Horses and Music

Whenever I hear the word “horse” inside a song, it catches my attention. Of course, often the horse mentioned in song is used to represent something else entirely. Even folks who have never touched a horse often find powerful the imagery and emotion that horses conjure. The song isn’t really about a horse after all. While I do appreciate that type of artistry, I particularly like to listen to music written by horse people for horse people.

Enter the songwriter/singer, Templeton Thompson and her CD’s “Girls and Horses” and the “Songs From Seven Clinics”. Produced in 2006 and 2012 respectively, these CD’s are a well worn part of my music collection. Coming from the country music genre, Templeton has composed songs for famous artists like Reba McEntire and Jo Dee Messina.

If you followed Julie Goodnight around 2010 or so, you might recognize Templeton’s song “Cowgirl Creed” as the theme song to Goodnight’s Horse Master TV series. Likewise, if you watched the video series “7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman”, you will have heard “Songs From Seven Clinics.”

Much of the music of “Girls and Horses” as well as “Songs From Seven Clinics” draws parallels between life in and out of the saddle. From thoughtful to upbeat to tear jerking, the songs and instrumentals strike at our relationship with the horse. Some of my favorites are “Ride Before It Rains”, “Follow You Anywhere” and “A Horse That Can Fly”. My favorite sad song is “She Remembers Riding” about an elderly woman who still recalls the horse of her past even while she no longer recognizes her family. If I live long enough, I suspect that will be me. You can find Templeton’s music at http://www.templetonthompson.com. If you sign up for her email list, she will send you a free song download.

Singer Mary Ann Kennedy at http://www.maryannkennedy.com is another artist with a bunch of songs specifically about riding and horses. Her jaunty tune “Gotta Go Feed” is something like the sound track to my life. My favorite of hers is “The Rhythm of The Ride.” It is a fun song if you like to country swing-dance or ride a posting trot. “The rhythm of the ride. It’s a natural
high. Two hearts beat and four feet fly. We are moving as one. Hoof beats are the perfect drum. To the rhythm. The rhythm of the ride.”

I was heavy on the American country music with this post. I am sure readers know that with the presence of horses across time, place and history, equines are by no means unique to this style of music. There are a ton of other artists singing about them across different music genres, languages and time periods.

No matter our diverse tastes and preferences, we can find common ground with the horse. You may not prefer my music. I may not agree with your politics. Maybe we have different religious faiths. Our backgrounds and world views could be like night and day. Despite all that, I bet we could go for a ride together and have a smashing good time. I love that about our four-legged steeds.

What songs about horses stand out to you?

Focus on Two Good Things- Balancing Your Feelings When The Going Gets Rough With Your Horse

Here is a photo of my ponies Pumpkin Spice and Bear when we lived in Colorado. Definitely “two good things”. 🙂

Horses are incredible creatures. It is a marvelous thing to be in the presence of a horse. They manage to inspire all kinds of dreams in us without even trying.

If you spend enough time around horses, though, you are likely to eventually meet up with a large dose of reality. Maybe you get your foot stepped on or you fall off while riding. Could be that you have an embarrassing experience at the show grounds. Maybe you allow things to creep into your groundwork or riding that result in your horse’s behavior deteriorating. Whatever the case, your horse dreams have now become more like nightmares.

Some folks can brush off these kinds of incidents and move forward swimmingly. Others of us get stymied by difficult experiences with our horses. We know that approaching our horses with dread is not likely to result in a good experience, but we have a hard time taking our thoughts off of the negative. All we can think about is everything that is going wrong in our relationship. All the pain/fear/disappointment. Then we think about how all that negativity comes across to our horses who are so sensitive to our moods, vibes and body language. No wonder we get stuck sometimes.

If you struggle with staying positive in the midst of difficulty, here is an idea for resetting your outlook. Notice “two good things” (or more!) that happen during every ride, every groundwork session, every interaction. Do this even when things are not going well. Maybe ESPECIALLY when things are not going well. It is simplistic, I know. But I have been surprised at how practicing this regularly has helped me.

I gleaned the idea for noticing “two good things” from Tonya Johnston’s book Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse Book. If you struggle with the mental aspects of riding, I highly recommend this book. It is packed with ideas and specific strategies for coping with the fear and negativity that unfortunately creeps into many of our relationships with our horses.

I would also recommend a September 2020 blog post from The Horse Redeemer Blog entitled “Our Own Worst Critic: Blocking Out Negative Thoughts When Riding” at https://thehorseredeemer.com/block-negative-thoughts/. This post is an excellent read with many straightforward ideas on how to look for the good.

I hold a Master’s degree in Social Work. With that background, I am keenly aware of how the way that people think about things affects their feelings and their behavior. It is a topic of high interest to me. I like to read different takes on the subject from a variety of perspectives. Currently, I am reading a Christian faith-based book titled All The Feels: Discover why emotions are (mostly) awesome and how to untangle them when they’re not by Elizabeth Laing Thompson. Within the book, the author quotes the psychiatrist, Dr. David Burns, “…you can learn to change the way you think about things… when you do, you will often experience profound and lasting changes in your mood, outlook and productivity …” This quote jumped out at me as perhaps being behind the genius of practicing “looking for the good” in our horse life. When we make choices about what we focus on, we have a better chance of being more productive with our horses.

It is an interesting balance with our horses and our riding, isn’t it? On the one hand, there is the need to be aware of and realistic about our riding level, our horse’s athletic ability and our limits. We can easily get into trouble with our horses when we inflate our abilities or push our horses too far or refuse to seek help. On the other hand, it is helpful to challenge ourselves by setting goals. To seek improvement. To accept “what is” without judgment while also holding in our minds “what could be” as we stretch ourselves.

I find that actively looking for those “two good things” helps me strike a better balance than I might without that positive focus. Without purposely looking for and thinking about what is GOING WELL between my horse and me, I can easily suck all the joy out of the relationship by dwelling on the “not so swell” aspects. Life is too short and horses are too much fun for that.

So, what “two good things” happened between you and your horse today?

Book Review- Strands of Hope: How to grieve the loss of a horse by Susan Friedland

I took the above photo when four horses graced my backyard. From left to right is Pumpkin Spice, Bear, Fate and Blue.

If you have been reading The Backyard Horse Blog, you may recognize that my twenty-five year old gelding, Bear, is the only current living-member of that group. I am one of the millions of horse-keepers who knows something about the heartache of losing a horse.

Due to my experiences, I was compelled to read Strands of Hope- How to grieve the loss of a horse by Susan Friedland. You may recognize Susan from her successful equestrian blog, Saddle Seeks Horse. The death of Susan’s long-time horse, DC, anchors this book.

The story of the author’s path through grief is echoed by the book’s stories of other equestrians who also experienced the death of a horse. Readers will see that while no two journeys are exactly alike, there are common themes weaved between the varied stories. Readers will feel less alone in their own despair after reading the accounts of others.

“To have the trust of a 1,200-pound animal is an incredible feeling, and the relationship that develops from this faith in one another is hard to describe. And once that partner is gone, it’s quite simply devastating. It’s okay to grieve for a horse the way that you’d grieve for a longtime best friend.” – From “Strands of Hope: How to grieve the loss of a horse”.

I appreciate that the author also included a chapter on the grief associated with early retirement of a horse from riding. The chapter “Death of A Dream” shares one rider’s experience with that issue. Having retired a couple of horse earlier than I expected, the material included in that chapter resonated with me.

Strands of Hope is an organized read, chock full of suggestions and resources to support readers through their own healing. The book is gentle and tender while also practical and useful. For example, one of the exercises Susan suggests is writing a eulogy for your horse. She guides you through the process step by step. Composing written dedications to my horses after their deaths is something I myself found cathartic.

I submitted a five star review of Strands of Hope to Amazon and recommend this book as reading for all equestrians. If you would like to purchase a copy, you can buy it from Amazon or directly from the author’s website at https://saddleseekshorse.com/shop/. While the subject matter is sad, the book is ultimately hopeful, just as its title implies. Strands of Hope reminded me that good things can come out of a painful situation. It affirmed for me the truly special place in our hearts that we hold for horses.

Backing Up The Horse Trailer

I was reminded this week of a funny video clip. It is a one-minute commercial that I linked in a previous blog post (see https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/need-a-laugh-watch/). Of all the tricky things about driving a horse trailer, backing up is pretty high on the list.

I took my horses, Bear and Shiloh, on a field-trip this week to a local barn. I asked the barn owner if I could back up my trailer directly to the opening of their indoor arena.

Based on recent visits, Bear was proving sensitive to the new drive-way rocks that were put down in their parking lot. I figured Bear would be more comfortable backing off my trailer directly onto the soft arena footing rather than the rocks. That required me to turn left into the barn driveway and then back up from the driveway entrance to the indoor.

Fortunately, I had a much better experience backing up the trailer than the first driver did on the above-referenced video. I only had to make one big adjustment in the backing up process where I stopped and pulled forward to recalibrate.

As you will soon read, Bear apparently approved of this “rock avoidance” plan. After unloading, I typically hand Bear over to the very capable barn owner while I briefly lung Shiloh in the indoor and then mount at the block. All four of us then walk out the indoor, between the barns and onto the outdoor riding tracks. I continue my ride while the barn owner kindly deposits Bear in the outdoor roundpen that sits at the center of the two oval riding/driving tracks.

Bear’s sensitive hooves were apparently feeling well-enough that he decided to cut loose in the roundpen. He had a good tear and romp. Normally, I love to see my old horse kick-up his heels. When I am on Shiloh’s back? Not so much.

As any rider can surmise, Bear’s excitement level was not lost on Shiloh. Shiloh began what I assume would have turned into his own tear and romp by shaking his head and bouncing into a stiff, high-headed halt. Lucky me, I quickly “put the lid back on the pot” by doing some tight serpentines and changes of direction. Shiloh soon relaxed and let go of the cavorting idea.

From there we went on to have a productive ride. That outdoor track is a great place to practice Shiloh’s gait work. I don’t have a large expanse of solid footing at home so it is quite a treat for me to ride on the track.

I did abandon my plan to take photos while I rode though. It was a windy Fall day, and after our little incident, I thought best to keep my focus on my horse rather than my phone. I missed some really cool shots of his mane dancing off the right side of his neck and folding beautifully over the top and left side as the wind whipped around us. Guess you will just have to take my word for it.

If you have not already, be sure to view the above video. I don’t care how many times I watch it. I still laugh.

There Is No Path . . .

Quote From A Poem by Antonio Machado ( In Spanish )

“… caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar…”

And English Translation (Wikipedia’s version)-

“… wayfarer, there is no path,
you make the path as you walk.
As you walk you make the path,
and as you turn to glance behind
you see the trail that you never
shall return to tread again.”

Did I mention I used to speak Spanish and tutor Spanish? I have not had the opportunity to use my Spanish in many years. My current foreign-language abilities are rusty. Even so, I do enjoy sitting down on occasion and reading a book or magazine in Spanish. Catching a TV program in the language is fun too.

I am pretty sure I had read the above poem before in a literature class. It struck me with new meaning this time around. In my case, the poem got me to thinking that our relationships with our horses are paths that we forge one step at a time.

When we first meet a horse, there is no relationship. Over time, by walking together, we form the path. We shape the outlines and the contours with every interaction. When that relationship is over for whatever reason, there will never be another quite like it. An equally beautiful and bitter thought. All the more reason to tend to and appreciate the current paths we are on with our horses.

Master Plan For Cyber Monday: prepping for all that horse shopping :-)

Thanks to Rupixen.com for the use of this photo via Unsplash

I have to say that I am not much of a shopper. I mean, yes I shop. Having food, clothes, tools and accessories comes in handy for humans and critters alike after all. But I don’t usually find particular joy in accumulating stuff (the exception for me would be when shopping for items for a new horse- now THAT is fun). While I can’t say I am a minimalist, I certainly lean in that direction.

Even so, I have come to REALLY appreciate Cyber Monday for horse-related shopping. In my world, the price of everything keeps going up but income doesn’t. Cyber Monday is one of the few times in a year that I can make either a large purchase or a bunch of smaller purchases without stressing IF I do some pre-planning.

At the start of each year, I keep a list of the things that I feel I need to replace or buy for the first time. If I can do without something until Cyber Monday rolls around, I will do that. In the mean time, I put money aside specifically for Cyber Monday shopping.

There is something strangely satisfying about placing instant gratification aside and instead slowly watching my Cyber Monday money-pile grow. Even $5 or $10 at a time. It all adds up.

There are some seriously good deals to be had during Cyber Monday and the surrounding shopping days online. Steep discounts. BOGO offers. Free gifts with purchase. Handy gift cards offers like “buy $100 worth of product and get a free $25 gift card for future use”. It is fun to compare deals and see who has what sales/offers.

So if you have some room in your budget to save, you might want to join me in preparing for your own Cyber Monday shopping. Remember, the date is Monday, November 30th, 2020!

Read “Horse Illustrated” Lately?

If you haven’t checked out the magazine “Horse Illustrated”, you might want to give it a look.

As a subscriber for many years, I have generally found it to be a meat and potatoes kind of magazine with solid, basic horse care and riding articles. If you are looking for hyper discipline-specific or detailed “how to” features, this might not be the magazine for you. For your average horse person, though, I find Horse Illustrated really hits the spot.

I especially like the more recent changes to the magazine. I notice increasing emphasis on features pertaining to horse rescue and adoption, drawing readers attention to people and programs that support horses in transition.

Another more recent addition is their monthly article “Vet Adventures” by veterinarian, Courtney S. Diehl. Her writing is always insightful and usually infused with a good dose of humor (on a related note, check out Dr. Diehl’s book “Horse Vet: Chronicles of a Mobile Veterinarian”. I really enjoy reading books written by vets about their work, but I sometimes cringe too, wondering if I will end up in someone’s book someday as the featured “bad/difficult/uninformed client” example that inevitably appears!).

Like most current magazines, Horse Illustrated hosts extra offerings online including more articles and videos. But unlike many current horse magazines that now only publish bimonthly/quarterly, they still print monthly.

The Horse Illustrated October 2020 issue is chock full of great articles that I found particularly relevant to my own interests. Highlights include:

Voice Recognition– What does your horse think when he hears your voice?

Shining A Light– Two young Black equestrians started a podcast to help create access to the horse industry.

The Road Less Traveled– Some equestrian authors are choosing the self-publishing option.

Good Grief– How it’s possible to move from pain to acceptance after losing a horse.

Second Career Recognition– The Thoroughbred Incentive Program seeks to celebrate racehorses- and their riders- in every way possible.

Special Book issue- What Horses Really Want- Is your horse “being bad” or acting like a partner?

The Retiree’s Workout Regimen– Advice from a vet on creating a gentle exercise program for the unrideable senior horse.

Plus English and Western riding exercise suggestions, an article about an equine-assisted program for female veterans, a breed feature and more!

As we head into Fall and later the holiday season, watch for subscription deals that are typically offered this time of year both for yourself and your horse-loving friends and family.

In the mean time, check out the magazine, buy individual issues or sign up to subscribe at http://www.horseillustrated.com.

Enter The Northwest Horse Source Senior Horse Essay Contest!

I know I am not the only person out there who likes to write about their horses, especially their senior horses. If you like writing, photography and entering contests, this opportunity might be for you.

The magazine Northwest Horse Source recently announced the guidelines for its 2020 Senior Horse Essay Contest. This is an annual contest, but each year’s parameters are a little different.

Photo taken from the Northwest Horse Source website

From the Northwest Horse Source website, “Share the story & photos of what it’s been like for you and your senior horse during the pandemic for a chance to win a gift basket from LMF Feeds worth $150! The winning story will also be featured in the December 2020 issue of Northwest Horse . . . During COVID, has your senior horse been there for you in a special way? Has this unusual season given you and your senior horse more time to connect or a change of perspective? Send us a short essay and two photos on “What the Pandemic Has Meant for Me and My Senior Horse”. Entries will be judged on both story and photos. Prizes will be awarded for Youth Category (ages 12-17) and Adult Category (age 18+).”

Find more contest guidelines and entry information at https://www.nwhorsesource.com/enter-the-senior-horse-essay-contest-co-sponsored-by-lmf-feeds/.

Hurry! Entry deadline is October 15th, 2020!

Riding Through Fall

Fall is my favorite season. The cool, crisp air. The turning of leaves. Everything pumpkin spice.

Unfortunately, Fall also presents some challenges for me in riding my own backyard. My property is situated on flat ground without a lot of tree cover. Nothing blocks the strong winds that often pass through during the Fall season.

As any equestrian knows, wind can make your ride pretty interesting. Maybe your horse feels extra frisky. Maybe the wind keeps blowing dust in your eyes. Maybe it keeps blowing over your dressage cones. Maybe wind keeps re-arranging the obstacle course you hoped would stay standing.

Then there are the temperature fluctuations and eventual arrival of Winter like temperatures with lots of cloud cover. Makes for some cold rides. I rode in 45 degree weather without sun the other day. Burrr.

But for all the challenges of Fall riding, I hope to keep riding as much as I can. Winter isn’t far away. Without a covered outdoor arena or an indoor arena, I am pretty much done riding at home by the end of November if not sooner.

Generally, after stopping riding in November, I don’t start riding at home with any regularity again until around April. I feel sad about this every year. I think the related hashtag would be something like #begratefulforeveryride. I don’t want to take for granted any time I get in the saddle at home before Winter.

Here Shiloh and I ride at the end of September and during the start of Fall winds.

Attend A Free, Virtual Horse-Fair!

In a previous post at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/shiloh-and-i-make-our-virtual-horse-show-debut/, I detailed my first-time entry in an online horse show.

I had another kind of “online first” in 2020. I attended a virtual horse fair.

The Art of The Horseman online fair took place in late Summer at https://www.becauseofthehorse.net/. It offered access to dozens of online horse training and riding videos from a varied group of professionals- over seventy different presentations from some thirty plus professionals from different disciplines.

The Art of The Horseman offers free tickets to participate for a limited time (like 12 to 48 hours). If you want further access to the videos, they offer options at cost.

I chose the free option and did not pay for further access only due to budget issues. If money weren’t an object, I probably would purchase the lifetime access pass so I could take my time going through every video.

Photo taken from the Art of The Horseman website at http://www.becauseofthehorse.net.

To give you some examples, here are three of my favorite fair presenters:

Noah Tillman-Young– Noah operates his training business out of Grace Ranch in Texas USA. I watched a great video of his about trailer loading. I REALLY liked how calm and methodical he was about helping a reluctant horse load. The particular horse in the video presented very much like my Shiloh at the trailer. Not jumping around but not initially getting in the trailer either. I liked Tillman-Young’s video so much that I spent the better part of an afternoon going over his Steady Horse website and Youtube videos. You can see more of Noah Tillman-Young’s material at http://www.steadyhorse.com.

Jec Aristotle Ballou– Located in California USA, Jec is the author of horse books including 101 Dressage Exercises and 55 Corrective Exercises For Horses. I have used some of her material in formulating how I work with Shiloh as a re-started horse. In her books, she presents a lot of varied, interesting exercises at the walk which are perfect for Shiloh and me. The video I saw during the fair was her presentation about the horse’s back. She noted the importance of building not only a strong back but a FLEXIBLE back. This was something I hadn’t really thought about before. Jec Aristotle Ballou’s website is http://www.jecballou.com.

Josh Nichol– Josh hails from Alberta, Canada. The video of his that I saw discussed the rider’s shoulders. I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders. Any tension I am feeling results in my lifting my shoulders which lifts me out of the saddle. It is hard to use your seat when you are hovering over your horse. I also tend to drop my shoulders in turns/during lateral movements. So it is a problem for my riding in a lot of ways. Any time I see anything about shoulders and the use thereof in horsemanship, I am held in rapt attention. Visit Josh Nichol’s website at https://joshnichol.com/.

The next Art of The Horseman online horse fair is scheduled for December 7th and 8th, 2020.

Just like I did for the Summer fair, you can sign up at https://www.becauseofthehorse.net/ to receive a free ticket to the fair. The ticket will give you access to the training videos at certain times during the two days. You will then receive not only the free ticket but also email reminders about the start of the fair so you don’t miss it. You can later pay to have lifetime access to all the videos if you choose.

Definitely a great, free learning opportunity for any horse person with internet access!

Shiloh and I Make Our Virtual Horse Show Debut

Ever heard of online horse showing? I get the impression that virtual horse show participation increased in popularity this year due to COVID19.

The organization FOSH, Friends of Sound Horses, is in its third year of hosting the “Gaits Wide Open” virtual horse show in conjunction with the North American Western Dressage organization. FOSH shines light on abuse within the gaited horse industry and wants to promote more humane methods of training. You can learn more about FOSH at http://www.fosh.info. The website for North American Western Dressage is https://www.northamericanwesterndressage.com/.

I am aware that some traditional dressage riders blanch at the thought of western dressage competition and even more so at the gaited horse. On the other hand, basic dressage principles can be used by any rider/discipline to improve a horse’s way of going. It is in that spirit that I decided to participate.

Shiloh, as an older restarted horse, definitely has some issues with movement. I, as an older re-rider, certainly have plenty of issues of my own. Neither of us qualify as what I’d call naturally “good movers”. We are evenly matched in that way. We may always look a bit goofy in how we go, but that is no reason to avoid trying to improve. In the two years I have had Shiloh, I have tried to incorporate my own limited understanding of basic dressage principals into my riding.

To make entering a virtual show as simple as possible, the “Gaits Wide Open” shows offers a “walk only” test. Yes, you read that right. My first reaction when I read about it was to laugh and look for the “mount your horse and just stand there” test.

But you know what? The “walk only” test is perfect for where Shiloh and I are at. His gaiting undersaddle is improving but still not super consistent. We practice cantering on the lunge but I don’t feel he is balanced enough to do it under saddle yet (at least not with ME in the saddle). A walk test we can actually do.

The walk test incorporates the working walk, free walk, halt, straight lines, turns and circles. When you have a horse like Shiloh that finds doing a four beat walk difficult, walking in a straight line difficult, stopping without putting his head up in the air difficult, bending in the direction of a turn difficult, you might find that a walk only test is plenty to tackle. Viewing the video of my own walk test was like watching paint dry, but it was surprisingly challenging to ride.

Practicing the basic elements reminded me how far Shiloh and I have come. Shiloh is naturally a quiet and good natured horse, but when I first started riding him, he kind of rode like a zombie.

He was so out of physical shape, resulting in in a heavy, crooked and super pacey way of moving. He couldn’t walk over a single ground pole without stumbling over it. He would walk right through my halt aids, completely tuning me out. I was really never sure when he would actually stop.

If I would get him halted and ask him to walk again, I couldn’t get him to walk straight. I would ask him to walk forward, say heading North, and he’d step out immediately to the left or right, sending us due West or East. He would toss his head at any pick up on the reins, even in bitless bridles. And he was sooo slooowww. I felt like we were always riding through a big vat of molasses.

Most of those issues have thankfully improved as we continue to work on the very basics.

I had wanted to enter the Gaits Wide Open virtual show last Fall but couldn’t manage to coordinate a video-recording session before the start of Winter. With my husband now home, I have a ready photographer at hand. I finally completed my video and submitted it last week.

It was actually a bit of a production to get the video done. Without my own arena, I struggled to find a big enough flat space around my acreage without divots, holes, slopes, etc …. to space out the cones that formed a make-shift dressage arena.

The filming process contained multiple bloopers including camera malfunctions, dark skies that cast me in shadows during sections of the test, and pilot error like when I stopped Shiloh on the outside of a cone, putting his nose into an adjacent bush that he used as a snacking opportunity.

We ended up scrapping the first day’s attempts at filming and came back to do it all over again on a second day in a different location that didn’t cast shadows and was devoid of shrubbery.

I should get my test results sometime in October. I feel like the test that I submitted is pretty representative of our average ride, including things we do well and many of our trouble spots. I am not so much interested in my placing against other competitors but rather in seeing the movement scores and judge’s comments.

I envy the detailed feedback that dressage competitors receive through individualized, written scores and comments for each element of a test. Other horse show placings can sometimes feel random. With dressage tests, you know what the judge really thought of your ride. I hope to use the test feedback I receive to tweak and focus my riding.

This week, I printed out one of the “two-gait” dressage patterns so we can start adding some foxtrotting into a pattern. Shiloh and I may not be ready to submit a two-gait test for judging before the end of the year, but it gives us a goal to aim towards.

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of your own participation in a virtual horse show, check out this article from Horse Illustrated at https://www.horseillustrated.com/virtual-horse-shows. It contains descriptions of various reasons/ways people compete online as well as a great list of related links.

What Are Your Favorite Cordless Clippers?

I have a Wahl corded clipper that is still working just fine after almost twenty years of use. I probably would have stuck with it and never bought a cordless clipper if not for my barn electricity issue.

Sometime before the year 2010, the electricity in my barn area stopped working. After consulting with a couple of electricians, we determined that fixing the issue would be prohibitively expensive.

While I can set up electric cords between my house and my barn area, I eventually decided that having a set of cordless clippers would be easier. I don’t do a lot of clipping, but I do regularly like to trim bridle paths so halters, bridles and grazing muzzles fit and stay on better. Being able to whip out the cordless clippers and quickly trim up a bridle path is preferable to dragging out and hooking up a series of extension cords from house to barn every time.

For eight happy years, I used an Andis rechargeable cordless clipper. Now the rechargeable battery will no longer charge. I contacted Andis, figuring that I could purchase a new battery. I was told that the clippers and the battery for my unit are no longer in production. Rats, I liked the weight and feel of these clippers as well as the adjustable blades.

So I thought I would turn to you, dear reader, for suggestions. What are your favorite cordless clippers and why do you like them?

Please let me know in the comments section. Cyber Monday isn’t too far away, and I might try to snag some cordless clippers when equestrian retailers have their sales. In the mean time, I will be getting an extra work out stringing up extension cords from house to barn whenever I want to clip.

Sand Pile Doubling As Equine Sleeping Bag and Trail Obstacle

Recently I ordered another pile of sand for my horses’ paddock. After Bear’s diagnoses of PPID and EMS as well as suspected hind-limb arthritis, I began a few years ago keeping him on a small section of pasture that essentially then became a semi-dry lot.

For ten plus years, Bear was healthy with 24/7 pasture access on a couple of acres or so. As he entered his twenties, his weight gain and a series of laminitic episodes put an end to that. He has needed restricted pasture access ever since.

When horses are in a larger area, they are naturally going to have more options about where to comfortably stand, lay down, find shade, etc . . . I know that to most people, a pasture is just a pasture, but if you really take the time to notice, you will see that different sections can vary considerably in how flat/smooth/cushy they are. Weather can makes a big difference too in how muddy and soft vs. dry and hard the ground becomes.

Bear, at 25, definitely has more aches and pains than when he was younger. So do I. As I age, I have become increasingly aware of how much the type of footing affects my pain level and how well I am able to move across a particular surface. Too much time spent standing or walking on concrete? You will see me limp. But a fairly level, dirt trail? I can hold up better. I can’t say for sure that aged or unsound horses have the same experience, but I suspect they do.

So in order to provide Bear some different options for standing/laying down, I like to periodically bring in some piles of different types of footing. Pea gravel and sand are my two favorite for outdoor areas. A fluffy bedding like wood shavings is my favorite for a run-in shed.

I suspect that providing a couple of different footing options is especially important for dry-lotted horses. More folks are having dry-lots designed with specialty footing. This is terrific, but some dry-lots I have walked on are quite hard. I wonder if the horses may end up with problems from only standing and laying on hard surfaces. I have also read that some people think that arthritic horses actually like laying on hard surfaces because it provides a hard surface for them to lift off of when they rise. I can see this logic, too, but in watching Bear out my back window as he has aged, I can say hands-down that he has so far preferred to lay on a cushioned surface.

Sand and pea gravel move over time of course (and sand gets blown away by the wind too). I had noticed that Bear’s “sand box” had become pretty flat this year. It was definitely time for a refill.

Before I rake and flatten the mound, I like to mark its arrival by using it as a trail obstacle of sorts. Some folks with fancy, built-in trail obstacle courses will have a big mound of some kind of footing permanently kept as one of their obstacles. This is my backyard version of that. I played around with riding Shiloh over it during a recent ride. I also asked Bear to walk over it at liberty and do some little stretches and bows on top.

Always use caution and discretion in trying something like this. Some horses may have trouble navigating deep, unstable footing. It can be physically difficult for some and just plain scary for others. With an unfamiliar horse, I will introduce something like this slowly. I start in-hand by walking around the edges and letting them explore the mound by sniffing and pawing before asking them to tread up/down/across.

Barn Hack- Cat Litter Containers As Water Storage While Traveling

Using cat-litter containers is a simple and practical barn hack that fits on the reduce-reuse-recycle continuum. I like to carry water when I travel with my horses for three reasons.

(1) I want to have water in case of trailer break down

If I have a trailer issue and am stuck on the side of the road, I want to have a way to offer water to my horses.

(2) I want to have water easily accessible when I arrive at my destination

Since I am typically alone when I travel, I like to make things as easy on myself. There have been several horse shows where I was parked out in a field somewhere, quite far from the barn water source. Having to walk from wherever my trailer is to wherever the water source is at my destination while hauling water buckets? Ugh. On an even worse note, have you ever gotten to a trail head only to realize that there is no water source? Not a problem if you have brought your own water.

(3) I want to reduce the likelihood of an equine infection transmission

My horse, Bear once came down with influenza after attending a small, local horse show. The other horse that I took to the show did not get sick. I suppose that Bear could
have caught an airborne bug, but the vet who diagnosed him surmised that Bear might have caught it from the water. I had used the show water source with attached hose when I filled up his water bucket.

The easiest way that I have found to transport water is to use a plastic cat-litter container with a handle because

(1) The containers are quite sturdy, last forever and are easy to handle even when full.

(2) You can stack them easily on top of each other if you want to take multiple containers of water.

(3) The lids snap on and prevent water from sloshing all over the inside of your trailer.

I usually fill up my horse’s water buckets with the container water, but the opening is also big enough that the horse can drink directly from the container while you hold it for him. Obviously, you want to clean it out thoroughly before first use. I clean it by hand and then run it through the dishwasher by itself to remove any litter residue/smell.

If you find that you get back from your travels without having used all the water that you brought with you, use it refill your horse’s home water buckets, help clean out the trailer or water the barn plants/flowers. I don’t usually leave the water in the container as I want to take fresh water with me for each trip. I also don’t want the water to freeze in the bucket during a cold snap.

If you don’t have cats yourself, ask a cat loving friend if you can have their cat litter container leftovers.

Have You Tried the Tiger’s Tongue Horse Groomer From Epona Products?

A brand-new Tiger’s Tongue on the right and, on the left, the Tiger’s Tongue I have been using since Spring.

Have you tried the Tiger’s Tongue from Epona Products? I got one of these in a gift box last year and finally brought it out to use towards the end of shedding season this Spring. I liked it so much that I bought a second one this Summer so I could have one in each of my horses’ grooming bins.

The Tiger’s Tongue comes in a compression package and then fluffs up to its full size once opened. Its something like a curry, a brush and a sponge all in one product.

While I still suspect that a curry and brush are always going to give you the best deep clean, I like the addition of the Tiger’s Tongue to my grooming tools. Its great for knocking the surface dust off their coats before you apply fly spray or for scrubbing off sweat marks after a ride. You can use it both dry or wet. It is not absorbent like a sponge, but it works pretty well for applying water or a cooling rinse/liniment from a bucket to the horse.

It is tough enough to take dried mud off the coat and yet soft enough to use on the face- just adjust the amount of pressure you use depending upon the job at hand. Bear, who has been known to be sensitive about certain grooming tools, readily accepts my using The Tiger’s Tongue all over, including face, lower legs and even between the hindquarter cheeks where horses often get sweaty on a hot day or after exercise. I also like the size of this product. If you have arthritic hands or otherwise have trouble gripping smaller grooming tools, you may find this more comfortable to hold than curries or brushes.

You should be aware that The Tiger’s Tongue is made of polyurethane. Some label polyurethane as more environmentally friendly than other plastics due to its durability, but it is still a plastic.

If you are looking to try something a little different to add to your grooming box, you might want to check out the Tiger’s Tongue. It retails for about $7 or so. I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth from the product already this year. You can learn more about the Tiger’s Tongue product from the manufacturer at http://www.eponaproducts.com.

The Highs and Lows of a Horseman’s Journey

This quote is from the AskAnnie Podcast Facebook page. Part of the online offerings from Horse and Rider Magazine, you can find the AskAnnie Podcast at https://horseandrider.com/podcasts/askannie.

While I don’t feel like this all the time, I certainly HAVE and no doubt WILL feel like this sometimes. What I like about this quote is that I think it succinctly communicates the highs and lows of a typical horseman’s journey as we tackle certain challenging experiences with our horses.

The lows can be so frustrating and the highs phenomenally exhilarating. I am not aiming for a roller coaster ride in my horse relationships, but I think every horse relationship I have ever had did contain an “element of roller coaster” at times.

The quote also makes me think that an easy, pleasant day with my horse is something to be treasured.

Maybe nothing terrible happens and maybe nothing spectacular happens, but there lingers this quiet feeling that all is silently right in my world.

I am relaxed and happy in my horse’s presence and hopefully my horse feels the same way in mine- more like floating down a river in an inner tube with my eyes closed than screaming my lungs out while bug eyed as I am on the down-hill swing of a rollercoaster.

Float on, my friends, float on!

What Horse Books Have You Read in 2020?

When you are not riding or otherwise with a horse, what is the next best thing?

Do you like to think about them, watch a horse-related video, listen to an equestrian audio book/podcast or read about horses? Or maybe talk to a friend about them?

For me, hands (or hooves!) down, the next best thing to being with a horse is equine-related reading.

Below are three quotes from three horse-books I read so far in 2020.

If you are interested in obtaining any of these books and your library doesn’t have them in their collection, you can order them at http://www.horseandriderbooks.com.

Once on their website, click on each book’s link to download a free sample of the book. I absolutely love this feature. Great way to get a sense of the book before I decide to spend my money. On a related note, I usually read a book, take copious notes and then resell the book online to further save money.

You could also inquire at your local library. I requested that the Linda Tellington-Jones book be obtained by my county library, and they actually added the book to their collection! Doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Great way to save a bit of cash and build your local library’s horse collection too.

The Ultimate Guide to Horses in Need: Care, Training, and Rehabilitation for Rescues, Adoptions, and Horses in Transition By Stacie G. Boswell, DVM, DACVS

“To be consistent and fair, you work to maintain an even keel, matter-of-fact approach. You are confident your horse can do what you ask, and he will develop confidence in himself as he progressively succeeds in the task set before him. You don’t exaggerate your excitement, nor act angry in your corrections to him. You are steady, with your emotions under control and balanced. It takes practice to achieve and maintain this balanced emotional state.”- Stacie G. Bosell, DVM, DACVS

What Horses Really Want: Unlocking the Secrets to Trust, Cooperation and Reliability By Lynn Acton

“Preparing for ordinary situations is not glamorous work. Success means events are boringly uneventful. We do not win ribbons, score points, or make the news. But good safe manners grounded in confidence helps horses make friends wherever they go. It helps them find and keep good homes, and raises their chances of a nice retirement when they can no longer work. Teaching them good manners is one of the kindest things we can do for our animals. It is a way of giving them our protection even when we are not with them.”- Lynn Acton

From Training and Retraining Horses The Tellington Way- Starting Right or Starting Over with Enlightened Methods and Hands-On Techniques By Linda Tellington-Jones

“Practice Positive Intention and Visualization: What does the ideal horse look like? How does he behave? How would the perfect connection between you feel? Imagine your horse exactly how you want him to be every day in all you do together. Do this even when you are not with your horse.”- Linda Tellington-Jones

Feel free to share in the comments section a favorite horse book that you have read in 2020. I am always looking for new reading material and would love to hear what book strikes a cord with you.

Severe Weather Preparation Resources From The Horse.Com

Thank you to Ralph Ravi Kayde on Unplash for use of this photo.

My heart goes out to folks whenever I hear in the news of severe weather events. The first thing I think about is how are the horse owners.

I once evacuated with two cats at the last minute ahead of a hurricane when I lived down South. I did not have horses of my own at that time. I still have no first-hand experience in equine evacuation.

I can tell you though that evacuating with the two cats, and choosing to leave behind a third semi-feral cat because I couldn’t catch him, is not an experience I want to repeat. I still recall that horrible, sinking feeling I had in the pit of my stomach as I drove away. Fortunately the left-behind cat did in fact survive the hurricane unscathed. I also remember my husband, young son, the two cats and I sleeping in our car in a parking lot for the first night.

We had no where else to go. We couldn’t find an open hotel room since we were one of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the same weather event. Having an evacuation plan might have saved us a lot of grief.

For anyone facing a potential evacuation now or for those of you who would like to make “what if” plans for future severe weather events, here is a link to ten resources on thehorse.com website at https://thehorse.com/148328/10-severe-weather-preparation-resources-on-thehorse-com/.

For me, an evacuation plan is kind of like an emergency-aid kit. You want to have one, but you hope you never have to use it. If you do need to use it, you end up being very glad that you made the effort to have it on hand.

Thought For The Day- How to Say “Horse” in Different Languages.

Thank you for the use of this photo by Chema Photo as seen on Unsplash

I ran across a website that lists the word for “horse” in many foreign languages at https://www.indifferentlanguages.com/words/horse#region-5.

It is not an exhaustive list, but it is still an interesting read with about 80 languages featured.

Just think, there is someone out there on the other side of the world who is riding a horse right now.

By almost every measure, this person and you are different in almost every way.

Yet if you met each other, you’d be able to bond over your appreciation of the horse.

How cool is that?

Obstacle Idea For Practicing the Back Up, Turn on Forehand and Hindquarters

This is one of my favorite obstacle ideas that is simple to set up yet challenging to execute well. It is a great exercise for Shiloh and me, especially as the back up and turn on the hindquarters are difficult for him.

As with many other things, Shiloh came to me already knowing how to back up, sidepass, and do the turn on the forehand and hindquarters.

But he was quite rusty and tended to rush, throw his head in the air, muddle about, etc . . . He still struggles to maintain a rounder frame during the maneuvers, having a tendency to push down through the shoulders and raise his neck rather than relaxing and lengthening through the back.

I get the distinct impression it is actually physically difficult for him to relax and lengthen those top line muscles while moving undersaddle. I am hoping that the more I can encourage him to do it that it will occur to him that he can actually move with more fluidity than when he is stiff as a board.

Here are my favorite aspects of this particular obstacle set up:

-Only requires four ground poles
-Backing through the poles gives both horse and rider a little more structure to encourage a straighter back up than might be achieved without them
-Only requires one or two steps of turn on the forehand and hindquarters (great for practicing the maneuvers without requiring a full turn around)

I play around with the spacing of the poles, both between each set of parallel poles AND between the two sets themselves. I don’t want my horse to have to back too far between the two sets but yet I want enough room for us to complete the turn on the forehand and the turn on the hindquarters.

If you can arrange for a ground person the first time you set up this exercise, that person can help move the poles around so you can quickly try different settings. The general rule of thumb is to start off with a wider set up and narrow it as you can execute the exercise with increasing precision.

The first time I did this exercise with Shiloh, it was a bit of a disaster. Three of the four poles were completely rearranged as we weaved side to side. We did a pretty clean 1/8 turn on the forehand but muddled through the 1/8 turn on the hindquarters. Now, we can generally do the exercise without disturbing the poles, with a more even two-beat back up and with pretty clean turns. Progress!

Bear’s Meeting With A Colorado Brand Inspector

Last week, I saw my husband for the first time in over a year! We weren’t separated because we wanted to be but rather for economic reasons. If you are wondering what this has to do with the title of this post, please “bare” with me for a minute while I give you some background. 🙂

Six years ago, my husband and I moved from the Midwest to Colorado (with horses and cats). My husband is from New Mexico. I had been wanting to move back there forever, but the closest job opportunity that came up was in Colorado so we grabbed it.

But after our Midwestern home did not sell, we made the choice for him to continue working in Colorado while I returned to the Midwest with the horses and cats to take care of our property. We figured we would eventually get the house sold. Then I would move back to Colorado.

In the interim, the industry he worked for shrunk dramatically. Every thought we had of my putting the property back up on the market and moving back out to Colorado became increasingly financially impractical, especially with the horses and cats in the mix.

We hung on year after year, thinking that things would eventually turn in our favor. Then his chronic health issues worsened. Then COVID19. Then he was laid off. So now he is back home with me, the horses and the cats.

I really don’t know how many marriages would survive such an adventure. It is not necessarily a path I’d recommend, but it did come with a lot of lessons. I learned something about grit, about weathering all kinds of uncertainty, about failing at what I had set out to do and yet continuing to live and grow and love.

I personally learned that I could care for just under five acres of property by myself while caring for our critters and a lengthy series of foster horses and cats. I learned that I didn’t let any of the drama of it all keep me from riding. Overall, it was a big lesson that life can still be rich and meaningful even if it doesn’t go according to plan. My goal is still to eventually move back out West again, but I need to figure out a new game plan.

Believe it or not, all that is a segue way into the title subject of this post.

In the course of cleaning house in preparation for my husband’s return, I came across Bear’s brand inspection paperwork.

In some Western States like Colorado, you can only prove legal ownernship in one of two ways. Either a horse owner officially registers a brand symbol with the State and the horse is branded with that symbol OR a State brand inspector issues an official identification card or certification from the State’s livestock board.

Bear didn’t come to me with a brand, and I did not want to brand him when we arrived in Colorado, but I DID want to have legal proof of ownership. We rented a horse property in Colorado so I could continue my backyard horse-keeping in our new State, but I anticipated having to move around a bit. Maybe boarding the horses before we actually purchased a property. With all the unknowns in our situation, I wanted to be sure I had legal proof that these horses I had just moved across the country really were mine.

So I scheduled an appointment with the local brand inspector to start the process. I thought it would mostly be handled online and the paperwork be digital just like many “proof of coggins test” paperwork is now. Turns out the process was very old-school (granted, this was back in 2014. Things may have changed by now. But even by 2014 I was getting digital coggins paperwork). The process didn’t even include photographs, which I had previously assumed would be included.

On the day of the appointment, a Colorado stock inspector came out to our rented property to eyeball me and the horses (at that time, my remaining horses were Bear and Pumpkin Spice). He verified that neither horse had a brand. He then filled out the paperwork by hand, noting identifying marks. I paid my money, he filled out the rest of the form, and he handed me back my official brand inspection paperwork for each horse, enclosed in a plastic sheet with parts of the State of Colorado seals visible at the bottom. There ends my “long and winding road” of a story.

So what about you? Do you have a horse with a brand of some kind or a horse who has been brand inspected?

Horse People and Power

I found this out there on the internet, credited to @iamnotanartist. I smiled with a knowing nod when I saw it.

By most measuring sticks, I am a conservative rider. I am cautious when it comes to being on the back of a horse, trying to set up my rides in the safest way possible. You know, “the safest way possible” considering that I am getting on a thousand pound prey animal.

I will say though that I do sometimes enjoy a good challenge, a fast ride or a new activity. Not all the time. Not every ride. No way.

BUT there’s a little daredevil somewhere inside me that pops out periodically. I suspect every rider has one of those, just in varying degrees. Otherwise I don’t think we’d ever consider something as challenging as climbing up on a horse’s back.

I won’t go looking for a romp on a horse. I kind of dread a romp on a horse. But I have to say that when things go sideways, as they sometimes invariably do, it IS a bit of a power rush if I am still on top of the horse after all is said and done.

Not power over the horse. But power over myself. For me, the rush is in the power to ride with and through the fear. The rush in knowing that my body reacted automatically in a way that resulted in a positive outcome. The rush in having beaten chance during a dicey moment.

It strikes me as the weirdest feeling ever for a conservative rider like me, but it exists nevertheless.

Bitted or Bitless?

“Does anyone agree on bits? No. Is riding bitless the perfect solution? No. I’ve been asked for some bitless information, and I’m not sure I can even do that without talking bits, too. Even then, it’s idle chatter if there is no horse in the conversation.” – From the book “Going Steady: More Relationship Advice From your Horse” by Anna Blake

Have you ever ridden bitless? I am not “anti-bit”, but you may have noticed that I ride my horse, Shiloh, in bitless bridles. I thought someone out there might be curious as to why I made this choice. Thus the topic of this post.

I have ridden with bits, currently have bits in my collection and no doubt will ride with bits again. At the same time, I am a big fan of riding a horse who is feeling comfortable. If a horse is telling me that they are not happy with carrying a bit, I am motivated to try an alternative.

I can read all about how great a particular bit (or any piece of equipment) is. But then I remember that the horse doesn’t read the same magazines and websites that I do. They react organically to what they feel, not what I think they should feel. I’ve been wrong plenty of times.

When I “test drove” Shiloh for the first time, I noticed that he spent most of the ride chewing the bit, a simple full-cheek snaffle. He had been turned out to pasture for the previous five years with only a handful of rides during that time. I figured his chewing was probably related to his feeling fuzzy about this whole riding thing. I surmised it would probably go away with time. On the other hand, I was also told that he had been kicked in the face as a foal and was left with a slightly off-set jaw. So I also wondered if there might be an anatomical reason for the fussiness.

Long story short and whatever the reason, as I began to ride Shiloh at home, he kept chewing, gaping and fussing. I got the distinct feeling from him that he was so distracted by the discomfort of the bit that he was having trouble paying attention to any of my cues. Changing bits didn’t help. Adjusting how high or low it sat in his mouth didn’t help. One link snaffle, two link snaffles, straight bar snaffle, curb bit, metal bit, rubber bit, plastic bit- all rejected.

Fortunately, I have ridden other horses in bitless bridles and am comfortable doing so. When I tried one on Shiloh, it became immediately apparent that bitless was the way to go with him. No fussing or mussing with his mouth or carrying his face at slightly funny angles. He felt more relaxed and less distracted under me. I WOULD still like to find a bit that he might carry comfortably just so we have that option, but two years on now, we continue to make progress together while riding bitless. So bitless we remain. At least for now.

I have seen several varieties of bitless bridles out there, but I only have two that I rotate. One is a Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle in the Western style in leather. It is a quality headstall that has stood up nicely over time (I think it is about seven years old now). While a lot of research seemed to go into the design of the bridle according to the marketing literature, I have read that others have criticized the bridle for hugging the head to closely and not providing enough release of the rein aids after rein pressure is applied. Having had the bridle for many years now, I have to agree that I can see why folks say that as compared to other designs. Even so, Shiloh and another horse I have had previously, seemed to go quite well in the bridle despite this apparent issue.

The other bitless bridle I use is a European design called the LG-Zaum (Zaum is the German word for bridle). I first saw it advertised on the well-known USA based blog HorseandMan. The “bridle” is a leather nose piece and curb strap/chain connected by two metal wheels (with or without shanks) that you can attach to many different kinds of headstalls. I currently use a Weaver Leather Stacy Westfall ProTack Browband Headstall that I bought five years ago from Valley Vet Supply and attached it to the bitless nosepiece. The LG-Zaum can be used several different ways depending upon where on the metal wheel you attach the reins in relation to the nose and jaw pieces, with the reins either on top of OR below the jaw piece. You can see the current configuration that I use in the photo below.

If you are interested in reading more about bitless bridle options, I noticed that the September 2020 issue of Horse Illustrated contains a pretty balanced article about the subject. The article interviews several professionals including Linda Tellington-Jones, Karen Rohlf and Luke Gingerich about the pros and cons of bitless riding. Digital copies of Horse Illustrated can be bought online. I also see that many Tractor Supply Stores carry Horse Illustrated as part of their magazine offerings if you prefer a hard copy.

Having started with an Anna Blake quote about bitless riding, I will leave you with one more of her thoughts on the subject. It is something I aspire to in my riding but am still learning to achieve.

“Instead of conversations about which bit is kinder, I would rather see people actually make the effort to learn kind rein contact with a good trainer. It’s the most subtle and challenging work a rider a rider can take on, learning to maintain a neutral seat and working in balance with a horse. Learning to quiet our instinct to control the last four inches of a horse’s nose and instead ride the entire horse, relaxed and forward. There is simply nothing more important.” – From the book “Going Steady: More Relationship Advice From your Horse” by Anna Blake

Gotta Love Those OTTB’s

With my pinto-colored gaited horses in my backyard, you may be surprised to know that I am a Thoroughbred fan.

As a child/pre-teen, I rode my fair share of Half-Thoroughbreds in huntseat and jumping lessons at various barns and camps. My aunt also bred her Appaloosa mare to a Thoroughbred stallion. The resulting foal went on to place at the World Appaloosa Show in Green Working Hunters under professional tutelage.

My most recent experience with a Thoroughbred took place when I fostered several years ago an aged TB gelding named Henry for the Indiana Horse Rescue. He had a lip tattoo that was unreadable at that point, but it certainly indicated he had a racing history of some sort. Tall (about 17 hands) and lanky, Henry presented as a gentle giant. I really enjoyed getting to know him for a brief time before he was adopted.

Here was OTTB foster horse, Henry, and my horse, Bear. You can see a bit of a height differential, yes?

I myself am short in stature, put together with short arms and short legs. While I am happy to ride pretty much any kind of horse (or mule or donkey!), I unfortunately don’t see myself buying/adopting a thoroughbred even though I admire them. Over the years, I discovered that I just feel a lot more comfortable and confident when mounted on a short, compact horse. Short and compact doesn’t describe most TB’s.

Even so, I enjoy reading information about various Thoroughbred makeover events and about the non-for-profit organizations like CANTER (https://www.canterusa.org/) and Friends of Ferdinand (https://friendsofferdinand.com/) that work in finding new homes for OTTB’s (off-the-track-thoroughbreds).

Eariler this Summer, I received a free copy of the Summer 2020 issue of Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine and was thrilled to read it. It was very informative, well-laid out with really interesting articles.

If there are any OTTB fans out there who haven’t seen this magazine, it is definitely worth a look. Find out more about the magazine or sign up to subscribe at https://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/join-ottb-magazine.

Ending August with More Products From The Great British Equinery

As we come towards the last days of August, I thought a final “Summer” themed post would be apt. Fall is my favorite time of year, and while a change of calendar does not necessarily correspond with cooler weather, the arrival of September gives me hope.

Where I live, this past week has been a bit of a scorcher with high temps and humidity. You can bet that I have been riding at dawn again.

Imagine my excitement to receive some more items from the Great British Equinery of Indiana to take my mind off of the heat. I noticed they were hosting a sale, so I decided to purchase another fly mask. I often buy seasonal items at the end of a season with a discount. My goal is usually to keep the items set aside until next year’s season. It is one way for me to keep a few new items on hand at prices more in keeping with my budget.

Along with the fly mask I ordered, Debbie with the Great British Equinery added a bag of the Hilton Herbs Herball treats for Bear and Shiloh to enjoy. See my horse’s review of the Hilton Herbs Herball treats here at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/bear-and-shiloh-give-the-hilton-herbs-herballs-a-five-star-rating/.

Also in the package was a product that I had not yet tried, Muscle Magic by Hilton Herbs.

Muscle Magic is a massage lotion of sorts with Aloe vera gel and Arnica among other ingredients. The description notes it is a warming gel, but I found it to be a neutral temperature product, leading me to think it would work equally well for hotter and colder climates. Debbie clued me in that I could add some to a bucket of water to make a rinse for the horses. She also noted that she likes to use it on herself to sooth body soreness hence her note implying that the Muscle Magic could be a gift to me as well as the horses. Fun!

Due to the heat of the week, the horses were ready for a bath. I began by giving them their regular “at liberty” shower. Then I brought out a small bucket of water with an added couple of ounces or so of the Muscle Magic. I then sponged each horse down with the solution. Both horses curiously sniffed the bucket and stood quietly while I applied it to their shoulders, back and legs. They tend to exit the scene if they don’t care for something. So I figure their sticking around is the horses’ version of a five-star Muscle Magic review!

+Here Bear and Shiloh are sporting their 2019 Harrison Howard fly masks sold by Great British Equinery. The masks are still in great condition!

In fact, Bear apparently liked the Muscle Magic rinse so much that he tried to drink it after I put down the bucket. I had slipped under the fence to shut off the water spigot, only to see Bear’s nose sinking into the bucket! Now picture middle-aged me moving like Usain Bolt during an Olympic run to interrupt Bear’s slurping. Note to Bear: The Hilton Herbs Herballs are to ingest, NOT the Hilton Herbs Muscle Magic.

Later, after taking care of my steeds, I slathered my feet, legs, back, shoulders and neck down with the Muscle Magic. I like the smell of Arnica. I also like the feeling that it is a less intense product than say menthol which is an ingredient often found in muscle soreness solutions both for man and beast. I do like the menthol products, but I also like having the option of using a different ingredient to accomplish a similar end without the punch of the menthol.

***Please keep in mind that Muscle Magic is not specifically designed for human use. But since the lotion is, I assume, applied to the horse with human hands, I figure there is a reasonable chance that I could successfully use the product. Just wanted to be clear that I am choosing to use this product on myself at my own risk.***

Thank you so very much to Debbie with the Great British Equinery for providing The Backyard Horse Blog with products to test, review and enjoy! Bear and Shiloh would also send their thanks, but their mouths are stuffed full of the Hilton Herbs Herballs at the moment so they can’t speak. 🙂

Remember that Great British Equinery provides friendly service, fast shipping and great products. Check out their offerings at https://greatbritishequinery.com/. Right now on their website, it notes that first responders, military and veterans get a 10% discount. You can also find Great British Equinery on Facebook where their other sales are periodically announced.

Let’s Play Bingo

I call bingo with the line:

Swam with a horse- Competed at a show- Took a selfie with a horse- Have shared secrets with your horse- Have canceled plans to ride your horse instead.

How about you? With what line can YOU call bingo?

Sidenote here- I couldn’t find a named credit for the creator of this bingo card, but I know the card appeared on A Horse Box Facebook page at one point.

Barn Hack: Using Bed Sheet Cases to Organize

I am often taking stuff from my house to my barn for re-use. Kind of easy to do if your horses are in your backyard. But even if you board your horse(s) elsewhere, most household items can still be a simple car ride away from the barn.

One of my favorite items to bring to the barn is the zippered plastic cases that contain most brand-new bed sheet sets. These cases are just the right size to hold so many smaller barn items. They are perfect for organizing your tools and accessories and even larger items like halter and leap rope sets. The clear plastic makes it easy to see what you have put inside of it. The zipper is great for keeping out hay, dirt, dust. I can fit a surprising amount of stuff in these cases. And don’t forget organizing items for your horse trailer. If you have a teeny trailer like I do, you will appreciate the benefits of having your stuff separated, organized, easily accessible and protected. These bed sheet cases can help you with that.

Seriously, I like these cases so much, I think it is almost worth it to buy an entire new set of sheets just to get the case.

Here in this case pictured below, I have two bits, a curb strap, a set of bell boots, a clip chain, a set of leather lacing in brown and another in black plus two fold up emergency rain coats. The case isn’t even full yet!

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite household item that always seems to end up at the barn? Let me know in the comments section.

The Backyard Horse Blog Summer 2020 Contest Winner Announced

The first The Backyard Horse Blog contest for Summer 2020 has come to a close.

I drew the winning email last night. Congratulations to the winner J.H.!!!

As it turns out, J.H is international. Per the contest parameters, J.H asked that the prize box be awarded to the USA horse rescue Forever Morgans. This is a rescue with whom J.H has a personal connection. How cool is that, right?

I had not heard of Forever Morgans and am excited to learn about them. Instead of being a rescue with a central location, Forever Morgans works as a virtual network. Here is their description taken from their website, “Forever Morgans is a breed rescue made up of a virtual network of volunteers that helps Morgans in dire straits find new homes. We are a “virtual barn” with no facility. Our horse are in foster care all over the country. Forever Morgans works with other rescues, brokers, and individuals to identify horses in need or at risk, and then helps those horses find forever homes. Forever Morgans is committed to each horse they rescue for his or her lifetime. Forever Morgans Rescue is a 501(c)3 organization recognized by the IRS. Our non-profit federal tax identification number (EIN) is 45-4935830. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.” Check them out at http://www.forevermorgans.org/.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you may have picked up on the fact that I am a horse-rescue fan. It seems fitting to me that the contest winner end up being an organization that helps horses in need.

Finally, I want to say a big “THANK YOU VERY MUCH” to each and every person who subscribes to The Backyard Horse Blog. I appreciate your welcoming me into your email inbox and sharing some time with me and the backyard ponies. I will leave you with a video link to start the weekend at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/780741285392865505/. Banixx Horse and Pet Care posted a hysterical one minute video entitled “What happens when you give a horse a squeaky chicken?” Puts a smile on my face every time I watch.

A Foxtrotter Fox Trotting

August 13th marked my two-year anniversary with Shiloh. I was able to do a field-trip over to the local training/boarding/lesson barn to mark the occasion. The weather was a little on the hot and sunny side so I opted to ride in the indoor this visit.

Got some video footage and was pleasantly surprised to see that Shiloh does in fact fox trot. He is afterall a registered Missouri Foxtrotter, bred and born in Missouri. But horses don’t read their registration papers. Sometimes you get a Foxtrotter who can’t do a lick of fox trot. So breed or papers is no guarantee.

This was the first year that I suspected I was finally getting some fox trot from him rather than a pace or stepping pace. But without seeing footage, I wasn’t’ completely sure. In a previous post, I talked about how I would like to encourage him to use his body in a more balanced manner.

With the pace and stepping pace, he tends to move stiffly with his shoulders tamped down. He’s actually pretty comfortable to ride that way, pacing along smoothly, but I worry that will lead to unsoundness issues.

A gaited horse who is consistent in their gait is usually pretty easy to mark as doing a particular gait. But with those that aren’t as consistent, it becomes more difficult to determine. It was feeling to me like he was coming in and out of different gaits, including the fox trot, and now I have video proof thereof.

For those of you not familiar with the fox trtt, it is a “broken up” trot. From the Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) website, “The fox trot is a broken diagonal gait with a distinctive rhythm that is created by the horse moving its front foot a split second before its opposite rear foot.”

If that explanation is as clear as mud, here is another one from Lee Ziegler who wrote a fantastic book about gaited horses. Published back in 2005, “Easy-Gaited Horses: Gentle, Humane Methods for Training and Riding Gaited Pleasure Horses” is a book I highly recommend for any gaited-horse rider. These gait definitions are from Ziegler’s website at https://www.mofoxtrot.com/working-with-foxtrotters.html:

“The fox trot: In this diagonal easy gait, the diagonal pairs of hooves lift off and move forward together, but the front will hit noticeably before the hind of the pair. To see this, focus again on the front foot, then include the diagonal hind in your field of vision. As the legs move forward together they will be just slightly out of time with one another and the front hoof will set down just before the hind slides into place. If you look at the hooves on the side of the horse toward you, they will lift off and set down separately. The sound will be an uneven, 1-2–34, with the beats closest together coming from the set down of the diagonal hooves. You may hear it as ka-chunck, ka-chunck sound.”

Ziegler goes on to add that “In the fox trot the horse nods his head and neck up and down in time with the motion of his shoulders and the reach of his hind legs. His hind quarters will bob up and down in rhythm with his gait. He will seem to take a long, reaching step in front and a quicker, higher step in back, “breaking” (bending sharply) at the hock as his hind hoof hesitates before following the diagonal front to the ground. The horse may “cap” or disfigure his front track with his hind in this gait.”

Here is a final tid bit from Lee Ziegler, “This gait moves the rider front to back in the saddle with a definite “push-pull” motion. The hind quarters feel active, moving up and down in a kind of “stutter step”, and in some horses you can feel a pull from the shoulders in a rolling motion. There is never a sensation of a side to side sway in this gait.”

For contrast, here is Lee Ziegler’s explanation of the stepping pace, “In a stepping or broken pace the lateral hooves no longer set down at the same time, although they do appear to lift off the ground simultaneously. In this gait, the hind hoof hits just before the front on the same side. To see this, look at the hind hoof on the side toward you, then broaden your field of vision to include the front hoof on the same side. They will lift off together, but the hind will set down before the front. The sound will be an uneven 1-2–3-4, similar in beat to the fox trot, but this time the beats closest together will come from the set down of the lateral hooves . . . A horse in a stepping pace will usually swing his head from side to side with no bobbing motion of the croup. His body will stay relatively stable, with none of the up and down movement of the pace or trot. Again, a horse will usually overstep his front track by some distance in the stepping pace.

Below are some compare and contrast photos of Shiloh fox troting verses doing the stepping pace. My computer helped me to view the footage in slow mow and save still shots at various points in the action so I could really see how his legs were moving. It occurred to me that those bright red John Whitaker Training Bandages that I recently reviewed might have come in handy here. I could have put one on a front leg and another on an opposite hind leg to make a diagonal pair really stand out.

Below is a photo of the MFTHBA logo. You know how every breed/discipline has a certain “look” that they like to display in photos? This is it for the Foxtrotter. The illustration captures the moment of the fox trot that is particularly distinctive from other gaits. Check the photos of Shiloh underneath the logo to see if you can see a resemblance.

Now here below are some shots of Shiloh’s stepping pace caught in a moment where I have lost his focus on what we are doing. Can you see that his legs are now moving on the same side of his body, no longer in diagonal pairs and his shoulders are slung down with the head up and nose out?

We also got one 1/8th of a turn on the hindquarters on video clip. Here are a series of still shots from that event.

So that is how Shiloh and I spent our anniversary. His favorite part was after we got back home. He and Bear, both sweaty by that point, got a bath. Then they dried off while enjoying a hay snack.

Thank you to Shiloh for sticking it out with me these last couple of years. I hope we have more time to learn, grow and enjoy together.

Check out This HAY PILLOW Contest!

Photo taken from the HAY PILLOW website

Makers of the HAY PILLOW and Dr. Getty have teamed up to offer a contest for a free HAY PILLOW and a free book.

Enter the contest here at https://www.thehaypillow.com/blog/august-2020-hay-pillow-giveaway-enter-to-win by August 31st, 2020.

I have never used a HAY PILLOW, but I am a big fan of the Nibblenet hay bags that I have used for ten plus years. I would love to try a HAY PILLOW and see how it compares.
For a review of the Nibblenets, you can read my previous post at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/got-hay-bags/.

The free book that is being offered is a choice of a book written by Dr. Getty. I mentioned that I have used Dr. Getty’s information gleaned from a website article in making nutrition decisions about feeding my horses treats. You can read that previous post at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/what-do-you-share-with-your-horses/. I would love to get my hands on one of Dr. Getty’s books too.

On a related note, don’t forget about The Backyard Horse Blog’s Summer 2020 Contest for a box filled with horse-related items. Go to this post here at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/special-announcement-the-backyard-horse-blog-summer-2020-contest/ to read about how current email subscribers can earn additional entries into the contest by advertising it on their own blogs/social media sites. Hurry! The Backyard Horse Blog Summer 2020 Contest ends this Thursday, August 20th!

Equine Inspired Poetry- Horse Play on An August Morning

Below is my lastest horse-related poetry piece as published on the Medium website. I never tire of the sight of horses running and kicking up their heels!

HORSE PLAY ON AN AUGUST MORNING

Crisp morning air revealing hints of Autumn before heat of late Summer day

Pastured horses energized by the coolth

From a complete standstill, one charges off into a section of tall grass

The first laying down a path for his herdmates to follow

Hooves and hearts pounding, but I can only hear the hooves

A frenzy of movement as they glide over the ground

The first in line cannot contain himself

He bellows out a squeal, jumps up and forward through the air

Just as the two forelimbs reconnect with the earth, two hind limbs kick up and outward

I ponder how that must feel

What strength to leap your 1000 pound heft off the ground with the grace of a tiny ballerina!

The games continue like this until collective energy is spent and the quiet grazing resumes

Quiet grazing that will provide the fuel for the next romp through the tall grass

Win A Cowboy Magic Prize Pack via Horse and Rider Magazine

I found another contest to enter so thought I’d spread the word here. This contest is for a year’s supply of various Cowboy Magic products with three winners selected! What fun! Go to https://horseandrider.com/page/cowgirl-magic-giveaway. Last day to enter contest is August 31st, 2020.

I have used Cowboy Magic products off and on throughout my horse-keeping years. My favorite is the Cowboy Magic Concentrated Detangler and Shine in the 4 ounce size. I am currently working on the third year of use for the last 4 ounce size I purchased.

I don’t find the need to use it all that often, but when my horses do come up with tangles in their manes or sticks caught in their tails, I find that using this product helps smooth everything out without pulling out a bunch of hairs unnecessarily. Cowboy Magic has a really pleasant fragrance too. I also like that the product is marked as not tested on lab animals. Word to the wise, Chewy sells the 4 ounce detangler and shine. If you missed my previous post about how this online pet product company also sells horse stuff, go to https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/did-you-know-chewy-sells-horse-stuff/.

And speaking of contests, don’t forget about The Backyard Horse Blog’s Summer 2020 contest for a horse-related prize box! Remember that the blog’s email subscribers can earn additional entries into the contest by advertising the contest via their own blogs/social media sites. Refer to this link here for all the contest details at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/special-announcement-the-backyard-horse-blog-summer-2020-contest/! Remember, contest ends soon on 8/20/20.

The 100th Ride

Phew! It finally cooled off enough this week for some post-dawn rides. I kind of missed watching the sunrise from horseback during a scortching July, but what is life without a little variety, right?

For our second ride of the week, I decided to ditch the roundpen and spend most of our ride wandering around the barn area and out into the adjacent pasture. It is nice to do something other than go in circles sometimes. I am pretty sure Shiloh agrees.

This month marks two years since Shiloh came to live with Bear and me, and we just reached our 100th ride together. This 100th ride occurred on the exact calendar day I first met him and test-rode him back in 2018. Seems like we should be further along than that in the “number of rides” category, but it is what it is. Putting my self-criticism aside for a moment, I am very happy to have that number under our belt.

After Shiloh and I were done with one of our rides this week, Bear wandered up and apparently decided he’d like a little attention. For the most part, I think Bear is happy to be retired. Periodically though I get the sense that he misses the interaction encompassed by being a “working” horse. Not necessarily the riding exactly, but just the enjoyment of doing something together. I always thought he had fun with most of the obstacles I brought out, and he especially liked pushing around the big green horse-ball. Shiloh, for his part, is completely unimpressed with the ball. He shows no inclination whatsoever to mess with it. He is not afraid of it at all, but he completely lacks that draw towards the ball that Bear displayed.

Bear and I in 2015 as we gaited down the barn driveway while herding the horse ball. Looks like we bull-dozed over the tarp first . . . Weeeee. . . .
In contrast, Shiloh is like “meh” with the big green ball.

This time, Bear and I did a little freestyle play around the tire pedestal that is inside the horses’ paddock. Bear can still lift his legs for a “salute” and do a partial “bow” so he played around with doing that. At this stage in the game, I let him decide how long he wants to play, and he can wander off whenever he’d like to end the interaction.

These little sessions he requests never last very long, maybe 10 minutes or so, but I am always charmed when he asks me to play. He doesn’t do it very often either, maybe once every few months or so, but that makes it extra special. I must say I miss terribly riding him.

Hopefully if the weather stays more or less cool, I can start planning some more horse field- trips off the property before Winter hits. For some reason, it seems to me that this year is really zipping along, and I better get to it before it is over.

Northwest Horse Source Magazine- Now with Monthly Training Column by Anna Blake

I love to read magazines. If it is about horses, so much the better. In the last ten years, many magazines changed from a monthly to a quarterly format, went completely online or disappeared altogether. I used to subscribe to 12 different horse magazines, most of them arriving in my mail box monthly. Now, I have six subscriptions with only two of them arriving monthly. While I mourn the loss of those magazines (especially the ones no longer around like the Horse Journal and The Gaited Horse Magazine), I am thankful that they have not all disappeared completely.

One magazine that anyone can access for free online is the Northwest Horse Source Magazine. Based out of the State of Washington, it caters to equestrians who live in the Pacific Northwest, but its plethora of magazine articles are relevant to horse owners and riders no matter where they live.

I was pleased to see that starting in their July 2020 issue, they began having Anna Blake write their monthly training column. You may recall hearing her name in some of my previous posts including at https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/knowledge/ where I mentioned her blog “Relaxed and Forward” and her book Relaxed and Forward: Relationship Advice From Your Horse. I really enjoy learning from Anna Blake’s writings and look forward to having another source that features her material.

If you would like to check out the magazine with Anna Blake’s first column, you can view it for free through the link https://magazine.nwhorsesource.com/july-2020/#more-1360. You can read current and past issues online or download them to your computer to save for later. You can also check them out on Facebook or sign up via email to be notified when the next issue is released (usually the first of every month). Happy reading!

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 https://greatbritishequinery.com/!

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 https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/the-backyard-horse-blog/.

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 thebackyardhorseblog@gmail.com 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 https://greatbritishequinery.com/– 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 https://equuquismagazine.com/podcasts/beyond-the-saddle-podcast. 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 http://www.horseillustrated.com

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.

https://thehorse.com/113354/infographic-handling-hoof-abscesses/

https://thehorse.com/112929/infographic-signs-of-stress-in-horses/

https://thehorse.com/149029/infographic-equine-allergies/

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 https://mallorcajunocom.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/got-fly-mask/.

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 https://greatbritishequinery.com/!

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

Thank you Great British Equinery of Indiana at http://greatbritishequinery.com!

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 https://greatbritishequinery.com/.