Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes, Horses Are Smart

So I acquired a new client who will be starting with me soon, but first she needed me to come out and evaluate her horse. A BEEFY monster of an animal. He was a stallion until 2 years has been broke and ridden a lot, but one day the current owner loosened the saddle after a ride and the saddle slipped under his belly causing an insane blow up. Ever since then the horse will blow up once the saddle is on OR one the rider has gotten on.
So I went out today and we took him to the round pen and tacked him up and it was good, no blow ups, so I took the saddle off and re tacked him and we were good, no blow ups. So I put one foot in the stirrup and hung off him and no blow ups. I was impressed at first. So I repeat that a few times and then I start to get obnoxious, kicking out my legs and hanging off his side (If he started bucking I didn't want to actually be in the saddle) and sure enough he goes to blow up. So I push back, grab the lunge whip and chase his little honey buns around the round pen until he stopped bucking and was gasping for air.

Once I asked him to whoa I brought him back into the middle of the round pen and we started over with no problems. I was swinging off his sides and kicking out my legs, just as I did before he blew and you know he just stood there. Why? The owner was baffled... Why the sudden attitude adjustment?? Because when he bucked with her or around her she stopped him and put him away. There was no repercussion, with me it was that he was going to be gasping for air. John Lyons put it best when he says that a horse may not listen to you, but he will listen to his lungs. And when the lungs start burning they'll do anything to not have to run around like ever again. And you know what, it works almost everytime. Bucking=running til I say he's done.

I Told her everytime he bucked no matter what, if he was in that round pen, to chase his buns around and around and then start back over rom where he started bucking. If she stayed on top of this for about a week straight she'd probably never have another problem like that again. Horses are very smart. His saddle fits perfectly, she's a good rider, it's just that he got away with being a stinker beasue he got scared once and then learned it meant no work. Not anymore buddy LOL!! Not anymore....

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Was Unaware of This...

So I have a big gorgeous TB gelding. He is by Affirmed. Yes, THAT Affirmed. He is a floaty gorgeous mover and gets looks where ever he goes. A Great show horse and loves to jump. Recently he's been plagued by awful abscesses that wouldn't go away, my farrier thought everything looked OK. So I continue to soak and soak and treat and treat his little feet. Everyday. I thought about putting shoes on him thinking that would help, I contacted my vet, but nothing, no one had any answers.

So one of my good friends came out a few days ago and looked at how TB was walking and she said to me just as plain and simply as could be.... "He has Laminitis and needs to get to a stall ASAP." Laminitis??? That's freaking on it's way to being FOUNDER!!! How can a normal horse of 10 years of age be foundering?? He isn't over weight, isn't on lush pasture, What the hell????

Well, I'd never dealt with a foundering horse before. EVER. So little did I know that there are SOOOO many different kinds of founder and laminits. I took Big Boy up to my friends house where he could be monitored 24/7 and in a HUGE stall... Easily a 20x20. Her very good friend who is a natural barefoot trimmer came and confirmed that he does have laminitis. She put pads and an equi cast on both front feet and instantly he began to feel better.... So obviously I wanted to know what on earth could have caused him to get laminitis and she simply said...."Anything. He more than likely had a metabolic upset and it threw his feet into a tailspin." Thankfully, They are taking AMAZING care of him and he just eats happily and can finally relax. His hooves are growing new sole and he gets turned out 3 times a day for a little at a time. His mood has dramatically improved and he is truly happy now!!!

Who on Earth would have thought???? Certainly not me.... It terrified me even as they were telling me "It'll be OK, he will recover, we caught it in time!" Ugh, talk about some stress.... While he is recovering beautifully and I am ever so grateful for the help of my friends, it worries me to think that I'd missed that and that he could have really gotten some serious damage done to his hooves and legs. It was my "Oh Shit!!" Moment of the year!!!! So has anything like this ever happened to you??? And always know that even if your vet and farrier are out of ideas, a friend may hit it on the noggin for FREE!!! LOL

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Well it's the start of Fall time and it's cooler and starts to get darker soon so a lot of people put there horses away for the Winter... Giving them the Winter off to let their horses relax, mostly because we feel it's too darn cold to get our butts out and riding. Winter time can be a great time for hacking around and just actually riding for fun... Not thinking about anything in particular just exercising and riding around.

The best and easiest way to get through the bad weather, is to plan events with other barn friends. Plan a jumper night, or a game day. Do mini clinics where you all ride and have your peers critic each other and help each other out. Have a broomstick polo game or go to some Winter schooling shows.

Just because the weather is turning doesn't mean we have to stop having fun!!! So get warm and get out there. What actvities do you enjoy in the arena???

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Honesty is the Best Policy

I came across this dream horse ad and WHOA... The owner seems a wee bit upset!!! Horse bucks and kids ruined him.... Hmmm that is quite to the point and I respect that immensely, but how do you stop it before it gets to that point??? Before someone "ruins" your horse??? He's a young gelding at 7 and already ruined???? What would you say if someone was riding your horse the way you didn't like???? Are you the shy type who would just blow it off or say would you say something??? Me, I'd say something... I've spent too much time on my horses to let them get trashed...

Here is the ad... I copied and pasted it for privacy

Small Companion Horse
Olympia, Washington 98507
Date Foaled:
14.0 hh
700 pounds
Other Coloror Markings:
brown and black
Temperament:1=Very Calm...10=Very High-Spirited
May Trade:
Reg. Assn:

Reg. Number:

For Lease:
For Sale:
Asking Price:
$1 (US)
Horse Skills or Potential:

Small appy gelding. Eight years old. Bucks. Very sweet but not honest. Would make a nice companion horse to another horse or maybe a pack horse. He is wonderful to ride as long as your mind is on him. When you take your mind off he knows and bucks like a bucking bronc. Free to good home. He is a sweetheart. Beginner riders have ruined him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You're a BIT of an idiot

So I came across an article that at first started off really nice and informative and then just went south FAST!!!! Here are some excerpts that I found to be extremely disturbing....

"However, sometime during the training process, a horse will need to be lightened up even more. Especially the older horses that are being tuned up or re-trained.So to get the job done, I’ll go to a twisted-wire snaffle. Either the regular or the thin twisted-wire.
These twisted-wire bits have some “bite” to them and will convince even an older, hard mouthed horse to respond and lighten up."
Um, NO BUDDY!!! You can get a horse light without a double twisted wire thank you!!!

He says running martingales don't work so instead "If you want to try a piece of equipment that DOES HELP a horse learn to give to your hands, supple-up and flex at the poll… use a German martingale" Again I'm going to have to say a big fat no thanks.... Um... Why is it other trainers can get their horses to flex without the use of this crap??

Oh here's a gem... "Another bit that I sometimes use to lighten a horse up is a “draw” or “gag” bit. On some horses this bit works great. The reason is because it works on different pressure points than a regular snaffle bit." I've already headdesked so many times at this point my skull is bleeding....

"Most horses, I’ll ride with the 8” shanks. The super sensitive ones, I’ll ride with the 7” shanks." OK, is this a joke now??? Is someone just screwing with me???? 8 INCHES???? That is NOT necessary!!! "The correction bit will get a horse responding well" Uhhhh, yeah have you seen them??? They have ports so high they'll tickle you're horses brain...

Oh and for the love of hell... "I’ll use a curb chain with this bit that has more bite to it than the usual one that I use. Usually, a dog-chain curb works well." Oh yes, cause that's what you need to give the bit MORE F-ing Bite.... Yes these were ALL from the same article...

With so much info on the web, it's hard to choose what is good and what isn't?? Well, to solve any dilemmas I'll put it to you this way... Trust your gut, if you don't like it, don't use it, ask a professional or several professionals, get some opinions and GIMMICKS, stronger bits, or training aids will NEVER replace good solid training in the first place.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Top 10

This was sent to me via an email and I thought it was too good not too share!!!! Enjoy!

10. Drop a heavy steel object on your foot. Don't pick it up right away. Shout, "Get off, Stupid, GET OFF!"

9. Leap out of a moving vehicle and practice "relaxing into the fall." Roll lithely into a ball and spring to your feet.

8. Learn to grab your checkbook out of your purse and write out a $1000 check without even looking down.

7. Jog long distances carrying a halter and a carrot. Go ahead and tell the neighbors what you are doing - they might as well know now.

6. Affix a pair of reins to a moving freight train and practice pulling to a halt. Smile as if you are having fun.

5. Hone your fibbing skills: "See, moving hay bales is FUN!" and "No, really, I'm glad your lucky performance and multimillion dollar horse won the blue ribbon. I am just thankful that my hard work and actual ability won me second place."

4. Convince yourself that being bucked off 7 times makes you a "REAL RIDER"

3. Borrow the US Army's slogan: Be All That You Can Be -- bitten, thrown, kicked, slimed, trampled, frozen...

2. Lie face down in a puddle of mud in your most expensive riding clothes and repeat to yourself, "This is a learning experience, this is a learning experience, this is ......."

1. The number one exercise to become a better equestrian is MARRY MONEY !

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Break Down...

So we ALL know that craigslist and dreamhorse are FLOODED with cheap/free horses. We all also know that it is due to people have no jobs... Or are cutting back on "hobbies." But is it unreasonable to think that horses can be affordable???? Let's play the breakdown game... These are AVERAGES for the PNW area... You own 1 horse. This is your cost.
  1. Board $250 x 12 = $3,000
  2. Hay $70 (a ton usually last 3-4 months) x 12 = $840
  3. Grain $30 (2 Bags) x 12 = $360
  4. Hoof trim $35 ( $60 for front shoes or $100 for 4) x 6 = $210
  5. Wormer $7 x 6 = $42
  6. Teeth Float $120
  7. Vaccinations $80 x 2 = $160

Your Grand Total is $4732 a year. It comes out to roughly $394 per month. All averaged out. NOW here is where it gets super fun!!!! A lot of people offer boarding for CHEAP!!! Pasture board for $100, so that cuts your boarding costs and HAY cost if the pasture is decent. If your horse is an easy keeper than you can get good, nice local hay for $3.50 a bale. You buy wormer in bulk it can be as low as $2.99 per tube. Split farm calls and vet costs. Buy Vaccines in bulk and split cost between barn. Don't feed grain. So let's try this again.

  1. Board $100 x 12 = 1200
  2. Hay $21 (local) x 12 $252 or $35(Alfalfa/timothy/orchard) x 12 = $420
  3. Wormer $2.99 x 6 = 17.94
  4. Vaccinations $35 x 2 = $70
  5. Trim $35 x 6 = $210
  6. Teeth float $100

Now you're at roughly $2017.94(with hay) or $168.16 per month or $1849.94(with local hay) or $154.16 per month.... I'm sure there are even MORE costs that can be carefully finagled so long as your horse is and REMAINS healthy. So... A measly $168.16. Huh... And we have all these abandoned, starving horses. I understand that people have bills and families and other responsibilities, but our animals are our responsibility too... Pretty sad.... Pretty Sad when you actually break it down...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Body Movin' We Be Body Movin'

So my APHA mare, is ULTRA light and sensitive.... To a fault.... While I had the greatest weekend with her trail riding, I learned a valuable lesson on said trails. She sucks at staying straight and you know what? That's my fault... She has no shoes on so I tired to keep her in the middle of the trail which had grass and soft dirt, but she wouldn't stay on it or stay straight. I realized that I'd lost control of her body.

So today, I worked her in the arena and to the left she goes great, stay on the rail, flexes really nice to the inside, respects my leg. To the right, she's a train wreck. She bulges HORRIBLY!!! She cranes her neck to the rail and swings her body out, only at the trot though. So I bring her back to some body moving basics at the walk. Circles, serpentines, then I start walking her and turning her towards the rail for the turn on the forehand. Then I start on some roll backs and things are going smooth...

I, then put her back on the rail and OVER emphasize her bending towards the inside. I want to see her right eye the whole time down the rail while her body stays straight. If she thinks about turning to the inside the she gets my inside leg tapping on her ribs, to push that gut back over. Why do I do that??? Because she bulges to the inside of the arena, so if I discipline her by making her almost making her "bulge" to the outside, or towards the rail, then walking straight with her ears, shoulders and hips in a line will be glorious release. She's so sensitive and light, that it doesn't take much now to keep her straight.

Now we do the same exercises at the trot, rollbacks, turns on the forehand, circles, serpentines. She still is bulging at the trot so I repeat the same exercise. I put her on the rail and turn her head to the inside so I can see her right eye, while keeping my inside leg on her as block from her turning in... Soon enough we are trotting up and down the rail in straight lines.

Your own leg and hand control is essential in teaching a horse body control... Every horse, be it a show horse, jumper, western pleasure, trail horse, cutting, dressage, etc... MUST have fluid, consistent body control and movements. Tomorrow we'll begin in shoulders in/out, haunches in/out and leg yielding for more body control.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sooooo.... What The Hell is This???

It's a horse, a mutt horse, that has it's own breed... It's called the Blazer horse. And yes, it confuses me.... here is a link so you can learn all about it. It's mostly a QH Morgan X. At least that's what I got out of this site so far... The requirements of the breed are pretty similar to AQHA. Except it's not an AQHA horse, it's a Blazer....

I wonder with horse people sometimes, I mean don't get me wrong every breed started from somewhere and is a mix of many breeds, but do registries like this just pop up so you can pretend to have a registered horse? For example, The American Warmblood, it's sort of a breed, mostly just a mutt though....

What do you think of breed registries like this? Do they hinder or help? Do they encourage more backyard cross breeding, or give everyone a chance to have a registered horse???

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Would Go To War With Him...

Had such a BLAST on this trail ride!! I got a call on Saturday from a student of mine and she asked if I wanted to go on a trail ride before it started down pouring. YEAH NO PROBLEM!!! So I grab the Avenging Uni (AU) and she tacks up her Appy and away we go!!!! So we are going through the woods and her Appy comes across a hooded sweatshirt lying on the ground and he snorts and sniffs and AU starts snorting too although he doesn't know why LOL!! So Appy man freaks and spins, AU freaks and spins and they both try to run away. They get about 4 steps and we stop them and we are dying laughing, so we get them back up to the hoodie they sniff it and start eating grass around it... So we move about 5 feet and Appy turns around and starts snorting again, this time at a mud puddle. UGH, they are acting so retarded LMAO!!! Totally feeding off eachother. Oh and they've been on this trail a hundred times!!!
So me and my friend are talking and with all the snorting and ridiculous actions our horses are giving us I say to her, "You know they used to use Arabs as War horses. I don't think I'd take AU into a damn war." I mean we all know of Marengo right?

So we continue on and all is good until Appy man starts snorting again, so I urge AU into the front and while he is a bit tense he is being pretty faithful and of course we must make fun of Appy man for the Arab being braver!! ;). We get through that part of the trail and there is an open part so we go ahead and lope for a bit and suddenly Appy man ducks into the bushes, shying away from a damn branch on the trail LOL! Oh man, I swear at this point our horses have tried to dump us no less than 7 times.... So I halt AU and again we are dying laughing again!!!

We continue some more on the trail and we get to another AWESOME field and decide to lope again. So we get going and all is well, we get to the end of the field and Appy slows down and I realize that I only have one rein. My other rein broke and we are full steam ahead.... So I sit on my ass, gently pull on my one rein, as if I had 2, and say "Whoa." And like a champ, AU stops. Like a gentleman. We are like one when we ride, him and I. Even though he can be a total goofball, I would go to war with him...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A-D Barn Style

So I received an email today from a woman wanting to have her horse trained and shown English Pleasure. Not a problem. A Can DO! But, then towards the bottom of the email she was stating how she wanted the facilities to be a certain way, style, basically borderline high maintenance, which made me think of this.... In a horse persons life there are certain barns, facilities, that I am now going to put into a classification system.

The A+. This is the premier facility. Has anywhere from 50 to 80+ boarders. This is the place that is $800+ for boarding ONLY. These facilities are more dedicated to one specific discipline. Dressage, Hunter/Jumper. They have 20 workers, their barn floors could be EATEN off of.Their stalls are 15x20 with sold iron bars and metal so the horses can not crib away at the stall. The horses get turned out for maybe a few hours a day and the pastures have beautiful loafing sheds. The stalls and pastures are cleaned and picked several times a day. Brand new equipment. Premium hay and grains, feeding 3-4 times a day. Their pastures and fencing are primo and in brand new condition. This is a place where the horses don't really get to be horses because the pasture may get torn up, or the $150,000 horse may throw one of his $300 shoes. This place has EVERYTHING! Hot walkers, maybe a track, trails, just to the NINES!!! This is a place that we all dream of owning. Rolling lush fields, white fences, immaculate arenas, yes ARENAS, more than one. All Olympic sized. Ahhh very drool worthy!!!! Most of us will never board here.

The A. A Nice facility. Has around 30-60 boarders. Hard to know everybody. Also more specified to one discipline. Western pleasure, dressage, H/J. It looks a little older, may have some scuffs or marks in the wood, but they keep it nice. Pressure washed, nice pastures, probably running about $400-$500 for boarding. A decent covered arena, good sized. Good hay, a few workers a clean nice place. The horses get turned out for maybe a half day to a full day (MAYBE). The horses could be turned out in small groups of 2 or 3. Has some tack lockers, hot cold wash rack, grooming stall. Good equipment, property is kept up on, nicely.

The B. A Working Facility. Around $250-$350 for board. A nice covered, tilled arena, round pen, 12x12 stalls, offers both full or partial care. Usually has 15-30 boarders, more of a close knit friends type of place. Nice hay. Trails. Hot/cold washrack, cross ties, a shared tackroom. Smaller sized pastures, but nice. More set up for breaking and training horses. Well kept, decent equipment. this is a bit more diverse. Western pleasure, reining, cows, jumping, gaming, etc. These are nice places and happy horses. This is where 80% of us end up.

The C. A Small Facility. Typically $150-$250 for board. This has a few stalls, nicely kept, an arena, not covered, a few pieces of equipment. You supply your own hay. Self care or partial care. Has on 2-3 boarders. It probably has one or two pastures that the horses share. Nice quiet down home place.

The D. A Homeowner's facility. A piece of property, maybe a stall or two in someone's back yard. $100-$200 for board. Probably self care, maybe partial. Has only only 2-3 boarders. You supply your own hay, the horses run together in the pastures. May or may not have stalls. No arena.

I have experienced every single one of these places except for the A+. And in fact as a trainer, I worked my way up from a D, to where I am now, HAPPILY at a B. I LOVE IT!!! I think it is the perfect place for what I do. Now there is NOTHING wrong with any of these places, it's all personal preference... So Where are you now??? And where would you dream to be????

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Who On Earth Would Use This????????

I think we all know what War Bridles are... If you don't it is a rope bridle that works by wrapping the rope and tying a knot on the underside of a horse's chin. The pressure is ALL put onto the lower jaw... Yeah not fun....But it gets worse!!!

There is another bridle that some people use as a method of restraint and yes some still ride in it, and it's called the "Bonaparte" or "Cherokee" Bridle... It works by not only having the rope wrapped around the lower jaw for pressure, BUT ALSO puts pressure on both the top and bottom gums of the horse!!!! YEEEEEIKES! They say it can be used for really "rank" horses and stallions that need to be taught a lesson *Gulp* Or for horses receiving medical treatment... Um.. OK, When the rope or reins are pulled it immediately puts pressure on the gums, lower jaw and poll of your horse... I swear I am really unsure of who could, in good conscious, use this. Light hands, soft hands, this is devastation waiting no no ASKING to happen....