Ladies with Colors.   The right to wear the hunt’s “Colors” is a designation awarded by the Master to a hunt participant who demonstrates extraordinary skill or service,  making someone with Colors such as a scarlet coat easily recognizable as an honored participant.  When the hunt actually begins, riders go forward in the order of their rank.

Hair nets are required under the caps for both men and women who have long hair.  If your horse could kick, you’ll braid a red ribbon in its tail to let others know.  If you are allowed to invite a guest, you’ll politely ride at the back of the pack with your guests.  All details and appearances matter:  the cut of your coat, the fabric and color of your pants and equipment, the fold of your tie, the stitching in your boots.  Riding out with the look of proper traditional style is essential to a formal Hunt.  If your horse refuses a jump, you’ll politely drop to the back and allow other riders to proceed.

One other point.  The sport of fox hunting comes with its own vocabulary that has evolved over the years.  You’ll want to know such terms as tattersall, jodhpur, melton, and ratcatcher.    And you would call them hounds, they’re never dogs.  Heads up if the hunt Master tells you ‘Ware wire”… it means (be)ware of the wire!

In case you’re wondering, the foxes can survive once they go in a hole.    Around Charlottesville there are a couple of Hunt locations.  East of town is the Keswick Hunt and on the western side of town is the Farmington Hunt which has its spring hunt on May 31.  And if you’re motivated to find more details of hunts in Virginia, check out the link.


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Horse Stable Construction and Design

by Staff on January 22, 2014

Design Tips for Horse StablesA horse has been described as a large animal seeking unique ways to injure himself.  Good stable design can minimize a horse’s options for injury.

A primary concern is safety.  A good stable must protect horses as well as people. Level slip-resistant floors benefit horses and humans.  Protect the feed or grain in moisture-proof containers that will also discourage rodents.  Light fixtures, switches and wires need to be encased to protect from a curious horse’s nibbles.  Of course any chemicals, medicines, paints, or other toxic items need to be secured so that horses can’t ingest them.

There are many ways that fire can be a safety hazard around stables and barns, and good design can minimize fire danger.  Each stable should have an exit at each end.  According to THIS fire safety guideline, ideal number of exits can range from 2 exits for 1-12 horses, to 5-6 exits for 35-50 horses.  A solid partition between stalls can slow the spread of a fire and possibly slow the spread of harmful gasses if materials like treated lumber have been used in construction.

Proper ventilation is critical to good building design and that can involve details like the site location, the pitch of the roof, dutch door designs, and ceiling ventilation.   This article is one of the best we’ve seen for overall advice about good stable construction.

The use of dutch doors on the exterior side of each stall has many advantages.  In case of emergencies, horses can be removed quickly without the need for moving inside the building.  If the top of a dutch door is opened, it allows beneficial sunlight and fresh air to the stall.  Other considerations may include details like automatic insect sprays to control flies, bite guards on any wooden corners, and sliding doors (rather than swinging doors) that are less likely to be blocked in case a hasty exit is required.

Not long ago we sold a lovely small horse farm where no detail had been spared to accommodate the design of the stable and barn buildings to the needs of the animals and trainers.    The property had several “Morton” buildings, and although we don’t advocate any particular builder or designer, a company such as Morton buildings is able to customize your own needs and goals for the best stable design.  If you’re raising very large breeds of horses you might want to enlarge a typical 12′ x 12′ stall size.  Details of whether you need accessory areas or tack room, automatic waterers etc … and the floorplan location that will best serve your own needs … can be negotiated with a full-service customized building company.

And maybe this can make your horses need to look harder for ways to hurt themselves!


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Equestrian World and Grand National Championships

by Staff October 1, 2013

The IFSHA Friesian World and Grand National 2013 Championships are being held in Lexington VA, beginning today,  Oct 1.     Competitors and horse-lovers from around the world will be seeking recognition in divisions such as Hunter, Dressage, Western, Saddle Seat, and Sport. You can learn more about the 5-year-old stallion in the photo by clicking HERE.


Learn To Rescue Your Horse

by Staff October 10, 2012

Anyone who owns horses can tell you that there are plenty of ways even the brightest horses can need help.  We’re not talking about the routine veterinarian care or maintenance that a horse requires.  We’re talking about stuck-in-the-mud, head-through-fence, trailer-accident kind of emergency that requires you to know safe rescue procedures and first aid that [...]


What Price For Speed?

by Staff July 9, 2012

It’s hard for us to not venture an opinion about what is apparently a trend in the horse racing business.  We hope we’re wrong or simply mis-informed.  According to THIS ARTICLE,  horse racing in the United States is dealing with an increase in horses testing positive for a dermorphin - either natural or synthetic – that can be found as [...]


All About Horses

by Staff July 5, 2012

Every now and then we find a place that gives really great advice about particular topics.  Today that site is one that’s all about horses.   By clicking on the link you can go straight to advice and conversation about horse issues such as worming, hoof splits, nutrition, breeding, and lots more.   There are even articles about international showing [...]