Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

The year has flown by and now it's time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  I hope we all remember the reason for the Holidays which of course is God giving us the hope of ever lasting life through his Son, and we celebrate this incredible blessing in one fashion and that is by giving gifts. I hope everyone enjoys the gifts we given and we in turn appreciate the gifts and blessings we have received.  I hope all the horses all over the world enjoy the gift of respect and a fair life.
But the Christmas we get caught up in sometimes, the spending and the shopping reminds me of a little story.  It's about an old couple, married for 50 years, who rarely went into town but drove into town they did so the wife could do some Christmas shopping for the children and grandchildren.  The husband, as you can imagine, was less than pleased with the whole arrangement. 
Soon in the packed shopping center the wife lost track of her husband and after a couple hours became frantic as she could not find him.  Then she remembered that the children have given them cell phones.  So she calls her husband's phone and was relieved to hear him answer.  "Where are you?" she say's, "I've been looking for you for several hours now!"
The husband replies "Well, do you remember the Jewelry store where you saw that necklace you so dearly wanted 30 years, but I couldn't afford it then?"
As her eyes started to tear up the wife softly says "Yes,...yes I do dear."  And the husband replies, "Well, I'm in the bar next door."
Merry Christmas and a Safe Journey into 2014.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Bad Days, Just Slow Down

Christine wrote about her training issue: "I have an eight year old gelding who I bought from my friend who moved away. I have been riding him for three years, usually twice a week for 30 to 60 minutes a time. I am not a trainer but I have been doing pretty good with him but now we are not making any progress and it's frustrating. And in some ways he's getting worse. Maybe dull is a better word. There is a local trainer about 45 miles away which is always an option but another friend of mine sent her horse there and the horse came back with a pretty severe skin fungus. I'll take any suggestions. v/r Christine."

I'm not being a smart mouth, but,....join the club. Just the other day I was riding and my horse seemingly forgot everything we've been working on....least it seemed that way.   I know enough now not to get into a fight with him, and even though I know horses have bad days like we do, it was still pretty disappointing. In fact in ruined an otherwise good day. Once I got back to the corral before unsaddling him I did a couple things that he's always been good about, loading himself into the trailer and siding up to me on a fence rail so I can mount, just so I could salvage something out of the day and end on a good note.

I was thinking about that ride and what I did and could have did different, so it became pretty clear that I should have just slowed up.

Two days later, I saddled him just with the thought of going someplace. So we went out into the desert for a few hours, not doing anything but riding and had a great ride. We didn't do anything other than some walk to jog to canter transitions, following coyotes tracks and even found an old brass D ring that came off some unlucky cowboy's saddle probably years ago.

So I'm saying this because sometimes you gotta accept that you're not going to always make progress each day. I have to remember this as well.

Another thing you may do is to break the lesson down in as small of increments as you can. Say for instance you are working on turns on the forehand and your horse is getting smoother and responds to lighter cues. Then all of a sudden he is stiffer and needs more definitive cues,...maybe he's bracing on you as well. Think about starting over like you are teaching him turns on the forehand from the beginning. Ask him as subtle as you can for the slightest movement of his hip, once he gives you that, stop and pet him, let him think on it, then do it again. This isn't really starting over, it's just asking him in a different way and lets him be successful.

You did not elaborate on what things your horse is not progressing through or even regressing in, but riding twice a week on what is still a pretty young horse probably ain't working in your favor. Riding a little bit more often may help solidify those lessons and also give you some room just to ride and enjoy your horse. It can't be all work for him and you know the saying about a lot of wet saddle blankets making a good horse.

One more thing you might try is on those bad days where you think you're not making any progress, be sure to finish with something your horse does well. Somebody said words to the effect 'its not how you start, it's how you finish that counts".

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rough Start Horse Rescue

As has been my practice I'll post articles on Horse Rescues. This one, Rough Start Horse Rescue, is located in Eastern Washington and serves Spokane, Lincoln, Stevens Counties, Northern Idaho and the surrounding areas.

From their Web Site:

Rough Start Horse Rescue, is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of Neglected, Starved, and Abused horses. We accept owner surrender, abandoned, and police confiscated horses and other animals as the need arises. We provide Rehabilitation, Education, and Adoption Services, as well as Programs for Veterans and Special Needs Children. We promote and teach horse care and humane, natural methods of training for horses.

All adoption fees are put back into the rescue in order to support future horses that need assistance. We are a fully volunteer organization which means all donations go right to the horses no person gets paid for working at the rescue. Once an adoption fee has been set, we will not take less than the listed price. We typically invest far more than what we can adopt such horse/s for and do not have room to barter on adoption fee's.

Remember, you are helping rescued horses. Adoption fees are based upon the amount of treatment and care that went into each horse. Fee's are also based upon the horses age, temperament, registration and whether or not the horse is trained to ride. All adoption fees are due and must be paid, when adopter is approved and has agreed to adopt said horse(s).

Please keep in mind that when you are adopting a rescue horse that you should plan to make this a life long companion. Typically horses that are treated appropriately can live to be 35 years of age and older. We want to find each Rescued Horse a Loving, Forever Home.

Rough Start Horse Rescue is 100% volunteer based, we currently do not have any administrative cost, 100% of your donation will go directly to the horses care.

Rough Start Horse Rescue
Phone Number: 509-796-2660
Mailing Address..... P.O Box 141031, Spokane Valley, WA 99214

As we all know, caring for horses is expensive,....feed, vet and farrier care, etc.  Rough Start accepts donations mailed to their address, via Pay Pal on their website, or directly to Ponti Vet Clinic, at (509)-922-7465, who provides the necessary vet care.

If most of us could donate $20 which would buy 50 lbs of feed or $30 which is the cost of a farrier's trim, the horses at Rough Start could be ensured some more quality care. I'll start this off and donate $30 per Pay Pal. Please visit the Rough Start site and consider consider donating.  It's worth it to read their site and see how they got started in the Horse Rescue business. 

Rough Start also has a fund raiser where they are selling t-shirts and sweat shirts with a humorous logo. Go here to see.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Routine Dental Care Are Critical to a Horse's Health

An issue came up with a friend's horse showing signs of colic where the horse would stretch out seeming to pee but wouldn't, and appeared to periodically be in a little distress. His appetite was off but not gone. He was drinking small amounts of water, but in colder temperatures horses will typically drink less. Like many horse owners my friend, prior to calling the Vet because of the distance involved and farm call fee, called me to help him work through the possibilities of what could be wrong with the horse and if calling the Vet was necessary.

As I asked about the symptoms the horse was showing as well as what the horse got for his daily feed and when was the last time the horse was wormed. I asked when was the last time the horse had his teeth floated. The horse owner replied that he couldn't remember. I asked within the last year? within the last two years? To make a longer story shorter, the horse hadn't had a equine dental exam nor his teeth floated for at least five years.

Lack of equine dental care may not be the leading cause of colic, but bad teeth can impact on how well a horse chews his feed before it enters the gut and improperly chewed feed can increase the chances of impaction. And while alot of us never saw or maybe never heard of horses having their teeth floated when we were young, I think the fact that horses growing older and living longer today than they were twenty-thirty years ago, and that more horses are being kept to the end of their natural life increases the chances of you seeing a horse with teeth problems. This makes the floating the teeth which is the removing of the uneven or abnormal portions (hooks and points) of the teeth necessary so normal chewing and digestion can take place.

Horses kept in stalls and fed dry feed may be more likely to have teeth problems than horses on pasture for several reasons:

  • The Horse can pull more feed into his mouth from dried feed in a feeder than they can from the pasture
  • Stalled horses are more likely of getting bored and cribbing on rail fences or wood doors and frames
  • Pastured horses have to eat with their heads low slowing the chewing and this is more natural to the horse as opposed to eating out of a feeder off the ground.

It's a good education in horse care when your Vet or Equine dentist can sedate the horse, place a speculum in the horse's mouth and show you or let you feel the hooks, points of other uneven wear of your horse's teeth, or even the callous' and cuts that can be created on the inside of the mouth as well.

My Vet is Amy Starr, DVM, in the pictures, owner of Paw-n-Hooves Mobile Vet Clinic in El Paso, Texas. On a once every 14 to 18 month schedule, we have her do dental exams which almost always require floating the teeth with power float tool - think drill bit with an extended shank and rotary bit. Years ago I remember her floating teeth on 12 horses when she was close to 9 months pregnant and doing it all in the middle of a hot Texas summer.

While routine dental care is important for colic prevention, it can also help reduce other problems like difficulty in carrying a bit, head tossing, head shyness and other behavioral issues. These are clues that your horse may need a dental exam and some work done on his teeth as is when you start seeing the horse drop half chewed bolts of feed on the ground around. So for your horse's sake get a dental exam scheduled when you can. It's part of that fair life you're supposed to be providing him.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Riding in the Sand Dunes of White Sands National Monument

At the Northern end of the Tularosa Basin, some 90 miles North of El Paso, Texas sits the White Sands National Monument just a few miles West of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

White Sands National Monument is bordered to the West by the San Andres Mountains and to the East by the Sacramento Mountains and is ran by the National Park Service. Open to recreation, this park provides over 275 miles of white Gypsum sand dunes that are a great place to ride your horses.

A nominal costs of $3 per rider got six of us through the gate off of US Highway 70 that connects the towns of Las Cruces and Alamogordo, New Mexico. We proceeded a few miles to North to designated horse trailer sites, saddled up and rode into the brilliant white gypsum sand dunes.  Some type of polarized lens sun glasses are advisable riding here.

Most all horses can benefit from being ridden in diverse environments. From backing out the trailers into an all white world, to riding into deep sand - this was good for the horses but you had to be a little careful as the brightness of the sand would sometimes white out the drop offs - best to limit trotting or loping to the low, harder packed areas. These low areas collect what pitiful rainfall drops on White Sands but allows decent clumps of grass to grow and I also saw some type of sage growing in small bushes.

The cresting dunes allow a rider to challenge his or her horse going up or down hills and a rider could also work their way between the dunes to give their horse a break.  Great place to train horses to walk down hill, but in that deep side about every mile you rode was about two to the horse as they had to work pretty hard. Once we made our way back to the trailers and unsaddled, we let the horses have a roll in the gypsum sand.

As we were loading for the return trip George Stone trailered in with Matilda his famous camel. I didn't get a good enough photo, so I thought I'd share one of George's video riding Matilda at White Sands a couple years ago.  If you're traveling close to  White Sands Monument you won't be disappointed stopping in for a look even if you don't have your horses with you.  Who knows, maybe you run into George Stone and Matilda.