Monthly Archives: March 2017

Radio City Rockettes Coming Soon To A Farm Near You

When I was young my Uncle took me to see the Rockettes Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall.  I was amazed.  The precision of their movements were mesmerizing.  The height that they could kick as one, the colors, the outfits, were spectacular.  I wanted to be one of them when I grew up.  To this day I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just to see them, and once again I’m transported back to my childhood.

Have you ever watched, I mean really watched the power behind a horses kick?  Have you ever noticed the extent of the length of an outstretched leg?  It’s actually unnerving. I saw my mare put her foot through my stall door twice.  We’re talking 3/4 inch plywood framed by two by fours and cross braced with the same.  Kind of reminded me of the guys who break concrete blocks with their heads.  The first time, I ran into the stall figuring she had broken her leg or at least did some tendons in, and she would not be hunting for a while. Nope, didn’t faze her in the least.  Now that’s raw power.  My husband however, was not impressed.  That was a brand new door.  Magic never like strange horses coming into her barn and was going to let it be known by whoever was walking by.

My husband was not a horse person when we bought our first farm together.  Our barn and house were pre-revolutionary, they were over 300 years old, but not in that bad a shape.  The barn was three stories high.  We totally enjoyed redoing both the house and barn.  By the time we were done the barn had a new coat of barn red paint with white trim.  The house was white with barn red trim.  Just like in all the pictures on Christmas Cards, with snow all around, sparkling on the huge roof.  Oh I miss that barn and house, but not the snow.  Anyway, when the last dutch door was hung, he stood back and admired his work and said., “my work here is done, I never have to come into the barn again.”  At that point I told him, “you don’t know horses, it’s fix and repair daily.” And sure enough when he came home the next evening from work, I mentioned that one of the horses had removed half of one of the dutch doors and back to the barn he went.  To this day he comes home and asks “Okay, what did you break today?”  His work shop was in the house garage back then, when we moved here he moved his shop to the barn since that’s where all the action is.

This all came back to me when my friend and I were wrapping one of the horses legs.  I was wrapping and she was watching.  Both squatted down when the mare swiped a fly off of her belly.  Yes this is Florida and we have bugs year around.  We both stopped and looked at the leg and each other.  She was nowhere near hitting either one of us, but it was a reminder that we become to comfortable around horses legs.  How many times have I bent over to clean a front hoof without thinking about those back feet, and one comes passing by.  I should know better.  I get to relaxed around my horses.  We all do. They are not kickers, so to speak, but there can always come a time when they get bit by something and really throw a kick.  Oh yes, they know we are there and in a thinking moment will avoid us, but there is always that “for every action, there is a reaction” moment when they just respond to the bite and never think about who is in the way. Bob’s old appendix hated bugs, and if there was one on his body he would body slam you to get that bug.

Now we all know that the safest place to be in a kick situation is either right up against the horses leg or at the extreme reach of that kick.  You may get kicked, but the impact is really reduced.  Now if you are anywhere in between, its major damage.  I’m very aware of strange horses and walk wide around the back, but this one mare got me.  It was feeding time and even though I was far enough away, she stepped backwards and let out with both back legs.  She was just telling the other horses that this was her food and not to come into her private space.  I assume she knew I was walking behind, but if she really cared, I’m not sure.  Maybe the kick was intended for me.  Maybe she didn’t want me in her space.  I don’t really know.  She got the bucket I was carrying, which hit me in the ribs and sent me flying through the air.  Now this is all taking place in a 13 acre pasture with basically nothing but grass in it.  The other feed buckets were spread far apart and nowhere near us.  But boy when I landed, I hit something big and hard.  As I laid there trying to determine if I was alive and still able to move, I thought, what did I land on? There’s nothing here.  But oh yes there was.  A brand new salt block.  Picked myself up, check all body parts and hurried off.  It was Sunday and I had Children’s Church.  I was hurting, but I’ve hurt before.  That was until I went to the doctor a couple of weeks later for my regular check up.  Three broken ribs. Oh well ribs heal.  Been down that road before.  Don’t sneeze, cough or laugh.  If I hadn’t been as far back as I was it could have been real bad.  Learned to carry my cell phone after that.  Otherwise no one would notice until the buzzards started circling, or it was dinner time.  Bob will always seek me out if a meal is missing.

My point in this whole story is to always pay attention to where you body is, especially your head.  Even though you have a trust worthy horse, stupid things happen.  We teach the little ones, not to walk behind a horse – any horse, but we don’t even think about it ourselves.  When a horse stretches his leg out backwards it only reaches a certain distance, but when he throws a kick it goes further, with a lot of power behind it.  Fly season will be coming up.  Don’t be on the receiving end of that kick, it will leave a lasting impression.  I’ve been on the receiving end of four kicks, and they all hurt.  I know three were directed at other horses and I intercepted them, and there’s always the last one that I’m not sure about.

I am pleased to say that all the horses I received kicks from where other people’s.  Now that says something right there, but I’m not sure what.

Keep your head up when working around those feet and legs, and Just remember to always watch the Rockettes from a safe distance, the show is much more enjoyable.

See You Around The Hood

That’s what my neighbor will say to me when I see her at her place of work.

When I was a teenager the “Hood” was something you looked under when you wanted to check the oil in your car.  Or it was what you pulled up from your jacket to stay warm. Then it became the fan above your stove, or something you placed on your horse’s head and neck to keep him warm after you shaved all his hair off.  Today it seems to be short for your “Neighborhood.”  A lot of words from years ago have new meanings.  Pot was something you cooked with, not something you smoked.  Seems weird to me.

Now the “hood” I want to talk about is one of the old-fashioned ones, the one you wear on your head.  I liken it to blinders on horse harness.  Seriously?!  One is to keep you warm and one is to keep the horse from spooking from something coming up behind him.  Well now, that’s just my point.

No we really don’t have a side or rear view like a horse, but the hood will do the same thing to us as the blinders will do for him.  You have your hood up and you are trying to stay warm, but you really don’t have any idea of what is going on along side of you or behind you.  This can be dangerous.

Sometimes I think, I think too much.  But it comes down to staying safe.

We don’t even realize how much we take in while we are working with our horses.  We are always scanning our surroundings.  Okay, now be honest –  When you were first learning to drive, and a plastic bag blew in front of your car, didn’t you grab the steering wheel tighter waiting for the car to spook?  Okay so don’t be honest and make me look crazy.  I think people who ride horses are more pro-active drivers.  And I do know that people drive the way they ride.  People who do sliding stops with their horses will also wait to brake their cars.  We have a tendency to look around our turns.  If you are into speed on a horse, guess what you are into with your car.

Enough of that.

So when it’s cold, yes even in Florida, I put my hood up on my jacket.  But what I have noticed, especially in a field with horses, I don’t want it up.  I want to see what is going on around me.  If one horse is going to chase another into me, or run me over, I don’t want to wait until I’m picking myself up off the ground to be aware of all that.  If a horse I am leading is going to spook, I want to see it coming.  And there is always the chance that someone is going to mug you for what you are carrying at the time.

In self-defense courses they will always tell you to be aware of your surroundings.  I think they learned that from being around horses.

So be wise grasshopper when working around horses.

See you around the hood, or in our case, see around the hood.

“In My Heart”

My friend goes to all the garage sales and thrift stores.  She has a second-hand shop for furniture and things, and whenever she sees anything horse related she picks it up for me and Bob.  We’ve gotten some really neat stuff.  Things I’ve never seen in any of the many catalogs I get monthly.  The other day she gave me a picture of a woman looking lovingly at her horse and on it read – “In My Heart – ‘Tis said the wild horse runs free. Yet…a wild horse resides in me.  His singular beauty, His spirit– free.  His thundering energy… ‘Tis captured in me.  The Wild Horse within my heart.”  Written by Barbara Dunn-Reeves.

This touched me, but left me wanting more.  More of what, I don’t know.

Two days ago I was speaking with a woman at Direct TV about updating my equipment. When she asked about what number the tech should use when calling to confirm,  I told her to call the cell because I might be out in the barn.  That started a whole conversation about horses.  She lives in Arizona.  I think of Arizona as rural, desert, open spaces.  She told me when she first moved to where she lives, she had wild horses grazing in her yard.  Now with all the development, they are pushed far out of her area.  She told me it made her very sad that they are gone.

These are things we here about every once in a while.  We know that Land Management is rounding up all the wild horses.  Just like the Native American Indians, the horses are forced into a small designated area, or sold.  I’ve had several adopted Mustangs here and they were wonderful animals.

I am a person who hates change.  I hate that these areas are being taken away from animals that were born there and have every, God-given right, to be there.  Progress stinks.  We designate certain areas to remain as they were, but it’s not enough.  It’s not enough land to support a herd.  It’s not enough land to remind us of what our country once was.  Oh yes there is still a lot of untouched land out there, but that’s because the developments haven’t gotten there yet.

I am very well aware that people have to live somewhere, but so do the wild animals. Not in cages at zoos, but really live and thrive.

I’m also seeing the Wild Horse within my heart disappearing along with the animals who are being slain, caged, or corralled.  As with the extinction of these animals, so will man go.

Such a shame, that’s not how it was intended to be.

Just a thought.


An After-Thought

Which in my case can be very dangerous.

My long time friend, Nancy Forsyth, a highly knowledgeable, competent trainer who specializes in Handicapped Riding and Driving, asked permission to use something I said in last weeks post in her next volunteer training session.  I was not only surprised, but honored by this.

I really just put down what comes to mind in a situation, or drives me nuts.  Nothing that I consider outstanding.

But upon thinking about what she said, that’s what I am about.  Teach what you have learned and one less horse will suffer from ignorance, and never stop learning.    So when I put something out there, it’s meant to be used and/or shared.  If I keep it to myself, what good is it; what good have I done?

I know I’ve said this all before.

My first husbands grandfather was a walking book of knowledge and experience, but sadly, he never shared his secrets.  He would help with anything, but never give you his secret mixes of healing materials.  How sad that was for me.  A lot of good remedies went to the grave with him.

So many old good trainers would train a horse for you, or solve a problem but they would never let on how they did it.  And truthfully, the ones that did let you know, really didn’t have good methods.

In the horse business there are a lot of ways to do things.  Some are right, some are wrong, and some are just different. Somethings work well with some horses and with some horses it just makes them mad.

Store everything somewhere in the back of your mind, you never know when you will need to pull something out of your bag of tricks, but by no means keep the things you’ve learned to yourself.  Sometimes people will look at you like you’re crazy.  That’s okay. They may look crazy themselves to others.  Just know in your heart that your intentions are good, and backed by solid logic and experience.  Some people will take what you’ve said and turn it around so it bites you, but that is their misunderstanding, and therefore their problem.  The truth of any situation will always rise to the surface.

If someone doesn’t like what I write, they are free not to read it.  If I can help one horse or person, I’ve done what I set out to do.

Thank you to all that write or call and tell me that they appreciate my writings and humor, even though Bob says that I don’t have a sense of humor.  I have been asked to put these posts into a book. (Not mentioning any names Louise.)  I don’t think that’s my destiny.  I don’t think what I say is book worthy, but thank you for thinking I’m better than I am.  There are so many books out there, and so many people who are more knowledgeable than I am.  I’m just a simple horse owner that has been doing this for fifty-four years, and counting.  I just want to put my experiences out there to try to help a little.

Share your experiences, not necessarily your opinions (although I do when I get mad). Whenever possible back it up with facts.  I’m always surprised when the facts agree with my experiences and thinking.  I’m glad they finally caught up to me.

Thank you Nancy.

The “Test”

I love when a horse tests me.  It’s like waving a red cape in front of a bull.  Each horse has their own method and style.  Some hold out longer than others, but it is all a mind game. It’s them against me, one on one.  We both stand there and look each other in the eye and send out the challenge.  Who will give in first?  Who can outsmart the other?  I love it.

What makes me even more challenged is when someone tells me I can’t do something. Now this has been a problem for me ever since I was small.  Must be something in the DNA.  Don’t know much about that stuff and it’s okay.

Most people when challenged by a horse, get flustered.  They just don’t have time for this nonsense.  The horse picks up on this and they send out a message “Let the games begin!”  Some horses are really good at this game.  They’ve been practicing it for years. Sometimes with several people.  They have nothing better to do, so it’s fun, and gives them entertainment for the afternoon.  Look at it through their eyes.  Here is a human running around, screaming, throwing things, chasing them.  How fun!  They know that you can’t catch them and they love seeing you get red in the face, out of breath, and the next thing they know, the person gives up and they win.  How great is that.

Just like any other sport, you must know your opponent.  You must study their game plan.  You must know their strengths and weaknesses.  You must know their attention span, and their will.

I was called in to catch a horse for a farrier today.  Not one of mine, nor one of my boarders or customers.  A neighbors horse. The horses at my barn come when I whistle. They know there’s a treat in it for them.  Now I have dealt with this particular horse before, when she had to go to a vet and needed to be trailered, after a really bad trailering experience. Nothing bad about this horse, just people who lacked knowledge, and patience.  These people did not have the right energy to deal with this horse.  She needs someone with quiet confidence, and patience.  She doesn’t get violent, just quietly doesn’t want to do something.  Took my time, stayed quiet, and she walked right on by herself.  Of course she was following a feed bucket, but there was no bad experience at all.  Horse was just the perfect lady, she just wanted to be heard and understood.  So armed with a carrot, I’ve caught this horse before, I figured it wouldn’t be that hard.  I was told by the barn owner that I wouldn’t be able to catch the horse.  Yay, a challenge, both human and horse.  Walked out to the pasture and we both sized up the situation. She almost let me get to her, she knew me and knew I had a carrot, but she thought she’d test me.  No problem.  She trotted a few feet and stopped, I started chewing on the carrot, she knew it.  We did the trotting away in a small circle several times and I could tell she really just wanted the carrot, but wasn’t ready to give in.  The circle got a little bigger.  The challenge was there.  Okay, you want to run, go ahead, I can wait.  So I sent her out to trot around me.  Well that lasted for a short while, she really wasn’t in the mood to have to work.  So she stopped, faced me and gave me the look of “I can have that carrot now.” I walked up, gave her the carrot, snapped the lead line on and off we went to the barn.  I told the barn owner who challenged me, I’ve been doing this for 53 years, it’s really no big deal.

I guess we were both winners.  The horse got her carrot and her feet trimmed, and I got the satisfaction of being successful.

It’s all a matter of attitude you know, so “Let The Games Begin!”