Sunday, November 28, 2010

Equine Photonic Therapy

I have had a couple anonymous comments on Photonic Therapy for horses. I know nothing about it but read that it uses red light to stimulate acupuncture points.

Takes alot to convince me these days, but I have also learned not to discount too much before the facts are in.

This is what I have read about Photonic Therapy:

Photonic Therapy is advertised as a pain-free method that promotes healing and aids in pain management using standard acupuncture points using a non-thermal low level laser that produces stimulation at the cellular level. Photonic Therapy, sometimes called red light healing, is billed as promoting healing and health optimization for Dogs, Cats, Horses and Humans by using certain light wave-lengths that seem to have special abilities to produce energy deep within cells. This energy supposedly releases important healing chemicals that go to work repairing cell damage. This stimulation allows injuries to be healed without pain, drugs or invasive treatments.

For more information you can go to: McLaren USA, Inc.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Horse Health Care - Cold Weather Colic Threat

A friend of mine called me early this morning when I was sewing up a horse blanket which brought the conversation around to when did I think it was necessary to blanket a horse.

Pretty much what I told him was that tonight wouldbe the first time this fall that I would blanket as I was expecting an abnormal drop in temperatures tonight, from nightly lows in the mid 40's to the low 20's due to a cold front moving in. In my experience, a sudden drop like this, especially when the horses haven't yet grown out their winter coats, slightly increases the chance of cold weather colic where the horses decrease their water consumption and the blood usually available for the gut is now also needed to flow to their extremities to keep them warm. This can which slow up their digestion problem and with a lack of water consumed can therefore presents more of a colic risk.

So there really isn't just a temperature cutoff when I blanket a horse or not. Circumstances like a big sudden change (drop) in temperatures, and the age of a particular horse and any existing health issues all factor in. I have worked a horse all day in cold weather, then more oftenn than not, blanket him for a long trailer ride home in cold weather, especially if he is still damp with sweat.

I wrote a related piece on Blanketing Horses, see it here.

Anyway, I would much rather "waste" time putting on and taking off blankets than giving a shot fo banamine, tubing and walking a colicing horse. Just pays to pay attention to weather changes

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exposing Your Horse to Gunfire - Begining to Shoot from the Saddle

Continuing to get my horse comfortable with gunfire so I can eventually shoot well off his back and while he is moving. Like I thought, gunfire is simply another obstacle like water or crossing a tarp that the horse can get used to - albeit some quicker than others.

In this, part II of exposing your horse to gunfire, I shoot a couple rounds from the saddle and you can see the horse getting less troubled by the loud noise and smell of burnt gun powder.

Please be safe if you are trying this. Remember the gun safety rules: Every gun is loaded until you physically determine it's not; never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy; finger remains off the trigger until you are ready to shoot; and be sure of your gun to target line and what may be in that line.

Blanks are good for this type of training. I bought my .45 LC blanks from Buffalo Blanks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mantracking - Reading the Print

Several friends of mine have asked me to post some articles on tracking. So starting with this post, I'll do some basic tracking posts every so often in case there are any readers interested in learning and practicing this craft.

Cutting for sign. Sign is any evidence of someone or something's passing. Everything that walks on the ground leaves some sort of sign...the trick is to see it and read it.

Sign can be a flattening of the ground; a disturbance such as pushing a twig or rock into the ground; a regularity caused by lines in their footwear; or a color change or shine from the subject's passing. When I'm looking to pick up sign, I cut for sign by moving perpendicular to the direction I think the subject is heading and pick up a starting point...and like I said, we call this 'Cutting for Sign'.

It is valuable to place the area you are looking at between yourself and the Sun as this provides the best light situation, both contrast and shadow wise, to notice disturbances. If I pickup a track, I'll study it to ensure I can recognize it again. Sometimes I'll take pictures, like I did for evidence when I was building a case of Archeological or Environmental crimes as a Conservation Law Enforcement Officer. Sometimes I would even fill out a Track Report with full measurements and pattern descriptions for future reference and identification.

The basic sign you'll see is a foot print, full print or partial. You can tell many things from one or more prints: type of foot gear, rate of travel, and stride (distance between toe of one print to the heel of the next). You can gain some perspective on what the subject is thinking such as evidence left, such as the pressure release created by his footwear, which can show things like him turning around checking his back trail from someone trailing him or even looking up.

The disturbed area caused by the foot, called the Pressure Release, can give you an indication on the individual's weight, balance and speed. Normally the toe of the foot gear pushes sand or dirt forward in the direction of movement and this is called toe dirt.

An interrupted heel can add a little difficultly at first in reading the pressure release, but this can be overcome by comparing several prints or pressure releases to see what is normal.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tying Knots - The Neckerchief Knot

You'll never hardly see a working Cowboy without a neckerchief around his neck. Sometimes called a wild rag, a neck rag, or a bandanna this triangular piece or a square piece of cloth, folded over, is too much of a needed item not to go without.

Cowboys, proud of their gear, often use brightly colored or fancy neckerchiefs, which are more often called "Wild Rags". Paisley patterned or polka dotted are very common.

Some prefer to wear them loose and some prefer tied tight around the neck. I prefer a loose neckerchief and use it for everything from wiping sweat, cleaning glasses or binocular lens', to wrapping around my nose and mouth to protect against sand blown in high winds which are common down here in West Texas.

In the video below I explain several methods of tying a neckerchief knot or wild rag knot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Helping the Buddy Sour Horse

I received an e-mail from Janet whose horse gets agitated and near uncontrollable when separated from other horses on the trail. Or in other words is Buddy Sour.

Horses, are of course, prey animals who find safety in a herd. Think about being dropped off in the middle of the desert in pitch darkness with coyotes howling and brush cracking and you can start to feel what a horse feels like separated from the herd...excepting Horses rely on instinct, people tend to rationalize.

A buddy sour horse can be dangerous as the horse may bolt in his anxiety to catch up with the other horses. I think it's best to instill confidence in your horse and trust in you starting small with short distance and short duration separations from the other horses on a trail ride and build from there.

I've been on horses who were comfortable with just me and them being gone all day or night long by ourselves, but sometimes that same horse will get anxious when with a group of horses then separated.

When a horse I'm on gets buddy sour and wants to catch up I think it's important that you get the horse to travel at the pace you want, either a walk or a jog. DOn;t buy into to his anxiety. If you let him take off to catch up then you are teaching him that he has a reason to be scared and needs to catch up to the herd.

I'll keep stopping, backing, then make a horse stand still for a moment before I let him proceed forward. I may have to do this many times on a ride to teach him that he needs to go at the pace I'm asking for.

Sometimes, if needed, I put some energy into tight circles, which makes the horse uncomfortable and therefore looking forward to standing still or walking off at the slow pace I'm looking for. Good luck, Janet, and be careful - don't let your horse get away from you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Army Scout - Tom Horn

Tom Horn, Army Scout, Range Detective but best known for a murder conviction and hanging, was born in 1860 in northeast Missouri. He reportedly left home as a young teen, heading west in search of adventure, because of an abusive father.

He eventually headed for the Southwest, where he became a wrangler and scout for the Army in the Apache wars working under famous Army Scout Al Sieber. Becoming Chief of Scouts under Generals Crook and Miles, he was instrumental in capturing Geronimo for the final time. Horn had a very good reputation as a Scout and tracker for the U.S. Cavalry.

After the Apache campaign Tom Horn became a “Stock Detective” hired primarily for his skills with a rifle against rustlers. He took part in the Pleasant Valley War in Arizona between cattlemen and sheepmen, but it is not known for certain as to which side he was allied, and both sides suffered several killings to which no known suspects were ever identified, however it is pretty well believed that Horn worked for the Cattlemen who were better funded and more politically connected. Plus Sheepmen were universally disliked in the West.

Horn was arrested, tried in a controversial trial and hanged the day before his 43rd birthday in 1903 for the murder of a young boy. A drunken omission of guilt, plus evidence that the boy’s body was found with Horn’s trademark,…a rock placed underneath the head, helped convict Tom Horn, who was never previously known to be an indiscriminate killer.

After his death a retrial was held in 1993 in which he was declared innocent. The New York Times described the trial, “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, But Still Dead.”

Tom Horn remains an enigma, but his service and reputation as an Army Scout was never questionable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Safely Mounting Your Horse - Revisited

Last week I received a call that a friend of mine was in transport to the hospital
after getting tossed off him horse, a young Arabian mare. From a another who witnessed the event, apparently my friend stepped into the stirrup without holding on to the reins or at least not holding onto them in a secure manner. The Arab mare took off as the rider tried to get his seat and a few hops later he was tossed off and landed on his side breaking the ball off his femur as it goes into the pelvis.

This simply happened because he got careless. I have known at least five or six people try to mount with no reins or a loose hold on the reins,...or leaning way back and pulling the horse of balance which gets them to move their feet and when they move their feet they just may not stop. Some of these same people further complicate their safety by letting their horses get away with bad habits such as walking off as they get their seat.

Anyway, I got a little mad when I received the call and was asked to do another post on mounting in a safe manner. Hope the video helps those who still may be mounting in an unsafe manner. Safe Journey.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Exposing Your Horse to Gunfire

I have long been asked about how to train your horse for gunfire. I always answer something to the effect "Don't know,..haven't done it yet,..but imagine it's like sacking your horse out to any obstacle,..start small, aim build up at the horse's pace and reward even his smallest try and build on that.

I have had people shoot around my horses, but one shot thirty feet away is much different than several shots close up. Add the smell of gun smoke and you have a different situation.

So I started exposing one of my horses to gunfire with the aim to shoot off him like the Cowboy Mounted Shooters do when riding a course and shooting balloons with blanks.

I secured a box of .45 Long Colt blank from Buffalo Blanks and started shooting 6 to 12 rounds at a distance of about 25 feet while my horses were eating. At first they startled and move away. I let them get back to their feed, then shot again, By the 4th or 5th round, they continued eating, just looking in my direction.

The next drill is to shoot several rounds near the horse. You can hold onto the
reins and shoot away from him, then as he becomes more comfortable, shoot from near his side or he'll be more used to you shooting from the saddle. This is what you'll see on the video below, then I'll try from horseback, while in the arena or round pen...just in case he gets me off so I don;t have to chase him, ha ha.

You see me giving my horse some cookies. Horses, when eating, releases endorphins and can helps calm them down and is a reward for a smaller and smaller startle reflex.

One more thing, safe...then be extra safe. Ensure you are using blanks and always fire them into a safe direction. Be sure and clean your gun regularly if using blanks as the unburned powder and residue sure gums it up a considerable amount.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reader Question - Looking for Someone to Ride my Excess Horses

I received a question from Teresa, via e-mail: "Hello. I am 61 years old and still riding. I am kind of a horse saver, taking horses from people who can no longer ride or care for them. I have two younger horses that I cannot get time to ride. Do you know someone in the Scottsdale, Arizona area that you would trust to put some time in on some young horses for me?"

You bet Teresa. Glad to hear you are still riding. I have a old partner of mine out in that area and I believe he is currently riding horses for some people, just like you're asking about.

His name is Dan Buckingham and he is a very experienced Cowboy. He can be contacted at

Tell him I sent you to him. In fact, tell him I said he looks like hell but is a damn good hand. He'll get a belly laugh outa that.