Saturday, March 25, 2017

Artistry and ignorance

I went to the local horse sale a few weeks ago. To call it interesting was an understatement in the least. What was there was a whole new level of ignorance. As if nobody knew or expected that?

There was of course the horses in the stalls that were rescues waiting to happen and one of them was a BIG draft cross of some kind. Sweet horse but man was he in r.o.u.g.h. shape. He had overgrown hooves and coat and was skinny as hell. Another thing he had was scabbed over cuts across the front of both pasterns on his front legs. From what others said, they were infected and his legs were swollen from the knee down, which I could see without having to touch as some were doing. His left front pastern was in worse shape and rather than having a nice straight angle to it from the fetlock thru the hoof, it looked sort of 'broken' in the middle. He was around 15 y/o and probably the kindest thing would be to put him down, but man oh man the bleeding heart ignorance was rank around him. I heard one woman say that all he needed was a trim. Another girl had spoken to her farrier and he said he could fix the horse (without even seeing him mind you) and from there I had to walk away. I couldn't take it. I honestly don't know what happened with or to him. I hope he finally found some peace.

Then there was the girl with the two animals (a horse & small pony) she had attempted to body clip. Lines. all. over. the damn place on both poor critters. Maybe I'm spoiled, but for me it is so easy to do a great job, I can't imagine doing such a shitty one. Being a rather creative and artistic person, clipping just comes sort of naturally for me. I picked it up quickly, learned from someone who did a good but not great job and perfected my craft over the years. Yes I still charge $150 per horse, can do them in 2-3 hours and in the process I teach the horse to relax and that there is nothing to fear. The one horse I was doing for another trainer/blogger a few years ago, had learned the few times I did him, that being clipped was ok. Nobody was there to hurt him or torture him. The better he behaved the quicker it went and before long we were done so he could go back to his stall.

One of the girls I went to the sale with, ended up buying the pony and after seeing him with lines and patches of hair still left on, I couldn't take it and grabbed my clippers. The girl at the sale barn had said the pony was a rescue case and clipping him was hell. If she meant she did a "hell" of a job on him, I guess she was right in that sense. The pony was okay until I turned on the clippers. Whatever trumatic events he had been thru before, he was making it clear he didn't want to be around for it again and wasn't going to willingly submit to any type of torture to get things done.

What happened was the pony would back off away from me and the clippers. When that was no longer an option, he tried pushing his way past me. That didn't work so he tried going Up. One of the women at the barn Ms. D, asked if I wanted to tie him up. Now she is a nice person, but from getting to know her, her scope of information is limited in some areas. I'm not saying she's dumb, but rather she just doesn't know. She has a very kind heart and hand for the horses, but I don't think she's ever dealt with difficult horses and just doesn't know how to help them get past their fears. No big deal.

What ended up happening with the pony was that he was in my mares stall and I placed him in a corner where he couldn't go backwards because of a wall and going forward I could aim him into the wall too. There's a large window on the wall I used to block the forward motion, but it has a strong wire mesh over it and is high enough the pony could look out, but not get out. With the pony looking out I turned the clippers on and ended up just putting them on his side. I was talking to him the whole time and he quickly relaxed. I moved them around a bit and slid the clippers over his body. The pony was tense, but he tolerated it. so as I was moving the clippers, I moved them to a postion where I could start clipping him and the hair started to come off. He was beginning to learn it wasn't going to hurt.

Before long, the pony had relaxed enough that I had the rope just draped over my shoulder, one hand up on his neck and my clippers buzzing away in my other hand taking the hair off with each stroke. When I got into tickly spots or the pony started to tense up when I clipped certain areas, I talked to him, rubbed him with my free hand and he soon relaxed again. When it came time to do the othe side, he started off a little rough again, but he relaxed pretty quickly and I was able to clean him up pretty fast. My friend Ms. S had been watching over the door and before long, her camera phone was out and she was taking pictures & video. I will cover that flustercluck in my next post.

In all honesty, I was not able to completely finish the pony. I wish I could have, but I'm also not disappointed with how much I was able to do either. Sometimes you just have to do the horse in stages. You work with them and help the horse expand their comfort zone. A little at a time, you start working into areas where the horse may be tense, unsure and possibly even scared, but if you remain calm, take it slow, back off a little and ease back into the problem area, before you and the horse know it, the problem area is done and not such a problem anymore. After doing them once and helping the horse move past their anxiety, the next time around often goes much easier. By the third and fourth time, they know you're not going to hurt them and while you recognize their tension and fears, you will also help them to get past it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Common Sense

How many of us have seen or even bought, the newest, latest, greatest tack item or training device, thinking *THIS*, this thing will *FIX* whatever issue it is marketed at us all for. Has anyone ever read the stuff in a catalog and found themselves asking WTF? Who believes this load of crap?

I remember seeing a bit one time marketed towards starting colts (not fillies, mares or geldings mind you, lol) and being a rather harsh bit it was "Good for getting their attention and making them respond." This bit was also supposed to be perfect for "fine tuning the seasoned horse". Really??? If the "seasoned horse" needs a rather harsh bit for "fine tuning" it seems like something is wrong there. Also, if you need to go straight to a harsh bit right out of the gate with a young horse, again it tells me something is wrong with your program.

Another place I question things is saddle pads. With all the new technology in closed cell foam, neoprene, gel and other techno stuff being used, sometimes the information states that the material doesn't allow every bump or bounce to get thru it, but only allows the "good" pressure to transfer to the horse, I always wonder How does the pad KNOW when you're leaning one way to signal the horse or if you're accidentally leaning because you're actually off balance? The pad will only displace the impact over it's entire surface, whether it's a hard bounce in the saddle, a rider sitting unevenly or whatever else.

The "techno" materials are also sometimes marketed as being able to help make up for bad saddle fit. Let's face it, if your saddle doesn't fit for whatever reason, it doesn't fit and a magical pad isn't likely going to fix it. It may make things seem better for a while, but in the long run it may be masking the problem and actually making things worse. And before anyone thinks that I'm saying "All pads are bad!" I'M NOT! Pads have their purpose. I use pads under all of my saddles and until my mare is working and building up her different muscles, she needs a Wither Relief Pad like the one in the clicky link. I don't expect it to absorb impact, I expect it to pad up her shoulders and keep the saddle up off her spine, which it does. It also makes tenting the pad tough since the relief pad pretty much takes up all available space for tenting, but it ends up being one of those things where you can't have both. Knowing this, I check my mare's back often, before rides, after rides and before putting her away in case I missed something earlier. Maybe I check too much, but again, it's only fair to make sure my horse is comfortable in her work since she's carrying me around up there.

Another thing I'm not so fond of with this pad is that the foam doesn't breathe. It just doesn't. So I worry about my mares back getting hot while working her. I have noticed that with her fleece pad under the surcingle, she gets hot. As in a foamy sweat under the pad hot. I've seen this with synthetic fabrics. Not a fan.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Honesty and in all fairness

For everyone who remembers me from the days of FHotD, you all know I can be rather outspoken at times and have no problem saying what I think. I can also be about as subtle as a brick thru a window at times, blunt and as one of my friends told me one time- "I know you'll be honest with me, even if it is brutally." He knew he could ask me anything and get a straight up, honest answer without all the gooey sugar coating or outright lying some people will do to spare the feelings of others. If someone is truly your friend, you *should* be able to tell them that something they are doing concerns you and they should hope that you *would* step up and say something if you see things going south for them.

So what does all of this have to do with the horses?

Well over the years and on the different blogs, I know there have been times that my comments or replies have rubbed people the wrong way, been taken the wrong way, been misunderstood or come across as rude, insensitive and maybe even downright mean. Most often that was not my intent. I have not "gone after" anyone in email- sending them "hate mail" nor have I blocked or deleted anyone's comments on my blog for pointing things out where I may have misspoken or contradicted myself, because honestly, I try not to do that to begin with.

I have noticed however, different things that have disppointed me in what I may have thought about someone and make me question my personal knowledge of and perception of them as well as other things about them.

We all know that posting online is opening ourselves up for critiscism. Good or bad, people are going to say something and respond. If we post photos or video, there is always good and bad to be found, and with the bad, there is room for improvement. If there is an issue with something, I try to offer a solution or ask- "Have you considered trying this?" unless there is an obvious solution to the problem, then I will come right out and say what it is.

Sometimes people have issues with their horses at home, sometimes it is at competitions. Some bloggers it seems like they never quite 'get there' because their horse(s) seem to come up lame, injured or otherwise taken out of the running in some way, shape or form. I feel bad for people that this happens to, but I also question what's going on that their horses all seem to be 'falling apart', breaking down and things just keep going to Hell on them.

I have also noticed a few people who have claimed- If *THIS* ever happens to MY horse, I will no longer do *THAT* with them. *That* being compete with them in whatever their chosen sport is- Jumping, barrel racing, endurance, or __________ fill in the blank. I picked jumping, barrel racing and endurance because those seem to be things that are A) popular with bloggers and B) tough jobs for our horses. But then even after proclaiming they will stop competing their horse in their chosen event, a few months down the road and guess what? They talk about taking their horse to the comepetitions and entering them to compete.

Now most of you who have seen pictures my OTTB mare or know of her, know she has a huge knee. It was injured at the track, long before I got her and it is why she no longer races. I knew this before bringing her home. It will forever be an issue to deal with. I also swore I will never expect her to jump and I never will. I have seen her bouncing around out in the pasture, going airborne and coming down on that leg and racing around without any problems, but still, I'm not going to put her over fences no matter how small they are or how much she may actually enjoy it. Taking her to the arena and going thru the barrel pattern a couple of times was all in fun. She had never done barrels before in her life and although she wasn't half bad at it, I'm not going to start patterning her and expect her to run and win money at it. For one thing, it doesn't happen overnight even for very talented horses, riders or both and more importantly, it's not fair to her.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Field trip!

The barn I'm boarding at has no arena so one of the girls and I decided to take the horses on a field trip and go to one of the local, public use arenas and work horses. Originally I was going to take both of mine and she was going to take two as well. There was supposed to be another girl with her two horses going along. Things slowly got whittled down to me and the one other girl, one horse each.

She left one horse home because she's had issues with him and wants to resolve them doing something else before getting hurt. I decided not to take the pony because he's been hauled, shown and knows the drill. My mare has been hauled to a few different arenas to work, when we lived in hellizona and she didn't handle it well. She didn't handle the move well either and is finally learning to cope and deal with things. I wanted to focus on her, so leaving the pony at home was the best option.

Her horse is for sale and she was hoping to get some photos of him in action. Apparently he has also never been in a 2 horse straight load trailer. Well it didn't take long to get him in and we were on the road.

We had a good time. My horse was a little wound up when we got there, as I expected. I got her legs wrapped, saddled up and lunged her a bit before deciding to get on. On the lunge line, she didn't exactly go around in nice round circles, but she did go around. She looked at everything, but she never spooked or got stupid so I put her bridle on, dropped my stirrups and climbed on.



Although she looked around a lot at first, she kept her head together and settled right down to work. We had a really good ride. I got some of our best canter work to date and she was light in the bridle, loose and felt really good. We had some incredible trot work and a few lovely canter departures in each direction. Then my friend set up some barrels to try her horse on the pattern. He did pretty good and I thought WTH? Why not give it a whirl? So we did.

I trotted her up to the first barrel on the right. Going around it she was a little wonky. We trotted to the 2nd barrel and around it a little wide. I pushed her into a lope and we made our way around the 3rd barrel, not so elegantly. My friend was laughing and quite impressed. She thought my mare looked pretty good on barrels. Mind you I was riding her in dressage tack. We did a couple more "runs" and the last time thru, I pushed for a little more, guided my mare around the barrel and let her go a little to bring it home. She enjoyed that.

Barrels are not something I will be trying to compete her with. My mare can run and may possibly be good at it, but this was all in fun. I wouldn't expect my mare at 18 years old to really be competitive in barrels and more importantly I doubt her knee would hold up. I really love this mare, why would I want to set her up for injury or a total fail?

After untacking and giving her a chance to roll- she didn't.



Love that face....



Monday, February 6, 2017

Photos don't lie

As riders, we strive to improve. We try to fix things we think we are doing wrong. We don't focus on things we think we're doing right. And then someone comes along and says something and depending on our mood, their words, the tone of their voice and our own opinion of them.....

Yeah. Things change. I used to worry about my lower leg and my hands, a Lot. My hands were no longer an issue after a friend of mine was standing next to the trainer I had started working for about a month before. Watching me ride the trainer told my friend, "She's got the nicest hands I have seen in a long, long time." Booyah! But my lower leg was still an issue in the back of my mind. Until the day I seen pics of me riding one of my mares and I seen for myself that no matter how she was moving, my legs were always where they belonged. Seeing pics of me on another horse and yep. There's my lower leg locked on where it belonged. Riding my WB mare forced me to keep my lower leg back under me in position or she puttered out. I no lnger worry about my lower leg anymore.

Tonight discussing riding and proper position with one of the girls at the barn, she asked me if pic's can help your riding. Absolutely! Pic's don't lie. You're either doing it right, kind of close or you're not. There may be a few pic's when it all comes together and that's great, but when there's only a few out of 20-30 or so, showing things not right or needing work, well now you know what you need to work on and fix.

The same girl has been dying to ride my mare. Since she's finally up to weight and I've been on her, I let her climb on and take my horse for a spin. It's working out well since she's getting to ride a bigger horse, try out a variety of tack, learn new things and I get to see my horse move. Win!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Pony pics

My mare was on straight alfalfa and I soon found that in Houston, it isn't as readily available as it was in Aridzona. There it was anywhere from $10-$15 a bale. Bales were 3 strings and around 100-110lbs. In Houston it was $17 at the feed stores for a 2 string bale that weighs around 60-65lbs. If you can find the 3 string 100-110lb bales, they are typically shipped in from Az and anywhere from $23-$27 a bale. *Cough*

At the barn, everyone kept telling me that feeding my mare straight alfalfa was not a good idea. She wasn't gaining any weight though. In fact watching her, it seemed as if she might actually be dropping a little more. After some poorly timed drama at the barn we were at and the upcoming trip to Az looming, I moved the horses to a new barn. Sure it is a little further away, but it is a nicer facility, Zero Drama and although my mare had begun to settle down, at the new barn she was back to her normal chill self. Since I would be driving to Az and coming back empty, I looked up alfalfa on CL, found a place selling it nearby where I was staying and loaded up the bed of the truck with 8 beautiful bales before heading home to Houston.

I am a big fan of the slow feed nets. I have 5 of them although I have loaned/given them to the one girl that I know at the barn. She had major drama at the previous barn and moved her horses a few days before I did. She rides and has minis that she drives so we have clicked pretty well. Since the barns are both self care, we had made an agreement on a feeding schedule. I fed hers in the mornings and she was feeding my horses at night. One weekend a month I would feed and one weekend she fed. That allowed us each a weekend we could sleep in or take off and go somewhere without worrying about the horses.

The coastal hay is similar to bermuda hay in Az. Not a lot of protien in it and it wasn't going to colic my two or fatten them up any either. Kat has actually slimmed down to where he should be but my mare looked like shit and riding her wasn't going to happen for a while. Since I was now well stocked with alfalfa and armed with slow feed nets, my mare was loaded up with hay in front of her at all times. She had 2 nets in her stall with healthy sized flakes in each. Once again I heard a.l.l.l.l.l. about how I could not, Should Not feed my mare straight alfalfa.... yet I know my horse. I've had her 12 years now, I damn well SHOULD know my horse by then, right?

So the alfalfa lasted me a couple months and my mare had started to gain some weight back. She looked better but not good and was certainly far from looking great.


Ribs - check.
Hip bones - check
Withers - Omg YES, check
*sigh*, eyeroll, shake my head and swear a little

Since there was another court hearing the day before thanksgiving, I drove out again for the week to take care of some things and hopefully getting to spend a few days with my girls. Again, since I was there and had the truck, I grabbed a few bags of alfalfa pellets, the kind my mare was used to eating before and brought them back with me. I had started her on Senior feed and I had also doubled what she was getting since that was more in line with how much she was getting before. She was starting to really put weight back on and coming around. Once again, I heard all about how I should not, could not possibly expect my mare to gain any weight or do well at all on these pellets because of this that and every other reason in the world since the nutritional breakdown is on the back of the bag in big, bold numbers and letters. Too much protien, not enough fat, too high this, is there any that? Where's the ____? All of a sudden it's everybody's business and they are all suddenly an expert on my horse. I let them have their say and while some things did have their merit, at the end of the day- my horse, my money, my feed and essentially-> my choice.

The other night I was able to turn her out and get a few pics. I love this one of her.

This one isn't great but it shows the fact she still has a little more gaining to do....



Of course I can't leave out the little man


My mare has turned the corner and has put on the much needed weight. I can still see and feel her ribs but her hip bones are not protruding anymore and she has put weight on up by her spine and withers again. She's getting there at least and hopefully I will be back to riding her again soon. For all the nay-sayers and their advice, for not being able to or their opinions of what I should and shouldn't do, thanks but she is doing well and still gaining. Looks like I will be driving to Austin every so often to pick up feed since its a lot closer than making the trip back to Az every couple weeks.


Better, but still room for improvement.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Who really knows?

I know I haven't posted much lately on either blog about riding, driving or even the horses in general. Why is that? Well there are a number of reasons, one of which being time. Time to post, not much time to ride or drive and recently because a lot of things (life!) has been "a hot, sticky mess" (and not in a good way) that I haven't exactly wanted to share with the world. I just don't necessarily get into the whole idea of this being a blog about everything that happens in my life and all of the things wrong in the world or at least my little corner of it. No pity party or riding the whhhaaambulance here.

To be honest, when the girls and I moved to Houston back in February, horse and pony included, my mare didn't handle the trip all that well. Sure she was bred in Washington state and had traveled down to AZ to start her life as a race horse and after that didn't work out, she left the track to live with a new owner (K) who later sold her to (L) and she traveled from the Scottsdale/ Rio Verde area across town to Queen Creek to spend time there before I bought her. She made the short trip home with me 12 years ago this month, and pretty much never left. I did take her to a couple of schooling shows and had hauled her with Kat for those, but it was a short 20 minute trip on the road, 1 or 2 classes in hand and back home again. Nothing major, no big deal. For the most part she never left the property and she was comfortable there.

When traveling long distances, sometimes horses will go off their feed, they won't drink and they are on edge because they are stressed out about things. This was my mare. In the trailer, she didn't eat much and didn't drink at all the first day. I'm not sure if or how much she drank at the barn where I overnighted them, but it wasn't until late in the afternoon the following day on the road, that she finally began to drink again. By that point between not drinking, not eating and being stressed, she had dropped weight. I'm not going to guess how much, but it was enough that when we arrived and I got her off the trailer, her ribs were showing and it was pretty obvious.

We had gotten in late and after getting everything situated for the night, I fed and watered them one last time and went inside to bed myself. My mare tore up the grass in the back yard pretty good where she was obviously bouncing around quite a bit during the night. This didn't help with the weight loss either.

The next few months being at a new barn, my mare was quite wound to put it mildly. She paced in the stall and taking her out to lunge her or do anything really, she acted as if she had no respect for anything or anyone. Walking out to the grass area where I worked her, she tried to blow past me, circle around me, was constantly moving and never really quiet or relaxed.

She also had become Very attached to the pony. If I took him out, she literally wrecked the stall and screamed her head off the whole time he was out. If I took her out, she was constantly trying to look back to the stalls, get back to the stalls and screaming her head off the whole time. That shit gets old really fast. Even moving Kat to a different stall didn't help. He didn't care, but she never would settle down.

I had brought feed with me to hold them over long enough that I could not only find a feed store, but also to help transition the horses over to whatever new feed I found. I had a couple bales of alfalfa and several bags of alfalfa pellets. Finding a comparable and compatable feed to use- boy was I in for a surprise...