Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some favorite vids from youtube!

If you've never seen a speed racking horse, this one is the grand daddy of them all. I smile everytime I watch this one!

I dont condone bull fighting. This horse though, is fantastic in athletisism and expression.

Interesting.....wish they where both smiling! It is a very nice looking akhel teke (I can't help but think about monte python busting out somewhere in the video) The canter "ariers" (backwards) is a noble quest!

pas de duex, with some really nice moments , but the best part about it is the fun!

Monday, September 21, 2009

play time with ponies

Fun! Fun! Fun today! Boo and I started off with some liberty stuff, basically hanging out for a brushing in the big field while Cuervo ate hay nearby...that is challenging for a big gal who hoovers hay like a tornado from the movie twister. Not to mention "moi" has been very lax in that department, letting her eat her breaky while I groom....bad mommy bad mommy! anyhow, she was very excited to be picked first for once and so I thought why not. There where a few walk off attempts but she went smoothly into a back up when I called and backed right up under my brush! grin. So cute! Of course I couldn't resist and made the beeping noise that trucks use when they are backing up. Hey, if you ever have been up close to the big Boo you know what it looks like when that big bohunk is coming your way. It begs for that beeping noise.....

We progressed to some WESN (no lead rope) and while the canter departs where no where to be seen today her stops where very nice. She seems a bit creaky to me here, I'm wondering if 14 years old is the magic number to start with cortaflex. It helped Zee so much.... hmmm,I digress. We where having some nice praise time when Cuervo decided if pets where being doled out, he was going to get his...So much for the hay keeping him busy.(grin) Anyway we all had a great time leading at liberty ( one on each side) even through the "trot to stops". Then, pushing my luck, I tried for a canter to stop, and , well... the horses won that foot race and Boo for giggles decided Cuervo was not going to horn in on her time. So he got the hoof and I had to call Boo back into position,park her and then call Cuervy back. Since I'm still a bit icky from what ever I ate two days ago that whipped my butt. So bridle work was my next thought. Nice slow, bridle work in control, on the ground.....Boo had great self carriage from the gecko( that's" from the get- go" in Rog speak...wink wink) So we did some lateral work and just as I thought the hips trailed both directions. Since canter departs did not exist today I figured the hips would be "broken". So on that note, we worked on some disengaging the hips both sides via Hip shoulder shoulder and some backing with disengage thrown in the mix to speed up the backing and viola, hips came on line and we had one really nice depart to the left ...Goody, big pets and she was done for the day! Of course after all the love there was a bee line to the hay pile, it is Boo after all. Cuervo then got a little liberty leading fun with the addition of a nice little ditch jump compliments of the ten inches of rain we had last week. He was more than happy to jump it with me or after me, but the real challenge for him was to do it without me...mission accomplished on the third try! He is soooo precious. Anyhow I was getting woozy so had to call it quits but we had nice "trot to stops" all the way to the barn for a cookie. I love my ponies and am getting so spoiled being able to focus on only them for once!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The skinny on beet pulp

I was really surprised how much our trip across the country took its toll on both horses. Not that I was silly enough to believe that it wouldn't adversely affect them but in my previous travels with ponies, we didn't see the kind of weight loss that Cuervo( sweet boy) showed. He actually started to loose weight when we arrived. Now I'm no alarmist, but when I can see the shadows of his rib bones on his coat from the kitchen window, well, I freak out. So I start out kinda slow giving him more grazing time, adding 1/3 more hay to the piles I'm throwing, etc etc...nothing was happening...well that's not true Boo was gaining weight...grin. Anyway after weighing and throwing out several options I decided on fat first as a "quick" weight gain tool. Oil was going to be to dicey in this climate. Even if it didn't go rancid in the bottle, his dish would be a nightmare to keep clean with out a good dish washing twice a day, to inconvenient ( and to hard to explain to pet sitters. One must think ahead.) So a stabilized rice bran pellet by Nutrena was the winner! After reading the label and consulting with a Nutrena rep. on line, I began with only a 1/2 cup of the product twice a day. Like all fats, it could cause diarrhea. Not something I wanted to risk with an underweight horse. As I worked my way through two and a half weeks of this gradual increase, I was not noticing any change. He looked stringy and bony, his neck was shrinking and he was leaving hay in his stall. Darn it! So back to research my options. I was still increasing the fat, but wanted more weight gain from fiber and since neither seemed to be drinking like they used to in CA, I figured I would up the beet pulp I had always used t0 sweeten their buckets. I remember it being used back in Maryland to help hard keepers maintain weight, and to get more water into the horses in the winter. Nothing like a steamy warm bucket of beet pulp and bran to warm a tumtum when its blowing snow outside. What I wanted to know was why this was. Well turns out, beet pulp is some pretty cool stuff! A by product of the sugar beet industry(its what is left after the sugar is removed from the beet, to be used in all manner of sweetening in prepared foods) Beet pulp has fiber on par with most types of forage, protein that hovers around 8 percent, low in starch, high in calcium,low in phosphorous(6:1 ratio) and can safely replace 25% of a horses hay ration pound per pound. Neat huh? Now its not with out its detractors, horses prone to bladder stones should avoid the stuff due to the high calcium and balancing the calcium to phosphorous ratio in the ration can be a challenge because of the calcium as well. This dually noted,I increased the beet pulp and fat in equal levels. Cuervo actually drools for his bucket and is putting back the weight he lost in the move. His energy is back up, is coat is glossy, and he is far less dehydrated than he was a month ago. I soak the stuff for half a day before feeding it to optimise the water content, but according to the research I read, soaking is optional. In fact, its been used in sweet feeds for years unsoaked. If your horse bolts his food, the threat of choke is very real with a product as dry as this, but as far as it expanding in your horses stomach and causing colic, this is unsubstantiated. I like to keep my horses diet as natural as possible, forage,vitamins,salt and unprocessed grain (for nummy factor! ;0)) Beet pulp fits right into that philosophy for me, with wonderful results.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Horse Nanny....

I have had a little free time at night and for some reason have found myself watching(on more than one occasion) The Nanny. That's the show where Jo, the cute British nanny comes to someones home and teaches them how to retrain their kids! I love her! She would be a fabulous horse trainer. If you have seen the show you know how challenging the kids can be. There are screamers, hitters,whiners, biters, over active ones, needy ones, aggressive ones and sad ones. Its like walking down any horse barn aisle in the world. Jo brings some exercises with her, like the binky fairy, and time out chair/room/pillow but the most important tool she tries to teach is consistency. Without consistency there is chaos or should I say a return to chaos. The poor parents are by turn, exhausted, bewildered, hurt, angry, indifferent and sad. And while its easy to sit in my childless home, from my comfy chair and shake my head at their lack of parental skills, Its also easy to draw direct parallels to the people I meet with their troubled relationship with their horses. The nanny was recently at a home in England. The family had three girls, the oldest was nine. She was a pistol! She yelled, she hit, she scratched, and had quite the vocabulary to top it all off! She even physically and verbally attacked Jo! Something that I had never seen....most of the kids had tantrums but they where not aimed at anyone in particular. This kid was something else,and she spent alot of time in the quiet room as it was dubbed for this episode. In any case as is customary for the show, Jo observes, formulates a plan, implements the plan then leaves the parent alone with candid cameras to continue the course they must all practice. The return to old habits was astonishing fast. Even though the parents had utilized the exercises and seen results, when left to their own devices, exercises where given a new twist, rules where broken and the decline was immediate. I think the reason this show stuck with me over the others, is the advice that Jo gave the parents In the midst of two phenomenal outbursts from the nine year old. One was "Its not personal!" OK, horse owners if its not personal between mother and child its not personal between horse and rider! Its not, no matter how much if "feels" like it is....Taking a miscomunication personally only clouds the way to communication. Yes, its an outburst. Yes, it scarey! Yes, you want to throttle them..... I think the mother of this child , would have happily pushed her out into the path of an oncomeing double decker bus. Regardless of how you feel you must stick to the game plan, and be consistent. Now lucky for us, we can choose when and how to meet our horses in the class room. We should arrive there with our pom poms out, and big, wide, horse- loveing grins on our faces. If our Pony doesnt want to play that day, then we should say,"thats Ok pony, tomarrow will be a new day. I'll be back to help you through it." Sound to polly anna for you? Well, maybe it is, but try it. The way its been handled in the past has created the horse of today afterall.

The second bit of nanny advice I found so timely was "Dont engage in the bad behaviour" For this Mom and child, it meant alot less verbal interaction. Sounds strange, but the child would engage Mom in a shouting fest, the two nose to nose, battleing it out. When Mom calmly gave the child direction and followed through with any time out neccisary despite the protest and abuse, the child became calm. Hmmmmmm, pretty amazing huh? This was a major challenge for Mom, she had done things with the same way for nine long years, but she saw how her behavior directly affected her childs behavior so she kept at it and will continue to for the rest of the childs life. This kid held onto her bad habits hard, she even became worse..... But as the Nanny so intuatively noticed the child was objecting to change. She was scared and angry of what this change might mean, just as our horses may be. The thing that always strikes me when watching Jo in action is her inherent empathy for the child, even when one is calling her a bitch and scratching furrows into her arms, she still feels for the child. Its a habit we should all endevour to embrace no matter what species we are dealing with.