Protein Percentage for Your Horse


The dietary requirements of protein for horses change as they mature or a demand is placed on their bodies. Protein percentages are easily found on feed bags but there is no labeling on hay bales. Again hay must be analyzed in order to determine its protein percentage. It is far safer for the horse to be fed a slightly higher percentage of protein that too little. Horses fed slightly too much protein in their diet can eliminate it as waste. Horses should be allowed enough water so the kidneys can pass the waste. Horses fed very high protein diets for long periods of time will cause reduced performance. A deficiency of protein can cause slow growth and development in young horses. Mature horses needing protein will have a poor coat, loss of muscle mass and poor hooves.

Protein Percentage of Total Diet

There are two items to remember about protein percentages when related to feed and forage. When feed is manufactured its protein percentage is determined by testing. Hay and grass must also be analyzed to determine its protein percentage. So a feed/forage that is determined to be 10% protein means that 10% of that feed/forage is protein. This where some horse owners may have confusion, that 10% protein of feed is not the same as 10% of the horse’s total diet. If a horse for example is eating forage with 8% protein (75% of the daily diet) and is eating concentrated feed with 14% protein (25% of the daily diet) you have a total average of 9.5% protein consumption. This is an important reason why you should know the protein content of your pasture grass or hay so you may supplement the horse’s diet with the proper amount of protein required.

Recommended Daily Protein Percentages


Suckling……………18.0% Pregnant……………..11.5%

Weanling……………16.0% Nursing (First 3 months).15.0%

Yearling……………14.0% Nursing (4 to 6 months)..13.0%

18 Month Old………..12.0% Stallion (Breeding)……10.0%

2 Year Old………….10.0%

Performance or Working

Light (2 Year Old)…..10.5% Light (3 Years & Up)……9.5%

Moderate (2 Year Old)..11.5% Moderate (3 Years & Up)..10.5%

Intense (2 Year Old)…12.5% Intense (3 Years & Up)…11.5%

Physical Fitness Exercises for Horseback Rider

I think that many times the rider overlooks how important it is to get and stay in good riding shape.

A lot of focus of horse people is getting their horse into good condition. I also think that many people don’t understand that riding properly requires constant physical activity by the rider. When you ride a horse you are not simply a passenger you are trying to become one with the horse. The only way you can do that effectively is for the rider be in good physical condition. Yes that usually requires hitting the gym.

A lot of the time people go to the gym so that they can look or feel better. Training for a specific purpose requires you to breakdown certain physical tasks and then isolate them so that you can strengthen them. That is all training really is, exercises to increase your skill level. Let’s say you are training your horse for dressage. You practice certain tasks with your horse that you need to improve and you also work on tasks to stay proficient. You are no different. The only difference is that in a gym work out your horse is substituted for either a piece of equipment or an exercise.

One common piece of equipment that very popular is a big air filled ball. These air filled are big enough for you sit on them. These balls can help you increase your balance and help you riding posture. You can also do simple movement and stretching exercise that replicate body language while riding your horse. The ball allows you to get feedback and develop muscle fiber memory when you ride your real horse.

Weight training in also helpful. You don’t need to be a body builder but rather you are going for endurance. Small weight amount with high repetitions will help you become stronger for repetitive riding tasks that are done over long periods of time. Examine what you do repetitively while riding and find exercise that compliment that task. Talk with trainers at the gym or even people that go to the gym a lot. Discover exercises that help strengthen your weaknesses.

Don’t overlook the classic exercises. Crunches, push-ups, stretches, jogging, jumping jacks, jump rope and just being in overall good fitness.

Remember if you expect your horse to be in good shape shouldn’t your horse expect you to be in good shape also? Starting a physical fitness program for you will also help you better understand how to better condition your horse. Stay happy and stay healthy.

Horse Trailer Hitch & Tires

Trailer Classifications

Trailers commonly used to haul horses fall into one of four classes based on Maximum Gross Trailer Weight (MGTW). MGTW is equal to the load weight, trailer weight and tongue load.

Class 1: MTGW Not exceeding 2,000 lbs

Class 2: MTGW Over 2,000 lbs but not exceeding 3,500 lbs

Class 3: MTGW Over 3,500 lbs but not exceeding 5,000 lbs

Class 4: MTGW Over 5,000 lbs but not exceeding 10,000 lbs

Trailer Ball Classifications

This may sound very common sense but make sure that the place the trailer ball is attached on the towing vehicle can safely carry the trailer’s weight.

Consult a professional towing expert about the capacity of your vehicle before towing. Automobile manufacturer factory specifications could possibly be misleading.

Class 1: 1 7/8” diameter

Class 2: 2” diameter

Class 3: 2” diameter

Class 4: 2 5/16” diameter

Trailer Tongue Recommendation by Trailer Weight Classifications

Class 1: Weight Carrying Hitch or Weight Distribution Hitch
Max Static Tongue Load: 200 lbs to 300 lbs

Class 2: Weight Carrying Hitch or Weight Distribution Hitch
Max Static Tongue Load: 300 lbs to 500 lbs

Class 3: Weight Distribution Hitch
Max Static Tongue Load: 15% MGTW

Class 4: Weight Distribution Hitch
Max Static Tongue Load: 15% MGTW

Trailer Safety Chains Classifications

Class 1: 2,000 lbs min load & 3/16” steel link diameter

Class 2: 3,500 lbs min load & 1/4” steel link diameter

Class 3: 5,000 lbs min load & 5/16” steel link diameter

Class 4: 10,000 lbs min load & 3/8” to 7/16” steel link diameter

Trailer and Towing Vehicle Tire Selection
Ply Rating or Load Range is the first item for selection of a tire for a towing vehicle or trailer. The tires must be able to carry the load you desire to pull. Ply Rating term is slowly being replaced by the term Load Range. Ply Rating refers to the to the plies in the tire such as 4 ply or 6 ply. The higher the ply the higher the load capacity. Load Range is a similar term to Ply Rating but load range is more specifically based on pounds per square inch (psi).

Tread Wear Rating

The tread wear grade is a comparative rating based on the wear rate of the tire when tested under controlled conditions on a specified government test course. For example, a tire graded 150 would wear one and a half (1 1/2) times better on the government course as a tire graded 100. The relative performance of tires depends upon the actual conditions of their use, however, and may depart significantly from the norm due to variations in driving habits, service practices and differences in road characteristics and climate.

Traction Rating

The Traction Rating is expressed in letters in descending order, “AA”(highest), “A”, “B”, or “C”(lowest) based on wet skid tests on government-specified concrete and asphalt surfaces. The comparative grade letters represent the tire’s ability to stop the vehicle on wet pavement. Corning traction is not tested.

Temperature Rating

The Temperature Rating is expressed in letters in descending order, “A”, “B”, and “C”, based on indoor, extended high-speed wheel test. The comparative grade letters represent the tire’s resistance to deterioration from the effects of heat combined with high speed.

Tire Rotation

This is important to ensure even wear and may allow longer/safer tire life. You should rotate and balance your tires about every 5,000 miles. This is not an exact milestone if you have uneven tire wear you may want to rotate earlier. Rotating and balancing tires is often part of a purchase package when you buy tires. Many times the rotation and balance is free for the life of the tires. The periodic professional tire inspection may also help identify early problems that can be corrected before they cause an accident.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is also an important item that should never be overlooked. Tire pressure will change when the seasons change or if there are large differences between day temperatures and night temperatures.

Proper tire pressure reduces gas consumption, allows safer vehicle performance and the tires last longer.

The tire pressure will be listed on the tire wall. I like to check tire pressure before towing a vehicle and checking the tires at each gasoline filling.

Road Flares

Reflective Triangles

Tire Pump

Cell Phone

Spot Light

Tow Rope (Heavy Duty)

Jumper Cables

Chalk Blocks

Extra Lead Rope & Halter

Hydraulic Jack

Tape (Duct or Electrical)


Entrenching Tool (Small Folding Shovel)

Horse/Human First Aid Kit

Small Broom & Shovel

First Aid Container

Horse Trailer Extraction Tools

Hammer (Light sledge)

Hacksaw with blades

Pry bar

Pliers/Channel locks/Locking Pliers

Vehicle Road Kit

Hoof Handling & Standing

Q&A: How do I get my horse to stand better or quietly for the horseshoer?

When the dust settles at the end of the day, the task of training your horse rests on your shoulders. It’s not really the horseshoer’s job to train your horse, but many times that’s what happens. I also know that most horse owners have an expectation that it’s the horseshoer’s problem if the horse acts bad. In my humble view it is ultimately the horse owner’s responsibility to train their horse.

I can tell you from experience that every horseshoer knows which clients have good horses and which ones have bad horses. The good farrier will drop a bad horse faster than a green horn picking up a hot horseshoe right off the forge. It is pretty common for bad horses to be continually be shod by young shoers just starting out. Seasoned shoers move on to the good horses and leave the bad ones behind. If your shoer is not returning your calls, he has probably decided your horse is too much trouble. A horseshoer gets paid by the horse, not by the hour.

The faster he or she gets done the more money they make. A horseshoer also doesn’t need or want to get hurt. Horseshoers doesn’t get paid if they can’t work.

Also consider that the better your horse stands, the better your horse will be shod. Shoeing a horse properly is difficult under the best of circumstances.

If a horse is jumping around and jerking its leg that only adds a huge measure of difficulty. Bad acting horses are going to be shod well enough for the horse to get a shoe on.

What can the horse owner do to get the horse to stand better is very simple. If you haven’t established yourself as the leader you need to learn to and do that first. You can’t make excuses for the horse, you have to make results. Horses won’t want to give up control of their feet for two reasons. They think you are not worthy. You haven’t established yourself a the leader. The other reason is that they are afraid. A horse’s main defense is flight. Flight involves moving their feet. If they give up control of their foot then they give up control of their life. That is why horses sometimes kick people who grab at the their leg.

Hitting a horse for not standing properly is counter productive. If your horseshoer hits your horse with his rasp or belly kicks the horse you need to stop the shoeing. Pay him for what he has finished and tell him to take you off his schedule. A horseshoer that treats a horse in that manor has no horsemanship skills. He is not helping your horse be a better horse.

Before you hire the next farrier ask him how he handles punishment for an unruly horse. You should both agree before hand. Just like two parents, you have to be unified.

First you need to determine if your horse is afraid or dominating. Usually younger horse are afraid and older horses are usually dominant. Horses that are afraid of your handling or touching sensitive areas need to be desensitized. Horses that are dominant need to be socialized to accept you as being the leader. Backing up a horse is my usual punishment for a dominant horse. You should keep your feet in one spot as much as possible, while backing the horse by putting pressure on the halter via the lead rope.

You may need someone local to help you with your horse. It’s a good idea to be mentored by a knowledgeable horseperson if you are having any problems. I try to help my clients with their horse as much as possible. I want each time I handle a horse to be an experience in which the horse gets better each time. I don’t everuse leg restraints or twitches.

I just use common every day horse sense. I also haven’t been kicked by a horse in years. In those years I have never had I horse that I couldn’t trim or shoe because of his behavior.

You should also practice picking up and holding your horses feet on a daily basis. Picking out feet and handling them each day makes handling the feet a common occurrence. If the horseshoer is the only one handling his feet then your horse is getting very little time training to have his feet handled.

ALL horsemen and horsewomen should be able to handle their horse’s feet. No foot, no horse.

Fundamental Horsemanship is TLC = Trust, Leadership & Communicatio

Hoof Care Team

It has been said many times by many horse-owning generations “No hoof no horse”. The hooves are truly the foundation of a horse.

A horse in the wild naturally wears its hooves down by being constantly on the move, often averaging as much as 20 miles a day. Horses in captivity are normally limited to the amount of movement by the constraints of small pastures or stalls. Because of these modern constraints the horse must rely on the owners to ensure proper hoof care. Modern hoof care may be a simple trim of a healthy horse or a complex shoeing that will increase performance or correct serious hoof and leg problems.

The horse must rely on three different people to provide proper hoof care.

Horse Owner

The horse owner is the individual responsible to be educated to a level that he or she will make an informed decision about the selection of a qualified farrier and veterinarian. The horse owner must also be able to identify general hoof problems. They must also learn possible impacts to the hoof that may be caused by environment, feed, forage, reproduction and medical conditions/treatments.

The horse owner is also responsible to ensure that the horse is well mannered for the veterinarian and farrier. The better mannered the horse is the better the shoeing or treatment will be. The horse owner must be available to hold the horse, provide a horse handler or make suitable arrangements for the farrier or veterinarian.


The farrier should help educate and inform the owner of any problems or methods to properly care for the hooves and legs. The farrier should also have proper training to complete the required shoeing procedure properly. If a procedure is very complex, your normal farrier may need assistance from a veterinarian or a farrier that specializes in that procedure.


Veterinarians vary greatly and a few may only specialize in horses. Locations that have high densities of horses will have veterinarians that specialize in specific parts of the horse, such as the back or hooves or teeth. Most veterinarians however are general practitioners.

The average pleasure horse may never have a serious hoof condition that requires intense veterinary treatment. Most farriers should be able to treat a vast majority of hoof related problems without the consultation of a veterinarian. If your horse should encounter a serious problem, does not get better with treatment or you have questions that the farrier is unable to answer, then the veterinarian should be called. The veterinarian should be the team leader when treating your horse and may prescribe a shoeing/hoof care treatment plan.

Farrier Selection

There are no legal requirements that a farrier must be certified to practice horseshoeing. Certification, attending horseshoeing school or apprenticing at this point in time is voluntary. This allows for a wide spectrum of farrier competency. In order to provide a standardization of knowledge and qualification systems farrier associations were formed. These associations set their own standards for certain qualifications. Farrier qualifications usually require both written and practical tests.

Farrier associations also provide educational sources in the form of magazines, websites and yearly conventions. The goals of the associations are to educate farriers and horse owners. Farrier associations are also excellent places to find a farrier working near you. They normally have listings of all farriers affiliated with that association and the qualifications they posses.

There are a few national farrier associations in the United States. The more prominent are the American Farriers Association and the Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association. Most states have state farrier associations and they are affiliated with a national association.

Preparation for Farrier Visit

During the initial phone call to the farrier you should discuss several items so that he/she is prepared and allots proper time.

Do you require the horse to be trimmed or shod?
Age, breed, what type of use is the horse involved with, pleasure, jumping, roping, breeding or other uses.

Current hoof or leg problems.

History of past hoof or leg problems.
Good directions where your horse is located.
Farriers charge fees based on geographic location, level of experience and skill, demand and complexity of work to be done. The average farrier works from a mobile shop and can travel many miles in a day. Unless you have many horses to be worked on by the farrier he is either coming from another client or he is going to one. That means he has allotted a certain block of time for your horse(s) so he can keep his appointment with the next client.

This really means you need to have your horse ready to go when he arrives and the horse should be trained to stand respectfully.

You and the farrier should agree before any work is done on how to discipline the horse being handled. At no time should the horse be beaten, for minor infractions or major misbehavior. A horse that has aggressive behavior such as kicking or biting may need a professional trainer to stop that behavior. If the horse is a danger please stop any work until the problem can be solved, no person or horse should be hurt when it can avoided. I suggest that the horse owner/handler give the training cues and not the farrier.

The horse should be handled professionally and systematically. Ensure you and the farrier have a plan that makes the outcome of each trimming/shoeing experience a positive one for the horse. The better the experience the better the horse will get. The better the horse stands the better the shoeing or trimming, The better the shoeing or the trimming the better your horse will feel. The better your horse feels, the better you feel. The better you feel, the better the horseshoer feels.

Fundamentals of Horsemanship

All horses must be given good leadership to have a positive successful relation with you. The way in which you apply your leadership towards your horse is called training. Horses are probably the most intelligent of the domesticated animals. A horse has a photographic memory that runs non-stop 24 hours a 7 days a week. They form habits based on what you allow. You set the limits both in negative behavior and excelling to their maximum potential.

There is only one way to train a horse properly, despite what anyone says. Natural fundamental horsemanship uses the horse’s natural and fundamental characteristics and horse sense to communicate what you desire. Natural fundamental horsemanship is founded on developing a relationship through firmness, fairness and communication. Coercion training has limited success and usually results in riding a horse that is a ticking time bomb.

Communications with your horse is a two way street. You must be able to see what your horse is saying to you. Horses are eloquent masters of body language. Horses use very little vocal expression. Your horse must be able to understand what to are “saying”. Horses use subtle body language movements to “tell” you what he is trying to “say”. A horse’s body language is the truthful indication of the horse’s desires, feelings or attitudes.

Natural Fundamental Horsemanship: Natural Fundamental Horsemanship is nothing new, it has been around for more than two thousands years. Xenophon, a Greek general and horseman, wrote the first book on the subject in 360 B.C., in his detailed account, The Art of Horsemanship. Fundamental Horsemanship had a very important role during his command.

Horses allowed for the projection of military power. Hundreds of years later, the Spanish brought the skills of natural fundamental horsemanship with them to America, and specifically to California. The fundamental horsemanship skills the Spanish possessed where considered somewhat “secret”. The skills of natural horsemanship were passed down from father to son.

The most “recent” of the masters in natural horsemanship include Tom and Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Ronnie Willis. Most if not all of the current clinicians and practitioners of natural horsemanship were influenced by them.

Today’s natural fundamental horsemanship teaching are widely available. Every type of teaching method is covered in this wide spectrum. I think it all boils down to two things when picking a horsemanship “mentor”. Do you like that person, and do you get his or her teaching style/methods.

One added side note is think long term. What levels is this mentor able to bring you to? Will you out grow his or her teachings?

Learning should be fun and exciting for you. Don’t get frustrated early. Horsemanship is as complicated as learning another language and culture. And in fact you are learning a complex language, culture and an entirely new psychology. You are learning to talk to the horse, listen to the horse and figure out ways to teach your horse thru fundamental partnership. Clear and simple, natural fundamental horsemanship is all about the horse. How to think, act and talk so that your horse respects, trusts and understands you. It can take years before natural horsemanship becomes second nature to you. There is an interesting concept on the learning and mastering the phases of natural horsemanship:

Phase 1 (Mechanical) Unconsciously Incompetent

Phase 2 (Habitual) Consciously Incompetent

Phase 3 (Natural) Consciously Competent

Phase 4 (Horseman) Unconsciously Competent

For me personally, Pat Parelli was my first introduction to natural horsemanship. It looked easy on the video tapes, which is the most obvious sign of a master. I figured I would have my horse whispering in my ear within a few minutes.

Well.hundreds of hours later of practice and rewatching the tapes, I was starting to understand and become competent. Not a master by any means, but competent enough that I could almost do the skills so that my horse was proud to think of me as her leader. I became very patient with my horse because I knew that this stuff worked like magic.

Sometimes I just had to rub the magic lamp longer, but I got the results I desired.

Here is a great lesson in the patience you need as a natural horseman or horsewoman. John Lyons has a technique he uses to teach the audiences about the importance of patience and release of pressure in training a horse. He asks the crowd a generic question like “Everyone that loves America stand up. When everyone stands up he says. “Okay thanks, please be seated.” Then he asks a few more questions, each time asking them to stand, and then he tells them when to sit down. He asks one more asking them to stand, but never tells them to sit.

About ten minutes go by. Then John Lyons says, “Look around yourself. Some people have sat down, some are still standing. There is no common distinction of age, sex, color or any other thing. If I would have let enough time elapse you would have all sat down. That is the same with a horse, eventually all horses will “sit down.” This is a major part of natural horsemanship. You must hang in there until the horse “sits down”. You also have to recognize that moment and “reward” it.

The “reward” a horse is looking for is release of pressure. That’s the simple description of how a horse learns, they learn on release of pressure from you. Timing and feel and the two ingredients to that will make a better natural horseperson. The better your timing and feel, the better you can communicate through your release of pressure to the horse.

Knowledge is the power used to defeat frustration. The more knowledgeable you become, the less frustration and impatience you will have.
Because the nuances of natural fundamental horsemanship can be overwhelming, you may want to watch or observe several different clinicians or trainers. I think that Chris Cox is probably the best at teaching. He is very “no nonsense” and he is a master of breaking down the basics. I think he is a great place to start your journey into natural horsemanship. On the flip side, Parelli Natural

Horsemanship program is huge in its following. Pat and Linda Parelli have saturated the horse world from every angle. They have devoted their name, money and time to establishing an organization that is far and away larger than anything else like it in the horse world. They have a wonderful program that will fit any discipline and level of expertise.
Carrot and Stick: Natural Fundamental

Horsemanship is not hugs, kisses or cowboy wild bronc busting. It is using as little effort as possible, to get the very most out of your horse. It’s the building of a close partnership, not a dictatorship. But leaders need to lead well, in order to have a good horse. The carrot and the stick best represent this yin and yang mentality. If you are perceived as too soft the horse won’t respect you, yet if you are too severe the horse won’t trust you completely.

Mentor: Depending on your skill level, it may be wise to find a mentor. A person has to ask questions and get feed back. That mentor doesn’t need to live in your hip pocket, but rather a person to help in the journey.

Constant Education (Horse & Rider): You or your horse can never be too educated. Fundamental Horsemanship is a lifelong endeavor of education. They say the more you use your mind, the less effect aging has on us. That’s a great reason to spend time and money learning about fundamental horsemanship and horsecaremanship.

Fundamental Horsemanship Leadership Secrets

Fundamental Horsemanship Leadership Secrets is a horse training book designed to help the horse owner have a better understanding of the horse.

This book is written with the intention to help the rider or handler develop the mindset that will help develop a great horse. It is also written in a unique approach that most horsemanship books address.

The common horse training book mostly addresses the horse; this book is written to help the human so that the horse can be helped to become better.

The beginning of the book gives a loose historic timeline of notable horse trainers. This gives the reader the chance to appreciate the contributions of people who ultimately influence the natural horsemanship culture today.

The 132 page book is written in short digestible chapters in order to underscore a specific topic that will help the reader to learn good leadership skills. The theme of the book is simple, good horsemanship requires good leadership skills. To some people leadership may be a four-lettered word. Buck, kick, rear and bite are also four-lettered words that can cause serious injuries. Most people want to get the most out of their horse with as little effort as possible. This is accomplished by developing a good relationship through good leadership. The theory behind using good leadership skills to accomplish horsemanship goals is that a horse naturally seeks and gravitates to good leadership. Good leadership skills by the rider or handler can help your horse’s behavioral problems disappear. Introducing good leadership techniques to your horse can help rejuvenate a stagnant or soured relationship.

Fundamental Horsemanship Leadership Secrets consists of 14 chapters in addition to an introduction and an addendum. The 14 chapter titles are listed:

Introduction: Become Part of the Herd and Then Become the Leader

Chapter 1: Historic Horsemen & Horsewomen

Chapter 2: Horse Sense is Not Really Common Sense Until You Know Better

Chapter 3: Your First Ride is Your First Chance to Make a Lasting Impression

Chapter 4: Pure Blood or Pure Wild?

Chapter 5: Become the Leader Your Horse Wants YOU to Be

Chapter 6: Your Horse is Your Mirror. Do You Really Like What You See?

Chapter 7: Speaking Softly & Carrying a Big Stick

Chapter 8: Mistakes are Just Great Opportunities to Define Success

Chapter 9: Dull or Sensitive? Gentle or Spirited?
Chapter 10: Dust Yourself Off & Get Right Back on Your Horse!

Chapter 11: Rein Management vs. Leadership: Challenge Your Inner Leader

Chapter 12: Lead Change: Changing Leadership Positions For Good

Chapter 13: Riding Bridleless: It’s a Bit of Irony How

Little You Need a Bit

Chapter 14: T.L.C. = Trust, Leadership & Communication

Addendum: Quotes of Horse Sense
The book is centered around the T.L.C. concept developed by the author. T.L.C. is the acronym for Trust – Leadership – Communication. If those three values are in equal proportion with a horse then the relationship between horse and human is healthy and in balance.

The chapters are designed to build on each so that the reader can understand how develop a relationship so strong that ultimate riding goal can be accomplished, riding bridleless. While some riders may not want to learn to ride bridleless this book can help those riders too. The real truth of the rider’s leadership and relationship can only truly be tested by riding bridleless.