Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nothing to See Here...Just More Photo Spam

Unfortunately, the light was still a little strong today, but I just wanted to take some semi current photos of my SFF who is growing like a bad weed.

All she wanted to do was gallop around.

All she wants to do undersaddle is slowly waddle.

Horse, can we pick something in middle?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Click Click Click

Today was a day off from my personal horses, but instead, I stopped by a friend's place to take some pictures and video of a couple of sales horses.

I thought I'd share some today.

It wasn't the ideal light at all for taking pictures since it was the afternoon and it was very bright out, but it was worth a shot.  Plus, playing ponies is always fun.  :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who are the SFM and SFF?

Since there are more people (I think!) checking out the blog, I thought I would introduce the critters in my life.

One is the main mare, the Semi Feral Mare.  Of course, this isn't actually her name, but is just what I refer to her on the blog.  For ease of typing, I often abbreviate it as SFM.

The other primary critter on this blog is the Semi Feral Filly.  The filly is the daughter of the Semi Feral Mare.  She is a 2011 model.  I did breed her and have owned her since birth.  I often abbreviate her to SFF. 

Both are Arabians.  Any specific questions, feel free to ask.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blog Hop: Let's Make A Baby

Another Blog Hop from L @ Viva Carlos

If you could/were so inclined to breed your horse WHO would you breed your horse to and Why! 

I did breed the SFM once and ended up with the SFF.  I think I did pretty well that time as the Semi Feral Filly is not really as feral as one might think and she has been a Class A Winner multiple times on the breed circuit.
But, let's pretend to breed the SFM some more!

If money were no object, I'd love to have a purebred by *Khadraj NA.  Khadraj is a purebred Arabian stallion with national titles in hand and under saddle in western pleasure.  He has an incredible strike rate and is a steady producer of national producers.

Incredible athlete that has been an even more talented sire.

Wait, there's more.

The SFM has actually been bred to Khadraj once producing a gelding that has had a pretty amazing show career with national titles of his own. 

Last year, her gelding won the biggest class at US Nationals.  Pretty cool. Too bad I can't say I was any part of that breeding or planning.  That's probably why I am here on the blog hop planning out what I could do in my fantasy world instead of executing that plan.  ;)

Now...just to keep the SFM mare busy, I would also love to cross her with a stock horse and see what would happen.  I think the neat thing about Arabians is that they are quite versatile and I would love to see what a nice cross would do with her.

How about Pale Face Dunnit?  AQHA reining horse stallion.  Dun & Palomino with chrome.  I'd also think it would be fun to dabble in having a half Arabian reiner.  The money is growing and good prospects are getting quite hard to find.

Bear with me.  I want to go to the other extreme and go warmblood shopping for a minute.  Maybe I will check out a future date for the Semi Feral Filly.  

How about Rosenthal? The magnificent black Hanoverian of the R line.

Yeah, I think I may have a stallion shopping problem.  I have a long list of stallions that I like. I also have two mares.  So tempting, however, my income keeps me in check.  If I didn't board, this would be a more realistic endeavor.  Someday! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In Pursuit of Knowledge

I am always interested in learning more about most things.  Not everything, mind you.  Sewing: not really.  Cooking: not high on the list.  Physics of riding: absolutely. 

So my veterinary clinic offered a free seminar tonight on emergency management.  The topper was that they were also catering dinner.  OK, sign me up.  I would have just come for the lecture!

The beginning of the lecture just went over basic vital signs for the horse and knowing what is normal for that particular horse.  We discussed what that practice felt was imperative to have in a veterinary first aid kit and two things I think many people don't have: stethoscope & some kind of clotting agent. 

Now, I do have a stethoscope, but I will admit, it is a really expensive one.  As in, holy buckets expensive and I think I would cry if I left it at the barn, but I suppose there is little reason not to invest in a $20 one to leave with my emergency equipment.  In addition, people should be used to listening to the horse's gut sounds and know what sounds normal for that horse.

The clotting agent I never particularly thought about.  My husband was in the military and I remember him bringing it up one or twice, but I finally realized that yes, horses are stupid and it may indeed be advantageous to have something on hand.

So if you are interested, this vet suggested getting either the sponge or the gauze form of QuikClot.  There are also granule forms, but if he said that if granules are placed in a wound that it is typically hard to remove and cannot be sutured later.

The other major thing that stuck with me tonight is the discussion on how to safely work with a horse that is down, whether injured, cast, stuck on ice, arthritic, or even foaling.  Feet matter.  Probably shouldn't be standing on the side with the feet, wrapping anything around the feet which would involve putting one's very expensive head down near the feet to handle, or basically anything to do with the feet side of the horse.

He also impressed on that standing directly in front of the horse's head while down seems to be a natural thing, however, when that horse gets up, they can often run driven by flight or flight and then that person standing there has just been mowed down in a spectacular fashion.

So there you go.  Just quick commentary tonight on a lecture I heard tonight.  There was obviously more of course, but in between eating chips who knows what else I actually retained.  ;)

Monday, May 26, 2014

In Memory of the War Horses

It is Memorial Day here in the United States.

It is supposed to be a holiday in remembrance of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I wanted to draw attention to another major factor in many of our conflicts: the horse.  Millions perished in the world wars.  Very few returned home.

More than a million perished in the civil war.

These horses were quite incredible.  Some like Sgt Reckless, worked against common equine nature.  Sgt Reckless, in the heat of battle, would faithfully carry munitions to her troops in Korea unescorted.  

Look back on our struggle for freedom,
Trace our present day's strength to its source;
And you'll find that man's pathway to glory
Is strewn with the bones of a horse.

Thank you to our "dumb beasts" that history has often forgotten. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Brush with the Law

The other day was a beautiful day weather-wise. 

Sunshine, green grass, and a mare that had some time off since my work hours were a little insane this past week.

 A couple fellow boarders offered to wait for me to join their trail ride, so I quickly saddled the SFM and joined the ride.  SFM did quite well and had no real issues.  She seemed to enjoy the company of both of the other horses.

However, as we were finishing the loop around the property, I saw a Sheriff squad car up on the barn property.  He slowly came back down the drive and stopped by where we were on the bridlepath.  He asked for me specifically and I was pretty anxious.

My husband had just left the barn on his motorcycle a short time before and my first instinct was that there had been some sort of accident.  However, as I spoke with the deputy it soon became clear.

My phone, which was left in the aisle at the barn, had dialed 911.  How it had dialed 911, I am not sure.  There was no one else near the phone, so unless one of the cats was sitting on it and triggered the distress call, I have no clue.  Better yet, the barn has almost zero reception, so I am even more surprised when a call made it out.

The emergency response center called back and of course, hit voicemail, so the sheriff department will send out a squad to investigate.

So my quiet little trail ride, ended up being an opportunity to meet with one of our finest.

Oh dear.

Note to self: leave phone in the car instead.  Actually, I think I should just invest in one of the little cell phone armbands.  Perhaps after I get my phone checked out as I am wondering if this little adventure was another sign of the software/hardware glitching.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Exterminator Horse: Bringing to a Barn Near You

My motley crew tonight.  In case you have never seen a horse eating from a feedbag, there you go.  Two horses eating from feedbags. 

The filly is also sporting two different color plaids.  I know, the horrors.

The filly is doing well undersaddle.  I think she now has about a dozen rides.  She has been ridden in the outdoor arena with the jumps and did pretty well, besides some excited head shaking and jigging.  She is getting pretty solid in her walk trot transitions and getting more comfortable with the idea of consistently moving off of leg, compared to just speeding up. Whoa is definitely her favorite gait. 

Lots to be excited about for a young horse.  I am glad she is coming along so nicely.  No major rush to doing anything more fancy, but just being solid and calm and easy is much to be happy about I think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bit It Up: Blog Hop

Another cool blog hop from Viva Carlos :)

I want to hear all about what bit you ride your current beastie in and why! 

This is the closest picture I can find of the Semi Feral Mare's bit.  It's a copper alloy type bit, loose ring, with a bean in the center.  The high percentage copper is supposed to increase acceptance and salivation.  Not sure about that, but it still seems like the winner in the bit ring so far.

I also have some regular French links, both in D rings and loose rings.  The loose ring one is what the Semi Feral Filly is currently in.

The loose ring french link used to be my deceased mare Star's old bit. 

Because I ride Arabian horses, I think it is important to try and find something that is comfortable for a horse with a low palate and often these horses are more at ease in a bit with three pieces, rather than a regular snaffle with two pieces, so to speak.

Both horses have soft mouths, so I don't really find it necessary to bit more bit in their mouth at this point.

However, I have a bit collection problem, so I would have no issues switching out bits if I would like to try something a bit different.

I did for a brief while have the SFM in a slow twist and didn't find as much improvement, rather just avoidance, so back in the bit box it went.

How about you?  What do you ride in and why?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Memory Monday: The Auction

If anyone reading doesn't know my past, I grew up riding in the camp world on horses that were donated to the program.

As I grew older, I was more involved in their care and networking horses that needed a home as well as helping new horses find their way to camp.

There is an annual horse auction at one of my former universities.  It's usually horses in training that are sold, but they sell lesson horses as well.  I am not quite sure how it happened, but a friend and I decided we should buy a horse and give it to the camp, since they could use another solid horse.

I talked to people involved in the program and picked out one or two that were promising.  However, during the actual auction, the prices went too high. 

Then an Arabian gelding went through.  I didn't know a lot about him, but his rider had said he had been shown in 4H.  He looked cute.  We took a chance and purchased him for a couple hundred dollars.

What did we buy?

His name was Alex.

I had a bridle back in my dorm room, so I hopped on him bareback with this snaffle bridle.  He seemed pretty solid.  He was quick and agile.  I had high hopes and off to camp he went.

Fast forward time (as time always seems to go) and he has been incredible.  The best horse carrying small children on trail rides.  My first choice for leading out horses to the furthest fields.  An ideal horse to learn flying lead changes on.

He has been in the riding program there for nine years I think now.  Barefoot, sound, and full of spunk.

He is 25 now.  I hope he has many more happy years ahead of him!  I'd say he was a once in a lifetime, unintended auction purchase.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Giving Back

I have a friend who used to breed Arabians, Morgans, and Morabs.

However, the past few years, she found herself wanting to give back to the community, so she switched to therapeutic riding and instruction.  The horses, of course, took it to a duck to water.

She helps not only disabled riders, but veterans, and those with terminal illnesses who need a little horse time to find that inner peace.

I live a fair distance away, so I don't see her as often as I would like, however, I had a chance to give back a little of my own this year.

I had off Friday, so I went up to groom, clip, and clean up some of the horses.  I am not sure how many horses were involved.  I think seven.  I just know there were a lot of hair involved and some very sweet horses.

This is one of the therapy horses.  He was actually a stallion until a medical emergency made it necessary to geld him.  He has such impeccable manners and is such a champ.  Looking good for 25. 
Today, I got up and did farm chores.  I was hoping to get done in a quick enough fashion so I could go to the actual open house.  I did and it was a lot of fun.  Riding demos, horses to snuggle, a rider demonstrating tricks with her horse, and a bit more.  I cruised the silent auction, however, only ended up winning one item: a feed pan filled with various fly sprays, wound sprays, and grooming sprays.  

Another therapy horse.  OK, so it's a miniature horse, so so incredibly adorable.

I am of course, quite supportive of a variety of these programs, however, I have a soft spot for the Horses4Heroes program.  My husband is a veteran and I am grateful for all he has done, even when it was quite difficult.  If you are interested or know someone that may be interested in services, feel free to check out the link.

I know my friend's program is offering free lessons with horses (riding/groundwork) for active personal, veterans, immediate family, law enforcement, and so forth.  Heroes come in many forms.

So, I gave a few moments of my time to give back and help those who has given much more: both equines and humans.  

Hope everyone else had a great weekend! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Memory Monday: I Can See Clearly Now...

The rain is gone..

Another old memory.  We needed to take the herd out.  They were restless.  It was storming and the paths were getting slick.  The rain pelted us, soaking through the little clothes we had on in the relentless summer humidity.  Oh Midwest, why does it have to be so humid?  Finally, a short break in the storm, but the heavy rains continued.  We were brave folks.  We'd do our jobs regardless.

We needed to go to a farther pasture.  The horses had eaten down all the grass in the close fields.  Time to go further.  I was nervous: a further run and more chance for trouble of course.  Trees to run into, horses to avoid jostling.  They liked to buck and run and trip while galloping out to fresh grass.

I chose a reliable horse.  Several of us liked to call him Meatball, although that really wasn't his name.  Your typical stock horse.  Good gaits and smooth and steady in the herd.  I didn't particularly want to sit a bucking horse on that run in soaking weather.

I bellied up onto his warm, wide back.  He was comfortable to sit on bareback, an added bonus.  He wasn't always the fastest horse, so I decided to sit in the middle with the herd as they went out.  Leading was always my favorite, but this was fine too. 

The horses milled around anxiously in the corral waiting to be released.  The leader left with her steed.  The herd burst forth, like a river overflowing its banks.

I went with them, like another salmon in a mass migration.  My job was fairly simple: make noise and keep the energy of the herd up and moving.  If the herd stopped, stragglers would break off and leading them out would be nearly impossible.

The first few moments of the run went well.  His strong hindquarters bunched up easily underneath him as we set off in a slow canter.  Rain pelted my eyes and made it hard to see.  However, I knew what was next.

I was not a fearful rider, but this moment made me hesitate just a bit.  Part of the path which we needed to take was a fairly steep downwards slope through a gate that opened to another field.  Horses usually would gingerly pick their way through on a meandering trail ride.  However, it was not especially wise to slow down too much down the hill while guiding the horses out.  The gate was narrow and a slow horse would be intimidated, bitten, or kicked by a more joyous free horse, as well as slowing the pace would lose any energy of the herd, causing individual horses to splinter off.  Exactly the opposite of what was desired.

I looked down at the gate, my wet slippery hands trying to grasp my smooth leather reins.  Meatball was ready to do his Man From Snowy River impression.  I sat back and let him have his head.  He would keep himself safe and be smooth and true.  

I closed my eyes.

I felt him sit down on his haunches and slide down the muddy hill.  He kept moving quickly and was at ease with himself in his environment. 

And just as soon as we hit the bottom, I opened my eyes.  He has carried me safely and did his job well, for he was one in his environment and I was determined to be one with him on that wet and wild afternoon.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day from the SFM and the SFF.  

(Blessed are the Broodmares)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Obligations to Horses

To those that have read my blog before, I don't usually venture into my opinions.  I am a scientist.  I enjoy facts and reasons.

However, I am opinionated and would love to hear input from others as well.

What obligation do programs, camps, groups, therapy programs, and lesson barns have to their horses?

I can be a bit of a softie.  I do occasionally look at the lists on Facebook for the horses in the sales barns.  I try and network horses in need of homes and am occasionally successful.
But I have heard a variety of opinions on the matter.  

1. Programs exist to make money.  If an asset (horse) no longer makes money, it needs to be discarded and a new asset acquired.

2.  Programs need to do all they can to keep horses in the life of equine luxury.  If not, then they should not have an equine program.

3.  These are working equines.  Efforts should be to keep in them in good condition, but above and beyond treatment shouldn't be expected like chiropractic work, specialized diagnostics, and so forth.

I like programs.  I grew up not owning a horse and there was no way I would have.  I obviously did get attached to the equines I was involved with and doted upon them.  

Here is my opinion:

Horses are working horses.  They should be made comfortable enough to do their jobs with proper shoes if necessary, and good tack.  Proper veterinary care including dental work.  When they can no longer do their jobs, sincere effort should be to place them in an appropriate home.  With the advent of digital media, it is often easier and cheaper than ever to place and rehome older lesson horses.  Keep a directory of individuals wanting to adopt horses and utilize this.

Use avenues to reduce expenses in the program (especially non profits) with half leases, virtual adoptions, and so forth.   This would be an avenue to cultivate relationships with potential adopters for when the horses need to leave a program.

Stop trying to wring every last cent out of horses in a program.  Don't jump a horse until he is so stiff, he can hardly move and then expect to sell him for a thousand dollars.  It would be better to find the right home for the horse than to hold out waiting for that supposed price tag.

Investment in basic fitting tack and veterinary care can reduce turnover of horses in a program and the subsequent problems.  People like having the same horses.  They like seeing Fluffy and Dobbin happy.  

Don't be naive and think that an old washed up horse is going to magically find a home through a broker or auction.  Use available resources to find he or she a home.

If a horse is unsuitable in the first place, then don't prolong the issue.  If it isn't healthy, then perhaps do the brave thing and do what presumably the previous owners couldn't: euthanize it or find it a secure retirement home.  If temperment doesn't pass, then find a situation where it may work.  Networking is pretty easy in this time and doesn't cost much besides time.

So now that I've been on your soap box, what do you think?  Where is your position on lesson horses, camp horses, trail ride horses, therapy horses, and any other working equine that earns his keep?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Product Review: EquinElite Leave In Conditioner

The Price: $14.99 for 32 ounces

The Verdict: YES :)

As most people know, I have Arabian horses and if it's one thing that Arabian people like is good grooming products.  I have tried quite a few.  Healthy Hair Care, Eqyss, and the list goes on.  

I actually originally won a free sample of the leave in conditioner at an equine expo.  I liked it well enough, so I went ahead and purchased the 32 ounce bottle of the conditioner.  Last week, I went ahead and sprayed my horses down (especially the dry manes & tails) and I noticed tonight in my extended grooming routine that they are still soft and not snarly.


My horses live outside.  They are prone to witches knots and everything else, but this stuff has been pretty incredible. 

The only downside for me is that it can be a little more slippery to bag a tail that has been freshly coated.  I will just have to be more effective in my efforts next time.

So if you are looking for a high quality product, I would recommend looking at the EquineElite line of grooming sprays. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Filly

Guess who is three today?


Love little sassypants.  Such a goofball. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Blog Hop: Right Here Right Now

Another hop from Viva Carlos

What are you currently working on in your rides or lessons?

I have many things I need to currently work on. 

They include (but not exclusively)

  • not looking down
  • not losing my inside rein
  • keeping my horse respecting my inside leg
  • keeping a more through bend
  • using the actual corners of the ring
  • general strength and conditioning
  • not forgetting that I have a left hand and left leg

    How about you folks?  Your current goals?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Let's Say Thanks

Today seems like a day to say thank you to multiple people.

Thank you for my job to pay the horse bills.

Thank you to my husband who held my horses for the farrier while I had to work.

Thank you to the barn manager who made sure my husband could catch said feral acting horses while I was at work.

Thank you to the farrier who did an excellent job on their feet.  Such fine looking toes.

Thank you to the ponies who decided to be mostly well behaved when I brought them in.  The poor SFF is dealing with too many hormones and is trying to figure out if she is a little filly or a mare right now.

Thank you to the SFM who was well behaved on an excellent trail ride.

Thank you to the person who actually hacked out with me on the trail ride.  I always love good company.

How about you folks?  Anything to be thankful about today.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

And I Didn't Buy Anything...

I managed to get away this weekend for a bit of horse related (and not horse related fun).

I went back to my old stomping grounds to go to a horse auction.  The students ride and train young horses which are auctioned off yearly. 

It's not really my breed or discipline of choice, but still fun for me to see how the horses do and if there is anything interesting.

One of the young horses

But I was interested to see how the foals of two young mares I knew that were long too young did in the sale.  They did ok, but not extreme prices compared to many started young horses.

I didn't buy anything.  I was tempted for approximately 2.75 seconds to bid on one of the older lesson horse mares going through the sale.  Exactly what I need is a broke Quarter Horse reining mare. 

But, I am a softy for making sure good horses land in good places.  We all know that one. 
It was also the birthday weekend of a good friend that I went and met up there.  Plus, we went to a birthday party for a friend's dog.  Who wouldn't have a good time?

Hope everyone else had a great weekend.

Dogs in party hats.  Why not?