Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blanket Care


Back a post or two ago, NCCatnip asked about blanket care and storage. I have to say that is a Great topic to cover! We buy them to keep the horses warm, but what do we do to take care of them? Taking care of your horses blanket keeps you from having to buy a new one every year. Considering the prices some are commanding- that can get pretty expensive.

As far as washing them goes, I know plenty of people who used to go to the local laundromat and hog the huge machines in the back. Packing the blankets in garbage bags to hide what they are, enter through the back door- hoping not to be noticed and sorta went under cover to have a clean horse blanket.

One farm I was at had a washer and dryer set up in a spare tack room. This was for blankets, polo's, English pads, coolers, shipping boots, wraps of all kinds, sheets and even the heavy stable blankets as needed. It was a Heavy Duty machine and it certainly did the trick! Anything that fit, in it went.

One thing I have found, is that Craigslist is a great place to find washers and dryers. Washers being more useful than the dryers, often cheap- $50-$100 for one that works, sometimes even freebies can be found. People are always moving and dumping appliances or selling the old ones when they buy new ones. Finding one for a price you are willing to pay and you are on your way to not worrying about sending the blankets out again.

Once you find your washer and bring it home, you will need a place to put it. Somewhere within a reasonable distance to power and water, drainage being another consideration. In the garden area of the local hardware store and you will find a Y shaped fitting for around $10. Ace Hardware has them online in a few different styles and you can have one shipped right to your door. Connect the garden hose to the Y, both of the washer hoses to the Y and your set up is almost complete.

For another $30, a swimming pool hose can be purchased for attaching the drain hose to. Slip the drain hose inside and clamp them together. Be sure to keep the hose going up as if it were going into the drain in your laundry room. Otherwise it will let all of the water out during the wash or soak part of the cycle. If you are using Eco friendly soap, you can then run the pool hose out to nearby plants and water the landscaping while getting clean horse blankets and pads... Yay! You are now multitasking at it's best!

When you plug the machine in, be sure the power cord has what is called a 'drip loop'. Basically it is a part of the cord being lower than the plug. If the water lines spring a leak and the cord gets wet, the water will run down the cord and drip off instead of going into the outlet. This can prevent a hellacious shock as well as electrocution or at the very least blown circuit breakers and tripped GFI outlets.

If this is just not an option where you are, I have found throwing the blankets over a hitching rail or fence and spraying them with the hose and a nozzle can work just as well. Wetting both sides evenly keeps the blanket from slipping off while you are working on it. When the top is clean, grab the wither area and pull straight back along the fence line to 'flip' it over.

It takes a bit more effort on your part, but the what about horses has ever been known to be easy? If the dirt or manure is a bit stubborn, get out your body brushes squirt some shampoo on it and get to work scrubbing. After rinsing it all clean and making sure the soap has been removed- you can leave it on the fence to dry, If you are in a warm enough climate to do so.

In the spring this may not be so much of a problem, but if you need the blanket that night you can wring as much water out as you can by rolling, twisting and squeezing it as best you can. I try to lay it over the fence, lining side out and front on one side of the fence, back on the other. This way the water runs down and if anything is left wet- it's the very front and back edges of the blanket.

Once the blanket is clean, if you wish to store it for the summer, I have found that the plastic bags your own bedding comes in- comforters for larger blankets- works really well. I can usually fold a few blankets and fit them nicely inside for storage.



This is actually two blankets and there is still plenty of room for a couple more. The black one is the blanket in need of repairs as can be seen by the piece of the lining hanging out there. I have pictures of this process and I will be featuring it soon for those who are willing to give it a shot. The green one is a yearling size Weatherbeeta turnout sheet.

I lay them out on their side fold the straps all up inside. Fold the front third of the blanket towards the back. It should reach to about the flank area. Fold the back third into the middle- back of the blanket reaching the girth area. Now fold the top down, folding it all in half and put it into the bag. Zip it shut and it's ready to be stored wherever it will be handy but out of the way until it is needed again.

You may choose to put a cedar block inside the bag, scented air freshener packets or even mothballs, but as long as you put the bags where there is no bug problems, it should be ready for use when you pull it out of the bag in the spring.

Strange how we are discussing putting the blankets away, when we are more likely to be pulling them out for use. Maybe a recap in the spring? It could happen.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The truly blessed

Just wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

I hope we each find special gifts awaiting us under the Christmas tree.

For those who receive the gift of animals, remember this, they are the lucky ones. You may get a new horse or pet, but they get a family. For that they are blessed. Cherish each day you have with them, as you never know how many lay before you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blankets 101

Okay, so a few things happened over the weekend that kept me from getting some things accomplished. One of them being getting pictures of our horses and the blanketing process... But I did manage to get a couple of other projects going instead, so I found some sense of a level of accomplishment.

In light of the fact that many have stated they do not normally blanket, there is still the need to look at blankets in general, as some people do not know much about them other than the go on the horse to help keep them warm. We may not blanket regularly- meaning every horse, every year, but having blankets on hand when needed is a comforting thought considering the opposite- scrambling to find one that fits in an emergency.

What I find in many situations is people buying a blanket and not knowing what they are looking for or at. Buying it, then figuring out it isn't even worth half the money they spent on it. Nothing sends people over the edge faster, than paying for something that just doesn't work.

Just like with horses, the type of blanket you are buying depends on what you are using it for. If the horse is going to be kept in a stall, inside a barn, then it may not necessarily need to be waterproof. If you are planning to turn the horse out while wearing their blanket and you live anywhere on planet earth where rains or snows- waterproof qualities are pretty high on your list of requirements.

A lot of blankets now use Denier to relay the information of the outer lay of material known as the shell. But what does Denier mean? What are those numbers anyways? From the words of wise geek-

"Denier is a measurement that is used to identify the fiber thickness of individual threads or filaments used in the creation of cloth, carpeting drapery material, and similar products. Originally, the concept of denier was applied mainly to natural fibers, such as silk and cotton. Over time, the unit of thickness for synthetic fibers such as rayon and nylon also came to be identified as denier.

Along with being a measure of the thickness of the individual fibers of yarn or thread, denier also acts as a unit of weight. The standard for computing the weight is to weigh nine thousand meters of the material that will be used to create a product. That weight per nine thousand meters is registered in grams. The higher the numbers of grams per nine thousand meters of material, the higher the denier count."

So the short form of this would be- the higher the number (600, 800, 1200...) the more threads or filaments you will find in the designated measurable area of the material. Many times the higher thread count fabrics are stronger, more durable and more weather resistant.

Breathability is another important quality to consider. In speaking with a friend in a colder climate state, they have had horses freeze up, under their blankets because the blanket does not breath, the horse sweats and the sweat turns to ice. Not a good situation for the horse, not good for the owner who thought they were doing the right thing and not good for the blanket company because their customers will soon look for something else.

The amount of fill or insulation in a blanket is another important factor to consider. Warmth trapped in pockets of air between layers can be great insulation. Many of the older style blankets used foam padding as insulation. While it may work in some areas, it doesn't work in all areas. A lot of what is seen in blankets now is a material such as fiberfill or batting, which is commonly used in quilts and other such blankets that you may find on your own bed. Information on horse blankets lists the ounces of insulation material used to describe the thickness and insulating properties. The higher the number, the greater the insulation properties and the more likely the build up of heat if the blanket lacks breathability.

Another consideration is the lining of the blanket. Ripstop nylons and even taffeta are used to prevent hair loss due to rubbing. Some blankets and sheets are lined with fleece and some with a thick wool felt. My issue with fleece is it seems to hold and gather static electricity, in turn zapping either you, your horse or both when it comes time to apply, shift or remove the blanket. There's a real confidence builder for a youngster or an otherwise already skittish horse...

So what the blankets are made up of is pretty important when you are considering spending your hard earned money on one. You want something that will work, that will provide warmth and that will be comfortable for you horse. Fit issues will be the next post. Because it doesn't matter how great the blanket is, the workmanship that goes into it, the materials it is made from or how much it costs if it just doesn't fit right. Just ask you horse.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Different in winter

In the past five months we have sure covered a lot. Found a horse, lost a horse, brought in a new horse, dug up some dirt on a rider and discussed which show records are worthy of bragging rights. We have gotten off track, then back on track but still haven't actually been to the track. Save up your $$$ we will go there, I promise... And trust me those grooms do things to make the horses look great because they hope they will soon be in the winners circle.

I have been thinking of a few things lately to post about. But being as it is going into winter, there are some things that will have to wait. Because things are different in winter for people on different parts of the planet.

A while back another person on fhotd posted asking about things in the southwest. I told her feel free to email, I would be happy to fill her in with whatever info I can. So she did. Asking about the price of hay, the cost of board, the number of covered arenas, distances to shows, if there even are shows(?), trail riding available, average temperatures, etc. She is in Wisconsin and interested in wintering somewhere warmer. Can anyone blame her?

Well the part about the covered arenas made me snicker just a bit. There are a few here, but not for the same reasons as you would find one in her area. Here they block the sun in the summer, there they keep the snow and ice off the ground in winter. Both good reasons to have one, but not something she had considered.

The show seasons- same thing. Here we are in full swing from about September through around April. There- it's picking up around April and shutting down in September. So in some areas you may be dragging out the show clothes while others are putting them away.

Trail riding is going strong here, put on a light jacket and hit the trails. Places where it is snowing and below 0 on the thermometer, the horses are getting time off, their shoes may have already been pulled and they are coasting until things have thawed- including their water tubs!

Pretty much everyone is dragging out their horses blankets though (if they haven't already) and checking for holes, making sure they still fit, letting go of the old ones and shopping for new ones. A blanket is a good thing to always have on hand just in case. Temperatures may plummet suddenly before their coats come in, there may be health issues deterring weight gain and if you are here- your horse had better be body clipped if you plan on hitting the ring.

I will be posting on the art of body clipping, but since none of ours will be showing this year- there is no need to shave them bald and blanket. That one will have to wait until spring.

Even blanketing though, there are considerations as to when and why. Increasing the amount of hay or roughage fed at night helps the horse produce their own heat and maintain a natural warmth. A lot of times if it is raining, just providing a waterproof sheet is enough. As long as they are dry, they can stay warm underneath. Same goes for windy days, a sheet to block the wind may be all it takes.

I will try to get pictures over the weekend of some of our blankets and the blanketing process. Some horses take to putting them on/taking them off, with no problems. Others, just don't even bother. It will kill them and they just know it. Nothing in the world will change their thoughts on the matter and trying to get a blanket on them can be dangerous. Staying safe is more important. That way you will be around to feed them in the morning. Which is more important in their world? Blankets or food. I bet we can come up with pretty close answers there!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

HANDS OFF!!!

I thought I was the only one who had some sort of mental issues when it comes to other people using my stuff. In speaking to a few people though, I find I'm not alone. Not at all and not even close. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Maybe, but keep your hands off my things.

Here's why.

For me there are a few things that send me over the edge and the inner bitch is set free. Those in her path, are quick to be needing all the help they can get once she is on the loose.

My #1 irritant is halters and leads. Each horse has their own. I buy a new one as needed and expect them to be either on the horses stall gate, or nearby, when I go to get them. You never know when an emergency can pop up and horses need to be moved. It's nice knowing there is a halter and lead rope handy that fits each horse in case they also need to be tied over there and kept out of the way.

Which leads to #2. You don't swap out lead ropes. If your horse breaks his, you borrow mine and break it too- there had better be a new one in it's place the next day. Each of our horses has their own lead rope, so I can move them or tie them if I need to.

#3 would be horses that chew on stuff and the owners or handlers who let them. If you know your horse is mouthy, don't leave stuff within their reach. When you do, you know it will get chewed. In the case of leather- show leads, reins, bridles, harness, etc. your safety and others, depends on the equipment being in good shape and Not breaking or failing. It always does the minute you need it the most. Never fails!

#4 would be borrowing brushes, blankets or fly masks. Especially when you have your own, but maybe the horse pulled their mask in the field and you are just too lazy to look for it. Brushes can transmit skin irritants, fungus's or who knows what, but now my horse has a problem, because you grabbed my brushes and helped pass it all around the barn. Thanks! *grumbles*

#5. Using my stuff and not putting it back. I need to use it, but find myself hunting everything down when I could be riding by now... ARGH! Major time waster and the longer I look, the angrier I get.

#6 supplements for MY horse. I bought it because s/he needs it. Why in the world is the whole barn is getting a handful or a scoop in their feeders. Does your horse need it? If so buy your own. Did you think I wouldn't figure out why a 50 or 80 pound bag only lasts a week, when s/he is supposed to be fed a scoop a day and only at night? And the bale of grass I bought for my pony is not there for free choice feeding to whichever horse happens to colic on the day ending in Y. It never gets replaced... *sigh*

I had one barn owner tell me one day, she would be taking MY trailer to the sale to haul horses home in. Didn't ask me, oh no, she told me. Um, No you're @#%$&+&%^$# NOT!!! I had just bought it for a cheap price, there was a partially rotted floor board and it needed some other minor wiring work. The real kicker in this? She had her own trailer- a 6 horse stock trailer. And I was leaving that afternoon for a vacation! So what do I do? I pulled the floorboard out and took home the license plate. Chocked the tires, locked the hitch and made sure the trailer would not be moved. Period. End of story.

I had a neighbor girl ask to borrow my saddle once. She wanted it to use on her horse who was uncontrollable at times. I didn't know where she lived- just down the street somewhere. She wanted to use it to 'work him lightly in it' and the horse was for sale for less than the saddle is worth. Yeah, let me grab the keys open the tack room and take what you want. I'll get right on that. Sure. So if I had let her use it and the saddle had been damaged- who's paying to replace it?

The underlying issue in all of this though, is... Who gets stuck with footing the bill to replace brushes that walk off, broken or missing lead ropes, chewed up bridles, grain siphoned into the black hole and trailers involved in an accident? ME! Don't these people think that if I could afford to buy a really nice _______ I would? And because I did, does that give them the right to use it at will? NOT A CHANCE. Buy your own. Don't have the money? Maybe you should have thought about that before and saved up.

Just so nobody thinks I am a half crazed loon who counts each bristle in the brush- I have been known to let people use or borrow my stuff. I have brushes and things that may be considered extras and if they walk off- well it's not a big deal. But when they do, when somebody else needs it, I don't have anything to loan them. So instead, I will just send them looking for you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weighing in

To feed or not to feed?

That's not the question!

How much?

Now there's the real question...



(Photo credit- Seminole Feed)

So here you have it. A horse is put on the scale, much like a Weight Watchers meeting. The numbers come up on the wall. The horse hangs his head in shame. He gained a few pounds because he ate the amount of feed in his feeder, as provided by the barn help.

Next horse steps onto the scale. She has lost a few pounds. It took friends. Her ribs show and her frame is thin. Worming schedule is up to date, teeth are fine, things seem to be in order. Yet the numbers keep declining...

Next horse steps on the scale. The numbers come up, this horse has remained at the same weight for weeks. Everything must be on track. Life is good, the horse looks fine. No worries for the owner there. Whew!

But what's going on? What is so different? Why is one horse gaining, one losing and another maintaining their weight? They are all eating the same hay...

Anyone consider their size as a factor? The scheduled workload a horse has ahead of them? Where they came from? Age? Health conditions?

Every barn I have been in, measures their feed in some way. Some weigh the hay, some measure pellets by the bucket or 3lb coffee can, grain and bran are measured accordingly- 1 lb coffee cans work well, plastic or metal feed scoops, and now with the invention of SmartPak Equine, supplements are premeasured before they are even shipped.

Some folks still 'eyeball it' and feel for the weight of a flake of hay before putting it in front of the horse. Different bales and different hay, means different amounts when feeding the same horse. Time of the year of the cutting makes a difference too, in what you get.

When talking about alfalfa- it can be a heavy bale, thick flakes and high quality. May cost you a bit more per bale, but you will find you feed less and the horses are just fine. There are also bales which are light, full of stems, loaded with shake or leaves and you end up feeding the horse over half a bale just to make up for it's poor quality. You may have saved on the cost per bale, but when you figure how many bales you go through- it ends up costing you more.

Bermuda grass hay that we have here in the desert, can also come in heavy bales, breaks off in a nice flake, decent enough moisture content and high quality. Or it is dry, light weight bales, cut the string and *POOF* it goes everywhere! Add in a windy day and it really is everywhere.

It has been mentioned recently, that one barn is weighing their horses, under the 'advice' of the trainer. As a baseline for medications or worming, or for later use if suddenly the horse drops weight and begins to suffer health issues, that is understandable. But when you are basing your day to day feeding allowances off of the numbers on the wall, you may have to consider the knowledge of the person calling for this. Can you not look at a horse and tell by what you see- this horse needs more food or that one needs a little less?

I have also been in a couple of barns where a baseline was established for 'maintenance only' horses. They received a set amount of feed, no matter their size, weight or other considerable factors. Two things fall under this category. These were either 'board only' horses in a training barn or horses whose owners were behind on their payments. I have seen horses lose weight on these terms of how much to feed.

Another local farm feeds hay cubes out of a wheelbarrow using a scoop shovel. Several if not all of the horses there were overweight. The ones I seen had fat globules on certain spots of their body- near the withers, the dock of their tail, shoulder area and cresty necks. Issues in the making...

Another barn I was at, (actually a couple fall under this one) the owner flipped out if you fed more than 2 or 3 bales per feeding. There were around 60 head on the property at the time. Um, helloooo! The pony doesn't eat much and whatever he doesn't eat- the warmblood moose will. Psssst, SHE NEEDS IT TOO! It all balances out. But she didn't see it that way. Instead it was all based on numbers. The number of horses, the number of bales and the price per each. There was little to no getting through to her. Even when stating the case- the boarders are PAYING FOR IT! Any wonder why I didn't stick around?

Another barn switched the hay being fed to my horse. He didn't like it or eat it and instead chose to decorate his stall with it, sleep and poop on it. How to handle it? They approached me and told me he needed to be put on grain. Which cost $10-$20 extra per month, of course... How did ever you guess?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Going to look

Some of us have had the fun of going to look at horses with clients. Sometimes we go by ourselves to see the horse, sometimes the clients come along. Either way, there are always things that some of us may not pay any attention to and other things that make us want to just keep on driving, not even slowing down to check the address.

For the people just getting into horses, what do they need to look for? What do they need to learn to look past? They navigate the same obstacles when horse shopping as the rest of us may find, but they are more often in the position of falling into the 'traps of deception' some of us have learned to avoid.

Many of these same things apply when looking into boarding facilities. The first thing you should look for and at is all of the horses on the property. Are they all up to weight? Are their feet in good shape? Do they look happy?

When going to a persons house to look at a horse, it is a little different than going to a boarding facility, professional or training barn. At the barns and boarding facility, the horses are generally owned by others. Their owners are paying for their care- quality feed and a clean stall are usually the bare minimums. If the horses are in training they are there to be worked and should be in good shape reflecting this. If the horse owner is keeping them at their home- they are ultimately responsible for the care and condition of all of the horses kept there.

One or two thin horses among a herd of 10 or more, may just mean those horses have weight issues, teeth issues, worms or may be new to the facility. If they are all thin and showing signs of needing better nutrition, take that as a warning sign. Same goes for a farm full of overweight horses. Check into how the facility addresses their feeding program. (Crazy 3 Dayer recently asked about a facility where one person is weighing the horses. This brings up another issue I will address in it's own post. There will be plenty of room for discussion there.)

If the horses all have nice looking, trimmed or shod hooves- their owner has made the appropriate calls, scheduled and paid for the farrier work and is seeing to it the horses feet are taken care of. Again, if you see one or two who don't fit in? They may either be new on the property or there for work with hoof handling issues.

A happy horse is easy to spot, just like an aggressive horse will grab your attention. If they come to the fence, gate or front of the stall to say "Hi!", ears up, inquisitive eyes and hoping you have a treat or a friendly pat- good sign. If all of them stand as far from humans as possible, back turned and a defeated "air" about them, there's a reason for that. But if they charge the fence gate or front of the stall, ears pinned, teeth bared and ready to eat you alive... I wouldn't waste anymore time there. One or two aggressive horses? At a training barn, depending on the trainer, they may be there for that reason. A barn full of horses like that? Something is causing those issues. Probably not something you wish to know about or be associated with.

If you make it to the point of handling the horse, were they easy to catch or did someone have to chase them down? Already caught and tied up when you arrived? The seller may not have wanted you to see how bad it can be. Some horses haven't been handled much or they can be a little leery of new people. If you seem to get along well enough over the pasture fence or stall door, maybe the the seller will let you go in to catch them, letting you both get to know each other.

If the horse is being purchased for riding or driving, make sure you see someone ride or drive the horse. Preferably the seller, their trainer or someone associated with the owner. There are horses out there who may be angels when you are on the ground, but climb on their back and Heaven help you because you are going to need it! Some horses can be ground driven, but not put to a cart. If you are looking at one of these horses, use your head and have some consideration when asking your trainer to handle or get on them.

If your trainer says "Forget it!", take them at their word and call it good. If they get hurt, they lose money- not only on medical bills, but income, since they won't be able to ride anything until they have healed. You most likely aren't paying the trainer until you buy a horse anyways, so don't ask them to do something dangerous for free, just to suit you. That is a quick way to get kicked out before you even get started.

If you wish to compete on the horse- watch them in action. Watch a lesson or go to see them at a competition. Just because Ole Rowdy comes from a long line of great cattle horses, doesn't mean he likes cows. Some barrel racing horses get worked up at the gate and ropers may not like being backed against the rails in the box. It won't be any fun if you buy a horse hoping to compete in the upcoming season, only to find out it is going to take at least one or two show seasons to get them straightened out enough to make them at the very least, only marginally competitive. Some horses are great at home, but take them anywhere else and they just lose it. These are things you will want to know before you decide to buy.

The bottom line about horse shopping is, when you are looking at a prospective new horse, there are honest folks on every level, just like there are those only out to separate you from your money. Once this is accomplished, they could care less about you or the horse. Lessons? Further training? Not going to see either one and if you do, it is going to cost you. But if they have already brushed you off, why would you want their help with anything else?

The horse can be in a high dollar barn, under a big name trainer and still have issues which can be hidden or disguised to even those of us who have been in the industry for a number of years. Find out as much as you can, take a day or so to think about it and don't let anyone rush or push you into making a decision you are not comfortable with.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Horse trader or used car salesman?

You found a horse online who looks like a promising prospect. The training level, temperment, breeding and price fall under your criteria. You read and reread the ad and finally decide to call for more information. But what do you ask the seller and how do you know if you will get an honest answer?

Ads usually contain the basics, which can be considered the horses strengths- the horse leads, loads, clips, ties, stands for the farrier and vet. Easy to catch in a stall or turnout, gets along well with others, height, color, breeding and price. So what do you ask the seller about the horse? If the horse has been shown- the seller will more likely include all of this as a way to promote the horse as something great and justify their price.

Some sellers will include information which makes the buyers question the suitability though. One ad I found a short time ago stated the horse "needs a stronger rider". Stronger how? Do I have to really pull on the reins hard to get the horse to stop? Sometimes the strength needed, is in fact, the inner strength of trusting the horse and letting them go. Dropping the reins, closing your eyes sitting still and asking for a stop, instead of yanking and pulling on the horse while screaming repeatedly- HO!

Traders often get a bad rap because they are in it to win it. Flip and ship is the name of their game. A quick turnaround means less spent on feed, farrier and vet work, just get the horse sold and move on to the next one. I know of a few locals who are no more than horse traders. But they do get lucky and find a nice horse here and there. If you know what you are looking for and what you are looking at, you can score a great deal on a nice horse for a low price, simply because the trader doesn't know what they have. In their quick assessment and 'easy flip' they don't often have or take the time to get to know the horse.

A lot of times they pick up horses at the low end auctions. They give the horse a chance to find a new home, make a few hundred dollars and go back for a few more. If a horse is on their lot too long, they may take them back to the auction to dump them off and bring home another in their place. If the horse has serious issues, they go back to the auction the next chance they get.

When looking at ads online- check all adds for this seller. Quite a few of the ad websites offer this feature. I suggest you use it. A couple of horses, may not be so much of a trader. A long list of assorted breeds, temperments, accomplishments and each ad sounds the same? You are likely dealing with a trader. But even some breeders take on a shady character when it comes to selling horses. Some also prey on newby horse owners. They too can take in horses of other breeds as a 'payment' for something else and expect to flip & ship the horse for a profit.

As a buyer, keep in mind that every horse is for sale for a reason. Sometimes the reasons are good ones- job loss, sudden illness, death in the family, expensive car repairs... Sometimes the sellers are just thinning out or culling their herd, trimming the fat, downsizing, cutting costs or even getting out of horses altogether.

While everyone wants to have a nice horse, breeders and trainers fall under a little different category. We want to keep our best horses, but don't want to be known for selling a bunch of horses who are unsound, mindless, hard to handle or downright dangerous to be around. The way to build our reputation is for every buyer to be happy with their horse, feel safe while riding them and understand that they are horses and we cannot control every single thing they do. Some people get it. Others don't and some never will.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So you decided what you want to do with your horse, chosen a breed, set a budget and started looking... and looking... and looking...

You have learned how to refine your search, and yet the list on the monitor is still long. Now what? You refine it a bit more and try again.

Your criteria may include the breed, the age, the price, discipline and even the color. But within each of these you will still find quite the assortment of horses who vary from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Breeds- Pick a breed. Any breed. You will find horses of just about every shape to choose from. Narrow based - built like a tank, short - tall, long - short coupled, great feet - lousy feet. Sometimes you find a registered horse, big names on the papers, but built like Frankenhorse. Then there are grade horses who are about as perfectly built as it gets.

Age- you will find young horses who are as calm and quiet as the day is long and others in the same age group, who think everything is out to get them. Young horses who act much wiser than their years and older horses who are full of spirit and life.

Price- You can set a limit and yet still find a freebie. We have taken in a few freebies over the years, passed on others and know of three more at the moment. Some of our horses have come with price tags of everywhere from $250 to several thousand dollars. Whatever you feel the horse is worth, are comfortable paying and can afford- Congratulations on your new horse!

When looking through horse ads though, what are the warning signs that stand out to some and get no reaction from others? Seeing these things, what do they tell you? In the lower end of the price range you will be more likely to find horses who fall under the 'rescue' status. They are in rough shape and their eyes just scream "HELP ME!" when you look into them.

One thing that stands out to a lot of people is the hay belly. But then you also notice their ribs are showing. Most likely this is worms. Curable? In a lot of cases, yes. Cost? You can go the route of buying a few tubes at the feed store or online, or you can have the vet out to tube worm them and have an evaluation done on the level of infestation and type of worms you are dealing with.

Once this is dealt with and ruled out, the horse may begin to flourish again and pack the weight on with ease. Or not. Then what? Look at their teeth. Are there hooks, points, ridges or sharp spots, ulcerated areas on the tongue and inside of the mouth? If so, this can be handled by having the horses teeth floated. Some horses need to be sedated for this, while others are fine on their own. Prices vary according to your location and the quality of the person doing the work.

If the horse is thin when you looked at them, ask what they are being fed and how much. Sometimes it is a matter of not enough feed, or the right feed. Is it a mare that has just been weaned? Some mares just can't maintain weight while the foal is at their side, where others have no problem doing so. If kept in a herd situation, are they separated at feeding time? If your horse is the lowest on the pecking order, they will not likely get much to eat and it will show. Throwing and extra flake of hay and spacing them out can help fix this, but may not work in every situation.

The hooves also require a close look. Are they long and overgrown? Does the horse toe in or out? Do the hooves have a nice 'bell' shape to them or are they small and straight? Are they in proportion to the size of the horse they are under? Is the seller making a big deal about the "New Shoes" the horse is wearing? Could be because there was an all out battle to get them nailed on... Can the horse go barefoot or do they require shoes? Can they get by with front shoes only? If you have a horse wearing shoes but standing on hard packed ground, day in, day out and buying the horse means they will be moving to a stall with bedding and well groomed arenas with nice footing- you may be able to remove the shoes without issue. Then again, you may not.

The overall condition of the horse can tell you a few things. If they are thin, have the 'wormy belly' and their feet are long, chipped or haven't been trimmed in how long(?), it should raise a few flags and eyebrows, that the horse has not had routine care. A few dollars for wormer, a few extra dollars per bale for good hay, having their teeth checked and seen to once a year or more as needed- costs you far less to maintain the horse, than it will if you ignore everything and wait for it to all fall apart.

And believe me, when it falls apart, it FALLS APART! No amount of grooming will cover these things up, and sometimes the damages cannot be fixed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Initial assessments

When shopping for a horse, there are a considerable amount of options to be considered. High on the checklist should be- What are you going to DO with the horse? Breed, show, trail ride? If you are interested in showing, are you heading for the jump course, dressage arena, driving course, roping chute, rodeo arena or cattle pens? What level do you intend to go to? How well do you ride? How much do you know and how much do you have to spend?

For each discipline and sport, there are a number of levels of competition. There are a number of schooling shows for beginners, green horses and as a 'brush up' before hitting the circuits and rated shows, practice events before hauling out to the rodeo grounds to strut your stuff and 'fun days' just to hang out, learn and make new friends. For each level of competition, there are horses in all price ranges and often a handful of different breeds. Stock breeds dominate in certain arenas where lighter breeds take over in others. There are also the occasional 'exception to the rules' to be seen.

Once you have decided what you want to do and where you want to compete, have come to grips with your own abilities and checkbook balance- It's time to go shopping for a horse. But where do you start? Are you working with a trainer? Will you be boarding? Is your property safe for a horse? Do you know of a farrier? Feed stores? Veterinarians? If boarding- what is included or handled by the barn staff? Once you have established a comfortable answer to the numerous 'pre-horse' questions, there are a few other things to be considered.

What are you comfortable with, as far as accepting 'issues' with the horse? There just are no perfect horses. Perfect for you and your abilities- yes. There may be a few who fall into that category actually. But just like people, horses come with 'quirks'. Some can only be handled from one side for certain things, fed certain things and not others, nervous in a particular situation, they may have allergies, skin issues and as they age, just like us, there are health problems to be considered.

Depending on the sport and discipline they have been competing in, there may be joint issues, stress points, muscle tension and even lameness to deal with. Sellers can be honest and truthful or slick and slimy in their dealings. How does a person new to the horse world navigate these waters? Carefully. Just like the rest of us!

If you are not familiar with horses and haven't been around them a long enough to develop and eye for some of these issues, the local auction is not the place to go. Your heart will likely run off with a horse who has issues that will bankrupt you. Either by funding the vet's new house or tropical vacation, or sending you to the emergency room for an extended stay. When considering an auction find as a lucky one, they are. There are plenty of them there to be found. But diamonds in the rough are all around us, just waiting to be discovered by the right person and land in the right situation.

Auctions are more or less, buy on the spot, bid what you can afford and choose from what is available that day. Scouring the online ads, you have a bit more time to consider all things about each horse and choose wisely. Horse shopping in general is like everything else- "caveat emptor" or buyer beware. Learning what to look for, keeping an open mind concerning your intended use for the horse and trusting your gut instincts is the start to making an informed decision about the horse you will soon be bringing home.

Like buying anything else, your best option is to make the most well informed decision whether to buy or keep looking.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Introductions



This is Patience. I'll just let the photo's speak for themselves...


And that is me standing next to her this morning. Her towering over me. She is a gentle giant. It is windy as can be today- so yes a jacket, sweats and my muck boots. You would think we lived in the arctic or something. *eyeroll*


Looking to the future.


Not the best side view, but we are allowing her to settle in. Insert excuse to make everyone wait for another round of better photo's. Sure.


Yes she is a bit long, but when bred to a short coupled stallion, she has produced some really nice foals.

As I promised before, we will soon discuss things to look for and at, when considering a horse that could be your new acquisition.



Just took the last two this evening and put them up.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fields of Clover


So this isn't exactly a field of clover, more like weeds, but still green, edible and non toxic for the horses sake... That is my pony stallion, Kat, from way back when at my friends place.

As a handful of people know, this week has been a rough one at the Rotten palace. My big, red mare, Tess was kicked in the shoulder sometime during the night Friday, and it is not looking good for her. In fact it is looking pretty damn grim. The vet will soon be out to help pass her on to someone in heaven, who is in need of a good jumper.



Last night after giving her her meds, I held her head in my arms and kissed her as I told her she would soon be in a better place. The vet would take her pain away and that she had no reason to be nervous or scared. She will be well cared for, looked after by some of the best horsemen ever(!), can sail over jumps as she pleases and we will surely meet again.


With the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, I thought about all of the horses I have handled, ridden, groomed and otherwise held or helped through a lot of issues or tough times in their lives. All things considered, there have been many, and yet, there will be many more to come. Of that I am sure.



One mare who made quite an impact in my life was a mare who I had several years ago. She was at one time a Nationals Top Ten Western Pleasure horse. A friend of mine got her from the BNF and held her for the neighbor, who was giving her to their daughter for Christmas. While she was at the barn I worked at, they told me to ride her one day, to keep her 'in tune' until she went to her new home.

Sitting on her back that day, I wished I could have a horse like her...

As luck would have it, several years later, I helped her and her owner, get her through a broken leg, the resulting compensatory founder and the endless good and bad days in her life. She was eventually sold and unfortunately, where she was, she was not receiving the best of care. So without any reasoning I could explain, I made an offer to buy her, which was declined.



Instead they just gave her to me. This is the Mighty Mo a short time after I got her hooves brought back to decent shape, weight back on her and she resembled the horse I had once known. She was in rough shape, but was quickly brought back around. There were even days I was able to ride her again.

But as we neared the end, her good days were becoming outnumbered by the bad. Knowing what this mare had been through, makes it somewhat easy for me now, to do what's best for the horse. Even if that means letting them go.

Mo's best friend was my daughters pony Pi.


This was from a show back in December of 2000. My daughter rode her in a walk trot class at Westworld. Fifth out of five horses in the class... ah well, I was and am still proud of them.


The pony that everyone thought was 'grey' at that show had a hell of a big trot in those short little legs!


And she could jump, while still being the solid, packing, gentle as you go babysitter as ever.

There have been a few other animals as well...


My boxer Punkin


JR's dog Sassie at my moms


and in the snow...

So this Thanksgiving, when everyone is gathered to give thanks for the good things in your lives, don't be saddened about those who have already passed. Let go of any regrets you may have about things you could not control.

Instead, be thankful they have been a part of your life. For they have helped you become the person you are today. By going through whatever you have together, you have learned something and can now pass those experiences and knowledge on to others. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The all mighty dollar

When looking at horses, there are a number of things to consider. Conformation, breed, disciplines, the horses' intended use, prior use and their overall care. We all like different things, different breeds and have a different goal in mind for what we wish to accomplish. In reading another blog about people looking at your horse and acting like nothing other than a 'tire kicker' and claiming, "I can buy the exact same thing at the auction for less..." well I hate to burst their bubble, but no you can't.

Within any market, there are things people can do to alter the outward appearance of something to speed up a sale or hide flaws in what you are buying. Not a good way to present yourself or your business, let alone build your reputation or a client base. But yet they still do things to pass the responsibility off onto someone else to pay for or deal with. There are two sides to this issue- 1) the more you know, the more you may know how to effectively hide it, and 2) the more you know, the more easily you pick up on these things and can catch them in their lies.

Going to the local low end auction a while back, I don't remember seeing even one horse without issues, that warranted getting a bidding number. All things considered, at the low end auctions, about the only thing going on to hide a number of issues may be drugging a horse. Screening for this? Not likely you are going to find anything unless you draw blood or seen them being injected. There are also a number of "alternative health" products containing all natural ingredients. While these are directly aimed at the show industry and "won't test", their use is not prohibited at the auctions.

The horses that end up at the low end auctions are pretty much out of luck however you choose to look at it. Buyers with a large sum of money to spend, rarely go looking for those 'rough diamonds' or 'rising stars' at the low end auction. They just don't. When was the last time you hear of a horse coming from a KB auction and winning a number of titles? I would love to hear that story, but I doubt there are any to be found.

The owner who brought them, may be down on their luck as well. May have gone to the auction as a last resort for money to feed themselves or pay the bills. There again, they may also frequent the auctions, picking up one horse trying to resell for more and make a few $$$, and when they can't, bring the horse back for a sure sale and pick up another. They aren't going to get a lot for the horse, so they aren't going to put a lot into the horse to resell it.

The rarity in this situation, is the horse that is sleek, shiny, clipped, groomed to the T, has new shoes on and is trained out the Wazoo. That's where the warning sirens go off at a deafening rate. Red flags fly in all directions and the hair on the back of your neck goes up. The bidding starts and may seem to go on for a while as the price goes up, up, up... A few things come into question here. WHY is the horse there? And where did the bidders get their money when they claim not to have any? And if they have that kind of money to spend on a horse, Why are They at the low end auction?


I90 Expo Center gets the photo credits here... Scrolling down the page, there are the top ten sale horses & prices listed. One being $20K. For clarification- I am Not naming them as being a low end auction, I am just glad to see an auction website containing photo's without the horses in bad shape. The prices listed on their website seem to be middle of the road and fair, considering the current market and the horses as represented in the photo's. Kudos in that regard!

While looking at a number of horses over the years, at various farms, boarding facilities, training barns, etc. coming from breeders, trainers and owners, the most I have found as far as 'sprucing up' before anyone shows up, tends to be on the part of the people. Makeup, hair, best shirt, new jeans, a cowboy hat... one guy went as far as putting on his hat, chaps and oilskin duster grabbing his rope and a lunge whip as he came out the door to catch a horse standing in her little 12 x 12 pen. No idea who he was trying to impress, but it sure didn't do much for anyone in the group but give us all a hearty laugh as we drove away. No sale. Had the decision been made to buy the horse? Well it wouldn't have been based on Cowboy Carl's fashion sense or handling skills. Sometimes they are based only on pity and improving the horses situation in life.

When you look at the higher end auctions, where the horses are clipped and polished to perfection- everything is disclosed and you know exactly what you are bidding on. It may also be listed in the catalog description as well as read over the loudspeaker while the horse is in the ring. Their reputation is at stake and they rarely do anything to compromise it. The horses come in looking their best and their owners hope to turn a fair price for the horse. How far the bidding goes, is up to the people raising their hands, nodding their heads and placing their bid.



The grey mare, while not the high seller at the sale, brought $17K respectively and the pony was the high selling pony, bringing the price of $9K respectively as well. Photos from the website Professional Auction Services, Inc. and from the 2007 Virginia Hunter and Bloodstock Spring Sale.

I always enjoy hearing about things people do to their horses, in hopes of driving up the price, making a sure sale, trying to hide a blemish or fault and basically "outing themselves" and blowing the sale as well as their reputation in the process. I am no longer amazed, the lengths some people go to, just to sell a horse.

The next post will address assessing the horses condition and whether to buy or pass. Some things just cannot be hidden and it is nice knowing how to spot them, what it tells you and what you will need to do if you do in fact buy the horse. All considerations to make that can affect the purchase price.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Still waters run deep


For each of us there is a different a reason for our bonding with horses. Within that reasoning or bond there are things which just strike a chord that drives it all home. Things that bring us a sense of peace, pride, happiness or all of the above. A smell or sound that just adds to the depth of our connection.

For me there is just nothing in the world like being in the barn on a cool day, hearing rain on the roof while the horses munch on their food. Nothing comes close. At least not if we are keeping it in the barn...

Fighting for second would be the smell of a horse and their breath when they nuzzle you for cookies or scratches in that one spot. Standing next to them in turnout, the smell of leather in the tack room, grain in the feed room and hay brought in from the field. All good things that relax the body, sooth the mind and carry your worries away.

What does it for you? What brings you those thoughts and feelings making everything so worth everything you put into it? And we all know, there are a lot of things that go into having, keeping and even just riding a horse. What makes you keep going back to the barn for more?

***The picture can be found at Colorado T's where you can buy it on a shirt. How cool is that?***

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Topic of Taboo- the final chapter

In the performance horse industry, people go through a lot of things to prepare their horses before a show, but very few of them, when comparing the entire industry, go as far as sanding the horses hooves. Unless of course they are buying into the main ring BS of their breed associations and clubs.

So why is anyone even sanding hooves to begin with? Good question! Why are people doing a lot of questionable, cruel and otherwise unethical things to the horses before they go into the ring? They are trying to stand out in a way that catches the judges eye in hopes of winning. Otherwise they are trying to fit in by following the trend instead of starting their own, if you will.

As I have stated, Horsepoor has stated and many have never experienced at a show, the judge does NOT walk by, reach down to touch or otherwise feel the hoof to judge it's texture, let alone dock you points for them not being sanded. The judge(s) also cannot see it from their position at the side or center of the ring as you travel down the rail, complete your test or pattern, clear the jumps or work the cow.

*I will note here, the ONE place I did not see sanded hooves at the Scottsdale Arabian show, was the arena where cutting and working cow classes were being held.*

The only place I can imagine sanding holding any form of relevance though, is the In Hand classes. Halter & showmanship. That's it. But let's question it's "justification" even there, shall we?

Halter and Sport Horse In Hand classes are often viewed as the "Breeding Classes". These horses are a representation of the best the breeder has produced when trying to achieve their goal of creating a horse who fits the breed standard to the letter and is structurally as close as they can get. Not every foal a breeder produces is good enough to be shown halter and even within the breeds, the halter only vs. performance barns, the horses vary in their build and what is expected from them.

Some may consider sanding the hoof to a glassy smooth finish as a way of "enhancing to the look of the hoof". Yes it certainly adds to a "finished" look, but this can be viewed a couple of different ways. Are you using methods & products to improve the hoof or just enhance the looks of it? If the hoof is in good shape to begin with, why does it need 'improving'? Are the hooves in poor enough shape that they require sanding to make them look better than what they really are? If that is the case, the horse should not be at the show. After all, you are putting your "best horse" out there as the standard to which your breeding program will be judged by.

In showmanship classes, the handler is judged on their ability to control the horse and how well they have presented them. Again, is sanding, something that could be considered as a step taken to hide a flaw? Does sanding present you as someone who is thorough in their work and sees to the smallest of details? Or does it instead show you as willing to do whatever it takes to hide things in order to win?

Another person spoke about sanding and mentioned using alcohol to stop bleeding that may occur from sanding the hoof. Bottom line- if they are bleeding, there is a problem! Blood does not look good on your resume`. Never has, never will.

While alcohol does stop the bleeding by shrinking the capillaries, it stings! I have had it poured on a cut before. I didn't like the feel of it and won't do it to a horse to fix a problem I created.

The only use for alcohol in concerns to show preparation, is to remove all conditioners or coat enhancing bath products, before attempting to apply hoof polish. These things keep the polish from sticking to the hoof. Pour the alcohol on a rag, wipe the hoof down, then apply the polish. It goes much easier this way without wasting your hoof polish and wondering why it isn't doing what it is supposed to.

Many claim the hoof polish dries out their horses hooves. Do they ever consider the polish to be a chemical replacement for the hoof's natural moisture barrier they just sanded off? Alcohol used to remove the coat conditioning products, doesn't exactly moisturize the hoof before the polish goes on, and if I knew of another product to recommend, I would with no qualms. Do they consider that maybe the polish remover is also drying out the hoof? That could very well be part of the issue in a nutshell.

While the hooves do need to be attended to before a class at your next show, many times it starts long before you even mailed off your entries. Better breeding and better feeding is the beginning of nice hooves on a horse. Your choice of a farrier also makes a huge difference in the horses appearance and how they travel. That is what you want to get noticed for in the ring. Doing things right, just as it should be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Topic of Taboo (Part 2)

Sanding by hand? Sure it can be done, but since most horses being raised or trained for showing are kept in stalls, handled daily and are fed properly with nutrition being high on the list of priority in many barns, their hooves should be in pretty good shape to begin with. If not, well there again, things need to be considered and changed accordingly. No hoof, no horse, remember?

If their health is in line, nutrition on track and hoof care in order- there isn't much left to improve the overall appearance of the hoof before a show anyways. Many of the performance disciplines- don't bother with, let alone require sanded hooves. Clean the hoof off, cover it with polish and go in the ring.

If you wish to sand, try using just a sanding sponge.

Many can be used wet or dry, but keep in mind, that when used on a wet hoof, the wall will soften to some degree and result in more being taken off much easier than when things are dry. This particular sponge is for sale through Schneiders for around $3.

But look closely at a few things if you will. Notice the picture on the packaging? Doesn't that look like it could be the horses' lower leg, bone structure, or is it just me? "For moderate to heavy sanding of wood, paint, metal, plastic & drywall." Did I miss the word HOOF in there somewhere? Medium and Coarse grits only? Where is the Medium and Fine?


After sanding some people go to the lengths of using steel wool for an even finer, smoother finish. WHY? I have yet to see a judge reach down, grab a hoof and examine the work. This does not even happen in showmanship, where everything is closely examined to the Nth degree. Are these people this neurotic when going through their own grooming habits before leaving the house? I doubt it. What do these people have to prove by going this far in sanding the hooves?

From the picture in the last post, it looks as if the horse is due for new shoes. The hooves have outgrown the set that are on. If your horse is due for a trim or shoeing, have it done before you begin to sand. It will save you from having to go back and do it all again to remove fresh rasp marks, as well as not having to sand what is going to be trimmed away.

Once the hoof has been sanded for one show, the next show even a month or two later, usually does not require much work, (if any) to go back and touch up the job from before. Just a light buffing to take off any new rasp marks from a recent trim or anything else that may have come up since then. If you wish to clean up the appearance of the hooves, use your head and do as little damage as possible to achieve the look you desire. Less is more.

In the next segment I will cover polishing and the few simple steps to get the most from your work.

Topic of Taboo

I promised I would get to this at some point, so here it is. The topic of Taboo for so many.

*cue dramatic music and ominous smoke*

HOOF SANDING!

*shrieks and screams of horror to be heard*

(click on the picture for all 4 hooves)

This picture was found online by searching the web for images of 'sanded hoof' and is from the Horse Grooming Supplies forum. While the poster UnDun offers a simple enough routine and step by step instructions, I may be able to add a few thoughts, shorten the length of the process and minimize the damage being done, while still achieving the same final effect. **If they wish for the photos and link to be removed, email me (available in my profile) and I will do so.**

That's right, hoof sanding. One of the many things people do to their horses for the sake of a piece of silk with lettering on it and a rosette at the top. They come in several colors, blue, red, yellow, white, pink and green... Blue, red and yellow for a Championship, red, yellow and white for Reserve Champion, sometimes accompanied by a neck sash, small blanket of flowers, whatever, but the color still fades with time, the flowers do too if they are also silk- otherwise they dry up and shrivel to dust... But the horse has to stand on those feet, day in day out, regardless of the number of ribbons they do or do not bring home.

For all intensive purposes, sanding does bring out the look of the hoof and put a smooth, glassy appearance on each one. Glazed over with some polish and **ooooh shiny!** But does it really do anything to enhance your horses performance? Does it make them travel straighter down the rail? Lighter in the bridle? Perform a pattern correctly? Achieve higher scores? Mark a clear round over taller jumps in the hunter or jumper division or win more races?

I will bet NOBODY could answer any of those questions honestly with a Yes. I will tell you one thing it does, in regards to those things listed above. It could very well draw the judges attention to your horses hooves and amplify the amount of lameness they are exhibiting! Is that what you really wanted? Probably not!

Many people start with a wire brush to remove the dirt. Nothing different than you would find in a hardware store. Like these, listed by CCA Sales, Inc.-


WHY? Is the dirt in your area that thick, crusty, sticky, tar like- WHAT? Someone please tell me. Most show horses are kept in a stall, if not while in training, at least for some time before the show. Is the bedding and manure that bad? Or maybe the footing in the work areas? If so, then something seriously needs to change and quick! You have bigger issues to address than the appearance of the horses hooves.

Then a lot of folks reach for the power tools. Flat sanders, like you would use on cabinetry and a Not so favorite of mine- the flap wheel sander.
This one is from Lee Valley & veritas in their woodworking section. The replaceable strips in part B go into the wheel in part A. This attaches to an average drill, just like a drill bit. The sand paper strip comes out in front of the wire brush pieces. As the paper wears, you loosen the center fastener, pull the paper out to cover the wire brushes, tighten things up and off you go again. Usually only one grit is used (120 I think) and things go pretty smoothly. (No pun intended.)

Personally, I have burned a horses hoof once, using one of these. I did it, I admit it, and I cared for him as the hoof healed and grew out. Anyone care to guess how long ago that was? Lucky for me, luckier still for Kontender- it did not cause him any lameness issues. I kept my job, he was able to be shown, we both survived, live and learn, chalk it up to experience. Don't ever do it again if you can help it...

I was trying to remove a 'spot' on his hoof. The amount of friction created a hot spot and eventually a redness as it was 'burned' from the amount of heat being created. All on a white area of the hoof in the rear quarter. Visible to the judges eye while the horse goes down the rail in a performance class? Thankfully, no, it wasn't. If you are going to use one of these- be aware of what can happen. The burn I mentioned- that was over 18 years ago and I still have not forgotten about it. Think I learned my lesson? You bet!

***************

I am breaking this up into a few posts, due to the length and the amount of information I will be sharing on the topic. The next posts will be about sanding and how to do it with as little damage as possible and how to prepare the hoof the day of the show.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Find a happy place

Costa Rica waterfall

While we all have things come up in our lives that make us happy or just send us completely over the edge in anger, there are images of places that bring us back to rationality.


Images that bring us a sense of peace. Places that give us the feeling of content.

Bay View Resort

While another poster has recently found a place where things in the horse world are very similar, I have found it as a personal sanctuary. A place I can shift over to, while harboring thoughts of beautiful landscapes, excellent weather and few cares to be found. Not an ounce negativity to be felt.


Glacier Bay, Alaska

A place where there are no bills to be paid, no phone to ring, no traffic, no commute, no deadlines, no restrictions, no requirements and in general no ties to bind. Nothing there I do not want, need or wish to see.


An abundance of fresh powder for skiing, giant waves for surfing, quiet green woodlands and open meadows to ride in.



The wildlife native to the area is seen but not a threat. Maybe they are just as curious and awe struck, by your presence?



Or maybe you just find yourself sprawled out in a hammock beneath the trees or in a comfortable chair with a good book, warm drink and a fire in the wood stove...



Where do you retreat to? Where do you go? Where is your land of euphoria and what does it hold for you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good Luck!

I wish to take a quick moment to extend my best wishes to Mary and Megan and their horse "Peanut" who I clipped for their show the Fall Festival where they will be showing him in the Sport Horse division.

I also wish to extend a shout out to their trainer Kelli of Shamrock Horsemanship for helping bring them as far along as they have come. Good luck to you and your students.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Changing the Subject

Lets go from Gross and disgusting to something better. In my email inbox this morning, I recieved a message being forwarded around. This one came from a customer here at work, from another state. No I won't name names and get anyone in trouble.

--------------

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different, the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work.. (And no, she is not in the onion business.)

CNJ in- No idea who or which shop this is so don't bother to ask me.

The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around your home. If you work at a desk, place one or two in your office or under your desk or even on top somewhere. Try it and see what happens. We did it last yearand we never got the flu.

If this helps you and your loved ones from getting sick, all the better. If you do get the flu, it just might be a mild case... Whatever, what have you to lose? Just a few bucks on onions!!!

Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

I don't know about the farmer's story...but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia and needless to say I was very ill...I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put one end on a fork and then place the forked end into an empty jar...placing the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs...sure enough it happened just like that...the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

CNJ in- I know garlic and onions planted in spots in the garden will help keep pests and insects OUT!



Then I got this one concerning the H1N1 virus. Thank You Fern Valley.

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Dr. Vinay Goyal is an MBBS,DRM,DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital , Bombay Hospital , Saifee Hospital , Tata Memorial etc.. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).

The following message given by him, I feel makes a lot of sense and is important for all to know


The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat or bathe).

3. *Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one.. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. *Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but *blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.*

5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). *If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. *Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

I suggest you pass this on to your entire e-list. You never know who might pay attention to it - and STAY ALIVE because of it.


CNJ in- So get out you onions and garlic, rinse and gargle with salt water frequently and wash your hands. Hopefully we can all get through this winter and feel well enough to get our daily stuff done.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Long awaited?

I hardly think so.





This pallet of product? has been sitting there for at least 2-3 weeks now. The pile behind it is an ingredient for the processed feed they manufacture. Any time of day there are flocks of pigeons on the pile. Several are dead and decaying and can be found on the properties surrounding this one.


This pile sits along the fence just outside the building in the first picture. Yum! see all of the plastic in the pile? There is an assortment of straw, pallets, plastic and who knows what in and under this one.


Then behind the building, you see the grains and other products coming through the walls and piling up between the trash- barrels, conveyor belting, pallet jacks and all sorts of things...


Then the pile across from that containing tires and broken plastic, metal shelving and who knows what else.


A view under the roof of part of the rest of the facility. Also showing either ingredients or finished products sitting on pallets. Behind them, pile after pile of feed ingredients.


And what is that 'little black box' there by the fence? Yep, a bait block for the rats that are living there. There are several along bordering fences and throughout the property.

One question I have here, why would the rats touch or consume the bait block, when they have an entire yard covering several acres, full of feed and feed ingredients? And when they consume the bait block and die, does the guy driving the front end loader see the rats as he scoops another bucket load for the process?

******
What you cannot see in a couple of the pictures is one of the neighboring companies. A bakery which sells a number of different products across the southwest- Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado New Mexico and Texas. Their products are marketed under 5 different brand names. The facility directly behind this, used to warehouse Flemming Foods.

Now I can understand that anywhere you have food or food products, you run the risk of bugs and rodents. I get it. But to have a facility where no effort is put forth to clean it up or remove things no longer in use, especially when you produce a food product just floors me. Adding to that the nature of the neighboring businesses, residential neighborhood and the food chain? YUCK!

The company that manufactures this brand of feed and goes by two other names as well, produces pig, cattle and HORSE feeds. Mostly grain supplements. They boast being one of the leading companies in the industry. After seeing this and several more photo's of their facility, both ground and aerial views, and knowing a few more things from first hand insider info... You couldn't pay me to take a bag of their stuff. I value my animals and my own health too much for that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Maybe more than you wanted to consider

Recently I have been enlightened in a few ways of how little protection some of us have, while others are guarded beyond belief. I have also found many agencies and corporations employing people, yet granting them no authority to authorize or approve- anything. Remind me please, why then, do they even have a job?

While considering how important nutrition is in the look, condition, overall health and appearance of an animal and including ourselves, it is amazing how far some companies go in pushing the limits of their own industry boundaries, in the production of their products. Every industry has standards. While some companies easily exceed them, others miserably fail to even reach them.

As consumers, when purchasing their products, we are placing some amount of faith in their compliance to regulations and ability to go above and beyond the minimums allowed in their industry. Bottom line? We buy it because we hope they have done the research and then taken the steps to do everything possible to protect, preserve or maybe enhance the health of whoever is eating what they have produced.

When it comes to feed- hay can be assessed fairly easily. You may look at it before you buy it, as it is loaded for you to take home or when it is delivered and stacked at your place in the feed barn. Some of us aren't home at the time of delivery, but have established a relationship with our supplier and if there is any problems such as mold, the bale can be returned for credit or replaced. You may even know the grower personally and buy directly from them. The last chance you have to look at the hay is just before you cut open the bale and as you feed it.

A bale containing trash may be one that was near the edge of the field. People being the way they are anymore, some of them have no regard for others or problem with littering. It happens and the farmer sometimes has little chance to catch it or prevent it from going through their mowers or baling machinery. Trust me, they don't like having their equipment break down or blades dulled by this trash, any more than we like finding it in a flake of hay at feeding time! And it always seems THAT flake finds its way into the feeder of the horse owned by the pickiest owner who can be especially tough to deal with, anyways.

When shopping for supplements and grain though, there isn't much for anyone to go on. You read the tag on the bag, the list of ingredients and the listed percentages of vitamins, nutrients, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, palatability and other things. You figure the pellets, powders, gels and liquids are produced in a relatively clean environment. At least you hope they are, but unless you are nearby or close enough to go visit the facility- you really have no way of knowing what's really going on. Even then, not all of them host tours or may be willing to show you around.

With human consumption products, the health department has inspectors who routinely go through restaurants and food processing facilities to ensure the cleanliness of the plants. They are looking for violations, but also give tips on ways to help prevent the violations. If there are violations, the offenders are given a written report of what is wrong and a time period in which to correct it. Too many violations and no corrections being made- they shut things down.

But taking it a slightly different route, WHO is checking the feed manufacturing plants? They are making the grains and supplements we feed the animals we may later be butchering for consumption. In the case of dairy cattle, the milk is collected twice daily and processed for distribution. Sure the facilities are checked by health inspectors, the milk is pasteurized to help reduce the chance of contamination, the farmer checks the cows at milking... but the cows are still eating the grains provided by the company the farm owner purchased it from.

I will be posting pictures to go along with all of this, but they are on another computer and cannot be accessed at the moment. Trust me, they are enough to turn the stomach of even the hardiest of our bunch. Especially when you take into consideration the course of the entire process.

That says a lot when you consider how excited horse people can get over a pile of poop in some circumstances! Or how some of us can clean a sheath without using gloves, open an abscess in a hoof and bring instant relief as well as releasing an incredible stench or just plain deal with or DO things that the mere thought of causes others to lose their lunch!

There are also a few other factors to consider in all of this. I will be listing some of them with the pictures. You may be checking a few things off the next grocery list. Don't say I didn't warn you!