Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just when you think you know......

Saturday morning in the "Arena"
Just when you think you know your horse and what he is going to do he completely blows your mind by doing something you never saw coming!

Saturday morning we took Trax and Killian down to my friend arena (which is badly in need of some dragging) so that Trax and I could work on stopping and Killian could just get some exercise.  Tom went along to operate the camera. 

I learned a very valuable lesson that day!  If you are going to let a man (a very non-techno man) operate the camera, ya better show him how first!  I was really hoping for a ton of pictures, so I could pull a few good ones out, and trash the bad ones.  He took about 10 and none of them are very good.  I can't blame him though, after all he is just a mere male! lol

This is the fastest we got Killian to go.  Not much exercise but
probably for the best considering the condition of his hooves.
The plan for getting Killian some serious exercise kind of fell by the way side.  His feet are just falling apart, hoof wall chipping away in large chunks. So taking it easy on him was the best plan.  Plus Simon fell off of him a few months back and has been a little nervous ever since. He is a big horse and it is a long drop!  I have a trimmer coming Friday to see if we can give Killian some relief, but between the drought and poor condition of his hooves when we got him 6 months ago, I don't know what can be done.  I had the same problem with Trax too when we got him. But his "bad areas" are almost completely grown out now and his hooves are Strong and healthy.  Killian has good strong hoof wall about 1/2 way down but the below that is dry, rippled, and cracked.

Ah but I digress.  This is supposed to be about the ride and Trax and his bag of tricks!

As you can see by this picture, Where I am asking for a stop my timing is completely off.  I believe that timing is my biggest problem with him.  I guess I need a coach who can watch me and say, "now" so I can learn how the right time feels.  To me it seems as though he is trying to give it to me, but if I ask when he is coming down on his front, it is a jarring stop, uncomfortable for us all.  I need to ask for it when his weight is forward, legs out behind so he can pull those feet up underneath and stop.
There are 3 big paint horses that live where we were riding.  They thought the whole thing was quite interesting as you can see.  These horses are huge!  I guess the owner uses them for polo.
This stop was slightly better, but again I think my timing was a little off.  Also I can see that his head is going up when it needs to go down.  Perhaps this is a by product of his formet life as a barrel horse and roping horse. Ride really fast and stop really hard, head high, no one cares. Sometimes I wonder if it seems like he is trying to give it to me only because it is less of a fight with the hackamore more than it was with the snaffle.

Not a very good picture of backing up.  It was the first time of the morning and he always fights a little the first time.  He had just dropped his head in this picture. Hmmmmm, I see where part of my problem is now. Note where my hands are int he picture above.  I am pulling up high and his head is up high.  I get a lot of Larry Trocha (reining/cutting horse trainer) DVDs and newsletters.  He talks alot of muscle memory, I can see I have an issue with this.  Perhaps if I can lower my hands when I ask for that sop, AND ask at the right time I can get a nice sliding stop out of him.

Now comes the "Bag of tricks" part.  Right after this picture was taken, I decided to do a barrel pattern on him. We were not at full speed by any means, but man he turns so sharp it is almost scary for me!  We did not have any barrels out there, so we just used imaginary ones.  We did the first turn just fine, went to the second (over by this same fence line) and instead of making the full turn he went about half way and then started to BUCK!!! He got in about 4 good ones before I get his head back up.  He did not dump me, I doubt he was trying that hard, I have seen him really buck and he could easily face plant me if he wanted too!  I was so blown away!  He has never really done that before.  One crow hop once when he was mad.  I only wish Tom had been ready at the camera.  Would have made some great pics for sure!

So of course we had to do a few more patterns. He did not try it again, and to this day I have no clue as to why.  The bugs were terrible that day so maybe he got stung, maybe the pattern triggered some bad memories, maybe it was the rabbit that ran out right before....I really just don't know.  This picture is of the end of the final run.  I am sure that in his day he was a great barrel horse.  I would love to have someone who runs barrels take him out so I could see what he can really do. 

This is where Simon and I were playing follow the leader.  Doesn't Killian remind you of Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh?  "Oh   my, I   can't   go   very   fast,   I   can't   believe   you   are   making   me   do   this"

I had to cut the ride short, as Tom had to go and we only had one vehicle.  Hopefully this week I can get some more time in and see what Trax's issue really was.

Take care everyone.

Monday, July 30, 2012

More Information on Managing Stringhalt

I spend so much of my not so free time on the Internet scouring for any new or different information on Stringhalt. As I watch my sweet old guy Danny deteriorate right before my very eyes, I know that there has to be people out there dealing with, wondering, and learning about the things I need to know. 
If I am on the phone at work and get put on terminal hold, I head right to my search page and keep on with the old "point and click" Once I learned what "alt/tab" could do for me I was in like flynn!
Anyway through much eye rubbing and squinting at my screen I found a website of a lameness clinic, and they had actually done a case study on an old horse like mine who was recommended to be put down due to the severity of his stringhalt.  I wish I could find it again (must remember to book mark these pages) so I could share it here, but alas, that part was not to be. 

He sure is handsome for an old guy, wish I had seen that water spot on
my lens before I took the picture.

BUT what I learned is that they took a horse like mine and treated him (without surgery) and he went on to live until he was 30 when he was put down for heart failure.  They even used him for lessons and jumping and other events.  They showed after pictures, but no real before pictures.  I found the link to contact them and so sent an email.  I got a response this morning and this is what she said.

Hi Cindy,
I am not a veterinarian therefore cannot diagnose, treat nor prescribe.  If you have an issue with your horse contact your licensed veterinarian.  
I will tell you what was done with the case study on my website.
Vet ruled out any neurologic disease; EPM, did complete blood panel.  Checked for any tick born illnesses.  Once the horse had a clean bill of health from the vet, I called out the acupuncture vet.  She performed acupuncture several times and put the horse on a muscle strengthening and stretching program.
The hooves had a proper barefoot trim, rolled the toes from the bottom for ease of break over.  Hooves treated for thrush.
The horse was put into full time work, long low frame, tons of trail riding.  If the work was decreased the string halt got worse.  
Made sure the horses tack also fit properly.  A saddle that does not fit can make the back muscles and hind end sore.
The horse was put onto a good vitamin and mineral supplement, and extra vitamin E for some time.  I had heard that a vitamin E deficiency can cause problems with the muscles contracting and releasing/neurologic issues, and could have a positive effect on string halt horses.  Horse was fed plain oats, grass hay, vitamin/mineral supplements.  
Horse never kept in a stall.  Outside 24/7.
The horse on my website did not have a before rehab video.  I acquired the horse before I documented every thing I do around here.  The horse had string halt in both hind legs and was going to be put down.  He was an old horse when we got him.  We had him euthanized many years after we got him, when he was 30 due to mitral heart valve failure. 

SO....this may not seem like much but really it is.  I have just been letting Danny be, no real exercise except for what he chose to do himself, and in the last year or so he has really begun having problems with foot placement, stepping on his own feet etc.  I can see now that I need to get him back on a regular exercise program.  We will start with the round pen and go from there.
 (gotta get him back in the right mindset before we ride)
I would really love to know what the muscle stretching exercises were though.
I also ran across another website where someone is actually looking for horses with stringhalt and shivers to gather data with.  There was a whole questionnaire to fill out which of course I did.  I am hoping to get a response from that as well.  I have tried acupuncture on him, but it just got to be so expensive I couldn't keep up with the bill anymore and had to quit.  If we could have done it once or twice a month instead of 3 times a week, well that I could have afforded. 
Some days it sucks having to live within my means!

Well that is all for now....... Ride safely my friends!


I got another email today....more good information and a boost of confidence.

don't give up.  My 23 year old show horse has it.  His was from an injury.  He slipped on the ice, went flying with his leg caught under his body weight.  When he got up, he could not use the leg.  When the leg was better he had a really bad case of string halt.  The acupuncture vet came out and treated him.  I would also stretch his leg straight back (like he was kicking out) and forward.  Lots of walking up and down hills help out too.  As far as the acupuncture goes, I have a vet that is from Korea, she is the real thing when it comes to Eastern medicine.  In my opinion, if the vet just goes for weekend continuing education course to learn how to perform acupuncture they will not be very good at it.  My vet only does eastern medicine on the horses, she also prescribes custom blended herbs.  

This was 7 years ago.  He is kept into full time work.  Last summer he won a top ten in the sport horse in hand class at nationals, not to mention region champion and many class A wins.  This is a class where the horse is judged on movement and conformation.  We will be leaving for nationals with him in a little over a week.

Good luck,


The Chances of me finding a real acupuncturist in this sate are about slim to none, its hard to even find a a decent farrier, and good vets are even a little slim pickins out here.  But now I have a starting point.  I am so happy about that!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The "6 pack", Dog Days of Summer

How many dogs does it take to make a pack?  Does anyone know what the official number is?  I know I don't but I think we are getting close at my house!!  Here, let me explain.

I come from a family of Labrador breeders, so of course, I have labs....3 of them.   They are big dogs, about 110 pounds a piece.  Well one is smaller, that would be Butch the rescue lab, he is only 75 lbs. My house is not huge so 3 big dogs is a lot. We go through a lot of kibble, boxes and boxes of cookies, and bags and bags of "beggin strips" (they love those things)

This is Mason- AKA Hyspire Secret Society
Here he is doing what he does best second only to eating!
Two of my dogs, the big ones came from my family's kennel. (feel free to check out their website at hyspire.com)  They were going to be great show dogs, champions for sure! But my mom, being a very conscientious breeder, only breeds and shows the very best of her dogs.  They are all checked for any genetic defects, bad hips, elbows, eyes, heart defects, anything that could be a detriment to the breed is tested for.  Occasionally a very near perfect dog has a minor defect, and therefor must go to a pet home.  I have two of those dogs.  The first one I got was Mason.  He is, as you can see a big handsome lovable yellow lab.  He tends to lean towards the over weight side.  We have to watch his food intake carefully.  His defect still has not been clearly identified, although we are all leaning towards something neurological.  He is hard of hearing, cannot swim (flips upside down in the water) and although not stupid- not all there either.  Since my mom couldn't guarantee it wasn't genetic she chose not to show or breed him.  Now he is mine.  We love him dearly.

Mason before his diet- he looks much better now.

The next dog we got was Smarty, he is also drop dead gorgeous, actually more conformationally correct than Mason.  Smarty was all set to be sold to another very good breeder, but had to have his heart checked first.  As it turned out he had a very minor heart defect.  That is genetic, and although completely undetectable without a special machine, it excluded him from entering the gene pool.  We were lucky enough to get to bring him home. 

Hyspire Mr. Smarty Pants- "Smarty"

 Smarty is some kind of special. He is the stealer of stuffed animals, the pillow pet assassin, he is a hoarder. He finds things and takes them to his "secret place". He thinks he is a lap dog. He is about 3 now but still so much a puppy at heart. For a dog with a heart defect, he has the biggest heart of any dog I have ever known.  The other night when I was up all night with a nasty bladder infection.  My sweet Smarty stayed by my side all night.  The other dogs were off sleeping, but not the black dog.

The third addition to the family was Butch.  One day my dogs got out of the yard.  The pound picked up Mason (Smarty just went back home) and since he is microchipped, called me immediately.  When I was at the pound walking through to find where they had my convict dog, I saw this face.....

This is Butch

Yeah, that face.  How can you resist that face.  They tried to tell he he was five.  If that dog is 5 I am 20.  It is hard for and old dog to get adopted, so I knew I had to step in and bring him home.  It was a little touch and go at first, he did not get along with the other dogs.  He was especially mean to Smarty and I was constantly having to break up fights.  Finally one day I saw him barking and growling in Smartys face who was not retaliating, and I just went out and let Butch have it!!!  I made it very clear to him that aggression is not tolerated, and it has never been a problem since.  I guess he just needed to know the rules.  Now they all get along just great!

Butch is wicked smart, super well trained.  I cannot imagine how no body went to look for him.  I often wonder what his life was like before.  He has severe elbow displaysia and many broken teeth, but a wonderful attitude, and full of energy.  His nick name is "Mr. Butchinson Sir"  He is old enough to demand respect!

Mason losing his first game of tug of war

Yesterday a friend dropped off his two dogs they are Dakota, a female chocolate lab (spayed thank goodness as all my boys are still intact)  and Jr. Mint, who is Border Collie mix of some kind.  Jr Mint is still a puppy.  She only has one eye.  She was kicked in the head by a horse (not mine) and lost the eye.  Its still in there, but it doesn't work.

 Dakota, Mason, and Smarty (cookie time)

This is Jr. Mint- she is quite the character!

Jr. Mint spends all, and I do mean all of her time terrorizing the other dogs.  She bites their butts, she jumps on them she chases them, she steals their toys, pulls on their tails.  The only one she sort of leaves alone is Mason.  He has given her a couple of good growls to warn her to leave him alone.  Dakota, ever the mom puts up with her, and really plays well with her. Smarty seems to enjoy her too.  They will be staying till Sunday.   5 dogs is really alot for our house, but we make it work and since the weather is nice they spend a good portion of time outside. 

I cannot tell the story of the dog pack with out adding the one who is no longer with us. 

Dugan was Tom's faithful companion for 11 years.  He was by far one of the smartest dogs I have ever met.  He loved Tom dearly and of course it was reciprocated.  Dugan went everywhere with Tom, to work, to the store, to chase truck parts, everywhere.  Last summer we came home to find blood on the front porch.  He had left Dugan home that day because riding in the pick up was becoming hard on his old bones. When we examined him we found he had been bit by a snake.  We rushed him to the vet, who was surprised that he was even still alive.  But in fact he was alert and walking around.  Just a little swollen in the nose.  He was given fluids and antibiotics.  He seemed to recover although not totally. 2 weeks later, he started having trouble breathing.  We took him back in but it was too late.  He died of pneumonia the next day.  It was a hard day for all of is,  and we still miss him.

So there is the story of the "6 pack" in my herd.  I think it is amazing that prey animals and predators can actually learn to co-exist peacefully.  My dogs and horses often share the same yard (hey free lawn mowers ya know)  There is never any issue.

Oh and one more thing....do you know why dogs wag their tails?

It is not because they are happy, it is so they can be happy!

If you don't believe me stop what you are doing (reading) and stand up and wag your tail.

Guaranteed to make you smile!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Herd Dynamics

Killian his first day with the herd, just standing there minding his own business.

I have always been fascinated by how the horses in a herd (in this case MY herd) move up and down the totem pole.   I ran across these pictures of the day that we brought Killian home. We gave them some time over the fence and then decided to let them together to sort things out.  Danny was pretty much top horse but he is not an aggressive horse so he had no problem with the new addition. Sassy had been having fun pushing Trax around for a while so she was certainly second in line. Trax, for some reason is perfectly happy being bottom of the ladder.  He is the last one to eat, and can be pushed away from any feeder easily.  He could care less about mares in heat, he just wants to be left alone. 
Uh Oh, Sassy has just spied the intruder

She is headed over to give him a piece of her mind.
Note Trax in the back watching with interest.

Oh yeah she is not happy
"Hey You Big red horse- get the heck out of here!"

"Thats right- don't mess with the mare"
"Can I go back over there please?"

Interestingly enough, it has all changed out there.  Once Sassy realized that she could not get rid of him, he settled in nicely.  I was able to put all the horses together with out any issue at all. Danny still ate first, sharing only with Sassy, and everyone else fell into their places.  Somewhere along the line, and I am not even sure when, Killian took over.  When spring came and we finally had pasture I started separating and rotating horses. Sassy hurt her foot and was put into confinement.  I moved Danny to his own pasture so he could have plenty to eat and in just a couple of month of him being on his own, he and Killian have become enemies.  One day I opened the gate between pastures and let everyone have free run of both pastures.  The next thing I knew I saw Killian going after Danny, and GETTING him.  He was all bit up, so I separated them.  The next day I saw that Danny had a huge gash on his rear Stifle.  He couldn't even walk right.  Now I see the two of them fence fighting constantly, and the worst part is that Danny tries to start most of the fights!  The problem there is that he can't kick or run fast due to the stringhalt so he gets hurt everytime.  So now its Killian on top and then Sassy, Danny I guess would be third and poor Trax is still at the bottom.  I think he likes it there best though.
I can leave Killian and Trax in a pasture together without issue.  But if I pen them up, Killian spends the the entire time chasing Trax around and biting the crap out of him.  I can pen up Sassy and Trax and they do fine until feeding time, then she gets bossy. I can always put Trax with Danny but since Danny will share food with him and he eats slower than Trax, he gets thin and Trax gets huge!  It is quite the dilemna having to figure out who to put where these days.  I suspect if I didn't have a mare so ready to be bred all the time, it would be different, but  I won't get rid of her so for now we play musical horses. Winter will be interesting though because I can only get water and electricity to certain areas so penning will not be possible.

So I would like to know about your herds, who is on top, the mares or the geldings? 

The whole herd- Note Danny's Stringhalt leg


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Look of a Horses Eye- "Brave" Reviews

Merida and her horse Angus
I was so excited when I saw the previews of the move Brave, and was first in line the day it came out.  I was not dissappointed (although I hear that some people were)  I love love love this move!!!!!

The animation was fantastic, and there were so many good messages wrapped up in the story, I just can't imagine how anyone could walk away saying they were unimpressed.
Its a great story about a young girl who defy's her parent's, well her mothers wishes, and ends up paying dearly for the concequences of her actions. 

The good news is, the damage can be repaired, and the relationship is built to be even stronger in the end.  The most important lesson though....When communicating with loved ones it is important too say what is on your mind, but it is even more important to listen to what your loved one is saying to you. 

I love the main character, Merida.  She is strong, and smart, a little reckless, but confident in herself.  She does not need a knight in shining armor to complete her, she is content just being a girl with her bow and her horse.  Ah there's the key for me...a girl with her horse.

The most amazing part of this movie, and I have this very picture as my screen saver, is the way the animators were able to capture exactly the look of her horses eye. I mean, seriously, look at it!  That is the look of a horse who knows, understands, and trusts his "herd leader".  I love that look.  When you have a horse that is confident in you, and who has accepted you as the one to follow, you know the look.  Hopefully you all know that feeling too.

If anyone else has seen the movie I am curious to know what you thought.  If you say you did not like it, that is fine, you certainly will not be chastized on my blog.  I believe that everyone has a right to their opinions.  Also I'd like to hear about your horses "look" and how it makes you feel to have the kind of relationship with an animal that is 10 times our size and could easily kill us if it wanted too, but chooses to give all of himself or herself.

Until then everyone take care and ride like the wind!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Horse and her boy- the chronicals of Simon and Sassy

Sassy and her boy
Sassy was given to us by a very sweet young girl who had more horses than she could handle. She wanted to find her a good home, and was willing to give her away to the right person.  Her Aunt was an acquaintance of mine, and she gave me the girls number.  I went out to look at her, she was in a pasture with several other horses and goats.  Sassy was obviously the low horse on the totem pole.  there was a big paint mare who pushed her around terribly.  She was also almost impossible to catch. Once i got her caught in the big old pasture, she was gently and easy.  She has a big scar on her shoulder from an injury she suffered as a 2 day old filly, but it does not give her any problems.

So I agreed to take her, promised to love her and give her a good home.  Danny was all alone at that time and I knew he would be more than happy to have a friend.  My friend and trainer, Jay, went with me to pick her up.  The gal who was giving her to me was out of town but her cousin was there,  he offered to have his dogs chase her down so we could catch her.  I declined that offer, making a mental note to watch her around my dogs, and with a little bit of work we got her caught.  She loaded up easily and we hauled her home.  She is an AQHA filly going back to Peppy San Badger, and Colonel Freckles.  She is a sweet, very well balanced, very nice little filly.  A little smaller than I like, but that is why I gave her to Simon.  Although let me say she is certainly not to small for an adult to ride.   She became Simon's Christmas present.

She continues to this day to be a little hard to catch, although I will say, she is a million times better than she ever was. she also, and rightly so, did not like dogs at all, but she has now spent enough time mowing the lawn in my dog yard to get over that.  (my dogs could care less about horses)  I spent the rest of that winter and spring doing ground work with her.  Then I sent her to my trainer for a few weeks, and he put her first 20 rides on her. She was slated to go with him to a Buck  Branaman clinic that memorial day, but the month before the clinic was the big Equine Herpes outbreak, and the clinic was canceled.  I was so bummed!   We just kept working with her at home though. 
She is actually a very smooth ride

We got about 15 or 20 more rides on her, always in the round pen though, maybe 1 or 2 in the pasture, but then it turned cold and forward progress pretty much stopped.

Shortly after the new year I was introduced to a nice man down the road who has an indoor arena, and we started taking her down there once in a while. She was coming along nicely, even put on a few cows in there.  She had her ears pinned and kept trying to bite them cows on the butts!  She and Simon had a great time chasing those cows around the arena! 

Last April, we took her down and rode her and she did pretty well.  Although I will admit that I was starting to see where Simon's lack of experience was starting to confuse her, as to what was expected of her.  I knew I was going to need to ride her more myself, and then give him better lessons.  The very next day I wanted to catch Trax (another hard to catch one- not anymore though) and the whole little herd were running all over the pasture to avoid me.  I noticed the day after that, that she was limping on her left front.  ARGH!!!

I tried just confining her for a month, but no improvement, went to one vet for x-rays, she never found anything, had another vet come and x-ray and he found the chipped coffin bone. I had planned on posting a picture of her x-ray but I just learned that my disc drive is no longer working....again- ARGH!

Once we had a good diagnosis, the next step was to find a farrier.  You would think that would be easy in "the Cowboy State"  think again!  There are plenty out there, but finding one to show up, is an issue.  I took another full month before I finally found one.  His name is Mark Kiel, and he was right on time and did a wonderful job.  (Which is why I am ok mentioning his name)  He was on time, he got right down to business, he has a great calming effect on the horse, and did a very nice job on her. Oh and the price was fair too!

We are Stuck like this for the next six months, no riding at all.  Of course in this state, 6 months might as well be a year, there just isn't much riding going on in the dead of winter!  Recently I took her out along  side Killian, he is my slowest horse so I figured it would be safe.  She really has not been out along any roads before so I was curious to see how she would react.  She was like a kid exploring one of the seven wonders!  Everything was interesting to her, I took her over to a local trucking company and walked her around all the big trucks and the equipment, and she had to sniff and check everything out.  Not scared just curious.  When we headed home she started dragging her feet.  When we got to the yard she stopped.  She did not want to go home, she actually fought me coming up the drive.   She is reversed barn sour!

This is my favorite pic of the two of them together
I look forward to doing some two rein driving with her, and trying to get some video of that to post. I also want to get some pictures to show how soft and easy she is.  I can flex her laterally and she is as light as a feather.  I love working with her.  As you can see by her pictures, she is pretty great for a young mare with out a whole lot of riding on her.  Everything we have done with her has been with kids in mind.  Not much freaks her out anymore.  She has so much potential, to be anything we want her to be.  Its just a long journey to get there.  But I figure, by time Simon is experienced enough to be called a "good rider"  She will be all ready for him and they will have learned it all together.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Midwest Drought and Hoof Conditions

This is Sassy's special shoe, it has clips on
the side and a bar across the back.
Most of the nation is dealing with severe drought this year.  High temps and little or no rain is wrecking havoc across most of the midwest this summer.  Half the country is on fire, there is not much hay to go around this year (we will discuss that more in another blog), pastures are dry and whithered.  Cattle ranchers are selling off their cattle early to avoid having to starve them this winter.  It is not a pretty state of affairs for sure. 

I don't have cows, just my horses so the lack of hay is effecting me some but the biggest issue I am having this year with the lack of moisture is hoof conditions on my horses.  My horses all for the most part have pretty darn good feet and I am almost anal about keeping them trimmed regularly.  I don't shoe my horses except Sassy on the front due to her injury.  I am learning that I don't know squat about hoof care for horses with shoes!

I wish I had taken some pictures yesterday of the boys' hooves when I was treating them.  I swear it looks like I haven't trimmed them in months when in fact it wasn't but maybe a month ago.  They are chipped up and just dry and cracking everywhere.  Its kind of frustrating actually!  I usually make a point of running the water tank over some everyday.  It gives them an area of mud and moisture to navagate through once in a while.  Part of the problem too, for anyone in my area is the ground.  My neighborhood is aptly named Sandy Lake Estates, because the ground really is all sand.  Which is nice in the winter because it never gets really soupy or muddy.  Thrush is rarely a problem where we life. Of course it kind of sucks when the wind blows (which is alot in Casper) because all our real estate ends up down the road!  I actually imported dirt for my little corral, just to keep it from blowing away.

So here is my conundrum for the week.  I treat my horses with Horseshoers secret, the stuff you apply directly to the hoof.  I usually concentrate mostly on the coronet band and the outer hoof wall. Yesterday I went ahead and applied it to the soles and frogs as well.  When I picked up Sassy's hoof with the special barred shoe I found it packed with mud and of course manure. I picked it out and I'll be damned if she doesn't have a little bit of thrush going on under that shoe.  So now I am wondering, do I need to move her to a different location away from the mud to keep her dry? I do have another smaller pen which stays dry all the time, even in the rain. How do you keep one hoof dry and the others moister? Will it be sufficient to just pick it out every morning and night so it gets some air?  What to do what to do?

I would love to hear from others on suggestions, and also how are you guys dealing with this awful dryness?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do you hand feed your horse?

I want to put a question to anyone who reads this and I really hope to get some responses. ( Of course someone would have to read it first)        Is it okay to hand feed your horse?  

Here is the story behind this question. 
We were in AZ looking at houses to buy and we were at boarding stable that was up for sale. (yes that is my dream job right there!)  A gentleman there who was the "trainer on sight" was giving us his life story and credentials and told a story about how a lady wanted to give his horse a treat.  He told her in no uncertain terms "No", which of course is his perogative, and went on to explain that his reasons were because hand feeding horses makes them disrespecful.

I am wondering how many other people feel the same way?  

I personally watch alot of Dennis Reis video's and am a big advocate of the "I can touch you but you can't touch me" rule.  All my horses are trained to walk on a loose lead rope, and know to keep a fair distance between us, and to watch me closely incase I stop.  If I stop they stop.  If I back up so do they.   I also hand feed my horses every day.  Everytime I feed they are waiting for me with my bucket of hay cubes.  Every body gets one from my hand.  They wait patiently for their turn, and they do not push on me.  They also get treats after a long ride, especially if they have done very well.   They do not get treats as a bribe to be good. 

Sometimes, Danny gets impatient for his grain.  (He is the only one who gets any) he paws at the ground and sometimes gets a little pushy.  I don't like it when he does that, so we have a new exersize we do.  When he gets pushy I put the grain in his dish and then I stand in front of it.  He tries to go around me, and I step in his way.  When, and only when, he stand patiently without pushing and without pawing, then I will step out of the way and let him eat.   He has to respect me and my space and my rules.

I would really like to hear about your horse and your opinion on hand feeding.

In the heat of the day

All hosed off after a hot ride
I have not had near enough time for riding by my standards, so yesterday I raced home from my 9 to 5 job, and made a beeline for the pasture. Trax wasn't thrilled about going to work in the hottest part of the day, but he wasn't bad either.  Let me explain....Trax is a horse that is generally full of energy, going forward has never been his issue. Stopping however can sometimes be a different matter.  It was pretty hot yesterday and he was actually quite happy to just walk the trail rather than hit it at his "million mile trot".  This isn't to say that he didn't pick it up when asked, but when given his choice of gaits he did choose to walk which is unusual for him.

Trax is so much fun to ride, he is different that any other horse I have ever had.  Sometimes we throw him and Killian in the trailer and run up the road to some state land and ride up towards the Casper Mountain. There are cows up there and Trax is all cow horse.  He can smell them from a long ways away, and his whole demeanor changes.  His ears go up and you can see him looking all around searching them out.  If you drop the reins and give him his head, he will go straight to them.  He's a cow working fool.  Sometimes I wonder if the reason he enjoys it so much is because he is always the bottom rung horse in the herd.  Pushing cows gives him someone to push around!

One time Tom and I (that's my boyfriend) were riding up
Tom on Killian
 there, it was wicked hot that day too.  We were headed back to where we had parked the trailer and Trax was feeling good that day.  I had dropped the reins since we were getting close to the trailer and figured he would just go to the trailer and stop, which a normal horse probably would have done.  Instead he makes a wide u-turn and heads back up towards the mountain where all the cows had been.  It was as if to say, "Hey, those cows are still there, we've got work to do!"   Like I said, he is different.

My favorite gait on him is the "million mile trot" that I mentioned earlier.  It is not a fast trot, where you would have to post to ride comfortably, but an easy trot where you can just rock a little with him and he can surely cover some ground at that pace. 

I do not have many pictures of me riding him.  Since no one else in my family seems to be capable of working a camera but me, its hard to get a picture of myself!   This is one that my friend Jamie took on her last visit from Michigan. Not a  very good picture though.  Of course part of the problem too is that Trax is generally in front of everyone else so most of the pictures are of his big fat butt. When I look at this picture though I find myself wondering why I am pulling on his mouth like that.  No wonder he has such a hard mouth.  Gonna have to work on that!

So anyway, I am glad I finally got to ride yesterday.  Now I just need to get the other three out  and about a little bit too. Its no wonder they are all getting so fat.  They don't get near enough exercise! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Indescriminant breeding and slaughter houses

This is not my foal, although I sure would have
liked to have been able to bring him home.

There has been a lot of talk in the news and in the horse world about slaughter houses, and what to do with old, sick and infirm horses.  It is a tough subject and the right answer really is not black white.  At least that is my opinion. I hate the thought of sending a horse to slaughter house, and I have seen the pictures of the way those poor animals are treated.  On the other hand I have also seen with my own eyes, herds of sick, and injured horses dumped on state land by people who either would not or could not care for them anymore. 

A year or two ago, I was driving home and saw  a horse out on a huge tract of land, he was stuck in a ditch and all I could see was his legs flailing trying to get up.  Of course I stopped and went to see what I could do. When I approached I was sickened by what I saw, he was skin and bones, eyes wide and white from struggling.  He would let me approach and I did, I offered him some grass which he ate, but I could not help him up.  I made the mistake of touching him not even thinking about the ramifications of that.  I immediatly called a friend who came to assist.  He took one look and told me to back away.  Then he pointed to the large pustule under the poor horses chin, he had strangles and was dying.  The horse was later put out of his misery. (I went home and washed with bleach)  Then the state vet was called as well as the brand inspector.  As it turns out there were about 100 horses out there, many with strangles, many with broken legs or shoulders, some young colts.  Eventually all the horses were removed, where they went I do not know.  Here is the clincher for this story. The tract of land was owned by a developer who, rather than reporting that someone had dumped a bunch of very sick horses, used it as an advertisement.  His ads read "Come out to _________ where you can live amongst the wild horses running free."  True story!!!   The number of horses put at risk of catching strangles is huge, as the other side of the road was all mini ranches and almost everyone out there has at least one horse, most have several.

So this story and the many others very much like bring to question....what is the right answer?  Of course dumping those horses was not the right answer, in my opinion neither is a slaughter house.  How did we get to where we are today with so many unwanted horses?  What is a person to do with an old horse that they just cannot care for anymore? 

There are rescue foundations, and those are great, but there is only so much money and food to go around.  Especially this year with all the drought and fires.  I have to give great big kudo's to those people who work so hard to keep those places open and to all the people who donate to help. Then there are many people I know (myself and my mom and sister included) who take in old horses (and dogs) and either find them forever homes or give them one.  There are people I know who have older horses they have had for years, and they keep feeding them and keep them healthy and ther feet trimmed because it is the right thing to do.  Those horses served their humans well and they deserve the happy retirement.  My horse Danny is one of those horses.  So there is one solution.

But how do we keep from having so many horses to begin with?  I believe we more responsible breeders and less indescriminate ones.  It is much like the puppy mill issue. People who pump out not just a few really nice colts every year, but an entire crop.  They are not breeding for the betterment of thier breed, but to make a buck.  This also holds true with the back yard breeders.  You know the ones, they just got a mare and so they breed her to the cheapest stud horse they can find (because that is all they can afford) and they breed her and breed her and breed her.  They fancy themselves breeders, but they aren't helping the problem any. They are producing foals and selling them off.  Perhaps they are nice horses, but perhaps they are reproducing genetic defects, which are linked to early lameness, or other health issues.  Things that could eventually end that horse up in a sale barn on its way to mexico. 

I come from a family of Labrador breeders.  The breeders I know breed for quality and betterment of the breed.  The good puppies are sold (yes for alot of money) to other reputable breeders.  The puppys that are not considered to be of top quality are sold as pets at a fair price and must be spayed or neutered.  I personally own two of those dogs. They are gorgeous and so many people beg to breed to them, (I was not required to have mine neutered) but one has a very minor heart defect and the other is partially deaf.  It is not worth the risk that either dog could pass on these issues to offspring. so my point is, that horse breeders need to be just as picky about who they breed and what they are motivated by.

Of course I am sure there really are many breeders that are just that concientious (did I spell that right) about their horses, only breeding the best ones and selling the unbreedable ones as pets or performance horses.  Please do not get me wrong.  I do not beleive in more regulation, I believe in awareness and education.  I believe that the guy down the road from me who bred his little mare because he wanted a "free horse" could have easily found a mustang to adopt or a horse that needed a home.  As it is he doesn't have time for the number of horses that he has, adding another ne to his herd was irresponsible on his part, regardless of how cute she is.  (and she is trust me !!)

So there is my rant for the day.  I may have offended some people and if so, well so be it.  If you are one of those people who likes to play at horse breeding, I am asking you to think about what you are doing before you do it.  Make sure that you have the money for a stud horse that is going to compliment your mare, make sure that if you bring a foal into this world you have the time and the know how to work with it young so you can send a good safe horse out into the world.  Not only could you be saving his life, but a humans as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Danny the Wonderhorse- managing stringhalt

Danny modeling his winter jacket
Me on Danny shortly after he came to live with me

His Handsome pose
Danny is a special horse, he was someone great once, I can tell in how easy he is to work with.  My mom bought him for 100 dollars to save his life. He must have lost 50 pounds or more. Danny has stringhalt. It is very bad for him. Not painful but certainly slows him down a lot.  She had him in Oregon for a couple of years before she lost her house and had to move.  I paid 600 dollars to have him shipped to me in Wyoming.  It was quite that culture shock for him for sure.  He left so much lush green to come to bitter cold and lots of dry scrub. It was November when I got him.  I felt bad because he was all alone, although there was an old horse next door to visit with over the fence.  The trip was hard on him.    I told the transport guy that he had to have a slant load trailer because Danny cannot back out of a trailer.  But sure enough when he dropped him off there he was, backing him out of the trailer.  I was so angry!!!!

At first Danny and I sort of bumped heads.  He was a little stubborn, and not very respectful of me.  Not mean, just pushy like a spoiled child.  With the help of a good friend and trainer we explained to him that disrespect would not be tolerated, and since then he has been fine. As you can see by the top picture it only takes 2 wires to keep him in and they aren't even hot or barbed.

His first winter was wicked cold.  I went to the tack store and bought a special blanket for him.  It has a 2 foot wide band of cloth that is attached on one side and then wraps tightly around him.  It has three hooks on the opposite side which adjust. The whole thing fits like it was tailor made just for him.  It was expensive but worth the money because he has never gotten tangled up in it.  I can't tell you how many nights I would be out there in the snow and the wind (always windy here) crawling around under him and he would never move while I blanketed him, and I didn't even have him haltered!

In the summer he turns a beautiful Grulla color, with a stripe down his back.  When he was in Oregon he had dapples, but he seems to have lost those, could be age I guess.

Danny does not do well in slick mud or hard ground.  When his foot comes down it hits hard, his hoof is even a little mis-shaped from it.  Hard ground seems to bother him, he will always go for soft dirt.  I only let one person trim his feet.  Sometimes, he needs help with his balance and lots of rest while being trimmed.  It takes a person with patience to give him the time he needs.  He doesn't fight but he will fall over if you don't stabilize him.

I had a vet attempt accupuncture for a while.  It didn't help. Most vets say he looks great for his age. He is about 24 we think.
There is more to tell about Danny, but I will stop here today.


Hi Everyone,
I have never done a blog before, so if I mess it up be patient with me. :)
I am a horsey person, yes one of those women who would rather be with her horses than people any day of the week. Right now I have four horses.  Danny, he is my old guy (24) who was a rescue horse. He has stringhalt so does not get ridden much, although I am beginning to think I should start riding him once in a while to get him limbered up a little bit. He does not have the temporary stringhalt, but the real deal.  The kind that cannot be treated except for surgery, and I have no intention of putting him through that.  I am sure he was someone special in his life though!
This is Danny.  Isn't he beautiful?

My second horse is Sassy, she is a four year old filly. She was given to me by a gal who didn't have time to work with her. Sassy she is an AQHA mare, with some great breeding behind her. She is the funniest little thing, about 14 hands. She is so curious about everything, always into stuff. She is so soft and easy to train, just a pure joy to work with. I gave her to my son to have as his horse and this would have been the summer to really get her finished, but in April she started limping and as it turns out has a chipped coffin bone, so she is wearing special shoes and is in rehab right now. We still do ground work with her to keep her fresh and the walking is good for her. No trotting or running right now.

This Sassy, she is like a taquito, little and spicey!

My third horse is Trax. He is a sorrel paint ranch horse.  I bought him from an aquaintance who bought him from another guy who got him from another guy...basicly he changed hands several times before I got him.  Trax is by far the coolest horse I have ever owned, although not all of his previous owners figured that out.  Poor guy was ridden like a freight train, treated roughly, yanked around pushed around, and finally he fought back by bucking the crap out of his owners, hence the reason he was sold so many times.  Although the last guy sold him to me because he just wasn't using him at all and he was going to waste.  I have shown him a new side of humans, I ask him to do things and he gives me 110 % everytime.  I don't beg, I suggest and I do it firmly but not rudely, and he has come along ways from the sort of unruley guy I brought home. Don't let his short fat stature fool you, he can go as far as you want all day long, and lives to work a cow.  His biggest issue is that he is not "soft" and he doesn't like to stop. But since we switched to a hackamore I am getting better stops and we are working on getting him to "give me his head".  He is my pride and joy, the most fun to ride.

"My little Fat Trax"  We call him that because he has spots on his back that look like paw prints

My fourth horse is actually my boyfriends horse, his name is Killian. (the horse not the boyfriend)  He is a big big boy.  He is also AQHA and is a ranch horse as well. There isn't much of anything you can't do on this horse, and I can put anyone on him.  He is a little on the lazy side unless you put a cow in front of him. I think his theory is "rest or work- non of this in between stuff".  Sometimes if we are trailriding who ever is on him has to really work to get him to move his feet.  Not that he refuses to go but he moves about as fast as molasses in Jan.  But any horse you can throw a halter on and ride on a trail bareback is ok in my book, so he is a keeper!
Killian, on a trail ride by Casper mountain, doing what he does best!

So there it is folks, the introduction to 'Life with my herd"  I will be updating with training pics and video's and other stuff as we progress.
Hopefully it won't bore you to death!
Take care