I have become extremely laaayyyy-zzzeeeeee over the last couple of weeks and I need a swift kick in the butt to get rolling again.
It's been nice though. My Honey has had quite a bit of time off lately, has gotten rested up and even started a diet as soon as we got home from Vegas. Eleven pounds in two weeks!
Doesn't it just drive ya nuts that all they have to do is eliminate a few things from their diets and the pounds just melt off of them?
We had planned on heading to Arizona for several days after Christmas, but I found out my nephew and his mom are staying with her family on the other side of Colorado over the holidays and we made arrangements to go over the mountains to pick him up for a few days. I haven't seen my nephew since the summer of '06. We're all pretty excited to get to have him until after the New Year.
So, I guess the ponies will get a few more days off....
Although, it ended up being perfect timing as we woke up to a bit of winter this morning. It's not cold or anything (although snow always makes it look so). As you can see, I got really lazy and started letting the boys free feed. I thought I would try it to see if they were going to gorge themselves and waste a bunch of hay, but these ranch ponies know the routine-LOL. Once they get filled up, they come and go. It's going to reduce my hay costs by about half. LOVE IT!
The following link is from Moorman's feeds. They are also associated with Alliance Equine. At the bottom of the page is multiple links to other articles. The information is fairly comprehensive, including hay evaluations, grain evaluations, vitamins/minerals and the inclusion of fat and yeast... The Equine Digestive System
I thought this was a really good article about what exactly rice bran is and does... Rice Bran One thing to note is that Rice Bran and Flax are high in Phosphorous. If you plan on feeding them in a serious quantity, you need to make sure that you are balancing the Calcium.
I thought this was a neat article, particularly when the information was combined with some of the things I picked up from reading the previous articles... Equine Feeding Myths
I was looking for info on Flax...There seems to be some debate as to whether flax oil is as good as flax seed and accidentally stumbled onto this company's website. It looks like they have high quality supplements and a nice selection of flax-based supplements. They have a simple stabilized ground flax called Nutra-Flax as well as another flax and yeast supplement called Radiance-High Energy Concentrate that I am thinking about ordering. HorseTech
Here's the thing...I really prefer to keep my horses on as natural to them diet as possible. I don't really mind mixing individual feeds-beet pulp, oats and additional supplements as necessary. Like people, I think horses benefit from 'whole foods' as it is much easier for the body to digest (if your picking the appropriate feed). However, finding and being able to keep everything on hand, while being cost effective is daunting and getting more and more difficult.
I have long considered moving over to a pre-mixed complete feed. There are a ton on the market these days for pretty much any type of feeding program you can imagine. The one thing that keeps me from having already doing this is the fact that most of these feeds main ingredients are listed as 'by-products'. We are trusting a lot to these feed companies, when we allow them to simply list 'Grain By-Products' on a label as a primary ingredient.
Realistically speaking, I realize there are numerous by-products from the milling process that are very nutritious...oat hulls, soybean hulls, wheat middlings, rice bran, etc...So when a feed is made by a highly recognizable nationally known company, like Purina, Nutrena or Moorman's/Alliance and a few others, it's pretty safe to assume that they are going to be using high quality by-products. I just wished they would spell it out a little bit better on their labeling.
Also, I don't know about you guys, but the average cost of the High-Performance type of feeds that I need for my horses (when I'm using them) is a little over $20/50lb. If I'm feeding a horse even the mid-range required ration, I'm looking at $150/per horse/per month.
I'm going to have to do some cost analysis to figure out if I even come close to that when feeding individual grains and supplements.
Something that needs to be remembered about those pre-packaged complete feeds though...Unless you are feeding at least the minimum required ration, your horse is not going to get the complete nutrition/benefit of the feed.
For those of you suffering an unusually harsh winter...I'm sorry!
That's what we had here last winter.
At the moment...I think Nature is a little confused, cause it feels way more like Spring around here than Christmas time. It rained for 4 days straight...Had me pretty nervous. If the weather had turned cold, I would probably had to clean out the local stores' supply of horse blankets. Luckily though, the temps stayed in the 50's...at night even!
'Would you please shut up and feed us?'
Speaking of feeding...I've been doing a lot of reading/researching on nutrition again and found some great articles and information. I'll pop up a post before Christmas with all of the links attached. Then if anyone is bored over the weekend...they have something to read.
Not everyone gets to say that they attended a motorcycle CLUB Christmas party....
Everyone sing with me now..."Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?"... My Honey in his rhelm. LOL. Actually, he is totally comfortable rolling in my world and I am totally comfortable rolling in his. It's a lot of fun to not have to be the same person day in and day out.
And my traitor cat came home... We had only been living in the new place for about a week when my Big Fuzz disappeared. It's not uncommon to not see him for a day....maybe two (but that is stretching it)....so when he disappeared for a week...
I was sure he was a gonner. It's not safe for cats to be out wandering around in this country. Our other house was bad enough, but the new place butts up to the desert and well...You all know how that usually ends for sight-seeing kitties. :-(
So imagine all of our surprise when the night before leaving for Vegas, MH walks past the sliding glass door, stops, stares and exclaims...'Its the Big Fuzz!'...
Much hugging and kissing ensued and I was so relieved I almost cried. I love that big, dumb, roman-nosed guy.
When we first moved out here, both Megan and I tried everything we knew to integrate the cats-our two with MH's two. I don't really worry about the initial cat-fights. That is just how cats are and usually they get over it.
But when everyone started spraying, that was the end of trying to integrate. Oh yea...that old myth that spaying and neutering at an early age makes it so they can't spray is just that...A myth. They can still spray and it's just as nasty as if they weren't spayed or neutered. Actually, I don't think the female was spraying so much as just going around and peeing on everything the males sprayed. Ugghhh...It was nasty!!! So Megan and I's cats ended up being restricted to the garage...and now their home is the shop. They have everything they need...food, water and their beds...but they are not happy about having to sleep that far away from the family, so they spend most of their time staring IN, while MH's cats spend most of their time staring OUT. Damn Cats!
Anyway...We had to leave the next morning and my Big Fuzz was home. That made for a much happier trip to Vegas. Meg said he stayed home until the morning we came back, but by the time we got back he was gone again. This time I wasn't so worried about it. See...I am pretty sure one of the neighbors has been taking him in. A cat that disappears for a week does not come home fat and sassy. The Big Fuzz did. He wasn't gaunt, he wasn't hungry...he was just home. When he got tired of not being let into the house, he went back to the neighbor that did let him in. Lousy traitor - lmao.
This time when the Big Fuzz came home, he had a nasty puncture wound in his leg. I suspect a dog bite. It was pretty nasty looking, but since it was a Sunday, I opted to wait until this morning to determine if he needed to go to the vet. In the meantime I packed his wound with Lampley's Wound Powder, topped it with gauze and vet wrap. I didn't expect the bandage to last very long...but hoped that the Wound Powder would at least have a chance to do it's job. This morning, sure enough the bandage was gone, but the wound is clean, dry and the inflammation is gone. No need for the vet. I'll just keep re-packing the wound with the powder and wrapping it in the evenings. The Big Fuzz can spend his nights chewing off his bandage. Hopefully, now with the rainy weather and his recent injury he will be more inclined to stay home. His doggies don't bite!
Oh man, did it feel good to get home from Las Vegas. The Fun Meter was pegged and we were all exhausted by the last night.
LOL...The visit was extended by one day because apparently, we had not pushed ourselves over the limit and decided one more day was in order...
That's our story and we are sticking to it ! (giggles)
It's hard to believe that it has been nine years...Nine years ago I had just started dating a guy and he asked me if I wanted to go to Las Vegas for a weekend...Something about a big rodeo going on out there? Well, little old me was over the moon.
Funny thing was...me and that guy ended up on such a good roll at the casino that we didn't bother to break the winning streak and actually attend the rodeo.
This time around, we are husband and wife... I somehow managed to ease my biker man into a cowboy hat and a pair of Full-quill ostrich square toed Justin's...
And we were off to the rodeo... Two nights of the greatest rodeo on earth!!! It was fabulous!!!
We had fantastic seats, were with great friends and enjoyed every single moment to the absolute max. It's kinda funny because the friends that went with us are not rodeo people. Actually they were rodeo 'virgins'. Both of them were on the edge of their seats from the first moment of action and I think I got just as much enjoyment from watching them react to everything that was going on, as I did watching the performances.
Isn't this horse to die for?... That mane is like nothing I have ever seen... The first night the opening 'act' was a guy Roman riding 2 Percherons while driving 4 more. Sadly, all of the cameras got left in the Suburban and I didn't even think about it until it was too late to get it out of valet parking. The second night was this drill team, who performed in the dark with these lights... And that was it for pictures because when the rodeo action starts...You don't have time to do anything but watch. Holy Crap this rodeo moves fast. There is absolutely no 'dead air' time.
The final ceremonies lineup... I think we covered more ground this trip than we ever have before. We marched up and down a lot of the strip, made it over to Caesar's Palace, down to Fremont street and shopped til we dropped. OMG...I cannot wait to show you guys. There isn't going to be a darned thing under the Christmas tree for me this year. LOL - Not unless I wrap everything up myself (heeheehee)
Once mounted up, Sue moved everyone directly into some bending and circling exercises. Essentially, she had us do horseback what she had just shown us on the ground.
It never fails to surprise me the number of people who are actually out there competing (and some are actually winning) who really don't know or understand how to get a horse to drive up from his hock or how to get them to bend in the ribcage or how to use their hands to bridle a horse up. I presume those people those who don't understand these concepts and are still winning at least have the ability to stay out of their horse's way.
The next morning, I thought we were going to go right back to riding, but Sue ended up working almost everyone else's horses in the round pen. Mine didn't really need it. Even though Moon is a 'rooter'. Actually, he is a 2nd generation 'rooter'. I have worked on him his entire life to minimize that characteristic and been mostly successful, but it will always be his natural tendency. Spooks is entirely the opposite. Although driving from the hock is completely natural for Spooks, he really hates to run into any pressure on his face (Remember the video of him from a couple of months ago?). His natural tendency is to stay completely behind the bit. While that is a nice reprieve from Moon, it is still not correct. So I have a lot of work ahead of me teaching Spooks to reach forward and accept pressure on his face. That should come easier to him now that he is getting into better shape and his feet are fixed.
While we kind of got stuck working on really slow work, due to the necessity of teaching almost everyone else how to get their horses bending and flexing properly, I did pick up a few good exercises. I kind of just kept talking to Sue, explaining to her what had started to go so wrong this last summer with Moon. Moon, being the contrary sort he is, was on his best behavior and refused to 'dive' at any of the barrels. The worst he did was flatten out his ribcage in the turns a couple of times. Thanks Moon...when I really need you to show someone how bad you can be...you act like the perfect gentleman?
One of the things I learned was that I was letting Moon float out a little too much as he was leaving 1st and 2nd. Not much, but enough that when speed was added that it was probably enough that it made it really easy for him to kick out of his inside lead and that makes it harder to bring him back over to get into the correct position to get to the next barrel. That was easily enough fixed by using a little outside leg to keep Moon's ribcage where it needed to be and also by holding him into the turn until my leg was completely past the barrel.
The second useful exercise learned was using the counter-arc wherever a horse has the tendency to habitually flatten out his ribcage. Primarily the counter-arc is used at the top of the barrel, just past the rate spot, and is used to get and keep the horse into the correct C-position for turning. In Moon's case, he has particular spots on the backside of the 2nd and 3rd barrels where he likes to flatten out his ribcage. it doesn't feel like much at a walk/trot and I can always pick him up, even at the lope. However, Sue pointed out that if Moon has a habit of flattening out at the exact same spots at slow speeds, he is going to be pretty adamant about doing it when he is running. There is no time for correction then. To break him of this habit, the counter arc can be used to reinforce that Moon has to maintain the C-position. Since I know exactly where Moon likes to flatten, it's my job to stop him before that spot. Counter-arc him to reinforce the C-position and then drive him through those areas.
Spooks arcs into his C-position easily and maintains it until I let him go. However, he is as green as green can be on the barrel pattern and is barely loping it yet. He hasn't had time to develop any bad habits yet and I hope to keep it that way. My biggest challenge with him will be to get him extending forward with his front-end. Since Spooks has so much rear-wheel drive, I will really have to push him forward and work at keeping him moving all 4 feet around the barrel.
It's going to be interesting getting everyone I have here rolling on the pattern. Moon and Turk are very front-endy horses, so I will always have to work at keeping their front-ends picked up and their hindquarters engaged. Spooks and Frosty are very deep stoppers, so it will be a matter of keeping them pushed forward and getting them to use their front-end. Bugs, I haven't figured out yet. He's a big stopper, but I have really noticed that my Lady Bugs Moon horses are heavy in the front-end. Once he is farther along in his riding, it will be easier to tell. I just don't know about Jet. He's such a big, lanky dude that I always thought he would be one of those types that likes to just run around a barrel. However, as he has developed this year, he is getting much thicker in his stifle and I see signs that he really can stop on his hock. Sandy is such a big, powerful horse, I have a feeling that when he starts leaving a barrel, I will have to hold on for dear life-LOL.
In the meantime, Moon is the main man and no matter how frustrating things have been, one I know is exceptionally talented. He can run, he can turn and when he is in the right position, he can leave. From now on, it will be my job to perfect his slow work and quit trying to train on him during a run.
The conclusion to follow...
**I'm off to Vegas this weekend...See you guys on Monday!
After the shoeing demonstration (which was courtesy of Daisy, Sue's futurity mare, who yanked off a shoe in some deep sand the night before), Sue showed us how to polo wrap a horse's leg.
I hate to admit this, but no matter how many times I am shown how to polo wrap a horse's leg, I still hesitate to do it.
I could probably be persuaded to do it as a standing/hauling bandage, but am not comfortable wrapping the leg properly enough for working. I have heard (and Sue reiterated) that it is easy enough to bow a tendon by improperly wrapping a leg.
So l just don't want to do it.
Now, I'll also tell you this, I do use Professional Choice SM boots on my horses for competition, however I have never felt that they really give a leg any support. Essentially I have used them (and bell boots) as protection against an inadvertent hit.
Sue brought out the boots she uses. Iconoclast Double Sling Support Boots and showed us how she puts them on and I will be ordering me a set of these boots for all 4 legs. The double sling support just makes so much sense. You can put these boots on and really snug them down. The double sling support also equals out the pressure on the fetlock and that is a good thing.
I think Pro Choice makes a double sling boot these days, but I'm ready to try something new.
After a workout or a run-Sue always braces a horse's legs to tighten everything up and help reduce any inflammation/soreness. She said she has had good luck with the Sore No More products-both the liniment and the mud (I've been wanting to try those products anyway...now I have a good reference...You can bet I'll be ordering them). The added benefit of using the mud is that is also requires hydrotherapy to wash the mud off. Cold hosing a horse's legs, knees and stifles has long been known to be beneficial and I sometimes think we forget about how simple things have worked for decade after decade.
After lunch, we got down to the business of working horses. Jumping on our own was not to be..yet! One of the girls had a young horse there and Sue used him as a demonstration horse to show everyone how she 'gyp's' a horse.
Essentially, 'gyping' a horse is using one of Parelli's 7 games, The Circling Game. No matter what you may think of Pat Parelli these days, initially, the man came up with some really interesting ways to work a horse on the ground. I have used parts of his 7-Games techniques for nearly 20 years now and always got a great response with them. As with anything, the key is to get the response you want and move on. I'll do a little video demo for you guys soon (if anyone is interested or does not know how the Circling Game works). It's a fantastic way to get a horse who is stiff and unresponsive to moving his front-end, ribcage and hip.
Once the horse is freed up in the front-end, responsive to the whoa and begins to drive off of the hock, Sue moved on to tying a horse's head around. This is no Clinton Anderson, tying their heads around until their nose touches the cinch crap either. EVER! Again, this is better shown through a bit of a video demo. The whole point is to just apply enough pressure that the horse can easily find release-first with just one rein through the cinch ring, then both reins and then between the legs. The horse is gently asked to move forward (either loose in the round pen or on a long line) until they get the feel of it and then they are asked to work up into the bridle. Again, the point is not to drill a horse to death. The point is to get a horse traveling up underneath himself and let him find a release.
The poll is directly linked to the hock. When a horse breaks a the poll and stretches into his neck his is then able to drive from his hock. EVERY horse needs to learn how to drive from his hock. Honestly, I can't think of a single breed or type of horse that does not improve his gaits when he is driving from the hock. If I am wrong, someone please correct me! Barrel horses absolutely need to drive from the hock. Their front ends need to be free and they need to carry their head in a relaxed position but 'bridled up'. The motto should always be...Drive from behind! You want to push the horse into the bridle, not pull him off of it.
A horse's head should never be tied so tight that he is behind the vertical nor have to get more than a degree or so behind the vertical to find his release. The stiffer a horse is, the more he will have to be driven from behind and the more he will probably have to work on this. That doesn't mean longer sessions...It means more sessions.
I've got a bunch in my crew that need these very things done to them. It's not that I didn't know about these exercises...I had just kind of forgot how beneficial they are.
Sue Smith's clinic this weekend was awesome. She is a fantastic horsewoman, has a wealth of knowledge and is clear, concise and direct in her instruction. But, she is super nice!
The first morning was spent discussing the ever important care aspects of 'the competitive horse'. While there are similar aspects, 'going down the road' is a whole 'nother beast than loading up and heading to your local events. When you start hauling over a hundred miles to an event and/or plan on being on the road for multiple events, the smallest of details start to make a difference as to how well your horse holds up.
Things like adding double mats in the trailer, doubling the depth of bedding and adding easy boots and wrapping legs can be the difference between pulling in and having a comfortable, reasonably rested horse vs. one who is sore or tired from riding in the trailer.
Feeds and feeding were discussed-While Sue was not trying to 'sell' anything, she uses what she uses because it works and she noticed differences in her horses whether they were on certain products or not. According to her, it's not so much the brand of feed you use as the type and quantity. Competitive barrel horses need a lower sugar/carbohydrate mix (as do most horses, except race horses) and a much higher fat content. And about twice as much feed as even I realized. While I am not going to be totally changing my feeding regime, I definitely found out that I need to get Moon on a lot more of the 'right' kind of grain than what he has been on.
Apparently ulcers are a huge concern. The aspects of hauling can bring those on as much as the nervousness repeated competition causes. Sue treats her horses with UlcerGuard just before leaving and while on the road, as well as feeds a supplement (Pink somethingorother-I'll have to look that up) that helps to coat the entire stomach. Also, keeping hay in front of a horse, so they can constantly nibble and keep something in their stomachs is important. I was pleased to find out that she is perfectly okay with horses being provided a hay bag right up to competition. Unless of course your horse is a hog. You don't want your horse to gorge himself before competition, but having a hungry horse usually means you have a crabby or less focused horse. I have always kept hay in front of my horses, particularly Moon, as he is always hungry.
Appropriate warm-ups depending on your horse. Again, pleased to find out that tons of warming up is not necessary, because I don't. If your horse is working properly and has had a chance to get some blood going to his muscles...it's just fine to take them back to the trailer (or go stand in a corner) until just before your run. About all they need right before a run is a nice stretching walk and maybe a bit of long-trotting to get the blood flowing again. Watching people lope and lope and lope...and lope their barrel horses before a run has always driven me crazy. If your horse is having a bad day and needs it...fine. But if they are working properly, tuned in and warmed up...Why would you work them to death before making a competition run? Besides...all of that sloshing in their guts, combined with probably little feed and a lot of nerves is a good way to get ulcers started!
Shoeing-Sue does the majority of her own shoeing. She is adamant that the hoof needs to be under the horse's leg, have the proper break-over and heel length. A barrel horse's front shoes need to have the heels a little tight (as minimal hang-over as possible), without causing contracted heels. This minimizes the possibility of a horse stepping on his shoe and ripping it off in competition. She likes to see some hang-over in the rear leg heels because she feels that it protects a horse's heel bulbs from burning and bruising. She uses these amazingly light (can't even feel them in your hand) aluminum Queen's Plate No-Vibe shoes. You can also get the No-Vibe in a metal shoe, which is more practical for people who don't run a lot and ride outside a lot. Now here's the kicker people...Competitive horses need to be re-shod at the most...every FOUR weeks. Re-setting the shoe every 2-3 weeks is more appropriate. That's how much difference even a little bit of growth can affect a run. When you are talking hundreths or even thousands of a second that determine earning a check or not....It's all about the details!
Speaking of details...Sue passed around several different types of shoeing nails that she uses depending on the ground she has to run in. Yea...The woman rides the ground and determines if she needs to add different nails! Then she proceeded to show us all how to re-set a shoe that has been pulled off or come loose and how to add different nails if necessary.
A day of rest (Yep...I wasted a perfectly beautiful day by taking a nap)...and starting tomorrow, I'm off and running...
I'm tired of messing with square bales, not to mention the cost. Oiy Vey!!! Sooo....A friend hooked me up with a rancher who puts up big round bales and I'm off tomorrow to check them out. He even delivers, so I'd have an entire winter's supply of hay right here. If the winter stays nice, I'll pitch it. If the weather gets crappy...just watch me drag bales into the pasture and let those ponies self feed. LOL...Some people call it being lazy...I call it being efficient!
Friday and Saturday...I'm loading up Moon and Spooks and going to a barrel racing clinic.
A couple of weeks ago, I was much surprised to have my neighbor (the veterinarian) knocking on my door. His wife is a PRCA barrel racer and she told him to stop over and invite me to a special barrel clinic she and Sue Smith are putting on.
I kind of held off deciding if I wanted to go or not. The Honey and I did have other plans for this weekend, but they fell through, so I decided, Why Not?
Interestingly enough, my brother knows Sue Smith and he told me she is a good hand. He thought she would be worth going to.
We are also having company for the weekend. They arrive on Friday. Saturday evening is the VNV/LV MC Christmas party and...
On Sunday, I told Meg, we are getting the round pen set up, a cross fence put up in the pasture and I have a couple of horses that need their feet trimmed.
Sooo...Just in case, you all don't hear from me for a few days....