Friday, January 29, 2010

Collecting thoughts & Friday fun

Cattypex was asking at the end of the last post about saddle fitting as a topic, which leads me to this-

If anyone wants more information on a topic or subject- post it in the comments or email me about it. If I don't know the answer, well now is a good time to learn it and share my findings. I would be happy to do so.

I am also going to be trying to get the posts all sorta filed by subject- tails, hoofcare, clippers/clipping, etc. That way it may be a quicker way for everyone to look up previously posted info. Everyones input is always welcome. And since it is Friday I think a fun post for the weekend is in order so thanks to Crazy 3 Dayer, here ya go-

A Horse's View of the World

Do you ever wonder what your horse is actually thinking? How often have you ever wondered if you are on the same page or even talking the same language? Take a look at some of the definitions from the horse’s dictionary and compare them to yours.

Arena: Place where humans can take the fun out of forward motion.

Bit: Means by which a rider's every motion is transmitted to the sensitive tissues of the mouth.

Bucking: counter-irritant.

Crossties: Gymnastic apparatus.

Dressage: Process by which some riders can eventually be taught to respect the bit.

Fence: Barrier that protects good grazing.

Grain: Sole virtue of domestication.

Hitching rail: Means by which to test one's strength.

Horse trailer: Mobile cave bear den.

Hotwalker: The lesser of two evils.

Jump: An opportunity for self-expression.

Latch: Type of puzzle.

Longeing: Procedure for keeping a prospective rider at bay.

Owner: Human assigned responsibility for one's feeding.

Rider: Owner overstepping its bounds.

Farrier: Disposable surrogate owner; useful for acting out aggression without compromising food supply.

Trainer: Owner with mob connections.

Veterinarian: Flightless albino vulture

Only Horse People…

- believe in an 11th commandment: inside leg to outside rein...

- know that all topical medications come in either indelible blue or neon yellow.

- think nothing of eating a sandwich while mucking out a stall.

- know why a thermometer has a yard of yarn attached to the end of it.

- are banned from Laundromats.

- fail to associate whips, chains and leather with sexual deviancy.

- can magically lower their voices five octaves to bellow at a pawing horse.

- will end relationships over their hobby.

- cluck to their cars to help them up hills.

- insure their horses for more than their cars.

- know (and care) more about their horse’s nutrition than their own.

- have no problem speaking of semen, abscesses and colic surgery at the dinner table.

- have a smaller wardrobe than their horse..

- engage in a hobby that is more work than their day job.

- know that a good ride is better than Zoloft any day.

CNJ back in here-
How many did you find you incorporate into your daily life?

If you notice on the right, I just added a spot for funny blogs. Some of the comments on these are hilarious. Clean humor, so don't be afraid to take a look.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wet weather ahead

As many may know it has been pretty wet around here lately. Raining most of last week, a hell of a storm on Thursday- our street signs are all leaning in the 'hood, cloudy this week, rainy again tomorrow, or at least they are calling for it. The horses are all tucked in their stalls, pastures are under water since we are set up for irrigation- so what do you do?

Now is a great time to clean your tack and inspect it for wear. See what needs to be fixed, what can and cannot be fixed, sell the old and look for something new.

I hear all about it for bringing tack in the house, setting it up for cleaning, and doing it all in the middle of the living room floor. Not exactly one of my more brilliant moves either, I have to admit! But it is warm, I can sit on the couch, watch TV, have a drink or a snack and get it all done. There's plenty of room to spread things out, rags handy to wipe stuff off, water for rinsing if needed and of course carpet to soak up any of the oils, leather treatments, soaps and everything else that spills.

So take it from me, take it outside, clean it in the tack room. Wipe it all down, spray it off or do what needs to be done- somewhere that you won't hear about it later. Now is a good time to take care of your tack, if the weather isn't cooperating and you aren't riding much anyways. It's a great way to feed your inner horsey addict. Clean the saddle even if it may be a while before you sit in it again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Before you go there

With our show season in full swing and all the bigger shows coming up because the weather is nice, sorta, its been cloudy and a bit rainy here this week..., horses are being body clipped by the dozens. Most of them are sporting a sleek new look of being nearly bald. There are a few advantages to this, but the main concern should be the horse and their warmth. If you are considering shaving them down, have a plan. Have adequate feed, blankets and shelter for them before you even think about picking up those clippers!

Everyone might be wondering why I say that, because I live in Arizona for heaven sakes. It gets hot in the desert! But it also get cold too. We hit temperatures in the mid to high 20's at night, waterlines freeze and break and yes, horses get cold when you shave them bald this time of year. Why else would they have a thick winter coat? You know, the one you are about to clip off...

So you have a blanket on hand, maybe even a slinky, sleazy, jammies or whatever you wish to call them- a stretchy Lycra hoodie and maybe even a full body sheet. You may have a stall with walls or not, but at least try to have something with a roof to protect them from rain and or snow. Figure also to have plenty of hay for the horse to munch on and produce his own inner warmth.

But there is still much to do before you even get started... Who knew there was so much planning involved?

There are a number of different types of clippers out there, just like there are a number of clipping styles to be found. Each brand has plenty of different models and each model has plenty of different features. It can get confusing if you let it.

Of the brands of clippers out there, the four that come to mind are Andis, Laube, Oster and Wahl. Each has a number of models, for everyone from the home haircut do it yourselfer to the professional grooms handling horses, dogs, sheep and even cattle get their "do's" done before hitting the show ring. You will find an assortment of wall mount, hand held, corded, cordless, rechargeable, adjustable blades, removable blades, big, small... and a wide price range for each to match. They grace the pages of catalogs and websites as well as shelves in feed and tack stores.

For the most basic of clipping, there is no need to go all out. Nothing fancy needed, single speed are just fine, detachable blades or adjustable, many of them come with a size 10, most clippers come standard with a 12-14 foot long cord and you can reach a lot depending on where your electrical outlet is located.

I have yet to find the cheapy set (usually around $25-$50, with the plastic hair length adjustments) to hold up long outside, nor do they seem to have the Ooomph! to get through the thick strands of hair that make up manes. A lot of times they come in a plastic package and have a picture of a fluffy dog on them. That's because they seem to have no issues going through the finer strands of hair.

With all of the detachable blade clippers out there I have found the Laube blades do not fit the Osters or the Andis. Blades between the Andis and Osters are interchangeable- Yay! for the checkbook there.

If you are just clipping your horse for the sole purpose of neatening their appearance, a 10 blade and a 30 blade should do the job just fine. I use the 10's in the winter on the bridle path as they don't make it look ridiculous beyond everything and the 30's in the summer. If you have the adjustable blade clippers, this translates into the lever being all the way back- bottom blade all the way forward for the longer cut and lever all the way forward or up, bottom blade back for a shorter cut. If you are going to be clipping for shows- I recommend getting a couple pairs of 10 blades as well as a 40 blade. I will explain that in the body clipping post soon to come.

At some point your blades will go dull. They can be sharpened and used over and over for quite a while. Your clippers may also need a once over to keep them in top shape. But where do you take them? Call your local dog groomer and ask them for a referral. Where do they take their blades? Call a barber shop. Where do they take theirs? This will give you an idea of where to take your clippers and blades as well as a place to find replacements.

I recommend you take the clippers in once a year or before a heavy season of use and consider it insurance towards catching anything that may break BEFORE you get half way through the horse and leave them really looking strange. Also get the blades sharpened before you start on a horse. Dull blades pull the hair as they rake through it. Trust me. Your horse will NOT enjoy that.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pre Show Pep Talk

Since the breed shows in our area are off to a bold start, I figured now was a great time to talk about all of this. With the Scottsdale show looming, the Arab industry is abuzz. Paint-O-Rama held in Tuscon had the Paint horse folks busy and the upcoming Sun Circuit Show has the Quarter Horse folks hopping' and bopping' at the moment. Grooms are making their lists and checking them twice to make sure they have everything needed to get their horses ready for what is, in their world another career defining moment. A few weeks before the show is the time to buy what you will need and make sure it is all packed.

They are also scheduling days for body clipping and planning the horses workouts around them. Clippers are hitting the shop for a 'once over', cans of coolants, lubricants and blade wash are flying off the shelves and the blades have all been sharpened... Farriers scheduled for one last shoeing, hooves are being sanded, tails blocked, joints injected, saddles cleaned, silver polished, new outfits ordered- it's chaos I tell ya!

But slow down a minute there. For the people showing on a budget, without the bottomless checkbooks, Big Name Trainers and entourage to do it all- what do you do? We aren't all made of money, and the funny thing about it- it really doesn't cost that much to do it yourself. It is also not that difficult to do it right. The resulting sense of accomplishment can be a gratifying 'high' itself.

Less is more...

If the horse is that great to begin with, there really isn't much you can, let alone need to do, to accentuate or improve on perfection. Your job is only adding the highlights.

If the breeder has done their job of producing a quality horse with good conformation, built to do the job and hardy enough to stand up to the daily work involved known as training, you're already well on your way.

With the basic diet of quality feed, the horses will have a 'glow' about them and their coat will naturally shine reflecting their good health. Proper diet will also help their hoof growth and a good farrier or trim specialist will again, only enhance that which is already there.

Even the horses promoted as Champions that you may see in the ring have their flaws. No horse out there is perfect. They may have their titles, but keep in mind, they were the horse that the judge(s) felt, was the best horse in the ring on that particular day, at that particular show. The judges job is not always an easy one either.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Story time

This is the tale of the bald butted horse. These are the pictures of Tess' bald butt. Or at least some of them. And yes it is still tough not having that big, goofy girl around anymore. I miss her and still have my moments. This one is at eye level for me, so it may give you some idea of her height.

The picture above is from the end of last summer. I was bringing her back into shape and trying to get both of us ready for an upcoming schooling show the middle of September. This was to be our first time back in the ring since the pregnancy. The girls were closing in on their first birthday and it was time.

Not so much to criticize there. She had rubbed her tail and entire butt bald and raw to the point of having spots under her dock that bled, after she rubbed for all she was worth on the fence. This is why the top of her tail is all pretty short. I had trimmed it to even it all out as far as the rubbed spots went- almost all the way down to the end of her dock. Everything was coming back and the hair was filling in. No more raw spots and it was looking pretty good considering.

Until the weekend of Labor Day...

We went to Tucson to visit family over the long weekend. We get back and I go out to see the horses and find this->

Beautiful! The show was in two weeks. The thought of me taking her looking like this? Toast. While the hair loss does not affect her movement, it just looks sooooo incredibly unprofessional to take a horse to a show with a literally Bald Butt! Whooosh! Down the drain went that idea. ARRRRGH!

So back to square one again, trying to find the cause of her bald butt. Besides the rubbing... I know that's what took the hair off and left the raw spots. But WHY was she rubbing? I know rubbing and scratching dry skin is one way of sorta relieving the itchiness, but what's the cause of it? She was wormed- rotational on the wormers and up to date. WTH!

At least this time she hadn't rubbed it out as badly. And trust me, this time around was pretty mild. There was just no hair and a lot of dry skin. So I was currying her before and after each ride to stimulate the oils in her skin. I was rinsing her and washing with baby shampoo- not like there's a shortage around here or anything- since it's known for being gentle on sensitive skin. Afterwards I followed it with either aloe vera or baby lotion. I gotta say I am not a fan of the Huggies brand Shea Butter scented, so that all ended up outside and was put to use.

You can see what her tail was beginning to look like again. Ruling out worming, using the lotion and currying to ease the itchy dry skin- she loved having lotion slathered on the underside of her tail- and trying to figure out how to ease this condition was interesting to say the least.

With mares, it is sometimes an issue of the gunk that gets up in between their legs and teats. Sweat + dust = grimy black stinky gunk that around here we call "boob cheese". Stallions and geldings can not only develop the beans in their sheath, but also the caked on grime between the sheath and their legs. This can be the beginnings of their tail gone wrong.

But she was clean all along and only after the hair was gone did I find one night, what felt like grains of sand all over the inside of her legs and around her teats. This was after she had been rinsed. Another WTH! moment. I had found it rubbing her belly- one of her favorite things in life. Back to the wash rack and whipped out the shampoo to scrub it all off...

No sign of any weird fungus, no sign of any stings or bug bites, no high or unruly amounts of 'boob cheese', up to date on the worming schedule- so what was going on??? Inquiring minds want to know! Now!!!

Believe it or not, while treating her one night I noticed something a little strange. It seemed to be sorta small and not anything that would be extremely noticeable, but there it was. And let me just say, oh the things we do for our horses... She had what looked like the leftovers of a small pin-worm that had gotten stuck on it's dead way out. So picture what you will in your mind, but the next day there was a trip to the feed store and a 'Power Pack' was purchased.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


How many times have we all heard that? Look in the stall or out in the field and see our horse standing there in the freshly shredded remnants of their blanket, sheet or both. I have known horses who it seemed like they lived to shred and destroy blankets. I have also seen blankets so shredded, you question how many times they can be repaired before the owner just gives up and either buys another blanket or says Enough! and forgets about even trying any more.

This is my TB mare MAM's blanket. Not a home made version of my design, but this is a 1200 denier turnout blanket I got from Petsmart when they removed the State Line Tack/equine departments from their stores. I picked this up for an unbeatable price of $25. Some things you can't or rather just Don't pass up. She ripped it last year, towards the end of the cold season and although it was cleaned and put away for this year, I didn't bother to fix it. And this time procrastination has paid off in the blogs favor...

For anyone willing to fire up the sewing machine and give it a shot repairing their own, hopefully this can make it all easy for you. The blankets are not tough to work on, just bulky and seemingly obnoxious at times, but in the end it's not anything tough to do.

If you are already familiar with sewing, you know to use matching thread, run it through here there and the eye of the needle. Pull the thread from the bobbin up and you're ready to get started.

I start by laying the blanket out flat- like in the middle of the living room floor, because we all know the horses are in charge, even inside the house... Lay all the pieces where they are supposed to go or were originally attached and see that the edges all line up. This is if you were able to find all the pieces and recover them from where the horse is at- stall, pasture, round pen.

If you were not able to recover all the pieces lay the replacement fabric under the blanket to size it up and see that there is enough for the giant 'patch' you are about to create. I start by pinning everything together. If the edge of the fabric runs left to right, the pins go up and down. This is so that as you sew, when using just a plain straight stitch, you can sew right over the pins and keep on going.

Occasionally the needle will come down and hit the pin. One of them will either bend or break. I usually find I break at least one or more needles on every project. It's me. That's an issue I have with sewing. It makes my sewing perfectionist mother absolutely nuts. There are a few other things about my sewing that has that effect on her, but we won't go into that now.

If this is a blanket with a shell, insulation and lining, I start with pinning just the shell material first. Fix the outside and work your way in, sewing one layer at a time. After the pieces are all pinned together, wrong sides of the fabric facing out, if you prefer to baste them together by hand, now's your chance. I just pin it.

Hand basting to me is a waste of time and thread, since you machine stitch it then go back and take all the hand basting out. My Home-Ec teacher in school wasn't to fond of this, since it was not in the pattern instructions for any of the sewing projects. She also didn't like that I thumb pressed the seams and told her "That's how my Mom does it and nothing she makes looks 'home-made'..." Anyone care to guess my grades in the class? Yeah, not so good...

Once the blanket is pinned together or hand basted, it's time to take it over to the machine. Start at one edge of the torn pieces and put them under the presser-foot a few stitch lengths in. I start by reverse stitching back to the edge, then just stitching across the tear. This helps secure the ends of your threads so it doesn't all just come undone and need to be restitched later on.

If your machine is in a cabinet or a place where it is always out, then this shouldn't be an issue of the blanket being on a particular surface like the kitchen table. If the machine is being dragged out for blanket repairs and the kitchen table is a concern- the dollar store is your new friend. A cheap huge table cloth will protect it all or at the very least, keep it clean when used like a drop cloth.

I stitch along the tear one end to the other, reverse stitch the end and snip the threads. When working on the outside shell of the blanket, I then fold the excess of the material down and stitch it along the edge, reinforcing the new seam.

This picture is a little blurry, but not so much you can't get the idea. This blanket has insulation and lining, of which the tear only affected the shell and lining materials. Since the tear is far enough down the side of the blanket that the insulation was not affected, the lining is not an issue.

In a case like this the lining can be trimmed off and stitched to the shell fabric, which is what I did with this one. The shell fabric had torn along the web trim, so I removed the stitching on the web trim along the shell fabric, pinned it accordingly and stitched it all together again.

This shows where the trim was ripped off the shell fabric. After sewing the trim back to the blanket shell, I moved it all back to the middle of the living room floor. Lay the blanket out again and pin down the ends of any straps that have been torn off. Go back to the machine, stitch them on, reverse stitching as needed for added strength. Watch for any D rings or snaps, help the machine through any really thick spots and you are now done.

Congratulations on a job well done!