Sunday, October 23, 2016

Bad Habits?

I have had several readers either write comments on my You Tube videos or send me e-mails notifying me of my bad habits. While somewhere I appreciate that, I'm also actually surprised people take the time to address my peculiarities. I don't take offense to these comments, but for a sense of accuracy I'm taking the time to address these bad habits here.

Wearing Spurs. I don't always wear spurs and rarely on a horse I'm riding for the first time, like a young horse. But comments like "you'll never achieve the next level of horsemanship with spurs - get rid of them!" just don't consider the fact that it's not the tool, it's how the tool is used. If you don't know how to use spurs then by all means, don't wear them. Sometimes I even suggest that a particular rider ditch the spurs so they can have some more freedom trying to use their legs as aides without worrying about gouging their horse. Besides I don't know what the levels of horsemanship are,.....I'm just trying to get to be adequate.

Always Wearing Gloves. These comments have ranged from "Why do you always wear gloves" or telling me that "if I had any skills I would not be wearing gloves". Well, my lack of skills has nothing to do with wearing gloves - it may likely be associated with a general lack of intelligence, but my lack of skills certainly ain't because I'm not trying. I pretty much always wear thin pigskin gloves and I don't think I give up any feel by riding in them or working a horse from the ground. I ride, throw a loop (not well but I try), tie knots and practically have gloves on anytime I'm outside the house which is a consider time. Heck, I even tried to eat supper one night with my gloves on, but my wife pitched a fit so I took them off. In my near 60 years I have had many weeks and months of down time with a hand injuries such as rope burned palms, broken fingers, or, cut and badly chapped fingers. Wearing gloves greatly reduces this, in fact, I'd recommended it.

Holding a Lead Rope in a coil. While I never teach people to coil a lead rope when walking or working a horse from the ground, but I pretty much always do myself. Sure, carrying the lead rope in coils, especially small coils, can be dangerous if the horse bolts, and that's why I don't let youngers do it. I'm used to coiled ropes and it's easier for me to manage and feed the rope out of my hand when I am sending a horse or otherwise needing more slack in the rope.

And many ropers every day across America carry a coiled lariat rope when roping and have learned to be safe with it. Bottom line is that if you don't believe something is safe, then please don't do it.

Dismounting. When I dismount, say coming off the left side, my right leg swings over the cantle then plants on the ground then my left foot slides out of the stirrup. I do not lay across the saddle, with both feet out of the stirrups then slide down so that both feet hit the ground at the same time. People who write to tell me there is a better way to dismount,....well, I don't know, maybe if I was riding an 18 HH horse then I may dismount that way - both feet out of the stirrups and sliding down, but I kinda limit myself to horse's I can mount from the ground,....without a ladder. I was at odds with competitive organizations who penalized the way I dismounted with their rules that both feet have to hit the ground at the same time. It's likely more important to have control of the reins, slightly tipping your horse's head to the side of the dismount - to keep him from moving into you as you dismount. And it's likely as or more important to have a horse that stands still during and after the dismount. Some other things also come into consideration for dismounting safety, like how much foot you keep in the stirrup, what material the stirrup surface and the sole of the boot are. I always ride in leather covered stirrups and leather soled boots. This is more slippery than a rubber soled boot and easier to adjust foot position while riding, as well as easier to get your foot out of the stirrup. The weight of my foot in the stirrup pretty much keeps it in place and my riding heel keeps my boot from sliding forward through the stirrup.

While I have many more bad habits I think I'll stop here even those its against my wife's urging to come fully clean. But I told her that leaving the toilet seat up was not necessarily a bad habit nor had much to do with riding horses.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breast Collar Fit Question

I received a YouTube Video Channel comment from 3d3nd3n1 regarding a video on Breast Collar fit saying, "Hi, great video. I just purchased a pulling collar but am not sure how to affix it to the swell of the saddle. Can you do another video and explain that? If it isn't too much of a bother."

I don't have a fixed, U shaped Pulling Breast Collar currently in my tack room. But the one you have is likely attached through the gullet and around the swell of the saddle with a strap that has a O or D ring at one end. You feed the strap through the gullet around the swell then back through the D or O ring, tighten it up then take the running end of that strap to the D ring or buckle attachment on the breast collar.  Similiar to the picture below. There may be different attaching point on your breast collar. Some of the attachment straps (the ones running through the gullet of the saddle) may have a snap hook to clip to the D ring on the Pulling Collar and a buckle for adjustments somewhere on the attachment straps, rather than a buckle on the breast collar like the one on the photo.  

You can see that the saddle above does not have breast collar attachment D rings. Many saddles have D rings that are positioned too low to keep the breast collar off the chest and positioned in the natural "V" between the horse's chest and the neck. If your saddle has Breast Collar attachment D rings that are high enough on the saddle, like on the Wade saddle in the photo below, you may be able to attach your Pulling Collar at these points if that still allows the breast collar to be high enough off the chest, but low enough not to choke the horse.

If you do have Breast Collar attaching D rings on your saddle that you want to use but the breast collar position is still too low, you can run a strap from the breast collar D rings over the horse's withers to bring the breast collar up and into the correct position which is more comfortable to the horse, doesn't affect his stride nor rub his chest, and isn't high enough to put pressure on his throat.

Some makers offer straps for just this purpose (breast collar over the withers) but you can certainly make an expedient strap. While I have seen riders use hay twine for this purpose, something flatter like a saddle string or a wider piece of leather would work better I would think.

Once you have your Pulling Breast Collar fit just right, check to see that there is some play in the breast collar at the point of the chest where the breast collar comes together. I like to have 2-3 fingers width play or looseness here. See photo below.  I reckon if you had really thick fingers, you may be able to use one finger. Don't laugh, I used to know a gent whose fingers were so thick we called him "sausage fingers".

I hope this helps you fit your Pulling Collar in the absence of a video. Safe Journey.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cowboy Humor - Looking for your Wife

At a local rodeo the other night two Cowboys, one an older man around 60 years old and the other a younger man around 30 bumped into each other, almost knocking each other down, while walking through crowd and the pens, each looking for their misplaced wife.

"Excuse me young fella, I wasn't paying attention, sorry I almost knocked you over, but I lost my wife and I was looking for her."

The younger Cowboy replies, "Same here Sir, I wasn't looking where I was going either, and I am also looking for my wife."

The older Cowboy asks "Well, what does your wife look like?  I may have seen her."

'Well, my wife is in her late 20's, small waisted, long blonde hair, very pretty,.....oh, she has a really big,..err.,,chest."  say's the young Cowboy.  Then he asks the older Cowboy, "What does your wife look like?" 

The older Cowboy replies, "Never mind that, let's go look for your wife!"

Monday, September 26, 2016

2016 Functional Horsemanship - Red Bird Ranch Arena Obstacle Challenge Results

In between uncharacteristic days of windy and rainy September weather, we lucked out and had perfect weather for our second annual Arena Obstacle Challenge. Some competitors drove over 100 miles to compete and I hope they were challenged, and likely so, as new locations will often make the best horses a little hinky.

I tried to find a good mix of prop related obstacles and basic horsemanship maneuvers to give each rider and horse a challenge within their respective divisions.    

The competitors entered the arena and proceeded over ground poles then through a funnel with plastic arms. Next they were required to trot through traffic cones placed 10 feet apart, stopping past the last cone, Open Division riders had to back in a circle, Intermediate riders backed in a 180 degree arc and Novice riders back straight for 10 feet.   The full AOC arena diagram is below:

The Garoucha pole was next were Open Division retrieved the pole and jogged a complete circle around the pole while other Divisions were required to retreive the pole and ride their horse between the pole and the fence. This seemingly easy tasks proved to be much harder than you would imagine for several of the horses as they viewed the dark hard wood pole leaning up against the fence with suspicion.

Next, all rider were required to two track about 30 foot, traveling laterally about 15 feet. Two tracking is forward movement combined with lateral movement where the horse's outside front foot stepped over and forward of the inside front hoof while the horse has forward movement. Open Division did this at a trot, while the other Divisions could do it at a walk. This proved to be the singular most difficult task for most all of the competitors.

Obstacle 7 was gait transitions - Novice a walk to a trot transition; Intermediate - a working trot to a extended trot; and Open was required to do a canter departure.  Photo below left: Angela Beltran-Flores on Starbuck.

The next obstacle was a 32 inch wide, 8 foot long bridge which the majority of horses navigated okay.

And this led to side passing ground poles where Novice Division had to side pass a 6 foot ground pole; Intermediate was required to side pas a longer 8 foot ground pole; and Open had to side pass both ground poles.

Navigating vertical poles placed 4 1/2 feet part was next to challenge the rider. This required riders to be pretty careful as they moved through them not to knock over the poles with their stirrups or their horse back end.

The riders next had to dismount then send their horse though a couple barrels like they would if they were sending a horse into a trailer. The rider followed their horse through then re-mounted from either a mounting block or the fence. All rider's chose the mounting block - a couple competitors did this for the first time, trying to opposition their horse in order to step up and mount.

From here the rider's moved to a rope and while holding onto the rope they backed their horse's pulling a bag of cans up to the top of the arena bow gate. I thought this would be the most difficult obstacle for horses but the majority of competitors and their horses did just fine.  Photo below right is Lynn Gonzalez, riding Sonny, from High Rolls New Mexico pulling the bag of cans over the bow gate. 

The final task was to demonstrate control of the back end or fore end. Novice Division had to do a 180 degree turn on the front end; Intermediate - a full circle on the front end; and Open - a 360 degree turn on the haunches.  

2016 Functional Horsemanship - Red Bird Ranch AOC Winners:

Open - Luanne Santiago, riding Tippy, won Open for the second year in a row.
Intermediate - Luanne Santiago, riding Nutmeg who narrowly beat Marianne Bailey riding Apache.
Novice - Lisa Rains, riding a borrowed horse as her dressage trained draft horse was held out for a cautionary health issue.

Just a notable few of the other competitors were Gina Blankenship from Deming, NM riding Dee, a Buckskin mare who will appear tonight on Julie Goodnight's program; Jenna Mendez, a nine year old riding Harley a Palomino gelding, and Jenna was competing for the first time in an AOC format, nevertheless securing 4th place in Novice; and Angela Beltran-Flores, last year's Novice winner, riding a fearless old horse Paint horse called Starbuck.

All competitors made a trip to the prize table and a Perfect Harmony Horse Rescue was the receiptant of part of the entry fee proceeds as well as the money made from the raffle. After an enchilada lunch, some of the competitors took their horses back into the arena for further schooling on the obstacles.  We also hosted a couple ladies from the Netherlands who are visiting dressage riders and attended to watch their first AOC.   Next year's annual AOC will probably be held on the last Saturday in September as well.  And lastly a big thank you to Arden Evans who helped judge the event.       

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blue Bonnet Equine Humane Society

People that rescue horses have both hearts of gold as well as the requisite armor plating over that heart that surely is needed to be routinely exposed to what cruel things that man is capable of doing to these animals without being emotionally scared. Seeing the dullness of malnourishment or physical abuse in a horse's eyes, especially seeing it many times over, is just hard to endure. SO blessed are the folks that devote time, energy, expense and emotional well being in caring for abused horses.

I like to believe that many rescue horses can figure out that they have been given a new lease on life - they just may be the bests horse in your string.    

There are many horses rescue's and likely no two are alike except their love for horses and the fact that they are under resourced. One of these horse rescues is Blue Bonnet Equine Humane Society, a 501(c)3 horse rescue and rehabilitation organization located in College Station, Texas. They host an annual Horse Expo and this year, on October 22nd, they will have their 10th annual event.

The 10th Annual Bluebonnet Horse Expo, hosted at the Travis County Expo Center, will feature riding, training, and horse care clinics, plenty of shopping, the Bluebonnet Art Show and Sale, the Bluebonnet Rescue Horse Training Challenge, a saddle auction, and horse adoptions. It is the biggest fundraiser, adoption event, and fundraiser of the year for the horses of Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, all in a one day format.

The Rescue Horse training challenge is a unique idea where volunteer foster homes and professional trainers work with a Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society foster horse for four months (this year starting in June 2016) then compete to demonstrate the abilities of their horse in a freestyle and trail related classes. Sounds sort of like the Extreme Mustang Makeover Event, and does basically the same thing, however Bluebonnet's Expo showcases the resiliency of abused or neglected horses and what these horses are capable of given attention and a fair life. Click here for more information on the Blue Bonnet Horse Expo Challenge

Bluebonnet horses of the Challenge and others from Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society will be available for adoption at the Bluebonnet Horse Expo. Adopters can get pre-approved and receive a half price adoption fee. Pre-approved adopters will get half price adoption fees, but adoption applications are due by October 1 to get pre-approved. Pre-approved adopters will, in most cases, be able to test ride a horse. You can download an adoption application here.

Click here for photos and information on adoptable horses, including how the horse came to be at Bluebonnet. Within the next few weeks, Bluebonnet states they will be adding 20 more horses to the list.

Bluebonnet is still seeking support in the form of vendors, donations, and adopters. E-mail address for more information:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Restarting a Horse from the Beginning

EJG wrote: "I'm real unsure about a new horse and just need some help getting started. He was once ridden on trails but has been turned out for a couple of years. Naturally I want to be safe and he acted like a wild crazy horse when I first brought him here so I haven't attempted riding yet. Doesn't act like he's ever been flexed so I'm just starting at the beginning and working him from the ground, and over some trail obstacles in hand. I'll start ground working with a saddle soon. It's letting us get to know each other. I'm no horse trainer so if you can think of something I'm missing please let me know. Not looking forward to that first ride right now."

Seems to me you have a horse who came to you from other owners likely with all that baggage, good or bad, knowingly or unknowingly that those previous owners heaped on him. I have learned that in most all cases any descriptions from previous owners on what the horse did, how he performed, and what he is capable of, pretty much don't matter. I start the horse all over, like he was a 3 year old. If it's my horse or a horse I'm expected to put some work on, that's what I would do - start him over.  The more he knows and better he responds the faster you can go, but skipping things never pays off - never has for me anyway.

Groundwork is key and sounds like you are doing it. If it was me, I wouldn't take him in hand through obstacles as I'd be setting him up to refuse forward movement and if I had trouble getting him out of that, it'll make everything else I'm suggesting you do more difficult.

First thing I do is free lunge the horse in a round pen, controlling his gate and changing it from slow to fast and back to slow with lots of changes of direction. At first, I don't really care if the turns his butt to me as I just want forward movement out of him, but very soon I'll start requiring him to turn into me when he changes direction. When I back off and get him to stop, if he doesn't square up and give me both eyes, I'll drive him again. This is all key for establishing leadership - you moving his feet by driving him at will.

Soon, as you stop the pressure and back off he will give you both eyes. Stand sideways to him and he will likely approach you. Give him time to do so. I'm sure you have heard that a horse learns upon the release, so when you stop driving him, and back off and he gives you both eyes, make sure you give him some time to learn that upon the release of pressure he gets relief.  

Then I go to a halter and lead rope, usually a 14 foot lead and sometimes longer. Then I drive him around using pressure of the lead to get him to yield his hind end and face up with me. When he is showing signs of accepting, such as licking, chewing, eyes and ears on me, dropping his head, and generally body posture, I may pickup the slack in the lead rope and draw him to me. If he comes, I'll give him a break and pet on him. 

When he is good at this, I'll get him more used to giving to the pressure on the lead laterally by standing just outside his front feet, one hand on the withers and the other making the lead rope taunt until he give laterally, as soon as he tries to give, I'll release the tension, give him a few seconds to understand (this pause is necessary for them to learn) then ask again. Do it on both sides.  I'll ask him to give laterally and dis-engage his hind end as well, by bending his head again and using the stirrup to put alittle pressure on his barrel.  Again, just as soon as he makes an effort, release that pressure and begin anew. 

I'll pickup the lead to his front and ask him to move forward past me, then disengage his hind end and ask him to lead back past me in the opposite direction.  Some people will take a step towards his hind end to get him to disengage.  I don't generally do this unless the horse needs it in the beginning.  I prefer to use the lead rope to tip his head towards me when he goes past then use the lead rope to direct him in the opposite direction.  

When he is good at this, I'll do this again having him go between me and the fence. Then I can sit on the fence (like in the picture at right) and do the same drill. This has the added benefit of getting the horse used to seeing you above him. 

The commonality in everything that I am doing is that I am moving his feet and he gets a release when he does the right thing.

Back on the ground I'll sack the horse out by flipping the end of the lead rope over his back, around his legs, around his butt and his hocks. I'll flip the lead over his back and catch it under his barrel and put some pressure on him like where a cinch would go. I'll tighten it up and release, then tighten it up again for just a bit longer than release.

I usually loop the rope around a front foot and lead him forward by putting pressure (making the lead taunt) until he picks up his foot and I guide it forward releasing all pressure when the foot begins to move forward suspended in the air.

The common mistake people make is that when he doing something like flicking a rope over his back or around his hocks, if the horses has problems with it, like moving off or siding away from the handler, the mistake is that the handler will stop doing it, in effect teaching the horse that he can move to avoid the stimulus.  I suggest keeping at it until the horse shows signs of acceptance and stops moving his feet.   

Once I get a saddle on him, I'll do everything again. Sometimes on a young horse he needs a little time to get used to the saddle, but soon you are doing all the ground work with him wearing the saddle.
If I think he needs it, I'll ground drive him with the saddle on. Ground driving is excellent to reinforce giving to pressure with forward movement.  I use 23 foot yacht braid driving lines with bolt snaps. (I make my own driving/lunge lines, but many makers offer 25 foot lengths).   I'll run each line through the stirrups and attach it to the side of the halter.  When ground driving you can turn him into the fence in the beginning and don't be concerned about un-training him to face up when he disengages his back end, then you can also turn him away from the fence, stop him and start teaching him to back under the ground driving lines as well.  The video below is one I posted a while back on ground driving.  You have to be careful to stay back a safe distance, hence the 23 foot driving lines, and only use one line at a time when the horse is moving forward, otherwise you can make a young horse bracey.


Depending on the horse, all of the above may only take a couple hours, then you can mount. If necessary I mount laying across the saddle and rubbing his off side with the off side stirrup. When he is okay with all that and does not try to move off when I am mounting, I'll mount and sit, maybe only for a second or two then dismount, rub on the horse and do it again for a few second longer. After a couple of mounts, I'll mount and ask the horse for lateral flexion on both side. Then I ask for lateral flexion while disengaging his hind end.

If all goes well, and it usually does, then I can ask him for forward movement. If he is sticky, sometimes I'll have someone on the ground flag him to give him forward momentum. Occasionally I use the flag myself while in the saddle, but I'd avoid it on a young horse and it's safer to use someone on the ground.

If you are mounting and the horse is trying to move off, either forwards or away from you, don't continue mounting. Instead, get both feet back on the ground and quickly, with energy move his back end around a couple times, then give him a chance to stand quiet (this is his relief) before trying to mount again. You have to be able to laterally flex him and disengage his back end before you ride him, otherwise getting a bolting horse to stop is going to be more difficult.

If you are fearful, not just cautious, but actually fearful of getting on him, then don't until you aren't afraid anymore, otherwise you are setting yourself and him up for failure. He'll pickup on your fear, and when a horse gets frightened they usually run away.

I think if you are particular about what you are doing, and let how the horse is responding guide you, then you'll be just fine.

There are some good colt starting DVD videos out there. I would recommend picking one up. The top hands, in my opinion, are Buck Brannaman, Bryan Neubert, Martin Black and Craig Cameron.  Studying these and see how these guys go about working a horse, slow and deliberate, should make things clear to you.  Good luck to you and safe journey.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Zoonosis - Disease Threats from Horses to Humans

The other day I noticed one of my horses with a snotty eye - you know, the thick white mucus type discharge.  He hadn't been around strange horses for the past two weeks, so I got to thinking maybe I passed something onto him that I got from another horse.  In any event, a couple of days of treating his eyes with Vetericyn Ophthalmic Gel and my horse's eye cleared right up. But the whole thing got me thinking about horse to human and human to horse transmitted diseases. 

Diseases passed from animals to humans are called Zoonosis. Zoonosis may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic (from parasites). There are more than three dozen we can catch directly through touch and more than four dozen that result from bites.

In a tragic event from earlier this year, an elderly woman in Seattle died from an infection that she appears to have contracted from a horse she rode, according to a new report. The 71-year-old woman had visited her daughter, who operates a horse boarding and riding center in King County, Washington, the report said. During the week of Feb. 21, 2016, one of the horses developed nasal and eye discharge, suggesting the animal had an infection. The daughter treated the horse with antibiotics, and the animal recovered.

But that same week, the daughter developed a mild sore throat and cough, and her mother also showed symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Both the mother and daughter had been in close contact with the horse, with the mother petting and riding the horse on at least two days, Feb. 25 and 29.

A few weeks later, on March 2, the mother experienced vomiting and diarrhea, and was later found unconscious. She was taken to the hospital, but died on March 3, the report said.

Officials collected a nasal swab from the previously sick horse, along with a swab of the daughter's throat and samples of the mother's blood. All three samples tested positive for the same strain of bacteria, called Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus (or S. zooepidemicus for short.) This type of bacteria is known to infect animals, including horses, pigs and cats.

It's rare that people get sick from S. zooepidemicus, the report said. When infections in people do occur, they can cause a variety of symptoms, including chills, weakness, difficulty breathing, fever, kidney inflammation and arthritis.

People can become infected with S. zooepidemicus by consuming unpasteurized dairy products. But the daughter said that she and her mother hadn't consumed any unpasteurized dairy products, nor did they have contact with other animals, except one healthy cat. "The evidence from this investigation linked a fatal S. zooepidemicus infection to close contact with an ill horse," the report said.

The mother may have been at increased risk for infection because of her age. It also remains unclear if the woman's respiratory symptoms preceded or followed her infection with S. zooepidemicus. (It's possible that the respiratory symptoms were from a separate infection, which in turn could have made the woman more vulnerable to S. zooepidemicus, the report said.)

The researchers recommend that people thoroughly wash their hands after contact with horses or other animals. More research is needed to better understand factors that put people at risk for catching S. zooepidemicus from animals, as well as the different symptoms people who get infected can experience, the report said.

The original article was published by Live Science. Some common Zoonotic Diseases transmittable from Horses to Humans:

Rabies. Although the incidence of rabies in both horses (45 to 50 cases annually in the United States) and humans is low, it is highly fatal, and difficult to diagnose. Rabies is transmitted from horses to people via saliva, and any small cut or abrasion can serve as an entry point. Veterinarians often include at least an examination of the oral mucosa as part of a diagnostic work-up and can easily become infected. Unusual clinical signs, especially if associated with any degree of neurologic abnormality, should be a warning for potential rabies risk, and appropriate precautions should always be taken.

Brucellosis. Brucellosis, normally associated with Cattle, occasionally occurs in horses. The bacteria usually localizes in muscles, tendons and joints, though it is most commonly seen in cases of infected withers in horses. Drainage from areas infected are very infectious.

Anthrax and glanders. Anthrax can infect virtually all animal species and can cause local carbuncles and pustules in humans from direct lesion contact along with pneumonia from inhalation of the infectious agent. Higher incidences of anthrax occur in Arkansas, South Dakota, Louisiana, Missouri and California, and sudden equine death in these areas should especially place this disease high on the differential list.

Glanders. Occurs in horses, donkeys and mules, and it also has cutaneous and pulmonary forms that are usually fatal to both horses and humans. Use of a mask is commonly overlooked by practitioners examining horses presenting with a cough and an elevated temperature but could be the difference between making a diagnosis and needing one yourself.

Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is considered to be the most widespread zoonosis in the world and is caused by highly invasive bacteria transmitted between species by infected body fluids (commonly urine) as well as contaminated water and soil, and it can enter the body through even minor skin lesions. The disease in humans can range from mild to severe and can result in death.

Lyme disease. Once thought to be exclusively caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, it is now postulated that other strains of bacteria as well as many species of ticks may harbor and transmit Lyme disease or other similar variations of this condition. Lyme disease in horses can manifest as a generalized body stiffness or soreness; reluctance to move, vague, transitory lameness; or transitory joint swelling. Infected horses have also exhibited nervous system disorders including blindness, head pressing, circling and seizures.
br> Ixodes species ticks carry these bacteria and are commonly found on deer but will also feed on other species such as dogs, humans and horses, which is where the zoonotic potential, as vectors, exists. Lyme disease symptoms in humans vary dramatically among patients, so it can be difficult to diagnose. A slowly expanding skin rash after a tick bite is the classic sign for Lyme disease and is seen in 60 to 80 percent of human cases, but many cases are more subtle and include abnormalities of the musculoskeletal, nervous and cardiovascular systems including arthritis-like symptoms, irregular heartbeat, and central nervous system or spinal cord issues. Lyme disease.
br> Lyme disease has not been considered especially relevant in the southern United States, but a recent variation of this condition, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), has been attracting attention. It is attributed to infection with an as-yet-uncultured spirochete tentatively referred to as Borrelia lonestari. The Lonestar tick has been implicated as the principal vector.
br> Diagnostic testing for Lyme disease, or any other new variants, is currently difficult because blood tests do not differentiate between exposure and infection. Substantial research is ongoing in this area, and newer, more helpful diagnostics for both horses and people should be forthcoming.
br> EGE and HGE. Two tick-associated diseases that mimic Lyme disease are equine granulocytic ehrlichiosis (EGE) and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), both of which are caused by Ehrlichia equi. EGE causes elevated temperature, depression, jaundice, limb swelling, ataxia and blood abnormalities. HGE produces flu-like symptoms in people including fever, headache, chills and nausea. Both infections can, if not recognized and treated with antibiotics, become systemic and result in death. Blood tests can identify E. equi in white blood cells and should be used whenever clinical signs in horses and people, along with any type of tick bite or tick exposure history, make clinicians suspect these diseases.
br> Equine encephalomyelitis, Mosquito-borne diseases pose a zoonotic threat for veterinarians, though the horse, in these cases, acts as a reservoir or vector. Eastern, Western, St. Louis and some subtypes of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis can affect humans. Clinical signs in people vary from mild flu-like symptoms to severe central nervous system signs. Human deaths occur primarily in children and the elderly. Postmortem examination of infected horses puts veterinarians at risk of direct disease transmission through infected blood and cerebrospinal fluid, so always take appropriate protective measures.
br> Fecal-oral transmission. Diarrhea commonly occurs in horses, and many diseases in this category can be transmitted to humans via the fecal-oral route. Good hygiene control measures are crucial when veterinarians are working on cases involving diarrhea in horses. Also keep in mind that any human, or other horse, that is receiving antibiotics (especially orally) is at increased risk for developing an enteric infection from a horse with diarrhea.
br> Salmonellosis is a common form of enteric infection in both horses and humans. Stress-induced diarrhea (transport, training, competition, hospitalization) is common, and Salmonella species are often reported after fecal culture in these cases. Fecal-oral transmission is the prominent route of zoonotic spread.
br> Horses also shed Giardia species in their feces and, though it is unclear if Giardia intestinalis is a pathogenic organism in horses, it is parasitic in humans.
br> Crytoporidium parvum is another protozoal organism with the potential of horse-to-human spread. Research has shown higher levels of C. parvum in foals, so exercise caution when handling young horses with diarrhea — wear gloves, change clothes after handling affected individuals, wash hands and use foot baths when entering and leaving affected areas.
br> These hygiene principles also apply in cases of dermatologic diseases of zoonotic potential in horses. Ringworm can be easily transmitted to people through direct contact. Always keep in mind that many equine skin lesions may be potential sources of disease transfer.
br> Hendra virus. Hendra virus is a paramyxovirus first isolated in 1994 from an outbreak of respiratory and neurologic disease in horses and humans in Hendra, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. This virus is thought to be carried by bats of the genus Pteropus. Horses become infected through contact with bats and their droppings or secretions.
br> Hendra virus infection in horses produces an initial respiratory infection and can progress to neurologic signs and total systemic failure. These clinical signs are mirrored in human Hendra infection. The three cases reported in humans to date include two veterinarians and a trainer, two of which died. Humans caring for infected horses are exposed to body fluids and excretions and can easily become infected. Severe flu-like symptoms quickly develop. The globalization of the equine market makes disease transmission across continents, including the Hendra virus, a more serious threat.
br> MRSA. Infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be transmitted from horses to humans and vice versa. This bacterium can be found in skin wounds and various locations in the respiratory tract. Many studies indicate that MRSA is becoming increasingly prominent, especially in veterinarians, farm workers and others who have increased contact with animals.
br> In a study at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands from 2006 to 2008, 43 percent of all horses that entered the hospital clinic, for whatever reason, cultured positive for MRSA at some point during their hospital stay. Over 9 percent of horses were carriers based on positive cultures done when they first arrived at the clinic, and 15 percent of hospital employees who handled equine patients were also identified as MRSA carriers, though less than 1 percent of the general population of the Netherlands is MRSA-positive. Clearly horses and those who work around them are at higher risk of cross-transmitting this potentially serious infection.
br> Disease list from DVM360 Magazine

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2nd Annual Functional Horsemanship - Red Bird Ranch Arena Obstacle Challenge

The 2nd Annual Functional Horsemanship -Red Bird Ranch Arena Obstacle Challenge will be held on Saturday 24 September 2016. This event is not being conducted under any national organization but will be similiar to the Arena Obstacle Challenges (AOC) conducted under the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA).

Although this will not be a timed event like the Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA) events, the 13-14 obstacles riders will face are intended to be negotiated one right after the other as opposed to doing them as all separate obstacles.

A horse and rider will enter the arena and perform back to back tasks that are either demonstrating basic horsemanship skills or an ability to complete an obstacle.  Examples would be: open, go through and close a gate; retreive a slicker from the fence and put the slicker on; side pass over a pole; execute a 360 degree turn with forward movement while inside a 6' x 6' box; demonstrate a turn in the forehand or on the hocks; retrieve a rope and drag a bag of cans a short distance.    You can go to this link  to read about last year's AOC, see the results, and watch the demonstration video of last year's 1st AOC to get a better idea. 

We will have a great prize table this year as we did last year. There will be only one fee ($45) which covers entry and lunch for competitors. We will have three competition categories: Open, Intermediate and Novice. These would be basically compatible with the Open, Competitive and Scout division under ACTHA. There will be no loping/ cantoring requirements for the Novice and Intermediate Divisions. I am going to limit number of competitors to 20 due primarily to space and time considerations.

For information you can e-mail or call me at (915) 204-7995. Entry fees for the AOC are $45 payable by credit card over the phone, through e-mail, or by pay-pal.

Travis Gonzales from One Stop Horse Shop out of Las Cruces, New Mexico will be on hand to demonstrate and provide vertical vibration therapy (TheraPlate). He is also a certified equine massage therapist, certified equine dentist and does non-sedation teeth floating and trims/shoes as well. Travis' prices are approximately: TheraPlate session $45; trims $45; shoes (all the way around) $90; and, teeth floating $100.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Abused Horses Rehabilitated to help Veterans with PTSD

This article took my interest since it involved rescued horses being given a fair life and Veterans being helped. I have seen more than my share of abused or neglected horses and it breaks my heart and about makes my head explode as well.  This is something that worked out well for all concerned, especially the horses who deserved better and are dependent upon humans from making a fair life possible and to wounded and disabled Veterans who deserve much more than we can give them.  Pretty much can be summed up by that old saying, attributed to Winston Churchill, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."        

Article from
After losing sight in his right eye from a 2013 rocket attack in Afghanistan, retired U.S. Army Maj. Dan Thomas recovered with help from an equine therapy program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Hoping to help other veterans, he and his wife traveled from their home in Alabama to Connecticut last week to purchase two massive, jet black carriage horses, animals that were put up for auction by the state after they were seized from a breeder in February as part of an animal abuse investigation and rehabilitated through a state program involving female prison inmates who help with the care. Photo at right is Dan and Amy Thomas try to calm the two Friesian horses they were picking up at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture's large animal rehabilitation center at the York Correctional Center in Niantic, Conn. The horses were among others seized in February as part of an animal-cruelty probe, that were later auctioned off. Photo by Susan Haigh - Associated Press.

Thomas said the two Friesian mares, among 32 emaciated and depressed horses taken from the farm, are the perfect animals to help veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"They know what it's like to go through hell and come out the other side," said Thomas, who plans to create a program similar to the one he experienced at the couple's 160-acre ranch in Black, Alabama. The Friesians, 1,400-pound Francisca and 1,000-pound Rosalind, will join seven other horses the couple previously rescued.

Considered a "war horse" in the Middle Ages, Friesians are a highly sought-after breed, recognized for being gentle and intelligent. Thomas knows firsthand that such a demeanor in a horse can be a calming influence for returning combat veterans.

"I've been through lots and lots of things. After being blown up, it's quite a traumatic experience for you. The horses are what works for me. So I know it's out there and works for other people because I've seen it," Thomas said, explaining how there's peace in being around such a powerful creature that could hurt you but doesn't.

The 32 horses seized by Connecticut officials in February from the Fairy Tail Equine breeding center in East Hampton have attracted great attention from across the country because of the type of horses involved. The Department of Agriculture received inquiries from as far away as Alaska about the sealed, month long auction. Besides Friesians, Andalusian and Gypsy Vanner horses were also seized. Photo at left is a Friesian horse known as Francisca peeks her nose out of her stall at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture's large animal rehabilitation center at York Correctional Center in Niantic, Conn. She is one of the horses seized in February as part of an animal-cruelty investigation, later purchased by an Alabama couple that plans to use horses to help veterans with PTSD. Photo by Susan Haigh - Associated Press.

Adam and Tracy Erickson, owners of Skywalker Stables in Jamestown, New York, were visibly thrilled to take home Voruke, another Friesian. The couple has rescued horses from the slaughterhouse, buying the animals from meat buyers at the eleventh-hour. They rehabilitate the horses and find them good homes. Tracy Erickson said she's never come across a Friesian and plans to keep Voruke.

"It's just a wonderful, gentle breed of horse," she said. Money raised from the state's auction will help offset the cost of caring for the horses, which has exceeded $100,000, not including staff time. Raymond Connors, supervisor of the department's animal control division, said winning bidders were screened to make sure the animals will go to a suitable place.

As the buyers coaxed their new horses into trailers, Connors remarked how the animals look "1,000 percent better" than the day when they were seized. The owners of the breeding center were arrested on animal cruelty charges. Their case is still pending in court.

Dan Thomas saw photos of Francisca and Rosalind after they were seized. "I'm just really impressed with what the state of Connecticut has done here because these horses are beautiful now," he said. "It looks like the state of Connecticut has saved some lives."

Article from

Monday, August 1, 2016

Horse Anticipating turns

Courtney wrote to ask,.."What can I do about my horse who sometimes decides which direction to turn on his own. He is very well behaved, but sometimes he will preempt me by turning in a different direction than I am planning on."

Hi Courtney, there are a few things I would look at with your belief that your horse is anticipating you. First, I would make sure I'm riding the horse as opposed to just be a passenger. If the horse perceives a lack of leadership, he'll step up and take over, especially if you are always riding the same pattern and your horse kinda just goes into auto pilot. 

I would look at how you are riding and if your seat and your balance, or even an inadvertent cue may be sending him in the direction it looks like he is anticipating. Not being in rhythm, being off balance or leaning all could affect this.

I would go about making sure your horse isn't always turning towards the gate, as in being barn sour and wanting to go back to his feed bin and the safety of his stall and his buddies. Does he sometimes drift towards the gate? If this is what he is doing, maybe you can try making it work for him to be close to the gate, and give him a rest away from the gate, at the farthest point away from it.

Doubling him or riding circles close to the gate, backing him and such would be work. Giving him a rest, away from the gate, would be giving him a break. Sometimes if I think a horse is getting barn sour, I'll finish the arena work with a bunch of circles or doubling around the gate end of my arena, then ride him to the farthest part of the arena (away form the gate), give him a chance to stand and take a break, maybe even dismount and loosen his cinch, before I walk him out.  He learns to think the gate end is the working end and not necessary where he wants to be of his own volition. 

Make sure you are not inadvertently giving him the wrong cues, even something like looking towards something or looking in a direction can cue him. But if he is anticipating your turns, such as riding in several circles then you are planning on turning into a figure 8 but he is anticipating keeping the circle, then what I might try would be this exercise describe below and in the video.

I saw Craig Cameron demonstrate this exercise, and I believe he called it "North, South, East and West". Eight traffic cones or similar objects (I have seen some people use empty feed buckets) are placed in pairs, about 6 feet apart and in a cross pattern like in the diagram below.

I have this pattern of cones set up year using it for many different patterns, even just trotting and loping circles. The idea is to trot circles around all the cones then enter the circle through a pair of cones, exit through another set of cones then turn in one direction or another.

The idea is keep the trot through the turns, keep your horse between your legs, keep changing the direction of your turns in a random pattern (see the diagram below), but be clear in your cues. I'll lift the inside rein, the rein in the direction of the turn, and use my opposite leg to push the horse in that direction.

This placement of cones allows for many different patterns. Sometimes, I'll stop in the middle then back my horse out though the cones I enter through, then do a trot or lope departure in one direction or another.

Sometimes, I'll stop between the cones when exiting and maybe back the horse in a circle around one of the cones, or a figure 8 around both cones.

It will likely help if you look ahead at where you are going rather than looking at the horses head and ground immediately in front.

The video below is a pattern like I have described above.  If you ride as particularly as you can, ensuring your cues are clear, and keep mixing up the turns, L or R, or even a stop and back then double, this can make it necessary for him to listen closely to you.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

National Day of the Cowboy

National Day of the Cowboy is both a organization and a day of the year to honor and preserve the pioneer heritage and Cowboy culture. The mission of the National Day of the Cowboy nonprofit organization is to contribute to the preservation of America’s Cowboy heritage so that the history and culture which the National Day of the Cowboy bill honors, can be shared and perpetuated for the public good, through education, the arts, literature, celebrations, gatherings, rodeos, and community activities. National Day of the Cowboy is observed annually on the fourth Saturday in July. The
12th National Day of the Cowboy is today, Saturday, July 23rd, 2016.

From the National Day of the Cowboy website:  "The era of the cowboy began after the Civil War in the heart of Texas. Cattle were herded long before this time, but in Texas, they grew wild and unchecked. As the country expanded, the demand for beef in the northern territories and states increased. With nearly 5 million head of cattle, cowboys moved the herds on long drives to where the profits were. Former President G.W. Bush said it well when he stated: “We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”

From my point of view we can't lose sight that American Cowboys developed much of their skills from examples of the Spanish Vaqueros whose unique brand of horsemanship is evident predominantly in the Californian and Great Basin Buckaroos.

Cowboying is alive today with full time cowboys, day workers and itinerant cowboys who gladly accept a low paying existence for the freedom of working outdoors on horseback. Cowboys are also exemplified by the professional horsemanship clinicians to work to enhance an understanding of the horse for all of us,....especially for the average backyard horse owner who may only ride a few times a month but dreams of riding in vast pastures and living by a simple but powerful code of conduct, one version which can be found in the book "Cowboy Ethics" by Jim Owen.

1) Live each day with courage. 2) Take pride in your work. 3) Always finish what you start. 4) Do what has to be done. 5) Be tough, but fair. 6) When you make a promise, keep it. 7) Ride for the brand. 8) Talk less and say more. 9) Remember that some things aren't for sale. 10) Know where to draw the line.

Bethany Braley, Executive Director & Publisher for the National Day of the Cowboy nonprofit organization, is available for interviews or to speak to your group or organization regarding the history of this campaign and the challenges we face in achieving permanent passage of the Day of the Cowboy Bill. She has been working continuously on the effort since November 2004, and offers key information on how you and your community or organization may become actively involved in contributing to the success and celebration of this historic grassroots quest. She can be contacted at or by calling 928-795-0951

Friday, July 15, 2016

More on the CSI Saddle Pad

The more I use my CSI Pad, the more I like it and doubt I'll be using anything else.
The CSI Pad is actually a two piece saddle pad. The bottom piece, either 1/2 or 3/4 inch thick, is wool felt and combines with a thinner top pad, which is the CSI flex plate sandwiched between two layers of automotive carpet, to make the complete pad.  
The flex plate is a flat plate of polycarbonate that the bars of the saddle rest over, dissipating the pressure, often the uneven pressure of a saddles bars and rider's weight.

The pressure displacing plate, sandwiched or sewn between two sections of automotive carpet has a narrow strip of Velcro which mates to the felt pad.
Both have pads have holes in the spine to vent heat off the horse's back. I admit that if you separate these two pieces, it takes a little patience aligning the holes, but the concept of a replaceable wool felt pad is a really a great idea and allows you to separate the pads for cleaning. I have two CSI pads, one with a 1/2 inch felt liner and the other is a 3/4 inch felt liner, which are natural felt. I haven't had the need to replace a liner yet and will likely being buying another CSI pad this year.

These are high dollar saddle pads. If you are like me, you'll be eating bologna sandwiches for a month in order to afford one, but you won't be disappointed. In the picture above you can see from the wet spots on the horse's back how the CSI Flex Plate disperses pressure from the bars of the saddle and the rider's weight, keeping pressure off the spine. The CSI Pads are contoured for the withers which make it easy to position and comfortable for the horse.

CSI also offers a Western round skirt and English cut Saddle Pads as well. CSI also has shims available for horse's with anatomical issues. CSI counsels that most horse's do not need the shims and you should consult with one of their saddle fit experts before buying.
While I clean my CSI felt liners using a metal curry brush being careful not to tear up the felt in the process, CSI does offer a rubber cleaning brush which, to be truthful, doesn't work very well for me, hence the metal curry brush for scraping away the built up of hair and dirt before I wash the pad.
Again, if you end up buying one of the CSI pads, you won 't be disappointed......more importantly, I don't your horse will either.      

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Getting your Horse Coming Over for Saddling - Unsaddling

If I'm in an arena throwing loops or otherwise dismounting and having to mount again and again, I'll often just get on the fence and have my horse side up to me so I can mount easily and with less stress to the horse. I've had many people ask me  "How did you get your horse to do that?"

What I tell them is that in the beginning most horses will want to face you up if you are on a platform. In other words they will stand perpendicular to the platform or fence. And, if you lead a horse to a platform, most will stand until you get up on the platform, then they move their back end away to see you, which takes them away from you and makes it harder, if not impossible to mount. This comes mainly from the horse's discomfort with seeing something or someone above them and in the beginning not understanding what you are asking of them.

Then I'll continue explaining, that I'll start with halter and lead line, and while I'm sitting on a fence rail, or even standing on a platform like a mounting block, I'll rhythmically bump on the lead rope giving a verbal cue such as "come over" and just when the horse begins to move his feet, I'll stop the bumping. I'll pause for 5-10 seconds then begin again. Doesn't matter if the horse moves one way then the other,...... with a little patience the horse will eventually side up to you so you can mount. Pet on him first.

I believe I heard in an interview with Margaret Dorrance, wife of the late Tom Dorrance, that Tom was teaching her horse, or teaching Margaret to teach horse, to come over to the trailer step or mounting block so she could more easily put a saddle on the horse's back and also mount from the platform. Margaret asked "why do I need to do be able to do that" and Tom replied to the effect that "you'll need this when you get older". That stuck with me over the years. And if you are the one in a thousand who have not heard of Tom Dorrance you should be going to this site.

Anyway, when I ask a horse to come over and get parallel with me while I am on a platform, some horse's will like to put their left side to you and some their right side. So remembering the interview one day when I was in my trailer, I asked my horse tied to the trailer to come over to me so I could take his saddle off and he did lickity split. It was the same side he always presented to me to mount and he did it right away. 

On another horse, the horse in the video below, I wanted to try the same thing, asking him to come over giving me his right side, when he always gave me his left side as I asked him to come over to mount. I wanted to see how easily he could discern what I was asking him and why. So from the trailer tack room, I ask him to come over to unsaddle and I could see he was not understanding what I was asking. So I used a flag and tapped on his off side, the left side, as I asked him to come over. As soon as he moved his feet. I stopped tapping and paused for 5-10 seconds then started again. Within a minute he understood and sided up to me so I could reach the saddle from the platform of the trailer tack room.

Now I'd like to think that I really won't be needing to use a platform to saddle or unsaddle for the next decade or two, but I'm just a couple of years away from 60 and have seen many of my friends go to lighter saddles or not ride as much due to the toll of cumulative injuries or just plain aging physically. But getting the horse to think and learn is always a good thing. Safe Journey.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Independence Day

240 years have gone by since 4 July 1776 when the Declaration of Independence, written largely by Thomas Jefferson, was unanimously approved by the Continental Congress, marking the beginning of the a new nation, comprised then of 13 sovereign states, and called the United States of America. Since then America has been a beacon for freedom for individuals and nations across the world. No other Country is as charitable with it's blood or treasure.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence was preceded with hostilities between England and the Colonies in which the shooting war began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775 when the British marched to seize colonialist cannons, shot and powder.

The War for American Independence from England effectively ended in October 1781 with the surrender of General Cornwallis' British Army. During those 6 1/2 years of fighting, it was often in doubt if the fledging nation would win it's independence - but the Colonialists won their freedom, not for themselves but for every generation since. That just may be why American's love underdogs.

Happy Independence Day and safe journey!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wild Horse Issue: Agency to Sterilize Mustangs for First Time

As with most complex problems with high emotions on both sides of the issue, the over population of Wild Horses and Burros, both on the range and in BLM holding pens, is not likely to be resolved just with birth control of existing bands of these animals. I am not an advocate of the Federal government owning so much of the western lands. The intent of the Framers of our Constitution was for the Federal government to actually own minimal land and then only through negotiations with the states. However, complete management of the land by the states and likely the selling of much if it for energy and agricultural purposes would no doubt result in a campaign to largely eradicate the Wild Horses and Burros who compete with cattle for grazing. I've received hate mail from both sides for my middle of the road approach to the Wild Horse issue...from rancher friends of mine which despise Mustangs and animal rights advocates who can't see the burden on ranching families. I like to think there are moderates on both sides, and hoping that a moderate solution would be come upon. Birth control has got to be part of that solution. The people not wanting birth control or sterilization to be used on a portion of the total numbers of Mustangs and Burros are not moderates in my book.

A federal agency is on a path to sterilize wild horses on U.S. rangeland to slow the growth of herds — a new approach condemned by mustang advocates across the West. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management also continues to resist calls from ranchers and western Republicans to euthanize or sell for slaughter the animals overflowing holding pens so as to clear the way for more roundups.

Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Steve Ellis delivered those messages at an emotional congressional hearing this week. He offered a glimpse of the challenges facing the agency that has been struggling for decades with what it describes as a $1 billion problem.

Highlights of the hearing included Nevada's state veterinarian calling for the round-up and surgical sterilization of virtually every mustang in overpopulated herds, a protester who briefly interrupted with shouts denouncing "welfare ranchers" turning public lands into "feedlots," and an Arkansas congressman whose puppy is about to get neutered.

Rep. Tom McClintock, chairman of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands, took aim at those who object to euthanizing mustangs "and yet seem perfectly willing to watch them succumb to excruciating death by starvation, dehydration and disease." "That is the future we condemn these animals to if we don't intervene now," the California Republican said.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, emphasized the 1971 law protecting mustangs allows for their destruction if they go unadopted. But since 2012, Congress has required horse purchasers to sign documents promising not to resell them for slaughter, and the Bureau of Land Management opposes lifting those restrictions.

Ellis said the estimated 67,000 wild horses and burros on federal land in 10 states is 2.5 times more than the range can support. However, there's no more room in government corals and leased pastures, where 47,000 horses cost taxpayers about $50,000 per head over the course of their lifetime. "Quite frankly, we can't afford to feed any more unadopted horses," Ellis said. "I understand your frustration. We are frustrated too."

Ellis said the agency's "roadmap to the future" includes use of temporary contraceptive vaccines as well as sterilization. "We feel that before we can implement a spay-neuter program on the range, we've got to do the research to make sure we can do it efficiently and safely," he said. "It is going to take a little time to do that."

Rep. Rod Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said it's time to have "that real tough conversation about something more permanent."

Other Republicans turned on the lone horse advocate called to testify — Ginger Kathrens, founder of The Cloud Foundation based in Colorado Springs, Colorado and member of the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse advisory committee. But Kathrens said most Americans want to see mustangs "roam freely on their native home ranges as intended." "Castration, sterilization and long-term confinement of horses in holding facilities ... is unnecessary, cruel, unhealthy and fiscally irresponsible," she said.

Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, noted, however, that "thousands of domesticated animals are spayed and neutered every day." "I've got a new puppy and he's got his day coming soon," he said. That prompted an outburst from Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director for Friends of Animals. "They are wild animals. They are not cats and dogs," she shouted as McClintock banged the gavel and called for Capitol Police. "The solution is getting welfare ranchers off of our public lands, which have been turned into feedlots."

J.J. Goicoechea, the Nevada Department of Agriculture's veterinarian and longtime rancher, urged the gathering of "as close to 100 percent of horses as we can" in overpopulated herds for surgical sterilization before returning some to the range. "Those of us who truly make a living caring for animals ... have a moral obligation to manage populations in balance with natural resources," he said.

From an article by the Associated Press, 26 June 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Water Needs for Horses and Humans

Recent headlines: Yuma Arizona - Temps reach 120 degrees....115 in Phoenix; 107 in El Paso. Four hikers die of dehydration in Arizona........yes, the summer heat is upon us.  I usually write an article on avoiding dehydration and the importance of drinking water about once a year as we get into the heat of the late Spring because it's important and an often over looked fact about life - that we need water, lots of it, and so do our horses. And everyone has heard of the old adege "You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."....truth be known, the same is true for humans as well.

A close friend of mine and I joke from time to time about how our wives and children sometimes  complain about being tired or having a headache and how we always respond with "drink some water".  They'll always  respond "You always say that!".  There's a reason why I always say that, because most people go around all day in some level of dehydration. Drinking water should be the first thing you try to alleviate symptoms.  

People normally quit drinking fluids a few hours from going to sleep, then after sleeping 5 to 8 hours, wake up in some sort a dehydrated state. The first thing you should do upon waking is to drink a glass of water! But most won't, and many horse owners put more thought and anxiety into ensuring that their horses have water than they do themselves. Some people even work their riding schedule around their horse's feeding times taking great care to ensure their horse has had a chance to eat and drink. This is not a bad idea, it's just it can be limiting. Feed earlier, feed lighter before a ride, measure the water tank to determine if the horse had a chance to drink,.....I usually rake smooth the area around a stock tank after throwing feed so I can tell if the horse has drank when I come back to pull the horse to saddle.

Many times I have had to pull a horse and put him in a trailer before he had a chance to eat, so I'll hang a hay net in the trailer, after soaking the hay in water so he gets a chance to get something into his gut and some moisture before being ridden.

I don't give horses measured amounts of water, I just ensure they have fresh, clean free choice water. People on the other hand don't drink the recommended daily amount of water which is about one ounce for every two pounds of body weight. For an 180 pound man, that equals about 6 bottles of water a day, and this is for body maintenance. When you are sweating (losing water) or doing hard work, the need for water goes up quite a bit. I know there is advice being given that recommendations for water intake are exaggerated and that you only need to drink when you are thirsty, but this is simply not true. You can be dehydrated, and pretty severely dehydrated without being thirsty.

Not drinking water because of the inconveince of having to urinate often is just not, repeat, not a good idea. In fact, if you are not peeing fairy often, maybe once every 3-4 hours, then you likely need to drink more water. Same if your urine is dark in color. If you take supplements, you may have yellow or green urine, but after a few hours, maybe four to six hours, after taking your supplements, your urine should return to normal.

I am not going to list all the symptoms of simple dehydration, but certainly if your mouth is dry, if you feel sluggish,...... or stand up from a sitting position, or dismount from your horse and you feel dizzy - then you need to get some water.  Here's a tip - diet soda or beer, is not a replacement for water. 

Protect exposed parts of your body from the direct Sun; a cotton wild rag or neckerchef soaked in water and worn around your neck can help evaporative cool yourself. Silk wild rags don't hold the water well, but their are other fabrics available, as well as cooling scarfs available at most major hardware stores.  

As far as your horses, most of them are good to go for substantial part of the day after eating and drinking in the morning.  If I work a horse in the heat, I let him cool off before I hose him off.  I'll put him in a pen with water for awhile before I ever offer him feed.  Again, I make use of water soaked hay in nets quite often in the summer months.   

Take a look at your horses' water tanks.  Is that something you would drink out of?  I have been to some high end training facilities and some of those stock tanks haven't been dumped and cleaned for quite a while by the looks of it. Sure a horse will drink dirty water when it needs to, but if that horse is in your care, why should it?  Providing free choice clean water for each horse goes along way towards reducing chances of dehydration and colic.   

Saturday, June 18, 2016

RIP Legendary Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson

Legendary former Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson, passed away on 15 June 2016 at the age of 80 at his home in Alpine, Texas.

Joaquin Jackson served as a Texas Ranger for 27 years in Uvalde and Alpine, Texas. When he retired in 2003, he was the senior member of this storied agency. The Texas Rangers were established in 1823, fought in the Mexican-American War, campaigned and protected settlers against the Commanches, are currently heavily involved in the drug wars along the Texas-Mexican border while continuing this day to investigate crimes and corruption across the state. The Texas Rangers are the oldest and most respected statewide law enforcement agency in the United States.

In 2005, Jackson published his memoir, "One Ranger", followed by a sequel titled "One Ranger Returns".  Jackson has appeared in numerous films and television productions including The Good Ol’ Boys with Tommy Lee Jones, the TV movie Rough Riders, and the TV mini-series, Streets of Laredo.  Actor Nick Nolte used Joaquin Jackson as his role model for the film Extreme Prejudice.
Joaquin Jackson was born in 1935 in Anton, Texas. He attended Texas Tech University and was a graduate of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Jackson served in the United States Marine Corps prior to embarking on a career in law enforcement and was a director of the National Rifle Association.  
Joaquin lost his first wife Shirley in 2012, remarried and is survived by his wife Jewel, three grown children and four grandchildren.  On 25 June 2016 a memorial service is to be held at Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas.