Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Equestrian Momma

It's a fact of life, horse crazy girls become horse crazy women and many of those women will also become mothers. Given the time consuming and demanding nature of horses and kids, the thought of juggling both in addition to everyday life can be beyond intimidating. But I am here to let you know that it is possible to do it all and enjoy it too.

There are many things you can do before, during, and after your pregnancy to help you make a smooth transition from Equestrian to Equestrian Momma.

Before Your Pregnancy

Plan Ahead- It takes years to raise and train horses, and kids are like horses it is really hard to have just one. So once you start your family you may find yourself out of the saddle on and off for more than a few years making consistent miles horseback few and far between. If you plan on becoming pregnant take stock in your herd and decide the best plan of action for you, your horses, and your future child. This may mean putting horses in to training to keep them going while you are out of the saddle, leasing, or even selling or re homing depending on your personal situation.

Ground Manners and Respect- The most important thing you can do before or during your pregnancy is to teach all of your horses excellent ground manners. Ideally all your horses should be easy to; feed, catch, handle, and load. Speaking from experience the last trimester you tend to lose all sense of balance in addition to not being able see your feet. Depending on your delivery method and circumstances doctors often restrict strenuous activities for 6 weeks to even a few months after delivery. Either way you will not be 100% for several months and having horses that are respectful and responsive will make things so much easier for you and your possibly less than horsey family and friends. Well mannered horses will also allow you to get your independence back sooner, by allowing you to do basic care activities with your baby.

Hidden Costs- If you do a lot of your own horse care you may find hidden expenses associated with your pregnancy. If you trim or shoe your horses, you may find it too awkward, painful, or dangerous as your pregnancy progresses. You may have complications and be forced to be on bed rest or even in the hospital. Either of which may require you to enlist the help of family and friends for your horse's everyday care needs and in some extreme cases may require you to move,from self care to full care if you board or from home care to a boarding stable.

During Your Pregnancy

Riding While Pregnant- Ultimately whether or not you ride during your pregnancy (or when you choose to stop) is up to you, your doctor, and your spouse. Everyone you know will have a opinion on the matter but in the end it is your choice and your risk. I personally rode lightly the first few months of my pregnancy, only on my most reliable horse, and only in a controlled setting (no public events). If you choose to ride during your pregnancy, consider that the only horse you have reasonable control over is the one your riding so where and when you ride matters. If you choose not ride during your pregnancy use this time to work on your groundwork and in hand training. Maybe school for a future lead line class.

Desensitize- The best way to juggle horses and kids (and create future equestrians) is to combine the two together. Kids are loud, noisy, and unpredictable so it is important that we teach our horses how to handle this stimuli. Groom your horse in a kid like fashion with sporadic and tentative touches everywhere... Screech and randomly jump. Dogs, cats, and chickens add a whole new element to teaching the horse to deal with unexpected commotion. Also consider attending a desensitization clinic hosted by a local professional or hiring a trainer to help your learn the desensitization process. Be sure to expose your horses to; strollers, rolling balls, and toys before you bring the baby down to the barn. Think ahead to how you plan on handling your baby around horses and start finding places were you can safely groom, feed etc, and still keep an eye on them. Of course desensitization is never a substitute for safety and common sense when it comes to kids and horses. But a less reactive horse is a joy for everyone no matter the age.

Get Help- As a whole equestrian women are a strong willed and self reliant bunch, but OBGYN's generally frown upon pregnant women unloading feed and stacking hay. So it is important you have someone close to you to help manage these occasional but necessary tasks. If you don't have someone willing to help consider hiring someone to be there on a as needed basis.

After the Baby

The Right Horse(s) Make It Easier- Kids are hands on creatures who want to do everything they can to be just like Mommy or Daddy. Having a horse or pony that your child can safely interact with from a early age can help foster a love of horses. A good kid's horse is quiet, not reactive/ spooky, all while still being responsive. A horse who won't move and do can kill a child's want ride just as quickly as one who behaves badly.

Don't Feel Guilty About Heading to The Barn-Let's just say your life is going to be turned upside down and will never truly be the same again. Don't let the new title of Mom take over your identity. Remember that you were originally a horsewoman (and probably have been one for years). You deserve to spend time with horses and you should not feel guilty about doing so. In my experience sunshine and horse hair are highly effective in preventing and treating postpartum depression and the grumpy baby blues. Talk with your spouse, family, or friends about babysitting a few hours a week and schedule yourself regular horse time. Taking a little time for yourself will benefit you and your baby big time.

Plan to Start Back Slowly- While pregnant I imagined getting right back to my normal horse life just a few weeks after delivery. Nearly 10 months after having my daughter I now realize that I will never have the same horse life again (thou I do look forward to an even more rewarding time in the future with my baby girl). While it is possible to still go and do great things; long hauls and overnight trips may be out of the question for several years. Schedule your events wisely, and cut yourself some slack (you just had a baby remember) when getting back in the saddle. If you use to compete or trail ride start small and stay local your first few events post baby so you can easily get back for baby's sake or your own.

While the trail through pregnancy and early childhood while having horses may seem daunting in the very beginning the good news is that kids only grow up and things only get easier. While you may be sacrificing parts of your horse life now, you hopefully will be rewarded with a life long riding partner for many years to come.....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rescuing Responsibly

It only takes a quick scan of facebook, craiglist, or other numerous sites to find the same sob story over and over.

"I rescued him but I can no longer afford to continue his care/rehab."

These posts are a dime a dozen and it is easy to get caught up in the moment and head out to hitch up the trailer.

But are you really prepared for what rehabbing a rescue horse may actually involve?

Here are a few things to consider:

Can you reasonably isolate the rescue horse from the rest of the herd (no nose to nose contact) for several weeks to prevent the spread of infectious diseases to your own herd.

If the horse is a stallion are you able to afford to geld, and have the space to keep him completely separate from any mares for 1-2 months there after.

Are you financially able to fully vet out a rescue horse and do so for several months or even years?  What if they have a expensive condition to treat such as EPM?  Are you prepared to pay for treatment or euthanasia?  Expensive farrier care or other specialized treatment?

Are you financially prepared for if the rescue horse hurts himself under your care or causes severe injury to another member of your herd?

Can you commit to training (DIY or with a professional) said rescue horse for yourself or for potential adopters once they are rehabbed?

Do you have the knowledge and skill set to properly and safely handle a horse with a questionable background?

Do you have the space (at home, money for board, etc) to care for rescue long term?

Are you in a position in your life where you have the time (energy and ability) to handle the added work of a rescue animal?

Please note I am not against individuals rescuing and rehabbing horses.  I am against individuals getting in over their heads, endangering themselves and other animals, and rescued horses not receiving the proper care, treatment, and training to truly overcome their neglect.

If you would like to rescue but are not prepared to go at it alone consider supporting a legitimate rescue.

Horse lovers can support reputable rescue organizations with monetary donations, sponsoring specific animals, fostering, adopting, volunteering, to even helping with office work and the running of rescue, raising awareness for the group, etc. All you need to do is contact a organization offer what what you can.

Remember that rescuing responsibly means realistically only taking on what you can do alone, and supporting existing reputable rescue organizations with the stuff that you can't.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Why Well Broke Horses Are Usually Not Cheap

While the above isn't exactly about horses, there is a whole lot of truth in the above statement.

It takes years, hundreds of hours, and a good bit of skill to create a all around truly broke horse.

So when searching for your next best friend remember that every great horse at some point in their lives had someone willing to go the distance and ride through it all to uncover the gem of a horse you now see before you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

When Your Horse Gets In The Way Of You Horse LIfe

When Your Horse Gets In The Way Of Your Horse Life

Equestrians as a whole are a super tough bunch.

Our sport is more consuming (time, energy, money, space, etc) and dangerous than just about every other sport you could choose.

It takes extreme dedication to be an equestrian but unlike most other sports enthusiasts it seems that few equestrians are willing to step out and find the help needed when the going gets tough.

Think about it.  In most sports you start and proceed under the supervision of a professional and yet many equestrians choose to go at it completely alone.

And while the lone wolf approach may be more cost effective (given the high cost of proper horse care and management) many equestrians are missing out on the true joys of the horse as a result.

Signs You Horse Is Getting In The Way Of Your Horse Life

1.  Your horse has way more "quirks" than your friend's horses.

2.  You dread what most people consider to be simple tasks (fly spray, bathing, trailering, etc)

3.  You are unable to fulfill simple goals such as going on a trail ride, months and years after setting them.

4.  You find yourself afraid of what your horse may or may not do.

5.  You find yourself avoiding more things horseback than you actually do.

6.  You find yourself at a roadblock in training/ability and have been unable to break through after several weeks, months, or years of trying.

7.  Your horse seems to add new "quirks" on a regular basis.

8.  You've been doing it such and such way without any sustained/real improvement for weeks, months, or years.

The Solution

Remember that if you are not having fun you might as well not do it at all so seek out help, and stop being complainant in your horse life.

Consult a professional, or attend a clinic.

The relatively small amount of money you spend getting help will be worth it when you are finally able to enjoy your horse and your horse life.

So with the new year soon upon us I challenge you to make the resolution to take back your horse life and see just where the trails may take you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The KISS Method

The KISS method also known as Keep It Simple, Stupid Method works wonders in the horse world.

Just last night I blanketed the Mozzie Man (19 months old this month) for the first time this season.  It took 2 cookies, a halter, and a total of 20 seconds to complete because I first set myself up for success by putting on the halter.

Could I have blanketed him without the halter?  Most likely, but it surely wouldn't have been a crisp, quick, and clean as with the halter.

Will I eventually blanket him without a halter?  Of course, but I will not even attempt to do so until I am 150% sure that I can.  Be it this season or the next eventually he will blanket like every other horse I own.

But until then I would rather take a halter out with me and spend a few seconds tying it than spend an hour or two trying to catch, calm, and undo all the trauma of a horse running all over the pasture with a blanket half on because I tried to rush his training with shortcuts


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Subtle Rider- Stages of riding ability

There are several stages or levels when it comes to riding, each one building on the next.

There is the absolute beginner hold on like hell and try not to die stage.

Right after you find the hands only- ride like a old school western stage.

Next is the hands first, legs second stage.

After is the legs first, hands second stage.

And lastly you find the subtle rider- subtly riding with the whole body first, legs second, and hands last stage.

The subtle rider understands that a simple twist or lift of the hip, slight change in seat position, or weight distribution can be all that is needed to communicate volumes to their horses.

The subtle rider has achieved a true understanding of bio mechanics and how they can use their bodies to positively influence their horses without looking like they are doing a thing.

The subtle rider rides with the horse and is the rider we should all strive to be.

Which rider are you?


Monday, October 13, 2014

No Excuse For The Newbie Excuse

As a horse owner and trainer few phrases truly annoy me.

I love teaching and sharing my knowledge with anyone and everyone interested but the when I hear people make the excuse " I don't know, I'm just a newbie." (when it comes to basic care) without making any real effort to educate themselves it really steams my carrots so to speak. 

This day is age when everyone has a smart phone and that smart phone has nearly the entire scope of horse knowledge known to man via the internet at their fingertips not to mention the countless magazines, books, and other readily available educational sources there is simply no room for the "I don't know/ didn't know any better excuse."

Of course there are often countless different ways to do "X", but most other experienced horse people (trainers, veterinarians, trusted friends, and farriers) are more than willing to help lay out the pro's and con's for each in relation to the newbie's situation.

In the end everyone who chooses to bring a horse into their lives should make every effort to get a firm handle on the basics just some of which include:

* Basic observation of what is normal behavior
* Haltering, leading, and general safe handing skills
* Basic understanding of anatomy and how things should normally look (including what a normal hoof looks like)
*  How to safely pick up and handle hooves
*  Basic first aid and wound assessment
* How to load a horse into a trailer
* When applicable how to drive a truck and trailer
* How and where you can safely tie a horse
* A general understanding of the health maintenance needs of horses (specifically your age of horse)

Knowing this information or knowing how and where to find it can save you time, money, heartache, and even unnecessary pain and suffering for to your beloved horse. 

This is by know means a complete list of things every horse owner should know, but a simple google search when a question arises can usually help fill in the gaps and keep you and horse healthy and happy.  


Monday, October 6, 2014

Is it Pain?!- Sudden Behavior Changes in Good Horses

20 years ago if a horse didn't want to lope in the left lead you rode the snot out of them until they finally gave up and loped left.

Forcing a horse to perform was just what we, as riders and trainers, did. Few, if any, had heard of chiropractic or osteopathic care and even fewer had tried it.

Countless horses were written off as hardheaded, hopeless, dangerous, and at times down right evil without any real explanation.

Skipping forward 20 years there is a growing movement and greater understanding that pain is often the root cause of bad behavior.

As owners, riders, and trainers we are starting to understand that horses as a whole are willing individuals and that sudden changes in ability and behavior (or general inability in less experienced horses) are often signs of more than a "bad attitude".

* Stiffness
* Biting
* Cinchiness
* Bucking
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to pick up lead
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to keep a lead
* Choppiness or extreme difference of gait going one direction over the other
* Head/ear shyness
* Refusal or extreme struggle/resistance to bend one or both directions
* Slight lameness/favoring
* General sour/crappy/pissy attitude
* Sudden changes in behavior and ability

 Can often be explained and resolved in the hands of a capable osteopath/chiropractor.

Once addressed most bad behaviors disappear and owners are able to move forward in training. And are often able to foster amazing relationships and true enjoyment with their horses that they never thought possible.

Once a horse has been adjusted and recovered from their "bad behavior" it is important to note any extreme and continuous changes in their behavior in the future which maybe a sign that they are once again out of alignment.

Given their accident prone nature it is not unusual for horses in regular use to require a adjustment once every year or at a time of trauma (getting in the fence, being cast, falling in trailer, slipping, falling, etc), and extreme equine athletes can often greatly benefit from adjustments every 3-6 months.  Adjusting a horse (in addition to having their teeth floated) right before you start them under saddle can give you a real leg up in the training process and allow for a more comfortable and fun experience for everyone involved.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Trailer Accidents- facts and information every horse owner needs to know

On a regular basis it is easy to find information on how to properly haul your horse and check your rig for general road worthiness, but rarely is the topic discussed in more depth than the absolute basics.

Did you know that most trailer accidents are caused from being rear ended by other drivers?

Do you know that lack of trailer visibility is a leading cause of all multi-vehicle trailer accidents?

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to attend a Awareness Level- Technical Large Animal Emergency Response Course offered by, the Texas State Horse Council, and Texas A&M Engineering Extension Office.  In this course we learned the ins and outs of large animal rescue from trailer accidents to just about every other rescue situation imaginable.  I highly recommend that every horse lover consider signing up for this class when offered in your area (or in a reasonable distance) you will walk away with a whole new appreciation for the worse case scenario.

But back to this blog post here are a few of the major road safety tips I took away from the 2 day course.

1. Every horse/livestock trailer should have more reflective tape than a fire truck.  Especially on the back of the trailer and tape on both on the top and bottom of the trailer for better overall visibility in hilly regions.  Even a white or silver trailer can be invisible (until it is too late) to other drivers especially at night.

2. It is not the wear on the tires but the age of them that can cause them to blow out and cause accidents.  Learn learn how to check the date of your tires.  Even new tires from the shop can be older (so check the date before install).  Most trailer tires should be replaced (even if not worn) every 6-7 years.

3.  Every trailer should have at least two (or the average number of people in rig) reflective construction vests that should immediately be put on by everyone outside of the vehicle in the case you are forced to work roadside.  Reflective leg and tail wraps for the horses are also recommended.

4.  When hauling a few horses it is safest to haul your horses over the axles, if in a two horse straight load and only hauling one horse the horse should be placed on the driver's side.

5.  Since most multi vehicle trailer accidents are caused by rear ending the animal placed in the last stall is the most likely to incur serious injury.  When you have the option consider leaving the last stall empty.  For example you have a 4 horse trailer but are only hauling two, put your horses in spaces 2-3 instead of 3-4 even if it means having to shovel the poo from farther up the trailer.

6.  In some states/and counties the fire department (usually first to respond) is not allowed to enter your glove compartment to look for information on your animals in case you are severely injured and unable to provide information.  For best results In Case of Emergency Information should be in your trailer itself.  Consider placing ICE in here stickers and a resealable vinyl pouch Velcro-ed to the inside of your escape and back trailer doors.

7. In this pouch you should have a letter to responders, a limited power of attorney authorizing someone (usually not in the truck with you) to make sound medical judgments for your animals in case you are unable to do so, in addition to a copy of your coggins and registration papers of horses you normally haul.  Also consider placing a medical limit (for reasonable veterinary care) written on on coggins or papers for each animal.  Without this information emergency responders and the on scene veterinarian will be unable to act in your horse's behave and provide much needed euthanasia if you are in the hospital unable to provide consent and or you may be subject to $$$$$$ in veterinary bills you are unable to pay (and a animal with a poor long term life outcome) which you would have not consented if available to respond.

8.  Consider placing a simple trailer description in this emergency packet to aid in safe animal extraction.  Note managers, gates (number and which side they normally swing from),any special features such as propane, water tanks (black water), and gas and even a simple hand drawn diagram. Many first responders are not experienced with trailer configurations and this information can be extremely helpful for all parties involved.

Hopefully you will never have to face a trailer accident situation but following the above tips can greatly aid in a positive outcome for both you and your beloved horses.

If you enjoyed and found this information helpful and informative please feel free to share this post on facebook to better raise awareness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Choosing the right equine professional

From sellers not being honest, to professionals not caring for their animals, to boarding barn drama I've watched quite a bit of negative stuff unfold on social media recently.

Choosing a professional to work with can be daunting (with so much at stake) but there are a few things horse lovers can look for to hopefully avoid getting taken advantage of.

1. Selling green horses/unbroke (old enough to be started) without at least 30 days of riding.-  A reputable trainer knows that takes months and years to create a solid mount and that you can not know a horse's true nature, deposition, and ability in just a few rides.  Those who offer horses with less than 30 days are usually more interested in the money than the horse and the person who ends up buying them.

2. In depth Testimonials- It's super easy to say someone is great.  Look for testimonials with real sustenance and reasons why someone is great instead of generic buzz words.  And of course the more in depth/detailed testimonials the better.

3.  References and Referrals- A reputable trainer should have scores of happy customers of whom are more than willing to share their experiences with others if asked.  If you are considering putting a horse into training or buying one ask to be put in contact (or seek them out for yourself) with people who have done the same.

4.  How they keep and talk about their own horses-  Is every horse on the place (unless a single rescue or two in rehab) in excellent shape?  Are they super secretive about their horse life? If they are on facebook (and use it regularly) do they talk about and share their personal horse life like a regular horse lover?

5.  If they regularly offer horses for sale who is buying them?-  A professional with a good local reputation will usually have local/regional people seeking out and buying their horses.  

6.  How and how often they advertise?-  Everyone has to start somewhere but if a professional has been in business for awhile and has a good reputation they usually don't have to advertise for new clients every single week.

7.  General life stability/ consistency-  Everyone moves from time to time and has an occasional rough patch but constant turmoil and change in a professional's personal and or professional life can also be a red flag.

8.  Birds of a feather tend to flock together- shady professionals usually get a long fairly well other shady professionals.  A person's personal and professional connections can provide some insight into one's character.  

9. Can you see the results/ improvement?-  If you run across clients of a professional and or horse's they've sold how are they?  Every professional has a few clients who don't listen (or are not there best representation as to what they can do depending on the circumstances) but as a whole their should be some constancy in a professional's work as seen by the public.  If someone you know starts working with a professional can you see good improvement at a reasonable pace (considering the circumstances)?

10.  Talk with other equine professionals- Farriers, feed stores, and other equine service professionals can provide much needed insight into the real workings and business practices of a professional you are considering working with.

Of course the above list is only one person's opinion and cannot be accurately applied to every equine professional in every situation, but in creating this list I hope to help horse owners seeking help and horses to avoid getting taken advantage of by those who give the profession as a whole a bad reputation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why I haven't been doing groundwork with the 15 month old colt

Why I haven't been doing groundwork with the 15 month old colt.

Yes, you read the title right.

At 15 months of age I haven't done any Anderson/Parelli/Anyone Else style groundwork with Mozzie.  He hasn't been lunged or schooled in any games or published exercises.

To be quite frank at 15 months of age I don't NEED him to do any of those things.  The month before I start him under saddle when his knees have closed is when I will really hunker down and teach him all that.  But until then I have tried my best to grow his mind in other ways.

Instead of groundwork he has...

Tied- Tied to the trailer, the fence (secure of course), trees, on a high line, etc and at multiple locations.

Lived in the herd-  Mozzie has been in over 5 different herds (horse combinations).  As a result he has learned equine language, herd dynamic, and all around horsey (grumpy mare) etiquette.

Traveled-  He has hauled numerous times in 3 different trailers to multiple locations.

Learned basic life skills- Leading respectfully, bathing, blanketing, fly spraying, clipping, hoof trimming, grooming, etc.

Learned to respect people- Both when in hand and loose in the pasture.  He yields to pressure and is very respectful of space.

Ponied-  He has been ponied off several horses in different groups of horses, crossed multiple bodies of water, and numerous hills and other varied terrain where he has learned the value of watching his step and watched countless good role models tackle those same feats.

Desensitized-  He has been in plastic bottle boxes, cowboy curtains, pool noodle car washes, and experienced countless other spooks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Horse Course- Free Educational Opportunities

It is no secret that I love learning and that I have spent most of my life studying all aspects of the horse.

Recently I stumbled upon Coursera, a completely free online database with college courses being offer on every subject imaginable taught by facility from over 80 universities from across the globe. (I'm also taking a baby nutrition and cooking course found here. This is the best website I've found in years.)

This month I have been taking the The Horse Course offer by the University of Florida and have really enjoyed it.

And later I will also be taking the Equine Nutrition Course being offered early next year by the University of Edinburgh.

What are some ways that you continue your equine education?


Friday, May 30, 2014

I Like The Sound That You Make- All Your Horse Really Wants

not my image, thanks internet!

I really couldn't put it any better myself.

All your horse wants is for you to shut up.

He looks for ways every ride to get you to quit.  

If you just shut up when he is doing it right, he will do it again to shut you up in the future.

By quitting at the right time and not pestering him (micromanaging) when he is doing it right you can always maintain a happy and willing partner.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Food for Thought- The Importance of Properly Feeding the Growing Horse

I had a fantastic weekend out at the competitive trail ride in our area.  I was able to ride with people I hadn't seen in years (due to pregnancy and motherhood) and all in all had a smashingly good time.

After the ride I ate a late lunch with my mother, friend, and another friend who is a vet.

As always the topic was of course on horses and since all three besides myself have been looking at young horses the conversation veered in the direction of the importance of proper nutrition for the growing horse.

As trainers Mom and I voiced our concern for the structure of the horse starved while growing up.

Considering how horses mature at a much faster than a human I asked the Vet how old a yearling horse would be using a human time line and she replied.  "About the same as a 8 year old child."

Which means that a horse starved for the first year of it's life has really been starved the first 8 years of it's life when comparing it to the human growth timeline.

As the thought rippled throughout the group the Vet (of 20 years) then piped up again, "And it is not even about the body and end health of the animal.  The first year of every animal's life is when they have the most development of their brain and cognitive processes.  If they are not fed well, how can they think well?"

I had always known that starving a young animal was very bad for the development overall but I had never stopped to consider the effects that it could have to the brain and an animal's ability to think.

And once seen in this light the phase "Food for Thought" takes on a whole other meaning.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bit Doctor- A In Depth Series Looking At Bits And How They Interact In The Horse's Mouth

Recently I have entered in to a educational partnership with The Texas Equine Dentist and will now from time to time be featuring bit analysis' from some of his cases.

Our hope is to try to raise overall biting awareness. Showcasing how these bits are interacting with the mouth, hopefully help horses avoid common/chronic mouth problems caused by bits and their placement, and offer more humane biting options and solutions.

This is a 14 year old gelding primarily used for barrel racing.

This bit is about an inch (at least) over a normal bit placement.  A mouth piece should sit just in the mouth crease maybe a wrinkle, at the most a wrinkle and a half.  Anytime the rider touches the reins the bit is going to engage an 1 to 2 inches further into the back molars.  In addition to the straightness of the purchase and shank this horse is set up to really feel the slightest touch.    

The loose ring on the mouthpiece provides a twisting pinch to the crease where his ulcers are. 

I can see that the mouthpiece is twisted/grooved providing less surface area on the bars and tongue thus more responsive/more painful. (I like explain it by comparing a rail to a bench.  The 2" rail having less contact on your rear is going to make your butt hurt a lot faster when you sit on it). 

While I do not have a picture of just the bit I am 99% sure this is a dog bone mouthpiece which offers absolutely no tongue relief and slams on the bars, but cannot come into contact with the palate like a really straight snaffle/jointed mouthpiece.  

And the tongue seems depressed where the mouthpiece would be in play when you study the 3rd picture.  

The Solution:

Using a bigger bit (or using one in this way) is never a substitute for training. Ideally I would want to get this horse in another bit as quickly as possible and instead go back and reassess his training program to fix the holes in his stop and steering before racing him further.

But this horse's riding life could greatly be improved by lowering the bit to a normal position in the mouth and by adding bit guards to protect against pinching effect of the loose ring mouthpiece.

If you would like to submit your horse/bit for future analysis contact me here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Devil Is In The Details

The importance of checking your gear every ride every time. One tiny thing out of place can make a lot go wrong very quickly.  These were loaned out last clinic and must have gotten caught on something. Nothing a pair of pliers won't fix, but a nasty surprise for Pie if I hadn't checked them.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Reflections

I had my first foal and first human child 1 month and 1 day apart, and this is my first mother's day with both babies on the ground.

The gracious and lovely Pie had her first born son in less than three minutes, while I spent 25 hours in labor (all natural) on my own little one.

Reflections of the past year.

Foals are really fun.  Mozzie has just gotten everything so quickly.  He behaves better than many grown horses.  Not because he has been handled daily but because he has been handled consistently.

Human babies are really fun but are way more time consuming and much dirtier.  When she smiles the whole world stops.  She already has a huge interest in horses and animals, I think we may have a future vet on our hands.  But my god can this child make a mess.

The total takeaway-  Motherhood is hard but beyond rewarding on every level in every species.

1 year later I feel that Pie and I are true women because we are both now mothers.

Hugs and good tidings to every mother human and furkid alike.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Right Person For The Job

You wouldn't go to your primary care physician for a toothache.

You would go to a dentist because he would have the training, equipment, and daily practice to do the best job possible.

While you should a have good working relationship a primary Veterinarian there is nothing wrong with seeking out the best care possible when it comes to your horse's health.

I trust several different people to help me treat my animals.

There is a equine hospital near by I go to for colic and severe wounds (one of 3 major hospitals in Texas with reasonable prices with vets who deal with extreme cases on a daily basis).  I see different Vet for osteopathy/ body work and holistic care.  And yet another Vet who focuses exclusively on equine dentistry.

All are the best at what I use them for.

Because they do what they are known for all the time.

They don't float teeth once a week, they float 15+ horses a day.

You would choose a specialist for yourself.  Why should your horse be any different?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Learning is a Two Way Street

I can honestly say that I learn something new about horses every single day.

I read books and magazines, follow several blogs, follow facebook, and keep an ear out for interesting conversations. 

I try to study the whole horse.  From training techniques to prehistoric findings, if it has anything to do with horses I'm interested.  

Everyday I actively seek out information to help make my horse life better.   

It is really only fair. 

How can I expect 100% and willingness to learn from my horses if I am unwilling to do the same.    

We must always remember that learning is a two way street.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Mozzie!- First Year Stats

Mozzie had a birthday last week.  He officially turned 1 year old on the 16th.
Just arrived.

11 days old

It's funny how you can remember your life through horses.

I was born in the Jet Era of my Mother's life.  She was a big bright sorrel with a star.  My mother bought her as a 2 year old and trained her from the beginning.  She was about 8 when I arrived and had my first ride on her at 3 months of age.

Well Mozzie marks the beginning of my "Having Horses with Children" Era because just 1 month and 1 day after his birth his human little sister was also born.  He joins in the Pie Era (since 2003) and barely over lapped the Charlie Era (2009-2013 (sold)).
Dec 2013

His first year has been quite an adventure to say the least.
Dec 2013

His first year stats as of 4/16/14 are:
Stands: 13.2 1/2
Weights: 750lb
Color: Chestnut
Status: Gelding (as of Feb 11)
Hauled: Over 10 times
Traveled: Over 1300 miles
Has been easily haltered: too many times to count
Has been tied up: too many times to count
Has been bathed with soap: 4 times
Has stabled away from home overnight: 8 nights
Hooves trimmed: 8 times
Has been to the vet: 3 times (for scheduled care)
Lived in: 2 different locations
Lived with: 5 different herds (horse combinations)
Clinics attended/participated in: 5
Wounds/injuries requiring care: 3
Trail rides attended: 1

And with that I must say.  Happy happy birthday to the most wonderful and handsome 4-legged son I could have ever asked for. I'm so happy that you're in my life and I so look forward to our future adventures. 
Love you Mozzie Man!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

QRR- The Sum of Proper Horse Training in Just Three Words

After nearly 8 years teaching and a few dozen clinics I am starting to believe the sum of proper horse training can be expressed in just three simple words.

Quit.  Relax.  Reward.

Horse training is about the rider knowing/learning how and when to quit, relax, and reward.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Used Up- Form or Function?

Recently a client of mine has been shopping for a stallion for her mare and throughout her search I have been helping her look at each individual's conformation.

One stud in particular had a pretty extensive work history but also some pretty bowed hind legs, and the question came up as to whether it was his conformation or his work history that made him that way.

Questions like this always make me think of a old cowboy I've always admired growing up named Weldon.

You see Weldon was one of the last true cowboys (He is still living but finally stepped out of the saddle just south of 90 years old a few years ago).  He worked cattle almost everyday for over 65 years.  He rode his horses miles and miles everyday, hours and hours at a time, and did anything the job required.

I have never known anyone who has ridden more or ridden harder than Weldon.  And despite his demanding schedule his horses were often still doing a full day's work up until their early-mid twenties and 9 times out of 10 they were still sound when he chose to retire them.

He had a type.  Short (under 15h), huge hip, short back, short loin, big bone, good feet, good shoulder angle (for those 1,000's of trotted miles), and straight legs.

He knew that a well built horse could hold up to his line of work and do so fairly easily, and that poor conformation would lead to premature aging and injury.

At the end of the day most every horse can do most every job/discipline, but the right conformation will allow a horse to excel, age gracefully, and stay sound in that job/discipline for a lifetime.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Simple Observations and Personal Ramblings

I may hurt a few feelings but the below thoughts have been floating around in my head for quite some time.

I will never forget being 13 or so at the tack shop and meeting another kid who was bragging to me about having 57 horses.

The girl was very proud to have so many horses to her name but all I could think was "How do you find time to work with 57 horses?"

Over my time training I've noticed a direct correlation to the number of horses a person has and their level of activity with those horses.

You see Equestrians as a whole are a "do more" kind of bunch.  If you ask us what our goals are we will usually say that we want to ride more, show more, and generally just do more.  In all my years I have never heard a horse person say that they wish they had another stall to clean.

A person with 1-2 horses is usually doing quite a bit more (riding, competing, etc), and are pretty satisfied in their "horse life".

A person with 3-4 horses is about 1/4 to 1/2 as active as a person with just 1-2 horses.  They usually want to do more but they have a hard time finding enough time to do so, and often struggle to juggle the training needs of their horses.  

And a person with more than 5+ doesn't usually (in my experience) do much more than care for their horses.  They often have the same wants and goals of the other two groups but very rarely do they get the chance to do them.  They usually have several unbroke and green horses, and may or may not have a reliable horse to ride (one they could trail ride, show, etc).

Forget different disciplines and sports you can really just divide the horse world into two separate groups.

Those who do things with their horses, and those feed them.

How many horses do you have?  Are you doing as much as you would like to with your horses?  Have you made similar observations?  Why do you think this is?

(Please note- All observations are based on a single individual (not family).  I am not against people having lots of horses.  I am against people not fulfilling their equestrian dreams.)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Hitting the Reset Button

One of the neat aspects of the herd environment is the fluid nature of leadership.

Leaders can emerge in a matter of seconds and can be knocked back down just as quickly.

And those who are leaders are to be tested regularly.

In this dynamic environment you have a chance, every single day to effectively hit the reset button in your equine relationship.

Every day you head to the barn you are walking up to a new relationship.

How you present yourself and what you allow sets the tone for your relationship that day.

Every day is the right day to take a stand and reclaim your horse life.

If you are looking for a chance to hit the reset button in your own horse life this spring please consider attending one of our horsemanship clinics.  Please visit KnP Training for dates and more information.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

The 80/20 Rule- Handling Foals

At nearly 11 months of age Mozzie is one of the nicest mannered horses I know.

He isn't pushy, nippy, or obnoxious.  He is easy to handle and down right respectful, and I have the 80/20 rule to thank for it.

You see I am indifferent, correcting his behavior, or making him do something about 80% of the time and am affectionate and for lack of a better term nice to him (butt scratches, grooming etc) about 20% of the time give or take a few percent.

If you observe young horses in a herd setting you will notice that their dams and mature herd mates naturally follow this same pattern.

The herd does not tolerate pushy, nippy, and obnoxious behavior.  Youngsters are told what to do and where to do it all day long.  

The creation and enforcement of boundaries and rules by the herd is paramount to raising a solid citizen.

And the creation and enforcement of these same boundaries and rules are equally important in your own daily interactions with any horse.

Remember you do not have a foal, you have a grown horse in a pint size body and they should be treated accordingly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Right Place, Right Time

Mozzie was gelded last Thursday.

It may have been the surgery or the drugs but he was less than eager to load up to go home afterwords.  It took us about 10 minutes to get him loaded.  A triumphant time for some but 10 minutes too long in my book.

Normally when a horse doesn't do something as well as they should I make the time to fix it immediately.  He would have been loaded and unloaded until he did it several times to my satisfaction.

I drill until it is right.  I work until I fix it.  I don't stop until it is done.

But that day I chose to let it go.

He had just had major surgery.  He was drugged up.  He was on pavement.

It just was not the right time to pick that fight.

He only needed to get home and that is what we did.  .

I effectively paused the game by not asking for more than what I needed at that moment.  Allowing me to later pick the right time to tackle his lack of enthusiasm over loading.

Sometimes the best training is waiting for the right place and time to do what you need to do.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Importance of Hoof Care in Foals

In addition to training and teaching I also am a not for hire barefoot trimmer and yesterday I once again trimmed the 10 month old Mozzie Man.

His first trim was at a month old and he has been trimmed on as needed about every 2 months.

Hoof care is extremely important in foals.

Consider the Kayan people who from a very early age place brass rings around the necks of their women to elongate them.

What begins here.

Ends here.  

The same thing happens with foals although maybe not as extreme.  

Toed in, toed out, club foot, etc all of these conformational faults are exacerbated and amplified when a foal's hooves are not properly maintained from a early age.  

We have to trim adult horses' hooves because they loiter in little paddocks or meander around a few acres instead of traveling 20-40 miles a day in search of forage and our foals are no different.  

It is also important to note that a lame (not bearing weight or traveling abnormally) foal is something that must be addressed immediately.  Since foals grow so quickly a few weeks of untreated lameness can result in life long hoof and limb issues that would not have occurred naturally.  

And if the above were not enough to make you want to keep a close eye on your hooves.  I can speak from experience that it is 1000% times easier to train a 300 lb foal to stand (nicely) to be trimmed than it is to teach a 700, 800, or 1000 lb horse.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The trained eye- What you need to know when buying a horse

Can you spot the injuries?  

Check out this amazing post over at the The Horse's Back.

This is something everyone in the horse world should read.

Ex Racehorse Problems

In my experience many of these injuries can be fixed with time and proper rehabilitation.

And if any of your own horses are exhibiting some of these injuries I personally have had amazing results in my own horses and the horses of many of my clients with osteopathy and chiropractic care from Dr. Groves of the The Whole Horse in San Marcos, Texas. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Personal observations- snaffle vs. curb in finished horse

My main mare Pie has been off for the better part of 3 years due to work, both our pregnancies, and now juggling work and a baby.

Starting in last month I have been able to focus on riding more so I will be posting some of my experiences.

For the past few years I have ridden her in this.

Looking to brush off the cobwebs in her mid I decided to start back in this. 

I rode her twice in the snaffle and then put her back in her regular curb.

I have written quite a bit on bits and biting if you need a refresher.

Some of my observations:

There was a slight dullness in using the snaffle on Pie's advanced maneuvers compared to her usual curb. Without the leverage and angle of the shank to she did not have the "yellow light" to warn her that the bit was about to be engaged which made her less reactive/dull.  No having the "yellow light" warning the snaffle made me spend more time in her mouth.  

Her shoulder yields were less fluid in the jointed snaffle over the 3 piece mouthpiece of the curb.  The Jointed mouthpiece on the snaffle engaged both sides of her mouth vs the one side that is usually touched by the curb making for a less fluid movement.  

Having been ridden in a ported mouthpiece for so long Pie did not enjoy the lack of tongue relief she had in the snaffle, she chopped on the bit. 

In general I felt a lack of finesse taking Pie back down to a snaffle.   


I feel that it is important to remember to view our bits as tools for communication.  

The anatomy of a simple jointed snaffle can make it harder for you to clearly communicate what you want your horse to do.  Especially when trying to do advanced maneuvers.  

Excessive bit play can be a call for tongue relief.

At the end of the day this experiment was a reminder that if your really want to achieve a super light bridle horse you may have to move up into a curb for some parts of your training or at least look further than a simple jointed mouthpiece.  

Of course no bit is a substitute for good training, timing and your release of pressure are what really determine how light and responsive your horse is but the right bit can aid in your horse's understanding and speed up the training process.  

Note:  All observations in the post were based on the experiences riding a very broke, light, and responsive horse.  The changes noted between the snaffle and curb were very minor but still enough to be noted.    

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My favorite questions to ask the Vet

Unexpectedly had to take my cat into the vet this morning.  She peed bloody urine.  Looks to be a kidney infection or kidney stones.

After running the urine analysis the vet came back with two options.  Treat for infection or pursue diagnosing kidney stones.

As any pet parent I was a faced with a tough decision.

So I did as I always do when in these situations-  I asked the Vet "If she were your cat how would you proceed?"  To which he replied that he would first treat for infection.

So we are treating the Jude Kitty for an infection.

I love asking this question because I feel that it help get to the heart of what we all go to the Vet for anyway; to get our pet well again as quickly, easily, painlessly, and cost effectively as possible.

My second favorite question to ask is- "How much is _____ going to cost?"

I ask for pricing before consenting to testing, treatment, or medication.  While I love my animals very much I do not enjoy being surprised at check out.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I have the horses and the coyotes, I just need the bird

Found this on facebook today.

Yet another awesome thing to do with your horse.

Hidden Gems of Wisdom Found in Unexpected Places

It always amazes me how so many sports while so different still have so much in common.

My brother in law who owns a awesome Crossfit Gym in East Texas posted this neat story about a cycling coach who used the concept of aggregation of marginal gains to improve his teams performance to win the Tour de Frances, 3 times in a row.  

You can find the whole original post here and you really need to go check it out.

I was taught this approach by my very wise mother from day one.

She taught me that if you just improve 1% per day at end of 100 days you will have improved 100%.

This simple approach of small but steady gain can actually be applied to all aspects of our lives.

and I think I am going to start right now. :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

How to properly fall off a horse

The great folks at the Horse and Hound put together this great article and video showing you the right way to fall from your horse.  

I have personally used this technique for years (learned as a child from a naughty welsh pony) with great success.  

Knowing how to safely bail from a dangerous situation is a skill that every rider's confidence.   

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The problem with play

In my last post "How quickly things can unravel" I wrote about the sudden change in Mozzie's behavior after just few minutes of playful interaction.

I will admit to being totally taken a back at Mozzie's sudden nippy behavior (he has been perfect for months) until later than night when I couldn't sleep and I started replaying the incident in my head.  

It was then that I realized that I never offer to play with Mozzie like my brother in law had started to do.  

I do not play with my horses.  Never have and never will.

I love my horses, and freely give scratches and butt rubs, but I do not find any joy in a horse chasing/following me.  

In fact I hate it when horses are behind me.  I always catch them making ears at me.  I am the boss mare and I push them instead of the other way around.

I do not touch muzzles unless I am grooming, deworming, or checking teeth.  I do not allow noses any where around me and any attempts at nuzzling are punished immediately.

I am a person and people are not be played with. End of story.

Foals grow up and I do not want a 2 year old 800 lb Mozzie looking at myself or at his 2 year old 30 lb human sister thinking that he can play.

The problem with playing with your horse is that you can not sit them down and explain when it is okay to play.  That it is okay to play with the BIL but not with the baby.  

And since I can not explain when it is or is not appropriate to play I choose to not play with my horses.  


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How quickly things can unravel

Awesome weekend with the horses.  I have really tried to set a side some Mommy/ horse time lately and I am so enjoying it.

I clipped Mozzie for the first time after he begged me to do so while I trimmed his mother.  They both ground tied side by side for their sessions. I cleaned up his jowls a bit and buzzed him everywhere else (I'm just not ready to for him to loose those fuzzy teddy bear ears).

Half way through I actually realized what I was doing.  That my 9 month old colt had asked to be clipped, was ground tying for the first time, and was clipping like a seasoned veteran.

All in all I walked away beyond proud of my little man.

Later the same day my sister and brother in law (BIL) stopped by to visit and on their way out to the car Mozzie came up. Both horsey people, my BIL started playing with Mozzie's nose, playfully boxing it side to side and in less than a minute of that happening Mozzie started wanting to nip.

BIL of course properly corrected Mozzie for trying to nip but it was amazing seeing how quickly his manners fell to the wayside when given the opportunity.

The take away.

It only takes a little bit of bad to undo a whole lot of good. Anytime you are around horses they are learning something.  You control what your horse is learning and whether it is good or bad.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The feeding balancing act- body condition scores

It seems that our horses are always just a little too fat or just a little too thin.  Rarely does it seem that they are just right, and because you see your horse on a regular basis it is often hard to notice the gradual changes that can take place over several weeks and months.  
As a horse owner it is important that you take time to objectively assess your horse's weight on a regular basis.

Age, weather conditions, amount of turnout, amount of pasture, illness, and work load can all cause your horse's weight to fluctuate throughout the year. So it is important that you take time to assess your feeding regiment on a regular basis.

I recommend objectively evaluating your horse's weight every 3-4 weeks.  This is enough time for your horse to start showing changes in either direction, but frequent enough for your to address these changes in timely manner. 

You can do this by tracking your horse's weight using a weight tape or you can take regular pictures with your phone and use them as a comparison.  If you are lucky enough to ride/work with friends and family often I highly recommend asking them to help you keep an eye on your horse's condition and in turn doing the same for them.  


Monday, January 27, 2014

Blanket Repair Photo Tutorial- Horseware Rug Repair Kit Tutorial/Review

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Over the last cold snap Mozzie managed to put a very large rip in his cheap baby blanket.

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Still too small for his next size blanket and with another cold snap on the way I needed to get it repaired quickly and cheaply.  

I used the Horseware Rug Repair Kit a long with scissors, sewing pins, freezer paper, and disposable gloves.

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

The kit included these simple instructions but only some parts were applicable to my situation.

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

I started by cutting out strips and cutting off the frayed ends of the original blanket.

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

And pinning those strips to hold them in place.

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

The blanket flapped had curled and snagged and would no long fit to cover the hole so I needed a larger piece. 

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

The U shaped tear also proved to be a challenge requiring some piecing.

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Once everything was pinned I put on my gloves and started gluing.  I tried to take pictures but got glue on the camera and had to stop.  I first glued the green pieces together and then glued the blanket to the green patch.  Below is the blanket after gluing.  

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Like most horse folks I did this repair in the house and had to keep things neat.  I added the freezer paper to both sides before moving and setting up (so glad that I did).  I had to move it after repaired as well and slide a pizza pan under neath it to stabilize everything during the move.  

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

I then had the challenge of finding something heavy and wide enough to let it set overnight per the instructions.  I found that the baby's packed up playpen in the office fit my needs perfectly.  

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

And 24 hours later it worked.  No sewing, completely waterproof, and it only took me about 20 minutes from start to finish.  

Copyright 2014 KnP Training

Final Thoughts and Review-

I was super pleased with the repair of this very large hole.  I used over 2/3's of the Stormsure Glue and 1 out of 4 patch sheets (Blue, Green, Black, and Purple) included in the Repair Kit.  The blanket will go on this evening and I will try and do an update of how this repair holds.  I will definitely be purchasing more glue to keep on hand.  While not recommended or required on the repair kit instructions I do highly recommend using freezer paper (you can see a little paper stuck to the blanket) to be sure that you do not glue your blanket to other objects or the floor.  All in all so far I was very impress and highly recommend the Horseware Rug Repair Kit for blanket repair needs.