Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What a Fino Weekend

Or part of a weekend I should say.

My friend J has been seizing the dream and applying to jobs all over the country.  She ended up being a finalist for a job in my state, so I did what any supportive friend does and told her that we should go barn shopping together.  So she lined up a few and we did the typical scouting out for boarding barn thing.

However, we also had attended a symposium in the past at a fancy Paso Fino barn and we had also wanted to ride one of them.  She went ahead and scheduled up some lessons and off we went.

I had a big (apparently big for a Paso Fino) grey gelding named Cris.  My friend had a very beautiful, more delicate black mare Jazmin. 

The instructor is big about working with the horse from the ground up.  Build a bond before getting in the saddle, lead the horse around the arena (and lead and lead) before mounting to work on extending and shortening the walk, and getting in synch with the horse there first.

We did eventually get into the saddle though.  Hurrah. 

The lesson I would summarize was a lot of equitation and body control influencing the horse's way of going.  I have such a mixed background in riding that I have finally reached a point where I realize that proper strength and equitation is actually there for a purpose.  My more recent dressage based lessons certainly came in handy in fino land.  My friend J has recently delved into the hunter world after doing the camp/western/reining thing, so it was a very different experience for her too.

Lots of opening and closing hip angle and breathing to compress and extend the gait.  The paso corto (the gait sort of equivalent to the trot, except it is lateral) can really get flying when asked.  Cris was perfectly responsive and a good judge of when I was doing things correctly.  Set him up and off we went.  It was enjoyable riding a horse where really my hands did very little work and the rest of my aids were the predominant force.  Something to strive for with the semi feral mare I think!  

Somehow I managed to get quite sweaty from the lesson which is a first for a lesson in cold October Wisconsin weather.  Cris was more than a little sweaty too, so we wandered around the arena for quite some time.

All in all, an enjoyable experience.  I am a big fan of new experiences across disciplines to try and widen my horizons.  The instructor (who hosts that symposium I mentioned) is also a fan of this.  That symposium we previously attended had Denny Emerson, Richard Shrake, Lynn Palm, and Gayle Lampe all working together to educate an audience and a rider across disciplines on ways to improve the riders and subsequently improve the horse.  Something that's right up my alley. 

It seems to easy a lot of times to say the horse needs fixing first, but the older I get, the less I am finding this is true. Hah, what nuggets of wisdom am I to find in the next few decades of riding horses! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Memory Monday: Why Balance Is Importance

Instead of "one time at band camp", it seems to progress to "one time...at summer camp..."

And this Monday, it's no different.  However, this memory was the day I realized that having good balance and a good seat was important.

See, I had subconsciously started to figure this out when I was younger and more stupid and willingly rode horses that needed some fine tuning.  Perhaps fine tuning is attributed too much to me as a riding, since it's implying I had some mad skills.  More like, I was the WD-40 that woke the horses up and asked them to please not try and be idiots on a daily basis.  Just please walk, trot, canter and go the direction you are asked with the proper number of hooves on the ground and in a period of suspension at the correct time.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So back to the story.

It was time to go round up the herd again.  Being horses, they eat a lot and there are lots of fields to send them out to graze upon.  Some are closer, some further.  The one involving the little Arab was a close field.  The one on this particular day: not so much.  It was pretty much the furthest point that one could go. 

However, the horse staff did get a little wiser.  If the fields were close, we would walk out on foot and catch a wiley steed which could be entertaining in forty-plus acres of woods at any point and time.  This location was so far that we had left some horses back in our home corral so we could saddle and ride out in the morning.  Saddles were also a new idea, but not a bad one considering we had chosen some "interesting" horses to leave behind, as it wasn't always fair to use the steady eddies.

I don't remember who I had originally rode out the night before, but it was a pretty reasonable horse.  My friend had chosen and rode out an off the track Thoroughbred.  I love them.  They are pretty cool, but understandably, can occasionally loose their marbles galloping in a large group until pretty well schooled.  This Thoroughbred was in the not-yet-well-schooled category.  Friend had saddled him up and on the way out, realized that this may be a bad idea. 

I try to be a nice person, so I offered to switch.  I reflected about 35 seconds later that may also be a bad idea.  After all, I had already had a major concussion earlier that summer.

Too late for second guessing oneself, right?

The group and I cruised on out to go find the herd of horses.  The saddle on my steed was a little uncomfortable and in typical lazy Semi Feral fashion, I hadn't bothered to adjust the stirrups.  Who the heck needs those.

The herd was eager to come in and pretty quick.  Some days, they move slower than oxen in Texas heat, but not that morning: unfortunately.

Steed and I spent a mile or two galloping mostly at a 45 degree angle to anything we were intending, exerting way too much effort for the task at hand.  I did find myself for once wondering why I didn't have stirrups.  Eh, just an afterthought.

At the end of the ride, I slid off the big gelding and realized something.  Somehow in the chaos of the morning, the cinch hadn't been knotted or done up properly.  I hadn't checked it when I got on because I had assumed original rider had and you know how these things go.  What I found was just a latigo run through a couple of times, giving the semblance of a cinch being on the saddle, but just barely.

It was the equivalent of one of those fancy belts on dresses actually serving a purpose. 

My next thought was how on earth was the saddle still on the horse?  We had galloped up and down a few hills, did a mile or two (or seven as I imagined in my overly active imagination), and not on an easy ride.  Someone else proudly exclaimed that it was the mystical term "Balance".

So, perhaps on that day, I found out why being balanced on a horse is important.  Of course, at that point I wasn't thinking beyond "Cool, I didn't get another concussion."

I also insist on trying to bring my own luck in these situations too. 

One more stepping stone on my path to someday being a good rider.  ;)  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pay It Forward

I'm sure plenty of people have seen that maudlin movie.  I certainly have.  And while it's easy to say I will pay it forward, especially as that holiday season creeps closer, it's even easier to forget.

But I had yet another reminder today that we should do that.  A champion of the Arabian horse breed passed away.  But what I will remember most is that no matter her troubles or how busy, if I dropped her a note she would get back to me.  If I had a question about how to try and connect a horse back to it's papers, she'd try and navigate and make a phone call to jump start the process.

When I posted a flower asking what the heck it was (and the verdict was: still don't know.  It wasn't an orchid though!), she carefully looked into all the pictures trying to help me figure it out.  All the while, she had her own battles, mudslinging, and more occurring.

I always felt she was willing to pay it forward and help others.

So I try and do the same.  And I will continue to try and do the same.  But, perhaps I will try harder to return those emails a little faster or respond to those simple situations a little quicker.  It's easy to me to get wrapped up in my personal bubble.

But why not try and take those five minutes to reevaluate the situation a little and see what can be done.

My good deed for the week: lending a blanket to a young gelding that needs a little extra in this cold Midwestern snap.  His owner spent a fortune trying to save his full brother and I can appreciate that those little cheeky horses grow like bad weeds and outfitting them in a wardrobe every few months is rather daunting.

So here we go, let's keep trying to pay it forward.  I have always appreciated the help that I've received, so when I am able, I'd like to do the same.

The flower we tried to diligently figure out what it was.  I hope it blooms again for you.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Things I Love About My Horses

Most horses have quirks which may be fun, annoying, dangerous, or endearing.

I was just reflecting tonight on a few things that I love about my horses.

The Mare

1. Loves to talk while waiting for her food.  She just starts and keeps chattering until she gets what she wants.
2. I love how she takes delicate bites of apples, carrots, etc.  She'll wait until I break the small dainty chunk off into her teeth.
3. How "showy" she is.  It's easy to just turn her loose and she puffs up and goes.  Makes it easy to take pictures, hah.  Can you tell I have enough of them?
4. How easy to tell how she is feeling.  She is pretty much an open book.
5.  I just like watching her trot.  Wee.
6. Her eyes.  She just has these big bug eyes.  

The Filly

1. She is a little obsessed with having her neck brushed and itched.  She just keeps leaning and I'm sure one day she will fall over.
2. How she will leave eating in the field to come over and say hello.
 3. She has little "kissy spots" on her lips.  I know, a physical characteristic again.  Call me shallow.
4. How calm she is at a show.  I suppose that's why she isn't such a lively halter horse.  She'd rather lick the walls than look exhuberant, but a good sign for my future show horse. ;)
5.  She likes to eat Peeps.  Awesome horse.  Anyone who eats Peeps is a winner in my book.
6. Her tail has like three colors.  I keep wondering if she will just pick one and stick with it.

Look at the awesome tail

Such adorable eyes 

So what do you love about your horses?  :) 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crack A Lackin'

It's amazing how a little horse therapy can help people feel better.

My work can be quite high stress and today was no exception.  I was incredibly frustrated and upset part of the day.  The only plus side was that I was able to leave "early" (after an 8 hour shift ;)   I usually work much longer) since the Semi Feral Mare had a chiropractic appointment scheduled. 

I rushed out, grabbed the mare and just a few minutes of brushing her and watching her enjoy her chiropractic appointment was all that I needed to lower my anxiety and stress.  The mare thoroughly enjoyed herself, licking and chewing.  She has a tendency to have some tension up in her poll especially on the left side, which shows up when we ride, so I was quite pleased to see her happily get adjusted, even if my pocket book was adjusted at the same time.

One happily adjusted mare

I had a few minutes left, so I drug the filly out too for a little time as well.  I convinced her to model her blanket for me.  ;)  Anything for a carrot or two.

And yes, I was lazy.  That was her mother's halter.  Can you tell?  She is such a shrimp she is still in a little pony sized halter. 

So all in all, a successful day.  No riding, but I am starting to feel a little less sore.  Maybe tomorrow.  :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Star Runner

This may be longer than a typical post and I'm sorry if so.  I haven't planned this out yet.

But it seems appropriate on Memory Monday to introduce another major character in my life, my sweet mare Star.

She was a gift my grandmother and father and I never had the chance to say thank you enough.  There's always something about your first horse.

But I learned a lot.  Growing up, I worked with a lot of horses with issues: buckers, bolters, rearing horses, herd bound, body sore, etc.  But I never usually had one that didn't know a lot, but was a gentle soul.  Star was that type.  She didn't do force, like many Arabians.  The more you forced, the harder she was going to hand it back to you.  I had unfortunately learned a little bit more of force with dealing with some thick headed horses and dealing with their vices.

I learned about introducing a horse to water crossings.  She just didn't know.  Patience won out and she became quite reliable about crossing water.  The photo above was her first introduction.

A short time later, she was quite reliable.

Like many teenaged girls, I liked to dress my horse up a little.  She wore plastic bags on her feet, a rain slicker and a helmet.  Safety first.

And I was able to keep learning.  We did a sanctioned trail trial, which was pretty cool.  I had never done one before and didn't know what to expect and it was my first time taking her out by myself.  It was hot, but we survived and we learned.

Unfortunately, I went to university in another state and wasn't able to bring her back with me.  It's always something I regret.  But at the same time, I know she was well cared for by my family.  

I went back on summer break and decided to do more typical things I thought would be fun like jumping.

And Star obliged.

Don't think she was push button, because she wasn't.  But she was always enough of a challenge to make me think a little, but not dangerous to play around with.

But unfortunately, I had to face reality at some point.  She had Degenerative Joint Disease in a knee that was affecting a hind hock.  Soundness was a concern at time. 

So I focused more time on just hanging out.  I decided one summer that I wanted to teach her to do a turn on the forehand.  Should be easy enough, but I didn't grow up on horses that knew lateral work.  My usual experience with horses while younger was trying to do variations of walk, trot, canter, and gallop with bareback in a large herd being the ultimate goal.  I was actually in college before I ever actually rode a horse that knew any kind of lateral work at all, so I was quite smitten with the idea of a turn on the forehand (or haunches, or leg yield, but I digress).

So turn on the forehand it was.

And so I diligently taught her how to do such a turn on the ground.  Then one day, I climbed aboard when she was feeling spry and gave it a go.  Much to my amazement the button actually worked.

I wish I could say there was an idyllic happy ending and she is in my backyard now hanging out.  But heartbreak and horses often go hand in hand.  I regret not being there, but I'd like to think she still knew of my love and kindness.  

So sometimes, it's just another lingering memory of a first horse.  A sweet horse to whom I owe much experience in lessons of compassion and horsemanship.

Thank you Star Runner

Saturday, October 19, 2013


One of my pet peeves is people that repost information without checking into it.  I agree that someone could easily share this, but to attibute it blindly to CSU just seems silly.

This is the result of a multi-year study done by CSU, using state of the art thermal detection equipment. Colorado State University is widely considered to be one of the top three equine veterinary schools in the country:

Blanketing horses is one of the worst things that you can do to a horse in the winter. Horses have the ability to loft and lower their coats to 17 different levels, so it's like exchanging 17 different thermal weights of blankets off and on them all day and night, depending on what they need- except that we don't know what they need as well as they do. Their 'self-blanketing' process works a little like 'chill bumps' do in our own skin. That's why long-haired horses may seem fluffier on some days than on others.

Only three things make the 'self-blanketing' process not work: blanketing, clipping, and wind. Not even snow or rain stops their own thermostats from doing the job. Also horses are in 'neutral' (meaning not using energy for either heating or cooling) when the air around them is between 26 and 38 degrees. Otherwise, they're using energy to control their temps. So- since they're cooling their bodies when the temp is over 38 degrees, they're having to use extra energy to cool themselves when blanketed in temperatures over that.

Any time a horse that is outside and has a long coat is shivering, it's because the horse has opted to shiver to warm itself, instead of using the option of moving. Moving generates a considerable amount of heat for a horse, but they sometimes stand and shiver while napping, etc. It does not mean that they need to be blanketed. However- a horse MUST have a way to get out of the wind in order for their 'self-blanketing' abilities to function fully.

It turns out that blanketing is done more for pleasing the human, than to fill a need of the horse. The horse blanket industry has done a great job of making us think that their product is a necessary part of good horsekeeping- when it is actually an item that is very seldom needed.

Another often unknown fact is that horses become dehydrated more frequently in the winter than in the summer. The horse feels less thirsty because they're not triggered by heat to drink more water, so the lack of appropriate intake often causes dehydration. A suggestion for this is to offer one or two buckets full of cool-to-tepid molasses-enhanced water per day. 50 lb. bags of crystalized molasses are available by order through feed stores (if they don't keep it on hand), and is easier to work with than wet [sticky] molasses. A 50 lb. bag of dry molasses costs under $20.00 and will last all winter for several horses. Molasses are high in iron, and make a good supplemental addition, in any case.

Another little known fact is that horses do not need more feed in the winter than in the summer. In the summer horses are using energy to cool themselves. In the winter they are using energy to warm themselves. Both efforts use similar amounts of energy. In fact, if horses have feed before them for more of the time during the winter, they are less likely to move about, which decreases one of their most efficient heating processes.

Now the issue that I have is that CSU hasn't done such a study.  I spent the morning crawling PubMed and the only blanket study I easily found was the different cuts and the amount of pressure they put on the withers.  FWIW--in movement, the V-Free type exerted the least amount of pressure while the traditional cut the most. 

When this crawled across my facebook yesterday (yet again), I corrected the poster, who was the Colorado Horse Council.  (S)He didn't seem amused by this.  That's fine.  State your opinion about blanketing, but don't wrap it up as research, when it's just that: an opinion.

Then again, ever the scientist, I have to disclose my conflict of interest.  I do blanket my horses.  They burn fewer calories this way, so less supplemental grain which my pocketbook enjoys.  I also like the fact that they stay marginally cleaner and also warmer, since when they end up laying down in thick gross mud, they mat down and lose the insulating properties of the coat in the first place.  And lastly, I blanket because I do occasionally clip my horses.  Terrible I know, but it enables them to maintain a most constructive heart rate during exercise and recover faster.  Interesting sidenote: I also found a study today that said just that.  Clipped horses have a lower heart rate in colder weather and recover faster and have less surface moisture.  Obvious I'm sure to some, but hey, they did the study to prove it.

On a blanket related note: it's starting to get cold here, so I tried out the Baker Turnout Blanket I got for a song at a yard sale.  Hurrah!  It fit the little red filly.  I'll have to take a picture of her and her styling good looks.  :)  

The Semi Feral Mare is domesticated enough to love wearing her turnouts too.     

Thursday, October 17, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It's been one of those weeks.

Lots of good progress being made.  I was getting stronger and more enthusiastic about trying to rebuilt core strength.  My mare was more comfortable carrying herself in a manner more appropriate and less feral looking.

We survived our show.  

And then I decided to do something dumb.  While reaching down at work to pick something up, I realized my shoelace was untied.  So like any normal person, I tied my shoe.

And then realized I threw my back out again.  Over a shoe???

I already had a follow up appointment made with a spine specialist so I will keep waiting I suppose.  But unfortunately, Tylenol doesn't cut through any of the pain, I can't work on muscle relaxants or heavier drugs.

So it's been a frustrating sort of week.  I finally forced myself to go to the barn this evening.  I knew it would be a struggle to get anything done, but at least I did it.  I just ran out of stamina and tolerance after the little red filly.  I got her groomed up, clipped the goat hairs that are growing far too quickly and whacked back the embarrassing mohawk.  Lunged her for a few minutes and called it good.  

Tomorrow, my goal is simple.  Get the mare out and do the same.  I love my horses.  They are such good therapy, but it's sometimes hard to see through the short term (I hope!) pain to get the longer lasting stress relief that they provide.

After having several horse related accidents while younger, my work injury has been far more challenging.  I am not a daring acrobat or work with heavy equipment or anything fancy.  I'm just a scientist looking nerdy in a lab coat.  Go figure that it's far more dangerous to me! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Does That Work?

I am a big fan of trying to look into how traditional and commonly suggested treatments work.

Today's thought process was on Blu-Kote.  Once again, on a local horse group on facebook someone was asking for suggestions on how to treat a medical condition without actually asking a veterinarian for advice.  Blu-Kote was one suggestion.

Now I've actually used Blu-Kote in the past, so today's homework was to go look and see what's in it.  The manufacturer's website wasn't particularly helpful, so off to search some of the databases.


Active Ingredients

% W/W
Isopropyl Alcohol
Sodium Propionate
Gentian Violet

How does this work?  Isopropyl alcohol denatures proteins and destabilizes cell walls via destroying lipids [for the non geeks: it destroys building blocks of various germs.  Not 100% though].  Useful for application involving fungi, bacteria, and viruses.  However, it's not bullet proof.  Generally, it's used in concentrations around 70% in a microbiological application.  The surface needs to be allowed to air dry and it can be harsh on the skin.  Probably a good reason why we don't go rolling around in rubbing alcohol each day.  But also think on how that loving phlebotomist wipes your arm with rubbing alcohol [isopropanol] before pulling blood.  The idea behind this is to remove the bacteria living on your skin before injecting a needle through the skin into the bloodstream. 

Urea is a waste byproduct in urine typically, but is often used in fertilizer applications.  I am assuming, but not certain that in this situation that is used to try and pull protons from bacteria present to disrupt activity. 

Sodium Propionate is a common food additive.  Just check out your packaged bread products or lunch meat.  It's effective against molds and some bacteria.  

Genetian violet also kills some fungi and bacteria and is a historic treatment for issues.  Anyone ever stain bacteria in a science class?  It's that purple stuff that stains all over yourself.  Occasionally useful, but primarily considered outdated.

Acriflavine is another antiseptic that kills some fungi/bacteria like genetian violet.  It's orange in color and was also used historically. 

So there you go.  Ever wonder what's in Blu-Kote?  

Mostly a mix of alcohol with a very low dosage of antiseptics.  So while it may work in some circumstances, I am leaning towards the opinion of directly treating with an antibacterial/antifungal mixture which can be done cheaply and easily through picking up items OTC at a drug store after a thorough scrub with chlorhexidine or betadine. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On This Day

On this day in 1991, a postal worker by the name of Joseph Harris went postal and killed two former co-workers after having killed his supervisor and fiancee the night before.  Truly, someone that spawned/spread the saying "going postal".

There are moments of insanity that it seems that saying applies, but then not really.  Work is crazy like normal and I wonder what it would be like to have a job where insanity isn't present in every minute.  But at times, I think I would miss it.  There's always something to do and a person never knows what's going to happen next.

After another insane day of work, I went out to the barn.  I worked a bit with the filly in hand.  Tacked her up in the western saddle, but I think I'm just going to stick with the close contact saddle for now.  The western saddle is good for more desensitizing work, but I'd need to find a pony sized girth to ever expect her to ride in that thing and number two, I think it wouldn't as comfortable on her.  Spoiled little filly will go back into the close contact complete with merino half pad and back on track pad.  Might as well start her out right, right?  

I rode the semi feral mare afterwards and she was pretty lazy going to the right.  By the time I started working on left hand things, she was getting tired.  I think she needs a bit more stamina or something.  Hello, Arab, how are you tired?  But when she gets tired, she starts to try and use evasisive tactics instead of being soft and compliant.  Her favorite is to try and pull down, but she usually does it quietly enough that I give her rein.  Bad rider, bad!  Hard to try and correct and force the mare to pick herself back up, but I'm working hard on trying to get better and slowly, but surely I think there's an improvement.

The veterinary chiro is coming out in 12 days to adjust the semi feral mare, so I think that's good.  She tends to be quite uncomfortable in the poll and I imagine that probably doesn't help in some of our work either. 

How about you guys?  Have your horses worked on by chiropractors? 

I'm a big fan of a lot of voodoo things.  It's made a big difference in the horses in my life, but I try and keep an open mind.  I think it can be hard to find the right person or thing to try though!

Have a great Thursday and remember Friday is just around the corner, so next time you think about going postal: don't.  That claim to fame was already taken.

My life is hard and difficult.  I only got two carrots today instead of three.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And The Ears Have It

I enjoy a good news article involving horses.  Better yet, I like research involving horses, but when I don't have enough time to dig up the long articles, I usually head out online to see what people dig up.

So tonight's light reading was How Horses' Ear Direction Affects Jumping on thehorse.com

I'll have to see if I can find the entire report, but it's something to think about.  I know often in training, it is desirable to have at least a split ear showing some attention to the rider i.e. in lunging.

But, it seems the arguement in this article is that horses need to focus on the jump.  But I don't necessarily buy that.  Horses have monocular vision so each eye sees independently with a blind spot in the front (and immediate back) of the horse.  They essentially can't see the jump right at it, so why the need for additional focus.  To focus on something close up, horses are like folks with bifocals: raising their head and looking down their nose.  I buy more into the theory that the ears are showing enthusiasm or heart.  Perhaps a flicked back ear shows a bit of hesitation.

To all who jump, what do you think about the article?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Successful Weekend

I'd call it a successful weekend.

Yesterday was a typical Saturday morning.  Went and did barn chores.  My awesome friend J came up from a few hours away to stay for a day and such.  Barn chores go even faster that way!

The semi feral mare looked less like a grey and more like a pinto, so I went ahead and gave her a bath.  Unfortunately, she already has quite the winter coat so she had to stand around for a while to get reasonably dry so I could put her rain sheet on her.

So J had been working with, lunging, and just generally playing around with the little red filly, who really isn't that little anymore as she is two and a half.  But something I had been working on is having her be comfortable by the mounting block.

So, both J and I gave into temptation and sat on the filly.  

That's me on board.  J was holding the lead rope and trying to take a picture on her phone which didn't work so well.  The filly just wanted another cookie, so was trying to follow J forward to get more food.  So there you go.

Not really on doing anything exciting with the filly, but I can at least say I successfully sat on her.  Maybe I should have picked the saddle that has stirrups on next time, but who's worried.

Now for the fun part.

I survived the dressage show with the semi feral mare.  She was a little loud and obnoxious at times when she was feeling a little left alone (which was mostly in the ring).  I had an error on the first test as I forgot the first circle was on the opposite end, but that is life. 

My goals were 
1. Go the right gait 
2.  Go the right direction
3.  Stay inside the ring

Sometimes more difficult than you think with such a mare.  

I'm glad to say that except for my brief operator error with the starting the wrong circle, I succeeded in my goals.

The second test was pretty successful and we scored 8% better.  ;)  The mare mostly kept her mouth shut too and had a couple good moments of being soft and going on the bit.  We even managed to get an 8 on the medium walk.  I think that may have been generous, but hey I wasn't watching, so who knows.

So, there you go.  I bit the bullet and went to the show with the semi feral mare and survived.  :)  I have some good things to work on, so onwards and upwards. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Freedom Friday

It's finally Friday.

Unfortunately, I have run out of energy since I feel like a little like a butterfly on a windshield.

But in the spirit of Freedom Friday here are some free and feral looking horses.  It's what my horses look best at doing.  The Semi Feral Mare would especially agree.  She thinks she is marginally cuter with a carrot in her mouth and a baby at side too.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sore No More

That's about what I'm thinking right now!   I could use some Sore No More which by the way, I love for using on my horses, but that's a topic for another day!

I decided to go ahead and jump into Viva Carlos' 2 point challenge, especially the part with the situps.  I have mostly modified it to crunches on my exercise ball, since that was an exercise that my physical therapists wanted me to continue since my back injury.  But good grief, my abs are certainly feeling it.  I remember being in high school cranking out a couple hundred situps no problem.  Have I really gotten that far out of shape? 

Apparently so.  No wonder I can't sit and use my core on my horse like I used to. As I continue to expect and ask my horse to do more athletic endeavors, it's only fair that I continue to try and improve my physical fitness as well.  I think most equestrians could use a stronger core.  I, personally am a long, willowy rider with more torso than bottom half which I've been told affects center of gravity and makes some aspects of riding more difficult.  All the more reason to try and strengthen and maintain control I think.

No riding tonight, however.  I rushed out to the barn after a day of crazy work, trying to make the farrier appointment on time.  Fortunately, a superstar of a barn friend held the feral filly and had just caught the semi feral mare when I pulled up.  Certainly makes work easier when I have a work schedule that is so uncontrolled.  Thank goodness for kind people!

The barn owner managed to cut a third cutting of hay off the fields which is great, however, the hay wagons are in the indoor arena, leaving just a small area to lunge in.  So lunge I did.  I just had the mare in the lunging cavesson and side reins and off we went.  She did quite well and isn't trying to suck behind and avoid contact as much as she did in the past, so that's a win I think.

I then decided to drag the filly back out of the fields.  I bought a blanket from Eous to try on her and I  think it'll do.  I'm hoping it works out well since it has a three year guarantee!  I don't know of anyone else that currently has one, so if any readers have input I'd love to hear.

I then decided to actually work the filly for the first time in a week and put the saddle and cavesson on her as well.  She was good and quiet and rather lazy, so she also got the side reins.  My idea right now is to have them rather loose.  As typical of most Arabians, I think it's easier for them to break at the third vertebrae and duck to avoid trying to hold steady.  I'd rather her just have the side reins a bit looser so when she looks like a total duck going around, she finds that restriction.  So far, so good.  :)  She had a few good laps carrying herself rather well and not so lazy, so a win in my book.  No use harassing the baby much longer.

But I couldn't help myself.

So I drug her over to the mounting block and reminded her that she is supposed to stay standing next to it and not on top of it like me.  Sometimes she has a hard time making that distinction.  Then we just worked on basic baby stuff.  Leaning on the saddle, rustling the stirrups and so forth.  I stood waiting a bit for a reaction and then I finally got it.


Seriously filly?  She just turned her head around with all of my shenanigans and make a slow, drawn out yawn complete with eye roll. 

OK, point taken.

A few more carrots and back out into the field she went.  Hopefully she is as quiet under saddle when I start her as she is now.  We shall see.  She is a chestnut mare after all.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Dear Semi Feral Horse,

I am not sure if I am ready for this.  But I hope you are.  If we manage to stay inside the appropriate boundaries and maintain the appropriate gait and pattern, I'll call that a win.  

"Courage is like a muscle. We strengthen it with use."  Ruth Gordon

Semi Feral Rider

But I'm all sweaty!  And something might eat me, like an umbrella.