Monthly Archives: February 2014

Do You Need A Float Plan?

Okay so you think I may be crazy, but let’s explore the idea.

What is a Float Plan?  A Float Plan is what a captain of a ship/boat files before he leaves the port.  I believe a pilot files a flight plan.  It lists your estimated time of arrival, your destination and how you plan on getting there.  Perhaps who will be going with you, emergency contact information, your type of boat, etc.

You may ask “What does this have to do with horses?”  Well I’m glad you asked.

When I was young and stupid, now I’m just old and senile, I would hop on my horse and go where ever the spirit moved me.  No thought other than spending time with my horse in God’s beautiful creation.  The wind in my hair and the sun on my face.  Now that my hair is getting grey and my face looks more like a crunched up road map, my brain is starting to think of things that could happen.

Oh sure if something happened while I was out trail riding, the horse would go home, hopefully not crossing any major highways.  If I was lucky I’d pick myself up off the ground and start the long walk home myself.  But what if I couldn’t get up?  If I had my cell phone on me, as opposed to in my saddle bag, I could call; “you know I’m by the big oak just past the dip in the road, by last nights road kill.”  What if I was really hurt or unconscious?  My horse isn’t going to disclose where he left me.  “I don’t know, we were cantering along and she just jumped off a couple of miles down there somewhere.”  Of course if you’re married to Tonto (for those old enough to remember the Lone Ranger) he could follow the hoof prints.  That is, unless other people recently have ridden that way.  A dogs tracking collar would work, might look a little odd, (I said tracking, not shock) or if you’re lucky enough to have GPS tracking on you phone that would be a great thing, but what if you don’t?

So how about a riding plan, trail plan, or I’m going out for a ride don’t bother me plan.  Give it any name you would like, but let someone know where your destination is and how you are planning to get there.  Now I have to admit I’ve done that and then changed the direction because of unusual circumstances.  Trees down in the woods, trail closures, water is too deep, the horse eating (you fill in the blank) Dogs, Donkey’s, Cows, Lammas, Ostriches were out there and my horse wouldn’t go by them, but basically someone would know about where to look for you when your trusty steed says “See You Later.”  Have you ever noticed they’re brave until something scares them?  Then its sacrifice the horse behind me, or if there isn’t another horse around, the rider will do.  Most horses are smart enough to not be the first or the last horse in the group.  Another word for first horse or last horse is dinner.

So just to make it easier on your relatives or friends, let someone know where you plan on going.  My husband wouldn’t notice I was missing until dinner wasn’t on the table at 6:00, but most people really hate it when they’re out there in the dark, with flashlights, looking for you when they would rather be home watching their favorite TV show.

Oh a couple of more thoughts.  Don’t forget to program ICE into your cell phone.  Police and Paramedics look for that.  For those of you who are cell phone challenged it means “In Case of Emergency” contacts.  Also if you don’t carry a cell phone have emergency contact information on you.  You can usually pick up a little card that fits into your wallet at your local hospital, at least you used to be able to.  It will give anyone who finds you your name, phone numbers and any allergy’s you may have to medications.

Think about it.  Maybe telling someone what direction you plan on going isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Helmets – Every Ride, Every Time

When I was a child we never wore helmets, except in Horse Shows, and that was to complete our outfit, not for safety.  Come to think of it, we never wore helmets to skate, ride our bike, play baseball, or football.  Nor did we wear seat belts in cars, they didn’t exist.  The sports didn’t change, accidents happened then, but now we are more safety conscious all the way around.  We never even thought “Oh, it won’t happen to me.”  We just never thought.

If there were statistics back then, we never heard or read about them.  Now with our informational age we hear about everything as soon as it happens.

What I did as a teenager I would never let my grandchildren do, but I guess that’s the way life always was.  As we get older and wiser we rethink things.

Some reasons I’ve heard why people don’t wear helmets:

  • It’s too hot (especially here in Florida)
  • I’m tough, don’t need a helmet
  • I ride western and we wear cowboy hats not sissy helmets
  • I’m a dressage rider and we wear top hats
  • My horse is bomb proof
  • I’m just hopping on bareback for a couple of minutes
  • I’m a professional
  • I’ve been riding all my life
  • The cat is sleeping in it
  • My dog ate it

Jane Savoie said it best at an ARIA conference 15 years ago.  “I like my brains, I use them every day.”  I never forgot that.  For those of you who don’t know her, she is a professional dressage rider, and trainer.

Sure we’ve all fallen off and hit our heads, even with our helmets on.  Some of us have even had a concussion, or two, or more.  But some of us haven’t been that lucky.  Some of us have permanent brain challenges, or some have died.  Ask the parents, spouses, or children of these people for their opinions on helmet safety.

Many professionals have jumped on a horse for just a quick ride without a helmet, or with the strap undone, and died.

Some could have been prevented, some not.  It’s like Russian Roulette.  It just takes seconds to put it on and snap it shut.  Are you willing to take the chance?  Do you feel lucky?



The Majesty of Horses

We all have our favorite breed of horses.  Horses that take our breath away.

What is it about a horse in general that reaches beyond our thought process and goes straight to our hearts?  Our pulse quickens, our breath comes a little quicker, our eyes can’t take in such beauty in one look.  Manes and tails flying in the breeze, fluid movements almost hypnotize us.  Poets have spoken about it, books have been written on it, yet we still can’t explain it, even to ourselves.  We, as horse people, just know it.  Even in the song “Run for the roses” by Dan Fogelberg when it says, “The fire of a mare and the strength of a stud” speaks to our inner being.

It amazed me that in the very beginning of the movie Secretariat they quoted the Bible.  It comes from Job 39:19-25.  I don’t think many people caught the reference, but they portrayed the fire and spirit of the horse behind the words.

God is trying to make Job realize what wonderful things He has created and that Job just can’t measure up to God.

Job 39:19-25

Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane?

Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust?

It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength when it charges out to battle.

It laughs at fear and is unafraid.

It does not run from the sword.

The arrows rattle against it, and the spear and javelin flash.

It paws the ground fiercely and rushes forward into battle when the ram’s horn blows.

It snorts at the sound of the horn.

It senses the battle in the distance.

It quivers at the captain’s commands and the noise of battle.

There have been many horses through history who have performed such as this.   My Magic was brave and full of spirit, my Zoey is not one of them.  She just worries.  I checked into her family tree.  I wanted to know what she was bred for.  Her father’s side were halter horses.  Her mother’s side were race horses.  Yup, that’s my Zoey, looks pretty and runs fast (usually in the other direction).  Other than that, not so much.  So for now we’ll stick to look pretty and running fast.

Each one is a gift.  Each one is a teacher.  Each one makes us the horseperson we become.  Each one touches our hearts and take a piece of it with them when they cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Magic, at age 30, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on February 3rd.  Anyone who knew Magic will testify that Heaven will never quite be the same.

Your spirit and fire gave me confidence.  Thank you for all you taught me about life, and myself.  I’ll always love you, and I will miss you Magic.



Thoughts on Cell Phones

How did we ever live without them, and how can we live safely with them?

The key word here is safely.

We need to have them near us in case of an emergency, but they can’t be a distraction.

When we’re around horses our full attention must be on the horse and it’s surroundings.  Bad things can happen in a heart beat.

Most horses won’t react to things you expect them to, but rather to the unexpected.  We must always be aware of our horses body language and outside stimuli.

For example –

  • A dog or child suddenly runs through the barn
  • A plastic bag, someone left lying around, suddenly takes flight when the wind sends it into action
  • A strange noise or movement in the distance that you may not even hear or see
  • Or something as simple as an unexpected sneeze.

These are all horse eating things that horses may be startled by.  If you are on the phone you may not catch the subtle signs that life, as we know it, is about to change.

Don’t forget they are a fight or flight animal who depend on a quick reaction to survive.  Maybe we should learn from our horses to pay attention and react accordingly.  Seems to work for them.

Let the calls go to voice mail, and just enjoy what little time you have with your horse. (There’s never enough time.)  Return the calls after you leave the barn, when you can then focus on the person who called you.

One more thought.  It could be a pain to land on one.

Always stay in the moment, you’ll enjoy it more.