Monday, September 22, 2014

Special Hell for Horse Abusers

There is a special hell for people who abuse horses, at least I'm hoping there is. I've seen too much of it and with the 24/7 communications cycle of cable television and social media you can't go a day without seeing examples of abuse that just turn your stomach. It makes you wonder if humans are the failed species of the planet.

The latest episode was outed this weekend when a report on a horse facility in El Paso County, Colorado came to light where the owners just did not abandoned horses to die,.... they were present in the midst of these horses dying and threw tarps over some of the carcasses and left the horses that were alive to live in layers of manure without feed let alone any semblance of proper care such as hoof care.  Sheriffs Office responding even said that feed was available on the property.

KKTV Channel 11 news in Colorado reported that a local women discovered a dozen dead horses in a nearby barn and eight other horses in varying degrees of mistreatment, most if not all of the surviving horses severely malnourished.

Imagine walking into a barn only to lift tarps discovering dead horses in varying degrees of decomposition. The lady, Diane Ragula, described the scene, "Some appeared to be malnourished with their ribs showing. Many suffering from foundering of their hooves; four of the horses were inside the barn, walking around the bodies of the dead horses, living in feet of manure that looks to have been collecting without cleaning for years. “I’m pissed. I’m pretty mad and these people just don’t seem to care,” Ragula said.

The Horseaholic website reports that Cutting World Champion and leading sire Dual Peppy is among the abused and neglected horses in the Black Forest, CO horse facility, which had advertised cutting horses for sale.

El Paso County Sheriffs Office responded and after their preliminary investigation they released this statement:

There has been a great deal of outcry about the situation involving the horses in the Black Forest area. We recognize this to be an emotional issue for many citizens, and in light of that, the Sheriff’s Office would like to provide some additional facts about the case.

Friday, September 19, 2014, members of our Investigations Division and our Mounted Unit, skilled in the investigation of animal cruelty and neglect cases involving horses, responded to the property off of Burgess Road to conduct the initial investigation.

After our investigators arrived on scene, they determined that while the appearance of the animals was visually disturbing, none of the horses were in immediate danger and none of them had to be euthanized. As such, investigators had no legal right to seize the horses at that time. We are looking into the cause of death of the deceased animals.

Members of our Mounted Unit are in contact with the horse owner, who is cooperating and receptive to working on a plan of action for continuing care of the animals and improving their living conditions. They have been provided with fresh food and water, (which they had along along) and the owner is making arrangements to further clean up the property.

Rest assured, had any of the animals been in imminent jeopardy, they would have been removed from the location. The Sheriff’s Office has had to do that in previous instances and would not have hesitated in this case should it have been necessary. We have a number of large animal rescue groups we work with in those cases.

The Sheriff’s Office truly appreciates the outpouring of concern the citizens have shown in this case and will make use of the generous offers should they become necessary.

I don't understand the comment that there was feed and water apparently on the premises all along? And that the Sheriffs Office determined that the remaining horses were not in imminent danger?   I would have to think that if the owners killed 12 horses already through neglect, then why weren't the other horses, who were obviously malnourished, considered in danger right then and there?

The video below is the initial news report of the incident.

< param name="flashVars" value=""/>video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cross Training for Horses

Serena wrote to ask if doing cowboy events on her horse would degrade her horse's training and ability in Dressage...."Hello, I am wondering if you think trying cowboy events like cow sorting and roping on my dressage horse would teach him bad things and set back his training.  My friend wants me to try both with her."        

Hi Serena.  I think if you go about it right, practically anything you do on your horse, no matter what or how different, would be good for you and your horse.  I think most people would call it Cross Training and would recognize that term.  Cross- training refers to training in activities other than the one event that the person (or horse) primarily competes in with a goal of improving overall performance. It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of each training method, while at the same time attempting to negate the shortcomings of that method by combining it with other methods that address its apologies to Wikipedia.

Some people either recognizing the value of cross training with their horses, or simply for the joy of being horseback will ride in practically anything they can get to. In either case, the results of often the same, a much better horse.

And cannot but be beneficial to the horse and rider. Everything from a trailer ride, exposure to different events and requirements, seeing what you and your horse are weak on and therefore need to work on, learning from other riders,.....the benefits are pretty wide.

I remember being entrusted to take children out on trail rides by their non-riding mothers as I convinced them that this will make their horses safer for the child's hunter jumper or dressage events. The same for barrel racers - taking their horses out on the trail makes for better riders and helps gentle those horses - getting them desensitized to various stimilus and learning to think before reacting.  Just getting outside of the arena and exposing your horse to about anything - from water puddles (picture at top right) to big barking dogs (picture at left) to rabbits jumping up close by or squirrels running up trees can be challenging and make a better and safer horse.

While I think if you go about it right, trail riding can be really beneficial to your horse and you, events like sorting, penning and arena obstacle competitions can likewise be as good. Just taking your horse to these events and not competing can be good, that's why you see people taking young horses and ponying them around or tying them so they can absorb all the stimulus.

Lately I have been ranch sorting. Several practices then a jack pot. I saw horses and riders week by week become more comfortable and confident with sorting cows and the strategy of putting the cows one by one into the adjacent pen, but also with riding in a more settled manner. It's pretty cool to see horses new sport to this figure out what needs to be done. Same for the rider's, as some were being asked to ride one handed in a port bit, according to the ranch sorting rules, and thereby making it necessary to get functional at it.

From basic cowhorse clinics, to competitive trail events, to western dressage, to ranch sorting and team penning, to gymkhanas - all of it potentially increases our skills and communication with the horse. The young lady who sorted cows on her dressage horse as well as the team roper who pretty much only rides his horse in an "go fast and turn left" pattern all benefit from cross training.

The flip side to competition is that it often brings out the negative in people. Rider's wanting to win so much that they demand their horses respond, before their horses reach an understanding of what they are being asked to do, usually by jerking on the reins and banging on their sides.  So I think if you approach everything.....every event, every ride as working on your horsemanship as opposed to focused on winning, these cross training events will make it beneficial to your horse.  Safe Journey. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rattlesnakes and Horses, Not a Good Fit

About those two things, rattlesnakes and horses - they don't go along well together, now do they? I usually write an article, coming Spring, about the dangers of Rattlesnakes for when you are horseback or for your horses in general. This is the time the weather's warming up and Rattlesnakes are pretty active, leaving their dens to hunt as they have been dormant for several months. When warm weather is here to stay, Rattlesnakes will leave their dens traveling several miles to hunt and mate.

For most of the late Spring and Summer, it is rare for me to see a Rattlesnake unless it's in the early morning or evening, as during the hottest parts of the day they will tend to lay dormant out of the direct Sun. During the out of peak hot days, you'll sometimes see Rattlesnakes laying out in the open, such as on a trail, sunning themselves and soaking up the heat of the Sun.

An the late Summer - early Fall, depending upon the temperatures, is another dangerous time of year. The weather is cooling, promoting Rattlesnakes to be more active so they can hunt and get ready for hibernation. It's that time of year now, so be careful when you ride out.

I'm told that some Rattlesnakes don't den up for the winter, but most do. While I have encountered Rattlesnakes in the winter here in the Desert Southwest, all of those were likely disturbed from their winter dens.

If you have ever seen a Rattlesnake in the natural environment, you probably remarked that it was hard to se because of his color and pattern blending in with the environment. And you can't rely on the Rattlesnake warning you with this namesake rattling of his tail.

Many snakes won't rattle even when they become aware of your presence. I have heard some theories that believe Rattlesnakes have learned not to rattle as that attracts more attention from potential predators, namely human. Many Rattlesnakes bites come without the victim being warning and there can be a wide array on post bite damage depending upon how much venom was injected by the bite.  

Best to not be bit in the first place. That's takes being aware. You are counting on your horse taking you somewhere and back, and your Horse is counting on your to keep him out of trouble. I have seen a wide range of awareness or response, or a lack of either, from horses when encountering snakes. As you know horses are generally curious. Something fairly small and moving can attract their attention. They drop their head, then wham! they get bite on the nose.

My wife and I were riding several days ago. She and her horse almost walked right on a stretched out Prairie Rattler. The snake did not rattle nor coil. My wife backed away and I positioned up on my horse to shoot it as this is my habit if Rattlesnakes are close to population (we were about 1/4 mile from a house, children and animals). Then the snake turned and started moving into some heavy brush right on the trail. I shot it in the body as that was the only shot I had, then as the snake curled up where I got a shot at his head.

If you end up killing a Rattlesnake or coming upon what you think to be a dead one, be careful as the head can still function and bite for an hour or maybe longer after the snake is for all practical purposes dead.

So as the weather gets cooling and your rides get longer just be a little more careful as Rattlesnakes are more active and you may not get the warning rattle.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Functional Tie Rings for the Horseshoeing Stand

I have received several e-mails on using my Functional Tie Rings in cross ties after introducing my Functional Tie Rings in a previous video where I briefly mentioned that I use them in my cross ties on the horseshoeing stand. The video below shows my shoeing stand and cross ties which are approximately 2 1/4 inch poles sunk 4 feet into the ground and the concrete shoeing stand pored around the cross ties.

I drilled eyes bolts into the cross ties about six feet off the ground,..I know in the video I say 5 feet,...but's it's actually about 6 feet high. I just might be a midget, but only in the mental sense.

I attached the Functional Tie Rings to the eye bolts and use about an 8 foot section of white 9/16ths inch diameter yacht braid rope with a brass bolt snap as my tie lines. These tie lines are similar to the lead ropes I make, but without the leather poppers. I put a brass bolt snap into the end of the rope and melt the rope together. Then I use two separate lengths of cotton line to tie the loop together for added security, then shrink two layers of heat shrink tube over the cotton line. This is the same way I make lunge lines as well.

The yacht braid rope feeds easily through the tie ring for adjusting your horse's position on the shoeing stand and if your horse pulls back he gets a slowed release caused by the friction of the rope feeding through the tie ring giving him time to think and stop pulling.

When a horse pulls back it's the not fact that he's hard tied when he breaks a lead line, the halter or a metal snap. I's the pressure on the poll from the halter and sometimes the halter under the jaw and over the nose which panics him. The Functional Tie Rings greatly reduce the chance of a horse's feet going out from underneath him or breaking the halter, lead or snap by giving that controlled release.

Some people have panic snaps on their cross tie ropes, but if you have ever seen a horse panic and pull back on cross ties, flip over or have his feet go out from underneath himself, you know how quick it happens and the manual release of the panic snap is only useful for unhooking the horse and getting him to his feet, not for reducing the chances of the wreck itself.