Shiloh is all wrapped up with the John Whitaker Training Bandages

After the Great British Equinery of Indiana kindly sent Bear and Shiloh a care package last month, I gave positive reviews to the 2020 Harrison Howard Fly Masks and the Hilton Herbs Herballs treats. The final item from the package to review is the John Whitaker Training Bandages!

I must say that these wraps feel great to the touch, look very smart and stay on nicely. I absolutely love the red color, but they also come in black, navy and white to suit a range of tastes. The inner padding is a comfy fleece, and the elasticized part of the wrap feels just right- not too tight or too loose. The training bandages are machine washable and come with a handled storage case so you can keep them together in one place. I am really impressed with these bandages and am pleased to now have them in my tack collection.

I will say that I don’t typically use any kind of bandages/wraps/boots with my horses in my riding. Why then, did I want to review these training bandages? Because even if I don’t use something regularly, I find it useful to keep a few things on hand like bell boots, brush boots, etc . . . that I can have for when the need arises due to injury, skin issues and the like.

Sending out many thanks to the Great British Equinery of Indiana for allowing me to sample these John Whitaker Training Bandages. The Great British Equinery sells the Harrison Howard fly masks, the Hilton Herbs Herballs treats and a whole host of other products. Please check them out at!

Special Announcement-The Backyard Horse Blog Summer 2020 Contest!

Announcing the first ever contest for The Backyard Horse Blog email subscribers!

I previously mentioned that a little side-hobby of mine is entering contests to try to win prizes. I started this blog in January. Today marks post #100 on The Backyard Horse Blog. Who knew quiet little me had that much to share? As a celebration of this accomplishment, in the quest to find more email subscribers and in appreciation of all my current subscribers, I am hosting this contest for a horse-related prize box.

The Backyard Horse Blog Summer 2020 Contest Entry and Prize Information:

All current The Backyard Horse Blog email followers already have one entry in the contest.

Anyone who signs up to follow this blog via email between today and Thursday, August 20th, also gets one entry in the contest. Sign up to follow the blog via email at

For additional entries, please repost this post to your own blog and/or share this post on your social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Email me at with the link to each blog/social media post that you upload. You will get one additional entry for each of your post links with a maximum of five total entries possible.

Prize Box Items:
Harrison Howard Fly Mask ( 2019 model in silver, Horse Size, with nose flap and no ears- These are the fly masks sold by the Great British Equinery of Indiana at– Reviewed and approved by The Backyard Horse Blog!)
Medium Tee From The Cinchy Cowgirl “Livin’ on Prayer and Good Horses”
Horse Illustrated Magazine July 2020 Issue
Equus Magazine navy ballcap
Two pairs of Awst Int’L socks
Purina boot bag
Assorted Horse Stickers
Tough-1 Home Decor Horse Keyrack
2021 Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Calendar

Friday, August 21st I will randomly draw the winning email address (I will email the winner that day and must receive a reply email within one week that includes an address to where I should mail the prize box or else prize box is forfeited).

If you have a domestic USPS address (which includes addresses in the 50 US States plus Puerto Rico, AFO addresses, etc . . .), I am giving away a horse-fun-box filled with equine-related items. Shipping is free to the winner.

Unfortunately for those of you who would fall under an international address, international shipping costs/customs issues makes mailing prohibitive. So if the winner is in that situation (or if the winner is in the US but doesn’t want the box for whatever reason), I will mail the box to a horse rescue with a US address of your choice in your name. If your chosen rescue can’t use the items in their day-to-day operations, perhaps they could use the box to generate money for their rescue via using it as a raffle prize, silent auction item, etc . . . or use it as a reward to their volunteer of the month or something along those lines.

I will announce the prize winner on this blog, but only if I have permission to use your name/part of your name. Otherwise, the winner will remain anonymous since I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy.

Horse-Life Fragrances: What are your favorites?

I love this quickie quiz from the Beyond The Saddle Podcast Facebook page. I think horses smell fantastic. This quiz reminded me that there are all sorts of other scents associated with horse life too.

I had a hard time narrowing down the list to just two. But for me, number 5 (freshly cut alfalfa in the field) and number 11 (pine on a mountain trail ride) take the carrot cake. 🙂

Let me know what your own answers are in the comments section!

Find the Beyond The Saddle Podcast at As quoted from their website “Beyond the Saddle Podcast focuses on careers in the equine industry. Hear from professionals across the horse industry about their career path and how horses remain a part of their everyday lives. Podcast interviews offer insight on a variety of careers, from digital marketing to riding center management to agricultural law, and more. Tune in bi-weekly for advice and life lessons anywhere you listen to podcasts.”

Thought For The Day: The Joys of Donkey Grooming

One of my favorite authors is Rachel Anne Ridge. I really enjoyed her two books “Flash: The homeless donkey who taught me about life, faith and second chances” and “Walking With Henry: Big lessons from a little donkey on faith, friendship and finding your path”. She also wrote a children’s book entitled “Flash The Donkey Makes New Friends”.

Rachel has a way of describing normal, everyday events with introspection that is sweet and refreshing. For example, grooming as a form of care is a common-place event among horse, donkey and mule people alike. But Rachel reminds us that it can be much more than that if we allow it. Below is a quote from the book “Walking With Henry” that reflects the author’s style and makes for great contemplation.

“There is something therapeutic about the grooming process. Working a curry over an appreciative donkey gives you a chance to let your mind rest. In a world filled with distractions and loud voices, the rhythmic sound of a brush comforts me. I enjoy watching the donkeys’ reactions- exhaling contentedly and gently shaking their long ears. In these moments, all is right with the world. Worries lesson with every stroke, and anxious thoughts are dispelled with each burr and mud pellet that falls to the ground.”

Four Equine-Related Infographics

A horse infographic featured on

It is surprising how much basic information an infographic can contain. They aren’t going to provide a deep-dive into a subject, but sometimes all we have time for is a quick primer. Below are links to three equine infographics that I particularly like (and I thought the infographic featured in the photo above was too cute not to share). If you have a favorite horse-related infographic that you like, please include a link to it in the comments.

Shiloh is “too cool to be schooled” and Bear is “back in black” thanks to the Great British Equinery!

Shiloh is “too cool to be schooled” and Bear is “back in black” thanks to the new fly masks given to them by the Great British Equinery of Indiana.

In previous years, I purchased both Bear and Shiloh the Harrison Howard fly masks from the Great British Equinery of Indiana. Recently, the Great British Equinery kindly sent me two 2020 edition Harrison Howard fly masks to try.

The design of the 2020 fly masks is not significantly different from previous years. They fit my horses really well and still claim to block out 60% of UV light, but these new ones come with the option of flashy colors (blue, teal, red, amethyst, flamingo). They also sport extra lining on the noseband portion. I am fine with the plain colors of the previous years, but the flashy colors are fun. The extra colors might also make the fly masks easier to locate should they come off or if you have multiple horses and want to keep their fly masks separated while easy to identify. My horses never got nose rubs with the previous masks, but the extra lining is a nice touch.

On the left is the new 2020 fly mask with the additional noseband lining. The older model sports the lining near the ears but not the noseband.

Near as I can tell, the 2020 masks fit the same as the others. My older model masks stay on and are still in excellent condition even after frequent washing so I am expecting the same performance for the 2020 masks. If you’d like to read my review of the older version masks, please go to

Below are photos of Shiloh in his cool teal 2020 Harrison Howard fly mask with ears, and Bear in a classic black version without ears. Shiloh sports the Large (horse size) version while Bear takes the Medium (cob size).

Thank you so very much to the Great British Equinery of Indiana for providing Shiloh and Bear with some extra fly protection this Summer. If you are looking for new fly masks, please check out the Great British Equinery of Indiana at!

Bear and Shiloh give the Hilton Herbs Herballs a five-star rating!

Thank you Great British Equinery of Indiana at!

Bear and Shiloh recently got to sample some free treats via the generosity of the Great British Equinery of Indiana. Both Bear and Shiloh gave the Hilton Herbs Herballs a five-star rating!

Hilton Herbs Herballs, according to their product information, are made with wheat four, alfalfa, flax seed, spearmint, garlic, oregano and rosemary. Yes, you read that right. The treats smell like something that might be perfectly at home in say an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Unusual for a horse treat, these ingredients certainly make them stand out from most.

The Hilton Herbs Herballs are shaped in little round nuggets as the name implies. They are crunchy and don’t seem to crumble easily. They are large enough to not lose them in a pocket but yet not so bulky that you couldn’t fit in a few. Hilton Herbs notes that the Herballs have no added sugar. This could make them a more appropriate choice for the metabolically challenged horse than a more sugar/calories laden treat (as with any food stuff with a metabolically challenged horse, always use caution with the types/amounts of treats that you provide).

Both Bear and Shiloh took one sniff of the Herballs and snarffed them right up. Both continued to lick their feed pans long after the treats were gone. Bear and Shiloh made eye contact with me, sharing that “I am pleased to eat more if you would be so kind as to give me another one” look.

Full disclosure, I do remember buying a bag of theses treats from a different vendor in the past. I recall that both Bear and the other pony I had at the time, Pumpkin Spice, liked them. Bear, always an “I’m up for anything” in the food department, has become more finicky in his old age at twenty-five. I wasn’t sure if he would still enjoy the Herballs like he did in the past. Clearly he still does! As for Shiloh, I have not purchased these treats since Shiloh came to me almost two years ago. This was the first time that he had sampled them with me as treat giver. In any case, I don’t think prior exposure or lack thereof tarnishes the review. Definitely a five-star rating on smell and taste of the Hilton Herbs Herballs from these two equines!

Something else that stood out to me about the Hilton Herbs company is that when I inquired about animal testing, I was told that they don’t test their products on laboratory animals. To quote a sentence from an email I received from Hilton Herbs, “We do not test on laboratory animals; our business ethos is based in health, not harm”.

Lord willing for my next post, I will write about the 2020 Harrison Howard fly masks that the Great British Equinery also mailed to me. Bear and Shiloh send many thanks to the Great British Equinery of Indiana for the treat samples. I know that the Great British Equinery would be happy to have your business if you would like to purchase some for the horses in your life. Please visit them at

Warm- Hot- Hotter

Horse popsicles, anyone?

Phew! July is turning out to be one hot potato of a month for many of us.

My travel plans with the horses are on hold as we sweat out some extreme weather patterns. I don’t think that asking them to get in a hot box will help them develop more positive associations with traveling considering we are still inconsistent in the loading department. I am waiting for better long-term weather forecast before planning another field trip.

At home, I’ve been sticking to my “we ride at dawn” routine on the worst days. We even did a “we ride at dawn bareback” on a day where it was miserably humid even before the sun rose. As the Summer continues, I might need to title a future post as “we ride at midnight bareback in a bathing suit”.

When I’m not riding or doing horse chores, I am giving the horses baths to help cool them. I worry about Bear in the heat because of his thicker coat thanks to his Cushing’s Disease. He doesn’t yet have the type of long hair coat that is sometimes characteristic of the PPID, but when I run my hands along and through his coat, I can feel how his hair quality has changed.

I wanted to get pictures of my bathing the horses, but I can’t figure out how not to risk ruining my phone/camera as I am often as wet as the horses by the time it is all over. But if I did have pictures, you would see that I usually bath them loose. I just ask them to walk with me to where I have strung out the hose into their paddock over a pile of pea gravel for drainage. Then I start the bath on the nozzle’s mist setting as they get used to the coolness of the water (my well water comes out of the ground VERY cold) before going to the shower setting for a better soaking. Bear and Shiloh seem to really enjoy both the bath itself and drinking from the hose. Even after I turn off the water, they often stand around, enjoying a moment of reliefe from feeling hot and sticky.

Watching the horses relax into a recent bath gave me material for another poem. Entitled “Water Respite”, you can read it on my Medium page at

Besides the baths, Bear and Shiloh also enjoyed trying an idea I got from Reese with the Horses of the Ozark Hills blog. You may recall a previous post of mine where I recreated a treat idea from her blog ( This new idea is for horse popsicles!

Reese’s horses seemed to understand what to do with the popsicles, but both Bear and Shiloh acted flummoxed when I put the frozen disks into their feed dishes. I ended up hand-holding the disks so they could bite into the sides and get the idea. Then I placed the disks back in their feed dishes and tossed some of their ration balancer pellets on top. By that time, the disks had begun seriously melting and made a nice wet slurry with the melting ice, the pellets and the little pieces of fruit. Of course, I have to be mindful of the amount and types of treats that Bear gets due to his EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and PPID (Cushing’s Disease), but it was a neat treat to try on a hot afternoon.

Thank you to Reese for this fun and easy to make Summer- time treat variation! Check out her blog post for directions on how to make them at!

Hoping you and your horses stay cool out there!

Breyerfest Day 1

I am reblogging this post from a fellow equestrian blogger, Kristian with the blog Kristian Beverly-Books.Horses.Plastic Ponies. Kristian is a rider AND model horse collector. Her newest post reminded me that Breyerfest, an annual event, is this weekend but with a new twist. Rather than taking place at the Kentucky Horse Park as usual, Breyerfest is all online this year with the theme “Celtic Fling”. I spent many years collecting and showing model horses, only selling my collection in order to afford my first “in the flesh” horse because I couldn’t support both habits at the same time. I so enjoyed my models and the model horse world so thank you to Kristian for this reminder about Breyerfest and everything model horse!

Kristian Beverly

It’s Breyerfest week and the weather feels like it is. It’s been in the 90s in Pennsylvania with no end in sight. The feeling of melting in the sweltering sun feels right for Breyerfest week.

This year, I only have to make sure my laptop is charged or my desktop is on. There’s no traveling and hoping that the Clarion has parking spots. There’s no getting up before the sun rises and feeling the wet dew as you walk into the show hall.

I’m going to miss seeing everyone in person. 2020 has been quite the year.

In past years, on Thursday, I would’ve been on my way to Kentucky or already there. Instead I participated in a Studio Thornrose’s live sale. I snagged a Tucker and a Tripod. I love Tucker so much!

Photo by Studio Thornrose

Today, I’ve snagged one of Maggie Bennett Sculpture’s miniature skulls. They’re…

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Great British Equinery Sends Bear and Shiloh a Care Package!

A big shout out here to Debbie at the Great British Equinery of Indiana! Debbie generously sent Bear and Shiloh some swag to sample. How cool is that!?

Included in the care package is a baggie of Hilton Herb Herballs treats (no added sugars for metabolically-challenged horses like Bear!), a Hilton Herbs product booklet (they produce a slew of products in addition to the treats), a set of very attractive John Whitaker leg wraps and a storage bag (conveniently matching the red western saddle pad I currently use), and two 2020 Harrison Howard fly masks. You may know from previous posts how much I like the Harrison Howard fly masks I purchased in previous years so I am interested to try out the updates models!

I plan to incorporate the care package items into future post material so stay tuned. Bear and Shiloh told me they’d like to start with the treats please . . .

In the mean time, please check out the Great British Equinery of Indiana at

I met Debbie in person at a horse show last year and have purchased products from her website. In my experience, Debbie is super-friendly, ships items quickly and carries fun, useful products from the UK. I also learned that she has donated products to the Indiana Horse Rescue (the same organization that I previously fostered horses for)- something that I really appreciate. Gotta love it when businesses help support horses in need, right?

Two Fun Obstacle Ideas

Looking for fun obstacle ideas to try at home? Check these out.

While my horse, Shiloh, still had his stitches, I attended a clinic hosted by a riding club. Originally I was signed up to take Shiloh to ride in the clinic, but I canceled when I realized he wouldn’t have his stitches out by the clinic date. Instead, I offered to arrive a little bit early and help set up the obstacles. I was disappointed to not ride in the clinic, but I still got to see all the obstacle ideas and watch how the horses/riders navigate them, something I find fascinating. If you have never hosted an obstacle clinic, you may not appreciate how much effort is involved in selecting the obstacles (including buying, making or borrowing), transporting them to the clinic location, setting them up, tearing them down and then storing the obstacles until the next clinic and/or returning everything to their various owners. Extra hands are generally appreciated come clinic day!

The obstacle above was so clever and yet so simple. I took this photo early before a little divot was made in the tarp (made possible by the soft sand footing underneath) and water added on top. Many of the horses initially balked at the obstacle, making it one of the more challenging of the day. I actually thought that the blow-up dragon would cause the most spooks, but I was surprised at how many horses took one look at it and walked right up and put their noses on it.

I have not tried making the “water obstacle” at home yet, but it looks like something that is very “doable”. I really like the dragon too, but I probably won’t be spending the money on one anytime soon. Post-Halloween sale maybe?

Farnam SuperMask Supermodel Contest 2020

Folks who know me have probably heard me talk about my enjoyment of entering contests. Essay contests, photo contests, trivia contests, “put your name in a hat “contests. I love them all. It is exciting trying to win prizes.

I have had some pretty good success winning small things over the years- a box of dewormer, a custom grooming tote, a show-garment bag, a horse book, a saddle pad, bags of horse feed and buckets of supplements and treats. Prizes are mostly useful stuff that help me save a little bit of money here and there.

I have to say though that I am still waiting to win something life changing. Maybe a house, a car, fancy horse trailer or large cash prize. I’m flexible!

I am always on the hunt for new contests to enter and figure I am not the only fan of contest entering. So on that note, I thought I’d point out Farnam is hosting its annual SuperMask Supermodel contest. Take a halter photo of your horse and enter by July 17th for a chance to have your horse featured as this year’s SuperMask model AND win $1,000 in fly control products. The link to enter is

If you read my previous post “Got Fly Mask?”, you will know that my favorite fly masks are those sold by the Great British Equinery of Indiana at

Read the post here at :

Having said all that, I also like many of Farnam’s fly control products. I do keep a Farnam fly mask in my horse’s mask rotation for when the other masks are dirty. I also like the Farnam Endure fly spray , especially the roll on bottle for ears and faces. $1,000 worth of Farnam fly control products would come in handy this Summer so I am planning on entering the contest. If I don’t win, it would be fun to know someone who did, so let me know if your horse is selected as the winner so I can be famous by association. 🙂

Shiloh sporting a Farnam fly mask, a grazing muzzle and some extra energy.

We Ride At Dawn

So what do we equestrians do when we want to ride, but it is ten thousand degrees outside with 100% percent humidity and there is almost no shade? We ride at dawn! Or at least I do.

The older I get, the less tolerant I am of temperature extremes. I get completely stiff and achy in the dead of Winter. I feel dizzy, faint and nauseous in the heat of Summer. Neither state is conducive to riding. For his part, Shiloh seems to be like “If you must ride me at all, I do best in 70 degree weather with a few clouds and a light breeze” kind of horse.

Long story short, riding early on a hot day works for both of us.

Starting the ride at the beginning of a sun rise this week

Nearing the end of the ride as the sun is high enough to leave some LONG shadows

This leaves Shiloh with just enough energy to kick up his heels with Bear when they are turned out with their muzzles for some grazing outside their paddock before the worst heat of the day. Wheeeeee!

Latest Field Trip

In my previous post, I mentioned that last week I took Bear and Shiloh over to a local training/boarding barn for another field trip. I thought I would share in this post what I am working on with Shiloh when we ride.

The field trips allow me to work on several things at once including trailer loading/unloading, riding in a new location and using some different riding facilities to help us in our training goals. Not to mention I get to have someone to keep an eye on Bear, take photos and be some eyes on the ground to what I am feeling in the saddle. And it is fun!

When I brought Shiloh home (in August 2018), he had spent the previous five years as a pasture companion to other horses and had barely been ridden during that time. He was out of riding shape, both physically and mentally. A lot of my early work with him was getting him re-accustomed to being a riding horse again. Long Winters in my area and higher than usual rain fall the last couple of years really slowed down our progress. It wasn’t really until very recently that I felt like we were more on the same page.

He tends towards the pace, which puts his body in awkward and unhealthy postures, so I have been trying instead to encourage a four-beat walk and then a fox trot when he gaits (he is a Missouri Fox Trotter, but like most gaited horses, he can do several different gaits). This year we also added canter work (but only on a lunge-line not undersaddle yet). Obstacle work is part of most rides, both to add interest and variety as well as to work on certain skills. Even simple things like walking over a couple of ground poles help him practice lifting and placing his legs. Both of which help him with using his body more effectively (plus its really hard to pace over ground poles without getting all tripped up so it encourages that four-beat walk).

Keep in mind that I am trying to do all this with Shiloh largely without an adequate place to ride at home (so we constantly have to work around the weather), without eyes on the ground (to help guide our work) and within my own physical riding abilities, mental fitness and conceptual understanding of riding principles (which are all admittedly limited). A horse can really only do as well as his rider can do. I am well aware that he may show more brillance/better self-carriage with someone else in the saddle. Figuring out how to carry myself better so he can carry himself better is a work in progress.

I enjoy working on all these kinds of riding details, but at the same time it is disappointing to always be riding with both arms tied behind my back with all the impediments in my way to my own self-improvement. But it is either work with what I’ve got or not ride at all, so I chose to ride. I feel like we are headed in the right direction. As long as Shiloh continues to humor me in allowing me to ride him, we will keep slowly marching forward. I’d like eventually do to with Shiloh all the things I was able to do with Bear like trail riding, attending clinics, working with cows, going swimming and competing in some fun/local shows.

My overall goal that underpins everything else is building a positive relationship with him. I want him to feel safe with me and trusting of me, to enjoy our time together. In many ways it is a more illusive goal than gaining his obedience. Sure, I would like him to go along with my ideas, but how he feels about those ideas and the ways in which we accomplish them are equally if not more important to me too. How can I shape his body and his mind in a way that is effective, fair and humane? These are the things that are constantly running through my mind as I work with him at home and as we go on little adventures off the property.

Oh, Snap!

I took my horses out for another field trip last week. More on that in a later post, but I thought I’d share this photo and its story here as a warning. Thanks to Alli from the HeartHorseHoof Blog for the inspiration for this post. Recently, Alli shared a post entitled “Check Your Bits Sis” about a mistake the author realized she made and then corrected with regard to her horse tack at Since all of us horse folks are human, all of us horse folks make errors. Sometimes in sharing those errors, we allow others to learn from our mistakes and hopefully avoid the same. It is one way we can support each other in our respective journeys to be better horse people.

So my story begins over Winter when I got one of those subscription horse boxes as a gift. It came with a lead rope. The lead rope color didn’t match any of my tack really (cause matching-color is what is most important in a lead rope :-)), but I thought I’d use it for when I trailer. Bear has multiple matching lead ropes (his color scheme, if you must know, is red- with occasional black accents- I LOVE red on a bay horse) so Shiloh as the new horse got the leftovers (almost two years in, I’m still trying to decide on a good color scheme for Shiloh- for the time being he gets to wear a lot of Bear’s red leftovers too). When I held the snap on this new lead rope, I remember thinking it seemed kind of light weight, but I otherwise didn’t give it much thought.

After arriving on location to last week’s riding destination, Shiloh stood quietly while tied to the trailer as I tacked him up for our ride. He turned his head, not sure why, maybe to snap a fly on his chest? I then saw something out of the corner of my eye while I was getting the next piece of tack out of the trailer. It was the lead rope dangling and no longer attached to Shiloh. Fortunately, I don’t think he even realized he was free and so he continued to stand there while I quickly switched out lead ropes (I routinely carry a spare or two in the trailer). While Shiloh was calm, cool and collected during this particular outing, I shudder to think what would have happened if the lead rope snape broke during our previous outing where Shiloh was more fire breathing dragon than his more typical presentation as backyard-friendly horse. I can see him galloping off into danger in that scenario-yikes!

So here is my advice based on my recent experience:

*Use lead ropes with heavy duty snaps (my initial misgiving, that I ignored, about how light the snap felt should have been my clue to the potential hardiness of the lead rope)

*Periodically check your lead rope snaps for wear (maybe I would have noticed the snap was coming loose from itself if I had given it a visual/tactile inspection earlier?)

*Always carry at least one spare lead rope per horse when you travel (you don’t want to be off your property with your horse without a way to secure him or her)

Bear and I receive a thank you card!

I have an addendum to my previous post entitled “Bear as Emergency Alert System” (see original post at

Bear and I received this lovely card from the woman whom Bear helped rescue! Isn’t that sweet?! I have marked out her name just for privacy’s sake in case she didn’t want it blasted all over the internet, but here below is a photo of the inside of the card. The note is definitely going into my horse scrapbook!

Six Feet Apart in Horse Hands

Saw this infographic courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim (the maker of all the expensive equine medicine that I give to my horse Bear). Made me chuckle (not the price of the medicine but the infographic). Sometimes it is just easier for horse folks to measure things in horse hands!

PS- If you are reading this and not familiar with how a horse’s height is measured, please note that “a hand” is considered four inches. 6 feet apart is 72 inches so that would equal a horse that is eighteen hands tall, as measured from the ground to the withers (withers are located on top of the shoulders at the base of the horse’s neck). An eighteen hand horse is a tall horse- think Budweiser’s Clydsdale tall. Something to think about as you are standing in the grocery store checkout line. Plus it is a fun fact for your next trivia night, maybe?

Travel Tales and Travails

Since Shiloh got “unstitched” at the vet’s office, the horses and I have taken two little field trips, one to a local training/boarding barn and one to a private facility.

We were experiencing an unusually pleasant stretch of weather (meaning not too hot or too humid), and I wanted to take advantage. Our first trip, to the local training barn, went smoothly. I got to ride on one of the outdoor tracks and enjoyed experiencing a nice quiet stroll on Shiloh while Bear enjoyed sampling some new grass in the roundpen which stands in the middle of their two outdoor tracks. We had ridden at this same barn once last year, but only in their indoor arena, so riding outside was a new experience. Shiloh was very sensible and packed me around without issue.

Bear seemed to handle the trip well (as far as not looking sore during travel, after travel or the next day) as did Shiloh so I was excited to plan field trip number two. This time it would be a visit to my friend’s private horse facility. I’ve had Shiloh almost two years now, but I have yet to ride him with another horse as we typically do all our riding at home alone. I was looking forward to riding with my experienced friend and her quiet gelding on a lovely early Summer day.

But Bear and Shiloh seemed to have other plans which included being slow to load (I was half an hour late to arrive) and acting emotionally unhinged at this “new” location pretty much from the second they got off the trailer. I say “new” because although the location was new to Shiloh, Bear had visited this place with me quite a bit in his past life as a riding horse.

Whatever the reason, both horses were uncharacteristically nervous that day, and I decided this would not be a day to try to ride. So basically they got hand-jigged with the help of my sainted friend (I’d say hand-walked, but considering how jazzed both horses were, hand-jigged seems more accurate), got to roll in the lovely sand arena, pose for a few photos and then go home.

Fortunately, no humans or animals were physically harmed during the adventure. Can’t say the same for the unfortunate fence board that was the recipient of a double-barreled kick from Bear. I was preparing to open a gate to take Bear out of the arena and didn’t notice that a resident horse in a pasture next to the arena had come up behind Bear on the other side of the fence. Bear apparently took offense, released a loud squeal and let loose with the hind-legs. My horses went home with their frazzled owner with one eye-lid twitching involuntarily all the way back.

Gorgeous sand arena that I did’t ride in . . .

Disappointing, for sure, but it is not the first time I have taken a horse somewhere and had to scrap/change plans when I didn’t feel confident I would survive the originally planned activity. Bear, who I watch carefully for evidence of lameness due to his health history, seemed to show no bad signs post-visit, not even the next day despite all the antics. Someone needs to remind him that he recently turned twenty-five.

Since then, I’ve had a couple of rides at home on Shiloh and am now bracing for a period of high heat and humidity where trailering anywhere seems unappealing. Hoping I can plan for another visit somewhere soon once the heat wave passes as we all clearly need more practice with consistency in the “trailer loading and going new places” department.

Both Bear and Shiloh have actually done plenty of traveling, but both have had long breaks from traveling in recent years for different reasons. Like any other aspect of training, horses (and their people) can get rusty in those areas. Helping horses feel safe and secure when things go sideways has often been a challenge for me. But the times I have been successful in developing confidence in myself and my horses keep me coming back for more. Those times give me hope for the future on the days when I just can’t get it right and, to loosely quote author Louis L’ amour, end up with more tales of travail than travel.

Back to riding at home for awhile . . .

I see horses everywhere

I stumbled across the above internet link and thought it looked amusing. This quizz from is purported to say something about your personality depending upon your answer. I am sceptical about that claim, but I had fun reading through it.

Because the subject matters happens to be horses, I can’t think this would be an accurate test for most horse people.

Aren’t we horse-people naturally predisposed to see lots of horses everywhere? 🙂

What do you think? I’m curious!

Stock Photo by Ramtin Daemi on Unsplash.

Got Cooling Rinse?

Now that it is June, most of us are probably seeing our horses sweating when we ride. Even if you aren’t riding at length or at speed, your horse most likely gets sweaty under their tack. Shiloh certainly can get sweaty on a hot/humid day so I like to do something to clean him up post-ride.

As much as I like riding, I also really enjoy grooming before and after the ride. I especially like to figure out what grooming tools/products a particular horse seems to find relaxing and where on their bodies they like to be groomed with which tool. This can be challenging with a horse who has unfortunately developed negative associations with grooming, but I think it is worth the effort. Fortunately, Shiloh seems to really enjoy being groomed.

While I do sometimes hose an entire horse down with water to cool them off post-ride, I often choose to spot treat them instead. Certainly a small bucket of water and a sponge can work but sometimes their coat is so sticky and grimy post-ride that I prefer to use a cleaning/cooling product to help get them cleaner than I can with water and a sponge/wash cloth alone.

Depending upon my budget at the time of purchase, I may opt to buy ingredients to make a home-made product or purchase a ready-made one. I actually think both work equally well, but I usually like how the commercial products smell better than my home-made concoctions.

My favorite commercial product used to be Absorbine Refreshmint, but for some reason, Absorbine discontinued it. For the last few years, my favorite commercial product is Cooldown, also by Absorbine. It comes in a quart size bottle. It works really well in restoring the hair to a clean finish that dries quickly and it has a wonderful scent. I am going on my third Summer of using this same quart so I feel I am getting my money’s worth here (I think the original price was about $21 and knowing me, I most likely bought it on sale, with a coupon and/or with a discount via a credit card cash back offer!).

As far as homemade recipes, I have used a few ones I found on the internet, but basically all I do is combine half and half of Listerine and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. This combo also works well to get that grey, sweaty grime off the edges of western saddle pads.

So, do you have any pre or post ride routines that you employ? Do you prefer to hose/sponge with water, give a good curry, use a spray/rinse, turn your horse straight out to roll or something else?

Here’s to many happy Summer rides!

Activities For The Unridden Horse

If you stick around the horse world long enough, you will probably find yourself at some point with a horse who can’t be ridden. Maybe due to age (too young or too old)/health/ training issues, the horse just isn’t suitable for riding. Or maybe you like horses but aren’t interested in sitting on their backs.

Even if you don’t ride, there are many important reasons to spend time with your non-riding horse like for health care, exercise, mental stimulation and to keep basic handling skills in tact. Being caught in a pasture, allowing hoofs to be picked out and trailer loading can be important skills for any horse to learn or maintain. Don’t forget too that just hanging out with your horses can be enjoyable as well. I frequently sit in the grass or on an over-turned bucket at a safe distance and watch my horses graze or snooze.

Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to come up with actual activity ideas. If we aren’t riding, what exactly do we do? I personally keep a list of all kinds of ideas for doing stuff on the ground with my horses. I’ve picked these ideas up over the years from books, magazines and online sources. Recently, I came across a neat idea I found on the internet that dovetails nicely with my list.

Meet the free “idea generator” from Good Horse at The “Non Ridden Activity Generator” allows the user to select ideas across five different activity categories (care, bonding, enrichment, training and exercise). The generator will produce a random idea for you with just a click. It doesn’t instruct the reader on how to complete the activities much beyond listing the idea and maybe a sentence or two about the activity, but I found it fun to see what the generator generated.

Not everything will be “doable” or suitable for every horse or handler, of course, but if you keep clicking, I can almost guarantee you’ll find something to your liking. I haven’t personally gone through all the options in every category so I can’t comment on everything, but I liked what I saw. For example, the last time I used the generator, it gave me the following ideas:

Care- Pick out your horse’s hooves
Bonding- Take your horse over trotting poles at liberty
Enrichment- Try some apple-bobbing
Training- Get your horse used to wormer syringes
Exercise- Longe-line your horse

Don’t forget that even if you do ride your horse(s), you can still use these ideas to add variety to your time with him or her. Maybe use them as a warm-up to a ride or for those days when your schedule or the weather interfere with your original riding plans.

As much as I love to ride, I spend a lot more time with my horses on the ground than in the saddle. It is wonderful to remember that there are all sorts of helpful, fun and enriching activities for my horses and I to engage in together apart from riding.

Here Bear (background), Shiloh (foreground) and I (photographer) practice a “non-ridden” activity in the form of pedestal work at liberty.

The Horse World Needs Everybody

Back in March, I wrote an essay about my interest in reading a then unreleased book called “Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland”.

The essay was published on Horse Nation at I mentioned it in a previous blog post at

Unfortunately, I am still waiting to read the book. I thought it would be material that others would also enjoy reading so I asked a local library to obtain it for their collection. The library approved my request, but with the changes caused by the pandemic, I am still waiting for the book to become available.

There has been much talk in recent years of the reduction in participation in the horse world. It seems to me that we would do well to welcome and support everyone who shares an appreciation for the horse. Part of that can be learning about and learning from a diverse groups of equestrians who have long been out there caring for and riding their horses despite generally not being acknowledged as part of the wider horse world. Despite how it often seems, equestrians are not just white.

As part of my research in composing my essay earlier this year and more recently in light of current events, I have learned about a number of different articles/websites that I thought I would share here. I am not a Facebook member, but in addition to including a couple of direct Facebook links, many of the people/websites/organizations noted below have Facebook pages that might be of interest to readers as well. There is a lot more to read on the subject of equestrian diversity, but this list is a place to start. Our current and future horses and horse people can be the beneficiaries of a broader, more inclusive horse industry when we make room for everybody.

Guest Editorial: No Room For Bigotry

Ranee James is breaking stereotypes for Black women in equestrian sports

6 Facts on African American Horseback Riding


Test Results! Spring 2020 Vet Visit Continued . . .

SOLID CYSTIC APOCRINE DUCTULAR ADENOMA. Say that with me once. Okay. Now say that with me fast three times. Just kidding. I am not even sure how to pronounce the last three words!

For inquiring minds who want to know, a solid cystic aprocrine ductular adenoma is what Shiloh had on his rump. You may recall in my previous post entitled “Spring 2020 Vet Visit” at that Shiloh had a piece of tissue removed. What I would describe as a wart was more precisely identified as a solid cystic aprocrine ductular adenoma by a pathologist.

I asked to see a copy of the report. I panicked when I started to read the description paragraph and realized that I could only identify about three words in eight sentences. Fortunately, I understood the comments section which read “This is a benign neoplasm which is rare in the horse. Excision is complete and is expected to be curative. The prognosis is good.” Shiloh’s veterinarian said he had never seen one in a horse. Kind of freaky, if you ask me. But the good part is that Shiloh requires no further treatment (my bank account is smiling), and the tumor is not expected to regrow.

Shiloh’s stitches were removed at the vet’s office earlier today. Hopefully that whole ordeal is behind him now (pun intended)!

Bear sporting his grazing muzzle that helps keep his glucose and insulin levels in check.

Now on to Bear’s test results . . . Drum roll please. Bear’s ACTH, glucose and insulin levels were all within normal ranges for the second year in a row! Amazing. This was a horse that previously had an off-the-charts glucose reading where I recall reading a number with a + sign beside it on the blood test report. Confused, I asked the vet what the + sign meant. He said that Bear’s reading was so far out of range that the lab saw no point in giving an exact number. Whhaattt? So having two “within normal range tests” two years in a row is a big deal to me. Long story short, Bear’s current medication regimen or diet does not need to be adjusted at the moment. But with PPID and EMS diagnoses, it seems to me that you have to constantly stay vigilant and be ready your management quickly if you notice anything amiss.

So now that both are horses are all vetted and Shiloh’s stitches removed, I am hoping to take some field trips with them, maybe to ride at a local arena or somewhere outside with friends. It is a little tricky traveling with one horse that I still ride and one retired horse, but I will see what I can arrange for Summer.

Shiloh- No longer in stitches

Shiloh is officially unstitched now! I must say that was the fastest vet visit ever. I’m not sure we were even in the parking lot for more than ten minutes this morning. Basically, Shiloh got off the trailer, got his stitches out in the barn aisle, got back on the trailer and we were on our way back home.

Looks a little rough, but I was thinking it was healing well and my vet said the area was a-okay (not a direct quote!).

Our drive to the vet’s office and back was slightly more adventurous than last time. We negotiated a pair of deer crossing the road as well as huge piece of farm equipment that kindly pulled off the road so we could pass them. It must take the patience of a saint to drive those things, always having to be extra careful negotiating around obstacles like the lady pulling the horse trailer. But anywho, we got there and back safely with no problems.

Shiloh was point and shoot with the loading and unloading. Bear was decidedly less enthusiastic about it today. We had an earlier history together with difficulty loading but then years of traveling with no major issues in that department. Today might have just been an off day, but it is something I will keep in the back of my mind. I think sometimes when a horse says “no”, they can be trying to communicate that something hurts (or is super frightening) or they are worried that something might hurt (or become super frightening) in the course of your asking them to do something.

Bear has arthritis in addition to his EMS and PPID. Not to mention he is twenty-five years old. So its something I will be thinking about as I attempt to take Bear along with me when I take Shiloh out to ride at different venues. It may be that Bear is getting to the point where that won’t be comfortable for him.

Horses enjoying a post-vet-visit snack. Still sporting their special travel halters, they anxiously await my putting on their fly-masks and then leaving them alone for the rest of the day! 🙂

Today in just a minute here, I am expecting to re-post yesterday’s post that was actually supposed to be this week’s Wednesday post! I posted it accidentally yesterday, then took it down online and am now putting it back out there on the internet. So that might mean any of you readers who are blog email-subscribers will get yesterday’s post again today, but I am not sure. Can you tell I am new to this blogging thing and have questions about how it all works? Thanks for your patience with me, dear reader!

Ignore What I Just Posted, Sort Of

Hmmm, not sure what I just did, but in organizing my upcoming posts for this coming week, I just released what was actually to be Wednesday’s post!

Everything I said in this morning’s post is factual EXCEPT for the note about Shiloh’s stitches removal. As of today, he still has them in. Tomorrow, Monday, I am scheduled to take him back down to the vet’s to have them removed. So anywho, now I have to go back and redo my week’s blog schedule. Don’t you just hate when that happens? Sigh . . .

But since now you know what I have planned for tomorrow, please wish me and the horses well as we embark on another road trip (the plan is to have Bear go along with us so he is not left at home by himself)! 🙂

Bear as “Emergency Alert System”

Do you ever notice what your horse notices? I’m always fascinated at what horses see/hear off in the distance. So many times, I can’t see/hear what they are looking at until the object gets closer or I get out my binoculars. Their senses really do seem different and more acute in many ways. Its no wonder horses can get pretty skeptical about the human ability to keep them safe. Half the time, we can’t see or hear the potential danger that they perceive.

Recently, after finishing a pleasant late-morning ride on Shiloh, I went inside to grab some lunch. I peaked out the back window to check on the horses before I sat down to eat and happened to notice Bear standing at alert. He was looking past the side of the house and had a rather perplexed look on his face (meanwhile, Shiloh’s attention was on a pile of hay- gotta refuel after exercising, right?).

I was curious about the object of Bear’s rapt attention so I walked to the front of the house to look out a different window. Through the glass, I could see a woman hopping down the road, obviously trying not to put weight on her left foot. I raced outside and asked if she needed help. Turns out she had somehow twisted her ankle while going for a walk to get some exercise. I put on my COVID mask, brought my car around to her, drove her home and helped her to the front door. I offered to take her to the doctor’s office or to the ER, but she declined. She was going to contact her family.

She had a cell phone on her and wasn’t that far from home, but I still think she would have had a very difficult time trying to get there on one foot- yikes. As we were in the car heading to her house, I told her that I only noticed her after my horse alerted me to her presence. She told me to tell him thank you (which I later translated into the form of an apple slice). Turns out that she has lived in the area for far longer than I have. She said she used to walk by my property when her daughter was little, and they gave the horses carrots over the fence. Maybe this was Bear’s way of returning the favor.

So there ends my story of Bear acting as a first responder of sorts. Has your horse ever clued you into an emergency in progress that you wouldn’t have been aware of without his or her help?

Bear dashing off, no doubt, to find the next emergency . . .

Spring 2020 Vet Exam

Last week, I drove Bear and Shiloh down to the vet’s office for their annual Spring exams. I usually schedule their Spring exams earlier in the year, but the pandemic changed my plans on both the timing of the exams and how they were performed.

This year is the first time that I remember not being present during the actual exams. The vet office is still keeping clients out of all their buildings to protect their staff. So after an easy loading experience at home and an uneventful drive into town, I unloaded the horses at the vet’s barn and handed them off to the very capable staff.

Fortunately, the morning rain had passed so I opened up my folding chair and sat outside the barn under the awning to pass the time. I watched folks bring their dogs and cats to the office for exams. Those folks also handed their pets off to staff members and remained outside the vet office while their pets were examined.

I was told that Bear’s teeth exam showed no current need for a float so he got his vaccines and had his blood drawn for his coggins and ACTH tests. The ACTH test is helpful in monitoring his PPID and EMS. If his ACTH and glucose numbers are inching up, I will need to make further diet/medication adjustments to hopefully keep him from having another laminitic episode, abscesses, etc . . .

Shiloh’s mouth exam revealed some sharp tooth points. So during Shiloh’s dental float, the vet also noticed some areas of gum recession around a few upper incisors. The vet suggested that Shiloh may need eventually to have those affected teeth removed as the gum recession can indicate potential problems for the root of the tooth. He says horses adapt to being toothless quite well once healed. I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Coincidentally, a few days before our vet visit, I snapped a photo of Shiloh doing a flehmen response after I had applied a cooling product to his back post-ride. The angle of the photo actually shows one of the areas of recession above the middle tooth. Can you see it? The area is dimpled and irregular, not plump and full like a healthy gum line apparently.

Since Shiloh was already under sedation from his dental float, he also had a wart removed. For those of you who have horses with pink skin underneath their white hair, you may already know that they are more prone to skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). Bear, who also has substantial swaths of pink skin, previously had a small lesion removed from under his tail that turned out to be skin cancer so I am familiar with the drill. The vet removed Shiloh’s wart (located on his hindquarters near the upper part of his tail) and had sent it off for analysis so we shall see if it turns out to be skin cancer. If so, I assume the vet will recommend further treatment after the stitches come out. For Bear, that was cryotherapy where the affected area of skin was treated with a stream of super-duper cold air to kill the cancer cells. At least in Bear’s case, it was a straightforward diagnosis and treatment with no lasting ill-effects. Hopefully Shiloh will have the same experience.

We had another easy loading, driving and unloading experience on the trip home. So many stars have to align properly to transport horses safely and successfully that I am always very appreciative to have a positive experience. Now we just have to await all the various test results and get Shiloh’s stitches removed next week!

“Would You Rather?” Equestrian Edition- Second Installment

Welcome to the second installment of “Would You Rather?” Equestrian Edition.

The questions below come courtesy of the website Horse Nation at

I detailed my own answers to the first five questions in a previous post at Here I am addressing the last five. Let’s get to it.

Question #6- Would you rather own a plain bay that’s low-maintenance to clean or an eye-catching gray that’s constantly filthy?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Dapple grey’s are SO striking, but I am a low-maintenance kind of gal (this coming from someone who currently has two pinto-colored horses with eight white legs between them- I did not set it up this way on purpose!). So I will go with the plain-jane bay. But you know what, bay is actually one of my favorite horse colors. I think bay is beautiful, not plain! Or maybe I think plain is beautiful? Whatever the case, bays are fabulous in my book.

Question #7- Would you rather only ever ride one discipline but be a champion within it or get the opportunity to dabble in many?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- I have already dabbled in a number of disciplines without any championships to my name. See my previous post at So it would be a fun change of pace to be a champion or high-point in one discipline. The sense of mastery would be so satisfying. Not that I know . . .

Question #8- Would you rather never see snow again or never see mud again?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Winter can be harsh, but snow is pretty. Mud is not pretty. You can ride in snow. Mud not so much. I would rather never see mud again.

Question #9- Would you rather shed out all of that hair manually or body clip?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- I can’t body clip to save my life so . . . manually.

Question #10- Would you rather lose halters or lose fly masks out in the pasture?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- I guess I would rather lose halters. I pick this answer because I don’t usually leave halters on my horses when they are unattended. I would rather not lose fly masks because my current horses do frequently wear them outside during buggy weather. Bear rarely wore fly masks when he was younger, but his eyes are more watery now that he is in his twenties and has an official PPID diagnosis. And Shiloh is suspected by the vet to have seasonal allergies. The fly mask seems to cut down on his rubbing his eyes (the rubbing led to an emergency vet visit last year when he injured an eye- not good for Shiloh and not good for my pocketbook).

See my previous post “Got Fly Mask” to see the masks I like to use at

If you would care to share, let me know what your own answers are in the comments section!

Layering: A Simple Obstacle Idea For Use in Small Spaces

For those of you who like to incorporate obstacle work into your rides, you might find your creativity stymied by space. Maybe you have your own backyard-horse property that would fit on a postage stamp. Maybe you have to always share an arena with other boarders. Whatever the case, you just don’t have the luxury of a sizable area in which to work and lay out a bunch of obstacles. Even so, there are ways to practice a variety of skills with your horse over obstacles in a small space via layering. I refer to layering as adding one obstacle on top of or very close to the other to encompass a variety of “on the spot” movements or activities. Keep in mind that if your horse is not accustomed to working individually with all elements of the obstacle, first practice with each obstacle separately so you don’t overface your horse.

For example, over the Memorial Day weekend, I set up a 6 foot by 8 foot tarp and placed two PVC pipe poles across two tarp ends (with the edges of the poles inside four cones laid down on their sides to prevent the poles from rolling off). A few feet away from the tarp, I hooked a plastic flower basket filled with faux flowers to a fence. You could also hook the basket to the top of a tall cone, plastic barrel or jump standard.

With this little set up, I can practice doing ten different activities with my horse:

1) walk across the tarp width-wise between the poles
2) walk across the first pole, the tarp and the next pole by traversing the tarp length-wise
3) stop my horse on the tarp (four feet on the tarp or two feet on the tarp)
4) stop on the tarp and proceed forward
5) stop on the tarp and back off the tarp
6) stop in the middle and sidepass towards one pole on one side and then the other
7) traverse tarp length-wise while stopping your horse over the middle of the first pole (or the second)
8) sidling over to the flower basket, pick it up and proceed to ride (one-handed) over the tarp while holding the basket
9) do items #1 through #6 one-handed while holding the basket
10) sidle back over to the fence, barrel or jump standard and hang up basket

Don’t forget groundwork. Here Shiloh shows off his ground-tie know how.

Precisely because of working in a small space, you get a good sense of how much influence (or not!) you have over your horse with your aids. These types of activities will readily show you which movements you and your horse struggle to execute as well as where you both shine.

Do you have a way that you like to use obstacles in a small space?

Book Review: Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses-Recognition and Application

Ever heard of calming signals in dogs? Well, they apparently aren’t exclusive to canines. According to the book’s author, Rachael Draaisma, horses use them too. She notes that horses use these signals to calm themselves and those around them (including humans) in order to reduce stress, avoid conflict and maintain social relationships.

Quoted from the book’s introduction, calming signals are “. . . the (relationship managing) signals that horses give in response to stimuli in their environment that they want to calm or appease in order to avert conflict and maintain social relationships . . . Calming signals are also used when the horse wants to calm himself.”

In addition, the author goes on to say that “. . . to give a complete picture of the many ways in which a horse communicates with and experiences the world, other communication signals were also added during the course of the research. These included calming signals, displacement activities, stress signals and distance increasing signals . . . Recognizing the communication signals of your horse better enables you to design and customize a socialization or training plan. It also improves your relationship with your horse, as well as maintain his mental and physical health”.

The author, a behavior consultant and trainer from The Netherlands, filled the book with excellent descriptions and lots of color photographs and charts. The book goes beyond basic body language that most equestrians are already familiar with and details all sorts of nuanced behavior. As the title suggests, the author weaves in many ideas for working with your horse in light of whatever communication signals they are displaying.

“Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses: Recognition and Application” is an indepth yet easy to read book that strangely has not gotten a lot of attention in the horse world. I have seen almost no press about it. Yet I think it is one of the most interesting and insightful horse books I have ever read. It has opened my eyes to a number of horse behaviors that I have previously misinterpreted or simply missed altogether.

The book also helped me name behaviors that I have observed but couldn’t identify exactly. For example, I started to notice a pattern with my horse, Bear, during the three year period where I fostered a series of nine horses for a local rescue. Every time I introduced a new horse into the pasture, I found that for the first day or so Bear would come in between me and the new horse whenever I was in the pasture. He did it very smoothly, very quietly, very politely. He was not being aggressive or pushy. He would simply block my approach by watching my every move and slipping his body sideways between me and the other horse before I got too close. I got the distinct impression he was either trying to protect me from the new horse or protect the new horse from me. So eventually before approaching the new horse, I would stand with Bear and simply observe the new horse for awhile from a distance before leaving Bear’s side and approaching the other horse. This seemed to diminish Bear’s tendency to supervise my pasture activities and very quickly the behavior would completely disappear until I brought in the next foster horse. I thought it was the weirdest thing. It almost didn’t seem real. Was I imagining this?

When I read the book’s section about something the author calls “splitting”, I had a big “ah- ha” moment. The book notes that “Horses split when they want to prevent a possible conflict between two parties. When a horse splits, he changes position in order to literally form a barrier between two parties.” So I wasn’t imaging Bear’s behavior after all! This was in fact “a thing” that horses do sometimes.

Now interpreting the exact meaning of that behavior is another matter, but the author notes it does have a protective and/or resource guarding motivation. Did Bear want to protect me or the new horse from harm? Did Bear want to keep me “the food bearer” to himself? I have about a thousand theories on the subject of “why” and how the behavior may reflect on our relationship, both positive and negative, but that could make the subject of its very own post. I’ll have to save that analysis for some other time.

Whatever his exact motivation, I know that Bear is a very cautious horse by nature in any novel situation. It makes sense to me that he might be nervous about possible conflict. It also makes sense to me that by my taking the time to acknowledge his concern (by joining in with Bear in observing the horse before approaching) that it might have helped Bear to feel more secure and less like he had to protect/guard all parties involved.

The book is chock full of all sorts of fascinating tidbits and insights. It will most likely expand and challenge some of the information you have been told about horses. It has definitely made me look at various horse behaviors and my interpretation of them in a different light. I realize that not everyone who reads this book will agree with all the research and conclusions that the author has made, but I think this book has a real contribution to make to horsemanship. If this post has piqued your interest, I would highly suggest you buy yourself a copy.

Special thank you to horse professional, Andrea Datz from the Restoration Ranch in Fruita, Colorado, for first making me aware of this book. You can visit Andrea’s website at

Another horse professional who incorporates awareness of calming signals in her work is Anna Blake. In fact, prior to my reading “Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses”, I first learned of calming signals from Anna Blake’s blog Relaxed and Forward at

In addition to her Relaxed and Forward blog, Anna has published a number of books. If you would be interested in reading a review of one of Anna Blake’s books, go to Anne Leuchen’s blog Horse Addict- The world is best viewed through the ears of horse at Anne Leuchen reviews Anna Blake’s book “Going Steady: More Relationship Advice From Your Horse”. Apparently I am not the only fan of Anna Blake’s work.

Happy reading!

“Would You Rather?” Equestrian Edition- First Installment

Photo taken from website Befunky

I like reading “This or That” and “Would You Rather” questions with an equestrian theme. I came across this previously posted “Would You Rather” edition on Horse Nation at

The Horse Nation post consists of ten questions. For my purposes on The Backyard Horse Blog, I am dividing the ten questions into two posts.

I give my own answers to the first five questions here and then will tackle the final five questions next week.

If you would like to play along, I’d love to read your own answers to these questions. I think it would be fun to see readers’ different perspectives on the answers. Viva la différence!

Question #1- Would you rather show a world-class animal in your discipline of choice or take the world’s greatest trail horse out on the trails?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Oh, shoot. Right off the bat they start with a tough question. I can’t decide. Can I do both, please! I guess with my back to the wall, I’d pick the “greatest trail horse out on the trail” because combining horses and nature is about as good as it gets in my book. But still, I would LOVE that world-class horse opportunity too!

Question #2- Would you rather never see a case of thrush or never see rain rot ever again?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Hmmm, I pick never see thrush again. My thinking is that thrush can potentially lead to lameness. Lameness for a thousand pound animal who spends most of his time on his or feet is a real problem. So I am sticking with “never ever thrush”.

Question #3- Would you rather never run out of fly spray or never lose another horse shoe in the mud?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Never lose another horse shoe. None of my horses are currently shod, but both have been shod at various times in the past for different reasons. Like thrush, losing a shoe could lead to lameness. And I’m still with the whole “lameness for a thousand pound animal who spends most of his time on his feet is a real problem” spiel.

Question #4- Would you rather forget to turn OFF the electric fence when you were supposed to or forget to turn ON the electric fence when you were supposed to?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Well, I really hate to touch electric fencing when I have forgotten to turn it off. Ouch! But, when I am using electric fence strips, it is to keep a horse secured for their own safety so I would have to pick “would rather forget to turn OFF the electric fence”.

Question #5- Would you rather have lush, fertile pastures that you have to walk twenty minutes on foot to access or a so-so paddock close to the barn?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Definitely a so-so paddock close to the barn. I have one horse, Bear, with PPID & EMS who has experienced bouts of laminitis due in part to the lush grass on my property. The other horse, Shiloh, is an easy keeper who, no doubt, is at risk of developing weight-related health problems. So while I wouldn’t mind walking horses out to a far pasture, a lush and fertile pasture isn’t the greatest thing for my particular horses.

Stayed tuned for my answers to the next five questions in a future post. Feel free to share your own answers in the comments section below!

Got Hay Bags?

Fellow horse blogger, Alli, from the Heart Horse and Hoof blog at inquired about the hay bags I use. Funny that I was thinking about doing a post about these hay bags. Her inquiry prompted me to bring the idea to fruition!

While I do use various kinds of hay bags, I have to say that the Nibblenets from are some of my favorites. I purchased my first set of Nibblenets about ten years ago. I still use some of those bags! And the bags that I have purchased more recently have been just as well made as the ones I bought many years ago. The quality remains consistent.

Nibblenets are tuff and sturdy! Really well made. I use my bags on a daily basis, hung outside around the run-in shed where they are exposed to horses teeth, rain, wind, sub-zero temperatures in the Winter and humid 100 degree days in the Summer.

They come in different sizes, colors and configurations. They are not cheap to purchase, but considering how long they last, you definitely get your money’s worth.

Nibblenets are also easy to clean. I periodically rinse with water and scrub with a plastic kitchen-type scrub brush. The webbing can absorb smells so I sometimes leave them out in the sun on a warm dry, day to try to kill those odors.

In addition to the bags themselves, I love the straps that come with them. The straps are really well made; I have not had one break on me yet. They are made with snaps on both ends that make them really versatile. I like being able to adjust the hanging height of the bags as I’ve always had horses of different sizes (I prefer to hang the bags as low as I feel I can safely do so without risking a horse potentially hooking a hoof over the straps if they should rear or kick).

Here is a flash-back photo from 2012 featuring my pony, Pumpkin Spice, and one of the smaller sized Nibblenets. In addition to using my Nibblenets at home, I find them wonderful for traveling. Easy to fill and easy to hang with the straps both inside & outside a trailer.

While I am sure my horses prefer to eat their hay without it being hidden behind netting, I like being able to slow down their rate of eating and keep the hay clean. I do typically feed one meal a day on the ground, but the other two meals are presented in hay bags. I wonder about how eating from a hay bag affects a horse’s body. Since they are designed to eat with the neck extended down and head on the ground, you have to wonder if there are any long term physical effects from eating in a different posture? I keep my eye out for any new research on this matter. I have not personally noted any negative effects, but just like with our own bodies, I am not sure we really realize the long-term effects of certain repetitive activities until many years down the road.

New hay bag users should note that there can be a learning curve with these bags. Of the six horses I have owned and the nine foster horses I have kept, all of them learned to use the nibblenets without issue. But when I first introduce hay bags, I always help the horse by pulling little tufts of hay out of the bag and leaving them there for the horse to find. Otherwise, learning to use the bag can be an exercise in frustration.

I remember the first time I used the Nibblenets with the three horses I had when I first purchased the bags. My horses Bear and Fate figured the bags out very quickly. But my horse, Blue, couldn’t get any hay out at first. I later found him just standing in front of the hay bag with his head hanging low. He looked miserable! So lesson learned- I pull out tufts for the first few days until I see that they have the hang of it. The size of the holes will make a difference too. The larger holes will make it easier for a horse to access the hay at first. You may find over time though that you need to move to a bag with smaller holes. Now that Bear has been eating from the hay bags for about ten years, he needs smaller holes than what he started off with to really slow down the rate of feeding. But even the larger size holes continue to provide a slower-feeding hay experience than he’d get from hay on the ground.

So thanks again to Alli from the Hear Horse and Hoof Blog at for giving me impetus to complete this post.

If you are interested in the Nibblenets, go to to learn more and place an order.

Got Fly Mask?

It has been an unusually cool Spring in my neck of the woods. I have only had the fly masks on the horses a handful of times so far this year. But the hot and humid weather that attracts bugs is likely just around the corner.

If you are searching for a new fly mask this year, you might enjoy checking out the Greater British Equinery of Indiana at They sell fly masks made by the UK company, Harrison Howard.

What first attracted me to this brand is the sheer material. So many fly masks sport materials, colors or patterns that I suspect block a horse’s vision. These Harrison Howard masks, especially the lighter color ones, are wonderfully sheer while still claiming to block 60 percent of UV rays. Despite the high visibility factor, the material is strong. I have masks that are almost a year old and have no tears yet. The eye darts work to keep the material off the eyes and the padding around the ears and nose-band seems like a comfortable touch.

These fly masks stay on quite well even during a roll! My horses have only ditched their masks maybe once or twice in a year’s time. Here Shiloh sports a fly mask entering its second season of wear and still in great condition.

I also really like that the masks come in different sizes and in various configurations (with ears and without, short and long). My horse, Bear, is well-fitted in the Cob size, while Shiloh takes the Large horse size. I have often gotten the sense that Bear does not like his ears covered so I generally have him wear the mask without ears (and wipe or roll-on fly spray on the ears). Shiloh seems fine with his ears covered so he gets the full one.

The masks come in a vacuumed-type bag so the mask is stored flat in the package. I suggest letting the mask “fluff up” overnight by taking it out of the bag. Hang it up with the eye darts pushed out so that the mask will be in the proper form before you place it on the horse the next day. If you are having trouble getting the eye darts to stand up, you can try applying clothes pins to help set the form while the mask hangs overnight.

The masks are easy to clean either by hand or in the washer (in a mesh bag so it doesn’t get caught on the agitator).

Last year, I met Debbie of the Greater British Equinery of Indiana at a horse show. She was so friendly, and I really enjoyed talking with her. Her website is attractive and easy to use. My orders shipped out promptly.

Check out these fly masks and many more horse items sold through the Greater British Equinery of Indiana at!

PS- This post is unsolicited and uncompensated. 🙂

Equine Inspired Poetry-“Spring Horseback Ride”

After publishing my first poem on Medium entitled “The Horse”, I expected to leave poetry in the dust.

Much to my surprise, I had another in me to write. I felt inspired by a recent ride with my horse, Shiloh. The weather was spectacular. Shiloh and I communicated especially well. All my senses on fire as I soaked in the sensory experience of the ride and the weather.

I post the link to the poem today as a shout out to Shiloh on his 17th birthday. I’ll have to go read it to him in the pasture. 🙂

If you would like to read my latest poetry installment, go to Medium’s website to read “Spring Horseback Ride” at If you aren’t already a Medium member/that link doesn’t work try–writer. postDistributed&sk=bd18a9073233a4783906f56e07f4665e.

The Rehabilitation of Regal

Photo of Regal taken from Horse Nation website where his stories appear

If you have read my post about fostering horses for a local rescue, it will come as no surprise that animal rescue stories capture my attention. Reading about an animal leaving a bad situation and moving on to lead a normal life is refreshing and inspiring to me.

Of course, every journey does not have a happy ending. Sometimes in rescue, as in the rest of life, there are unfortunate occurrences. Some things can’t be fixed.

In those cases, I still marvel at what fortune the animal had to find good care towards the end. Even if that good care was not enough to sustain life, I ponder what relief the animal experienced in the midst of his or her suffering after rescue.

What must that be like to go from thirsty and starving to receiving adequate water and food? What must that be like to go from hurting to receiving pain relief? What must that be like to be forgotten and later have someone notice your needs? What must that be like to know indifference and later to experience healing intentions from your caretakers?

I have been reading on the website Horse Nation the ongoing story of the rehabilitation of a horse named Regal. So far, there are three installments posted about Regal’s story. This horse is far from out of the woods, but I am rooting for Regal and his caretakers.

Even if his story does not have a happy ending, I would still say this is a lucky horse. If you would like to read about Regal’s ongoing rehabilitation, please visit the following:

The Rehabilitation of Regal: The Beginning

The Rehabilitation of Regal: 21 Day Update

The Rehabilitation of Regal: Home Sweet Home

Page From The Horse Trailer Diaries- May 9th, 2020

Today I pulled my horse trailer out of the barn where it sat over Winter. I dusted it off, drove it around the country block, checked the tire air-pressure and looked the trailer over for damage. I also brought out Bear and Shiloh for a little test-load. I hadn’t trailed them anywhere since last Fall. I wanted to see if the horses acted as rusty as the trailer looked.

Speaking of the rust, my plan was to have the trailer painted last year, but I had a difficult time finding someone in my price range who could fit me into their schedule. Long story short, the trailer went into Winter storage sadly unpainted.

I make sure to get the trailer inspected and the wheel-bearings packed on a yearly basis in an effort to keep the trailer road worthy. I would also like to be able to look at the trailer without wincing, ya know?

I noramlly do the first load of the year on a day where I don’t plan to travel. Takes the pressure off. It allows me to make mistakes with less risk to the horses as I get used to the whole process again.

I ended up parking the trailer further up the driveway than I usually do and decided to lead both horses up to the trailer at the same time. Shiloh on my right and Bear on my left. As we strolled, I noticed that the truck was really shiny with the sun glinting off the chrome in a funny way.

About that time, I saw out of the side of my right eye that Shiloh looked a bit alarmed as we approached the truck. I decided to continue confidently walking while hoping that both horses would follow in lockstep. They kept up with me as we began to make the final turn towards the back of the trailer.

Somewhere through the turn, someone spooked. I was not stepped on or bumped in the process, but Bear ended up on the right side of Shiloh instead of the left side of me. Bear’s extra-long lead rope now draped over Shiloh’s back, and I surprisingly still had hold of both horses. The scene looked like we had played a round of double-Dutch jump rope. After rearranging the horses, I gave them a moment to breath, lick and chew, sniff noses and enjoy a couple of forehead rubs. Then I pointed towards the trailer and in they went. Bear first. Shiloh second.

I know from past experience that it is a pleasure to travel with your horses so frequently that you develop a well-timed routine. It takes the anxiety level way down for horse and human alike. So much easier than when you only travel every once in awhile. With a frequently executed routine, everyone knows their place. Everyone knows the order. Everyone knows the idea is to go as a little group and return as a little group. The process feels safe and familiar. Camaraderie builds. I imagine that is what it must feel like to travel in a herd.

I was pleased to see that both horses loaded up easily. So pleased, in fact, that I forgot to put up either butt bar. INSERT NOTE TO SELF. You don’t really want two horses deciding to back out at the same time. Think bumper-car potential. Fortunately in this case, Bear and Shiloh each backed out safely and separately.

So to sum up May 9th, 2020. . . Horses loaded easily. Horses unloaded easily. Horses safe and in one piece. It made for a good day; something I hope the horses and I have the opportunity to build on as the year continues.

The trailer is rusted. I am rusty with the trailer loading details (put up the butt bars!). But today Bear and Shiloh proved well-oiled.

New Documentary Film: Lady Long Rider

Photo taken from Bernice End’s website at

Many of you have probably already heard of Bernice End and/or the Long Rider’s Guild. But did you know that there is now a new documentary about Bernice? Entitled “Lady Long Rider- How far one woman went to find herself- The Story of Bernice Ende”, it is a film by Wren Winfield and W+ E1 Productions.

I have not yet seen the documentary, but I got chills when I read the description.

From Bernice Ende’s post about the documentary, “Approaching her 50th birthday, Bernice Ende picked up the reins and rode south on a borrowed horse. Her plan was to visit her sister, a 2000-mile ride from Montana to New Mexico. She never imagined that facing the challenges of life alone on the road, would take her so much further…. In Lady Long Rider, Bernice shares the miles of insight she gained on the horseback ride that ultimately became a 15-year 30,000-mile journey of self discovery.”

Bernice notes in her blog post that she was surprised at how well the hour-long film captures the essence of her journey. To read more about the documentary go to

To purchase the documentary through the filmmaker, Wren Winfield, at W+E1 Productions go to

If you have not read Bernice Ende’s book yet, I would suggest you pick up a copy of “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback”. You can find it in most places where books are sold including directly from her website at At her website, you can also sign up to follow her blog.

Photo taken from Bernice End’s website at

Prepared to be inspired by the length, breadth and scope of Bernice Ende’s riding adventures!

Rolling Over

Do you like to watch horses roll? I find it amazing and amusing. Think how strong you have to be to be able to get up, get down and flip sides over your back when you are around 1,000 pounds. As I marvel as a horse’s physical prowess, I find the antics just plain fun to watch. All the wriggling, shaking, facial expressions, grunts and more.

In addition to the enjoyment factor, I like to watch my horses roll to help me assess their physical condition. For example, I was clued into Bear’s arthritis several years go when I saw him limping one time right after rising. Interestingly, when I first saw this behavior, I had not yet noticed a difference in his performance under saddle or elsewhere. I had no idea that he was struggling with the development of a hind-limb lameness until I saw him take those stilted steps after getting up. On a similar note, I had a pony named Pumpkin Spice who would roll, but not flip from side to side over his back. He would go down, wriggle around on one side, get up and then wriggle around on the other side. Turned out he had some back issues that improved with regular chiropractic work, and eventually allowed him to apparently roll over comfortably.

May 1st was a wonderful weather day where I live. Perfect for spending time with a horse. So I tacked up Shiloh and off we went for a little ride. I know that post-ride, Shiloh almost always likes to take a roll once he is untacked, rubbed down and released back to his own devices (with his fly mask on for bug protection). I had my phone handy so I could capture this rolling sequence shown below.

What do you like most about watching a horse roll?

Fun Idea From A Fellow Equine Blogger

I got the idea for this post from fellow equine blogger, Reese, and her Horses of the Ozark Hills blog at

Wouldn’t that be so cool to go trail riding in the Ozarks? I am jealous!

Reese recently designed a fun post about making horse & dog friendly treats at She encouraged her readers to try the recipe out for themselves. So I did.

Here is the recipe ingredients as featured on the Horses of the Ozark Hills blog:
2 cups quick oats
1 cup flour
1 cup shredded carrots
¾ cup apple sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup coconut oil

Here is my own version of the recipe based on what I already had in my pantry:
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup cinnamon apple sauce
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I bet honey would be delicious too)

*Optional ingredient is ground cinnamon used as a light dusting over the treat balls after baking.

Mix all ingredients into balls, place on baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Dust with cinnamon right after coming out of the oven.
Let cool an hour before placing in air-tight container.

I had fun making these treats. While they baked in the oven, the treats filled the kitchen with a delicious, wholesome aroma. More importantly, my horses both gave them the seal of approval.

And bonus points: I discovered that my horse, Bear, liked them so much that they acted as good “pill pockets” for his medication. Bear generally takes his two daily pills mixed into his pelleted ration balancer. Sometimes, though, he goes through periods where he manages to eat every single pellet and leaves the pills. During these times, I have to hide the pills inside something otherwise forbidden to him like a fig newton. Eventually, Bear will start eating his pills in his ration balancer again . . . until the next time that he doesn’t. I would guess these treats made here are lower in calories, sugar and preservatives than the fig newtons. They are easy to use with the pills too. I had no trouble gently inserting the pills in a treat ball, and the pills did not make the balls fall apart. I am so pleased to find this fig newton alternative. Thank you to Reese and her Horses of the Ozark Hills blog for the inspiration!

Treat as “equine pill pocket”

Don’t forget to stop by Reese’s Horses of the Ozark Hills blog at to check it out and follow along.

A final note here- If you would like to make treats as possible gifts to share with other horse owners, you could use a plastic food storage container with lid. Decorate it by taking a piece of horse themed wrapping paper or fabric, wrapping a ribbon around a rubber band and placing the paper/fabric over the top of the storage cup lid, securing it with the ribbon-wrapped paper band.