Monthly Archives: June 2014

Happy Feet

There is an old saying –

For the want of a nail, a shoe was lost.

For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost.

For the want of a horse, a soldier was lost.

For the want of a soldier, the battle was lost.

For the want of a battle, the war was lost.

For the want of a war, the country was lost.

All because of a dumb old nail.  Does this tell you how important a horses feet can be?  If we have sore feet we can just sit down and put our feet up.  They can’t.  A horse off his feet for too long can compromise his internal organs and various systems.  They have to carry their weight, and shifting or carrying more weight on one side can cause problems in their joints and skeletal system.

Their feet are at the mercy of the footing they have to stand on, and more than that, the care the feet are given.  Most of the country has just come through the seasons of snow, ice, and mud.  Here in Florida we are coming into our rainy season with a lot of dew in the mornings and rainy afternoons, add heat and moisture, and you have conditions that are not good for feet.  With hot and cold, wet and dry, you have expansion, contraction, fungus, and bacteria.

Pay attention to their feet.  It’s easier to prevent than cure.  Yes it may take a couple of extra minutes to clean their feet out each time, and possibly treat for prevention, but it takes a whole lot longer to medicate and cure, and not be able to use a horse that’s in pain.

Consult your vet or farrier for the best treatment for your particular ground conditions and your special horses feet.

Healthy Feet are Happy Feet.

Only Thing To Fear Is Fear Itself

I just looked up the correct wording of the infamous quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, now that was an Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933.  I’m long in the tooth, but that was still before my time.  You may have heard “Long In The Tooth” but never thought about the fact that it came from horse trading.  The seller would say he’s a five-year old and the buyer (beware) would look in the horse’s mouth and say “he’s long in the tooth for a five-year old.”  Well anyway back to my subject.

When posting an appointment on my refrigerator this morning, I glanced at a “post it” I had put there some time ago which read “Fear is the single most dangerous and destructive force in a relationship with a horse.  Eradicate fear and you begin to develop trust.”  Don’t remember who said it, or where I copied it from, but it struck me then, as it strikes me now.  How true that statement is, how paralyzing fear can be in any situation, but when you add a horse to the mix it’s down right dangerous.

Finding the root cause of a particular fear is not always an easy process.  I am not educated in the workings of the mind, conscience or unconscientious, but over the years I have worked with many people to help them move past their fears and learn to enjoy riding again.

Okay, we’ve all seen a friend walk up to our horse with a carrot in their hand terrified that after the horse is done with the carrot their hand will also be missing.  They reach out ready to pull back at any moment.  Our patient horse reaches for the, all of a sudden missing carrot.  The other extreme is the rider who has had a bad fall, but wants desperately to get back to riding again.  They sit on the horse like it’s going to explode any minute.

I have a terrible fear of water.  I can finally put my face under the shower.  But I sink like a rock, and have failed the YMCA swimming course twice.  With that said I have been boating for over 40 years.  No I do not wear a life vest.  To an outsider I look confident as I handle the lines and jump from the deck to the dock without fear.  People ask me how I do that when they find out I can’t swim, float, or tread water?  I tell them it’s simple, I don’t plan on falling in.

So how does this relate to fear and our horses.  Well I don’t plan on falling, but it is a reality.  I used to have the habit of falling off once a year when I was hunting.  If you don’t fall off and find out that you’re still okay, you build the fear up in your mind and begin to believe that it’s really going to mess you up.  And when I fall it’s usually because I’ve done something really stupid.

Case in point.  On my sixtieth birthday I got on my horse and said “I’m 60 now and I can’t fall off, I’ll get really hurt.”  Well as I was walking around the pasture to stretch Zoey out I decided to turn the water on for the irrigation system.  I hung off her right side as far as I could go, but still couldn’t reach it.  So I hung down just a little more, put my heel in her side and she said “Oh I know this, you step over to the left!”  She did and I hit the ground.  She stood there and looked at me with those eyes that say “Oh my, people are so stupid.”  I laid on the ground hysterically laughing, hoping that no one was watching.  Picked myself up, got back on my horse, and said to Zoey “Okay, I’m 60 today, I just hit the ground, and nothing has changed from yesterday when I was 59, I’m still stupid, lets ride.

Fear is our worst enemy when we are with our horses.  They pick up on it.  They will either become fearful themselves, because they believe you are supposed to take care of them and you’re scared, or they are going to take full advantage of you.

First thing you have to do is figure out what you are afraid of.  What is the worse thing that can happen?  How did you get this fear?  You have to be upfront with yourself.  Then you go back to square one and start again until you get comfortable.  Take one step at a time.  Yes you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to progress, but don’t rush the process.  Are you and your horse incompatible?  Or just temporarily not the right fit to work through your fear?  Perhaps you need a trained instructor to help you work through your fear, to give you encouragement and support.  Perhaps you need a confident horse to help you rebuild your confidence.  If that’s the case, see if your instructor or a friend can loan you one for a short time.

As we get longer in the tooth, we realize the responsibilities we have.  We acknowledge that if we do get hurt that many things like, our job or families will suffer.  Not to mention, who’s going to take care of the animals.  We may have to rethink our riding goals, or the horse that we are riding, but the one thing I do know is that we have to eliminate our fear.  It will keep us from being who we are, and doing what we really want to do.  Oh I’m not saying we need to throw caution to the wind and seize the moment.  What I’m saying is that we have to put everything in its proper perspective, and work to make the necessary changes.

Fear is paralyzing, don’t let fear rob you of true enjoyment.  You can overcome it.  There really isn’t anything to fear but fear itself.   Don’t give fear the power over your life.






I’ll Drink To That

Well it’s summer.  Beautiful, warm breezes, long summer days, fun at the beach or mountains, just hanging out with your friends.  No more winter hair, blankets, frozen buckets, trying to keep warm as you chop the frozen manure, Ah Summer.  We’ve moved from the seasons of ice and snow, through the season of mud, into the season of bugs and sweat.  Horse people see the seasons of the year a little different from non-horse people.

As you’re sitting there enjoying a beer, frozen daiquiri, pina colada, sweet tea (southern thing) or soda (pop), don’t forget your four-legged party goer.

A horses body is made of  60-70% water, and it depletes fast in the summer.  Make sure that they have plenty of CLEAN water.  Yes a horse will drink anything to stay alive, but they will drink more if the water is clean.  The more the better.  It keeps the internal organs functioning properly, it keeps the food stuffs moving through the digestive system more smoothly, and it keeps their overall condition in better shape.

Monitor how much your horse is drinking in the stall.  In the pasture it is harder, especially if you have automatic waters.  If you are in doubt if he is properly hydrated pinch (pull) the skin on his neck.  If he’s hydrated it will go right back into place, if he’s not, it will stay puckered up.  The longer it takes the more dehydrated he is.  Make sure he has salt to replenish what he loses in sweating.  Make sure he is sweating.  If a horse stops sweating you’ve got big problems.  This will cause over heating.  I don’t recommend products.  There may be many good products on the market.  I know people who have had success with 1-AC.  I’ve had acupuncture done on my horses and put them on potassium chloride (1/2 teaspoon) which I’ve purchased at Lowes.  My vet recommended it years ago.  It comes in rock form and you pound it with a hammer until it’s like salt crystals. It’s used in water filtration systems.  I’ve always had success with both acupuncture and potassium chloride.  This is where the old saying “Go pound salt” must come from.  Hate the job, love the outcome.  I also put a teaspoon of MoorMan’s Minerals in their food in the morning.

Remember that when the level of humidity is higher than the air temperature a horse cannot cool itself.  If you decide to hose him down, remember to scrape the excess water off.  If you leave cool water on a hot horse the horses body temperature will heat the water and then you have hot water on a hot horse.  If you scrape the water off and just leave a wet horse the breeze will blow across the horse’s skin and cool it.

A very wise horseman years ago told me if you won’t drink it, don’t expect your horse to drink it.

Bottoms Up!


One of my favorite songs from the 50’s, one of my favorite things to do.

But of course, if you have horses at home, getting away and worrying about them does take away some of the fun.

Did you ever wonder what would happen to your animals if you were seriously hurt, unconscious, or dead?

So what can we do to help the person being left in charge?  Here are a few things that I do to help whoever may walk into my barn.

I have a dry erase board in my feed room.  On it is a diagram of the stalls.  Each horses name is on the stall itself, and on the location of the stall on the board.  In each box of the stall I list what the horse gets at the a.m. and p.m. feeding.  This includes the amount of grain, supplements, and how much, and what type of hay.  On the bottom of the board is a list of any special medication and times of the day they are given.  I also put the date that the board has been updated.  I do all of this for the dogs and cats also.

Right next to that I have a dry erase calendar on which I have when the vet and farrier are due.  Along side of that is a list of when shots, worming, Coggins, and teeth were done and are due.

I have a different color bucket for each horse with their name on it.  So the right horse gets the right amount of grain and supplements.

On a clip board is the name of each horse and under the name, a description of each horse.  I include their likes, dislikes, personality traits, anything that may be unusual (spends a lot of time laying down working on their tan), pecking order, and where each one is fed in the field and in what order.  Always acknowledge the pecking order of the herd or you can cause a dispute.

By the phone I have my cell phone number, a list of the neighbors who know my animals, with their phone numbers, and of course the vet.  If the person taking care of your animals is not a neighbor, it’s wise to leave your address, the main road, and cross roads too.  In case of emergency the operator will ask you for this information.  Of course with all the modern technology GPS will find you, or not.  My GPS tells you that I live in my neighbors pasture and sends you down roads that have locked gates.

I let them know where my emergency supplies are, and where I keep my meds.

My one neighbors has birds, large, small, many.  She has a loose leaf.  For each bird she has a picture, the breed, the age, the name, and what they get.

These are just some thoughts to help the person caring for your animals, so that you don’t have to worry as much.  It doesn’t mean they will necessarily show up, but you’ve done your best.

Psst.  Have a neighbor keep an eye to make sure someone does show up.  Once I got an oops I forgot from the boy supposedly taking care of my animals over a weekend.  No big deal.  My horses are out on pasture with floats in the water to keep it coming.  The dogs however where angry.  They had a bucket of water, but no food.  It was only dinner and breakfast overnight.  They lived.  His family had horses, but he forgot mine.

Also tell the person when you are leaving and when you will be back.  Tell them to keep feeding until you call them to say that you are home.  You may tell them you’ll be back Sunday night and get in a car accident and not make it.  My one neighbor said she’d be back a week from Sunday night.  The person taking care of them put them in their stalls that Sunday morning and assumed my neighbor would be home that night.  She did not hear a week from Sunday night.  Those horses stood in their stalls for a week without food and water, and remember this is Florida in the summer.  They really didn’t think the horses would make it.  A lot of IV fluids and prayer.  They made it, but it could happen to you too.  Be clear and specific.

So now that I’ve told you all these horror stories, and the best ways to handle it – have a great vacation, and try not to worry.  Rest in the fact that you’ve done the best you could.