Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Horse | Battling Boredom: Study Proves Food-Related Items Most Successful

The Horse Battling Boredom: Study Proves Food-Related Items Most Successful

The old saying goes, "Idle hands are the devil's tools," but horse owners know an idle horse's lips can cause just as much mischief. For many owners it can be a daily challenge to keep curious horses occupied when not being ridden or handled. In her recent study, Grete Helen Meisfjord Jørgensen, PhD, of the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, observed horses' reactions to several types of "enrichment items" and determined that food-related items helped battle boredom best.

Jørgensen and her team observed the reactions of eight horses rotated through eight individual paddocks that each contained a different enrichment item (a cone, a ball, a pole, peat, straw, branches, a ball filled with concentrate, and an empty paddock used as a control). Among the most popular items were the straw, the concentrate-filled ball, the branches, and the scratching pole.

The researchers then observed six groups of horses (three to six horses in a group) that were offered the four items that appeared to be most popular to the individual horses. The researchers observed that whether alone or in groups, the enrichment items horses liked best involved food.

"Our data show that edible items were most popular," Jørgensen explained. "Other toys were seldom investigated, and no horses spent a lot of time playing with the objects that did not have any relationship to food."

The notable exception was the scratching post, which was investigated more by the horses when they were alone in a paddock rather than in a group. She said that this was likely because the post allowed them to reach certain itchy spots on their bodies they couldn't reach without the help of a herdmate.

When providing enrichments for groups, make sure there is enough for everyone, Jørgensen cautioned: "The study showed that providing several piles of roughage (like straw) might reduce the amount of aggressive interactions--an effect that most horse owners would cherish. The fear of injuries is often the main reason that owners choose to keep their horses individually rather than give them social contact with other horses."

She added that for horses that can be managed on pasture, simple green grass is the best enrichment item they can be offered.

"One of the most important findings from our study is the great motivation that horses have for eating green grass," she said. "Even if our test paddocks had only a few green plants growing on the surface and horses were using the paddocks every day, they spent large amounts of time nibbling on this grass."

The study, "Effects of enrichment items on activity and social interactions in domestic horses (Equus caballus)," was published in January in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. The abstract is available online.

Murphy's Law

Murphy Horse Law: "Your favorite tack always gets chewed on, and your new blanket gets torn. Tack you hate will never wear out and blankets you hate cannot be destroyed."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chubby Pony

My silly mare is endeavoring to achieve THIS look for the summer. I'm desperately trying to thwart her efforts.

Thelwell Ivan

Yup, this pretty much summarizes what Ivan tries to pull whenever we try to canter. Maybe not the first time, maybe not the second, but at least at some point. Usually when he's trying to widen his circle and get closer to the fence, and when he's getting anxious about the footing in the arena. The closer he gets to the roundpen fencing, the more nervous I am about getting my knees hit, the more tense I get, and the faster and stronger he gets. I need to get that stinker in an arena and canter some bigger circles WITHOUT him pulling one of these...

Why I Don't Jump

I saw this on someone else's blog and thought it very neatly summarized why I DON'T jump anymore other than incidentals on the trail :) Enjoy!

How's This To Start Off A Person's Morning?

I deleted the chain letter at the bottom; it was just a chain letter complaining about world crisis going on but the media only wanting to talk about Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Charlie Sheen. As you can see, I asked that she remove me from her mailing list, and that started the ball rolling on the rest of the morning...

From: Lynn Caruso []
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 8:49 AM
To: 'Erika '

You are absolutely void of any humanity whatsoever.  In other words, you are a beast!!

From: Erika [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:37 PM
To: 'Lynn Caruso'

Please remove me permanently from your address book. Neither Mark nor I have forgotten what was written in those last few emails.

From: Lynn Caruso []
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:01 PM
To:; 'Erika'; 'Caruso, Royce H'; 'Jessica Wynn';; 'Michael Haas Jr'; 'Margaret White'; 'Mark ';;
This  came from Mark's MOTHER!!! I'm so fed up with all the drama and bullshit that comes out of that household. The email kicked off a phone call from Mark to his mother in which he screamed at her and told her to never contact us again. I thought I had already blocked her email from contacting me, but I guess not... Woohoo, yay Wednesdays...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Asshole Alert

Fair warning to all models: If you ever have occasion to work with Oleg Volk, DON'T. Or at the very least, make sure he pays you in advance and leave when you're supposed to because otherwise he'll either try to make you work for free or he'll pay you for 1 or 2 hours but make you work 16 hours instead! I will not be working with him again, so don't ask me for a reference for him.


This still makes me giggle :) These guys really did a good job with this, but it's still has a lot of initial shock value!

The Bruises Have Surfaced!

Courtesy of my bitchy mare getting to impatient and jealous during breakfast the other day. I'm STILL pissed about it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

This Weather SUCKS!!!!

This weather is for the birds. We're not supposed to see any improvement till Friday at the earliest.

McCalla, AL (35111) Weather

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CloudyIsolated T-StormsT-StormsFew ShowersPartly Cloudy
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Sunday, March 27, 2011


Bullmastiffs are beautiful creatures. This handsome gentleman belongs to Steve Fleming of Birmingham and is a champion! Mark is a fan of these dogs, so maybe one of these later in our lives instead of another boxer. We love our Boris and he's generally pretty laidback, but he's more the exception than the rule compared to most young boxers I've met.

Mark's Vest :)

I booked the tuxes the other day! This is the pattern for the ivory vest that Mark will wear in our wedding :)

Our other four-leggers :)

My Isis and Mark's Boris. We love our fur kids! My Isis is beautiful :)

The Self-professed Cat Hater....

Haha, cat hater my ass. He loves my Sabina, and she loves him :)

Feathered Visitors

We had visitors this morning! Apparently the big storms from last night blew them in and they decided to hang out.


I walloped the shit out of my mare and denied her the bucket of breakfast that I had in my hand for her after she reached over her door and bit the shit out of my arm this morning. She got a little too impatient for her damn breakfast, so now she can do without. She never used to be this way until I adopted/purchased Ivan and brought him home. She will think twice and remember her manners next time after getting smacked, driven out by whacks on her hiney with a lead rope, and going without her breakfast.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Can Haz A Piano?

Haha, this just made my night! This schnoodle is so darn cute!

Yeah, we're bad.

Bwuahahahahahahah! Chili and cheese combined in a bowl, eaten by Mission chips. Do I feel guilty? Not really :)

Yeah, this pretty much sums up my day.

Looks like my ponies will be getting a break today. It also looks like they'll be staying in once the weather gets really nasty. See previous post. I'd rather have ponies getting cabin fever than holes in their hides or struck by lightning.

Oh great...

Saturday's Severe Storms

Click to enlarge
Severe storm forecast Saturday | Enlarge

*sigh* Work sucks.

I thought it was going to rain yesterday and make me feel less guilty, but it didn't. It was gorgeous and not sweltering all freaking day, but I was stuck WORKING all day. Now today we're scheduled to have scattered thunderstorms and I'm STILL covered up in work. If I don't take a break and go work Ivan and take care of Classy Lady's feet today, I'm not going to get to ride for pretty much the next week because we're scheduled for storms all week. FML.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Steve Carrell

This dude is AWKWARD in damn near EVERYTHING I see him in. The honey and I watched him and Tina Fey in "Date Night" tonight, and he made me uncomfortable by waxing the floor with his johnson (clothed of course, it's not x-rated), and then she blew the top off of it all by doing a Sarah Palin voice while talking about mirrors and va-jay-jay. A rather funny movie, though with several just downright implausible parts, and a reasonably entertaining night for the both of us with cackles and shrieks of laughter galore :)

Finished stall footing!

Yay! After hours of labor, both stalls were finally finished late Wednesday afternoon. As you can see in the photos, Ivan's stall was finished wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, and both stalls were topped off and leveled with the last of the crush after Ivan's stall was mostly done.

You Know Youre A Horsey Person When:

You know you're a horsey person when you're working and pull out your smart phone to send an email, then find pieces of hay lodged in the slide of and under the protective case of your smart phone. :-D

Mini Horse Gets Lifesaving Prosthetic Leg

This was heartwarming :) Yay for rescuers!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stall Crush Status (and Disaster)

So, yesterday did NOT go as well as I'd planned.

  1. Mark INSISTED on grading papers before allowing me to take the truck to pick up the trailer and go to the quarry for the crush.
    1. He didn't have a deadline that he had to finish grading by, so why he had to grade BEFORE and not AFTER is beyond me.
  2. Mark dragged his feet and didn't get out the door until after 1 pm, then insisted on going to the barn first because he wanted me to leave my car there instead of us just going to the trailer rental and quarry in one car.
    1. I should have just insisted on making him let me ride along, then saved myself half an hour on the front end.
  3. We didn't arrive at the trailer rental place until 2:20 FREAKING PM and the smallest rental time they have is a 4 hour block, but they close at 5. So because of Mark's lateness, I had to pay for 4 hours but since we didn't get out of there till 2:30, I only got 2.5 hours of usage time.
  4. Those assholes quoted me $40 for the trailer rental, then charged me $48. Also, they told me on the phone when I called THREE DIFFERENT TIMES BEFORE I RESERVED THE TRAILER that it was going to be a FIVE TON trailer. Five tons do NOT equal 5000 lbs. 5000 lbs is 2.5 tons. 10000 lbs is 5 tons. Go back to school.
  5. After hitching up said trailer, evidently the lights are not working. This means we can get a ticket. Also, the tires aren't as new as could be hoped, and later we find that under load they look like they will pop.
  6. On our way to the quarry, they gave us bad directions. If I ask you right or left, it's a pretty simple question. There are only two possible answers. It's not that hard. Again, go back to school.
  7. When we got to the quarry, they didn't give very clear directions of where to go once you passed through the main gate after having the truck and trailer preweighed.
  8. Once we had a not-quite-full-load and were weighed, then they tell us that I can not purchase 5 tons in multiple loads and receive the same price. Now instead of $11 per ton, I will have to pay $15 per ton.
  9. At this rate, it would have been cheaper to have bought 5 tons and have it delivered by the quarry for $130 or whatever.
  10. After asking if I can at least have more loaded so I can make less trips, I'm told they don't want to load more on the trailer because they're concerned about the tires.
  11. I get fed up and leave with the current load after paying, then realize the stupid girl in the window didn't give me my receipt.
  12. We get to the barn, then the stupid hydraulic trailer won't lift up. Stupid hydraulic mechanism was stuck for a good 5-10 minutes (exact time unknown since I was spending part of it having a conniption and calling the rental place to chew them out).
  13. After the trailer is finally empty and we're ready to rush back to get 1 more load before they close at 4 (What business closes at 4? Really?), we realize that MARK has managed to bury the pins that keep the back hatch closed UNDERNEATH the pile of crush. We then have to dig said pins out from underneath the crush.
  14. After finally digging the pins out, it's too late and the quarry has already closed.
  15. Mark then had to take the trailer back before the rental place closed at 5, effectively ending my 4 hour rental at less than 2.5 hours because there's no point in keeping it overnight to try the next day because the quarry wasn't open on Saturdays.
  16. While Mark was off returning the trailer, I moved 1.78 net tons of crush in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Needless to say, I was sweaty, stinky, and pissed by the time he returned and brought me a sandwich.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun March

This is just too hilarious and cute! Fuzzy fuzzy cute cute! I love it!


I'm getting crush for my stalls today! I'm supposed to go pick up 5 tons of crush to line the bottom of my stalls if Mark can get it together. He's grading papers now, but then he's going to let me pick up the crush with his truck, and we'll go haul it to the barn together. Dump the crush on a tarp, return the rented dump trailer, then go back to move the crush into the stalls by wheelbarrow. I'm excited! I can't wait! Hopefully I'll have photos by the end of the day of newly leveled, non-flooding, well draining stalls!

Baylor and Tupelo in the Pool

This is too effin' cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

New Rollercoaster

I so want to go ride this! Holy crap, I really really really really really really want to go!

Ideal? Haul out both ponies to go to a clinic somewhere or a show somewhere one weekend, drag my instructor along and then we can go torture/delight ourselves with roller coasters for the rest of the weekend!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

World Cup Qualifier through the RMSJ tv Helmet Cam!

Eep! Amazing, neato, scary, this-would-have-me-peeing-my-pants! Neat to be able to see it with the helmet cam :) Woot!

Bareback Pads, Oh My

So, I've decided I really need a bareback pad. I can't decide if I want to just get an inexpensive one, or if I want to splurge and get one of the really nice ones. My tax return is going to be large, and it's looming in the distance. Part of me screams "Put it all towards your wedding!" but my horsey needs are more immediate. Stuff like lessons, training, tack, stuff that could be used now (and often) make me think "well, spend some of it on the wedding and spend some of it on horsey stuff." I still have seven months left for the wedding, and most of it is already paid for by the generous amount allotted for the event by my father. It isn't like I don't have time to save up more and pay for SOME of the stuff later. I don't REALLY need to rush off and buy all the centerpieces seven months in advance. Still, I'm trying to make the most responsible decision. Since I've started riding bareback a lot more frequently, I really am leaning towards buying a pad, but I'm still torn as to which one.

For example, this one is nice enough looking and looks functional, a lower priced model but still suede. Retails for around $34 on the discount site (one of my favorite websites :))

 But if you search a minute longer, then you come across the "Cadillac" models, if you know what I mean. For instance, this Thinline ComfortPlus bareback pad, retailing for around $130:

And of course, when big name celebrity trainers/riders start tacking their names onto things, prices go up from there. Stacy Westfall's Gell Ultrasuede Bareback pad weighs in around $154.
 This one catches my attention. It makes me think I'd love to go ride my ponies in my shorts! Sheepskin allows for breathability and comfort for both you and your pony, but it comes with a price tag, weighing in at $190 discounted on
 I think of the ones that I've posted, my favorites are the 2nd Thinline one and the 4th Fleeceworks one, but GOODNESS they're expensive. What do YOU ride in?


Whoa... Now this is neat.

Here's someone trying to explain it away. Interesting!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

Woot! Mani/pedi!

Bahahaha, Mark just bought me a mani/pedi and haircut through LivingSocial :) I'm going in B'ham, appointment date unknown at the moment. Who wants to go with me? Get yours discounted, too, by going to the link!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Skin Gun

This is amazing. They need one of these in every human and animal hospital. I bet the technology could be applied in animals just as easily as in humans, and that would really help with certain types of injuries, even injuries other than burns I bet!

Ride yesterday :)

I finally rode yesterday! It's about time, the rain hasn't allowed me to do much for days. Rode both of my rascals, except neither of them were very rascally! Both rides were fabulous :)

The first ride of the day was on Classy Lady, and we rode out with Jessica on Magic. We rode SOOOOOOO FREAKING FAR! Usually we just tool around on the land owned by the railroad that is behind our barn. However, this time we decided to trek out and follow the railroad for aways. We discovered this wasn't the best idea after two trains went by at the same time and Magic took issue with that. So, we headed back towards the road and ended up traveling up Eastern Valley Rd. Keep in mind, we did all of this BAREBACK. Nothing reinforces you calling yourself a rider like being able to stick it when it comes to walking, trotting, cantering, jumping, even rearing (Magic pops up her front up end if you collect her in and she wants to shoot forward). Classy Lady and I accomplished everything in that list minus the rearing :) We managed to make it across several deep creeks, up huge hills following the power lines, doubled back through neighborhoods, up Kimbrell Cutoff Rd., through other neighborhoods and back, and then finally followed Eastern Valley Rd. back to the railroad and cut through the fields to get back to the barn. Talk about a booty buster! Did I mention that Jessica and I both did this bareback? My tailbone is so sore from connecting with my mare's spine. No matter how fat she gets, she always has prominent withers and definition to her spine, which translates into uncomfortable fanny for me!

Back at the barn, it was still wet beyond belief, but Ivan really NEEDED to be worked at least a little. After riding for 3 hours on Classy, I wasn't really wanting to ride anymore, but Deb inspired me. I free lunged Ivan in the round pen for about ten minutes, then hopped on and puttered around practicing leg yields while Deb lunged her mare, Bama. After Bama took a nose dive into the sand due to goofing off too much, Deb wrapped up lunging and hopped on. Ivan was the calm one! Bama was acting so nutty for the first bit, but she finally settled and started behaving. After lunging Chance, Brittany hopped on and joined us, and the three of us just walked around the perimeter of the barn pasture. Lots of walking, lots of slow trot practice, but nothing faster than a light trot because of the lakes of water out in the pastures. The pastures are not draining well at all after all that rain :( At any rate, Ivan was SO VERY GOOD and actually was more on the lazy side than the too forward side. I'm so pleased with both of my horsey kids!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blah, blah, double blah.

The forecast for today was SUPPOSED to be mostly sunny. Does that look like mostly sunny and warm to you? Something tells me that the clouds didnt get the memo. Ditto on Mr. Temperature. Couldnt ride today on account of the puddles that wont evaporate fully out of the round pen or the pastures.
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Friday, March 4, 2011

She Hopped Thrice, and I Stayed On...

Hum that blog post title to the tune of "Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care" and do a little wiggle.

There's just something about being able to "stick it" and not come off after a 3-hop crowhop while bareback to make you feel like a "rider" again. While it's not something you look forward to, it does make you feel good after it's over and you're still on the horse in the exact same position you started in :)

The morning started out by arriving with breakfast at the barn, and feeding my critters. I mucked out both stalls since I'd neglected to after turning them out the night before, definitely BEFORE I let the ponies in to eat. I certainly don't want Ivan dumping his food into his poo. Ivan still dinner-ditches his meals, and Classy Lady has taken to dragging her ground feeder around the floor, but isn't a dinner ditcher.

The barn owner's husband, Mr. Allen, was incidentally up at the barn replacing a bad light at the corner of the roof. He was kind enough to loan me his power drill for a little while, so I busied myself with hanging up emergency contact info holders and cards along with halter rack/hangers outside of my babies' stalls while they ate.

I nearly went home to do my taxes and ride later, but on a whim pulled out Classy Lady's rope halter. She's been having issues with resisting going on the bit, and her teeth need to be done. The vet checked her when she was out to do her coggins, so I'm going to try to make an appointment to have both hers and Ivan's teeth done since Ivan is due for his in April anyway (I think).

So anyway, grabbed my helmet, modified a skinny leadrope into her reins, then pulled her out and hopped on. We went two or three times around the medium sized pasture and 3 or 4 times around the big pasture, following the fence line in each. Now for the good part! We of course did a lot of walk and a lot more of run-walk, and I asked for lateral flexions at the halt and for bending while moving. She did pretty well during all of that. We cantered a few different times, and that went quite well. When I asked her at the front of the big pasture, going up the hill next to the road, she transitioned quite nicely into it and back out of it at the top of the hill. It sure made me feel good! I was so pleased to be able to walk/run-walk/canter with only a rope halter and not even so much as a bareback pad (though my hiney is a little sore this morning from her back; she never does lose definition of her spine, no matter how fat she gets!)

So I was feeling pretty good about our ride, but at one point Classy Lady evidently objected to something. I asked for a canter when moving up the hill at the back end of the big pasture. I don't know if I goosed her a little too far back or if she was just having a temper tantrum because she wanted to go back to Ivan (who was happily munching hay in his stall) or if she just had a bitchy moment. Given how all the friggin' mares are going into season right now, it's possible that her sides were just a little sensitive, and perhaps I squeezed in a way she didn't care for. She did a sharp 90 degree turn, then crowhopped three times and pitched her nose down. She got a slap on her neck, a couple of lateral flexions in each direction, and a sharp turn back around for her efforts. Keep in mind, this was all still while bareback and in only a rope halter. Definitely made me feel good about my seat and my connection with my horse. Over the years, I've gained a lot of knowledge of what she will attempt to do if she's having a fussy day, what she will do when she's nicely behaving, and what to do when she tries to get away with stuff.

So after that little fit, she was fine. No more fussing, no more hops, no more objections. We worked on reinforcing her neck reining (she hasn't forgotten a thing), worked on leg yields, didn't bother with anything much more advanced than that. Asked for and received some more canter with decent transitions, and overall she didn't trot much (though admittedly a little) during our hour of riding (I nearly said in the saddle, but there was no saddle, ha!)

After our nice little ride, Classy Lady got a few cookies and was put back in her stall to munch on hay. Deb showed up to feed her horses and let Rocket stretch his legs. Rocket is still on stall rest with daily sessions to stretch his legs and stimulate healing in his injury. The vet said she could ride him at a walk for short, 15 minute rides around the pasture, and that he could also have short grazing sessions in solitary turnout until his leg heals. No pasture buddies until that leg heals since we don't want it to open up again.

So after letting Rocket mosey around the pasture for a little bit, Deb decided to saddle him up for a short walk around the pasture, and I saddled up Ivan to get a little bit of work in. Ivan and Rocket both did so well! Rocket, despite having a huge chunk out of his leg, walks without trouble and was approved by the vet for light rehabbing via riding in order to stimulate healing in that wound. Increased blood flow to the area through mobility along with careful cleaning, use of antiseptic and antibiotics, and careful bandaging was the recommended treatment, and Rocket is recovering by leaps and bounds! It's amazing how much better his leg looks after only a week. I was there on the morning that Dr. Hamrick first started treating his leg before he was trailered to Harrington's Equine for hospitalization. His leg looked like pureed hamburger at that point, whereas now it just looks like raw meat. Ha, how's that for a visual?

Anyway, we walked Ivan and Rocket around the medium sized pasture, just chitty chatting and having a good time. I did some circles with Ivan, and he was so lovely, traveling in a frame while walking and trotting. No funny business just because we were outside of the round pen or anything, just nice and relaxed :) Nothing more exciting to report than that, he was just a very good boy! Finished up after about 30 minutes, fed both ponies their dinner, then turned them out so I could go home to get ready for dinner of my own! All in all, a very satisfying day! :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My little show season buddy from last year!

I just received a video from Ayden's mom, Carrie, of Ayden learning to jump with her pony, Pumpkin! I used to board with Carrie when i lived in Tuscaloosa, and I also used to go to shows with them during the spring and summer (2010). Ayden was my show buddy, and we'd show our mares together at each show. Ayden is now SIX and is starting jumping! Her mother is a former professional steeplechaser (and dabbled in every other equine profession under the sun), and is teaching her. Im so proud of my little buddy!
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