Saturday, November 28, 2009


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.


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*


*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.