Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday stills: Sound

(click images for full view)

Canada day/independence day 2009. Detroit riverMagpie falls, Wawa Ontario 2009

Mr.Bumbles, magpie falls, Wawa Ontario, 2009

Visit Sunday stills for more sound pictures.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

An easy walk

So I've been trying to find a hoof protection that suited my horses and myself. Metal shoes were a must for us because our horses have to do a lot of hard work on the pavement pulling the carriage. They have to have points or borium spots on them for traction and ease of wear.
The problem was not with the rest of my horses but with Indigo. She has particularly sensitive feet. Every time she is trimmed when shes being ridden regularly I can see bruises on her hoof wall as the rasp goes over them. She is also ouchy on stones so we have to avoid uneven, rocky surfaces which can be hard down the lane.
Glue on shoes just don't stay on long enough here and hoof boots are a no go for several reasons. The first one, they are mostly made of neoprene. Neoprene provides too much traction on the roads. When a horse is pulling a carriage this can cause all sorts of problems from bowed tendons to splints from the horses leg being jarred when the rubber and pavement meet and there is too much friction. Try making a regular running shoe slide on pavement you will find it will kind of hop along if not halt immediately.
The second reason hoof boots do not work for me is sometime we have mud. Mud sucks these boots off. They may be alright part of the year but the times we do get mud we are S.O.L. Water also gets into them and does not drain which makes them heavy.
The third is even with the many gaiters and stabilizers they still rub and sometimes still fall off causing the poor horse wearing them to trip when the gaiter does not detach. Been there, done that. No thanks. I do however like renegade hoof boots I've yet to see them in person but they may be a winter option for me.

See the problem with metal shoes is they put pressure on the hoof wall. Indigo still gets stones pressed into her sole and pads are just not an option. Metal shoes, unlike the natural hoof do not flex when the horse steps on an uneven surface. It would be much like you putting on a pair of shoes that had a steel sole. You would slip and teeter as you walked across uneven surfaces, like rocks because your shoe could not flex.

When I heard of this new shoe, Easy walker horse shoes. A very nice couple named Mike and Wendy came to a local farm to show us the shoes they called "the sports shoe for horses" I was intrigued. Not only did it provide the ammount of traction I was looking for it also covered a good part of the frog and sole. There was a lot of concussion redeuced and it flexed! They can be reset about the same times and wear the same as a metal shoe.
These shoes nail on exactly like a normal metal shoe but you have two or three toe clips to keep them from sliding. A friend and farrier that I know was there named Tim. Hes an old timer and the president of the Ontario farriers association. I asked him if he would shoe my horse today with those new shoes. Wanting to try these shoes he says to me "Sydney I would climb mountains or trees for you" Hes so funny.

The application is easy. You find what shoe is your horses size, draw around the hoof on the shoe thats peeking out and either cut it off with nippers. a dremmel or saw then rasp. Simple. No making metal shoes, burning the hoof etc. Simple, easy peasy. You have to cut a small groove however for the clips to fit in good. Oh did I mention you don't take any of the sole off with the hoof knife? That sounds great to me.

Tim is a very thorough farrier. He takes a long time, longer than my normal farrier Neil but he does very impressive work. Farriery and blacksmithing is an art. I've never seen two people trim a horse the same, make the same shoes or even pound a hammer exactly the same.

The yellowjacket bees were a problem here.
Tim had a fly sheet on Indigo who was snoozing in the sun. All of a sudden she started kicking when he was with her back feet. He hollers and dives out of the way. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what had gone wrong. I didn't scold Indigo. I knew the kicks were not aimed at Tim but when you are a farrier your always trying to avoid getting "high fived" in the face. He looks at me and says "I felt the wind right by my nose there" So Indigo is still swatting her tail and we thought maybe the blanket was irritating her so we folded it in half.
He gets done trimming and starts shoeing the front feet. Suddenly she hauls off and starts kicking that same leg like crazy and swatting her tail, firing kicks left right and center. Tim dives out of the way again. I told everyone to step back because she was kicking with intent to hurt something. It clued in then that a yellowjacket had got trapped under the blanket. She went to swat it like a fly with her tail and got nailed a few times before it escaped. Poor girly! STUPID BUG!!! We took the sheet off and sprayed her down real good before continuing. She was good from here on.

Now see before we put the shoes on her I trotted her down the driveway for everyone to see her on the stone. She hit a few big stones and limped like she always does. When all four feet were shod I trotted her again. Not one step out of place over the worked up rocky driveway. I have to say at this point I was sold.
Indigo trotted with more spring in her step. They only cost 10$ more a pair than regular shoes. If you use the shoes with the pads and were comparing them to metal shoes with pads they are at par.

Excuse the mud, it's rained here hard four days in a row. I'll take pictures when we get the rest of the horses done.

This is what Indigo thinks of this whole ordeal. This picture taken by my good friend Lisa, named farty buck by me. Hey I think this fits into tomorrows Sunday stills for sound right? Cant you all hear it? Well the horse people can. Hahahha.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My vacation face part1

Yup. That is me sitting on the porch of my friends moms place. It's real nice there. Quiet and right on miles and miles of forest. But I got bit like crazy by blackflies and a week later they are still itchy. If you look real close you can see my friend Michelle taking a picture of me in my aviators reflection. Michelle loves my camera. I don't often let people use it but I couldn't resist the look on her face at how well it focused and the images turned out. She wants one.

When we got there we went to the beach. I have been to several beaches including nice ones in Florida but theres something just so back to nature about the local (and creatively named) Sandy beach on the deep and cold lake Superior. See what I mean. Breathtaking. (Click images for full view as always)
This is the same beach you can see my rainbows I took here last year when I visited in September 08.

See here in northern Ontario they are on the edge of the Canadian shield. If you don't know what that is see what wikipedia says.
It was very humid the day we got there, which is unusual for that far up north. Usually you can see the hills more clearly but it made for some very interesting pictures. How glassy the lake is.

Heres my friends not so little brother jumping off one of the rocks that sticks out of the water on calm days. He underestimated how shallow it was there because the water was so clear and hit his butt off the bottom.
Thats one of the things we did almost every day, visit this wonderful beach. One day we spent four hours lying on the sand and climbing all over rocks finding cool passages and places to sit and collect feathers. It's a place I find that calms the soul. Watching the fish go by and listening to the waves with the warm sand beneath your body. I can't wait to go back next year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Macro Monday: after the storm

As always click the images for full view to be able to appreciate the detail.

A lot of my vacation involved walking forest trails. The last two days it rained. Sometimes hard, sometimes just spitting so my friend Robi and I walked the trails when it was not raining (and sometimes when it was)

This one was not rain droplets but rather the fungus growing on the tree was sweating with the humidity between storms that waved over us. A clothesline that was very interesting to watch the water droplets form and fall when they got too heavy to stay up.

Finally a Daisy. I don't see many of the white ones like this back home unless someone plants them. They were everywhere up north.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday stills: The open road

It's exactly what I have been on for the past 18ish hours. I got home at 6:30 am. I got up at 1:30 pm. Gee I don't think I've ever slept in that late. But more on that later. I should have been home at 2 am. Savanah hasn't left my side since I got in the door. She even let me move her sleeping self this morning without so much as a growl out of her.
(as always click the image to see full view)

As you can see where I was, 14 hours north of here is very hilly. It's right on the edge of the Canadian shield. These are very, very old mountains. So old they are now hills. If you look at my last Sunday stills installment for clouds you will see that back home it's very, very flat. A good change of scenery but I missed my horses.

I'll update later on my trip but now it's time to go riding. What a week without my horse fix can do to me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunday stills: Clouds

Yup so I don't know if I am going to have internet connections where I am going so I put this up today instead of Sunday. There may be another post as I drive today/tomorrow where I am going.

I love clouds but this morning they had different ideas about where they should float. (as always click for full view)
It was about 7:30 am after I fed the horses. I got to this one spot in my morning drive to the harbor when it got so thick I couldn't see and didn't want to stop for fear of someone hitting me.
Enjoy, see ya'll in a week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My getaway

So I only take on average one week off a year.
I am not really even taking it off since I have people filling in for me that I will work days for them later.

I go away to this beautiful place about 14-16 hours north of here. The air is crisp and clean. Wolves howl, ravens cackle, the pines whisper and there are hills. Hills and wonderful clean cool waters. Here the land is very flat. It makes for very good farmland and thats about it. Theres also a lot of oil here. A 1 foot rise in the table can mean there is oil on your property. Pretty cool but not as pretty as the land in upper Ontario where theres rocks and pine and waterfalls and clean, clean air.

How are them clouds? I don't know if I'll have access to internet where I am going but I will try to post Sunday stills. I am bringing my camera, of course. This year I have my SLR so I will have so much more fun.

So if you don't hear from me for a week don't fret. I am gone away hiking in some hills and hopefully not being eaten by a bear or wolves ( I am gonna be packing air horns hahahha. Scare the bears or wake up camp at 6 am? Who knows)
I will miss my horses though D:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And the winners are...

So I was a little later in the date I said the contest was going to end.

I figured since I am going to be gone for a week on Friday night I might as well post this now. The people who did participate I applaud you for speaking your mind about what you could change about the horse world. There is so much wrong with this world but in so many ways by setting examples, specifically in my case, scientifically backed examples. We can show the world there are alternatives to horse care and horsemanship as a whole through good examples. Will everyone listen? Probably not but it's a start.

So without further adieu I present to you the winners of the bridles.
Yes bridles! Two of them. I managed to squeeze two into my retailer budget. They are both nylon horse size but horse size fits a pretty wide range in sizes. For example my nylon horse size fits my pony, who is a small cob. I also have used it on my friends Hanoverian, a warmblood sized head. Results vary. If you are unsure please note this to me. One is brown, the other is black. First to reply to me with their shipping address gets the colour of their choice.

Oh yeah, so the two winners of the bridles. I put all the names in my crazy cowboy hat. Like it?

Bridle no1 goes to: Scaequestrian who said:

"If I could change one thing about the horse world it would be education. I believe that a great many of the problems we see within our chosen sport/hobby could be prevented through education. For instance, the girl I have been working with through email has been totally changed by my educating her about bits and proper training. She is now working toward educating all of her friends as well. Here is a link to our conversations... HERE

So many of the issues I have seen and spoken to horse owners about are simply a product of ignorance. Many people do not understand the need for proper and regular hoof care, some do not know that horses need their teeth floated, and the list goes on. I think that as responsible, educated horse owners, we have a responsibility to reach out and share our knowledge and skills to help make the lives of the animals we love better."

Well said. If owning a horse it's an owners responsibility to know as much as they can. Horsemanship and horse ownership is an ever growing education. The more you know the less you do, thats what I say. Trying to educate yourself

Our second bridle winner as I draw out of my flaming hat is: wolfandterriers who said:

"If I could change one thing...
I would sponsor a GP competition with a serious purse (10k-15k). The horses would be ridden bridleless, with the option of a simple loop of rope around their necks. Being a selfish little brat, the horse that I learned to ride dressage from was capable of performing all movements with the loop of rope around his neck as he went beautifully from seat and leg. However, he was quite the pill and had an ego the size of an elephant! Not exactly the nicest horse to learn from or to ride!! You had to definitely work for it.

I thought initially that simply mandating an easier bit would work...but then I thought back to the last place I boarded, and how the Western "trainer" worked ALL of her horses in a huge cathedral bit with draw reins and a tie down--from green to finished, that was her equipment. Bit checks simply aren't enough when the horse spends the majority of its day in its stall and has palate issues due to the severe bitting it has endured.

I have started my young ones in a halter or lunge caveson very successfully and move to a bit only because I consider it the mark of a finished horse. You can ride any movement on a "rein of silk" (D. Barbier) because the idea of being on the aids/on the bit is an elastic condition throughout the animal--not just a straight line between hand and bit. Gr. Ok, rant OVER! :) (And man, I would love to try that Nurtural bridle...)"

I would love to see a competition like that. It would set the riders apart from the passengers. I hope sometime in my lifetime we will all see bitless and more bridle less competitions.

Now for the horseshoe dream catcher. Unfortunately theres only one of those. They are made from an old shoe when I first got Indigo. I had to shoe her for one summer because she was coming from grass and sand to hard dirt and rock. I regret not knowing about hoof boots or these wonderful elastic, plastic shoes called easy walkers Very interesting. I think I might try them.

Our dream catcher winner: Carroll Farm who said:

"I love all my horses - and I am just really getting into the horse world - but my hubby grew up with horses. I think that if I could change anything about the horse world it would be not allowing STUPID (or uneducated) people have horses. There should be a class that you must take, or something, before you can own a horse. I believe that to each their own, but you better take care of it whatever way you believe. There are so many starving horses in stalls with no chance of food, my husband and I have laughed that even if I can't feed my kids, the horses will eat. They have no chance, but I can take my kids to a soup kitchen or something... do you know what I am saying. :)"

Right on! Horses are at our mercy. We put them in stalls or paddocks and they rely on us to provide them water and hay or some sort of supplemental feed. For now it is up to us for the good of the horse to educate ourselves and others the best we can. Putting kids in pony club or 4-H are good, reliable outlets.

I would like to thank each and every one of you who participated. I enjoyed reading everyones comments and what they would change. The world may not be a perfect place but we can assure ourselves we are doing all we can to make horses as safe and happy as they can be.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Recent weddings

Busy time of year. I've been running this way and that working, giving riding lessons, training horses, weddings, carriage rides. Just the usual.

I did another Indian wedding today. My dad was my photographer with my crappy kodak point and shoot. I obviously did not get my camera or artistic skills from him lol! He tries.

As you can see Indigo is quite asleep and I look totally unimpressed, wearing the ugliest red pants I have ever had the displeasure to own. What I do for money, I swear.

We do a lot of carriage events and weddings but just started using Indigo for these Indian/Sikh/Hindu etc. weddings this year.
I got up at 6 am to feed the horses, looked out the window and it's pouring cats and dogs. We did need the rain but couldn't it hold off?

It is about a 55 minute drive to the city where the hall is. The thing about this particular culture is they are NEVER on time. I've had so many people at the weddings we have done, and our friend who does horse drawn vehicle services tell us "we are on Indian time now" which means they get there when they get there. I just let them know that the clock starts at X time and over that hour they pay extra.

We get there and this wedding is supposed to start at 9 am. It's about 8:40 and theres literally four cars in this HUGE parking lot. The hall itself is very large. After a wile I found someone and the groom/wedding party or whatever you can consider them showed up. The groom was Caucasian and marrying a well known doctors daughter. He was doing this to help with tradition.

Like many of our weddings these grooms have never touched a horse in their life or been on ones back. They are city kids. This guy wasn't afraid, he went to get on and I insisted he use the step stool, for his own safety and my poor horses back. That was alright except he booted the stool as he caught his other curly toe shoe on the lip. It went flying right underneath Indigo who promptly squatted and kicked it around a few times before it went tumbling out from under her. The groom did not fall off, another accident averted. Phew. Could have ended a lot worse than that. Good Indigo, your such a sensible, smart girl.

The family danced and the music was played on a CD from this car just a few feet ahead of us. We were under the overhang on the building. The family danced, clapped, hollered, shook bells and made a lot of noise along with the stereo of the car bouncing off the roof of the entrance we were under was enough to rattle your brains. When the people were dancing Indigo put her head up and watched real intensely but didn't otherwise move a muscle. Good girly again. I am so proud of her. To think how far she has come since I have had her. She would see a manhole and do the four legged splay away from them in the blink of an eye, almost unseating me. Now shes surrounded by singing, dancing, hollering, cheering people, dozens and dozens of them. She doesn't step a foot out of line.

So I am pleased with the day. I finally have some time to do some crafty stuff. I am beading a piece of deer leather at the moment for a purse my mother is making to sell. Will update when thats done but for now I will endulge you in some hideous red pants pictures from my last wedding, which was Sikh and had a live drummer and 200 people singing and dancing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday stills: Fences

Indigo in the round pen using the fence as "leading lines"(Click images for full view). I wanted to have her intentionally out of focus. I like it. I've tried a hundred times to get a fence in this focus. I've always thought I got it but when I put it on the computer it was the complete opposite. I guess adding my horse made me look at the lines of the fence and give me a subject beyond the focal point.

Boy it feels good to have my camera back. I know it was in good hands with my aunt but I still missed it.

More of the barbed wire I took today. Hey it used to be a fence. I've always been entranced at how the wire has been hanging on that post forever and never fell off. I just love it's old rusty sharp barbs.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.
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