Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Riding Smart- Weather Edition

As many of you know, have seen, and in some cases survived Texas has been flooding.

Over Memorial Day weekend 12 people lost their lives or are still missing and the true loss of pets, livestock, and wildlife is still unknown.  

Thanks to cell phone cameras and videos the events have been well documented and images are chilling and heartbreaking to say the least.   

                                               Not my video or content, Thanks youtube

Here are some things you can do to stay safer while out on the trail when dealing with extreme weather.

Before you go-

1)  Listen to the forecast-  If there is a significant risk for severe weather contact the event coordinator to be sure conditions should be safe and or reconsider your plans.  

2)  Know where you are going-  Sand, rock, or asphalt? River bottom or hill? Get a feel for the place or facility you are going to.  A quick google earth search is a great way to scope out a place.  If riding in a state or national park call the office and get their opinion of riding in that area under those weather conditions.

3)  Consider the terrain-   Rivers can expand hundreds yards in the matter of minutes (as seen in the video).  In addition to the specific area you plan to park and ride know what lies around you.  

4)  Consider the trails-  What effects could the forecast-ed weather have on the places you plan to ride?  Could the rocks be slick or water crossings boggy and dangerous?  Even if your campground is accessible is going out worth possible injury to yourself or your horse?      

Once there-

5)  Park and unload responsibly-  Park as high as possible and as close to the road as possible especially if you do not have 4x4 or have a very large and heavy LQ.  Once parked set up your outside camp sparingly if the weather looks questionable.  If you plan on leaving for several hours/ going to sleep pick up your outside camp to keep loading up to leave as quick as easy as possible.  

6)  Invest in a severe weather radio- Ideally two.  One for your trailer (especially if you camp) and another for your saddle bags.  Here in Texas as we have just seen the weather can change in an instant.  There are several quite small and light weight options available on the market (also almost all can charge your phone as well), and try to get in the habit of checking the weather at noon (or more often if needed) especially if you are alone (or in a limited group) and in a isolated area.  

And most importantly...

Use your best judgement in regards to riding and camping even if event coordinators say rain or shine.  In the end it's your horse, rig, and at times life at stake.  It is better (and cheaper) to stay home and lose an entrance/competition/reservation fee than find yourself in a situation like above.      

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I am not starting my 2 year old this year

Spring is just around the corner and the sale ads are up with 2013 horses already started, and many with several months of riding already under their belt.

Mozzie Man will officially be two in April.

It is amazing how the time flies, and even though I can't wait to get on him I am waiting until he 3.  And even then he will be started very lightly and not ridden a lot until his 4th year.

I am waiting because of research like this:

Timing and Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses

Looking at Moz and the horses offered for sale I see gangly awkward tweenagers.  

And that is what they are.  

Starting a 2 year old is like expecting a 12 year old to play college level football.    

At 2 years of age very little of a horse's skeleton is mature and by waiting 1 extra year over 50% of the skeleton and joints will be mature.  

Considering that I've already spent 3 years growing him up (in the womb, and on the ground) it seems silly to not wait just a little while longer for a horse that I hope to have, enjoy, and be physically sound the next 25+ years. 

If more people were willing to take the time and just wait one extra year I think the world would have a lot more sound (without supplementation and medical intervention) horses at 6, 12, 20, and 25 years of age.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Problem With Pride

Last week I took the 22 month old Mozzie to be branded while over 8 months pregnant.

I cheated and used a bucket of feed to load him.  

Could I have loaded him without feed?  


Should I have tried to load him without feed?

No, Not home alone with a belly 16ft in front of me, less than stellar balance, and the agility of a sloth.  Especially when I knew I could get him in the trailer like dream with a little belly persuasion.

Horse people are often described as stubborn and with the title of "horse trainer" I am no exception, but there are just times when a person shouldn't pick a potential battle with their horse.

Sometimes to go ahead to put your pride aside include:

When you are seriously physically compromised.

When you are seriously exhausted physically or mentally.

When you have a serious timeline that must be followed.

When your horse is injured or otherwise unfit for a potentially long lesson.

Of course ideally you should not "cheat" if the battle has already begun.

If you start it one way, you must finish it that way (as long as it can be done safely, and even then it is better to cheat and win than not win at all).

Which is why some days it is better to never start it (the potentially hard way) at all.    

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cookie Power (Gotta Get Paid)- Don't Be A Bill Lumbergh

You go to work everyday because you get compensated for your effort.  

If at some point you didn't get paid appropriately for your time and effort you'd quit.  

Your horse feels exactly the same way.  

Halters, saddles, and trailers all signal one thing to our horses. 


I give cookies for being caught, at times for being saddled, and for loading in the trailer in addition to almost always having a few extra to be used as reward for whatever is hard for that individual horse.

Just imagine your disappointment of being told that you have to work on Saturday.  It would be just a little bit more bearable if right after the announcement you were told that they would be bringing in lunch.

Quitting (see a ton of other posts here) is good, but that physical compensation for doing something unpleasant at the right time means even more.  

Can I catch, saddle, and load my horses without a cookie?


But that little reward keeps them willing, and helps to keep them from getting a case of the Mondays.

And can help avoid a total equine meltdown.

For those not familiar the images from today's blog came from the cult classic movie Office Space.

Please note that I use cookies as a training tool.  I do not (except on very rare occasion) give cookies other than as a reward for effort/good behavior.  Any nosiness or expectation of a cookie is corrected immediately.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"This is your captain speaking..."

"This is your captain speaking..."

Imagine you were about to board a tiny plane to fly across the Himalayan Mountains in inclement weather, and while waiting to board your captain walks up and introduces himself.

He is nervous, tense and down right jumpy, eyes darting around, his handshake limp and damp.  He stutters and bumbles through his pre flight speech.  Using phasing like; "I think", "maybe", and speaks of how he's never seen such weather and how he has only flown this plane one other time.

Now imagine the same scenario but this time the captain calmly walks up, introduces himself in a cool and collected manner.  His handshake is firm and he stands tall as he discusses the upcoming flight.  He uses phases like; "we will", and "I can", and shows little excitement and regard for the outside storm.

Who would you rather fly with?

If you were forced to fly with the nervous captain you would probably (and rightly so) be on edge the entire flight.  And if you flew with the confident captain you might be a little on edge during the turbulents but in general you would feel that your life were in capable hands.

You horse feels the same way about you.

Every time you approach your horse you are approaching as his captain.  Your energy and confidence  or lack there of directly affects the outcome of your ride.

Be strong and be confident.  Be the captain you'd want to fly with.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The One Winter Weather Investment You Will Never Regret

It's cold outside by Texas standards.  We are in the middle of what could prove to be our first icy event of the year so tonight I pulled out the best thing I've bought in a long time.

A water trough heater.

A special order item for my area, one can be found online with numerous retailers.

You can get them for any size trough, or buy a actual heated bucket if you stall.

Not only does having one save you the headache of breaking ice, but they also help to prevent colic and keep your horse hydrated (by keeping the water a inviting temperature).

Even if you only have a few serious cold snaps a year a trough heater can pay for itself with piece of mind with it's very first use.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Free Educational Opportunity- Equine Nutrition Course

Start your new year off right and sign up for a free 5 week equine nutrition course offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Click here Equine Nutrition Course for more information and to sign up.  The course starts in just 19 days.  I hope that you will join me.