Monday, December 31, 2012

James Question on Horse Joint Supplements

James wrote to Functional Horsemanship and asked, I don't believe joint supplements for Horses work, as I have tried several different brands for a few years, but if you have had some good luck with a particular brand please let me know as my 20 year old mare, a Tennessee Walking, is really getting stiff.

James, I would have a good horse vet look at your mare to figure out if there are any detectable problems causing your mare to be stiff, but 20 years is a fairly old horse.  Some stiffness and crepitice, which is the creaking and cracking sound in the joints, would be normal.

I have talked to both human and equine scienitists about joint supplements. What I have been told and believe is that,
1 - There are minimal trials and data on joint supplements. The manufacturers of these suppplements are kinda reluctant to fund independent research because there is the chance the research would come back as ther products not helping what they claim - kinda like funding your own funeral.  There is plenty of anecdotal or personal testimony of joint supplements that work, just without the provable data.  
2 - Most of the scientists, both horse related and human, that I have talked to believe that Glucosamine works to strengthen cartilage and actually rebuilds it slowly, but are pessimistic about the two other common joint supplements, Chondriotin and Hyluaonic Acid, having much help on joints.
3 - that quality of the product is the key.

I believe there are some joint supplements that help horses. I think that a horse would have to be on a quality product for at least a month to get any benefit and even then it may be hard to tell if it is helping. I had a similar aged ranch horse who had a front knee injury. I put him joint supplements as I rehabilitated him. He seemed to be doing much better after a couple months where I could team rope off him. I was unsure if the progress was related to his rehabilitation (exercise and good feed) or the joint supplements. I now tend to believe it was a combination of both.

If it doesn't put you out too much, I would try another joint supplement program for a few months and see what it does. Just pick a quality product with a high level of Glucosamine and at least some sort of outside approval, such as NASC or GMP. I think that a product with Vitamin C would be preferable. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that is thought to be good for connective tissue health.  MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane is a sulfur compound and another common joint ingredient.  Some think that MSM helps in the organic synthesis possibly helping other joint compounds get into the joints and tissues, and helps reduce inflammation.  I am waiting to be proved if MSM works in any capacity. 

Smart Pak is a company that offers supplements and information on all sorts of products. Click on the link to see a chart of joint supplements broken down by form (pellets or powder), ingredients, seals of approval and cost.  I have one of my horses on a joint supplement presently and I think the small cost is worth the possible benefits to the horse.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dakota Indians Mark Hangings of 1862 with 300 mile Horseback Ride

I just read a really good Reuters article published on Yahoo by David Bailey. Below is an excerpt from that article. It would be worth reading the entire article - just click on the Reuters article link.

Today, the day after Christmas, will be somber for Dakota Indians marking what they consider a travesty of justice 150 years ago, when 38 of their ancestors were executed in the biggest mass hanging in U.S. history.

Overshadowed by the Civil War raging in the East, the hangings in Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862, followed the often overlooked six-week U.S.-Dakota war earlier that year -- a war that marked the start of three decades of fighting between Native Americans and the U.S. government across the Plains.

Over the next three years, Americans will commemorate the 150th anniversary of a host of Civil War battles. Almost forgotten are the conflicts with Native Americans that occurred in the second half of the 19th century as the United States rapidly expanded west.

Few of those conflicts are well known, with the exception of "Custer's Last Stand" -- when flamboyant officer George Armstrong Custer and his men were killed by Sioux leader Crazy Horse and his warriors in 1876 -- and the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, which many historians consider a massacre and the end of the Indian wars.

Thousands of Native Americans, white settlers and U.S. soldiers were killed in the Indian wars. Native Americans were coerced to cede their lands and then forced onto reservations. In the Upper Plains, that included members of the Great Sioux Nation, which comprises Lakota to the west, Nakota in the middle and Dakota to the east around Minnesota.

Under treaties in 1851, the four main Dakota bands ceded about 35 million acres of what is now southern Minnesota, parts of Iowa and South Dakota. In exchange, the U.S. pledged payments and allowed the Dakota a narrow tract of land about 10 miles wide on either side of the Minnesota River. Settlers swarmed onto the newly opened lands.

In 1858, just after Minnesota became a state, Dakota chiefs were summoned to Washington, D.C., and told they would have to give up the northern half of that narrow reserve, said St. Cloud State University historian Mary Wingerd.

By summer 1862, the Dakota, now largely dependent on government treaty payments that were long delayed, were starving. On August 17, young Dakota men out hunting killed five white settlers. The hunters pressed Chief Taoyateduta, known as Little Crow, to back a war. Some Dakota, but not all, fought soldiers and settlers in the short, bloody war in August and September 1862.

Hundreds of settlers were killed and hundreds more taken hostage in the war during attacks on forts, federal Indian agencies, cities and farms around southwestern Minnesota. Thousands of settlers fled east, fueling a statewide panic, and federal troops marched in to quell the Dakota fighters.

The U.S. was victorious on September 23, 1862, and Little Crow left Minnesota. Afterward, more than 2,000 Dakota were rounded up, whether they fought or not. Almost 400 men faced military trials, which often lasted just a few minutes, and 303 were sentenced to die.

President Lincoln demanded a review limiting the death sentences to those Dakota who raped or killed settlers. The number sentenced to hang was reduced to 38, but even in these cases the evidence was scanty, said Dan Stock, history center director at the Minnesota Historical Society.

The 38 condemned men stood on a large square gallows surrounded by soldiers. Thousands watched as a single blow with an ax cut a rope and dropped the scaffolding.

This month, in an annual event that started in 2005, some Dakota are making a 300 + mile trek on horseback in frigid winter temperatures to revive the memory of this footnote in U.S. history.

This all started in the spring of 2005, when Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, found himself in a dream riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Just before he awoke, he arrived at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged. At the time, Jim knew nothing of the largest mass execution in United States history,...... "When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator... As any recovered alcoholic, I made believe that I didn't get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, yet it's one of those dreams that bothers you night and day."

This year's ride began on December 10 in Crow Creek, South Dakota, the reservation the Dakota were exiled to from Minnesota after the executions. It ends on December 26 in Mankato, where riders will attend a ceremony to remember the hangings.

Riders travel east across South Dakota, crossing the border into Minnesota and heading southeast to Mankato. Some ride the entire route, others join as their schedules permit. Support vehicles follow them.

The ride was captured in the documentary film "Dakota 38," which won a special jury award this year at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Festival. Take an hour out of your day and watch the video application of "Dakota 38", I don't think you'll regret it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas From Functional Horsemanship and Friends

My wife organized an impromptu horseback Christmas Caroling event on 23 December. As we gathered at, then left my back gate, it rapidly became apparent that this group of Horseback Troubadors couldn't tell the difference if we were adding to or taking away from people's Christmas joy, so we enlisted a couple of six year old ringers who traveled with us in a pipe trailer towed by a truck.

Those enthusiatic six year old girls are standing underneath our horses in the picture.  Without their voices I'm afraid may have been arrested as a simple nuisance.

Maybe the best thing to come out of our adventure was that the horse's demonstrated good will by wearing antler hats and bells. 

Anyway, while some people were in town doing last minute Christmas shopping or watching football games on television, I think we did entertain a few people, and among our customers were stopped cars, a sleeping buffalo, a curious llama, an unimpressed Great Dane who did not appreciate our rendition of Jingle Bells, and, a Mexican family from nearby Juarez who were lost trying to deliver presents to their friends.

And despite our ear aching rendition of the Christmas classics, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Remember the reason for the season and please be thankful for all the blessings from God that have been bestowed upon us simply by being in this great country. I hope you enjoy your family, friends and particularily your horses, and wish everyone a safe journey into the New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blindfold Training for Your Horse

Months ago I wrote an article about organizations and agencies providing equine emergency response training for horse owners and emergency personnel. This training is designed to help get horses to safety during emergencies such as wildlands fires, floods, hurricanes and accidents such as truck and trailer wrecks, and also helps owners get themselves and their horses rescue ready.

I received comments and e-mails on recommendations on getting horses ready for emergencies such as blindfold training your horses in case you had to lead them through fires and smoke or other spooky things, such as statutes of George Soros,......sorry I couldn't resist.

If your horse is pretty sacked on his ears,...meaning your can handle the ears without problems, and your horse has worn a fly mask, then blindfold training will come a little easier. Training your horse to accept being blindfolded is not only good for emergencies, but may come in handy if you are caught in a hail storm or 80 mph sand storms and need to protect this head, face, eyes and nose, but blindfold training also serves to gentle your horse just a bit more and help develop more trust in you.

Once you get your horse okay with the item you are going to use as a bindfold....try using a shirt, as this is what you will probably have available out on a ride or what responder may have,....hold if over your horse's eye's and check his acceptance. Using a halter is a good idea so you can control your horse with the lead line. A few seconds to start is okay. He gets a release when you take the blindfold away and restore his ability to see. Build on this like you would with any task. If he is troubled by the blindfold he will probably try and back out of it.

As your horse becomes more comfortable covering his eyes, you may try to secure the blindfold so you can move him around. A long sleeve shirt is good for this as you can use the sleeves to tie together, using one round turn, underneath his throat latch. Be ready on the halter lead line to control your horse and to pull the blindfold off your horse if he gets too panicky. It wouldn't be good to have a blindfolded horses getting away from you and running into something. But the idea is that if he gets panicky in 6 seconds, remove it in five,....and build upon that. 

Once your horse is okay with this, you can move him around more,.... get to lead up correctly,....and possible lunge him on a line in a small circle. When you need to securing the blindfold better, you can tuck in a portion of the shirt underneath the cheek pieces of the halter or the browband of a bridle.

While I have drapped rain slickers over my horses head while I have been riding him, blindfolding him on the ground and getting him to lead up is much different - at least for him. I think one key during blindfold training is to continue to talk to your horse so he can hear your voice, and pet on him, but again the release is when he stands or leads calmly and you remove the blindfold restoring his vision. Good luck and safe journey.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Used Saddle Buying

Harold L wrote and asked several questions regarding saddles. "I have an old hand me down saddle with the sewing all worn out on the side and am about ready to buy another one. What ideas can you give me when buying used saddles and do you know about some good mail order places that I can get a good deal on a saddle, new or used, and what type of saddle should I be looking at"?

There are a lot of good used saddles out there from people downsizing their saddle collection (my wife ain't one of them), ....people getting out of the horse business altogether, or upgrading to a newer saddle.

Not counting for the features you like, slick fork versus a medium swell, deep seat, high cantle, California or pencil roll, or what type of riding you are doing, you would do good to buy from a reputable company or person and check to make sure the tree ain't cracked and the fleece doesn't need to be replaced, at least not immediately,..and above all make sure the saddle fits your horse.  It's a good idea on a used saddle to run your hand all over the fleece or sheep skin liner to detect nails sticking out of the tree or any other abnormalities that could affect the fit and your horse's comfort.  

On a used saddle, I would also check to make sure the tree isn't cracked.  Placing your hands on the horn and cantle and twisting, and, doing the same on the skirt should let you know if there are any problems with the tree. 

Note:  The saddle pictured above left is a Santa Fe style saddle made by Sawtooth Saddle Company of Vernal, Utah. 

I am impressed with Cactus Saddlery.  They make a line of saddles for Craig Cameron.  One of the newest saddles in this line is the Ultra Lightweight Trail Saddle, coming in at 34 pounds.  As you can see by the picture at right, the skirt is cut away to reduce weight.  It looks to have a deep ground seat, is built on a wood rawhide covered tree and is advertised with a 10 year warranty.  Priced under $2,100 it looks to be a prety deal deal on a custom saddle.  

There are some good hands at saddle repair, depending on where you live, and you may have the option of taking some pictures sending it to a saddle repair shop for an estimate on what it would cost to make your old saddle serviceable again. I have been pretty lucky with good repair work in the past. In fact one of those fellas was Adan Saenz one of the last of the S.D. Myres saddle makers. Now in his 80's, Adan is not only gifted, but he was stuck in 1970's prices, so it was always a bargain to get him to repair something. Of course it depends on how much you'll willing to spend.  I have did some minor repairs to saddles such as re-stitching the skirt, re- riveting a flat plate rigging.  I won't be doing much of that in the future as I'm here to tell you it is worth it having a saddle professionally repaired.  

If you are really thinking about buying a new saddle, a very good semi-custom or custom saddle starts around $1,800.  I'm pretty sure you can buy a new factory saddles for under $1,400.  So you're pretty much going to have to decide what you are willing to spend to start building a list of saddle makers or sellers.   

Best case is that you can fit any potential saddle buy to your horse and try it out before you buy.  Tucker  Saddles has a Saddle Fit Guide which would be helpful to you.   
Some of the really good custom makers are listed on this website with links.  See the right hand column towards the bottom.  You may want to look at Teskeys to see both new and used saddles.  Good luck and safe journey.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, born October 27, 1858 and died January 6, 1919, was the 26th President of the United States of America from 1901 to 1909. Known for many accomplishments  in the public arena, his experience as a Frontiersman and Cowboy are often over looked even those he was known in his day as "the Cowboy President". 

Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt is best known for as exploits in creating then eventually leading the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. No matter your opinions of his politics, there is no doubt Roosevelt epitomized the American spirit of rugged individualism and self-responsibility.

Over coming physically aliments and sickness, Roosevelt went west in 1884 following the death of his first wife,  He settled on a ranch in the Dakota Territory and began ranching, later building a second ranch which he named Elk Horn.  

While in the Dakota's he was deputized as a Sheriff’s Deputy.  Roosevelt had several events where he hunted down wanted men, incident for stealing a river boat and another for horse thievery. Here he wrote his first of several books about frontier life which shaped the way Americans of the time perceived the West.

In 1898 Roosevelt was serving in the Navy Department when the United States declared War on Spain. Roosevelt resigned from the Navy Department and with help from Army Colonel Leonard Wood created a volunteer Cavalry regiment, mostly comprised of Cowboys, Lawmen and other Westerners, which would become known as the “Rough Riders” or officially as the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. Notably some of this unit was made up of friends of Roosevelt from his Ivy League and political life on the East Coast.

While deployed to Cuba to bring the fight to the Spanish, Colonel Wood was needed to replace the Brigade Commander when illness took him and Roosevelt was promoted to Colonel and placed in charge of the Rough Riders. Colonel Roosevelt and the Rough Riders became famous for a dismounted charge up first Kettle Hill then San Juan Hill, under withering rifle fire from the entrenched Spanish soldiers. Roosevelt begin leading the charge up Kettle Hill while on horseback but due to obstacles he had to dismount.

A little known fact on this battle, which became known solely as the Battle for San Juan Hill, was that a contingent of Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th U.S. Cavalry supported the Rough Riders charge on Kettle Hill, then became the main effort for the subsequent charge of San Juan Hill. While five Buffalo Soldiers would receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the Spanish-American War, oddly none of them were received for the Battle of Kettle or San Juan Hill. For his actions, Roosevelt was nominated for the Medal of Honor, which was disapproved, but later was posthumously awarded in 2001.

After the war and return to civilian life, and later his re-entry in politics, Roosevelt would enjoy a continued relationship with his Rough Rider veterans, who continued to address him as Colonel Roosevelt.  I admire Teddy Roosevelt because he brought his Western values with him whether he went, was plain spoken, and again epitomized the values of individualism and self-responsibility.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yucca and MSM in Horse Joint Supplements

Richard wrote me to ask about using MSM and Yucca for his 17 year old Gelding who he had been using as a roping horse but now appears to be having trouble in his joints.

Seventeen years old, on a sound horse, can be yesterday's twelve year old, meaning it seems like more horses are not only living longer but are being used much more into thier late teens and twenties. But hard use can be hard on a horse's joints, more so when combined with less than adequate nutrition.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) and Yucca are common ingredient in Horse joint products.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is marketed to provide joint comfort and cartilage health. MSM is a type of sulfur and thought to be a ingredient necessary for collagen health or development. MSM is also an anti-inflammatory and therefore probably reduces pain to some extent.

Yucca (see picture at top of post) is a common plant found out here in the desert where I live. It is readily identified by it's stalk and flowers (see photo at right). The flowers,or sometimes called Yucca bulbs, grow in the late spring and are moist. They become dry in the winter and often break apart in the wind, spreading seeds that are almost black in color. The moist bulbs are edible by humans and cows. They taste like lettuce. I had a horse who loved to pick at Yucca bulbs but too much is not good for them so I would only let him eat one or two on any one day.

Yucca is an anti-inflammatpry and pain reducer. Which, like I wrote above, is often found in joint supplements, for humans as well as horses. In fact, if you a section of Yucca base (see picture left) from which the sharp spines grow out of, or what is below that and growing from the ground, you can harvest a section of it and scrap out the inner pulp like material and mix in water. It will make a soapy type of solution. This will make arthritic hands feel better and can be used to rub on a horse's legs after a long ride. I suspect some people figured that out a long time ago and probably did just that.

In any event, both MSM and Yucca can mask the pain from joint issues. Most reports from independent scientists either cannot confirm or don't believe that MSM or Yucca can be consumed with any benefit, but if they are wrong, and you decide to use either, then consider that neither product has much of a chance of helping if you don't get a high quality source of these ingredients.

The scientist's I have talked to do believe that a quality Glucosamine product and Vitamin C work to provide nutrients for joint health and can actually build stronger connective tissue and cartilage. Sure, if you have have a horse with extensive wear on his joints, like race horses and arena roping horses, Glucosamine probably won't give immediate relief. Hence the possible use of the natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.

I would get a Vet to check your horse. Sometimes x-rays can give you a good idea on what going on in your horse's joints. I have one horse, 19 year old gelding, currently on joint supplements. It is a Glucosamine based product and I think it is helping him to some extent. But this is a treatment that I think you may have to do for six months or more to see any result.  Let me know if you begin using something and how your horse does on it.  Safe Journey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Best Handgun for Horseback

Russell wrote and asked: "Thanks for the information you have been writing. Don't think I found anything to disagree with. I have been riding for 45+ years and carried a handgun or rifle most of it moving cattle up in mountains and checking fence. I never thought about training my horses to accept gunfire. I now have a pretty broke six year old. I have a .22 revolver and a .30-30 winchester. If I need to get another pistol I will since I ain't fond of thinking of running into anything with four feet and fangs with the .22. What would you suggest for a decent pistol? Your articles and videos are probably good enough for me to get started. Thanks. Russell."

Russell, it looks like you may be in Mountain Lion or Grizzly country. A big bore revolver would be my preference. This means a .44 Magnum, which can also shoot .44 Special, or a .45 Long Colt (LC).  When I was a Conservation Law Enforcement Officer riding up into the mountains looking for poachers or archeological thieves, I did not feel under gunned carrying a double action revolver in .357 Magnum, but I had about as much chance of running into a Grizzly Bear as a smelly, toothless hog farmer has in finding a date for Saturday night.  I would not trust my life or my horse's life to a .357 Magnum if you are riding in Grizzly country. 

The advantage of a .45 Long Colt is, that thanks to the sport of Mounted Shooting, .45 LC blanks are readily available for training. This allows you to train your horse to gunfire at a reduced noise and muzzle concussion. If you have priced handgun ammunition recently then you see that as another reason.

A disadvantage of a handgun in the .45 LC caliber is that most of these on the market are single action, Colt Peacemaker type replicas. While these are great guns, they are single action. Meaning you have to cock the hammer for each shot....takes more than a little practice to do so reliable and quickly. You could get lucky and find a double action revolver in .45 LC. The more common one's would be a Smith and Wesson Model 25, Colt Anaconda, Ruger Redhawk, Dan Wesson and I think Smith and Wesson also makes what they call a Mountain Gun which is a slicked up Model 25 in stainless steel I believe, which they call the M625. As common as these guns once were, it'll be somewhat hard and maybe even more expensive to find one.  Double action revolvers are much faster to re-load as well using several different types of speed loaders. 

I always start shooting .45 LC blanks about 60 to 80 feet away while the horse's are eating. I fire one round. The horses will spook or flinch. Then they go back to eating. I fire another round. They flinch less and so I keep this up until I can shoot several blanks in succession and they ignore it. I move closer and repeat. The hay helps relax them, as horses mostly eat only when they are relaxed or feel safe. And if they leave, let them. Wait for them to come back to the feed and start again.

The pause between fired rounds serves to let the horse think about the stimulus and figure out that he doesn't need to run. The pause may be several minutes in some cases. But it will get shorter.

When I move to shooting while the horse is in a halter, I give the horse some slack in the lead line, stand with my back to him and shoot to the front using my body to break up and diminish the concussion wave and noise a bit. He'll most likely spook somewhat, so I let him settle before I repeat. I'll talk to the horses and rub on them during this pause. Soon enough the horse is settled and I begin again sometimes just cocking the hammer a few times as they will learn that this noise precedes the loud bang. I'll also shoot from the side of the horse away from him and towards his rear obliques.

When you are shooting from his back, use the same concept. Be sure to fire away from his head. Using the clock method. If the horse's head, or really his body, is pointing at 12 o'clock, then it helps to start shooting blanks at the 5 o'clock direction if you're right handed, or the 7 o'clock direction if your left handed. This will reduce the concussion the horse will feel from gas escaping the cylinder gap and from the muzzle, as well as the noise and allow him to get used to.  The pictures above, from Left to Right, are showing shooting from the one o'clock, three o'clock and five o'clock positions.

I would not shoot near the horse's head, say from the 10 o'clock to the 2 o'clock position. This needlessly sends gas and unburned powder from the cylinder gap and the muzzle too close to the horse's head, ears and eyes.

Hope this helps Russell. I think you'll do fine if you take your time. I'd like to hear about your progress. Safe journey.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trail Ride for Wounded Warriors

All across the country this past Veteran's Day weekend, the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) held Competitive Trail Challenges (CTC) to raise funds for wounded warrior causes. The ride we supported was held in Anthony, New Mexico adjacent to El Paso, Texas with the six mile ride on Bureau of Land Management mananged land.

A total of 20 riders took part and they were all ladies, save for one man working a young horse, all who braved dropping temperatures and 50 mile per hour winds, with the sand blasting that come with riding in the desert during high winds, to complete this ride.  Having your horse in a dust storm or even a rain or hail storm while not pleasant sure as heck builds confidence in the rider on their horse.

ACTHA CTC's are six mile trails with six obstacles that the riders are judged on negotiating. A score is given the horse for his willingness and bravery as the horse works the obstacles and the rider is also judged on their control and horsemanship. I judged the bridge obstacle which was a frame of 4 x 4 posts and 2 inch by 8 inch planks creating a bridge over a two foot deep arroyo (dry stream bed).

Bridges, maybe more so that any other obstacle, can be pretty intimidating for horses. You can work a bridge until your horse crosses it without hesitation 100 times in a row, then move that same exact bridge someplace else and that same horse will treat the bridge like he has seeing it for the first time.

Most of the riders crossed the bridge on a loose rein with willing horses at a natural head set - what I was looking for. The Open division riders had to halt their horse for three seconds on the bridge before continuing across and we were looking for a horse that stand still, on a loose rein, until asked to depart the bridge.

I gave near as high as scores to riders whose horses showed reluctance or caution to cross the bridge, but because the riders kept their horses centered with as little pressure as necessary, the horse eventually, and within the one minute time restraint, crossed the bridge. To me this showed a good relationship and trust between the horse and rider.

These pictures above show a horse's obvious concern about the bridge he is asked to cross. The rider keeps the horse centered and allows the horse to drop his head and checkout the brige, resulting in the horse willing to cross when asked again. If the rider would have asked the horse to cross before it is ready, sure the horse may have went across - may even have bolted across - I saw this a couple times, but allowing the horse time to think, reduces his anxiety and cross in a more confident manner. This will pay off for that horse and rider - increasing trust and helping that horse become a braver horse.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hoof Injury and Treatment with Vetericyn

I found one of my horses on a Saturday morning (day one) with a primary soft tissue injury on his right inside hoof that impacted the top of the hoof, the coronet band and just above it.  See picture at right.  The most likely cause was stepping on or clipping this spot with his other hoof.

I washed it out with cold water and Betadyne solution flushing it out for a few minutes, dried it with gauze pads, applied Vetericyn ointment from the spray bottle, applied a clean gauze pad as a bandage, then wrapped with vet wrap then placed a soft Bell boot over it. Again, see the picture at right.  This is the wound after I flushed it out with clean cold water and Betadyne and before I applied the Vetericyn. 

For those of you who have not used Vetericyn,.....from the website: Vetericyn is a non-toxic, broad spectrum antimicrobial. It is available as Vetericyn® VF (Veterinary Formula) and Vetericyn®, the over-the-counter formulation. The VF formula is twice as strong as the OTC formula. Puracyn is a similar product, formulated for use in humans.

Vetericyn is an effective germ inhibitor because it is similar to what are released by the body's own immune system to fight disease-causing organisms. Neutrophils, part of the white blood cell team, release oxychorine compounds to get rid of these invaders. Vetericyn is a similar oxychorine compound, producing a similar effect; according to in-vitro studies by Vetericyn.

Vetericyn is non-toxic and non-irritating, commonly used wound cleaners such as hydrogen peroxide damage tissue on a cellular level, and may prolong healing times,..... so hydrogen peroxide is not recommended for use in cleaning out wounds. Vetericyn is a strong oxidant - it disrupts the cell structure of the pathogens (germs) and adds oxygen to the wound area, speeding healing times.

Vetericyn Animal Wound & Infection Care is a one-step topical spray that cleans wounds and kills bacteria including antibiotic-resistant MRSA. This steroid-free, antibiotic-free, no-rinse solution is non-toxic and speeds healing. Vetericyn is based on FDA-cleared Microcyn Technology that is formulated to replicate the actions of your pet's own immune system in fighting infections and healing wounds. This revolutionary antimicrobial Vetericyn wound spray kills antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria as well as fungi, viruses and spores. An oxychlorine compound similar to that produced by the animal's own immune system, Vetericyn Animal Wound and Infection Care will not harm healthy tissue and is pH neutral making it non-stinging when applied.

I have used Vetericyn before, and even the Vetericyn eye ointment with good results. The picture to the right is the wound on the morning of day four, 96 hours later. The picture makes it look worse than it is.  The torn tissue looks filled in; swelling and tenderness seems to be gone.  My horse did not flinch with hand pressure on the wound site.  For the next week I left a soft bell boot on him just to protect the healing site. 

Vetericyn is always on hand with us. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cowboy Wisdom – The Old Cowboy in Church

One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. The old man and his clothes -- jeans, a denim shirt and boots, were spotlessly clean but worn and ragged. In his hand he carried an old hat and an equally well worn Bible.

The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and jewelry.

As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him. They were all appalled by his appearance and did not attempt to hide it.

As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor: "Before you come back here again, have a talk with God and ask Him what he thinks would be appropriate attire for worship in church."

The old cowboy assured the preacher he would.

The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same old jeans, shirt, boots, and hat.

Once again, he was completely shunned and ignored. The preacher approached the cowboy and said, "I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church."

"I did," replied the old cowboy.

"If you spoke to God, what did He tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping here?" asked the preacher.

"Well, sir, God told me that He didn't have a clue what I should wear. He said He'd never been in this church."

Friday, November 2, 2012

ACTHA Trail "Ride To Remember" for Veterans

American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) "Ride to Remember", is a nationwide charity trail ride to honor and benefit our Veterans, on Saturday and Sunday, November 10th and 11th, at many locations across the country.  Proceeds of this ride will primarily go to Horses For Heroes an veterans rehabilitation and support organization in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

The local ride we will be donating prizes for, helping on, and riding in will be hosted on BLM land near Anthony, New Mexico adjacent to West El Paso, Texas.  Rebecca Eldridge and April Hanley are the Saturday and Sunday Ride Coordinators respectively.  These are two ladies who should be commended for volunteering to ramrod this benefit and there is alot work involved planning the obstacles, getting judges and such. 

The address for the ride check in is 333 Spirit Hill Lane, Anthony, New Mexico. Directions to the ride are: Take Exit 6 (Transmountain Exit) off of I-10. Head South on Transmountain (towards Mexico) to Doniphan. This will be a "T" intersection. Take a Right on Doniphan. Take a Left at the first stop light onto FM 259. Continue on FM 259. At the first stop sign, which is a "Y" intersection, go straight. At the second stop sign, veer left. Follow that road around a sharp left curve, a sharp right curve, and at the second sharp left curve, turn right onto Koogle Road, this will be a dirt road. Follow Koogle and turn Left onto Mountain Vista. The ride start point will be the first place on the right with the white pipe fence.

See Map Below. Click on the map and I think it may give you a larger and clearer view.

ACTHA trail rides are a slow, leisurely six mile trail course with six obstacles and judges evaluating how each rider and horse negotiate that obstacle, which are spaced approximately a mile apart. 

For more information you can call 915.443.4128 or 915.249.1186 or go to the ACTHA web site, click on "Our Rides" tab, then "Rides and Locations" and enter "NM" in the search box.

The Anthony, New Mexico ride will begin with a rider checkin at 0800 am, followed by a rider's brief at 0900 am, with the first group of rider's departing on the trail by 1000 am. After the ride there will be a catered no-host lunch by local Rudy's BBQ prior to the awards ceremony.  Hope to see a lot of people enjoing their horses on a trail ride in what should be really nice weather and supporting this great cause.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Question on Handling Hooves and Horse Nutrition

KB wrote me with the following questions: "I have a 9 year old quarter horse mare that cow kicks every time you try to pick up her hind feet. And also we just got a 1 1/2 yr old gelding who doesn't want you to touch his legs at all and I really need to get this problem fixed so that I can safely clean their hoofs and have them trimmed. So any help would be greatly appreciated. And since I was told I shouldn't ever tie the younger horse the first time he is introduced to something new and I don't have anyone else to help me I not sure where to start.

And also I have read so much about horse nutrition that now I feel completely and uterly lost on what they each should have and have had no luck finding a equine nutritionist in this area (Ft. Worth, TX) to try and ask any questions of. And yes, I read in one of your articles earlier that everyone I ask has a different answer, which just makes it that much more difficult to try and figure out the best thing to do. And all I am really wanting to do it provide all the nutrients, vitimins, minerals, etc. that the horses need and do my best to make them safe for myself and the farrier so that we can move on to all the other (fun stuff) that comes along with having horses. And thank you again for any help you may have to offer."

On Horse Nutrition,...first of all I am not a equine nutritionist, I just have some opinions based on my experience and it seems like you have figured out everyone else has opinions as well! I think that educating yourself on nutrition is a process, probably a never ending process, that combines experience and learning from multiple sources (experience, talking with knowledgeable people, reading books, and researching the internet). I think horses do well on their own, but we create a lot of problems when we put them in pens, and because of convenience, throw dry, compressed feed to them a couple times a day. Then we add grains, processed feeds and supplements to solve problems that sometimes we create, and sometimes creating more problems.

One good source of nutritional information is ADM Alliance Nutrition. ADM advocates a "Forage First" approach, which I wholeheartedly believe in. They also offer television based interviews on nutrition, through RFD-TV, with Dr. Judy Reynolds, as well as a nutrition hot line phone number.

Generally, most horses can do well on forage (hay), a salt block and fresh water. I feed both grass and alfalfa hay,....I reckon most people just feed alfalfa.

On the issue of you not being able to handle your horse's feet: Horses weren't born giving to their feet. And if you think about it, with a horse's well defined sense of survival, allowing us to pick a foot off the ground, taking away their ability to flee, is a compromise all of it's own.

It is the responsibility of the horse owner to make his/her horse safe to trim/shoe. Most of us do not pay our farriers enough to train our horses for us. In fact, the easiest way to lose a good farrier is to have him trim/shoe a ill mannered horse.

Your horse probably has some other problems areas as well and the origin of these problems are most likely based out of a lack of respect from the horse to you.  If I am picking up the feet on a horse I am evaluating for the first time, I make sure the horse is comfortable with me at all places around it's body and with my hands rubbing on that horse all over.  When I have a real green horse, I may try using the lead rope or a lariat to pickup their feet with for the first few times.  What I am looking for is a give by the horse then I'll release the pressure. That first time may be two seconds, then I build on that.  You are looking for the slightest try then rewarding the horse with the release.

Most likely you are going to have problems with bad manners, and horses being recalcitrant about letting you pickup their feet is a classic bad habit, unless you get the horse's respect and I think you do that by moving his feet, backing him up, getting that horse to join up with you,....getting that horse to see you as the leader.   Again, work on accepting and rewarding a small try and build on that.  Let me know how you are doing KB.  Safe Journey. 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium

Just made it back from our annual trip to the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium held in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Reining competition, horse training demonstrations from Craig Cameron, Chuck Wagon cookoffs, brisket and green chile burritos, and Mule demonstrations as well as live music headlined by the Gatlin Brothers and Asleep At The Wheel all made this a welcome get away for a weekend.

Josh Armstrong, from Armstrong Equine Services, highlighted the Reining Horse competition, called "Ride and Slide" hosted by the Zia Paint Horse Club where riders demonstrated flying lead changes and sliding stops among the reining patterns.

We go every year primarily to see Craig Cameron put on several one hour demonstrations. The bleachers around his round pen were again over flowing this year as Craig demonstrated putting a handle on a young horse in one session and in another session he took a two year old that had never been ridden and within an hour he had this two year old giving to pressure and accepting a saddle and rider. Perhaps the best thing Craig Cameron does is demonstrate what is possible with a horse when you approach the relationship from the horse's point of view, and he always explains the why and not just the how.  Picture at right is Craig Cameron working a green tow year old horse from the back of a horse he had previous worked to put a little more handle on.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

For The Love of a Horse Update

For The Love of a Horse (FTLOAH) is a Roswell, Georiga based tax exempt, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization comprised of volunteers dedicated to the resuce and rehabilitation of equines, specifically those with critical care needs that would otherwise be euthanized.

A visit by FTLOAH to the Somerby Assisted Living Center on October 4, 2012, covered by CNN covered this event where For The Love Of A Horse brought a mini and a donkey out to meet the residents.   Judging by the smiles on the faces of the residents this visit brought a lot of joy to these people.

The latest rescue case for FTLOAH is Chief, an Appaloosa gelding approximatley 13 years old. As with most rescue horses, their history is often a mystery other than the obvious fact they were not cared for. Chief is three legged lame due to an injury to his right front pastern, which is probably why he was abandoned. Veternarian Dr. Randy Eggleston at the University of Georgia, believes Chief can be helped and FTLOAH is raising money to pay for surgery scheduled at the University of Georgia this coming week.

This organization can use a hand to continue doing good things for equines and humans alike. There is a pay pal link on their website if you could donate. For further information contact: Miaka D. Palmieri, President, "For The Love Of A Horse" Telephone: 404.680.0392

Monday, October 15, 2012

Learning From Videos

I received this through e-mail from Wendy R: "Hi. I'm between a basic and intermediate rider. I keep my horse on a friend's farm and don't have a way with either a horse trailer or truck to get my 7 year old Palomino mare to any riding clinics. Even so it would be a minimum of 5 hours or so to get to one, which are normally held at the fairgrounds. I have learned from a couple of your videos like opening gates and getting a horse to stand still but I am looking for more good videos. Do you have any suggestions on a few good, inexpensive DVD type training videos?"

Hi Wendy, sorry that attending clinics is darn near impossible for you. One thing you may want to look into is trailering with someone else to a clinic. Maybe joining a local or regional horse group will give you some contacts. Attending a clinic without your horse is called "auditing".  While auditing a clinic would be helpful, attending a clinic where you can ride and learn at the same time would probably pay off much better.

The advantage with DVD's is the ability to re-play them over and over until you understand the material then go out on horseback and experiment.  I think that sometimes these self learned lessons can be the best kind. 

Everyone is going to have their favorite clinicians, pretty much based on their ability to understand that clinician. My two favorites are Craig Cameron and Buck Brannaman. That doesn't imply that others are less capable, it's just these two come across much easier to understand to my way of thinking. While I have not had the opportunity to view either of the below training videos from Craig Cameron or Buck Brannaman, I have seen other videos they produce and am pretty confident that you would find any of their videos useful and professional.  Good luck Wendy and safe journey.

Practice Makes Perfect, by Craig Cameron Craig Cameron videos

Seven Clinics with Buck Brannaman Buck Brannaman videos

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Yearling's Swelling Caused by Protein Deficiency?

Tammy wrote and asked "I have a 10 month Blue Roan Tennesse Walking Horse. She has a swollen barrel so I had the Vet come out. He rubbed her belly and said she was low on protein but she did have a hernia that needed to be removed. He said the swelling was due to low protein, have you ever heard of this????"

Hey Tammy, while I wouldn't call this common (the swelling or edema on your yearling's barrel), it is not unheard of for a protein deficiency to cause non-painful swelling. The mechanism, as I understand it, is that sufficient protein provides a key nutrient that keeps fluid from leaking out of the blood vessels and causing the swelling. Your Vet was probably rubbing your filly's belly to see if there was any pain.  A lack of pain may indicate swelling from fluid buildup from a protein deficiency as opposed to swelling from trauma. 

I would think that a protein deficiency would be a more likely cause of the swelling than some sort of digestive problem where your filly could not breakdown and assimilate nutrients from her feed.

I would work with your Vet on a feeding solution. You may want to visit with the horse feed professionals at ADM Alliance Nutrition. There is a alot of information available at their website under Equine Library, including feeding growing horses.

ADM's spokeperson, Dr. Judy Reynolds, appears on RFD-TV to talk about feeding horses. They also have a telephone Nutrition hotline at 1-800-680-8254.

Your Vet should have talked to you about fixing the hernia. Sometimes hernias don't appear in foals until they are a little older and more active. Did he say what type of hernia?

There are two basic types of hernias: Inguinal and Umbilical hernias. With the Inguinal hernia usually being more serious and have a greater need for a quicker resolution which your Vet should be able to do with no lasting effects on the horse.

Let me know how it works out with your TWH. That's a great breed and Blue Roan is a pretty color. She ought to make a great riding horse for you. Good luck and safe journey.

Friday, October 5, 2012

End of Watch - Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie

On Tuesday October 2nd, 2012 while responding as part of a Horse Patrol unit from Naco Border Patrol Station to a sensor activation, close to Highway 80 just West of Douglas Arizona, which indicated a possible narcotics load up occurring, Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Another Border Patrol Agent was wounded. The subjects, not yet determined to be either a bandit group intending on robbing illegal aliens, or simply a armed narcotics smuggling group, have not yet been captured, or, suspects detained in the general area have not yet been linked to the shooting.

Update:  Since posting this article, a preliminary FBI investigation has now reported that in all probability Agent Ivie was killed as a result of friendly fire. Imagine several agents responding to a remote area in the dead of night, expecting to find a narcotics load or a bandit crew, and you can start to see what kind of situation this is.  The results of the investigation do not make Agent Ivie's sacrifice any less.     

Border Patrol Agent Ivie is the second Border Patrol Agent to die in the line of duty in the last two years from armed criminals operating inside the border in very rough and remote areas of Arizona.  Nicholas Ivie left a wife and two young children. We wish speed in God granting Agent Ivie's family a measure of peace from their grief.

Please keep our Border Patrol Agents, especially those on horseback, as well as our other dedicated law enforcement officers in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Large Animal Emergencies and Horse Rescue Training

A friend of mine traveled several hours to attend a Large Animal Emergency and Rescue (LAER) clinic conducted by Vicki Schmidt, a Maine State Fire Instructor II and firefighter for Buckfield Fire Department. She is also the owner and manager of Troika Drafts, a 100 acre working draft horse farm in western Maine.The training was conducted in in the Silver City, New Mexico which is mountainous and wooded and is always facing a fire threat. 

Getting prepared for horse or other larger animal emergencies such as evacuation from wild fires or floods, horses stuck in things like culverts or trees, or (God forbid) trailer accidents is a good idea.

The LAER clinic was billed as preparing emergency responders and animal owners together, helping each understand the others roles and responsibilities.

Most Rescue Preparedness Training for horse owners revolves around the concept the horse and owner being "Rescue Ready".

Some of the traits that "Rescue Ready" horse would have includes: • Leads equally well from both sides • Stands quietly while tied and blindfolded • Allows straps to be draped over, under, around and between their legs • Allows wraps freely on their legs • Accepts the sound of duct tape, etc • Is not afraid of the light of a flashlight • Is trusting of humans/strangers

The "Rescue Ready" owner should think about the following steps to be ready for an emergency: • Pre-programmed In-Case-Of-Emergency names and numbers in their cell phones • Emergency info posted near phones • Arranges for emergency care of horses • Stays calm in the event of an emergency • Knows their horses ambient vital signs • Respects the authority and responsibility of local responders • Knows knots and safety protocol • Trains their horse to be rescue ready. • Keeps halters handy and other safety items

Large Animal and Horse Rescue Organizations:

Vicki Schmidt, Large Animal Rescue Training program

Arizona Equine Rescue Organization

Clemson University Cooperative Extension

Horse Rescue Resources:

Equine Emergency Rescue - A Horse Owners Guide to Large Animal Rescue. A guide to the methods and tools necessary to successfully extricate a horse or other large animal from entrapment using low-tech, low-risk options that are safer, easier and quicker than extreme techniques. Available from Indie Book Authors.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Training for the Trail Horse

I was recently asked to bring a horse to a park to support a Law Enforcement Agency picnic. Many of the agents and mission support personnel had young children so they thought horse back rides and the inevitable picture taking would be a good draw for the picnic.

I easily said yes as this would give me a good chance to sack one of my horses out on all sorts of fearful things.

So on a Sunday late morning I arrived with Junior and rode him around the park seeing all sorts of things new to him: a rappelling tower with a group of people climbing and rappelling; baby strollers; volleyball courts with flapping boundary tape; picnic tables and canopies; a jumping balloon shaped like a castle complete with some screaming curtain climbers jumping around like wild banshees,..and all was good until we encountered a large bag sticking out from a pile of saw dust that had yet to be spread.

That flapping bag was the only thing that bothered my horse but it only took a minute or two to get him to drop his head onto it and when it was all said and over with I had him backing into it with the bag getting wrapped around a leg and he was okay with it.

Then it was time to let the kids pet, rub on and sit in the saddle on Junior for short ground led rides. With their parents there to confirm it was their child and to give permission, I ended up putting about 50 kids on Junior back for short rides and pictures taking.

In between groups of kids petting on Junior and wanting to ride him, Junior grazed on the park grass which he has only seen a half dozen times in the last 5 or 6 years. At the end of day I think I had just a little bit better of a horse, and a bunch of happy kids and their parents had pictures to prove it.