Friday, August 28, 2015

Fixing a Bad Side Pass - By Slowing Down

Jerry wrote to me asking a question on how to fix a bad side pass, and it could have been me writing the same question to someone else. Jerry said his horse used to side pass well, but now is getting worse on side passing. I've found myself in several situations getting worse on things that my horse and I normally did okay. That is a deliberate use of the word 'okay' as opposed to say 'did well'. What I first try when things are getting sloppy, is to slow down and try to execute step by step, ensuring that I'm particular with my cues, and it helps to give the horse time to think between applyingthose cues as well.

Understanding the "why" anything is getting sloppy or getting worse is important. Horses will often begin to anticipate the rider. Sometimes it's because they are getting dull or the work we're asking them to do it repetitive,.....sometimes we as riders are not keeping the horse with us, ....and it's possible that our cues are what's becoming sloppy or in other words, we are not being particular enough in how we ask the horse to move his feet.

And I don't discount the power of the horse wanting to go back to his pen or to his buddies, either. This is actually pretty common, especially at the gate, to have an horse anticipate and to demonstrate a barn sour attitude. You may have to correct this first, or find a place to practice side passes that minimizes this.

Sometimes it's because we have conditioned the horse to do something quickly , side pass quickly to a gate. And it's easy to tell as you end up having to ask for horse to step backward (or forwards) because you ended up side passing at an angle - or looking like a leg yield. Like I said, I started getting lax on side passing to open gates as well, so I just slowed my horse down. Asking for one step at a time. If he got in a hurry and took two or more steps when I asked for one, I would just ride him forward in a circle, position him up and begin again.

When I'm asking a horse for a side pass, say to the left, I'll use my outside or right rein to keep his head pretty straight, use my left rein to open or lift his shoulder without turning his nose, and use my outside leg (right leg) to contact his barrel to cue him to move to the left. My left leg is totally off the horse. When asking the horse to just give me one step, I try to be really particular about taking all life out of the reins and take my outside leg off of the horse as the horse is completing that step or just before he plants the lagging (the second) crossing foot.

In any event, slowing down, be precise with your cues is going to make it clearer to the horse what you are asking him to do. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wildlands Fires Devastate the West

Nothing puts fear into ranchers more so than the thought an out of control fire racing across the grasslands towards their cattle, horses and homes. But this is what is going on in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Northern California. Map of current fires from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service at left.

I received this from a friend: "The fires are so bad half of Idaho is on fire half of Washington is on fire and I don't even know about Montana. Everybody's eyes are burning, throats are raspy and even the animals are suffering. I pray for all those that have lost so much, and for all the fire fighters that are fighting the fires. I hope this all ends soon."

Tom Moates, wrote a piece titled "Wildfire at Martin Black's Place" posted on Eclectic Horseman on-line, about the Soda Fire which was located Southwest of Boise, Idaho. At 285,361 acres burned, it was the largest wildfire in the country. Now thanskfully it isreported to be 95% contained.  Click on the link above which will take you to Tom's article on Eclectic Horseman.  Martin Black, a well known clinician, should be familiar to you. The Soda fire went across his property as well.   The good news is that his horse's survived - barely. Others did not fare so well.  Twenty Seven Wild Horses in the Hardtrigger Herd Management Area reportedly perished.  While the extent of the loses will not be known for awhile, ranchers have certainly lost cattle and use of grazing areas as it will take time for the grass to come back. See map, below right, from the Idaho Statesman showing the extent of the Soda fire.

The Idaho Statesman reports that many of the ranchers believe that the Soda Fire would not have grown to the size it did, nor would have done the damage it did if the BLM's range management practices would not have cut back on grazing. The lack of allowed grazing created the available fuel for the fire to grow.

There are a lot of misperceptions about ranchers grazing their herds of public land, but the facts are:

~ Ranchers pay the government to lease grazing units.  In Southern New Mexico I've seen the BLM lease a Grazing Unit for $18 an Animal Unit Month and that makes it hard for a cow operation to even sustain itself let alone make a profit;
~ Ranchers are much better stewards of the land than bureaucrats will ever be as they live on it or next to it and they need it. 
~ And, under grazing creates conditions for devastating fires.

In any event there are ranchers and families that have lost their livelihood. If you would like to help out with goods, services or a monetary donation, you can go to the Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association website or you can write a check and mail it to Owyhee Cattleman’s Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 400, Marsing, ID 83639.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Army Horse Hurt in Caisson Accident

This article will be felt by most people, especially by those who have had the opportunity to see a solemn military funeral where a flag draped casket is transported to the grave site on a horse drawn wagon, called a Caisson.  But anyone can appreciated a horse being hurt serving man, especially since no horse, ever, deserved to be hurt. 

These Caisson Platoon soldiers, soldiers who do this final duty for a fallen service member, put an incredibly amount of attention to detail to their assigned duties. It just gives you a sick feeling when you think any part of that team (soldier or horse) would be injured presenting the final honors. 

When a Soldier is seriously injured we typically ask thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, the "Soldier" badly hurt this week is a horse.  Connelly, one of caisson horses at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, received multiple injuries this past Monday. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he recovers.

Here is the release from U.S. Army North - Caisson Horse Battles Injuries After Life Threatening Incident

SAN ANTONIO - A five-year-old caisson horse is battling serious injuries after an incident Monday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

“We will make sure we do everything we can to give this horse a fighting chance,” said 1LT Jeremy Kuykendall, Military Funeral Honors Platoon Leader. “He’s got big character and big heart and a strong resolve.”

Connelly, alongside three other horses, was pulling a caisson when a horse in the rear of the formation became frightened for unknown reasons. As the startled horses began to run, Connelly reared in a valiant effort to not crush his rider who had fallen off.

The rider, SGT Travis Dubay, suffered a leg injury but is expected to make a full recovery.

Connelly, however, was dragged for more than 200 yards as the other horses continued to sprint.

He sustained deep abrasions to several areas of his body resulting in multiple exposed joints.

Connelly is being treated at Retama Equine Hospital in Selma, Texas, where a number of military and civilian personnel are caring for him.

His treatment includes measures to reduce swelling, lessen the risk of infection, and advanced measures for him to regrow missing tissue.

This article from the US Army North page on Facebook

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Equi-Sure Supplement for Horses

I have had Equi-Sure on hand after watching a segment on it in the Craig Cameron program on RFD-TV. Craig interviewed the makers of Equi-Sure and they recounted multiple cases where they believed administration of 10cc of Equi-Sure reduced or eliminated colic symptoms in horses. Craig also had a positive experience with Equi-Sure which had convinced him of it's value.

Even though Craig talked about the positive experience he had with Equi-Sure, I did not want to write about it until I also had a personal experience, but I was grateful not to have to use it (who wants a sick horse!), but that changed the other night.

  A few nights ago, I had a reason to use it on one of my horses around 10:00 at night as he was wringing his tail, kicking at his stomach, pawing the ground and laying down. I checked for gut sounds and he had them on all four quadrants, but they were loud and gurgling. He had a normal amount of manure and he passed gas a couple times when I was assessing him. I figured he had a bout of gas colic.

I then gave him 10cc of Equi-Sure. In about 15 minutes he appeared back to normal.

I checked on him about 45 minutes later, and then again another hour later, and he still looked normal, so I went to sleep thankful for not having to call the Vet so late. I can't say for sure if Equi-Sure had anything to do with his shedding his discomfort, and I wonder about the hours the horses are out of our sight and how many times they get distress which resolves itself, but from now on I'll always have a bottle of Equi-Sure on hand.

Equi-Sure advertises that their supplement is all-natural product not only for routine use to increase overall health but also for horses during periods of stress such as gastric stress and colic, and to reduce symptoms of ulcers. They also say that Equi-Sure increases appetite and water consumption.

Equi-Sure also states that the ingredients form an antibacterial cleanse that naturally breaks down bacteria in a horse’s stomach. Go to the website and read more.

A 250ml bottles, which provides twenty five 10ml doses is $70, which I figured was pretty cheap insurance to have on hand. You have to call the toll free line to order - (800) 254-0179 and where you can ask further questions.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Positive in East Texas

My Vet just sent me this Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) notice, so I thought I would pass it on. The TAHC recently received confirmation from the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) of Texas horses testing positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The infected horses are located in: Newton, Orange, Liberty, Jasper and Jefferson counties. To date, there are a total of five positive EEE cases in East Texas.

TAHC officials remind equine owners to consult with their private veterinary practitioner regarding vaccinating their horses against mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE), Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE), and West Nile Virus.

Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) is a mosquito-borne viral disease of all equine species. Infected horses may suddenly die or show progressive central nervous system disorders. Symptoms may include unsteadiness, erratic behavior and a marked loss of coordination. The death rate for animals infected with EEE is 75-100%.

Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE) is a viral disease that mainly affects horses; mosquitoes primarily transmit this disease. Similar to EEE, WEE is characterized by central nervous system dysfunction. About 20 to 50% of horses infected with WEE die.

Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) is a viral disease that affects horses and causes illness in humans. It has not been seen in the United States for many years (however, a recent outbreak of VEE occurred in Mexico). Mosquitoes most often transmit the disease after the insects have acquired the virus from birds and rodents. Humans also are susceptible when bitten by an infected mosquito, but direct horse-to-horse or horse-to-human transmission is very rare. Symptoms in horses vary widely, but all result from the degeneration of the brain. Early signs include fever, depression and appetite loss. The mortality rate for VEE is 40 to 80%.

"Vaccines are available for neurologic diseases such as EEE and WEE. As part of routine equine health care, we strongly recommend that equine owners consult with their local veterinarian to discuss an appropriate vaccination program to protect their horses against mosquito-borne diseases such as these," said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Assistant Executive Director.

For more information on mosquito borne diseases visit the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

For information on TVMDL's equine neurologic disease testing, visit the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory site, or call 888-646-5623.

Founded in 1893, the Texas Animal Health Commission works to protect the health of all Texas livestock, including: cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats, equine animals and exotic livestock.