Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hoof pastern axis

I hope everyone had a very happy holiday.

Recently I was talking to an old friend of mine. We always seem to come up with ideas to pick eachothers brains. Her husbands horse was recently diagnosed with navicular and mild to moderate sidebone. Hes not always lame but warms up out of his head bobbing. I wasn't really interested what she said about the sidebone but more about how hes got navicular, in both front feet at that. She said she was not happy with the job a farrier in the area (a very well educated one that attends seminars regularly. Hes always up to par with methods used). Plainly she said "He doesn't have enough heel".

This brings up the debate when we find a horse has a problem, be it lameness, problems with riding such as stumbling or wanting the horse to break over quicker; Should we set them up or down to change the way the hoof sits and breaks over when it touches the ground?

Something my instructor Bill told me on the first day at school is to "trim/shoe the horse the way he is made" plainly this means the horses hoof angle should match the angle of it's shoulder (for front feet), hip (for hind feet) and/or pasterns.

(Images from google and all rights go to their original owners)


The front hooves should be the same angle as the shoulder and the hind hooves should be the same angle as the hip. Although this picture is of a donkey who has a lot steeper hooves than a horse you will get the general idea.

This is a relatively foreign term for a lot of horse owners. Maybe because they haven't studied feet in relation to their horses body or because they trust their farrier.

When it comes to lameness and shoeing it seems to be a common practice to set a horse up to alleviate pain and make a horse break over quicker. Arthritis, navicular, founder etc . When we set a horse up and make a horse break over quicker they are more likely to land toe first, have contracted heels due to lack of pressure on the digital cushion or put strain on tendons.

What I am getting at is to start a debate of sorts.
What is the opinion of my readers?
Have you looked at your horses hooves in relation to how they are made and how they actually look now?
Do they match the angle of your horses shoulders/hip and pastern bones?
I'm curious to see how many of you look closely at horses feet and what they look like (pictures if you can get them)
Have you had a horse that was set up or down that became lame and only became sound when it's angles were rectified back to the way it was made?
I would love to know.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Re-Post: Seasons WTF!? Greetings

A year ago I was driving home from doing some morning chores and came across this rather peculiar, festive fellow. I know many people enjoyed him I hope he can bring more joy and laughs this year. Merry Christmas.

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(Please if you take offense please divert your eyes to another blog thank you. ps- Seasons greetings)

So I love living in a small town, especially when I see things like the photo on this post.

You know everyone.
Everyone knows you.
You go to school with the same group of kids and can still call them by name all these years later.
You can walk into the deli and the person behind the counter says to you before you even order "Lamb Gyro, no onions, bottle of white creme soda" yup. Mmmm.

In a small town people need to find things to do considering the big city is a good distance away. Sometimes they entertain themselves by wreaking havoc but chances are they don't because your mom knows what you did before you even get back in the door. That is the kind of town I was born and raised in.
Once and a wile they give you the desperately needed dose of WTF!? (What the F***!?)

Today in the early morning hours I was driving back after getting an E-test on my car (which has over 300 thousand KM on it and tosses out a test of 3/4 lower than the max allowed amount. Good car, good) and doing my morning barns when I see something on the side of the road.
I squinted and strained to see what it was. It was red and green and sticking out of a snow bank. As I drove by I realized it was this fellow, whom I came back a wile later to take pictures after nearly swerving off the road I was laughing that hard.


Do you think the people who ran him over came back trying to make peace with his vengeful soul?

See this guys story. He is a raccoon. Raccoon's get hit by things and die at the side of the road. Sometimes they aren't so lucky and they are spread over several feet of asphalt. But this coon was lucky see because he died on the side of the road only mildly mangled to rot. That was until we got our snow almost two weeks ago. The snow plow came by and scraped him up, placing him neatly in the snow drift so he can perfect his T-Rex impression. Then by some random act of randomness someone put a pair of headband Christmas antlers on him. They didn't stop there they also put a nice shrine of candy canes around his taxidermy body.
So if this offends you I am sorry. If only all road kill could be so festive on the side of the road and not on my tires.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas or Happy holiday and santa didn't bring you too many road apples for your stocking.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eleven things

Because ten is such an even number.

1. Up until a little more than a month ago any rain here was the beginning of August. Talk about two inches of dust it was a complete mess.

2. The sky has decided to open up and dump a generous inch or three on us at least once a week.

3. The soil here is mostly clay. A little bit of rain means a lot of mud. The soil back home is sandy. Stuff dries up much faster.

4. I hate cold but I have to say I would rather see the ground freeze than this mud. It's like a slip and slide. I almost broke my darned neck walking out to feed the horses on a very subtle incline.

5. There were no inclines of any kind back home unless they were man made.

6. Self explanatory
7. The dirt on the spotted horse hindquarters in #6 has been rained on for two days before I wrote that. Rain, Y U NO WASH MY HORSE!?.

8. Those dots in the background are cows. Angus, Herfords and black baldies. I love cows. They moo and spook at things and headbutt eachother and groom eachother with their slimy sandpapery tongues. Sometimes I come out to feed and I find Indigo and Sebastian standing at the back corner of the pasture with about 10-15 cows standing on the other side staring back. Not spooking or fretting or anything that would mildly suggest the cows haven't been there until a few days ago. Just having some sort of silent conversation between equine and bovine. I imagine they discuss what it is like to be brushed and ridden by humans and how wonderful it is to be turned out on a field to eat the leftover corn.

9. Indigo routinely beelines to said field when I let her out of the gate. Sebastian has security issues, despite Indigo's regular attempts to thwart his company, he goes frantic the moment shes turned out in the yard and he isn't. Indigo could care less. He however follows her when I let both of them out to munch grass in the yard which makes the spotty horse, well, angry. She wrings her tail and trots off, nose to the ground. Sebastian follows, trotting sideways at his dangling lead rope. Hes not really scared of it he just hasn't figured out where that slithering noise is coming from when he moves.

10. Roughly the number of days until I head home for Christmas.

11. McDonalds hot beverages are more sugary than I bargained for like a lot of things in the USA. I might be up for hours now. It however makes me miss Tim Hortons that much more. I know the first thing I am doing as soon as I get over the border. Mmm iced cap.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Long time no see?

Thank you followers for not abandoning me. I am here.
If you have abandoned me I understand and will not take it to heart. I am a bad blogger! I have not lost interest in this blog at all, rest assured it will be back and regularly posting in the near future.
I am in the USA, Missouri to be exact. Right between the place where you can get dialup internet and where no internet exists.
I've been shoeing/trimming horses and training lots too. I have a lot of stories as well. Humorous ones involving horses, donkeys, cats, chickens, children putting plungers on other childrens heads and mavericks getting bucked off of ladders and then getting in a fist fight with said ladder. Hi-lar-ee-ous!!

Of course Indigo followed me here. Her and Pepe, my cute little ass met.
Lets just say Pepe met his match.
Normally he is king of the pen. Indigo was not buying his cheap tricks and let him have it. He got up in her face and well, the spotty horse is quite crotchety about other horses (or donkeys) getting in her 15 foot personal bubble let alone threatening her in such a rude and uncivilized manner.
The results were Pepe getting his ass (haha) handed to him. No burrito's were harmed in this picture (physically).

When she was finished with him he respected her wishes and cowered in the corner of the pen.
Other than making a taco out of Pepe Indigo (and Sebastian who has followed me here too) is fat and sassy. I'm doing well and keeping busy too.

For now I am still alive. If you wish to keep in touch with me until I get regular internet again please contact me through facebook or by e-mail sydney[at]bitlesshorseblog.com or e-mail me for my facebook. Facebook is the only real thing I can get to every day on the cell phone. Blogging seems to fail every time I try on the phone.

So what has everyone been up to? I have not been around to reading blogs as it proves to be far too difficult on the phone. Please enlighten me I would love to hear what people have been doing the past three months.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In which Indigo teaches us horsemanship

This is Midnight.

Midnight is Indigo's daughter. We had a bit of a mother-daughter reunion.

Remember this picture from the previous post?


Well this was about .5 seconds later. Her old owner is just about to say: "Well Indigo hasn't changed".



To answer some of your questions, YES horses do remember past horses. Indigo has remembered many we have been around and has been friendly with them.
However Indigo has a real issue with ANY horses within her 15 foot personal bubble without her permission, daughter included. Stay out of her personal bubble with another horse and shes quite pleasant.

After we rode to the lake we turned the two out in the round pen after the first pictures of Indigo's old owner holding both girls.


Indigo likes to be queen of the round pen. It's her personal continent and she will not have any peasants defiling her grass...err weeds.
Indigo chases every horse that we put in there with her that she can. It's the game of face making (which shes pro at), charging, ear pinning, squealing and striking, biting and kicking threats.

Midnight snuck slowly over to Indigo. Her long lost mommy, boss of the herd, love!!

The response she got was probably not what she expected. I've seen Indigo act it out a million times. Shes a witchy, crabby, squealy, ear pinning mess when another horse is involved that she can boss around. She rules her underlings with an iron hoof.


"You will remember who's boss!"

Indigo started to round pen Midnight, who did not object to her every body motion on where to move. Mom is boss!Midnight tried to stop once and change direction but that was not going to happen.

Oh she was angry.

Watch as Indigo shows us humans how to work a horse like we try to mimic in a round pen.

She got results, no special sticks, $500 DVD set or secret club to join.



Notice Midnight has one ear on the person (horse) working her the whole time.



"Turn now!"


"Not fast enough!"



"Pay attention, I said the other direction!"

Was Indigo being unusually mean about her visit with her daughter?


I don't believe so. Indigo saw fit that Midnights manners were put back where they belong. She worked Midnight until she was showing the respect she wanted to see.


After a few minutes of chasing Midnight around to where she obeyed Indigo's body language they went back to eating near each other like old buddies. Well until Midnights owner went to go get her, then Indigo had to put her two cents in about not being lead out first.

It's all about respect. Indigo was saying "pay attention to me and listen to where I tell you that you can or cannot go." When she seen that Midnight had her attention plastered to her, Indigo backed off and went back to eating. The second she took a step that was considered disrespectful (maybe in her direction, or moving without her permission) Indigo would chase her and make her change directions to her pleasing. It was pretty black and white really: Disrespect earned Midnight more work. Respect earned her a moment of grazing.

The world of horses is so simple that we tend to make it complex. Sometimes we place human emotions on them and forget to watch them for what they are; horses.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mother-daughter reunion

As some of you might know Indigo has one daughter.

Her daughter is going to be fleabitten grey like her only she has charcoal flea-bite spots instead of Indigo's reddish spotty-ness.

Her daughter's name is Midnight. Midnight is 11 years old and has a lot of mannerism's Indigo does but isn't at all as fine and fancy as Indigo. Shes more like a stocky quarterhorse.

Midnight and Indigo have not seen each other in about 5 or 6 years.

Indigo's old owner came out for a trail ride with Maverick and I and brought Midnight. This is her in the pictures holding both mares.

We had a bit of a mother-daughter reunion. Stay tuned for the next blog post revealing the reunion pictures...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hay is for horses

Another note regarding hay.

This is how we raked the 3rd cut of hay. I thought you all might be interested in some real horsepower.

video

At first we were not sure the percherons would be fast enough to make the rake turn but they did a fine job. Saved on diesel fuel. I guess the tractor would have been faster though.

We were very fortunate to get a 3rd cut. Most people were not even on their 2nd without rain ruining it. This only got half cut then it rained on it twice so that got ruined but we got a good enough window to get this stuff done because it was not cut like half the field was a week earlier. Phew, what a year for hay and crops in general. I can't count the fields that you can see water damage.
Don't go knocking hay prices until you are the one using your land for income.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Idle thoughts and other things

When I am doing mindless jobs like stalls, sweeping or cleaning I think a lot. The thing I think the most about is horses (duh). Sometimes I have ideas and go "gee this could really help someone" but then before I can put it into a blog post I forget about it.
Sometimes when it is a really good thought I'll mull over it in my mind for a few days before telling anyone. Sometimes I actually get cracking and write it as a blog so you all can read it and put your thoughts together with my thoughts. I like that, it's what blogging is about.

Lately I have been thinking about a number of different things. I started this post a few days ago and I am sure I'll remember them all at 2 am when I am sleeping, not blogging.

Hands. What do hands have to do with horses? Well more on a skeletal or cellular level they are similar. When we use our hands more our skin cell production speeds up. This creates what we know as a callous. A callous is a place of thickened skin cells where we place repeated use; our fingertips and palms for example. If we stopped using these areas they would shed that calloused skin over time and become softer because of decreased need to keep up an excelled skin cell production. Hence our skin produces more or less depending on how much we use them and on what surfaces. A secretary at an office might have a callous on his/her index finger from using a pen. A blacksmith will have a large callous on their thumb from repeated use of a hammer but not on their index finger because they do not spend much time writing like the secretary.

The same has been proven with horses. Their feet are largely a "Use it or lose it" functionality. The more abrasive surfaces they are on the more sole their hoof will produce. The less abrasive surfaces they are on the less sole they produce. Take this into consideration when shoeing a horse. I hear people say "My horse is ouchy on pavement" so I ask where the horse is kept. The answer does not usually surprise me when they say a grass pasture or a stall most of the day with limited work on the pavement the owner is complaining about. Horses feet need to be conditioned slowly to the surface you want them to work on.
Think of horses soles being sensitive like your callouses on your own hands. If I asked you to pick up a hammer and swing away with me all day on an anvil, and you have never previously done it don't you think your hands are going to be raw by the end of the day? If I asked you to come swing hammer for an amount of time, increasing every day, wouldn't you build up more gradually until the time I was working at with much less resistance and pain?
Same goes for your horses hooves. Don't expect them to be on grass all day and to work on the road comfortably without regular work on the road.

Hay.

I'm saying this because I have seen NUMEROUS horse bloggers complaining about buying hay.. Hay is for horses (and cows and sheep and goats and other ruminants). There are several reasons why people are complaining this year. 1) They cannot get hay. 2) The price of the hay IS TOO DAMN HIGH! (name that youtube video!) 3) Their hay got ruined and now they have to buy it (see 1 and 2). 4) Hay providers are running out and people who buy from them are getting mad.

1) Hay got ruined this year globally it seems. Farmers are being smart and making sure their own families were fed by planting crops such as corn and soybeans that are at an all time high this year in price(See #3). With as much hay that has been ruined this year why should they take a chance on their own families not being fed and cared for when they could plant another crop, cash in the money and buy hay for their animals elsewhere.

2) Do not complain about the price of hay going up. First of all hay has been at the same price in most places for the past 10 and even 20 years!!! If it is not the same price it is within two or three dollars of that price. Do you want to work at wages that were present 10 or 20 years ago? I don't think so.

3) Ruined hay. We have had droughts. Months without rain turning fields of lovely alfalfa into deserts. Rain. It rained sooooooo much that getting a dry moment where your tractor did not get stuck so you could cut and rake and allow the time to cure the hay seemed nearly impossible. A lot of hay was lost. To prevent income loss the farmers who could not take their hay off planted grains instead (See #1).

4) Hay farmers will not usually store hay for buyers unless they pay them ahead of time (or are good friends, return, reputable customers for years and years and years. Depends on the hay seller really). It is a waste of profit, space and time for them. For example the seller could save a few hundred bales for someone who's going to "maybe" come back in a few months at the customers convenience or they can sell it (or ship it to the US where there are states that have no hay whatsoever due to rain/fire/drought) and make the money now. It's a bit less risky to know your money is in your hand than waiting for months and months for that customer to come back at their own convenience when they "need" hay.

I know I am going to make some readers mad with posting this bit on hay but it's what is happening. When you point something out like this a lot of people are complaining about it's going to make someone mad or upset. You cannot please everyone. I understand because I deal with the farmers who sell the hay and the owners who want to buy it.


PS- people are still annoyed at the price this year even if you read this post. Another fact to consider is that farming is directly influenced by mother nature. Hay is one of the most high risk crops and the one with the most manual labor (unless you can afford larger machines that do it all). The only people who fully appreciate that are the farmers directly supplementing their income with hay and other crops. A rise in prices this year can aid the farmer in the chance that this mass loss of income could happen next year. It's their own personal insurance, not farmers being greedy and wanting more money. Your not in farming because you want to make a lot of money, just like your never in horses to make a lot of money. It just doesn't happen that way.

Those of you who are in a severe drought right now COME GET OUR RAIN!!! UGH! It rained the other day and looks like the next 7 days there's going to be rain. The barnyard is a swamp. Areas where it previously was not muddy or deep are now over the tops of my boots. I went to close a gate to a pasture at my one barn and it sucked my boot right off, sock in the mud SPLAT! I cussed for a moment before taking off my sloppy sock and yanking my boot out of the mud.

It's also fall now which means I have to wear a sweater outside in the morning. I hate sweaters because it means winter is coming. It's cold I want summer back with heat that dries this mud and rain up.
It also means apples. I looooove apples. So does Indigo. It's safe to say they are her favorite food ever. When I come with an apple it's generally the only time she will come trotting/cantering to me nickering the whole time. She nickers at me for no reason when I am grooming her, just to see if I'll offer an apple. She nickers at me when I mount to ride her and dismount. I don't feed her an apple every time she nickers (like she wishes) but she does get one every time I go to the fence to get her. She will take apples over grain, carrots or horse treats. She LOVES apples


"Good job loyal human subject. This apple offering pleases the queen Indigo"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where did summer go?

I want it back and I am going to sit here on the ground and pitch a fit until it does.

The mosquitoes are still rampant here even though it's cooled down into the low 70's and 60's during the day. It rained all day today and driving after dark this evening was like playing the game frogger. A lot of toads got game over as I was trying to dodge them on the wet road.. I have never seen so many on the road at once and in September no less. Usually by the middle of June most of them have committed suicide on the pavement.

I've been doing a lot and been lots of places.

I got to three shows.
Indigo was awesome this year. She got me a ribbon in every class we entered with the worst ribbon being a 5th on a class of 15 for Simon says. Not that I am complaining. She has a bad habit of taking steps backwards slowly when asked to stand in the ring in harness. She also behaved phenomenally. Last year she was awesome, don't get me wrong but she did try some shenanigans like hopping around in harness at inappropriate times and refusing to stand still in lineup.

This was taken just after I had won the ladies drive, hence the stupid grin I had going on.

Yesterday we had our last driving show of the year. Props to her for going out and winning when I hadn't driven her in two weeks due to being out of the country. I wondered how she would behave with the crisp morning bath, wind and cool weather but she was totally relaxed all day. We were standing next to a friend with her mare in harness waiting for some other competitors to finish with a timed driving event. They called the lineup and we ended up second. Indigo stood there with her hind leg cocked and ears flopped to the side I clicked to her asking her to walk on. She shifted her weight ever so lazily and started walking only to take two steps and cock the other hind foot. Oi! Woman, wake up! We got prizes to collect.

I took a trip to Mexico with Maverick for a friends wedding.
It was lovely.
Bringing home what feels like 50 extra pounds in food is not.
I love sugar and butter and when they are serving seafood doused in butter and an open buffet of desserts I have no self control. None at all. I gorge myself repeatedly, lie in the sun and have a fat attack (when you eat too much and it's painful to move).
Someone roll me back into the ocean so I can float around and digest.

We got some complimentary pictures taken at the resort. The guy with the camera had a blast. Normally a complimentary photo shoot runs about 10 minutes but we were out for over a half an hour.

What was not so lovely was getting a text from my mother the day before. Maverick and I are at a flea market in Mexico and I get a text that consists of "Your dad got in an accident with your truck call me ASAP" the first thing I think is that my dad was hurt and the second was #*$@!!!! I haven't even had that truck for a complete month yet! Turns out the insurance company will not release the truck or information until I verified it, being the only person on the insurance. I gave my dad permission to drive my truck wile I was gone so it did not sit doing nothing for a few weeks. No dads were hurt in the totaling of the little white chevy truck. A kid turned left in front of him at a green light he was driving through and he smoked the hind end of his vehicle, demolishing the passenger side of mine. Luckily the kid had insurance and my truck is getting fixed. Still, it'll never be the same *sniff*.

When we got back from Mexico the little burrito, Pepe was due for a hoof trim. Now if you have ever trimmed feet you've likely encountered a donkey a time or two. They cannot easily be convinced to not at least try once to kick you in the teeth until they truly want to behave. I had been working with Pepe a lot. We worked on holding still wile a limb was picked up and held. A good ol lead rope around a leg with some leverage until he subsided kicking did the trick, until I went to trim him. The last time Maverick trimmed him he pulled one of his wrestling moves on the 250 pound donkey and knocked his ass (pun intended) to the ground and proceeded to trim his feet with his neck sandwiched between his legs where he couldn't get up or kick too well.

I started with him standing upright handling his front hooves. His smart little brain kicked in and he had the idea he knew what was going on and what happened last time. He started hopping up and down and I was in danger of taking off a digit with the hoof knife but he needed his feet done soooo bad. One of his fronts was an inch longer than the other. Why you ask? Well when we got him he obviously had not had any hoof work done. The sensitive structures in his one front hoof was much lower to the ground than the other. Maverick took a tiny bit off and voila, blood. This time I scraped his chalky sole off with a hoof pick and got over half an inch of hoof wall, meaning the quick receded. Yipee!

So anyway, back to donkey wrestling. So Pepe is flailing and Maverick is grinning from ear to ear watching me wrestle a donkey that weighs twice as much as me and stay just on the edge of winning the fight. Finally I snapped at him to come over and knock my ass on the ground (pepe that is). He reached down and tossed him and sat with his neck between his legs. I started trimming and Pepe was making this horrible grunting noise. I think he was trying to lay pity on us because it worked and we let him up. Only then did he stand like a post and let me do the other feet without so much as a flick of a hoof. Good, sweet Pepe, your such a good boy. I have mastered the art of ass whispering.

That'll do donkey, that'll do.


Somehow this summer he managed to scrape the soft fuzz off his grey muzzle in the shape of a heart. Cute.


Hes such an endearing little fellow I don't know how anyone can resist his personality. I've always loved donkeys from afar. They are comical, incredibly intelligent and beyond cute with those long ears. I never really had much of a chance to work with many. Our county is a little short on long ears.
Being around Pepe and seeing the way he does things, takes treats from you ever so gently, hee-haws like hes in a dire hurry but never goes anywhere fast, rules the herd with a pin of his ears and gnash of his teeth (yes the horses get the heck out of his way when he says so, even if hes just above knee height) and follows my every step in the pasture just makes my day. Sometimes he does get in the way. I was out working with the other horses and took a step back only to just about fall over Pepe who had been standing a foot behind me waiting ever so patiently for my attention.

Maverick chased him with his truck the other day I almost peed myself.
See Pepe has a bad habit. Pepe knows the inner and outer workings of getting in and out of any fence.
I was sitting in the passenger seat of mavericks truck glued to the latest issue of western horseman when all of a sudden the truck speeds up and starts honking, followed by several cuss words. I look up just in time to see Pepe bounding like tigger off of winnie the pooh, head and tail in the air and our truck in hot persuit around the circle driveway. Pepe knew exactly what was up because we followed him honking the entire way back to a corner in the pasture. He slyly did the limbo under the hot wire and hauled ass back to the herd, hee-hawing the whole way. We laughed soooo hard. Little bugger. Pepe has discovered the art of getting down and crawling under the fence on his knees to eat the grass on the other side. Or the hay bales.

When I say donkeys are smart, they are smart. Maverick has some hot wire around where some hay bales are. We watch Pepe come over and do the limbo under the hot wire. Maverick cusses and tells me to get my donkey, which I do. He then fixes it and tells me to let Pepe go because he wanted him to know what hot wire was. Hopeful that our little burrito was going to get a little dose of god from his electric fence encounter and leave the hay alone I let him go. He saunters on over in the direction of the hot wire... and does an about face heading off in the other direction just before touching it. Boy was Maverick mad! He mumbled something jokingly about tossing the donkey into the electric fence and walked away, leaving me cracking up.
Donkeys are smart.

I linked Maverick to a craigslist ad for a mini donkey. For the first time since we have known each other he said a resounding "NO!!!". But his ears, and that face, and Pepe, and watching two male donkeys play is the funniest ever!!
We'll see how long that "NO!" lasts.
I think I know what so many other bloggers who own donkeys are talking about.
I am officially hooked on long ears.
Like potato chips, can't have just one...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Things from the past that make you laugh

You know how sometimes you think about something that happened in the past...
And you burst out in manic laughter at the mere thought.

Roll your mouse over this image to revel in the bushy mustachioed past.






This always makes me laugh.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The post with no name


Kinda like the horse with no name only I am not lost in the desert and the horses all have names. If they don't bay mare, chestnut gelding, crapaloosa, crow bait or dog food will do. Just kidding on those last two...Well it depends on what horse I am referring to.

Firstly I apologize. Honestly I feel horrible for not posting for almost a month! So, so, sorry. Won't happen again, I promise.

Secondly there's been a lot going on but it feels like nothing at all. Summer is almost over but I haven't accomplished anything other than working my butt off (quite literally). I don't mind the heat. I do mind the BILLION MOSQUITOES we seem to have this year. Ride in the heat and only get a little bit bitten. Ride at night to avoid the heat but get completely molested by the blood sucking winged buggers. I went up northern Michigan last weekend to my uncles and I brought bug spray...Only to not use it even when kayaking down the rifle river. Strange, usually the bugs are bad up there I guess not this year.

Flies have been bad as well. If we don't have rain that's pulling shoes off with a foot of mud causing the horses to step on themselves we have flies that make them stomp and stomp and stomp. It's rained lots here this year. Some horse owners I just plain want to thump on the head with my rasp. They tell me "my horses shoe fell off" I ask if the horse was in mud and they say no. I come to replace said lost shoe only to have a horse walk up with caked mud past it's knees. ^$*#&$(@*(#@)!!!!! But dumb horse owners are a topic for another post.

Maverick has also lost his marbles. I tried to tell him that bushes were not cows but he insisted upon trying to rope them anyway. (Yes I bug him about not wearing a helmet often. For his defense he does look very nice in that hat. I can just hope he doesn't splatter brains on that nice hat ;) ) Although he looks tiny that is not a pony he is riding. That is Sebastian the Morgan who is just under 15hh.

Tell me this is not the cutest thing to come across. I walked around the corner to see Maverick holding Savanah and petting her. They both stared me down with a look of "theres nothing to see here, carry on". She was totally chill just accepting his petting and strange way of holding a smaller dog. I am not sure he's ever had a small dog.
I told Savanah she was a traitor. She cocked her head to the side and wagged her tail like I said car ride, cookie, or something exciting.

I am embarking on an exciting new adventure soon. Indigo is coming with me of course. More on that later.
If you stick around with me a bit more I have a very fun contest and giveaway coming up so stay tuned. I hope everyone's having a good summer with lots of saddle time. Happy trails.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spookaholic

Indigo is a pretty brave horse. Shes never said to me "I WON'T". She might hesitate for a moment or give a few spooks. She trusts me and knows where her own feet are and finds her way through anything I have pointed her at with a little encouragement.

Last night I seen her old owner and we had a chat about this spotted pill. Her husband used to ride Indigo. He just wanted to, as she described it "John Wayne", get on the horse and toddle down the trail. Indigo is perfect in an arena or any controlled environment. She most certainly is not a dude ranch trail horse and likely will never be. The only problem is Indigo has an addiction on the trails. Indigo is a spookaholic.

Every person walking in the distance, every bird in a bush, every manhole, asphalt spot on the road or kid on a swing is a potential horse eating monster.
She does the classic dive to the side or the rocket ahead when a bird comes darting out of the bushes. The thing is with Indigo this horse never misses a beat; she sees EVERYTHING.

If you notice every picture I have taken off her back her ears are forward.


When shes in the barn she might fall asleep for a minute only to pirk up suddenly and stare with great interest out the door. She hears every sound, every cat fight and every bird (more on birds later), and probably every mouse. I often startle her when I just walk around the barn and the wind is blowing in the right direction she didn't hear me holler for her before appearing. She jumps, whips her head up, flares her nostrils and bugs her eyes at me, then stares, alternating her ears between whats going on around her and me. After a nicker and studying me for a few seconds she comes over. None of the other horses jump. They look and then continue eating.

Her biggest fear is birds. I don't mean she sees one flying in the air and goes postal. She hates when they flap in bushes. She especially hates when they fly out in any general direction. Don't even get her started on ducks in ditches. They quite possibly might be the end of the world. When all this erupts she just wants to get the hell out of Dodge.

I remember letting a friend ride her a few years ago. This friend has a good seat but not a lot of horsemanship knowledge. Fast forward a mile down the lane and bushes appear. Indigo spooks, my friend reprimands her. Indigo spooks, my friend reprimands her. Lather, rinse, repeat. I mean lather. By the end of that ride Indigo was spooking at things she normally wouldn't give a second glance to. We switched horses.
So I thought about my friends approach as well as many other riders who I have ridden with that had the same reaction to a horse spooking: punishment. Now I know some riders will disagree and say sometimes horses spook to get out of doing work. I do not necessarily agree with that because when you stop work and focus on reprimanding the horse spooking your giving the horse what it want's; an escape from work.

I often talk about how much people teach me about horses. I don't mean sitting there watching someone working with a horse, I mean watching people interact. Maverick and I were at this amusement park called worlds of fun. We just got on this ride called boomerang and a man and his young daughter got in the cart behind us. The young girl was totally terrified. Instead of the dad going "it's going to be ok, it's just a ride" he was bullying her "I don't know what your so scared of, quit crying, STOP IT, ENOUGH, YOUR JUST FINE" telling the girl how she felt when obviously she was scared. About this time the girl was bawling her eyes out and the ride attendants were telling the man she cannot ride because obviously she was that upset. They got the girl off the ride and she went down the off ramp and the father rode the ride alone. We sat there shaking our heads. After we got off the dad caught up with his daughter who's eyes were now dry. He continued to shatter her confidence and respect in him by telling her he couldn't believe she didn't ride and it wasn't even the scariest ride there and she couldn't expect to ride other rides if she couldn't go on that one. Parenting at it's finest.

So backtrack to riders punishing their horses for spooking. Put yourself in the role of that parent and your horse in the role of that girl. By the sounds of the conversation that girl had been on rollercosters before. Maybe your horse has been on trails. Obviously something about that rollercoaster scared the girl. Maybe something about the trail your horse has been on is scary today. Are you going to be the parent who bullies and scares his kids or the rider who pats their horse and tells them it's going to be all right?

So putting this into perspective what do you think will give a kid/horse more respect and confidence in you? Grabbing at the reins and getting upset, making the kid go on the rollercoaster or praise and encouragement?

It takes a long time to make a confirmed spookaholic come clean but it's possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You won't hear me complaining

Last week we broke records for heat.
I really never remember it being in the triple digits here too often. Now before you all go getting your nickers in a twist we have horrible humidity here compared to a lot of places. Of course it's not as hot as say, Arizona. Something that is 95 here feels like 115 elsewhere. You sweat just standing still. The day I left Oklahoma it was 95 and I was just comfortable in shorts and a tank top.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were two of those scorching hot days. Wednesday had no breeze. At about 1 pm on Wednesday I looked at this thermometer inside one of my barns it says 104 Fahrenheit in the shade. Yikes! The cement was sweating, the horses were sweating. Standing in front of a fan just blew hot air at you and hosing yourself off just made you more hot once you stopped for 10 seconds. I found a little relief riding horses before 8 am or after 7 pm if the bugs didn't carry you away. This meant a lot of stomping, which meant some loose or lost shoes.
So on the hottest day, Thursday the 22nd of July, 2011 I get this call from a client it went something along the lines of she had to show her horse on Friday (the next day) and her horse lost one of it's sliders, which are crucial in the sport of reining. I asked her how long the horse had the shoe off, expecting to say she found it in the paddock that morning. She replies with "Oh Monday I think, maybe a few days before that". *insert the sound of me hitting my head off a solid object repeatedly* Yup, I'll be right over.
So after this is all said and done and I mop up my weight in sweat, I hose Indigo off who was also drenched in sweat. I was also extra kind and braided her mane since her neck under it was drenched with sweat. She repays me by immediately doing this.
Thursday luckily there was a bit of a breeze so it took some of the edge off the scorching heat. I went swimming in a pool that was as hot as the hot tub and still couldn't cool off so I decided to ditch my work boots and go for a bareback ride in the evening. Only my feet were tired and sweaty so I ditched my shoes as well.
Indigo always has had a thing for smelling boots. You get on her back and she turns to smell where you have been . Toes were quite intriguing.

Then of course when I do get home and drink a few gallons of water I start reading facebook. I have a love hate relationship with that site. I love it because I get to talk to and see my friends and family that live far away. I hate it because I have to read everyone venting about everything that's horrible and wrong with the world and people. Gossip, childish fights, passive aggressive statuses. I see on there a couple days ago a fellow rider complaining about riding breeches and how hard they are to peel off after a one hour ride. I piped up. I would gladly trade a pair of riding breeches and a one hour ride for shoeing 6 horses in jeans and a tank top with sweat dripping down your face and into your eyes wile you wrestle a horse trying to do the macarena on three feet wile you hold the fourth. We'll trade, then we can talk about who gets complaining rights about the heat.
Not that I am complaining, I would take his heat over winter any day.

Today we finally got a break in weather. I got a lot done today even managing an evening ride around 7:30 on my own horse.Can't summer stay around forever?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweet summertime

I had a wonderful 10 day vacworkation.

It started with me jumping out of the truck and onto the hay wagon. Not that I mind I like baling and having never used baling wire, hay hooks and baling on and over terraces (did I mention how flat it is at home?) it was a bit interesting. We had to do straw though and it was a lot hotter than it's been.

I spent some time with this little fellow who has stolen my heart with his big ears, little muzzle and liesurely way of getting someplace in a "hurry", AKA- I'm going to bray at the top of my lungs the whole way wile walking to you.
This one too. Same thing as above minus the fur and big ears. Though he does bray at the top of his lungs if you eat the top and cherries off his pie, the last piece of cherry pie he made a special trip back to the table for. Then leave him the crust and some filling goo for him to discover. He gets all kinds of excited about it. True story.

Vacation involved other things than sabotaging Maverick's desert.

Chickens who lay green eggs and ham and are named Lucky. So I was told by a little blonde girl.

Snapping turtles


Cats. How they always find me I will never know. I must have sucker for scritches written all over me.

Peculiar looking moths.

New boots

Maverick in boots.

Maverick on tractors.

Sitting by farm ponds at sunset.


And putting hand prints all over dirty trucks just because.


mmmmhm, good times. Summertime.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blacksmith or pig farrier?

I'm alive. Busy but alive. 10-11 pm is usually my home time these days so sleeping and eating takes higher priority than blogging unfortunately.
With competition in full swing I have been putting on sliding plates and barrel rims so much I dream about them. No really I do dream about feet. I wake up paring soles but there's no foot in my hand. It's unnerving.
luckily I leave in less than a week for a 10 day vacation, THANK GOODNESS!

Going to so many different barns I see crazy things that people do with their horses. I've learned to nod and accept whatever people are doing with their horses (unless neglect/inhumanely being handled, obviously). In the last couple months I've seen some strraannnngggeee stuff in barns and on the way to or from them.

Like the other day I'm at this guys barn. Hes probably in his 50's and has a couple ponies and draft crosses. I'm trimming and hes carrying on about who knows what. Then he pipes up "I ain't got no pasture. They have that pen but it's all dirt so I tie them there to that tire with a logging chain and some rope." I respond without looking over "Oh yeah?", ignoring the point thats a little 1920's. He points and sure enough is this huge tractor tire in the grass on the other side of the barn. He went on to explain how the horses figure out the rope eventually, which I am sure they would. None of them had any marks on their legs from being tangled up or anything. The guy was dead serious too because as I was leaving he clipped the horse to the tire and let him graze. I had to snicker because just a week before a friend of mine was talking about her childhood pony and how they used to tie him to a tire or tree to let him graze but she didn't tell many people because they thought it was crazy to do that to a horse. Each to his own I guess.

Then there's this billy goat. So I am driving to a barn and along the highway I see this lady and what I assume is a large golden retriever. By the long tan hair and size of the animal the lady looked to be walking her dog along the highway. She slapped it on the rump just as I was coming upon them. The "dog" rears it's large curly horned head in an obvious tiff, turns around and starts chasing the girl who turns on her heel and high tails it down the side of the road, billy goat in hot, furious pursuit. I flew right past them, quickly looking in the rear view mirror and said out loud "Did I just see that!?". The girl was still running but the goat was slowing down, tossing it's head as if to say to the lady "That is for interrupting my meal!". It had probably been loose from the house in the direction they were running. Really random, but something only I would see in a days work.

Then last week I had the strangest request. I am at this barn a couple towns over trimming two horses and shoeing one. They had a daughter about 5 years old or so and she had this pet potbellied pig they just got. Miss piggy was so long in the toe and walking on her pasterns from years of neglect with the previous owners care. In other words she was in dire need of a mani/pedi. You can guess what I am getting at. I trimmed and shod the horses the owner pipes up and asks me to trim said pig. I shrug my shoulders "suuuure, why not".

Now potbellied pigs can be nice, or mean depending on how they are treated and trained (just like donkeys I find) this one was quite friendly and knew a few tricks including how to sit, lie down and play dead. If they are trained properly you can also pick their feet up and trim them similar to a horses feet, as their feet are alike in structure (minus the cloven part).

So anyways this pig was a sucker for belly scratches but was not having me handling it's feet. So I did what I had to for a pig in dire need of a trim: flipped her on her back and stood over her so she couldn't flail.
This is where I wished I had a pair of earplugs with me. Miss piggy starts weeing and WEEING and oh my gosh, WEEING the most earsplitting, your killing the pig, cry and I hadn't even touched her with the nippers yet.

About 5-10 minutes later her toes were back to where they should have been minus our ear drums. The little girl who owned piggy bends over as I am flipping her and exclaims to her pig "See, doesn't that feel better?" no sooner had those words come out of her mouth did the pig flip over in a blind rage and barrel between her young owners legs, sending her reeling over backwards right on her butt, unharmed. Miss piggy decided a rampage was in order to tell the world of the disgust in getting her feet trimmed. Water and food dishes were flipped, toys tossed and lots of grunting and disgusted squealing. Piggy's little owner stands up, completely disheveled "My pig, I can't believe my pig did that to me." Up to this point I had kept a strait face but I couldn't anymore. I cracked and started laughing.

The whole scenario was humorous and kept me grinning the rest of the night.
We just needed a banjo playing to complete the mood.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Re-run: Scene of a murder

Re-run's will be of the blogs most commented/favorite posts that I will re-post periodically.

Probably an all time blog favorite I have had a request for this funny post a few times.
Wile Indigo has not had the virtue of stealing any more slushies, she has done her share of expanding her palate at my own snack's cost. Enjoy.

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Sometimes when I am done my barns on the way back to ride my own beastie I stop by a local diner and get my favorite: sweet potato fries and a slushie. I finished the fries but still had the slushie left. Oh how I love their red slushies. Apparently someone else does too.

I went into the barnyard today and quickly noticed a T-post that held the electric fencing up was falling over. I put my red slush on the old silo foundation and went to fixing fence. It didn't take long and the fence was standing up strait again, but wile my back was turned someone killed my whole slushie in seconds. I was mortified at the scene left (not to mention being left with an unsatisfied sweet tooth)

Exhibit A
Empty cup once containing said slushie. Straw carelessly tossed aside.


Exhibit B

Suspicious red stains.


Exhibit C

Lip smacking that only a red slushie could be the cause of.

The criminal?
Plead guilty of course.
Also asked for more red slushie. The nerve!

Verdict:
Horses now know how to use straws, I am completely sure of it.

We are doomed.
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