Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

I guess this time of year tends to cause you to reflect on years gone by.  It does for me.

When I was young and stupid (now I’m just old and senile), I did some, not so smart things.  Imagine that.  But in my defense, I learned them from the people I grew up with.  They would bring their one pony into their house.  So one New Years Eve I decided I would bring my horse (the one I used for Ski Tow) into the party I was having.  Now she was 16 hands and about 1200 lbs., not quite a pony.  I was feeling the effects of the party, and thought it was a great idea, my mare questioned my sanity at that moment.  The other people had a nice wide stairway leading into their house with very few steps.  Mine had about the same number of steps but it was narrow with a severe drop off to the cellar below right next to it.  Lady came in and was going to go up the steps, looked at the drop, looked at me, and said   “I don’t think so.”  I asked a couple of times, and she didn’t think it was a good idea.  Knowing that she was always right, I brought her back to the barn.  Now this mare used to escape out of the pasture, at the barn she was originally kept, by climbing up the steps to the porch, walking around to the front and going off the other way, so steps were not the problem.  But my bad judgement was.  No one at the party was upset or surprised when I said I was going out to get my horse, and no one was surprised that the horse had enough brains not to do it.  They knew she hadn’t been drinking, although she loved a soda now and then.

If a horse questions what you are asking of them, go over it in your head first.  They just may be right, but if they are not, take the leadership attitude, and press on.

Have a wonderful, safe New Years, and keep those resolutions realistic, and within your actual reach.

Ho, Ho, Whoa!

Just wanted to add to last weeks post.  When you are putting the blanket on, fasten it front to back.  When you are taking the blanket off, unfasten it from back to front.  It’s a lot safer for the horse, you, and the blanket.


In a way, winter is kind of sad for me, because when I was a teenager, a snowy Christmas meant horse-drawn sleigh rides, bells included.  So many horse owners have never had that opportunity.  Snow or no snow, you can still put bells on your horses.  When we were hunting in N.J., members of the Field did this,  staff did not.  No point looking for a Fox if you let him know you’re coming.  We did this so the hunters wouldn’t shoot us (especially if you are riding a Buckskin).  Here in Florida, we would wear neon vests.

I remember one Christmas when one of my friends got ski’s as a present.  Now here we were in Staten Island, no ski slopes there.  So what do horse friends do?  We tow people up hill with our horses, and let them ski down.  Now this wasn’t exactly safe.  We were doing this on a, somewhat, snow-covered busy street.  My horse had special shoes for traction.  It was going really well until my friend didn’t let go of the rope, and passed me going down the hill.  The rope wrapped around the backend of my horse and kind of took us with her.  Of course my horse had bells on, so we were cool, just sliding sideways.  She was a good safe, sane, mare.  Looking back, I think she was the only safe, sane, horse I had.  They were all wonderful, in their own way, but not necessarily safe, and sane.

Keep those wonderful memories tucked safely in your heart.  If my grandchildren went to do this now, I might discourage them, but I wouldn’t have missed those years for anything.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and hoping that Santa is very good to you this year.

My granddaughter once asked me if I still believed in Santa.  I said “Of Course!”, if I don’t believe in him, he might stop bringing me all those wonderful gifts.

The word this year seems to be “Believe”, please do.

T’is The Season To Wrap

Winter has blanketed a lot of the country already.  Black Friday has passed and some of the shopping is done, and now it’s time for wrapping our treasures.

My husband and I would always rush home to ride in the first snow fall of the winter.  By February we didn’t even want to think about it.  Although riding on your horse on top of his winter blanket was always a warm thing to do.

Wrapping and blanketing has a different meaning when it comes to our horses.  Up north blankets have gone on, but unlike Christmas presents, the wrapping won’t come off until spring.  Ahh, I remember it well.  Once again, that’s why I live in Florida.

This is just one of the those “Public Service Announcements.”  Don’t forget to remove those blankets every once in a while, and make sure you still have a horse underneath.  We go along and assume that what we covered is what we will uncover in six months, but that is not necessarily true.

When a horse is cold, they shiver.  When they shiver, they burn fat.  When they burn fat, they lose weight.  So check for weight loss.

Also check for dry skin, or other skin conditions that you won’t notice with the blanket on.  Perhaps the blanket may be rubbing a certain spot raw.  Make adjustments or add more padding.  They now have sleazy sleepwear for horses that could help keep those rubs from happening.

I know it’s cold out, and you don’t want to be out there longer then you need to be, but think of his/her comfort.  Oh yeah, you are going to get the look when you take it off, but sometimes just leave it off long enough for them to roll in the snow or on the ground.  They still need the stimulation of a curry and brush on their bodies to get the oils and the circulation going, and it massages the muscles as a bonus.  You know how great it feels to get that tight object off your body after it’s been on a while?  Well they feel the same way.

There’s nothing like a good scratch by an old friend.

P.S.  Don’t forget to oil those clips with 3 in 1 oil to keep all moving parts moving when you need them.  Our moving parts, not so much.


One Of The Hardest Things I Ever Had To Do

Well we all know that putting our horse down is the absolute hardest thing we ever have to do, but turning your neighbor in for neglect is not easy either.

This actually happened about 10 years ago, or more, but it still haunts me.

When I lived up north I was involved in a rescue group.  The horses we took in were bones with skin hanging on them.  Some had no hair left because of the burns, from laying in their own urine.  Walls were collapsed on them, no food, no water.

The worst part was trying to get the courts to charge the owners with neglect.  The one woman was allowed to buy back some of the horses that we had just rescued from her.

My friend dealt with a farm where the body parts of the dead horses were cut up and left in buckets.  Horses were roaming through the house.  You wouldn’t believe how many years it took to prosecute her.

However, these were people I didn’t know personally.  When it comes to going after one of your neighbors, it was a different story.

It was winter, it was going down into the 20’s over night here in Florida.  That is considered a “Hard Freeze.”  It’s tough enough bouncing from 80’s to freezing, back to close to 80 again.  It really plays havoc on your body, but 20 is crazy.

So here I am double blanketing one night, (my horses were shaved for Fox Hunting) and giving them extra hay to get through one of the coldest nights we had since moving here.  Then I looked across the pond to my neighbors horses, and my heart dropped down to my toes.  There were five horses next door.  Some older, mostly young, unbroken.  They were skin and bones, with no hay, no pasture left, no shelter to get out of the wind.  That was it.  I couldn’t watch anymore.  I knew that the horses belonged to the wife, she had walked out on the husband, children, and animals.  He was trying to keep it together, but I knew that he traveled over an hour away for work, got home late, and was just getting by.  I’d never seen the horses up close, and didn’t realize how bad things had gotten over there.

When my vet showed up the next day for shots, I spoke to him about what could be done.  He said, “you have to turn him in.”  I thought, “I can’t add more trouble on him.”  My vet told me that as a professional, I had to.  My other option was to start feeding them myself.  I couldn’t financially take on that many horses.  So that day I made the call.  They sent out the sheriff, and an animal control officer.

I spoke with my neighbor several days later.  I was going to try and take any horses that might fit into my lesson program.  None would.  But I wasn’t really prepared for what he told me.  Yes he told me what I already knew, that his wife had left, and that they were her horses, and he knew nothing about taking care of them.  He thought they’d be fine on the pasture, and he was hoping that she’d come back, and would do something with them.  He then told me that the best thing that could have ever happen, was the sheriff coming.  Now something would be done for the poor animals.

I was shocked.  I was expecting anger, actually rage, but there was nothing there except gratitude.  He went out and got them hay, and within a couple of weeks, the horses were loaded, and sent to other places to find homes.  But when we have cold nights, I still see those horses looking across the pond at me while I’m feeding my horses.

This was a welcomed intervention, a happy ending.  They are not usually like that.  It usually plays out that people threaten you with a gun to get off their property.  They tell you there is nothing wrong with their horses.  It’s a situation that you have to approach with great care, if at all.

Our group, up north, discussed many ways to approach an owner.

  • First thing is you have to know the situation.  You can’t assume, because a horses is skinny, that he is being starved.  He could be very old, or he may have a health issue that the owners are trying to work through.
  • They may have just rescued him.
  • Look at all the horses.  Are they all in the same shape?
  • What a control officer looks for is if there is any hay and grain on the property.
  • If you have to approach the owner, say something like – I’ve noticed your horse in the field, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in selling him, I may know someone who is looking to buy.  They may then tell you the story about the horse.  That they are struggling to feed him right now.  They may have lost their job.  It was their kids horse, and the kid moved away.  Then you can either offer help, or suggestions.  Or, if necessary, call the sheriff.

Look to see if there are people around regularly.  We had one rescue where there were seven horses in a field.  Someone who passed every day noticed that the horses were eating snow and digging under the snow to find dead grass.  It took them a little too long to act on what they saw.  When the control officers went to investigate, they found two dead horses, and removed five others.  It seemed that the woman who owned them was an alcoholic, and would go off on binges, and not returned for long periods of time.

Once again I say, don’t assume, but don’t hesitate to call the right authorities when you believe there is something to worry about.  Times are rough for everyone, especially for the animals who can’t fend for themselves.

You may be the only one standing between life, and death.  Don’t stall, make the call.