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Maybe you saw the movie or read the book. These are extraordinary people for certain, but a fellow Zumateer (Katya) aptly said to me, “We are all horse whisperers.” I have observed Katya as she ground works horses and wished I had the “gift.” She has kindly given me pointers and a short round penning lesson. My interest was piqued, so when Diego came to Zuma’s with ground lessons, I eagerly joined his class. Everything about my relationship with horses has changed.
Grooming and preparing my horse to ride was always a means to an end. All I wanted was to get on and ride. To be sure, I love the smell and feel of the barn and horses, but riding was the ultimate goal. So much has changed since I have been introduced to ground training by Katya and Diego. Connection and trust with these wonderful, powerful animals is amazing; and, we all can experience this from the ground.
As riders we learn our horse’s language, and we can detect the slightest change in demeanor from atop his/her back or by observing body cues from the ground. Great. Even better is the experience of teaching and working with the same horse on the ground. Feeling the relationship with your horse change from detached boss/employee to trusted leader/partner is incomparable.
Now when I ride, my horse is more confident in me, as I am in her. Ground lessons have brought about this change. Seeing this same confidence in an inexperienced horseperson or child, who is timid and afraid with horses or in life, makes the statement even stronger. That which we learn on the ground with our horse transfers to our riding experience and to life relationships and behaviors.
We all can whisper to our horses. Diego can teach you, too, whether you are a rider or not. Make the connection and learn about relationships through a horse.
Contributed by Sally Loan ~ Horse Whisperer in Training
◆ 2011 Grants Awarded to Zuma’s Rescue Ranch
◆ ASPCA Grant 4/2011 $600.00 Grant to travel to the Animal Care Expo in Orlando Florida
This grant funded a portion of an educational journey into the world of Animal Rescue and Care
◆ Animal Assistance Foundation 5/2011 $2,500.00 Grant funding our work with the Animal/ Human Therapies
This grant will fund programs costs for our Equine Assisted Learning Programs
◆ Phillip S. Miller Award 5/2011 $10,000.00 Grant Funding our Equine Assisted Learning Program
This Grant takes Zuma’s into 2012 with funding for our Children and Families Experiential Learning Programs
◆ Penny Harvest Grant 5/2011 $200.00 from Sagewood Middle School Students to sponsor a child in our program
This grant will sponsor 1/2 of a troubled child’s summer camp
Only $25.00 for Wine, Cheese, Presentation and Meet the Artist Event!
Support the Mission at this exciting fund raiser!
Wow is Zuma’s growing…. this weekend as crazy as it was is becoming more common place for our Rescue Ranch.
Zuma’s was in attendance at Radio Disney’s “All Kids Expo” at the Denver Convention Center Saturday and Sunday
Saturday Jodi and Paul manned the booth and Sunday DU interns Erin, Michelle, Dana and Program Director Gina Manned the booth
18,000 projected visitors for this event, Great Exposure for Zuma’s
Zuma’s was host to Anna Twinney’s Holistic Horse Day Event Sunday March 6th where 25 eager minds were in attendance to learn from the master of the language of Equines. Great event and wonderful opportunity for Zuma’s to host good horse folks
Zuma’s Held the First Sunday Volunteer Training combined with Grooming Training to a packed house of 32 new volunteers eager to learn how to become part of Zuma’s team, AKA “Zumateer” Blessed are we to have so much interest in our mission to help kids and horses.
Great Way to Start 2011
Way to kick of the new year with our first of what I hope to be many Grant Awards! The generous and supportive team at The Kenneth King Foundation have now supported Zuma’s Mission two years in a row! Please take a look at the great work this organization is supporting!
How Much Weight Can My Horse Carry?
We often hear this question in reference to all manner of weight: the rider, the horse saddlebags, hornbags, pack loads, etc. There is no simple answer. Just like humans, some animals will be able to comfortably carry more weight than others and each animal needs to be evaluated individually.
Factors to consider
For every ride you plan, you should take the following into account when determining each animal’s load size, whether it’s your trail horse, your pack horse, your saddle mule or your pack mule:
- Size and weight of animal
- Condition and health of the animal
- Conditioning and fitness of the animal
- Conformation of the animal
- Attitude of the animal
- Age of animal
- Size, fit and weight of the trail saddle or pack saddle
- Ability of the trail saddle or pack saddle to distribute weight across the animal’s back
- Weight of the rider or pack load
- Ability of the rider
- Design of the packs or horse saddlebags
- Distance of the ride
- Type of terrain
- Temperature and weather conditions
Many of these are self explanatory, but I do want to touch on some important points.
Percentage of body weight
When packers ask me how much weight they can safely load on a their pack horse or pack mule, I give them the basic rule of thumb of 20% of the animal’s body weight, depending on all of the factors in the list above. To pack a heavy load, an animal needs to be in good health. This doesn’t just refer to whether or not he has a cold, but whether his feet are in good condition and properly shod or trimmed, whether he has any bites or sores in spots where they could be irritated by the gear and whether he is well rested and prepared for the trip ahead. Good fitness means your pack animal should be regularly and well exercised.
I can not stress enough that you have to know your animal and for every trip you need to evaluate at least the animal’s condition as well as the temperature, distance and terrain of your ride and base your load weight on those factors. A long ride on uneven terrain at the height of summer requires animals in peak condition. An animal should also be given time to acclimate to a change in altitude. Humans are not the only ones who can suffer from altitude sickness. If your animal is not up to the task you are asking of him, you may be endangering not only his life, but yours as well.
As examples of individual assessments, I once owned a tough, raw-boned pack mule named Henry. Henry only weighed about 1100 pounds, but he could pack a 250 pound load for 15 miles in hot weather and dance the whole way. However, I currently have a pack mule, Daisy, who is pushing 35 and would be retired if she didn’t pitch such a fit when she gets left behind. Daisy’s loads typically weigh in at maybe 15% of her body weight. We all walk a little slower to accommodate her and I keep her in mind when deciding how far we’ll go each day.
The animal’s conformation can be a factor in how well your pack load or horse saddlebags ride. For instance, a low withered animal will need to be packed carefully and evenly because even a minor difference from one side to the other can cause the trail saddle or pack saddle to constantly shift as you go down the trail. At best, this is an inconvenience causing you to constantly adjust. At worst, the trail saddle or pack saddle could slip completely and cause a wreck. In another example, a short-backed horse may not be able to carry large horse saddlebags as they will sit uncomfortably too far back on the horse’s rump.
Live weight versus dead weight
Additionally, it is important to remember that live weight (i.e. a rider) rides differently than dead weight (i.e. a pack load of any kind) and the 20% rule doesn’t necessarily apply to live weight. A rider can move and shift in the saddle to compensate for rough terrain and can get off and walk. A good rider is also easier for a horse to carry than an inexperienced one. An experienced rider in a good fitting saddle on a fit horse could be fine on a long, tough ride, even if the combined weight of saddle and rider is more than 20% of the animal’s body weight.
Packing the load
Dead weight, on the other hand, does not have the ability to adjust to terrain changes and, therefore, must be carefully packed to stay put and be comfortable for the animal to carry regardless of conditions. Remember, gravity works. Once dead weight begins to slide off to one side, it has the tendency to keep going. This can upset your animal, cause soring or, even worse, cause a wreck.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on how to pack a load. It depends upon what you are packing, your equipment, your animal and all of the other conditions listed above. However, there is one rule to always bear in mind…equal size, equal weight and equal weight distribution. If you follow this rule, you should generally have less trouble packing a load.
- Equal size. It is easier to balance a load that is the same size on each side. This is easy with panniers and saddlebags, which have a fixed size. It is more difficult with mantied loads. This is one reason I recommend panniers to beginning packers.
- Equal weight. Any kind of load should be balanced from one side to the other. This means that if your panniers, saddlebags or hornbags do not weigh the same, you need to balance the lighter side by hanging something else off of that side such as your rifle scabbard, pack saw, camp axe or another such item.
- Equal weight distribution. Try to pack each pannier, saddlebag or hornbag so that the weight is distributed evenly throughout. Do not pack all of the grain in the front of one pannier and your down sleeping bag in the back.
- Additionally, while weight rides better and is carried better higher up the animal’s sides, be careful not to make a load top heavy. Remember the top pack is meant for bulky, lightweight items.
Saddles, both pack and riding saddles, need to fit well to be effective and not cause additional problems. A poor fitting saddle will not properly distribute weight across the horse’s back. If the fit is particularly bad, it can cause sore muscles or even open wounds. Before loading any weight on your animal, be sure to double check the fit and condition of your saddle.
When loading saddlebags, the weight and ability of the rider should be factored with the horse’s size and condition as well as with the fit of the saddle. An inexperienced rider can unknowingly throw the horse off balance and too much extra weight will make recovery more difficult. Additionally, poorly designed saddlebags can hang too low or constantly shift, which can irritate your horse and put extra strain on him.
No simple answer
There is never a black and white answer to the question “How much weight can my horse carry?” The answer always has to be found on an individual basis considering the factors mentioned above. As I said, most of these items are simply common sense, but so many of the “horror” stories that I have been told over the years could have easily been prevented if the people involved had just critically and honestly judged their animals against this list.
Zuma’s does not have horses able to carry 200 lb beginner riders. This is a fact that is hard for some to hear, yet the fact remains for a horse to comfortably and safely carry a 200+ pound rider we would need draft horses, which we don’t have.
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Support the Mission
In 2010 Zuma’s has grown in so many wonderful ways, words alone could never express the gratitude Paul and I feel for all of you that made this growth possible.
In giving back is when we truly receive!
Here is a list of the wonderful things that have happened this year for Zuma’s Children and Horses
- Our Gross Profits increased by 152% Woo-Hoo Thank You to all whom contributed making this possible. You are our Wings
- We won the Greenwood Village Chamber of Commerce Spirit Award, Thanks Theresa Johnson for the nomination
- Zuma’s was able to sustain a larger percentage of it’s own expenses without an 80% cash input from The Messenich Family
- We were able to save 10 new horses this year; Shilo, Moch(rehomed), Dusty, Fancy, MaKaya, Spirit, Havana, Azual, Liberty, and Julia!
- We rescued two dogs from high kill shelters, Wiley(rehomed) and Yukon
- We have grown our programming to serve 50+ children per week from local area treatment facilities such as; Jefferson Hills Residential Treatment Facility, Littleton Public Schools Redirection Center, Mount Saint Vincent Home for Children,and many various County Human Services Departments
- Our volunteer base has more than doubled this year, adding between 30-60 new volunteers each month
- Zuma’s Riding Academy came to be providing much-needed sustainable funding, Thank You Katie Dixon
- Denver Equestrians found a home here at Zuma’s to provide Pony Clubs and Dressage Training- Thanks Corinne Lettau
- 2 new horse shelters were added to keep our herd members safe from the elements
- A private therapy arena was constructed where our hot walker was once located
- A new wood pellet stove as added to the ELP room, no more freezing fingers and toes this winter
- We welcomed 2 new board members and Developed three formal committees
- Our Experiential Learning Program was revamped by our Denver University Graduate School of Social Work Interns.
- We had a new office built for the Experiential learning Department
- Our Zuma’s Mane Event doubles in attendees this past July nearly doubling our fund-raising effort! Stay Tuned for our September 2011 event ~ Sure to be even bigger and better!
- We developed a relationship with a professional Haunted House Builder who is helping us create a 2011 Fall Event to include Haunted House, Haunted Trail Ride, Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze and week-end events throughout the fall of 2011, This connection should make our fall season one of tremendous contributions for our programs Thank You Kevin Benson
- This year we made many new community allegiances with organizations such as Greenwood Village Chamber of Commerce, Castle Pines North Chamber of Commerce, Castle Pines Wine in the Pines Fund Raising Events, Madison Carter of Morgan Stanley- Smith Barney,Heartcore Media,Build a Bear Foundation, Bank of the West Foundation,Anna Twinney- Reach Out to Horses,Catherine Brown Swain Real Estate,AT&T United Way,Roxborough Penney Harvest Program, and Kenneth Kendall King Foundation
Looking forward to 2011 with all of our new family members, that is what Zuma’s has become, a big and diverse family bonded together by a common goal to help troubled kids and slaughter bound horses.
If you have a last minute end of year tax deductibel donation you would like to make