Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A lot of the lessons I have learned in life city friends overlook and because of that have not come to realize the humble moments a person can live without constantly being stuck in fast forward.
Today as I was pulling into the farm when I passed a truck on the turbine lane that was making a loud hissing noise. I thought maybe they had some sort of compressor in the bed because theres was a lot of tools back there.
Apparently not enough.
After my frantic search for my favorite pair of lost sunglasses, which I never found I was pulling back out to run into town to get some stuff for the first 4-H meeting tomorrow. The truck that was previously hissing like a compressor as I thought had a chronic case of completely flat tire.
One guy was under the truck trying to look like he knew what he was doing and the second was attempting to construct something on the tailgate that should have resembled a foldable tire iron of sorts. The hood was also up for some strange reason. What an amusing sight.
I rolled down my window and asked them if they needed any help.
The guy under the truck sat up and grinned back with some snark "Only if you actually have, and know how to use a jack"
Of course I had a jack in my trunk. Who the heck would be caught living out here without one. It would cost you an arm and a leg to get someone to come out and fix a flat here.
I went to the trunk and pulled out my scissor jack, not the best one but it would do it.
The guy who snarked at me jumped up and grabbed it, thanking me.
He hopped back underneath the truck and put it in place and sat there for a moment before I pointed out he needed the handle, which was in my hands to jack the jack up.
The guy jumped back up and grabbed it saying thanks before taking a moment to figure out how to work it.
I had this stupid grin on my face right about now, this was mighty amusing. They were totally from the city, never had to change a tire by themselves in their life and obviously never seen a girl who knew how to change one who was probably half their age.
About halfway to getting the truck jacked up the boss of the flat tire guys came rolling down the lane in his immaculate polished expedition. Here I am thinking "gee thats an awfully clean, shiny, expensive truck to be driving down the lane" He jumped out and exclaimed "I see help arrived. Where'd you get the jack?" I grinned smugly and greeted him. We talked for a moment about the turbines. He kept asking if I didn't have someplace to be. I told him I wasn't in a hurry the store was open for another hour yet and I really did not have to be anyplace that night. About this time we turned our attention back to the flat tire.
The two guys were attempting some sort of back alley brain surgery on the poor truck's center cap with the end of a tire iron and bending it.
Here is where I start racking up points for "Sydney knows how to change a tire" vs "city construction workers who really don't". I gained another point for pointing out how it was far more efficient to take the center cap off by pushing the clips, than going caveman on it with a tire iron. I think they were on to my little game at this point. They started to make cracks about women out here knowing more than men when it came to mechanics. I pointed out that in the country you gotta change your own tire or walk the long country blocks home (mostly because cell reception out here is a black hole so no one would know to pick you up). In the city the garage on every street corner can do it for you. They all piped up, I was right again.
So after pointing out a few more things to help them change a tire they were almost on the road again. They handed me back my jack and their boss thanked me for saving them time and money. I wished them well and threw the jack back into my trunk. They talked amongst themselves for a moment before the boss driving the -too nice for the farm truck- came over and says "Can I buy you a coffee for your help?" I denied his offer, I haven't drank a full cup of coffee in my life and I never expect anything from anyone. Hell I know someday if I am stuck with a flat someone would be there to offer me a jack if I didn't have one (which I always will have one). He stood back for a moment, reflecting on the past 15 minutes and says "You know theres something different about people out here I have met compared to the city. Everyone is in such a hurry in the city they never learn how to live. Heck I don't know how to relax. I hope my children grow up to be something like you kid. It makes me hopeful there are still nice people in the world ready to go out of their way to do nice things for complete strangers" and he tossed the $20 for my help into my car window and drove away.
I guess no one told those guys theres no Tim Hortons out here for 20 minutes in any direction but I appreciated the gesture. No coffee for me. So I put the money into the -Sydney needs a new pair of sunglasses- fund. I made an all time record today. Lost one, my favorite pair someplace in the barnyard this morning without noticing until later, which are now likely stompelated into smithereens. The second I bent the arms on when I caught them on my sweater and the third I dropped and both lenses popped out. Man am I on a roll today this is a record.
So as I am reflecting on my victory in the chapter of "I am woman hear me roar" I think about giving what you have, and receiving much in return.
A simple act of thinking of others instead of yourself, because quite frankly I could have just given them the number of the local garage and spared myself the 30 minutes of amusement but I didn't. I never even thought of that until now, my first reaction was to ask them if they needed my help and offer them what I had. If the store closed before I got there, oh well theres tomorrow.
But then theres still a lot more to learn from living out here, where life only goes as fast as the beat up tractor three cars ahead of you cruises.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Well first of all I see the sun rise. Every day except weekends when I sometimes get to sleep in, sometimes.
You can hardly see the road there in front of me. I was at a fork down a back road just after finishing feeding and doing stalls at my 2nd barn of the day off to my third before breakfast. It was just a little after 7 am.
I wouldn't have it any other way. As much as I love sleeping in I must remind myself people die in their sleep.
Then my inner couch potato reminds me They die happy too.
Touche inner couch potato, touche.
I see a lot of this, a lot. More times my body weight in this than you could imagine. I kick it, scoop it, dump it, wheel it and occasionally throw some of it at a passerby, which can end up as a full blown road apple fight to most of you non-horse peoples disgust I am sure. To me theres nothing better than the smell of manure, shavings and a dirty horse.. Well maybe freshly tanned leather or a brand new saddle or bridle. Us horse people are just a little bit off our rockers.
I would have taken my camera with me riding but thats a bit risky. I don't fancy replacing over a grand in camera and lenses. I do ride nearly every day. Not necessarily my horses since they are outside but at other barns along with my sh*t kicking I do.
I say find something you would do for free and figure out a way to make money doing it.
And never call your job a "job" or "work" because that drills it into your mind your like everyone else working just to survive. You gotta enjoy what you do or else you'll be sour through your life, especially when you retire knowing you "worked" your whole life. I call working for me "chores". Makes it seem a little less "work" like.
So instead I show you a sleepy Indigo who was actually watching a bulldozer driver moon the other construction workers. I think I seen enough white arse to last me a lifetime that day.
My horses are always a part of my day. Unless I am on vacation or away someplace, rain, shine, sickness or health I go out and see my horses. I have to, it's my lifeblood.
Because it's spring I can sympathize with other horse owners. Dirty, hairy, shedding horses. I do love grooming in the spring. Getting hair off makes me feel like I am actually getting something done when I groom. I do have the white horse with the teflon coated hair, all the dirt just comes right off.
Thats about my day in a nutshell if you add in more KM driving in a day than most people do in a week you got it covered.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Last weekend I was at can-am. I always meet up with Zoe and Gerry there and we share a few long moments talking about all the amazing things bitless have done for the horse world.
We talk about training horses, re-training horses, riding in bits and most importantly riding without them. Someplace along the lines here as a coach and distributor of their wonderful bitless bridles we talked about different trade shows and horseback vacation spots that rode their horses bitless and me coming along, expenses paid.
Vacation you say!?
Riding horses you say!?
THE SLIEVE AUGHTY CENTER IN IRELAND!!
(All images property of the Slieve aughty center)
I am so excitedly(is that a word?) pleased to announce I am going as a vacationer/writer to document this trip and ride along with them myself!
I just wanted to get my plane ticket in order before I told you all!
SEVEN DAYS! In Ireland! Riding horses bitless! Taking pictures! IN IRELAND! We are also going to have an interdressage competition where Karina will be present, awarding rosettes and possibly a trophy.
Pinch me I might be dreaming! But I bought the plane ticket so my bank account says I am not!
Pinch me anyway.
Ok really I musn't be dreaming. I bruise easy.
From the 17th-24th of May I will be traveling here to Dublin Ireland for a week to document this incredible bitless journey.
I.just.can't.wait. I already started counting the days.
The only problem is in order for me to leave for a week, especially over oceans, I need to do almost two months of preparation *shoot me now*
People to take care of the places I work which equates into about 15 different people I need to contact.
Someone to take care of the horses. God forbid Indigo go without a good grooming and cookie feeding. She also likes her straw fluffed every two days so she has one day to lie in poo and make lovely stains, despite the fact that half the shed does have clean staw in it where she could lay.
To find another 4-H leader for the horse club. See the parade of horse breeds is when I will be away. It's a BIIIIG deal. I pretty much run the club of 31 kids this year by myself. And you adults say that 21 year olds are not responsible. Why I outta.
Get a bazillion, million other things done.
The trip is a month and then some away and I am already rolling my eyes thinking of all the stuff I need to fix before I leave. I think I might take on too much responsibility for one person. If I didn't have so much to do I am sure I would be getting into trouble though.
Oh and I need to mention I will be doing daily updates on this blog with tons of pictures wile I am in Ireland, riding, bitless. The bitless horse blog has been chosen as the host blog for the trip! How exciting. This whole thing just blows my mind. How lucky could one girl get? I guess it's from all my 2009 bad luck.
By the way, do they really jump stone wall jumps on horses in Ireland like the movies? Cause I would totally be up to jumping a big stone wall with a honest horse. Is there such a thing as leprechauns? Because I have a feeling I have some sort of hidden childhood fear of nightmares involving squat, ginger men clad in green. Is the beer always green there or am I just having flashbacks of St.Patrick's day?
So there you have it, good news!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
After eating some food and looking out at the gorgeous afternoon I decided to grin and bear it and go riding.
They are putting in the hydro (electricity as you Americans call it) lines for the turbines and there were a few bulldozers zooming aroundA trencher digging a four foot deep trench on the other side of the bermDump truck's crashing loudly when they dumped their dirt, backhoes digging, construction workers barking orders at each other (and throwing large chunks of dirt at each other and even MOONING each other. I think I have seen enough white arse to last me a wile...Men).
FYI- since a lot of people have asked/mentioned these wind turbines are part of a project and do not supply power directly to the farm. They are not personal but rather feed power right into the grid for others.
I decided since they were working only a few feet away and they were not bothering Indigo so it was time for a ride.
I rode her 6/7 days last week having been at one of my barns I work at for a week. Then she got two days off. One because it rained and the second because by the time I was done my work it was school time and by the time school was done it was dark. Today she decided it was vacation. I hopped on her and right away she wanted to walk off as soon as I got my stirrup. So I got after her and she was not a happy camper making faces and swishing her tail so I made her work harder until she was behaving. Stood like a statue the second time I hopped on. Smart, lazy horse.
Then because I knew the construction was not bothering her I knew if she was spooking it was all bluff. She tried to act all tuff, trotting off when I applied leg to do a circle in the field. Big wake up call. I do not tolerate that crap, especially when I know shes bluffing for sure and not afraid of the big horse eating yellow monsters. 5 minutes later she had decided walking was easier than being put through boot camp. She calmly neck reined around the field for another 30 minutes before the sinus headache of doom got the best of me. Yes you can neck rein bitless because neck reining is indirect reining which means the horse moves away from light pressure on his neck. No bit involved as some believe of they would call it bit reining.
I hastily hopped off, un tacked Indigo and headed for the shower.
I was impressed once I got through to her that it was not time for her games she was so well behaved. The semi trucks dump truck was crashing loudly and I just about jumped out of my skin but she could have cared less. See Indigo, however well behaved people think she is, well she can be a pistol. Shes a lot of horse. She can be sneaky, goofy and sometimes expresses her pent up energy in inappropriate ways. Like bringing the man for a sleigh ride for the first time and she BUCKED on the sleigh just once when my aunt scared the bejeebus out of her and in turn Indigo scaring the bejeebus out of us. BAD INDIGO! Extra work for you.
But once she knows you mean business she complies without much fuss.
But now at midnight I need to sleep off this still throbbing headache. Oh how I love, and hate spring. Dear sinus headache of doom, kindly do F Off. The rain too, I can deal without that since the ground is nice and dry.
First of all stemming off my last post about the one week boarding issue and grain. I've had quite the few questions asked.
First of all people wondered why it is such a big deal that Indigo missed a couple meals, it's not like the BO forgot to feed her hay right?
Well see horses are relatively simple, yet extremely complicated animals. Wile they are strictly vegetarians, eating forage as the basis of their diet. When forage is available, and I am not talking a couple times a day I am talking ALL THE TIME, horses have relatively little trouble with digestive issues. However in todays horse world there is normally less land than grass can be suitably sustained upon by a herd of horses. If there is grass in a pasture it is often low quality. Just because it's green and "weed free" does not mean it is nutritionally adequate, especially if it is grazed on for a few years and never re-seeded and you don't know the nutritional content of it. Forage should make up 50% or more of the horses diet, preferably 100% but that is not always available or practical. This should be about 1.5% to 3% of their bodyweight each day.
This is where grain comes into the picture.
I want to drill this into your head again GET A HAY ANALYSIS! Every year, every new cut of hay. The soil can change each year, the hay changes. Hay analysis is especially important for horses that fit into the following: Insulin resistant (or may possibly become), cushings, old, young, laminitic/foundered or nurtitionally compromised (cancer, starvation, other diseases). If your horse does not fit into one of those it does not mean you don't need a hay analysis.
Without a hay analysis grain is useless, useless, useless! You may be feeding less or even more than what you need which can harm a horses system in the long run, create toxicities and cause nutritional diseases.
Of course when looking at anything (other than treats of course) you are feeding a horse you should always feed by WEIGHT not VOLUME. After all you weigh your horse, not volumize him. If you have a few normal 50 pound square bales of hay the flakes are not going to be the same size through every bale, and thus do not weigh the same. Find what your horse weighs and adjust according to it's weight and the nutritional content of your hay.
The hay is bad you say? Why not feed more of it to make up?
No, no, no, no, no. Don't ever do this. See a bad quality hay is going to have to sit in a horses digestive system longer to get the nutrients out of it. A lot of the time this is what gives a horse the "hay belly" look. So it's always a good idea to feed a little of good hay that will have quality nutrients in it than a lot of bad hay.
Ok so we talked a little on hay on to grain.
You know the nutritional analysis of your hay, you know what your horse weighs and needs in his daily diet for his workload because not all energy contained in a feed is accessible to a horse. A lot of this energy is lost in the digestion process, so we determine the amount of usable energy in hay/grain a horse consumes in DE or digestible energy. Think about what category your horse fits into to determine his maintenance needs (AKA staying a good weight without gain/loss):
Maintenance (AKA your average pasture puff maybe ridden once in a blue moon)
Light work (two or three or less times a week for an hour or less usually just walk or trot)
Moderate work (4 or more times a week an hour or more spending a larger amount of time in trot and canter)
Heavy work (6 or 7 days a week, rigorous workout, usually 1 1/2 hours or more pulling hard, running hard etc)
Of course these are just guidelines you should be able to fit your horse into one of the above.
I feed grain to make up for the nutrients, carbohydrates and my hay does not have. For instance vitamin E, for every 30 days hay is cut you can cut the vitamin E in the hay in half. After a few months you can imagine theres very little in the hay.
I feed my horses Buckeye grow n win alfa. We have alfalfa hay. It's whats grown on the farm, available to us and we adjust accordingly. Grow N win is a ration balancer. It balances what our hay does not have. Buckeye happened to score above most feed mills when we did comparisons in universityWe also mix it with oats. Our horses are on moderate to heavy work depending on the time of year. We need to balance out what they get in order to keep their weight and energy level.
Other ruminants such as cows are fare more efficient at digesting forages and concentrates than horses. When I mentioned I was upset about my horse not being fed her grain when at the boarding barn for a week it was for good reason.
A change of more than 10% of the horses diet at once can cause micro flora and other good bacteria to suddenly die as the PH becomes more alkaline in the hind gut. See horses ferment their feed in the hind gut unlike dogs, rabbits, cats and even humans where the digestion happens primarily in the stomach. With a sudden change come sudden consequences. The lining on the hindgut may become inflamed and painful, disrupting blood flow. This is what causes problems. Horses are creatures of habit. Not because they enjoy eating at the same time of day, but because their bodies dictate how they live. Horses eating naturally 16+ hours a day, walking around and not in a stall because movement is very much a crucial part of digestion, will rarely have these problems.
Also a question asked on supplements. Right now Indigo is the only one on a supplement. She occasionally when it's bad gets a cough supplement due to her allergic pharyngitis (Kind of like COPD just for dust and mold) she also gets all her hay soaked.
I can see this is probably going to be more than one part as I haven't even skimmed the surface. Any other feeding questions I will try and bring to the light. I did equine nutrition but I am not a nutritionist so I suggest finding a nutritionist that will work with your hay (because you will have got a HAY ANALYSIS!!!! Yes I will be burning that into your brains evermore) and your horses individual needs.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I thought it was about time I put an official title to this blog. There are still some glitches. It may take a few days for everything to transfer, like comments, don't panic, they will transfer eventually but it might take a few days.
I have been writing here for almost two years. In such a short time I have met a ton of wonderful, inspiring and kind people from all over the world who ride their horses bitless and those interested in riding bitless. Of course I could not exclude those horse-less people who love the animals but do not own one. Each and every one of you I owe the success of this blog to.
I went to Can-Am on the weekend with a good friend and the man (who was likely bored out of his skull with all the horsey stuff but an extremely good sport about it, not even complaining once). I met another lady I have been talking to online who rides her first horse in a Nurtural.
I also have some other exciting news but that is going to have to wait until I have the final details in order.
I do have to say 2010 is turning out to be such a great year. This little distance into the year and I could confidently say I would do 2009 all over again just to have a glimpse at the awesome things that have happened this year.
How is everyone elses year going so far? Any exciting news?
Friday, March 19, 2010
And the winner of the dreams contest is
LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango Congrats!!
Please e-mail me your mailing address to get your pretty little dream bridle charm/key fob/whatever you want to use it for. Remember to take pictures of where you are hanging it so we can see where you dream.
For those of you who did not win don't be sad. There is another contest in the works. I loved hearing all your dreams, hopes and wishes. It turned into a very inspirational post. If you are new here and did not get a chance to participate in the dream contest please post them there anyway, I would love to hear them.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Especially read the comments, they are the best part.
I never imagined that contest would turn into such an inspirational post. Everyone who commented had such meaning in their comments. We all dream, big or small they are what keeps us going. I want to hear a bunch more so keep those dream comments coming.
I realized hours after I had posted that I really did not explain my dream. After all I did write that at quarter to 6 am before dashing off to feed horses at 6 and let it post itself later.
I think Jayke described the essence perfectly.
"My dream…I've spent a lot of time deliberating on my dream lately. I'm actually getting a tattoo soon that will inscribe my dream on myself forever, so that I never lose sight of it.
My dream is to have a home, to have a partner who loves me. My dream is to be content with simple things, and not get wrapped up in the work-consume-sleep-work-consume-sleep cycle that many people in my profession get sucked into.
My dream is to have time to garden, do yoga, and ride my horse. My dream is to have every weekend available to be with my family, and to spread the word on issues I feel are important.
The tattoo I'm planning on getting is Ob-la-di Ob-la-da. The Beatles song perfectly describes my ideal life. Happy ever after in the marketplace."
This is the very being of what I want to be. Word for word I want the same (but not the same tattoo haha). Love, horses, and an ob-la-di ob-la-da life. Simple.
I want to work hard, but not be stuck in some sort of work-consume-sleep-work-consume-sleep cycle. I want to know love and security. To continue to know what it is like to love the simple things in life. Especially love. They say a person has two great loves in their live I already know who my first was/is and that is horses. They will forever have that spot in my heart, no matter what. The other, well thats still open.
I want to be able to use what I own, be it horses, knowledge or a farm (someday) to teach people.
I realized yesterday as I helped a boarder at a barn's niece learn how to pick out a horses feet properly that I miss teaching lessons so, so much. I just do not have the facilities right now or the horses for beginners (excluding Sheba but shes done enough to get around being a lesson horse all the time). I miss Naigen and the trust I had in her to allow anyone to do anything with her. She was such a good old girl.
Indigo on the other hand can be a good girl but shes a lot of horse. Not many could ride her and keep up with her like I do. Shes really a one woman horse and certainly not a mans horse. She can pull stunts when she thinks she can get away with things but on the other hand she is calm and reliable when it comes to really challenging situations, like the East Indian weddings we do.
I will always have riding dreams. In fact riding is always a part of my dreams.
As I have mentioned I have Indigo at one of the barns I take care of for a week of riding in the indoor. I love being able to ride every day. She hates it. Indigo is not a happy camper. She has been in a stall at night. She wants to be let out to be a horse.
The first two days I was there in the arena she was a total brat. Spooking at horses winnying, trying to walk off when I asked her to stand, going off at a trot at random. I really got after her and we had a pretty big argument. In the end I won. Then she tries to play this game where she ignores me. Acknowledges my presence but stays as far away as possible rather than her usual pocket pony, love me, feed me, pet me, attitude. Eventually she gives up and comes back saying "I still love you, love me, feed me, pet me".
Yesterday I rode her for two and a half hours bareback doing figure eights and serpentines with just my legs and seat. Then we worked one neck reining for the first time in probably 3 years. Shes one smart cookie and picked right up from where we left off.
I realize here bitless and hopefully bridleless will always be a part of my future. I dream and wish and hope in a few years bitless will be the norm and people will understand the anatomy of the horse and how a bit negatively effects so much more than the mouth.
It is after all why I started this blog. To realize my dreams with horses.
Oh and Happy St.Patrick's day.
Remember: Green beer makes for green barf.
I forgot to add this contest ends friday night whenever I get in the door and sit down. Probably late evening.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
What do they mean to you? Be it the kind you have in your sleep or the waking ones you think about all day and somehow hope to achieve.
There once was a thing called the "American Dream" where the big majority of people dreamed of bigger, better, richer lives. Of course being (mostly) horse people here, we know it couldn't be said any better than how the Beatles described it: "Can't buy me love."
I've had a few people ask me what I would do with a million dollars. I give them the same answer every time. Give most of it away to some sort of charity in need and buy myself a little farm where I could have my own business with horses and farm life in general on my own property, rather than going to other peoples farms.
Of course I would still work. I love working and I couldn't see myself sitting around wile others did everything. I am very active, outgoing person. Nothing keeps me down for long.
But as nice as a million given to me sounds I do want to work for my money and would not feel right spending something I did not earn myself. I will make it just like the rest of the general horse owning, farming populace and work hard.
So having said that, tell me what your "American (Or Canadian for us here) dream is" How are you going to achieve it? Does it involve horses? Are you already living it? Give us the details here in a comment and you could win this lovely little bridle (or key chain, your call) tassel. Hand made by me the soft greyish mane hairs just about two inches long, heald together with little glass silver beads in a peyote stitch with the little "key to your dreams" charm.
It is intended to hang off the throat latch on your bridle but if you really want you could indeed use it as a key fob for the non horse owning populace out there.
1) Leave a comment telling us what your dreams are and how you are going to use this bridle charm/key chain (1 Entry)
2) Be a follower (1 Entry)
3) Mention this contest on your blog and give me the link (1 Entry)
This gives you all a 3 entry chance.
Dream on everyone!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Early this week it was very foggy. As I got up to feed horses I seen this odd orb hanging just over the horizon, rapidly rising into the sky.
Strange isn't it? The fog has a way of disguising something, making sound travel or completely changing it's appearance.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
How often have we all been guilty of buying something for our horses because "it's his colour"?
I know I am guilty of it. I have every colour of the rainbow in polo wraps, brown saddle pads, black, blue, white, red, green and even tye dye.
Really when it comes down to it tack does not matter to a horse but what he sticks his head into to get nourishment might.
Thus comes the great bucket experiment.
I had Naigen for a little over a year. She always had fresh water and tons of food at this point and was in great physical condition compared to when I fist seen her sack of bones in that swampy excuse for a paddock in the middle of a dry June.
She ate lots, gobbled her grain down and never refused an extra treat or two but she barely drank anything.
We tried it all, adding apple juice to her water, increasing her salt intake each day by adding it to her beet pulp, soaking her hay to give her more water and even giving her a heated bucket.
-You can lead a horse to water, or disguise it in my case, but you cannot make it drink-
I was just about blue in the face trying to get her to drink what she should have been. The vet noted she was a tad bit on the dehydrated side but it wasn't. He also noted she had a touch of uveitis (moon blindness). This is where it all clued in.
Humans are Trichomats. We see a few million colours believe it or not. It's an amazing thing the human eye. Heres a representation of the colours we can see.This is your typical red, yellow, blue colour wheel. The variations of each are almost endless.
Horses have relatively little need for colour vision. They evolved looking at horses of neutral earthy hues and eating greenery, not looking at our vision of the world, brightly coloured with neon paints and crazy coloured flowers in jump boxes. Thus they are known as trichromats.
They do still see in colour, just not he same hues as we do. Here is an example.See the difference?
I studied this for a long time. I was trying to figure out what to do about Naigen. She drank pretty good outside. Little did I know the yellow tub she had outside played a bigger role in her water consumption than I thought.
Looking at a stack of buckets us humans may not think much of what colour other than what matches what else we got or maybe whatever colour happens to be on the top, whats the cheapest etc.
I thought long and hard. I had a whole arsenal of coloured buckets at my disposal. I started marking down the temperature and how much water was being consumed to make sure hot weather was not an influence.
I found she drank the least out of a black bucket. She hardly touched the water at all only seconded by red and dark purple. The best she drank out of was a white and yellow bucket.
I couldn't believe it. I had solved this year long mystery with the change of a bucket. I immediately gave her all white buckets. She drank deep, gobbled her feed and never looked back, drinking down a white bucket of water by the time it needed to be re-filled later in the day.
Here is what the same stack of buckets might look like to your horse. Notice how in both white sticks out in our version of the buckets and the horses? That is because white is the first colour to be recognized by both the human and equine eye. Keep this in mind when a horse spooks at an object. It might just be because white is extremely unusual, startling in a horses natural environment amongst the bluey green and yellowish hues.
I suggested it to a friend who had a mare that didn't drink anything in her stalls for almost two days after she got to her new barn. Having two brand spanking new black flat back buckets in her stall she was used to light blue before. Finally the mare broke down and drank a little but never enough wile inside to anyones liking. Like me, my friend tried everything and asked to borrow some buckets. Maybe hers had a weird taste to it? We washed them all out just to be sure they all tasted the same. Some yellow buckets later and this mare began bellying up. The friend bought two new yellow ones and the mare started drinking the same again.
Of course not all horses are the same. Some do not seen to care about sticking their nose into a black cavern to drink water. Others like Naigen, my friends mare and even Indigo (when stalled briefly) do care and benefit from a bucket they can see all the way to the bottom of.
Just like a young horse that sees the inside of a two horse trailer for the first time. Some bug their eyes out of their sockets and look at you as if you are a lunatic for wanting them to walk into the black hole cave of horse eating doom. Others just give it a once over and step right in for the first time, unflapped by the darkness.
So next time you are looking to buy things for your horse to use and now you know I am not talking the latest craze in tacky coloured padded bridles, keep what he can see in mind.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I just had to add the button and ring knots. The ring knot slides and is adjustable for however tight she wants those stampede strings to be.
I am envying Lisa for getting to wear this set of stampede strings. I had a ton of fun making them. I haven't made stampede strings in a long time because most people want hat bands, necklaces, earrings or bracelets. Stampede strings are not only pretty they keep your hat on in the wind. I have decided I am going to make myself a pair with the rest of Naigen's hair.
I have had a few other questions too mostly about mane hair.
I can braid mane hair, buuuuuut. You knew there was going to be a but.
I do not like to braid mane hair.
I will charge you double to braid mane hair into something I normally use tail hair to do (like a bracelet or necklace)
However I can and do the following with mane hair.
A set of braided or tassle earrings or pendant for a necklace and tassles for any project requiring them like a shoo fly. I actually prefer mane hair for making tassels. It makes a much nicer tassel and doesn't kink like tail hair does when made into a tassel. I have also added mane hair to dream catchers. I can however weave the web in a dream catcher with tail hair and it turns out quite nice.
Heres another piece for a blogger. It's a short shoo fly/key fob/whatever you want it to be. I fancied it up with a peyote bead stitch because it's quite thick and would have taken forever to make a button knot around it.
Hope you all are having as good a day as I am here. Other than having to jump up to my thighs into a creek/small river to rescue one farms neglectful neighbors dog from drowning the day has gone relatively smooth. A warning for all those out there, do not go swimming yet, the water is still WAAAYY too cold. Thank goodness for the random assortment of stuff I carry in my car I had a pair of jeans from my trip to Toronto on the weekend that fell out of my bag.
Monday, March 8, 2010
As you may have noticed I did not participate in Sunday stills last weekend. Why? I went on a road trip with my BFF Lisa to the big city, Toronto. It is about four-ish hours from here and a whole lot of crazy to drive in.
After my classes on Friday I went to Lisa's where we were going to catch a greyhound bus to Toronto at 2 am. See we
Our plan was to see the King tut exhibit at the AGO (Art gallery of Ontario). I bought the tickets so we knew we had to be at the AGO for a certain time on Saturday and we booked a Motel room. That was it.
We boarded the bus at 2 am and departed. I slept mostly the whole way, in one position. When we got there around quarter to 6 am I had some serious butt hurt from trying to cramp my really long legs out under the seat in front of me. *Note to self- actually drive your own car next time to avoid butt hurt*
Since the check in time at the motel was 2 pm or we would have had to pay for a whole nother day. So we had to spend the day wandering around the big city. We walked one way, then the other, then back the other way. This city thing sure was confusing. I think from Saturday until Sunday we must have walked downtown Toronto three times. Thats A LOT of walking with 50 pound bags and a camera bag. *Another note to self- Never become a bag lady*
We did play tourist.A fatty road cone.
A fire hydrant.
The gigantic Anubis outside of the AGO.
The white tower is the CN tower. I liked the big cranes. From our motel room I counted 8 of these cranes I could see. Since the turbines have been put up on our farm and neighboring farms I have found a fondness for these big powerful machines. How cool are they building up skyscrapers.
The exhibit was pretty cool. I love Egyptian history. I have to say this exhibit was more on statues than actual mummies. There was a sarcophagus but there but no actual mummies, which boggles my mind how they did that all those many years ago. If I had the chance to go to Cairo on a trip I would be there in a heartbeat.
They wouldn't let us take pictures of any of the art of exhibits so we made do with taking a blurry, goofy picture in the bathroom with Lisa's camera.
Long story short we probably walked for a good 3 hours looking for the motel room. Stupid us not printing out maps. *more notes to self- really invest in a GPS* The maps they had posted along the city were totally useless. We walked around aimlessly forever before we were cranky and tired and finally hailed a cab that literally took us two blocks over for $5 to the motel. I was never so happy to hand over five bucks.
Of course since I am such a big kid at heart I played with my camera remote and jumped on the bed after a much needed shower. Lisa kept yelling at me not to break the bed. It wasn't the most sturdy thing but I needed to hop around like an idiot. I mean I should learn, I broke my bed frame (the mattresses are now on the floor) by doing a run and flop on it one day. It came crashing down but I fixed it. Now it awaits the unsuspecting victim sleeping in the spare bedroom to flop onto it.
Then we passed out. Like deep, dead to the world sleep for two and a half hours before my man called us and asked where we were and if he could come hang with us.
I have to say at this point I have the best guy ever. Seriously he is a lifesaver driving over to only be drug around into all sorts of random stores in Toronto as Lisa and I shopped, and window shopped and oohed and ahhed at all the cool stuff. He drove us around in his truck (I love riding in his red truck, even if it is a Ford :P) with the guidance of good ol TomTom, the GPS.
We decided to go to the big mall nearby, or the Eaton center as it is called. I just couldn't get over that on a Saturday in Toronto at 7:30 pm that everything was closed!? You could walk through the mall but all the stores were shut up tighter than a drum. We went to the Hard Rock cafe for a burger and a beer and it was a good time but boy were we wiped by the time 9 pm came around.
We crashed and didn't really wake up until Lisa's phone alarm went off the next morning.
We wanted to go to another museum/gallery called the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) but it was closed too. Back to the Eaton center we went at 10 am. Can you guess? Nothing was open! What the heck. We waited around in a little cafe until 11:30 or so before everything started opening.
After shopping in the Eaton center we drug the man along with us up and down the streets and into random shops. What a trooper. Before we knew it, it was time to go home. What a trip. I was so city sick but it was so much fun. I can't wait to go back. Even though it's the city theres something about Toronto and the surrounding area that makes me want to keep coming back.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I was talking to a manager at one of my barns this week. She believes in keeping the horses in 20 hours a day. I believe keeping them out 24 hours a day.
About three years ago for a university assignment I wrote a paper on evolution and management. I called it nature VS nurture.
I found you can fit horse care into three main groups when it comes to feedings etc:
Those being stalled individually at night and out for most of the daylight hours. Those being stalled 20 or more hours a day and last but not least, horses out 24/7 allowed to just be horses.
Of course I could not get away with this unless I looked at some anatomy first.
NOTE: BCS= body condition score on a scale of 1-9, 1 being emaciated 9 being morbidly obese.Any other things you don't understand please just ask I will explain.
When we think of management, clean stalls, green pastures, and healthy horses come to mind. Sometimes what we consider convenience for us, can be disastrous for the horse. Feeding large meals infrequently, seem to suit our lifestyle; however, it is not nearly as convenient for the anatomic makeup of the horse. The horse’s lifestyle is highly dependant on what use they are to their caretakers; the humans.
The majority of horses will be on turnout during the day and stall confinement during the night. The horse would be turned out in the morning on either a grass paddock or a dry lot, depending on the land available and the horses medical history. They would be allowed to exercise and play with their paddock buddies. They would be able to graze in the paddock or be fed hay outside but the majority of the meal would be fed in the morning and at night in the stall in the form of hay and concentrates. Water is provided outside and in the stall artificially by water troughs and buckets. Hay analysis is common when hay is first cut but not on grazing pasture or grass.
The horses on this style of management would likely change significantly in the winter with the onset of snow and the loss of green nutrient rich grass. They would be turned out later and be brought in earlier and on some days not turned out at all. They would rely 100% on hay and concentrates to maintain body condition score. Grass would either not be growing or be lacking nutritional content at this time. The hay analysis would be different from the first testing in the warm weather. Many people add vitamin supplements to balance their horses rations because of hay lacking nutritional value
The other group of horses would be the racehorse, sport horse, or show horse. They are kept in stalls most of the day for various reasons, mostly because they are a financial investment. Some receive minimal turnout in dry lot paddocks, while others are in their stalls for the whole season because they are being used athletically. They are fed low forage, high concentrate diets to maintain their BCS. The feeding regime does not change very much over the course of winter except for the addition of different vitamins to balance the hay analysis for the winter. For the reason of being fed high amounts of concentrate, the horses are usually fed several times throughout the day with meals being split up into smaller portions. This helps reduce the risk of colic. Water is usually only provided in the stall when they are not turned out for very long.
The last group of horses would be 24 hour turnout. These horses are outside as
much as they want with the exclusion of, a run-in or lean-to for shelter at night or in extreme weather. There is enough land to allow the number of animals to graze without killing plants and grasses, and water is provided artificially with troughs or naturally with streams or ponds. These horses spend all day (and night) grazing. They do not have a set meal time but hay and concentrate may be offered to maintain BCS.
In the winter if snow covers the ground they might be fed hay and concentrates from mangers at timed intervals. Most horses are allowed free-range hay at this time to mimic their summer eating patterns. Others are fed at intervals like most stabled horses and receive concentrates and vitamin supplements.
The evolutionary strategy of the horses digestive system leaves us as caretakers to carefully balance their nutritional needs around our time schedule. When feeding a horse that is outside for the majority of the day and inside for major feeding times we must take care that the concentrates are not more than 0.5% of the horses total body weight (so 5 pounds of concentrate to a 1000 pound horse). It is also wise to feed these concentrates in more than one meal.
The horses digestive system is not like ours or even a dogs, yet we still seem to feed them as if they were. The size of the meal largely dictates how fast feed passes through the foregut. A horse that is fed two large meals a day passes the ingested feed quicker. The foregut emptying is influenced by how large a meal is, how much liquid it contains, and how finely ground it is. Feed that is passed quickly reduces the quality of digestion in the foregut because the feed passes rapidly(Lardy 2001). Normal passage of feed through the stomach and small intestine takes one to two hours. Once the feed reaches the hindgut it needs to be fermented. The fermentation starts in the cecum. The cecum houses a lot of bacteria responsible for breaking down the majority of plant matter. Disturbances to the cecum, such as large grain quantities or large meals can result in bulging, impaction, and rupture. This can be avoided by letting the horse graze continuously.
The large colon helps absorb most of it’s nutrients through a fermentation process that occurs many hours after the horse has ingested the feed it is digesting(Livesey). Feeding infrequent meals lets the digestive tract lay dormant. This decreases the passage of food through the digestive system and can lead to colic. If large amounts of grain are fed to a horse the acid content in the cecum can rise and create hindgut acidosis and lead to things like founder and colic. Horses are therefore better suited to smaller meals. Feeding at more regular intervals when a performance horse needs to be stalled will indeed mimic their natural habits of eating but there is one thing missing, and that is exercise.
When a horse has to eat a lot and is confined to a very small space his body does not move as much as it needs to in order to stimulate digestion and the moving of feed through the digestive system. Receiving large amounts of grain poses a big threat to the hindgut; however, when they are broken down into smaller meals the risk significantly decreases. Performance horses are expected to be able to be worked to maintain their level of fitness, and thus, to compete and win. It is a bit like eating a big dinner and going out for a sprint immediately afterwards. Your stomach would churn faster than it was supposed to, resulting in an upset stomach, or colic for the horse.
When a horse eats small, frequent meals the food is passed continually, he drinks more and everything is passing like a smooth assembly line through his body. The horses stomach can only hold approximately 18 liters and empties every one or two hours and when he is eating small meals it will empty and refill in time, instead of emptying and staying empty, as with infrequent meals. When the horse is continually grazing he is walking around churning all these contents and allowing them to be digested more thoroughly and effectively, absorbing nutrients as he munches away.
The best feeding regime in mind of the horse is the continual 24 turnout. He can eat as much as he wants, when he wants, and allow nature to take its course. Concentrates that would be added to maintain BCS could be ingested and then followed by many more hours of grazing, allowing the rate of passage through the body to be more fluent and thorough. Colic’s would likely be less frequent (some horses excluded in that cribbers being one example) because the ingested food would be passing in and out of each digestive organ relative to the natural time-phase it takes to extract the nutrients needed.
When the horse is eating continually there would not be this time-phase where nothing is ingested. The stomach and small intestine are designed to allow constant entry of small amounts of food, therefore leaving it empty. The stomach also continually produces gastric acid that helps break down food. Continually grazing reduces the instances of gastric ulcers because the acid has ingested matter to break down, not the stomach lining. The hindgut is reliant on an adequate supply of dietary fiber for fermentation and preventing digestive upset.
A horse that is outside all the time with his herd-mates also has a big impact not on anatomy but his emotional structure. Often times horses that are turned out for the day and inside at night lack the bond and herd structure that horses turned out 24/7 have.
Horses that are together all the time can bond, are constantly touching each other, and communicating freely. This is not the case when a horse is confined to a stall for a portion of the day and has walls or bars between the contact with it’s other herd mates.
The upside of turnout/stall management would be mostly convenience on the owners part. Horses that are turned out in paddocks after hours in a stall confinement, can later be brought back in and fed individual concentrates and hay rations to their own body condition, training level, and individual needs. These horses can receive a more accurate feeding regime. It is also more convenient for most of us humans in our busy lifestyle.
The downside of this management practice would be leaving a big time gap when the horse is not fed. Acids build up in the stomach and eat the lining, creating gastric ulcers. The whole digestive system is left empty when the horse has nothing to eat creating a vast array of problems during post-meal time.(Geror) The horse can get bored when not eating anything and will usually begin chewing on things, cribbing, stall kicking, etc.
The upside of the horse that is stall bound for most of the day on a high concentrate diet would be, the ability to create a ration good for an individual performance horse. You would be able to feed them to maintain their BCS and it is extremely convenient for the person working the horse to access them from their stalls.
The downside of this feeding management would be the horses’ inability to move around and graze. The feeding practices may be split up into small, frequent meals; however, a diet consisting of such a high energy level can lead to a bored, extremely high strung animal, that gets minimal turnout and intense exercise.
The upside of the 24/7 turnout management practice would be allowing the horse to roam and graze as he sees fit. Ingested matter is constantly being consumed, therefore it is constantly moving through the digestive system smoothly. He can play and socialize as much as he wants. In the winter, if and when, the snow covers the ground the horse would have to be fed hay to maintain BCS. This would closely mimic how and what the horse ate during times of drought or harsh weather in the wild. He would be eating older, denser herbage, and rate of passage through the digestive system would slow(Janis, 1967)
The downside of this management practice would be the inability to regulate what your horse eats, thus having to provide supplemental grains and hay to keep BCS optimal. The horse has a short supply of amylase in its body(Geror). Amylase helps digest starch. In our artificial grassed paddocks we may plant several types of grasses. Some will be higher in a starch called fructan. Fructan is the carbohydrate-like starch responsible for grass founder. Not being able to limit when a horse eats grass can increase his chances of grass founder, especially if he is overweight, insulin resistant or other high risk candidates. When a horse eats grass on a cloudy day, fructan production ceases because growing time is not optimal for the plant. When a horse eats the grass on these days he is ingesting a higher amount of fructan or a higher starch level.
In conclusion, it is far better to let the horse be. If the land is available and you want happier, healthier horses, let them roam in a grassy paddock that is more suited to their evolutionary needs.
Mine are out 24/7. They will behave and be fine in stalls if I need them to be but they are generally not too happy about it as expressed by the next day when I turn them out and they barrel around like idiots for about five minutes screaming their heads off and bucking and acting goofy, which they normally never do (FYI Indigo, stop requiting medical attention and you wont have to be stalled ever again, promise).
The reason why they like going into the stall if they have to is because they have been conditioned. What do I mean by that? They get to eat grain by themselves where normally they share their grain being fed for the average of the group, though all ours are easy keepers. They know when we open that door and allow them into the one stall we have they get their own grain at meal time. Simple as that. They are greedy, no matter how well they all get along.
The barn manager mentioned said to me "After four hours all the horses are waiting at the gates to come in. They don't want to be out, they like the barn."
I thought about this for a minute and asked her when she fed them. Put two and two together.
As any horse owner knows a horse has a clock in his head that says an hour before feeding time that he has to start announcing to the world that he is starving and would like his meal, like now!
The time in which she turned her horses out and the time they wanted to come in coincided with their meal time. Their little horsey lunch time brain clocks kicked in and they knew if they were at the gates they got to be the first ones in to eat their lunchtime ration. Smart horses.
Of course sometimes 24/7 turnout is not ideal for our sake. Busy lifestyles, keeping certain horses weight on, exercise, weather etc can put a damper on management.
I enjoy reading my nature vs nurture paper every time. I ended up with a 97 on it. It reminds me, along with the barns I work at that I am glad to be able to keep my horses outside all the time.
So again, what category does your horses fit into? Why do you use that management practice and if you could change the way it is right now what would you change?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I had missed the first two out of three blades of the wind turbines going up on the farm because by the time they had the base up and were ready to put the blades I had to run to school.
I walked Indigo back the lane with my camera in hand I was not going to miss this one. Indigo was excited as usual to go for a walk. She seems to enjoy our little adventures on foot we do.
I got halfway back the lane before one of the workers in a truck pulled up behind me. As usual the person in the truck started asking me questions about Indigo and if he could feed her or pet her. It turns out he was the safety man who had to check everything to make sure it was in place to begin lifting.
As you all know I can just about talk to anyone about anything. If I could get paid to talk I would be a millionaire in a day or two. I just never shut up.
I talked to the man for a wile he said he was from Newbrunswick. Theres a lot of workers, crane operators, semi truck drivers and craftsmen from all over the world that are working on this project and projects all over Canada. So far I have met people from Ontario here to Nova Scotia and P.E.I, a crane driver from Texas, truck drivers from Alberta, Quebec and one peculiar little woman from Ireland and a whole other slew of people I couldn't remember from all over.
One lady who foresees the general laborers and makes sure they are not goofing off. She has a son and husband back home in Nova Scotia. She gets a couple months off a year. You could tell she missed her family. We talked for a wile as she could not drive down the lane in her truck because of the crane being assembled. She hopped out of her vehicle to pet Indigo and tell me about her uncles horses back home that she also missed. She reminded me of my good friend Mindy in Florida except she was barely 5 foot tall and Mindy is 6 foot something. I see this lady from time to time and we always stop to chat and she stops to give Indigo mints.
All the workers are very respectful of the farm and us walking/riding/driving the horses down our lane they have made their own. I enjoy talking to them and asking them a million questions, they are probably sick of me.
The little crane is actually the one to start lifting the blades there. This big crane is a 450 tonne crane. The safety man said their BIG crane, which is not here, is 700 tonne. Crazy.
Theres two trucks on the other two blades that hold them steady. I guess it pays for the company to have 4 wheel drive in the muddy fields.
It's quite amazing how skilled the crane driver is. He literally moved the blades within a quarter of an inch of where they needed to line up to bolt the blades on.
I thought it was funny as I walked back by the big crane driver opened the door and beastie boys were blaring from inside. I guess they have put up so many of these it's easy work?
Theres a few people waaaaay up in the generator. One guy kept on poking his head in and out the end of it. (click this image to see the guy poking his head out)
Once they were done and I got tired of looking at this massive structure in awe I started walking back with Indigo. Heres a worker under the turbine by the base for size comparison. Now this was funny. He is looking up. If you haven't looked up from the base of a turbine before, do brace yourself. This guy was looking up and I was walking towards him taking pictures of the crane. He takes one step back to steady himself, stumbles and falls right on his butt in the mud all in one fell swoop. I couldn't help myself, I laughed really good. He got up, brushed the mud off himself and scurried to the other side of the base.
I also got an award, twice! How lucky I am people think so much of me. First I got it from Mrs.Mom then from Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger.
I am to tag 15 people (technically since I got this award 2 times it should be 30?) and tell 7 things about myself. Hmmm what to tell?
1. I love candy, baked goods and other sinful, awful food. I have such a sweet tooth it's mad. I just can't resist.
2. I have blisters on my hands today from cleaning Indigo's shed out by myself. I also was too warm so I did this in a t-shirt. What have I accomplished? Going coatless outside for more than 5 minutes in 2010, making a new mountain of manure and entertaining Indigo (She friggn ate my broom AGAIN! AGGHH!) She had her big white butt in all my business. I would go to throw a fork full of sh*t and she would be standing there, peeking at me from around the door and get hit chest on. Of course she had to come peek through the other door I had open and see what really is on the other side of the shed. Nosy, nosy, nosy, pest.
3. I love Egyptian history. This weekend my best friend and I are taking the train to the big city of Toronto to see the King tut exhibit at the AGO. Her and I get into way too much trouble this is guaranteed to be a silly, random, exciting trip to remember. Will likely blog about it later I am so excited to go I can't even begin to explain.
4. I like the number four because it's even. Odd numbers are hard for me. I am terrible at math, terrible, terrible. Yet I am a whiz at science. Get that? My favorite/lucky number is 11. More times than any other time a day when I look at any digital clock it is something eleven. I mean many times a day. Maybe it's a sign?
5. I have played piano, flute and guitar. My piano teacher I got very bored with. I wanted to learn how to do theory as I played. She was kind of an oldschool. I may someday go back to it. Flute I hated. I learned to play it, half heartedly. I really wanted the violin and still want to learn how to play. Guitar, I still have two although I do not play much. Horses started taking a money making role at that point in my life so unfortunately I haven't played in a wile. I don't think I could ever sell them though even if I do not play particularly well or often.
6. I do not aspire to make a million dollars in life. In fact I never want to make or have that much money, ever. I often think of what I would do with a million dollars and well first I think of a farm of my own but then I think about the greed of others that comes with having such money.
I want to make enough with my own two hands to have a nice little farm. Possibly a trail riding place, still do carriage rides/weddings and maybe some boarders. Of course I would not have stalls, all horses would live outside and be horses like nature intended. Horse came before the barn did after all. I don't think I could ever live inside a town for very long. I get city sick staying at friends places in the city for a day or more.
7. Gee I had a really hard time thinking of seven things. Oh the last one, right. I am an extremely outgoing person. I guess it has something with being a Leo or whatnot. If you can't keep up, better quit now. I rarely ever actually get tired. For instance it's 2:30ish am here and I have to be up at 6 am. No problem!
Tag, your it! Since this award has been circulating so much I tag everyone who reads this who hasn't got it. I seriously want to see links to your award too! Seriously, seriously.