Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wanna See?

Wanna see what My Honey got me for Christmas?

It's everything a cowgirl could ever dream of...
Is this a rodeo rig or what?

It has every option. Including a moon roof...
He has to be the best man EVER!!!

I would say this pretty much covers...Christmas, Birthday...and any other reason a person can think of, for at least the next couple of years!!!!!

I love you honey!!!!!!

Thank You!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Baaaack

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas-we did. Of course we went to Colorado to spend the week with My Honey. Getting there was...ummmm...loooonnnngggg...

The roads were some of the worst I have driven on in a long time. Two hundred miles at 40 miles an 4-wheel drive the whole time gets to be pretty agonizing. Such a good thing I had my awesome road tripping partner, Megan with me. We chowed on jerkey, slugged down lots and lots of coffee and jammed to our favorite tunes. We made it to Chris' in the middle of the night and were just as anxious to get out of that pickup as the dogs were.

But it was soooo worth it!! We had a wonderful week with Chris and I really, really didn't want to come back to SD. I don't even try to kid myself anymore, when it comes to family BS, I prefer NOT to deal with it. Moving is so much easier-LOL.

But we had to come back for now. Thankfully the trip home was with much improved road conditions. And in the daylight, so Megan snapped pictures of the magnificent Colorado scenery...

(These bluffs are on the edge of Grand Junction)

(These are in Glenwood Canyon)

(And these are around Vail)

The horses and cats did fine in the care of a friend of ours, but were glad to see us. The cats practically tackled Megan and this morning Shooter was pretty adament that he get some attention. Now I suppose it is time to get back to reality...bummer!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas Too All...

I just wanted to wish all of my blogger friends A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I hope everyone gets to enjoy tons of friends, family and food.
God Bless and Take Care-We will catch you all again after the New Year!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On A Brighter Note...

Hot Pink to be exact...
This is My Honey's latest incredibly brilliant idea, a hot pink Snubbing Unit!!

After seeing the huge success that the PRCA has had with it's "Tough Enough To Wear Pink" campaign for Breast Cancer research...My Honey decided that if cowboys could do could the roughnecks in the oilfield. This unit is teaming up with with a non-profit organization and a good percentage of the profits will go toward breast cancer research. The details aren't all worked out yet, but the unit is nearly ready to cross the border. Once it has been delivered and the contracts signed, it will start working and contributing toward a great cause.

How cool is that??

***Thank you all for your wonderful, kind words and sharing your stories too. I think the more people talk about such things, the more accepted it becomes to do the right thing for our loved ones-animals and people. Life at all costs isn't always the best choice these days. Quality of time has to count for something!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Tough Question

The more the problems in the horse industry unfold, the more a person has to ask themselves "the tough question"...Should I put this horse to sleep?

There are black and white times when a person has to make this decision. It doesn't usually make it any easier, but we can justify it and live with our decision. As was the case for my little mare, Okie...

This morning I had Okie put to sleep. It was the best thing for her. Sad...but bearable. And, while I don't know how politically correct it is to say brought a deep sense of relief. I have worried about her welfare for some time and now the worry is relieved. I know that she cannot be in pain or suffer the effects of the next frigid weather headed our way.

I know most people will understand and sympathize...but there is always someone who wonders if it was necessary? Wasn't there something else I could have done? Yes, I suppose I did have options. I could have brought her to town, put her in a small pen and fed her....for the rest of her natural life. With daily care, she could have lived another 10-15 years. Because she was just a youngster really. She was only 10. But maintaining a horse that cannot benefit anyone? Believe me, I though of other options-the pasture pet market is gone and she was not a kid's horse. Most of all, I worried that if I actually found someone else that promised to take care of her, that she would come to a bad end. That is something that would have eaten at me.

More and more we see ads for horses like Okie...Horses with problems that people are trying to find homes for. What they are really looking for is someone else to take over making the decision for them. As responsible horse owners/breeders WE are going to have to start making the decisions ourselves. It is no longer profitable to dump unwanted, not quite perfect horses at an auction or rescue and kid yourself that someone else will give it a good home. I think these people have every right to advertise their horses...sometimes you just never know who might be looking...but when there are no takers???

The time of the Old Cowboy philosophy is dying and now the New Wave horseman philosophy is going to have to come to an end too. There is no longer enough homes or enough knowledgeable horse people left to take care of the number of horses in this country. People are going to have to love and appreciate their horses for what they mean to them and they are going to have to start realizing that no one else wants their problems. They are going to have to be the ones to deal with making sure that their horses don't suffer. They are going to have to be the ones making the decision and asking themselves "the tough question".

Rest in Peace my sweet little girl. I will miss your beautiful face!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dude...Deep Breathe

That's the email Mrs. Mom sent me last night. She cracks me up. Psssttt-no ammo shipments necessary.;-)

Yesterday, two of the horses that had gone without water for a few days looked really thin. So today, I brought them to town....

I was ballistic over the lack of water situation. Nothing enrages me more than pure and simple laziness. That was the only reason all those horses went without water for more than 24 hours after the sub-zero weather and blizzard conditions we had on Sunday. My brother swears he opened water and everything drank on Monday morning. I got to the ranch on Wednesday afternoon and everything was froze solid. So nothing had drank from Monday morning until late Wednesday afternoon. Dumb, dumb, dumb!!!

However, to alleviate a bit of the colic concern people stated. Horses that don't have access to open water and have no additional roughage supplied to them, almost never colic in the pasture. The simple reason is that they usually quit eating very much and try to lick snow to get moisture. That's where I get mad. When it is 10 to 20 degrees below zero and a horse won't eat, they lose weight fast. For the majority of our herd, this doesn't create a health issue if it is just for a day, but it is just not good animal husbandry practice. For horses that don't have the weight to spare, they get thin REALLY fast. As was the case with the two I brought to town.

The tanks do have float systems on them with aerators to help keep the water circulating. All my brother would have had to have done on Monday morning to keep the tanks working properly was to break the ice and make sure the float had the freedom to move up and down properly. Because he did not break all of the ice out of the tank(just drink holes)-the ice got thick enough in the middle to inhibit the float system. Once I cleaned all of the ice out of the tank and took the float off to chip the ice off of it-everything worked fine. It's not a difficult job...just one you have to do to keep things working like they should. Two winters ago, a blizzard hit and we had sub-zero weather for 10 days straight. I could not keep the floats from freezing, so I had to bucket water from the house to the horses, all 20 head, until the weather warmed up enough to keep things open. It's just what you do in these climates. It sucks, but it is just the way things are. If you are going to have livestock, you have to get out and take care of it in the worst of weather because that is when it counts the most.

Moon is a horse that just doesn't handle extremes too well. I took him to the ranch for a bit of pasture time(he really gets grouchy being cooped up) and specifically sat down and had a discussion with my brother..."Keep an eye on Moon. If he looks like he is losing any weight, CALL ME and I will come get him". Sounds pretty straight forward right?

Well, luckily once he got a good drink yesterday and this morning, he didn't look so bad...
Not great, but better than I thought yesterday. Rage has a way of making everything look worse. He'll get a chance to fill up on hay and has heated water to drink. I'll give him a week before I start adding grain to his diet.

My little bay mare, Okie is not going to fare as well. This is the responsible part of ownership that becomes shades of gray. Okie has always been lame in her left hind fetlock. We managed it and used her lightly until we moved back to South Dakota. Thinking that she would do fine as a pasture pet, I turned her out. From there her fetlock deteriorated to where I could tell it hurt her more often. I wanted to put her to sleep about 4 months ago, but my mom thought I was being premature on my decision and convinced me to see how she wintered. She's not! The frozen ground and snow and ice is difficult for her and her hip has dropped now to compensate for her foot. It's time!

And on a completely unrelated topic, look at the hawk Megan and I found in the road ditch today...
Full bird-frozen in this pose. It was directly under a high line wire. It looks to me like he was sitting on the wire and got a zap. I can't imagine that he would have sat there through the blizzard and froze to death...what do you guys think?

He is beautiful. I can't wait for him to thaw out so I can pull his tail feathers.
Actually, I will save everything. His wings will make beautiful fans, his head and claws dance sticks and the other body feathers and fluff also have ornamental use. What a lucky find!!

I don't know what kind of hawk he is, but I sure have been seeing a lot of them around lately. I wonder if they got pushed here by the arctic front?

**I suppose I should mention that I am a "card-carrying" Indian, I am allowed to have predatory birds and certain endangered animals without proof of how I got them, since they are a cultural item.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

At The END Of My Rope!!

I'm DONE...had it...finite!!!
My family can take a flying leap off of a very tall cliff!!

No, I'm serious...I CAN NOT do this anymore.

Today, Megan and I headed to the ranch to check on things(you know the spidy senses were tingling for the last couple of days). And what do we find??

Every single horse on the place without water. And no, I don't mean they just didn't have water today...I mean...they haven't had water in SEVERAL days!!!

Say WHAT???
Mmmmm...Thank's for showing up lady!! Been wondering what the hell was up with you people!!

These guys too...
Oh's such a good idea to let bred mares go without water for a couple or three days.

Because my brother is a lazy, worthless P.O.S!!!! That's why my dear!!

Yea...he's THAT thing...

And now the family feud is ON!!!

And why exactly is that stud still with the mares? Oh, I'll tell you why.

Because TWO MONTHS ago, mom and I went down to the place to put him in the corral and SHE couldn't figure out how to do it.

It's not freaking rocket science! I open the gates and drive the stud and the mares up to the corrals. Then I shut the gates. Put the stud in the pen made out of those gigantic panels and then open the gates and drive the mares back to the pasture.
Exactly the same way, we have done it for the last TWO years!

See what I mean?? I CAN NOT do this anymore!!

M.U.S.T...S.T.O.P...before I stroke out!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Counts?

I've been trying to write posts about the prevalent bloodlines of the barrel horses at the NFR, but I keep finding myself going off into long dissertations about this horse or that horse. It is difficult, if not impossible to look at these great horses' pedigrees and pick out any one reason why they are the tremendous athletes that they are. Actually, I don't think you can pick one sire or bloodline and say that THIS is the one.

Much like all the generations of breeders before us, we search for the ultimate sire, the best bred dam and the ultimate nick that will produce the next generation that will set the bar. It doesn't matter what discipline you prefer...or event...or breed. All that matters is that the individuals that you produce have the ability, the desire and the heart that it takes. In the words of Ott Adams, an immortal breeder of fast horses, "You breed the best to the best and hope for the best."
***All horse's names that are in blue are linked to!!

I have to start with the South Dakota bred and raised duo of Jill Moody and Dolly...
Dolly's registered name is TR Dashing Badger. Dolly's sire is Mr. Illuminator, a foundation bred stallion that stood in South Dakota for several years. This stallion's greatest claim to fame was his bloodlines(IMO)...
Mr. Illuminator is truly a foundation breeder's dream. Few horses still carry the concentration of good-old fashioned running blood that he does(I'm not sure, but I think Mr, Illuminator passed away a couple years ago). He goes back to Midnight 3X's and it is all right there on his 5-generation pedigree. Also included are other foundation greats like Pud Payne, Billy Clegg and 2X's to Buck Hancock. Bred by Dan Dols, specifically for his Grey Badger II and Peter McCue blood, Mr. Illuminator was by no means a "percentages-only" horse. Although he may have been the last horse alive to carry 48% of Grey Badger II's blood and 22% of Peter McCue, he was bred to be a performance horse. Only shown one season, he earned the MQHA Champion Jr. Reining horse and the MQHA Champion Jr. Performance horse titles in 1987. Dan Dols helped to start the Foundation Quarter Horse Registry and took Mr. Illuminator to the first World FQHA show in Colorado. Mr. Illuminator was the Reserve World Champion Stallion in Conformation and was awarded the registration number #6. The first 10 numbers were saved for the most significant stallions.

So here's the scoop on what I know about these horses...prior to Dolly's fame, some people that I showed against in the Black Hills had some of these horses...and they loved them. They said they were smart and easy to train(they were reining horse people). As with most foundation bred horses-they didn't look like much their yearling and 2y/o year, but started blossoming their 3y/o year and just got better and better looking all the time. Since, the Midnight horses have always had a bit of a reputation as being tough, I asked them, Do they buck? It was a resounding NO. They had not owned one that was any ranker or tougher minded than some of their other bloodlines. From what I seen, they sure were cute-pretty headed and big hipped.

Now, I hear that Dolly is pretty tough. She has bucked Jill off quite a few times. Hmmm??

Well, I don't have to analyze too far...Dolly's dam is a double bred Dash For Cash mare...TR Double Cash, her name says a lot!! Throw some Easy Jet in there too and you have a volatile concoction. A winner!! But one that only the right person can get the most out of.

While researching the 34 horses that are listed as mounts for the top 15 barrel racers in the world, I ran across some interesting trivia...

Of the 34 barrel horses, TWENTY-THREE of them go back to Midnight at least once. The most common thread is through Jet Deck. I guess Walter Merrick's cornerstone stallion, Midnight Jr. really was everything he hoped he would be.

People can poo-poo extended pedigree's all they want too, but great horses come from great horses. You can look at any of these top horses for 10 generations back and they are loaded with the greats of yesteryear. True, each subsequent generation needs to prove itself, but you have to start with great genetics. Not one single horse that was considered good enough to run at the NFR came from unrecognizable breeding. There were some that surprised me, not for unrecognizable breeding, but for breeding that most people don't associate with speed horses...but they should.

Here is a horse that I found very interesting...Deb Renger's new horse, Harley. Registered as Lenas Mijo Dulce, Harley's sire, Pobre Dulce is a horse I have not heard of before. Pobre Dulce has Old Sorrel listed TWENTY-SIX times in his 10 generation pedigree. Peter McCue's name shows up TWENTY-THREE times in his 10 generation pedigree. That isn't counting the number of times Old Sorrel hits the 9th or 10th generation and I didn't count Peter McCue. **In comparison...Mr. Illuminator only goes back to Peter McCue 19 times. Old Sorrel is by Hickory Bill by Peter McCue. That is pure King Ranch breeding right there. Looks like most of Pobre Dulce's get are reining horses or broodmare's in reining horse breeding sheds. To make it even more interesting, not even Harley's dam is of bloodlines that are considered "running" horses anymore. She is Doc O'Lena(by Doc Bar) bred on the topside and Doc Bar bred on the bottom. It would appear that the Doc Bar's might be showing some of the speed that Doc Bar himself was bred for but missed out on in the Genetic Lottery. Just so no one thinks it might be a fluke...Stephanie Fryar's Salena, registered name Sail On Lena is also a Doc O'Lena grand-daughter. Of course, on the bottom she has a bit more of the characteristic running blood you would expect to see, but still not a widely known line. There are others too...

Deb Renger's Docs Leo Lee and Traci Dawson's Real Easy Doc.

But here is my favorite one...Lisa Lockhart's IR Peppys Breeze. A Colonel Freckles/Mr San Peppy bred horse on the top and a Doc Bar/King bred horse on the bottom. Yummy!! Now I wonder how people who believe that only the couple of generations count are going to explain that?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Mailman Creed

So what is that mail carrier's creed? Something about rain or snow or sleet?

Well the mailman has nothing on us horse people!!

Neither wind or snow or below zero temperatures keep us from making sure our ponies are knee deep in hay, out of the wind and have plenty of warm water. Even if we have to dress like this to get the job done...
(See my crazy cat? He really though he wanted to go out until I opened the door)

No really...That is me in there. See??
(I was wishing I had a set of goggles too-The wind made my eyes tear and they froze on my lashes.)

My hard working Red Dog is unsure about this...
Are you sure about this mom?

Even if the weather predictions hadn't been warning us of this storm for the last few days, we still would have known the weather was about to change. The deer herd seems to have doubled in the last couple of days. They have swarmed the yard and I think most have staked out the hay bale of their choice. That is when they stop being pretty to look at and you wished they would go live in the wild like they are supposed to. But, I just can't help myself...I cannot resist taking pictures of the beautiful bucks that seem to be multiplying...

It won't be long and their horns will start falling off. In the spring it's fun to ride the draws and pick up the sheds. That is where all of those cool antler chandeliers, lamps and decorative items come from.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Words...


The 2008 World Champion Barrel Racer...
Lindsay Sears on the one...the only...Martha...the super freaking fast mare of my dreams!!!

And of course, there is no doubt my South Dakota heart swells with pride for this home-raised duo...
Jill Moody and Dolly...aka...Miss Consistency!!
Jill and Dolly won the Average...not much you know...just a little over $42,000 for winning that.

And for all the nay-sayers out there that say Foundation Bred horses can't run fast enough to keep up with the modern horses...

Eat Dolly's Dust!!!

Whew it's over for another year...I have refrained from discussing the barrel horses of the NFR because I am superstitious...yea...I's not like I am riding there, but I sure didn't want to jinx a good thing-LOL. Now I can finally start dishing on the pedigrees of these fantastic won't believe how much some of them have in common. ;)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Registration Time

It's official...Shooter's papers have been sent in and hopefully he will come back with the registered name...

Fast Draw Dandy!!
I only listed one other option...Hesa Fast Pistol. I never send in papers with the six name choices they request, nor do I ever let the AQHA pick out a name(They come up with the dumbest names). Only one time have I ever had the papers sent back requesting another name option.

Who me???

Yes you, you little turd!
And I really wished you would quit dragging those feed tubs around!!

No, I haven't weaned him yet. Big Momma probably wishes I would. He is such an ornery little stink. But that is one of the wonderful things about not breeding mares back every year. You can leave the them with their momma's a little longer and not have to worry about next year's baby being robbed of his nutrients. Of course, Big Momma is wayyyy past the age of producing a foal year after year, but we don't do it with our younger mares either. **For lots of reasons besides the horse market going ka-put!!
We took her off of all the mare vitamins, so her milk production would go down. Her weight dropped some, so you are looking at the skinniest horse we own...
The grain situation has been a little tough around here lately. We have not been able to buy any beet pulp shreds for the last 2 months. Then the feed store where I got my equine senior complete feed pellets stopped carrying that brand. Rolled oats(the only kind that does Woofer any good) went to $16.00 a 50lb bag. I was running out of feed and pretty limited in options. get by, I started feeding her Safe-Choice and just moistening it a bit to soften the pellets. She is starting to pick back up again. I started doing some figuring and actually feeding the Safe-Choice is very cost effective, even if I have to feed her a bit more. It is the only feed I can get right here in town that is worth feeding-but it eliminates driving to pick-up feed. Because it has vitamins and minerals in it, I don't have to feed the A-Z Vitamin supplement anymore either. I had already taken them off of the A-Z Vitamin supplement-Shooter was starting to get bumps on his pasterns...a pretty good sign he was getting TOO MANY vitamins. The bumps are gone now. I still add the Basic Mineral and the Formula 7 to aid with digestion, but they are relatively inexpensive to feed. She is off of the Formula W(to help mares milk). Trying to feed her any oats besides the rolled oatmeal is just a waste. I think the only thing I will add, when the feedstores finally get some back in, is some beet pulp...maybe. Since she is picking up weight again and is getting lots of grass hay and some alfalfa, she may not need anything else. Shooter sure isn't hurting though...I had a guy come look at him the other day(he just wanted to see him) and he was looking around the pasture and in the barn. I was standing right by Shooter and he finally asked where the baby was. Uhhh...hello, got my arms wrapped around him!! He looked a little shocked. He thought Shooter was a yearling. Okay, I know he is good sized for 6 months old, but really? What the hell has he been looking at for comparison? Ugghhh-scary thought!!

**You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them. Dark horses are just really, really hard to get photographed so they show any detail and then add all that winter hair and basically what you see is a dark blob with a horsey shape to it-LOL.

Yay me(that is sarcasm)...I get to spend the day, baking Christmas Cookies for the 4-H Christmas party tonight...if I feel really ambitious, I might just through a little house cleaning in there too-hehehe.
The fruits of today's labor...


It's amazing what a little colored frosting will do!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ha, ha, ha...Or N.O.T.

It was so beautiful this morning. The sun was glistening off of the new snow, making it shine and sparkle like a field of cut diamonds as far as the eye could see. Sheez-get out the sunglasses already.

I had to run to mom's to put out a fresh bale...
The selection seems vast, but this is also the hay for the cows too, so we do have to be conservative. Before I could take care of that small chore though, I had to *gasp* pull out the servicing manual for the tractor. I'll let you in on a little secret...I have no idea of how to service a tractor. Thank god mom found the servicing book that came with it. Mom got a good chuckle out of watching me try find the oil dipstick. Uhhhh yea...this tractor doesn't have one of those. But hey, she didn't know that either, so I guess the joke was on her.

Instead of a dipstick, it has a button that you push. If a green light comes on, the oil level is fine. If no light, you need to add oil. It's a guessing game. How the heck are you supposed to know how much oil to add if you don't have a dipstick to measure it with? And the power steering fluid? No dipstick there either. Well, at least one like what I am used to seeing. Besides, it is in a tight spot to reach and is right next to a running belt. NOT a place you want to get careless. Guess what? The tractor needed both oil AND power steering fluid...and I don't have a clue what type to use. DAMN!!

So I made the ultimate decision...I went ahead and used the tractor, to move just one bale. Tomorrow morning I'll stop at the local Co-op and ask the mechanic what I need to top everything off and to make an appointment to bring the tractor to town to get it fully serviced. The guys will be using it to start feeding the cows soon, so everything needs to be in tip-top shape. Guess that means I will have to move to the BIG tractor for my chores.*Grin*

I love it when the snow lays on the grass like this...
It's fun to peek underneath and peer into the little caves it makes.

I wished I was a more knowledgeable photographer. The snow just glittered in the sun. However, I was not able to catch it in a picture...
Darn dogs, they are only interested in playing tag. Can't they see that I am trying to be all artistic and stuff?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit

There is nothing like a good snow to get a person into the Christmas Spirit!! Ummm...even if it wasn't in the weather prediction for today.

The mares don't care...
They are wading in hay...
Because all of the girls were more than just a touch over-weight(Think tubs of lard), we have been pulling old hay out of the stack yard and unrolling the bales until we get to nice hay. The good stuff then goes in the bale feeder. The diet is working too. Nearly everyone has lost the great gobs of blubber that have plagued them. This might be the first time some of these girls have had anything resembling a girlish figure for many years.

By the time the guys got the waterer installed and we made sure the horses could drink from it okay, the snow was coming down in huge, wet flakes. It looked like the sky was dropping goose down on us. I love these kinds of snows. They are rare in this part of the country. Usually snow is accompanied by frigid temperatures and/or miserable wind.

Chores done, it was time to head back to town...
I think my cat has the right idea for the rest of the evening!!
It is definitely time to get my Christmas decorations up...I'm late this year. The weather has been just a bit too nice to really put me in the mood to do it. I'm in the mood now though.;-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Ezra, your comment has clued me in a bit. I think we have a bit of a self-confidence issue here...for your mare. Her safety zone when you are handling her is next to you. And she is more than a bit defensive about being forced to leave that safety zone. This is actually a pretty common problem, so we are going to fix it before worrying about other stuff.

Actually, last summer, I had the very same issue with Turk, the paint gelding. He handled fine, but when I started working with him and playing some of the Parelli Games, he freaked on the left side. Either he was trying to run over the top of me or he was trying to leave. It was no fun for a few days-he is a hard-headed bugger.
(In spite of what some may think my take on the Natural Horsemanship movement is, I thought Pat Parelli's original 7 games was very innovative when it came out and I use the methods regularly.)

I like a rope halter, a long lead rope and a short buggy whip. Usually I start working on the good side first, just to get the feel of everything. Take your mare to the center of the arena and move to her right shoulder. Put the leadrope in your right hand, the buggy whip in your left hand and step straight back from your mare. With your body facing your mare's shoulder, move your right hand out to the side and cluck. She should move forward, following the line of the leadrope. If she tried to move her shoulder toward you, poke it with the buggy whip. If she goes so far as to swing her hips away from you and tries to come toward you, you will have to move your feet to follow the shoulder-keep your hand out, showing her the direction you want her to go. Keep clucking to tell her you want movement.

There are two things that horses usually do right about now, if they haven't willingly followed the leadrope and maintained their body distance from you...

1) They may rush past you. That is okay, if you are worried that they may kick out as they rush past, simply drop your hand and pull them around to face you. At least you got forward movement, which is your initial goal. Or they will...

2) Start spinning their hindquarters away from you. This is a bit harder to keep up with, because you will have to keep moving your feet to keep your position even with their shoulder, while maintaining the right arm out to give them a direction to head and tapping them on the hindquarters with the buggy whip. And clucking. We want those front feet to move. Anytime they move the front feet AWAY from you. Stop. Regroup and ask them to move again.

Pretty soon you will have a horse that will walk a circle around you, maintaining the distance you desire. Then you can move up to asking them to trot around you. You should be able to bring them closer to you by shortening the leadrope or push them away by lengthening it. Gradually you can work the circle out to the end of the leadrope.

Now for the bad side...

This mare is already exhibiting dangerous behavior. She has managed to figure out that there is little a person can do to control her movements at the end of a longe line. So the goal is to get control of her movement and make her keep those front feet moving in the direction you want them to move.

Again, take the mare to the middle of the arena. Place the leadrope in the left hand and the buggy whip in the right. Stand at your mare's shoulder, facing it and step back. Lift the left hand to give her the direction you want her to head and cluck. Most likely, she is going to want to turn toward you, keep moving your feet to maintain your position at her shoulder, make sure to keep your left hand out and keep clucking. Poke her in the shoulder with the whip if you have too. The biggest goal is to get her to move those front feet, AWAY from you. At first it might feel like you are the one getting the workout. If at any point you feel like you need to stop and regroup, by all means do so. Maybe lead your mare a step or two, so she moves those front feet. And then ask again.

If she gets excited and starts to back up, go with her, try to maintain your position at her shoulder, but if you can't, just keep backing her until she is controllable again and stops because you ask her too, move immediately back to the shoulder and ask her to move forward again. The secret is to turn the backing into your decision, not hers. If she starts flying backwards, go with her, keep her backing until you feel in control again, back her some more, step to her shoulder and ask her to move forward. As long as she isn't backing into something that could injure her, don't worry if she backs into walls or backs the length of the arena. Pretty soon she is going to get tired of backing up and will try to find another way to get away from the pressure you are applying-hopefully that will be in the direction you want her to go-forward.

Now for the rearing part of it...I'm going to tell you how I handle it, but if you are not comfortable doing that...DON'T DO IT. Your safety is of the utmost importance!!! For a horse that gets angry and starts popping up in the front end or even rears all the way up, I let out some leadrope, step back and off to one side and yank the horse's head toward me. As soon as they get their front feet back on the ground, I make them start backing, as fast as I can make them go! A horse that has all four feet moving has a hard time rearing up.
I have never subscribed to the theory of pulling a rearing horse all the way over. I have seen people do it and there is just too much room for damage to both horse and handler. Besides it doesn't really seem to work. It doesn't teach a horse how to avoid rearing by making them move their feet, it just seems to make them a little more unpredicable when they do rear up again.

The alternative to pulling your mare toward you when she rears up is to just let her and as soon as she gets those front feet on the ground again, get after her to move her feet, either by backing or again trying to get her to move forward.

The turning the butt to you and kicking out...well, that is a horse's natural defense. On a leadrope and in closer quarters it is easier to control. When she gets mad and wants to tip that hindquarter toward you, the goal stops being about moving forward in the direction you want her to and becomes making her move that hip away from you. Bring your leadrope hand back to a normal position and start popping her on the hip with that buggy whip. Use the leadrope to keep her head tipped toward you and keep whacking her in the butt until she moves that hip away. Make it sting too. In this instance, you have to be the lead mare and no lead mare is ever going to tolerate another mare's aggression. Don't stop until she moves that hip away from you. When she does, regroup and ask for forward movement again. Eventually, little miss thang is going to get tired of doing anything but what you want her to do. You are going to turn all of her antics into hard work, not escape routes. She is going to have to start thinking about what you are asking and actually start processing the cues you are giving her.

I'm guessing you know full well how the standing at the shoulder position works, since you do longe your horses. But the nuances are a bit exaggerated when working in these smaller circles. Standing square facing your horse's shoulder is a neutral position. You aren't asking your horse to move. When you step back and lift the hand holding the leadrope out, you are opening up the door as the logical direction for your horse to move. Your leg on the same side that you are holding the leadrope should turn in the same direction you want your horse to go, so that your toe is pointing that direction(as if you were going to step that way). This makes the other side of your body turn toward the horse just a bit. If you were to raise the other arm straight out in front of you, you would be pointing at about the girth area. Effectively, with very little body movement you have pointed out a direction for your horse to go with one hand and applied pressure to his body, implying you want him to move forward. The buggy whip is just an extension of the pressure you are creating with your body position. It can be used to poke the horse in the shoulder or girth area, encouraging him to keep his distance or you can open that arm out and tap him on the hip to encourage forward movement.

She may do fine in close quarters and only start having trouble as she gets toward the end of the leadrope. Just keep building the distance and reinforcing that nasty behavior causes a lot of work for her. As it gets easier to send her out to the end of the leadrope and she maintains forward motion for you then it will be time to reintroduce the longe line and build to even more distance. I highly recommend looking up Parelli's Original 7 Games for other things you can do to build your mare's self-confidence too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Ezra_Pandora is having a bit of a problem with her mare loping to the left. Horses having problems traveling one direction or the other is a very common problem. While it is relatively easy for a horse to travel either direction when they are loose, problems very often arise once they are under saddle.

We often assume that all horses are ambidextrous. When loose, we see them travel any direction they please with little trouble, barring injury or severe misalignment. In reality, about 80% of the saddle horses out there are actually left-handed. Why? Because that is the side that we handle them on the most. We catch and halter and lead and saddle and bridle and mount, all from the left side.

So in Ezra's case, it is a bit strange that her mare gets overwhelmed loping to the left. The first thought in most everyone's mind is a chiropractic adjustment. Ezra said she has had one done previously and that it had helped a bit. Another one wouldn't hurt, but the mare will never stay correct if she isn't also conditioned to carry herself properly. So while Ezra is waiting for the ever elusive chiro to show up, there are things she can be working on to build her mare's lateral strength.

If it were me in Ezra's place this is what I would do...
1) Turn the mare loose into a large area. If she wants to buck and play at first, I would just watch her. What are you watching for? I always watch which direction they go. If they are standing there and take off bucking and playing, do they always seem to go one direction? Do they pick up both leads easily? Do they seem to avoid turning or running in one direction or the other? A chiropractor once told me that a horse that is out in the hips will still buck and play-they just protect the misalignment by avoiding picking up one lead or the other and spend more time going one direction or the other. He said that horses that are out in their necks are not as likely to buck and play. I doubt there is any scientific evidence to his statements, just his observations.

2) When the high is off your pony, you can start moving them around the arena. It isn't about controlling their gait, but watching for the transitions. If you chouse her to the right, how does she move out? Does she transition easily into the lope? Pick up the correct lead? Can she maintain it for more than a few strides? Now move her to the left. Does she act the same or are there differences? If she picks up the left lead easily and can maintain control in that direction relatively easily, it may not be so much about a chiropractic adjustment as it is about a training issue. If she does not want to pick up the left lead or picks it up and either charges off or drops it and picks up the right lead to keep moving forward, she still may or may not actually need a chiropractor, but an adjustment wouldn't hurt.

3) Now, if I have the opportunity, I will take the horse to a round pen. This is a much better place to ask for controlled transitions. Again, I will send the horse the good direction first. What I really want to see is how he picks up his lead. I pay very little attention to anything but how the horse is moving. How does he move his head when asked to transition into a lope? Does it seem like a natural lift to help the transition or are they jerky or holding their head and neck cocked? How easily does he pick up his lead? Does he just lift and lope off or does he struggle? Once I have seen a couple of transitions up and down that direction, I reverse them and send them the other way. Again I ask for a few transitions, but this time let them lope a bit. Can they pick up the lead easily? Can they maintain a lope? Do you see any of the symptoms that happen when you are riding?

All of this work and observing should make it pretty easy to see if your horse is having trouble for physical reasons or if it is mostly a training issue. If your horse is lazy, you are going to have to get after them with a rope or buggy whip. Lazy horses are harder to read than hot horses. Because you have to get after them to keep them moving. They have a tendency to get pissy and it's hard to decide if that pissyness is from being lazy or from pain. The only thing I can tell you, is to just get after them and make them move out. If it truly is pain, you will start to see actual signs-dragging toes, short strides, a bobbing head or one carried as if they were bracing or a hip that might look higher or lower than the other one. Try to ignore the pinned ears and the crabby looks and look for true signs of discomfort.

If a round pen is not available, you can substitute using a longe line. Still the main goal is to see if you can see any physical reason why the horse wouldn't want to travel in a certain direction or gets panicky when they do.

Okay...all that time spent observing how your horse moves and hopefully you have been able to notice any problems your horse may have moving under his own power. If after all that and you say you can't see anything that might be causing the issue under saddle, then the chances are the problem isn't going to be fixed by a chiropractor. The only other physical problem that might cause a horse to have more difficulty moving one direction than another is a dental issue.

Next comes the riding avoid turning this into a book, I'll get to that tomorrow.