Monthly Archives: April 2016

Just When We Think We Know Everything

Isn’t it amazing.  We’ve been in horses for years and we think we’ve seen it all.

SURPRISE!!!   We haven’t

I remember when I was a kid (back in the Stone Age), my friends had a grandfather that had been in the ice business.  He used his horses for work.  He was so knowledgeable.  He had remedies for everything that could happen to a horse.  He had a recipe for a white blistering liniment that was fabulous.  It worked wonders on my horses hock.  But when you asked him what was in it, you weren’t going to get an answer.  I know it had eggs, and it smelled like creosote.  No one uses white liniment any more that I know of.  If they foundered, you stood them in mud.  If they were down in the morning you gave them a bottle of whiskey or brandy.  If they got up, they went to work.  If they didn’t, you went and bought another one.  If they coliced, mineral oil and you walked them forever.  Sore on the skin? Vasoline and Sulfur powder.  Discharge from the nose (usually Shipping Sickness) Vicks and Bigeloil.  Lame with swelling – run a cold hose, and Bigeloil.  Life was so simple then.  No vets, just homemade meds.  Unfortunately, he died and all those wonderful recipes went with him.

In the last 50 years I’ve seen so much more than I ever needed to see, but they were all learning experiences.

Sitting in the doctor’s office I was reading my new copy of Equus.  Always learn something new there.  It was about “How Horses Read Human Emotions.”  I find things like this totally fascinating.  As you know if you’ve been reading my posts, I love studying the horse.  How they perceive things, and how they process information.

We all know that horses can pick up on our emotions from our energy and body language, but now they have found that they can pick up on our facial expressions.  The horses, in the study, ranged in age from 4 to 28.  What amazed me most was that they tend to look “from their left visual field which enters the right brain hemisphere, which contains areas specialized for processing threatening events.”  Now it will be interesting to see what eye they are looking through when they study something.  Especially scary.

So no matter how much you think you know, just accept the fact that there is always so much more to learn.  The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

The next time you go into feed your horse “SMILE!!!” they’ll wonder what you are up to.

“Here’s looking at you kid.”

(Love that line, from Casa Blanca.  Humphrey Bogart said it to Ingrid Bergman.  Now those were actors, and movies.)

Wise, Cautious, or Paranoid?

This can apply to almost anything in our lives, but I’m going to direct it at horses.

As we get older, we are supposed to become wiser, but sometimes I wonder if we are getting wiser, more cautious, or just plain paranoid.

When I was younger, getting hurt never crossed my mind.  Now I think twice when I do almost anything dangerous.  What we consider dangerous also changes.  I am more aware, when I’m working around the horses, of situations that could turn ugly at any moment.  They are the same situations I have dealt with all my life, but somehow they now pop up with red flags.

Now I thought that it was just something I was going through, until I saw my girlfriend post the same thought on Facebook.  She was commenting on how she started bringing her girls out to hunt when they were four years old, but that her heart is in her throat about doing that with her one granddaughter.  We never gave it a second thought, until now.  I started my granddaughter riding on my husband spirited Appendix when she was four.  Of course all these children were being ponied by us, but still I look back and think “What was I thinking?”

When I gave lessons back then, I knew that kids bounce and they would be fine.  Now I give it a lot of thought before I do anything.  Maybe it is the whole new way of thinking that lawsuits are the way to go.  In the “Old Days”, you fell off, or did something stupid, it was your fault, no one elses.  What ever happened to being responsible for your own actions?

It’s the same way now when I go to ride.  I question, where is this horses mind today?  If I break something, who will take care of all these animals?  With my husbands bad back, he can’t.  With my osteoporosis there is the possibility, especially since it is in my spine.  But it’s funny, once I get on, all this just disappears from my mind.  I’m so comfortable on my horses that I’m fifteen again, and nothing can stop me.  That’s a good thing.  If you ride with fear, it will happen.

So the question is – Is it wisdom, caution, or being paranoid.  Where is the line between these thoughts?  When do you cross from one to the other?  How do you figure which one it is?  I know with some people it starts earlier in life than mine did.  I think I started to reevaluate situations a few years ago when I got double-barreled, went flying through the air, landed on the salt block, and broke several ribs (13 acres and I land on the salt block).  I just picked myself up, finished feeding and made it in time for church that Sunday morning.  I pretty much knew I had one broken rib, but  when I saw my doctor a few weeks later, he said there were three.  I guess it doesn’t matter how many are broken, you just can’t laugh, sneeze, cough, or move quickly for a few weeks.  As a rule I don’t think much about injuries.  It’s a part of the horse business.  Broke an ankle years ago.  Didn’t know it was broken, just put a horses leg wrap on it and kept going.  Many years after that, when I went for an x-ray for a concussion, they  x-rayed my leg because I had a slight limp when I walked into the doctor’s office.  (I thought it was cramping from sitting in the waiting room.)  It turned out my head was fine, but my leg was broken.  But they made the comment “Oh you broke your ankle a while back.”  My reaction was “Really?  It was broken? How about that.”  So I’m not one to run to the doctor with every lump, bump, bruise, or obviously, a broken bone.

Wise, cautious, or paranoid – it’s up to you to determine what’s behind it, and what you are going to do about it.

So I really don’t have the answer.  I think it’s an individual thing.  I think it’s something that you have to figure out for yourself.  But what I do know is that it’s something you have to decide if you want to deal with it, or let it take over your mind, and your life.

It’s just that simple.

It’s Not About Being The Captain

I just watched on the news this morning (the other day) about a woman’s Basketball team that has won four consecutive years.  These girls have won every year of their college life.  They don’t know what losing is all about.  Congratulations to them all.  I do stress all.  If the captain played the whole game by herself, they would have never won.

If you are the big wheel or gear in any mechanical machine, you couldn’t do anything without all the other wheels, gears, or belts.  You’d just sit there and spin.

It’s the same way in the horse industry.  Everyone, no matter how big or small, plays an important role.  Whether it be in teaching, training, or management, leave one element out and you’re in trouble.

In this months Riding Instructors Magazine Gincy Self Bucklin wrote about how you really are not a “Beginner Teacher”, but a “Foundation Riding Instructor.”  This is so true, but very rarely seen that way.  Everyone worships the Show Trainers.  The big names in the industry.  If they are good, they should be recognized for their abilities to progress riders through the levels.  They know their stuff, know how to present it to the rider in a way they understand, and reach the levels of excellence hoped for.

Most upper level trainers love what they do, and that’s what they want to do.  Well it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Then there are those, like myself, who never wanted to be that type of instructor.  Funny, I never even thought about it until I tested with ARIA in 1998.  I’d already been teaching for many years, but decided, since I was moving, and no one knew who I was, I’d certify and have some very respected credentials behind me.  When my video didn’t get the Level III rating (Beginner to Advanced), because my students weren’t that advanced, I started thinking.  I really don’t enjoy teaching advanced riders.  I bring them to that level, but then I would send them off to someone who could finish them off.  I started to reevaluate my priorities.  I loved taking children, and adults, who had never ridden before, and teach them the basics and the love for horses  that I have.  And to this day, I still do that.  But I thought that was just me, and I wasn’t really that important, although ARIA says that I am.  I certified Level II Beginner to Intermediate.

So now this woman writes an article explaining that she felt the same way.  “She’s talked to, and heard about many upper level trainers who admit that they have no idea how to teach beginners!”  She explains that what we teach are foundational skills.  We all know you can’t build anything without a good, solid, foundation.

I never really cared what other people thought about my level of teaching.  I enjoyed it, I felt that my students were greatly benefiting from my teaching, and that’s all that mattered to me.  Oh, and also, they were having fun doing it.  I really could care less if my name ever makes the big time.  It just gives me great pleasure in watching my students ride beautifully to the best of their ability.  If they go on and make a name for themselves, wonderful, if they don’t, but enjoy what they are doing, I’m just as happy.

So it really doesn’t matter if you are the person that mucks stalls, or a Medal Maclay teacher.  Everyone in this business keeps the system, well oiled, and working smoothly.  Never put down your part in this wonderful world of horses.  Your roll, no matter how big or small is very important to someone.

We’re all in this together, from Horse Rescue to Olympic Rider, we benefit the horse, and industry, in one way or the other.  But we all work together for good.

What Do You Think About?

I was cleaning stalls today and my mind just wanders.  Actually my mind wanders all the time.  Not going there.

I might have mentioned (because I was really cranked) that I got a call from my insurance company several months ago.  They told me that I would be much healthier if I exercised a half an hour a day.  Ten minutes of stretching, ten minutes of walking, and ten minutes of gardening.  Hello!  That’s a vacation!!!!!  They really don’t know their customers.  Just because you get a Senior Drink at Taco Bell doesn’t mean you sit on your porch and rock all day.  I’d like one of them to come and spend a day with me, I’ll show them exercise.  Ten minutes of stretching.  How about unloading a half a ton of grain.  Gardening?  How about shoveling some fertilizer into a wheel barrel (multiple times) and then depositing it somewhere out in the pasture.  And of course walking.  Let them try to catch a horse in a ten acre pasture on a hill, who really doesn’t want to go riding, then we can discuss walking.  (Oops, Soap Box Time.)  I do rehash things that bother me while I’m mucking.

Did you ever think about how many times you brushed a horse in your life time?  How many stalls you have cleaned?  How many water buckets you have filled?  How many times you’ve actually ridden your horse?  How many different horses you have ridden?  How many times you have fallen off?  There are many statistics out there, but I never saw these listed.  If you board, many of these don’t apply, but I’m sure you can relate to some of them, and be thankful that you don’t have to do the rest.

There’s a Tee Shirt/Sweat Shirt that sums it up nicely.  In large bold letters it says : I RODE – ALL DAY.  Now between I Rode and All Day it says:   I RODE (Well actually, I fed, turned out, mucked stalls, swept the aisle, filled waters, fixed the fence, brushed horses, cleaned tack, then realized it had taken) ALL DAY.

It’s funny, we focus on time that we spend doing other things and how long they take, but we never count the hours spent with our horses.  They are just a bonus in our day.  Of course the day still goes somewhere, but when we finish with the barn chores, we feel a good tired.  A peace that you can’t explain.  You walk away from the barn with clean, newly bedded stalls, buckets washed out, and aisle way swept.  You smell really bad, but the barn smells of fresh bedding and hay.

Just thinking – Life is good.