Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Economy....and other stuff

So this won't exactly be horse related, but it is...sort of! I got laid off a little while ago (MLK Day to be specific) and ever since have been trying to find a job. I have to tell you, I have been busier since being laid off then I ever was when I worked full time. I am lucky enough to have a farm owner who has bumped up my amount of lessons and lets me work at the farm in the mroning to pay for my baby's board, which is awesome. Also I am working for my dad part-time to bring in cash, and then of course, unemployment. So, in case anyone has actually missed my postings (I doubt it!) that's where i've been. Soon enough, Iw ill post something of entertainment, but for now, let the job search comence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For Those Horses with Allergies

As a prior allergy infested horse owner, let me let you in on a couple of tid bits:

1. Hives. If this happens, Cortizone 10 is awesome stuff and Walmart makes the same crap for $10 cheaper. Second of all, try different fly spray and laundry detergent.

Laundry detergents I have had issues with:


Laundry detergents that work fine:

-Purex (cheap!!)
-Horse blanket cleaner (available at your local tack store - not cheap)
-Arm & Hammer

I don't use conventional fly sprays. I have never had a horse NOT break out into hives because of them. That, and I just don't fine them to work.

Home made fly spray (my mom's recipe)

-1 Part Skin So Soft
-1 Part Citronella
-1 Part Apple Cider Vinegar
-1 Part Water

Smells like crap, but keeps the flys off.


Ok, I am going to give my newest account with a bout of thrush. I tried everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Lyme (sp?), Kopertox, Thrush Buster, Sugar/Betadine, Betadine.....

Now I will give you the low-down....

Lyme - works ok, but dried out his feet TOO much. That,and the crapgets everywhere.

Kopertox - turns out that crap actually seals the heel not letting it breathe and since the thrush has to hit air to die because it's bacteria, that obviously didn't work

Thrush buster - might have worked if it wasn't so God awful expensive and purple. I now have two pairs of jeans died purple.

Sugar/Betadine - I don't know what on earth made me try that. Nothing happened

Betadine - Good, but didn't get the job "done"

And my final try? Freaking Clorox and water. 1 part cloroxto 3-4 parts water. Worked beautifully. Now, it CAN dry the feet out (I've read countless testimony to such) BUT if you scrub the feet with Betadine, wash the feet again, and then use a syringe and squirt it directly on the thrush part, then take gauze pads, dip them into the solution and pur the directly in the thrush part (his was on the grooves of his heels) and then wrap with vet wrap and duct tape......not shit...thrush gone TWO DAYS. Just make sure you don't get it on their leg. If you do, rinse it off and make sure it is DRY. Also, if the leg, hair part gets dry, try Desitin - awesome stuff for dry patches.

Oh, also remember to rub some Corona on the coronet band the prevent drying out.....

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's COLD in Georgia

And before all of ya'll (ha!) from the northern states start laughing your asses off, please remember that us poor southern folk aren't used to this. Ever seen a southerner try to drive in snow? Scary stuff!

So last night's temp? 11. But it "feels like" 2. 2! Poor babies probably froze last night.

That's the one problem with being at a co-op barn (do it yourself) - some people simply do not know how to care for their horses, nor do they ask questions. But, the good news is that a lot of people DO ask questions and that's awesome. For instance: there is a woman at my barn who has bought herself a three year old Arabian (who she started as a two year old don't EVEN get me started on that) and she has decided that after spending his first two years clipped and blanketed that she is going to leave him naked.

NOW, for all you northerners (smile!) I know it (generally!) gets cold and stays cold. Here in Georgia you never know what you're gonna get. For instance -- last week it rained. and rained and rained and rained. The low of the nights were like 60. it was HOT. I gave Gretzky a bath one night without even needing to use a cooler! hot! Now, a horse is Georgia usually never gets a coat (not a big one) because by the time it gets cold, it gets hot again, and then cold again (we have a lot of colics) and then like this week, it gets so freakishly cold you can't help BUT to put a blanket on.

Even the horses that are straight pasture board horses (whose owners rarely ocme to see them) all have blankets. All but this woman's horse. The only one without a blanket. SAD! Oh, and btw, just so you know, his coat is THIN. Poor baby!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Irritations Boarders Bring...

Ok, so I would venture to say that I have my horse at one of the coolest barns on the planet. Even in the dead middle of winter, there's still green grass in our pastures, so that's pretty cool. We have two rigns -- one dressage, one jumping -- a full cross country course, and our barn, while small, has perfect airflow to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Everything's great, right? Insert Boaders and Moms, then you have a problem.

One of my students is leasing a horse who is also leased by another girl. Turns out that mom of child A and mom of child B used to be great friends. Now, I have had pseudo altercations with mom of child B, so I know what she's all about..... But child A is at the barn every single night with me and her mom. Child B only shows up on the weekends. And, it's not for a lack of time for child B either. Let's just say her mom isn't the "busy" type. Child B's mom decides that because they are using the leased horse for a birthday on Sunday that she has the right to call the mom of child A and inform her that she will not be permitted to see the horse. I hate this crap. Try teaching your freaking kid to share! Child A has offered for child B to come on the weekdays and help her with the horse at night. Child B has no interest. Actually, child B is only riding because her mother is making her ride. Wonders never cease.

Now, onto the random drama that boarders have. I had a friend call me yesterday and tell me that she is all pissed off because 1. the farrier didn't wait for her to show up before shoeing her horse and 2. they put her horse in the ring without food and water. NOW, #2, I totally understand, I would be freaking livid also! BUT, he was only in there for 15 minutes before she got there, so it really shouldn't have been that dramatic. BUT, #1 is what kills me. Our farrier is one of the best in the area, and the man is BUSY. He cannot wait all day long so that you can watch your baby get his shoes. As a mom who hasn't seen her horse shod in about 6 months, I can tell you that our farrier is VERY good about leaving detailed notes about what's going on with your horse's feet and you can call him whenever you want to discuss. Trust me because my farrier and I have a wonderful phone relationship! He's very friendly! The man has been doing this a long time. Not only that, he has been doing our farms shoes for over thirty years. If you can't trust him to shoe your horse, you need to find yourself another farrier.

And that was just over the past two days.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Welcome to the Inner Workings of My Mind...and how my horse came to be!

I am pretty sure my blogs will eventually piss someone off, which will be interesting to watch unfold. I have seen some cool ass stuff on here in the past few days, and I have to say it's pretty cool to find like-minded people out there. See? Not ALL of the horse industry is currupt! SWEET!

This is going to be long - I apologize. he he

I grew up showing Hunters and Equitation. I learned a lot from some of the best horse trainers in the world, and learned a lot of what NOT to do from them also. Hey, not everyone's perfect! But, my favorite trainer out of all of them, the one who introduced me to every part of a horse, not just looking pretty on it, I still consider a very good friend even though she has moved to the other side of the country.

When I sold my show horse, Burtie ("Look No Further") at the end of my junior career, I was extremely devestated. I swore I was never going to get that close to a horse again. I spent five very blissful years with him as my best friend and soul mate and when my parents got rid of him to pay for my college, I was crushed. So, needless to say, I spent the next eight years riding on Georgia Southerns riding team (for two) and then training horses behind the scenes for local farms and friends. Horse showing very little, but getting my foot in the show ring every once in a while to ensure I didn't get to rusty. But the love for the showing had been beat out of me as a junior, and I just didn't feel the drive. I spent most of my junior career catch riding and showing other people's horses, but nothing felt better than finally entering a show ring with Burtie for the first time (In Charleston at Sea Brook Island) and freaking winning. He was four, and the best horse I have ever worked with. Well, until G, but I'll get there.

Eight years after the sale of Burt, I was approached by a horse buddy of mine, Debbie about a horse she had seen. Apparently, she went to a smaller Rescue in north Georgia to look at this tall thoroughbred she had been told about by the owner of the rescue who was a friend. Debbie, after seeing said horse, came immediately to our farm where I was body clipping an older horse and basically ignored her when she told me about this horse she had seen that would be PERFECT for me. I blew her off. What the hell did I need to buy a horse for? I had four in training and a full-time job! I proceeded to totally forget about this conversation.

A month later, a friend of mine bought a farm, and told me to go ahead and get a horse and I could work off my board by teaching. I put some feelers out for a horse, but didn't really pursue it heavily. I knew I wanted a rescue horse. That part was easy. Finding something tall enough for me and that would suit my needs was of course and entirely different story. Well, as fate would have it, I found a Trakhener cross at a rescue. When I called the woman, she told me he was no longer available, but she did have an OTT Thoroughbred who needed a good home and could jump. I called Debbie immediately and told her she had to go with me to look at him. Her reaction? "You dumbass, I told you about that effing horse a month ago." Oops. Her next statement? "Get your damn $500 donation ready because he's coming home with us."

So I pack all my stuff that Sunday morning, April 8th, the day after my birthday, and Debbie and I make the two hour trek to go look at this wonder horse. Well, I have to say, silly biatch was right (as always - annoying!!). I took one look at that skinny boy and was a gonner. Oops again. Well, also, the fact that his name was Gretzky (after the famous hockey star!!!) didn't help me with walking away without him.

He was lame, but I did a flex test (thank God I worked for a vet for two years!), etc. on him. Did the hoof testers - hello problem. Sore heels. Well, with a shoeing job like that, I can only imagine!! ha ha I rode him for five minutes - long enough not to torture him, but long enough to just KNOW. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. I just acquired myself a horse.

The lovely lady at the rescue let me keep him there for two weeks while I prepped for his arrival and also took a little vacation that had been planned for months. I will say this: for those two weeks, I spent 6 of them making the two hour trip just to be near him. Again, gonner.

Two weeks later, baby in tow, ownership papers in tow (don't ask) we were on our way. He was great! He was actually great for the first week. And then, the magic happened (ha ha Magic ha). I found out that my horse is deathly afraid of stalls. And Whips. And noises. And being mounted. He was afraid of damn near everything. He wouldn't let me touch his head. He wouldn't let me pick his feet. He flipped himself over in the washrack. He ran me down. He essentially scared the shit out of me. That's when I realized that he had been at the Rescue for three months - he was used to it, comfortable there - happy there. I had taken him away from his happy place and he was afraid that the beatings would happen again. Jesus, what did I get myself into?

I read every book I could get my hands on. Called everyone I knew. For four months I worked with him. I would sit on an over-turned bucket in his stall and read so he would be used to me being near him and (hopefully) make friends. I would use the same over-turned bucket to mount him.....well, ask him to stand politely without taking off. the first time we tried this, it was three hours before I was in the saddle. By the end of four months - we were down to ten minutes! hellyeah. We worked on EVERYTHING. But still, he was scared, and to be honest, I didn't trust him. How could I expect him to trust me if I didn't trust him? Not exactly fair.

That's when I called my old trainer and friend and she suggested I take him to Blue Ridge to Dave Seay ( to work with him. So, that's exactly what I did. Three hours after starting working with Dave my horse and I had acquired a new lease on our life together. Similar to marriage couseling. I learned that instead of talking him into my language, it was time to start speaking his. Not only that, this whole time I was making excuses for him because "he was abused" to which Dave said, "Yes, and that's sad. But it's over now. Time to move on." and it's so funny because it never even dawned on me to think that way. Gotta love it.

Since the trip to Dave, it's still been a struggle, but my little bugger head finally loves me, a year and a half later, and we trust each other. We have moved to a new farm in april of last year that is closer and I get to see him twice a day. Everything in our world has changed since that day with Dave, and I can't say enough how much I learned from him, or thank him enough for giving me and my horse the bond we both were looking for (but didn't know it).

Yesterday, as I was bringing him in from the pasture...I realized something...something you don't realize when you do it everyday. When we would come upon the drainage ditches (filled with water) that I had to cross in work clothes and muck boots, Gretzky would stop and wait, let me cross first and then jump them (freaking horse loves to jump - he's a mess). Then when we got to the gate, I put the lead rope on his neck, let him go through first, and then closed the gate behind us. I looked up to realize that he was standing perfectly stock still - waiting for me to come up to him so he could continue on. My heart swelled. And he finally, after almost two years, really does like me :)

An Oldy but a Goody - My Take on Eight Belles....

As most know, last weekend, Eight Belles met her demise after the race at the Kentucky Derby. Mind you this did not happen while the race was happening, but actually after the finish line. Now, someone explain to me why it is that her jockey was still whipping her afterward? That's the starting point. It gets better...

Many in my office and my life who I deem non-horsey people have asked me endless questions about what happened. Well, here's the low down. Not on her specifically, but on racing in general. Let's all not forget what happened to Barbaro just two years ago.

People who know me love to ask me questions about the racing industry because even though I am completely against it, I will be the first person to say that some farms, just like in any horse industry profession, are not like the others and actually not only care for their horses, but their horses get the best treatment in the entire country - and they are the farms who usually win the most. You would think people would figure that out, but I digress.

Let me start by saying that I don't give a DAMN what anyone says, the veterinary, scientific proof is there that three years old (which is the minimum racing age for the Triple Crown Races) is too young for a horse to race, let alone be pushed to the maximum of their physical abilities. Here's a quote from well-known veterinarian, Deb Bennett:

"Owners and trainers need to realize there's a definite, easy-to-remember schedule of fusion and then make their decision as to when to ride the horse based on that rather than on the external appearance of the horse. For there are some breeds of horse - the Quarter Horse is the premier among these - which have been bred in such a manner as to LOOK mature long before they actually ARE mature. This puts these horses in jeopardy from people who are either ignorant of the closure schedule, or more interested in their own schedule (for futurities or other competitions) than they are in the welfare of the animal.The process of fusion goes from the bottom up. In other words, the lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal's back you look, the later. The growth plate at the top of the coffin bone (the most distal bone of the limb) is fused at birth. What this means is that the coffin bones get no TALLER after birth (they get much larger around, though, by another mechanism). That's the first one.

In order after that:
Short pastern - top & bottom between birth and 6 mos.
Long pastern - top & bottom between 6 mos. And 1 yr.
Cannon bone - top & bottom between 8 mos. And 1.5 yrs.
Small bones of knee - top & bottom on each, between 1.5 and 2.5 yrs.
Bottom of radius-ulna - between 2 and 2.5 yrs.
Weight-bearing portion of glenoid notch at top of radius - between 2.5 and 3 yrs.
Humerus - top & bottom, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.
Scapula - glenoid or bottom (weight-bearing) portion - between 3.5 and 4 yrs.
Hindlimb - lower portions same as forelimb
Hock - this joint is "late" for as low down as it is; growth plates on the tibial & fibular tarsals don't fuse until the animal is four (so the hocks are a known "weak point" - even the 18th-century literature warns against driving young horses in plow or other deep or sticky footing, or jumping them up into a heavy load, for danger of spraining their hocks)
Tibia - top & bottom, between 2.5 and 3 yrs.
Femur - bottom, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.; neck, between 3.5 and 4 yrs.; major and 3rd trochanters, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.
Pelvis - growth plates on the points of hip, peak of croup (tubera sacrale), and points of buttock (tuber ischii), between 3 and 4 yrs.

...and what do you think is last? The vertebral column, of course. A normal horse has 32 vertebrae between the back of the skull and the root of the dock, and there are several growth plates on each one, the most important of which is the one capping the centrum. These do not fuse until the horse is at least 5 1/2 years old (and this figure applies to a small-sized, scrubby, range-raised mare. The taller your horse and the longer its neck, the later full fusion will occur. And for a male - is this a surprise? -- you add six months. So, for example, a 17-hand TB or Saddlebred or WB gelding may not be fully mature until his 8th year - something that owners of such individuals have often told me that they suspected" )."

That being said, I have done extensive research on this very topic just to see what kind of break downs, etc. that starting a horse too young can do to them. I will tell you that my old horse, Burtie, who was a Hungarian Warmblood and topped out at 17.1hh, did NOT top out until his 7th year. Yes, that's right, when I bought him as a 3.5 year old, he was only 15.3hh high. And by the time he just got past his 7th birthday, he was taller by almost two whole hands (hand is 4").

Another example: My horse now, Gretzky, who is a full-bred Thoroughbred, was 16.2hh when I bought him as a six year old. He now measures at 16.3hh. So while this isn't quite as significant of a change, it still was a growth spurt none the less.

As Dr. Bennett points out, some horses "appear to be" more mature with their actual outer appearance, this does not mean that their bones have finished fusing properly. With all the difficulty people are having placing off the track thoroughbreds and how over-run rescues are in this day in age, you would think that people in that particular industry would stop breeding bad flesh to bad flesh and then on top of that, racing them at too young of an age to ensure that there will be physical difficulties at an older age.

So, if you are still wondering how she broke both ankles at the race after reading all of the aforementioned text, I will break it down for you. This also applies to Barbaro. These horses have extra cartilage in their leg bones when they are born to protect their legs from bumping and smacking into inanimate objects. Similar to that of a human baby's head - which happens to have an extra layer of cartilage around the brain to protect it. As their age progresses, their bones fuse together and a great deal of the cartilage disappears. If a horse is raced or worked or put to the full extent of their physical ability before their bones have matured, then there is a greater chance of breaking their bones right in half – because once they are fused, they obviously, are stronger, but before fusion, it is like two very seperate, thin bones that are easier to break. We must remember the random way that a horse is put together. We have a big ol body placed on stick thin legs with little tiny feet.

Hence, racing at too young of an age, their legs cannot handle it – not to mention the amount of navicular and laminitis (founder) cases that happen because of similar instances. Unfortunately, this usually happens to horses in the lower purse races, and they never make headline news. Trust me , if you do a little digging, you will find out interesting facts about horse racing.
When I got G, I pulled his racing records, and it was enough to make me believe that the racing industry leaves something to be desired. He stopped on the track, he flipped himself out of the shoot, he wouldn't leave the shoot, he wouldn't run fast enough, he would buck throughout the whole thing – now, you tell me, does that sound like a horse who "loves his job?" I think not. But I will tell you, he likes his job just fine now.

That is not to say that the industry that I currently participate in is any better, but that is another blog for another day, and I fear that I will insult too many people with that one.