Monthly Archives: February 2017


Well its spring here in Florida.  Everything is blooming.  Now that’s not to say that we won’t get another frost, but I’m really starting to believe we won’t.  While we’re enjoy near 80 degree weather, with beautiful sunshine here, I know a good part of the country is having snow storms.  But hang in there, there is hope.

I know most horses have started shedding.  Yay!!!  We get so tired of the long thick hair. We can’t wait for them to start losing all that fluff, until we have our eyes and mouths full of that stuff.  If we’re brave enough we will pull out our body clippers and end the pain right now.  However, most just wait it out.

It’s very rewarding to groom your horse and see the difference, or maybe not.  You’ve just spent a good hour shedding out your horse and the darn stuff is still there.  It looks like something tore a bunny apart in your barn and yard.  You’re covered head to toe. You new puppy runs by grabbing a mouthful and looks like Santa Dog.  You’ve got some in your eye so you take your hand to get it out and deposit more in its place.  It’s in your hair and other places that you don’t even want to think about.  You now have more hair on you than your horse has on him.  Oh the joys of horse ownership.

Just keep in mind that it’s also on the inside of his blanket and saddle pad,  it will mat and cause bald spots and sores if you don’t also keep your equipment clean.  Don’t forget to look for skin damage under all that loose hair.  Fungus, sores, irritations are all common.

Remember, they will shed out.  You will stop finding hair in your dinner, tooth-brush, hair brush, and shower drain.  When you do finally find the dirt and grass again, remember to start back slowly, both for you and your horse.  You both are a few months older than when you went into winter, and you both will feel it for a while.  Your horse may not tell you, but believe me, it’s for real.

Believe that this winter will come to an end.  It always does, eventually.


Adjustments Needed

One of the things that drives me totally crazy is when people don’t adjust things properly on their horses, or themselves for that matter.  The one that is more irritating than that is when they have no clue that adjustments are needed, what is correct, or know how to do it.

Riding helmets aren’t much good if they don’t fit or the chin strap is too loose.

A friend and I were looking over a new bridle she had gotten.  It was really pretty with a figure eight noseband with a lot of bling on it.  Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s Hunter World, no one used bling, it wasn’t even in existence yet.  Plain leather hunting tack was used.  When they came up with the fancy stitched nosebands it was frowned upon to use them in a Hunter Class or the Hunt Field.  Western was the only place that used anything colorful or fancy back then.  And I must say, nothing like what is used today.

The new noseband, dark leather with rhinestones looked beautiful on the flea bitten grey she was going to ride.  This horse does not like a tight noseband, she thinks she can’t breath.  Perhaps she’s right.  The point is that she didn’t need it tight.  She doesn’t play with the bit or try to evade it.  They were just going for a spin around the pasture.

It got me thinking about how many people don’t even know how to adjust a figure eight noseband properly, or anything else for that matter.

Halters, for instance, are a curiosity sometimes.  If they don’t have a lot of adjustment options, they don’t always fit right.  I have one that is too tight in the throat latch part so you have to drop the crown piece.  Then it hangs too far down on the horse’s nose.  The horse only wears it for an hour at the most, but it bothers me.  I’ve seen babies with nosebands (that they are supposed to grow into) but in the mean time if they reach forward with their back leg to scratch, they could get their foot caught and boy do you have a wreck on your hands.  You need to make sure that the metal part on the side of the halter is an inch below the cheek bone, the noseband of a bridle also.

Oh yeah, you know what else will put me over the edge?  When people leave halters on young horses and never notice that the horse has grown and the noseband is now embedded into their flesh.  Sometimes the skin is even growing over the nylon.

Surcingles on blankets or flank straps/billet strap on western saddles can make me nuts. People leave them hanging too loose, and if a horse kicks at a fly and gets his leg caught, you’ve got big trouble.

Bits that hang too low in a horses mouth or bits that are cranked up too tight are something else that makes me crazy.

Most of the time people don’t give it any thought.  Maybe they don’t notice, or maybe they were never taught.  But if you are going to do something, or use something please learn how to adjust it correctly.  It’s the safe thing to do.  I’m crazy to begin with, I don’t need any more help.

Help For Downloading The Brain

My brain is more like aged cheese as opposed to fine wine.  It’s kind of green and moldy. This brings me to writing things down.  I never had a great memory, but now it’s out to lunch.  Extended lunches.  All day lunches.  Lunches that last until dinner.  You get the picture.

I don’t like to say that I’m an “A” personality.  I don’t like to say I’m A.D.D.  I would like to be organized and get everything I plan to do done in the same day, but I’m also a realist. It’s just not happening.  So I make lists and keep charts.  I write down notes (if I could only find them when I need them), and try to keep my life organized.

A new boarder came in and I noticed on the Welcome Packet that where it asks about the horses shot dates, it was empty.  What do you mean you have no idea when your horse had her shots????  She knew exactly, to the teaspoon, what her horse was getting to eat, but had no idea if and when her horse had shots.  To me, especially here in Florida, we need to keep these things current, and know when they are due.

I cannot retain what day it is, so I keep a chart on shots, worming, Coggins alongside the horses name.  If someone asks, or I’m making an appointment with the vet, I just reach down and pull up my little chart and everything is right there in front of me.

If you only have one or two horses, or if all your horses are on the same schedule, it’s easy to remember.  When you have horses coming and going, you need all the help you can get to remember who got what when.

I try to keep them all on the same schedule, but with boarders and lay-ups that come and go, it’s impossible.

If I should die for any reason, whoever walks in here can look at the board in the feed room and know exactly what each horse gets to eat.  If they look at my clip board they know who is due for what and when.  No brainer, yup that’s me, thank you very much.

Touch Your Toes

It’s a good stretching exercise for you and your horse.

All of her life, my grandmother could not only touch her toes, she could place her palms flat on the floor.  Me, on the other hand, could never touch my toes, except when sitting in the saddle.

One of my boarders, the other day, came to visit her old retired horse.  He’s been here since March, but she’s only come several times to see him.  She’s so involved with her children and their new horses who are showing pretty much every weekend.  It’s either that or lessons.  She lives over an hour away, so we’re not around the corner.

Well she was amazed in the change in his body.  He came in with a big hay belly, but not a top line.  We think he’ll be 24 this year, but it could be 25.  He now has a top line, slimmed down the belly and just looks fantastic.  Coat bright and shiny.  Attitude, alert and happy.  He is a pasture ornament, there is absolutely no work involved in his day, other than napping, eating, and an occasional romp around the pasture.

She couldn’t believe it.  How could it possibly be?  I told her what I tell everyone.  There is a peaceful energy here.  They are turned out and allowed to be horses, and they get good quality feed and hay.  She didn’t understand, what being turned out and being allowed to be horses truly means.  So I explained.

I’ve said this many times, but stay with me.  A horses body is meant to be in continual motion, grazing.  Every system in a horses body is made to be in constant movement.  They were created to eat off the ground. This requires stretching of the neck and use of the back and stomach muscles.  So when a horse eats from a natural position, all this comes into play.  He had been eating in a stall with a manger at shoulder level and I assume a hay rack.  He wasn’t using his body at all.

With this being said, I decided to search the internet to see what was out there and if they agreed with me.  Surprise, they did.

Can’t remember what site it was, but it was a reliable study.   This is what they came up with –

Feeding off the ground is a natural feeding position.

  1. It slows consumption of food – It is a more relaxed position.  They eat smaller mouthfuls.  They chew it better.  It is better mixed with saliva.  It helps reduce choking or impaction.
  2. Improves nutrition – They chew more and with their head down there is more saliva and the food is better prepared for digestion.  They have more intake of vitamins and minerals and more nutrients are absorbed.
  3. Reduced Irritants – They inhale less irritants with their head down.  There are less irritants that will get in their eyes.  A lower head promotes airway drainage and the flushing out of inhaled dust or hay particles.

I never gave it this much thought, but it all makes sense.  I just looked at for what it is, a natural position, and God knew what he was doing when he created them.  That was good enough for me.

People get crazy when you feed a horse off the ground.  Oh they’ll ingest sand.  Their heads are too close to the bedding, they’ll inhale the dust.  Well I try to sweep the bedding away from their buckets and 98% of the time they’re eating out in the pasture. Do I worry about sand colic?  Yes a lot since I moved to Florida, but I give them Psyllium the first week of every month and don’t worry about it.

I really can’t explain why I do some of the things I do.  I just look to what is natural in the real world of horses, and go from there.

So now I have solid evidence to back up what I have been doing for years.

The reason his top line improved – I let him be a horse.