Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Having Pain From Stirrups

Luis wrote in with the following question: "I'm 44 years old and ride about an hour, sometimes more, twice a week. After I ride I have substantial pain in the outside edges of my feet. It's got to be caused by the stirrups which are angled. I have seen stirrups being sold in catalogs that are more level. I was wondering if you have any experience or comments on these ergo-metrically balanced stirrups. Regards, Luis"

If I'm reading your e-mail right Luis, you are using standard stirrups which hang in an angled fashion - see the picture at top left - with the lower end of the stirrup closer to the horse's body.   By the way, I have to admit I had to look up the word "Ergo-metrically".

I would first make sure what is not causing your pain such as too short of length in the stirrups leathers, or even a foot problem like plantar fasciitis. Another problem for your feet may be a too narrow stirrup like an Oxbow which puts pressure on a small area of the foot. If you ride with just the balls of your feet in the stirrups then that may cause pain as well as you have the rest of your foot unsupported.

Pain on the outside of your foot may also be caused by how your legs are angled when you sit in the saddle. I think that the more your feet are pointed forwards, as opposed to being a little turned out, may increase the pressure on the outside of the foot as well.

Barring any of those reasons, you may want to try a canted stirrup. They don't work for me - I prefer a 5 inch Monel stirrup - but I know someone who routinely rides in a Crooked Stirrup and he swears by it, but I think he's using it because of past knee problems. The Crooked Stirrup levels the stirrup for the foot through lengthening the side of one of the stirrups.

There is another type of canted stirrup that I know about, this one is from Tucker Saddles called trail glide stirrup. This stirrup is canted by using a tapered bar that the stirrup leather goes around before hooking into the Blevins Buckle. I would like to hear about any solution that works for me. Safe Journey.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013 Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium

My wife and I recently returned from our 13th trip to the annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Ruidoso is a mountain town about an hour Northeast of Alamogordo, New Mexico and located close to the Mescalero Apache Reservation. It's nice to get up into the Mountains and get a taste of cold mornings after a long hot summer.

We go as it's our anniversary and we were also celebrating my wife completing cancer treatment and literally getting back in the saddle. As you can tell from the photo, my wife is beautiful, and more important, healthy,....... and really likes Kettlecorn! 

The Symposium is a two and a half day gathering of horse people, western artists and vendors, horse events - reining competition, horse training and mule demonstrations, and the headline Chuck wagon cook off. The big draw for us has always been Craig Cameron's demonstrations where Craig works with any troubled or green horse that is brought to him.  The Craig Cameron booth offering high quality working gear, from halters, to hobbles, to bridles, bits and books, and saddles was jam packed as usual.  All of the gear is available at the Craig Cameron website, too.

With one of the horses brought to Craig this year it was a 2 year old filly that was barely halter broke,..if you consider halter broke to be just wearing a halter and not leading up, facing or giving to pressure.

Craig said up front that he was going to try and make this filly better off but it might take longer than the scheduled hour demonstration time since it was going to be up to the filly to be accepting and he wasn't going to rush her. Craig reminded us that his objective is to take the fear out of the horse.  He reminded us that if this filly was handled more since birth she would have been in a better place to begin with this morning.

He started with getting her to move her feet, disengage her back end when asked, giving to pressure, facing up on the lead line and desensitizing her with a rope and flag.  You could see the changes in the horse come and soon Craig had this filly wearing a bare back pad. While she continuously got better, she still had a little trouble being driven or moved around the round pen, so Craig brought in his big gray horse to help and give the filly someone to follow.

Once she got comfortable moving around the pen with the big Gray, Craig got her saddled and did the same. After a few spurts of bucking, see photo at left, she settled down nicely.

Through what turned out to be about a 90 minute session Craig gave the fily short breaks which calmed the young horse and gave her a chance to absorb and accept was Craig was asking of her.

Craig also worked the filly from horseback atop his big Gray giving the filly a chance to accept a person towering above her and used the Gray to get the filly to follow the feel on the lead rope, getting some lateral flexion, moving her feet and disengaging her back end. See photo at right.

At the end of the session the filly was ridden in the round pen by one of Craig's apprentices. That session changed that horse's life for the better. You could see it in her as she changed in the round pen and when she left the pen she was leading up just fine. A lot of fear went out of that young horse that morning as she began to trust humans.  I hope she never gets let down.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pegasus Project - Horse Rescue

I became aware of another horse rescue group, God bless 'em, located in East Texas, about 70 miles east of Dallas.....The Pegasus Project. You can find the Pegasus Project page on Facebook and see pictures of their rescue and fostered horses.

The Pegasus Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of neglected, abandoned or abused horses in East Texas.

Pegasus says they are much more than a horse sanctuary. From their website: "We work closely with other animal welfare organizations to respond to horse cruelty complaints and conduct investigations and seizures of neglected and abused horses with the assistance of local law enforcement. We then take these horses into our program and bring them back to health. We dedicate our resources to rehabilitate, as well as retrain rescued horses, using natural and traditional horsemanship techniques, so that they may be adopted by carefully-screened, loving, forever homes. Each horse we place frees up space and allows us to conserve our precious resources and continue helping those horses most in need. For a few special-needs horses, The Pegasus Project will remain their life-long home."

"Care of neglected horses is expensive. Before we can transport them to our facility, rescued animals require veterinary care, blood tests, de-worming, and immunizations, expenses that can easily exceed $300 per seizure. All of our horses receive (at a minimum) bi-annual veterinary examinations and immunizations, annual dental care, as well as farrier care every 4-6 weeks. Routine horse care maintenance costs include the purchase of feed, hay, bedding, and any special-needs supplements. Typical monthly care is approximately $300 per month for a horse in fair condition. And then, of course, there are those expenses that arise with unexpected illnesses, injuries or emergency care. "

"There is good news in all of this. All of the horses we have rescued to date have been able to return to normal lives. Our equine residents are handled daily, taught ground manners, trained to trailer-load, stand tied and to stand for the farrier. Those horses broke to ride receive professional training to build a strong foundation. We strive to make each and every horse easy to handle and ready for adoption, ultimately becoming loving members of their new families, living long and fulfilling lives."

"The Pegasus Project, Inc. is an organization comprised of volunteers, united by their love of horses and their desire to alleviate suffering. We operate with the utmost efficiency on a modest budget. The Pegasus Project relies ENTIRELY on private donations. Currently 100% of donations goes directly to care and development of horses. "

As with all non-profit rescue organizations, Pegasus can use help in the way of donations - both money and supplies, volunteering, spreading the word, and fostering rescue horses. Pegasus accepts donations through their website via caredit card or pay pal or by check to: The Pegasus Project, Inc., P.O. Box 26, Ben Wheeler, TX 75754.

So please help if you can. It's easy enough to visit their web site, like them on Facebook and tell people about Pegasus.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Question on Saddle Fit for Riders

TCason wrote to ask these questions pertaining to Saddles. "Thanks for your site and for keeping it real and simple. I have a longhorn saddle that I bought from a friend of mine. I fear it may be too big for me as I feel like I bounce around alot. It has plastic slotted stirrups and are hard for me to get my feet into when I sit into the saddle. Can you give me a couple pointers on adjusting the saddle to see if I can make it more secure. Thanks."

I am familiar with Simco-Longhorn Saddles but I don't believe they ever came with plastic stirrups and I don't know what "slotted stirrups" are. There is nothing wrong with a Longhorn saddle, as long as it fits the horse and you.

As far as fitting you the rider, if the seat is too big for you, measured from the horn to the cantle, you will feel pretty loose in the saddle. Use a tape measure to measure from the inside of the horn where it meets the swell to the top of your cantle. I have a 32 inch waist and like a 15 inch seat. Years ago someone was trying to sell me a very nice Billy Cook 17 inch saddle and insisted that I try it out. I did and felt like a child sitting in an adults chair. I like to be able to generally place a fist between by body and the swell when I am sitting, that's about 3, maybe 4 inches. So I suggest you sit in your Longhorn saddle with your butt pushed into the base of the cantle and see how much room you have between your abdomen and the swell of the saddle. See picture at left.  This is a slick fork Wade saddle and I have get my fist between my lower abdomen and the swell/base of the horn.

The stirrups need to be adjusted so they are not to long or too short - I know that's easy to say. Too long of stirrups and you'll routinely having your feet come out of the stirrups. Too short of stirrups and you'll feel like your bouncing along. Heavier stirrups may help you keep your feet in them, providing them are adjusted right. I like 5 inch Monel Brass or steel covered wooden stirrups as they are wide and heavy.  The picture below is how I like to my adjustments.   While seated my knees are bent but not too much. When standing in the stirrups I have 4-5 inches between my butt and the base of the seat. You can use this as a guide, but some people will like their stirrups just a little longer, and some will like them just a little shorter.  Adjust your stirrups, ride in them, and adjust again as necessary is really the only way to do it.


When you say you have a hard time getting your feet into the stirrups when you mount - if you are talking about the stirrups being too narrower then you need wider stirrups. If your feet can't find the stirrups because they are laying flat against the horse then see the question, below, about training your stirrup leathers to stay twisted for easy access by your feet.

Jay wrote to ask " I have a saddle with the stirrups that are twisted out. I have been trying to figure out how to get the stirrups turned so they stay that stay that way to keep me from having to bend over and grab the stirrups so I can get my foot into it. Can you do a video or tell me how to get my stirrups turned? happy trails."

Usually stirrup leathers are turned as the saddle is being made by soaking the stirrups leathers in water, the manipulating them as needed, then using leather lacing around the turned stirrup leather to maintain that twist.

Most saddle fenders are riveted to the stirrup leather, and the adjustment buckle, usually a Blevins Buckle, is placed close enough to where the stirrup is to make it very difficult to get it (the stirrup leather turned) after the saddle is made.

Maybe your best bet will be to train your fenders and leathers to stay twisted by putting the saddle on a saddle rack, soaking the fender and stirrup leathers, then turning the stirrups and placing a 4 foot length of 2 x 4 inch board flat side down through the stirrups to keep them twisted as the leather drys.   See picture at right, you are looking at the off side from front to rear.

I am sure you have seen this before, or at least saw a saddle on a rack with a broomstick between the stirrups. The purpose is to train the fenders/leathers to stay twisted.

However. I think it works a lot better if the fenders and leathers are soaking wet and if you use a 2x4 instead of a broomstick which when placed will kinda over twist the stirrups and leathers so when the 2x4 is removed they will more assuredly stayed twisted. A small bucket of water and a horse hair brush to soak the fenders and stirrups leather works well. The picture at left is a different view of this process from the left side of the saddle from back to front.

You may have to do this wetting and drying process a couple times. And store your saddle with the 2x4 in place would probably be a good idea.  Let me know if it works for you. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Horse that saved Cpl Lopez

The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man...or woman. The following story was sent to me with the request to give it some more traction. This is yet another group standing up to help our wounded and traumatized veterans, and using horses to do so. The article below is from the website Indiegogo which is a fund raising site for good causes. If you go to the site and can't find the "The Horse That Save Cpl Lopez" article, then type Cpl Lopez in the search box and it should take you to it. The article below is directly from the website.

Today, right now, more active military are dying by their own hand than from the hostile actions of our enemies. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is largely responsible for this epidemic of suicides.

Trauma and Resiliency Resources, Inc. a 501c3 public charity, has provided on-line resources and referrals to NYC's First Responder community since the events of 9/11. TRR's Founder and Director has provided individual trauma treatment to first responders, warriors, veterans and their families as a private clinician since 9/11. Treating combat and line of duty traumas has saved lives and continues to do so.

In November, TRR's Warrior Camp® will host 12 active military combat veterans suffering from PTSD in a pilot program. They'll receive a regimen of proven 1:1 trauma treatments free of charge. One of these treatments is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. It's amazing to watch the connection made between human and horse and to see the healing begin. Please watch the video, you'll start to understand how quickly the healing can start. It's an amazing trauma treatment and we want more of our wounded warriors to be aware of it and benefit from it.

Our documentary will get out the word about Warrior Camp®, recruit warriors with combat trauma for 15 future Warrior Camps and raise funds so the mission of healing can continue -- and grow. It will be distributed to the U.S. Department of Defense, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, veteran organizations, community groups, Defense Centers of Excellence, corporations and the news media.

Your generosity can help Warrior Camp® save lives. And deliver a message of hope to our heroes and to the people who love them.

What We Need and What You Get

We are not a production company. We're primarily a media/creative services company. We are providing fundraising services and marketing support for this project at no cost. On the back end of the project we will be providing marketing services at no cost. We are hiring a cameraperson and sound person and renting equipment. Donations will cover two days' travel Chicago/New Hampshire for four people and their 5 days on location at Warrior Camp®. It will cover our out-of-pocket costs for 21 days of post production, DVD production duplication, packaging and postage. Additionally it will permit TRR to execute its own marketing program to recruit military combat veterans with PTSD for future camps and to solicit funds to continue and grow the free-to-attendees program. It will reimburse TRR for Indiegogo processing fees as well. If we are fortunate enough to exceed our goal, all extra funds will be used by TRR in support of warrior programs.

There are four perks for donors. A commemorative grey Warrior Camp tee, to the next level of donors, the tee and a copy of the final DVD. Individuals and companies donating at a specific level will be acknowledged on the DVD. The first three individuals who donate $2500 or more will have a portrait done by Chicago Artist, retired U.S. Navy MM Anton Mackey. If you happen to be a horse owner, it's a perk you can hang on your living room wall and enjoy for years.

The Impact

"Support our men and women in uniform" is a battle cry that too often doesn't deliver actual support. Fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, children and neighbors and friends have survived IEDs and RPGs but are losing the way because of PTSD. We have to make them aware that there's hope. We have to make them aware that there are treatments that can restore their emotional health. We have to make them aware that this help is free. They have given so much. They answered when duty called. Now they're calling for our help. We have to answer.

Personally I've done projects like this before. I wrote and produced a video which helped raise $7.5M for the Archdiocese of Chicago's St. Mary's of the Lake Mundelein Seminary. We did a pro bono video for Heal Our Warriors out of Frankfort, Michigan. Our videos have helped clients raise funds for the USO and for various Wounded Warrior Rides to Recovery.

Other Ways You Can Help

Money's tight for everyone. And there are a lot of important causes worth your consideration. I hope you'll help us achieve these goals. At the very least, please share our information with others. Place it on your Facebook page. Tweet it to your friends. Email it to family. Let your company know what we're doing and see if they'll help. If you've read this far, you're wonderful. It's a lot of words. Please take the next step and help us out.