Swordsmanship for Horsemen

Paul McCann, a lifelong student of the sword will be in attendance Saturday, January 21 from 9:30 AM till 3 PM, to share some insights with horse people about how to safely and effectively use a sword on horseback. This clinic is flexible for all levels of swordsmanship student: those participating in the mounted portion will need to be comfortable riding with the reins in one hand.

Paul’s many years of study have given him insight into the full panoply of mounted martial pursuits, to which he adds experience and excellence in small group and individual instruction. Building off of cavalry training manuals, Paul will take the class of no more than 10 participants through stances, postures, swings and blocks, to give insight into mounted sword combat and its evolution. After the on-the-ground portion, there will be a brief, hot lunch, and then we will move on to mounted exercises as a group and then one on one.

Check in will be from 9-9:30 AM in the large hall beside the tack-up area. there will be coffee and tea to warm you up while you meet Paul and hear his overview of the class. Students will then spend an hour and a half to two hours learning and practicing on the ground, before a brief lunch break and then tack up of horses for the ridden portion, starting at 1 PM.

The Grene Wode supplies all pells, targets and wasters (mock swords used for the class), but you are welcome to bring your own waster or synthetic longsword. Please dress according to the weather: we highly recommend layers with some stretch as well as usual riding attire for the mounted portions. While the salle is indoors and fully enclosed, it is unheated, so you will wish to dress warm. The Grene Wode’s insurance requires a helmet worn for all mounted activities, there are a limited number of  helmets to borrow if necessary.

The price for the clinic, including lunch is $100, $90 if you are bringing your own food and drink. This includes the use of a Grene Wode mount or the haul-in fee if you wish to ride your own horse.  Auditing of either portion will be $10 per person per portion, so if you wish to audit the whole clinic, it will be $20. Grene Wode Patrons receive their usual discount to participate or audit.

For more information, please text Briana at 604-720-5402, or email to thegrenewode@gmail.com

Colic No More

The keeping of herd animals in a herd situation isn’t exactly revolutionary, but its benefits may surprise some horse owners. We have found our horses happier to come in and work, rather than being hard to catch. Darius LisaThose individuals who were overly energetic, or high-strung when stabled eventually mellow into solid citizens, calm and copacetic under most circumstances. Stable vices like cribbing and wood-chewing disappear, once the horse has no stable wall to crib or chew on, and they are entertained by the ever-changing dynamic of this kind of environment. But one of the most surprising outcomes was the total lack of intestinal distress in the herd.

The reasons for these changes are many and varied, but it comes down to allowing the horse to live in circumstances as close as those for which they evolved, over millions of years. As trickle feeders, grazing over many hours of the day and moving almost constantly, the horse was not designed to live in small enclosures and be fed measured amounts on a strict schedule.

To go so completely against the horse’s nature is to court health disasters, which is what colic and ulcers are, in stabled horse populations. It was the realisation that after 2 years at the Grene Wode, I had not once had to call a vet for a case of colic that I really grasped how enormous the difference was between this method of horsekeeping and most traditional stable set-ups. I have worked at and managed horse facilities all over the place, and in every case, no matter how carefully scheduled and balanced the feeds, no matter how roomy and comfoad pic grazingrtable the stalls, horses in barns have incidents of colic; at the larger barns, sometimes several in a month. Hundreds and thousands of dollars are spent on emergency calls,
Banamine  and other medications,  or far worse, expensive and uncertain abdominal surgeries. Yet the solution is so simple: let the horses eat on their own schedule, and let them move all the time.

If you give horses a small herd environment with access to free-choice forage and water and movement, the choice of shelter, loafing or grazing zones, the benefits are uncountable, but they start with much better digestive health.



Medieval Marketplace


Autumn Changes

Cloudy RainbowThe changes of weather create changes of scheduling and maintenance for an equestrian facility. The cooler weather has triggered the shedding out of the fine, short summer coat, and the growth of a thicker, coarser winter coat. Since our horses live outside 24/7, boarders, students and leasers need to remember to budget time in their grooming procedure to deal with the change in the coat and the new layers of mud the horses will have added to their coat with enthusiastic rolling. In addition, the changes in the path footing can add sticky mud to their feet, so a hose off of legs and feet when the rider brings a horse in may also be in order!

Some owners prefer to have their horse blanketed during colder weather months, and as long as the blanket comes off regularly to check over the horse for rubs and comfort, there’s nothing wrong with blanketing appropriate to the weather and the horse’s comfort levels.. Older horses and those suffering health challenges will have an easier time maintaining weight if they are given this extra protection from the weather.

The weather affects lots of things. Footings get sodden instead of dusty, and trail grounds become muddy and slippery. Here at the Wode, while the woods trails stay rideable most of the year, the meadows trails can be treacherous, especially to unfit animals, so we advise riding with caution, aware that the rider’s position on the horse interferes with their natural balance.

The indoor arena begins to see more use as well, as eight hours of heavy rain will render the outdoor soupy, and sloppy footings can negatively impact a horse’s traction. We expect all riders to treat the arenas with respect for their fellow riders and pick up any droppings their horse leaves, and return any equipment they use during their ride or training session to the storage areas when they are done with them. We are a great community here, and respectfully sharing our common areas is one of the things that makes the Grene Wode a great environment for horses and riders!cropped-20160113_160926.jpg

Dog Days of Summer

The heat is actually manageable this year, Grene Wode Riders Meadow Trailbut the sand of the outdoor can feel very like a bake oven in the full heat of the day. This is one of the things that makes me and the other Grene Wode Riders very grateful for the manicured meadow and woods trails: there’s nothing like riding in shade in the heat of the day!

The horses also enjoy the breaks from arena work, and any arena figure can be ridden as easily out in the field!  It can be a very productive way to keep their brains engaged while utilizing all that extra forward energy they seem to find once out of the arena! The dogs love a good romp through the woods, too.

Gunny Jenn TrailThe Grene Wode is also within a couple of very nice road hacks towards Alder-grove Bowl on one side and Campbell Valley on the other, and we often amble out to enjoy the scenery from the unique perspective of the saddle. If this is a goal for you, please let us know when you book your next lesson!

Basic Horsemanship Class

We host regular classes and clinics for all levels of experience, from the very basics of learning about horses, to the advanced classical dressage practitioner.  Our most popular class by far, is the entry level Basic Horsemanship class.

The purpose of this class is to give the person with less exposure to live equines some insights into their safe care and handling, and a hands-on practical approach to interacting with these amazing animals.  It can also serve as a reminder of safe handling practices and grooming techniques for those who are just getting back into horsemanship.  The small class size allows every student to learn at their own pace, and be guided through the safe measures needed to interact with these incredible animals!

For those students who are nervous around horses, it is important to know that such fears are perfectly understandable: horses can grow up to 6 feet tall at the shoulder, and weigh upwards of 2000 lbs, depending on their breed. They have four long legs, ending in extremely hard hooves, and a mouth full of very large, flat edged teeth. They have very small brains for their body size, coupled with extreme power and a superb flight reflex, making them as Sherlock Holmes said, “dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle”.

That said, a great deal of incidents can be prevented entirely if the student takes the time to learn something of basic horse psychology and body language.  As humans, we have the advantage in terms of intellect, with inherent learning and memory capabilities.  In this sense the educated brain definitely outweighs pure horsepower!

Saturday, July 23 we will be hosting a Basic Horsemanship class, starting at 10 am and going to 1 pm.  This is an excellent, comfortable environment to learn the basics of safe horse handling, equine physiology and psychology, and try some hands-on grooming procedures!  This is an ideal class for the nervous adult or parent and child who have always wanted to learn about horses but lacked the opportunity.

Cost is $30 per person, with aGunny Libby Rayne limit of 12 participants. Age range is 10 and up. (A less-intensive version of this class may be offered for younger participants, if there is demand.)  As this is a practicum class, please wear close toed shoes and comfortable, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.  Please book with Briana or through this page as soon as possible.

There are 4 half hour Basics of Riding class slots available after the Horsemanship clinic, for an additional introductory rate of $30.  Let Briana know if you’d like one of these slots to follow up the morning’s learning!

Evidence-Based Horsemanship

One of the main tenets of the Grene Wode’s horsemanship philosophy is that our choices for the care, handling and riding of our horses are based in solid scientific information. The horse world is full of anecdotes about how one should house, feed, train and ride a horse, and sometimes, these ideas are backed up by scientific research into equine physiology, psychology and biomechanics, but not always. We have tried to keep an open mind but think critically as we decide which paths to follow.

The model we follow for horsekeeping was developed in California, at the Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices, and we have modified it to our climate and the specific needs of our horses. We allow our herd constant access to slow-feeding hay nets in several stations on their track. The track itself is dry footed with sand, gravel and bare earth, maintained with daily picking-up. There are two watering stations and a mineral salt station as well. The horses have access to 12′ x 12′ shelters, and the run is lined with trees along the eastern edge, for shelter from sun, wind and rain.

The science behind keeping horses this way is first to be found in many sources: theHorse.com has many articles on their website regarding the benefits of feeding free-choice, drawn from scientifically rigorous studies, like this one.   Dr Juliet Getty has published an excellent guidebook, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, which we highly recommend.  In addition, constant feeding of low-calorie forage was the primary recommendation of the University of Edinburgh’s Veterinary School Equine Nutrition certificate program, which Briana took online in 2013.

Free movement of the herd and the constant access to low-sugar forage is a known preventative for many of the conditions that plague modern, stable-kept equines: indeed, many national ethical codes of practice for horsekeeping advocate constant access to forage as a main tenet of domestic equine care. Perhaps the most telling factor is that in the 6 years we have been operating, we have never had a case of colic. At every facility Briana has worked at before, in her 30 years of experience,  facilities that stabled their horses and fed on a schedule, even six times a day, had colic cases at least once a month!

Thanks for your attention, we will be expanding on this topic and many others in the days to come. We welcome questions and comments on any of our posts!



Summer at the Wode

Summer is a-coming in!

The 2016 North American summer solstice happens on June 20, 2016 at 3:34 PM PDT. That’s the very moment when, essentially, the sun stands still at its northernmost point as seen from Earth. The word solstice originates in the Latin: solstitium, the moment when the sun stops. Of course, now we know it doesn’t actually stand still, but language and history are so fascinating!

As with so many other notable times of the year, the ancients celebrated solstices. The longest day of the year is something to celebrate! The night, when it comes will feature quite a rare synchronicty, in that it is also a full moon. Called the Strawberry Moon under these rare circumstances, if the weather permits, it will light the night for whatever shenanigans you have in mind. We will likely be playing jeux de boules until we can’t find our balls anymore. With the full moon, that will be till very late!

So, what are your plans for this Summer Solstice?

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