Friday, May 27, 2011

Wile you were gone...

I went outside for 30 seconds to grab a couple things I forgot.
I come back to find a theif!!!
I wonder how many times Indigo has done this wile I was gone to school?
She seemed to know right where the money was.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A review: Hoof dressings

The great people at Absorbine sent me another product to review.
As many of you know I am now considered a hoof care professional. I've seen lots of hooves at school and many since I have been home. The hooves at school in Oklahoma were rock hard. Taking a hoof knife to them was nearly impossible. Now that I am back home it's been raining pretty much non stop. Hooves here are what I refer to as "swamp feet". They are mushy and full of thrush and sticky mud.

This also means they are getting wet and more wet and oh, did I mention wet? It's like having your hands in dish water all day. Their perioples are peeling up and hooves are cracking and looking shelly and brittle. Too much moisture is a bad thing.

Normally I use Fiebings hoof lotion and strait arrows hoofmaker. Both have given me favorable results. I've been through a lot of hoof stuff. I like to use it when it's extremely wet, extremely dry or after I use hoof polish for shows because it dries the feet out.

When I was sent some all new natural hooflex I had an interesting encounter. First of all it's all natural. I love the fact I am not using chemicals on my horse. Secondly it came in a spray and a normal brush and bottle style.
I loved the fact that the spray bottle was not aerosol. However we did have a couple glitches with the sprayer which led us to believe they got frozen in transit and gave me some mixed results. I was promptly sent more bottles of natural hooflex in the brush on container for me to continue testing. I've used it on every horse I have shod and trimmed so far and the results have been lovely. I'll give you the pro's and con's of hooflex natural compared to my old favorite, Fiebings.

First of all I would like to point out that picking your horses feet every day or as much as possible will yield better results with any product in really muddy conditions. The bottom of your horses feet will have time to dry out and there will be less time for stuff to pack in and create bruising or thrush.

Please excuse the dirty floor. Sometimes things like sweeping before pictures goes right over my head.
Indigo's feet. They are looking much better now that I have been keeping up on them every 2 weeks but shes still a bit ouchy on stones and gets little chips here and there that cause me to always have an old rasp on hand in my tack locker. A far cry from the VERY unbalanced feet with a lot of retained sole I came home from school to. I promptly started applying the natural hooflex every other day, especially after trims.
Everyone's horse that I did got the hooflex applied after I trimmed or shod them. Everyone had very positive results.

So here is to comparing the two favorites for liquid hoof lotion. The Fiebings had some hoof pick like thing on top of the brush. If you want to know what happened to it just ask Indigo and her big yellow teeth.

Hooflex, all natural ingredients. I especially like the fact that it has arnica in it. As you know I am a huge fan of arnica and the benefits of it's anti-inflammatory properties. I've seen it used time and time again on horse and human alike and the results never stop amazing me. I think a hoof product that has arnica in it can do wonders for a hoof that has swelling, be it laminitis, founder, broken coffin bone, abscess, bruising, navicular etc.

It's clear. Well it was. I keep using it and so I got gunk in it from dirty feet, dust and general barn whatnot.

It also smells good. I got it all over my hands in the making of these blog photo's.

Now for the Fiebings.

Well I am guessing from the colour and smell the main ingredient would be neatsfoot oil. It was also listed in the ingredients. It smells like a saddle dressing. Neatsfoot oil typically was made from the legs and hooves of some animals (mostly cows) but can be found made from lard. Because of it's low melting point it can soak into things easily (leather, feet etc). However it leaves an oily residue that can be difficult to get rid of on the surface it was applied. The same was said for my horses hair. Indigo the notorious white dirt roller she is managed to get the fiebings every stinking time on her white legs. Dust and dirt would settle and cause gross patches of dirty, oily hair that I would have to wash several times to get clean.
Not surprising since the colour is yellowy.

So I tried both.

The results looked the same. (Her feet are really not shaped like that I got some on her coronet band so it looks like her feet are really off balance but they aren't)

But the next day (which unfortunately I don't have pictures of, sorry!) the results were in. The hoof on the left was the Fiebings. It had obviously rubbed off all over her coronet band, nose and opposite leg leaving oily, dirty spots. The hoof looked like it did in the before photo's where it hadn't been applied yet and I just brushed the mud off.

The hooflex hoof on the right had a beautiful natural shine to it. No gunk on her coronet band or on her hair in general. Just a nice shiny hoof. I am definitely, definitely going to be using this product in the future. I love it, clients love it, hooves love it. It's natural so that means it can be used on horses that might absorb it into their skin and have it show up in tests like race horses or show horses. Great product. I can't wait until it is available in my area because I want to continue using it.


In other news on the blog world's favorite spotty horse:
Now that I got Indigo's feet going in the right direction I need to tackle stains so maybe, just maybe by the time the good shows start she might be sorta, kinda white. I had a horse breed show to bring her to on the weekend. I started washing her tail a few days beforehand and it's still not as white as it should be. Her hocks are also still slightly stained even after washing her three times the night before the show. Not even cowboy magic green spot remover and vinegar could tackle these winter long pee stains in one sitting.
Today I rode her down the road and picked asparagus then headed over back along a field. She is completely convinced that ducks flying out of the ditch just might be this rapture everyone's been talking about. They don't quack, they just fly up and out of the ditch every 50 feet or so along the back of this one field. End.Of.The.World.
The bugs were super bad for the first time today. Even with cheap bronco fly spray they totally ignored it and were making her swishy. I find every year on the dot Victoria day weekend the flies come out in swarms. They reared their ugly heads today and made our ride full of frequent pauses for whole body shakes, nipping at flies and itching faces on legs.
So after this ride I hosed her down and let her out to graze wile I put some stuff away only to see her furiously batting flies with her tail then circling with malicious intent. Uh oh. It was gonna happen eventually but I would rather her not grass stain herself. She rolled with a few big happy grunts in the grass, got back up and greened her other side too. Oh Indigo, if only you appreciate how hard I work to keep you looking spotty and somewhat white. Another day, another groom, another de-staining.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mind your manners

Manners. Something we are always told to mind from an early age.
Looking at how we raise human children from the time they are born we talk to them, show them things they should and shouldn't do and give consequences for when they breach the boundaries. We like to talk and interact with respectful children. They are polite, mind their P's and Q's and are usually rewarded with more responsibility.
In the same category are our "four legged children". Just like human babies, foals are cute. They look cuddly and usually are curious and like to be scratched and fed things. Sometimes I think we overlook the fact that they are 100 pounds now but will grow 10 times that or more by the time we actually need their respect.

I've thought about this a lot over the last three weeks and a few days since I have been home. I know I have not blogged a lot and I apologize to my readers who are still here. I love you guys.
This kind of stemmed from a couple posts ago how I got bit on the top of the head by the PITA (Pain in the a$$) warmblood. No I did not need stitches I just had a big goose egg for a few days.

I've been in on average 5-8 barns a day since I have been home. I see all sorts of horses that are ridden and handled all sorts of ways. I can categorize them by their owners really, but that's for another post. Right now I want to focus on the horses behaviors in regards to manners in the long run.

Here are some things I notice the horses that are going to hurt you display.

Reaching out to you as you come close.
If a horse has to be in a stall it is nice that he is allowed to look around by poking his head into the isle way. Some barns accommodate this by making extra wide isle ways. Personally I am of the belief that a properly mannered horse should move out of your way when you walk. I don't want to have to avoid horse heads when I am walking or leading another horse. Same goes with being out in a paddock. I want my horses to come closer when I ask, not come poking and nosing around when they please. You don't see the lead mare getting poked at by a younger horse because that usually means there's a consequence just like you wouldn't see a human child come poking into an adults space. It's rude and eventually will lead to the horse going "Gee I am allowed to touch (human) whenever I want, I wonder what skin tastes like?" and you get bit or at the very least end up with a lippy horse.
I work with horses feet. I do not appreciate getting goosed by a clients horse wile I am handling their feet. I also do not like having heads resting on my back or snot being snorted up the back of my shirt.
For horses in stalls I spin a lead rope as I walk by. They do not become head shy because they run into the rope themselves. They learn that sticking their great big heads out (especially to bite me on top of the head) is not a really good idea because there's consequences they cause themselves. If a horse is in a paddock I'll shoo them away, poke their nosy-nose or rub their face in a way it's very annoying to be in my space.
If I want them to be near me I will approach them. It's perfectly acceptable to come to me which horses will do and I like a horse to do (I am lazy I hate having to "catch" horses) but keep your nose to yourself. The nose turns into lips and lips turn into teeth and I am 100% certain people don't like to get bit by big yellow horse teeth.
Curiosity is very acceptable but there's a time and place which does not belong with sticking their nose and possibly teeth in my business without being invited (EG- A hand offered to smell).

Or lack thereof.
I have a saying and it's so far as I have ever seen. Your horse only stops as good as he backs up. This is very true on the ground and in the saddle.
A horse that can be backed up properly will flex at the poll and shift his weight to the hind end on the ground and in the saddle. This means the horse has accepted the pressure you are creating and is going with it, not bracing against it with his nose out in front of him. I can go as far as to say most horses when I apply pressure to the halter stick their noses out and brace against the pressure in the barns I am at.
I'll give you this scenario. I was working at my new barn, the state of the art one. The horses there are handled by lots of people some with horse experience and even more without because they need volunteers to run a place like that. The horses there are depressed and every single one of them display a condition called learned helplessness. They would have in human terms "Chronic depression". They often act out violently, biting at handlers when asked to trot and in extreme scenario's kicking or striking out. Today I had this young kind of problem gelding. He was kind of antsy tacking him up and when we got him into the arena after one trip around I had to dismount his rider when he charged ahead and threw a buck. I tried to stop him as a ground handler but he stuck his nose out and pushed right through my pressure. Long story short we got him another horse. The other horse went to spook at the same thing, tried for a second to push through the pressure but he stopped, flexed at the poll and allowed me to back him several steps instead of taking off and bucking once.
I was at a barn today shoeing some horses. They were very well mannered and were easy to handle. I backed every one up a few steps in the cross ties easily, even when a bit startled and jumped forward. Guess what each one did? Yup they flexed at the poll and backed without sticking their nose out and leaning on my pressure.
Leaning into pressure also means a horse will rub on a rider. This is getting away with murder in my opinion. In no way do I look like a fence post or will I ever be a fence post. Bridles are made of materials that can bruise or cut my skin I am not a personal scratching post. When I take a bridle off there will be no rubbing, pushing, scratching. Period. If a horse wants to scratch once the bridle is off and I am not handling it anymore be my guest.

Not turning to face you when you approach.
This is a big no-no. You never see a horse keep his butt to the lead mare when she approaches. You can bet that horse is going to turn around and give that mare both ears out of respect (and possibly the ruling of her iron fist...err hoof). Think about it as if you were talking to another person. You acknowledge them and their back is turned but instead of turning to greet you they keep their back turned to you wile you talk. Rude right?
I cannot count the times I went to get a horse that was in a pen or stall and I clicked to them to say "hey I am here" and have had them either ignore me or reply with a threatening hoof and nasty look. Neither is acceptable. You can teach a horse this many ways. I prefer when in an enclosed space to tap them (rope, lunge whip, halter, broom, whatever you have) until they turn to face you. Generally teaching a horse how to disengage his hindquarters from the ground is adequate enough to move a horses hind end when you look at it.

So from getting at all this basically they are three common things that results from lack of being able to control where a horse moves. If you have a say in where his legs go you have control over where his mind goes. If you control his head his legs must follow.

I see these are the three most common things that horses are allowed to get away with on the ground. They seem to branch off into hundreds of other behavioral problems that I could talk all day about. I love a horse that is well mannered just like I love people who are well mannered. They are easy to get along with, don't invade your space without being asked and respect your opinions.
So having said that, what are some things you hate that other peoples horses do. Did your horses do them (or do the above listed). How did you correct them or are you still fighting the issues? I would love to hear.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Who has a cute little ass?

What does a cute little ass, $50 and trimming horses have in common?

Any guesses?
Any at all?

It all starts with the cowboy, herein known as Maverick. (If you don't get this reference firstly go slap yourself, then go google it and finally invest in the series. A true classic.)

Though James Garner Maverick didn't wear a carhartt jacket.

Anyway back to the main issue here.
So Maverick was out shoeing and trimming horses.
Amongst the horses was this cute little dude.

Maverick knew how much I wanted a cute little ass to call my own, how much I talked about them and was the first to crack an ass joke at school when a donkey or mule came in. I was also usually the first to offer a trim for the mini asses at school when they came in because the boys were not fluent in ass whispering and often got their asses kicked.

So Maverick asked about said little ass. It so happens this little ass was a bargain, having come free with some rescue horses. At just $50 he was for the taking of the first poor sucker person sympathetic enough to give him a home.

He was a big sucker for ass scratches.
The cute little ass that is, not Maverick.
I won't lie, I shrieked with delight upon seeing this picture.
It was the ass scratchings that did it, I am sure.

So Maverick loaded him up and took him home after calling me and telling me he got me my cute little ass. Part of the $50 deal was he had to bring him home... that night.
Umm...Did you just send me a picture of someone riding in the back of your truck with said cute little ass?
Uh yeah mmhm.
I guess if the goose neck hitch is good enough to hold the trailer in place the cute little ass can't beat it up too bad if someone rides back there to keep him company, right? It's only a few miles home.

Well that night the cute little ass was let loose with Mavericks horses. Although the cute little ass is barely knee height he tore a strip off of every one of them. The horses will make a wide berth when this little dude comes a walking.

So moral of this story is his name is Pepe. He has already trained Maverick well, who promptly bought a large bag of horse treats specifically for him. He already knows where the small spots in the fencing are and climbs in and out regularly to see who is going to fork up his next taste of grain or a treat.
I think we might have the worlds smartest ass on our hands. We'll see how he takes to the harness and cart later this summer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Collective thoughts

So many things I have had to think about since I went to school and have come back.
I'll number them, no particular order.

1. Breeding season is in full swing: Think about it when you breed this year. When I was in school we got so many horses with poor conformation, poor attitudes as a result of poor breeding that no one wanted cause of someones decision to breed a horse instead of buying. Make sure the horse you are going to be creating is in demand, even if you don't plan to sell them now down the road you would hope they can have a good chance at a good home.

2. Especially paints. Now if you have read this blog long enough you will know I am not the biggest fan of paints. However having said that I do like a well bred paint I just have seen far too many come into that school and back home that were bred because the owner drank the "kolor koolaid". Half of them are bats*&^t crazy because they have some sort of genetic link missing from their brain which makes them short circuit at every obstacle in life. But they might have a pretty coat colour, never mind them having good conformation. They are not worth anything for a good, working/showing home because they are going to have problems and not be able to perform their jobs. I do not blame the horses nor do I hate EVERY paint horse I just have found more than any other breed paint horses are abused in the breeding industry. I blame the owners who breed low grade horses, I blame the owners for not dealing with behavioral issues, I blame the OWNERS. There are SO MANY unwanted horses out there and lets face it, the horse selling industry is in the crapper. Give another horse a chance and think about going to buy someone elses baby instead of breeding this year. This applies for all breeds.

3. Nature, seriously you can stop raining any time now. The sun can come out and we can break 60 degrees. Oh how I miss 95 and dry in Oklahoma. I do not however miss the dry, hard as rock feet though I smelled slightly less like a thrushy decaying hoof there.

4. I'm still not done unpacking. Nope, everything is all over.

5. I've had my fill of big, dumb horse with lazy owner. One barn I work at has this warmblood. Ok, a lot of barns I work at have warmbloods but this particular one is SPOILED beyond belief (See #2 about the owners). He was orphaned as a foal and although would be a very lovely animal he was treated like a big dog. Well said spoiled 1400 PAIN IN THE ARSE has the habit of sticking his gigantic block head out of his stall the moment I walk by to try and knock me out with his anvil of a skull. I've been warned he "play bites". Putting the word play in front of bite does not excuse the 1400 pound PITA. I shut his stall so he couldn't bite horses, or me. I am tall enough but hes taller. 1400 pound PITA bit me RIGHT ON TOP OF THE HEAD from over the top board of the stall.
I foresee a hair-on horse couch in my living rooms future.

6. Even though I have been home for two weeks, give or take a few days, it feels like I have been home for months. Months away from cool mornings in forge class, months away from shoeing untouched, crazy horses, months away from such good friends. Thank goodness for facebook!

7. Something I have seen a lot of wile back home: Not a lot of farriers check the lengths or angles of their horses feet to make sure they match. You can check length by fluffing the hair up on the coronet band and measuring from where the hairline starts to the ground with a tape measure or if you have them a set of calipers. Unless your horse is lame or has a serious one sided conformation problem theres no way hes going to take off a significant (1/8-1/2 inch can make a huge difference in how the horse moves) amount of hoof on one foot and not the other. Why does this happen? Well the ground, hair, environment or how the horse is standing can play tricks on the eyes of even experienced farriers. It was stressed so much in school to check angles with a gauge and length with calipers. A little bit off, especially on a horse that is being used can make them a lot off in the long run.

8. Sole. With the weather we have here as an extreme wet where horses are kept in stalls more than turned out or do not have enough of an abrasive surface in their paddocks. I am seeing a lot of retained soles that are hiding layers of chalky sole, past abscess holes and thrush that you didn't think was there. Layers and layers of sole that is not properly exfoliated will be breeding grounds for thrush. Remember last week when I was talking about being covered in thrush? That was really bad sole thrush that quite literally squirted out of the foot when I started taking away the chalky sole. Excess sole that cannot exfoliate also risks the potential of causing pain to the foot by placing too much pressure on the circumflex artery in the foot which in turn reduces circulation and can cause a whole mess of other problems and lameness's.

9. Just so you know I am not racist, I just happen to like less paints than most breeds so don't go getting your panties in a knot because it does not apply to all paint horses.
I do really like this paint stallion. They do a good job at raising properly conformed horses with good minds and solid upbringing. Lots of thought is put into breeding the horses on that property and I really haven't met one of his offspring I didn't like. They are local but are known all over North America. Good horses.

10. Keep the horse between you and the ground because the ground is really muddy right now.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday stills: Rust

I apologize I haven't been around for many Sunday stills since I went to school. There was just not the appropriate internet connection available to be uploading pictures.

I'll try to get the challenge done every week from now on so long as I have an internet connection (which I should).

Rust and rusty things. Let me tell you about some rust and hammers.

First hammers need to be well balanced if you are using them all the time. Balanced for the length of your arm and the proper weight for the job. If the hammers handle is too long and your arm is too short it is going to stress your elbow. If the handle is too short and your arm is too long it's going to stress your wrist. Just saying, first hand experience here. Literally, I hit my hands A LOT. I also do not recommend hitting appendages of your body with hammers because the outcome is almost always black and blue.

These hammers however are part of my family history. They sit here on my fathers workbench in the garage just waiting to be used once again.

After spending oh about...$500 on hammers at school I come home to find my dad had my grandfathers old forging hammers and never even told me!! Almost as if they were made for me in weight and handle length these hammers from the past are now mine to forge with just as my grandfather did in his shop. A bit rusty from years of sitting in a tool box they are better to me than my mass produced expensive hammers. They may be rusty but quite useful for many years to come. Too bad they didn't keep the old anvil too, I would have loved that.
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