Monthly Archives: November 2016

It Was Just A Dumb Old Carrot And Ten Minutes Of My Time

I know I spoke about my neighbors horse that I was using for one of my lessons.  The teenage girl who was his rider grew up and went off to college, and then got married. His best friend was killed last summer, she too was hit by lightning the week before my horses.  Welcome to Florida the Lightening Capital of The World.  Well he enjoyed the little girl coming and fussing over him, but he was a little too much horse for her.  So his weekly trips to my barn, the grooming and carrots stopped once again.  When he would come to my fence I would give him some of whatever I had at the time.  Some hay, some carrots, but I’d always say hello to him.  He grew very fond of my horses which were in the pasture up against his.  He was always a kind friend to whatever horses I had in that pasture.

As the summer progressed he spent more time in different parts of his pasture.  Even though I would always call to him and say Hi!, I stopped going over.  He was busy grazing and his old teenage person moved back with her husband.  I figured he was good.

I saw the flood lights on last night, but figured if they needed me they would call.  I don’t like putting my nose into other people’s business unless invited.  This morning I did get a call.  They were trying to treat him all night for multiple problems internally.  This morning he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

The guilt came flooding in.  I never got to say goodbye and thank you.  Just one carrot and 10 minutes of my time, once a week, or once a month would not have been too hard to do, but I just kept busy doing the things that had to be done.  Just one carrot, just a kind word or a pat on the neck.  I walked away from him too.  How can they understand why a person stops giving them attention?

Other memories came flooding back.  The first horse I fell in love with.  Oh I couldn’t wait to be a good enough rider to ride this big beautiful black mare.  I finally was, and I loved her.  Then I learned how to jump and had to move on to another horse.  My beautiful Black Diamond didn’t jump.  I would usually go see her and give her a carrot.  Another young girl fell in love with her and she took over the love exchange.  I stopped going into her barn as often as I had.  Once day when I got to the barn her new young friend was standing by the office.  I wanted to speak with the owner and gave the young girl a carrot and told her to go and give it to Diamond for me.  She looked at me and said “she’s dead”.  It was a punch to the stomach.  I never got to say good-bye.  I’d stopped going by to see her as often and now she was gone.

I look at my old dog laying by the barn in the morning.  The young dogs are all happy to see me, jumping all over me so that I can’t even bend over and pat my old friend, at least not until they calm down and get involved in doing something else destructive.  Then I try to give the old girl a belly rub.

Old friends, older relatives, yup you mean to call them.  Perhaps you were going to give them a call on Thanksgiving, but you were too stuffed or tired to do it right then.  Oh I’ll get to it tomorrow, or on the weekend, but did you?  I didn’t.  But I must.  I don’t do guilt well.

It’s just a carrot and ten minutes of your time.  What will you do?



Let’s Start With The Obvious And Go From There

A woman called me several weeks ago to board here.  I couldn’t take her so I sent her to my neighbor.  She was going to move in the first of the month, but she called me this week to say her horse was dead lame and needed to move her now.  The barn she was boarding at was no help to her or her horse.

She explained to me what the symptoms were and that the owner of the current stable told her the horse was probably drugged with bute when she bought it and that it was probably navicular.  Her blacksmith had not picked up on anything unusual so nothing was said to her.  I asked her how long she had the horse and she said three weeks.  I told her bute does not last three weeks.  She called the blacksmith and he told her to put the mare on bute and see if that helped.  From how she was describing everything, how it went from perfectly sound to holding the foot in the air, I told her it might just be an abscess.  This horse went from a very wet property to a sand lot.  I also mentioned that if it was an abscess, bute would not help.  She said she had asked her farrier to come back and check it out.  Well even if it is an abscess, it still might not react to a hoof tester.  I learned that with my Clydesdale.  I tried to comfort her and told her to wait for the farrier and let me know what happened.

Well I just saw her moving her horse into my neighbors so I stopped by to ask how the horse was doing.  Her comment, the farrier never showed up.  She was frantic.  So back to my just sitting back and watching this horse.  First on the cross ties, heel up, and then walking in the pasture, walking on her toe.  Didn’t want to put her heel down.  So I asked if I could look at her foot.  Well when she went to catch her the horse did trot off on her toe again.  We got her and I checked out the foot.  Her heals were cracked, soft, and didn’t smell just right.  I told her my findings.  I asked her if she’s ever had cracked fingers in the winter and how much it hurt?  Of course the answer was yes.  Well that’s what your horse has.  She asked how sure I was.  I said about 90%.  I told her that treating it for a week should show great improvement.  The only reason I stopped at 90% is that once that is healed I don’t know if there is anything else going on.

These people, whom she trusted to be knowledgeable horse people, told her the worst case scenario.  You bought a crippled horse and now you’re stuck with it and the possibility of large vet bills.  I was taking a guess over the phone from a description. Looking first hand gives you a better idea, but once again it’s like an onion.  You have to peel back each layer and see what you have.  But if you want to start simple and cheap, a little medication to dry the area is a good place to start.

My old vet, when looking for a cause of a lameness, always said start at the foot and work your way up.  In this case start with the obvious and then proceed.

Well the hoof healed, but the problem is still there.  So the call went out to my vet.  She said the heel was dried and looking good so she worked her way up and it’s the hip.  So off tomorrow for a xray or ultrasound.

Don’t you just hate pealing those onions, they always make you cry.

The First Time – Do You Remember?

Speaking with a teenage friend of mine this past weekend, she told me she went to a show.  I think it was her first.  It was just a backyard fun show, but to her it could have been the Olympics.  The smile on her face was beyond description.

Also this weekend one of my students mothers posted a picture of her daughter on one of my lesson horses, at one of her earliest shows.  I also saw a picture of her this past summer jumping her new horse over a three-foot spread with no bridle.  She moved away several years ago, but we still keep in touch and I am so proud of her progress.  It’s a little sad to see them growing up, but so wonderful to see and hear of their progress. The feeling of satisfaction knowing that I gave them their start is the best feeling in the world.

Do you remember your first ride?  Your first show?  Your first hunt? First time jumping or turning a barrel?  Think back and grab hold of that feeling of excitement.  It was such a high.  It totally sucked you into that black hole of total bliss.

I’m sorry, but making contact with a golf ball just can’t give you the same feeling.  Yes it’s nice when you hit that “sweet spot”, that’s what keeps you coming back again and again, but the endorphin release you get on the back of a horse just can’t compare.

Sometimes life gets in the way, or we just change and we no longer do those wonderful things we did when we were younger, or first started riding.  When things we used to love to do become a chore, we let them slide.  We get burned out, just like with everything else.  It’s such a shame.

My girlfriend who had several horses when we were young got out of it when she started having children, and her horses got old and crossed the “Rainbow Bridge”.  Going through 20 years of raising her family, she missed it but not enough to fit it in her life. She just closed that chapter and moved on.  Her children have grown and have families of their own and her husband just lost his battle with cancer.  Now she was dropped kicked into an empty life.  So what does a horse person do?  Pick up where she left off. She went and got back on a horse.  She was one of the “Blood and Thunder Riders”  you know, one of the kids I grew up with that did many stupid things that could have got us killed, but didn’t.

So that wow factor that got us hooked in the first place still exists in us somewhere.  I guess I’m just too comfortable to be wowed anymore.  It’s just too much work to get up early and go somewhere.  How sad is that.  I guess I’ll just settle for giving others the chance to experience the joy of it all.  I just loved seeing that smile that I saw this weekend.  It means I’m passing on a legacy that was passed to me many years ago.  But then, I could very easily be wowed again.

How about you?  Have you been wowed lately?

It’s Just A Block Of Wood

It’s just a block of wood.  It’s just a lump of clay.  It’s just a chunk of granite.  But to a wood-carver, a potter, a sculpture, it’s so much more.  They look at a block of wood and see things in it you and I could never imagine.  I’ve seen people with chain saws attack a block of wood and make beautiful creations out of it.  A lump of clay can become a beautiful piece of pottery.  And a piece of granite can become a beautiful statue.  They say that the creation was always in there just waiting to come out.

According to the Bible man was formed from the dirt (clay) of the earth and on most days horse people still look like that.  Many years ago I heard some one say “Ashes to ashes dust to dust, well there’s someone either coming or going under my bed”  or at least a few dust bunnies rolling around under there.  But really, they don’t eat much and they don’t make any noise.

Now as potters, sculptures, or wood carvers, that’s what I feel like when I look at a foal, green horse or even an older horse.  You have raw material and you look to see what lies beneath the surface as to what you can possibly bring out of this amazing creature.

With the new horse trainers of today it’s starting to look like an assembly line at a factory.  I don’t see the horses being treated as individuals.  It seems to be a one size fits all sort of training.  Follow these steps and you will have the perfect horse.  Well I’ve met a few horses over the years that haven’t read the brochures.  To me each one is different, will react differently, and needs his own special program done in his own time frame.  You can get yourself in a lot of trouble trying to put a square peg in a round hole, or push him through in your time frame not his

I’ve been reading a book titled “Jingle In The Horses” by Jeff Gore.  It’s a wonderful tale about a young boys journey into manhood with an old cowboy as his mentor.  He’s taught to break colts for a cattle drive, among many life lessons along the way.  Many of us horse people have had someone like Buster in our lives, but what amazed me is Buster’s way of breaking these colts and fillies and their typical reactions to the handling and beyond.  He gentle breaks them.  This was so uncommon in the old western ways, even in the 60’s.  You did have trainers like John Lyons emerging and showing that there is a difference.  The book takes place in West Texas in 1968.

The back cover reads – Buster Hogan has spent his whole life around horses, preferring them over most people (we can relate).  After his own childhood was wrought with pain and loss, he finds in a young preacher’s son a friend and a chance to pass on a wealth of knowledge about horses to an eager student.  The journey it takes them on changes their lives and the lives of those around them.  The remuda of horses, life at the wagon for spring branding, and the front porch of the small West Texas Baptist Church parsonage serve as classrooms for the education that is in store for young Charlie Baker. Through it all, it becomes obvious that some friendships last a lifetime, but some last forever.

I know in previous posts I’ve spoken on many of these things.  Gentle breaking,  passing on our knowledge to others, but mostly the friendships that come from our love of horses.

This book is a fast read that holds your attention.  Touches you on many levels.  Bullying, abuse, poverty, unusual friendships, mentors, dreams, and horses.

When you look at your horse, what is really hidden under what you know to be true?  Do you leave it hidden, or like the chainsaw person, do you free it from within and let its true beauty surface?

One last question.  How many of you know about the Jingle in of horses?  I didn’t, but I do now.  Such a simple but smart thing.  One of the many horsey things that have been lost over the years.

So many of the old ways have disappeared, or  are simply forgotten.  I know I’ve misplaced many of the things I was taught or shown.  Did you know that bells were used on horse-drawn sleighs to keep collisions from happening at intersections. (Horse drawn sleighs travel without a sound and are not heard in the snow).  And the Jingling in of horses – a bell was placed on the lead mare in a remuda so you could locate them in the dark. When she was found and led back to camp the other horses would hear it and follow the sound.

Just a little romantic nostalgia.

Buying The Horse Is The Easy Part

There’s a saying in the Boating World – The two happiest days of a boaters life is the day he buys it and the day he sells it.

I think that can go for a lot of things in this life if you really think about it.

Sometimes it even applies to acquiring horses.  I’ve had horses that have come off the truck and the anticipation of what’s to come is so exciting.  That is until the horse drop kicks you into the next county.  Then the day comes when you hand over the lead line to someone else and breathe a sigh of relief.

I’ve talked in previous posts about when it is time to let go, but it’s not always that easy, especially with big expensive show horses.  When you drop $60,000.00 on a horse you really don’t want to sell him for a dollar three eighty.  (Just an expression left over from the 60’s.)  But seriously no one wants to lose that kind of money on a horse.

The expression of “Let the buyer beware” had to come from the horse trading industry.

When you have a pre-purchase exam done by your vet, he is supposed to tell you what his findings are.  It is not his job to tell you to buy the horse or not.  Of course you must tell him in advanced what you are planning to use the horse for.  There are a lot of issues that will cause problems with certain disciplines but not others.  If you have a horse with side bones you wouldn’t want to barrel race him, but trail riding or going in a straight line in flat work won’t bother him a bit.  That being said not all vets disclose the whole truth. Then it becomes an oops, it should have been in my report.  However, it never fails to show up in the next vets report when you are trying to sell him.  Funny how that works.

Sometimes you need to drop your price just to send him on his way.  If you hold on to him trying to get your money back, you must remember that you are going to continue putting money into him until he is sold.

The only way for someone to make money on a horse is to find it for a person and sell it before it even hits your property.  Once that horse touches down on you land, you’ve already lost money.

Remember, a horse is only worth what someone is willing to pay for him.