Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Evil Woman

Cue Electric Light Orchestra music in the background.


Sums it up in a word, but to elaborate, PONY mares. Explains so much, doesn't it?

Ponies are closer to the ground, and therefore closer to hell. Pony mares, well, you get the picture.

I have two pony mares. What does that say about me?

ThePone is going to get an attitude adjustment here shortly, and with a quickness.

That is all.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pippa Training Musings

Anytime I mess with Pippa, I keep feeling torn. Her body is maturing early, early enough that when my vet checked her knees a few months before she was 2, he said her legs could stand a rider and work already, but mentally and emotionally I know she wasn't and still isn't ready. My trainer in NC (Sophie Pririe Clifton) is a firm believer in putting HER ponies under saddle at 2.5 years, and she does training from the ground from birth. I have been continuing with all sorts of mental training with both of my youngsters (Pippa and also Queen), exposing them to trail work in-hand and also various obstacles, similar to what they might see on an obstacle course so that they can get the mental challenge. The longer I have Pippa, the more strongly bonded we get to each other, and while I know this means she puts more trust in me and can handle more exposure, it also prompts me to be more protective of her and less anxious to rush into things. I am a firm believer in not backing before 30 months and not really working before 36 months since I really want my kids to be sound still when they hit their 30s. When I look at Paul Belasik's and Andrea Velas's model for excellence with their horses at the Pennsylvania Riding Academy at Lost Hollow Farm (this pair of riders and their program is my measuring stick for excellence, btw), they have such a high standard of care and their stallion, Excelso, is in his 20s, completely sound and never needs joint supplements, plus he is still doing all the grand prix movements every week. To my knowledge, they start a 6 month lunge/longe line program at 2, start backing at 2.5, and have them riding and ready for sale at 3 years old doing w/t/c reliably that an ammy (amateur) rider could purchase and bring them along under an experienced trainer. This is what I want for my horses, being able to ride comfortably and with soundness well into their 20s and 30s at upper level work. I don't really want to part with any of my girls, so I don't really train with any buyers in mind, but I am also aware that crap happens in life sometimes, so they need to be sound, sane, and used to strangers if they ever had to part ways with me at any point and find a new mom (or dad). Oh, what to do, what to do? My big concern with Pippa is making any steps backward since she had a rough start. We have such a good rapport right now, and she trusts me, and I don't want to rush through any training program with her that could damage that trust or injure her in any way. Meh, morning musings...

Slow Morning

It's so nice outside right now! I'm trying to get the motivation to get dressed and go down to the barn. Saturday mornings mean I've gotten more sleep with not having to work Friday night, and the result can sometimes be similar to feeling very groggy and almost hungover. If I can get moving, today I should trim feet while it is cool, then lunge a couple of ponies and get Pippa used to taking a bit in her mouth in preparation for backing in the spring.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Haying Our Pasture

We have started haying our pasture! A nice neighbor of ours came over and cut the pasture this week while I kept my mares up in the small paddock. It has been curing, and we'll be sharing some with the neighbor and some will be ours to keep :) I'm possibly going to purchase some of the neighbor's share just to fill up my barn, and this will put some money in his pocket and give him a guaranteed sale. I'm beginning to think that I might start spraying for weeds and fertilizing a bit more than just what my ponies put out on the pasture, and then perhaps next year we'll actually hay a few times instead of just once, and use that to put up more hay. It's so nice to have neighbors with heavy farm equipment :)

This weekend is going to begin some off farm training for my two youngest! Pippa and Queen are going to get some refresher lessons with the horse trailer, and we're going to start trailering to random places for the experience. This fall will also mark the start of Pippa's training beginning to ramp up, and she will begin a six month longe line and pony line program to prepare her to go under saddle this spring.

Exciting things going on at Crimson Run Farm!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


A Pony Named “Oke Doke” Edges Out the Big Boys in East Coast Rider’s Cup Intermediate Dressage Competition at Centerline Events

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Written by Lynndee Kemmet
photo: - Jovanna Stepan and Erin Meadows Oke Doke in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I
photo: - Jovanna Stepan and Erin Meadows Oke Doke in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I
Saugerties, NY – A Connemara pony named Erin Meadows Oke Doke showed up the big horses in Intermediate competition at the 2013 Centerline Eventsat HITS on the Hudson. Oke Doke earned the Reserve Championship in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I by winning Friday’s ECRC FEI Intermediate 1 competition with a score of 67.039 percent and taking sixth in Saturday’s second round. The 14-hand pony (by Loughrea's Oisin out of Erin Meadows Celtic Treasure x Hideaway's Sebastian) and bred by Sandra Ferguson of Ontario Canada, was the only little guy in a field of two dozen challengers for the Intermediate I East Coast Rider’s Cup. “He’s really a poster child for ponies,” said his rider, Jovanna Stepan, of Rhinebeck, New York. The 12-year-old Oke Doke is owned by Tanya Murray, also of Rhinebeck, and she bought him two years ago from a family in Toronto, Canada after seeing a sales ad on DressageDaily. However according to the FEI rules, in spite of his ability and talent, he is currently is not allowed in CDI Classes.
Jovanna Stepan with Tanya Murray's 14-hand Connemara pony Erin Meadows Oke Doke (by Loughrea's Oisin out of Erin Meadows Celtic Treasure x Hideaway's Sebastian) earns reserve champions in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I
Jovanna Stepan with Tanya Murray's 14-hand Connemara pony Erin Meadows Oke Doke (by Loughrea's Oisin out of Erin Meadows Celtic Treasure x Hideaway's Sebastian) earns reserve champions in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I
“We’re still in touch with the Dunlop family, his previous owners who are part of his cheering squad,” Stepan said. “We fell in love with him the moment we saw the video.” She said at the time a pony seemed an ideal match for Murray, who is only five feet tall and was looking to get back into riding after a hiatus of having five children. Stepan is five-feet, six-inches but said Oke Doke still fits her well. “When you see him in the stall he looks like a pony but then people see him go and they say, ‘oh my gosh.’ He’s the smartest horse I’ve ever worked with.”
Murray rides the pony three days a week and Stepan trains him the other days. She’s already begun working on his passage and piaffe. “He has covered so much ground in two years,” Stepan said.
Oke Doke did his first Prix St. George in May and then two weeks ago did his first Intermediate I. There is no doubt in Stepan’s mind that he is destined for Grand Prix competition, but unless the FEI changes its rules, Oke Doke will never get the chance to challenge the big boys in CDI competition.
Jovanna Stepan and Erin Meadows Oke Doke in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I
Jovanna Stepan and Erin Meadows Oke Doke in the East Coast Rider’s Cup competition for Intermediate I
Oke Doke is blocked from competing in regular CDI competition because he is a pony. There are separate pony CDIs for young riders but that doesn’t fit Oke Doke and Stepan. “It’s part of the old CDI rules when ponies were meant for children,” Stepan said. “So I’m sitting here throwing rocks at the glass ceiling.” Stepan plans to compete Oke Doke next month at the New England Dressage Association’s Fall Festival but she’d also love to take him to Devon but those are CDI classes and Oke Doke is not allowed.
Stepan is an ambassador for Just World International (, a rider-supported organization that works to improve lives in the developing world, and now she’s taken on the role of being an ambassador for ponies. “I had never really trained a pony to this point and had never advised anyone to buy a pony before. But they are amazing. They stay sound, they live forever and many of them have the best character.”
Her goal is to keep moving Oke Doke up the levels and challenging the big horses in FEI competition with the hope that she can build support for opening CDIs to ponies. Over the past two years, Stepan and Oke Doke have spent time training with Emily Gershberg, Lars Petersen, Michael Barisone and well-known pony proponent Lendon Gray and all of them have been amazed by his talent. Stepan is confident that Oke Doke could hold his ground against the bigger horses in a CDI if given the chance. “It’s time we revisit the CDI rules," she said.

Lightness per Nuno Oliveira

"Lightness is the consequence of impulsion and collection." (Nuno Oliveira, 1998)

 "The relaxation of the mouth is not enough. It can be deceptive, because it does not necessarily lead to lightness. It has to be accompanied by the relaxation of the entire horse. When he yields with his back, it will definitely have repercussions in the mouth." (Nuno Oliveira, 1998)

The Poll and Why It's Important

Per the Classical Dressage Masters --

"Every horse has only one appropriate head and neck position for riding with respect to his conformation into which he has to be brought and in which he has to be worked. In other words, it can never be arbitrary. It is determined by the poll, whose position is limited to a very small space, if not merely a point, in terms of its height. The rider has to search for it. He has found it by keeping the neck in the same place, or by raising or lowering it, when he feels that the reins affect the entire horse, including the back and hindquarters, through the poll and the steady neck. This point in terms of the poll height has not been found yet as long as the horse yields to the reins only or even partially in the neck and evades with his neck." (Adolph Kästner, 1876)

"Without correct poll flexion, without perfect coordination of the seat, the posture, the rider’s guidance and all aids, without precise and tactful guidance of the hand above the middle of the horse, rein contact is impossible. For, in the case of incorrect flexions, the horse either leans onto the inside rein while freeing himself from the outside rein, or he steps behind the inside rein while leaning onto the outside one, or he leans against both reins, or he stays behind both of them." (Adolph Kästner, 1876)

 "No matter how much or how little the horse’s head and neck position needs to be adjusted, the rider must take care from the moment of the first mounting that he assigns the correct position to the poll, because it is only from this position alone that the entire horse can and must be addressed, if one wants to be successful. Through the correct position of the head and neck the rider obtains the feel of the entire horse in his hand and seat, so that he is able to make all the necessary improvements that the horse is capable of executing. It is only through this feel that the good, beautiful and uninterrupted, correct position of the head and neck can be achieved in which the rest of the horse’s body closely participates as well. The same goes for collection and obedience." (Adolph Kästner, 1876)

The original posts by Adolph Kästner were posted to the Ritter Dressage Facebook page. Ritter Dressage is the collaborative effort of Dr. Thomas Ritter and his wife, Shana Ritter. 
"We started the website,, in 1998, with its related Discussion Groups and other forums, with the intent purpose of preserving and promoting Classical Dressage in North America. Since that time, Ritter Dressage has gone through numerous expansions and transormations, which included an extensive clinic schedule that spanned over North American with the inclusion of Europe, a successful Lipizzan breeding operation, USDF and FEI Dressage Competition and Competitive Coaching, and Twice yearly Performance Exhibitions for the General Public, and publication of an extensive list of articles and other works.  
 In 2010, Thomas and Shana shut down their North American operations and relocated to Germany. Shortly thereafter welcomed the publication of Thomas' first book, "Klassisches Reiten auf Grundlage der Biomechanik" available in German with an English translation expected to be released in North America in the near future. In the meantime, we have been featured in several large Expert Forum Expositions in Germany and will be featured in Equitana in March 2012, as well as an extensive European clinic tour. Thomas' next book which features the training of the horse at the Longrein will be released in Spring 2012.

Thomas and Shana are building a homebase in Germany for North American riders to "land" and launch their European competition aspirations or simply to devote themselves exclusively towards their training education. We have also established contacts throughout Germany for the purchase of Dressage horses of various price ranges, and are available to facilitate in the purchase and importation of horses for North American riders. We can help North American buyers bridge the language barrier (Thomas is fluent in German and English) and stress of traveling in a foreign country (we can pick you up at the airport, show you around, make introductions with breeders and horse sellers, and facilitate negotiations, as well as coordinate details for the veterinary examinations and shipping specifics even after you have returned home). We have the unique advantage that we have contacts and extensive knowledge of both Warmbloods and Baroque Horses. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 5 Complete: ATL/NC Training Trip, Summer 2013

Day 5 of our trip complete. Swiss Miss and I are both a little worn out, but mostly mentally. We managed to get beautiful, supple, forward response on the lunge line right from the get go this morning. Swiss Miss clearly thought about her lessons overnight. Sophie and I were QUITE pleased with her. We also did beautiful work on the wall working in-hand, and Sophie was very approving of how I picked up the technique very quickly. It helped that Swiss Miss was behaving so well, so I didn't have any resistance to throw me off while I was learning how to apply what I had observed when Sophie had worked her in-hand over the last couple days. Working under saddle was a little less fluid, but we did manage to accomplish finally connecting inside leg to outside rein and on the bit in both directions, though more consistently at the walk than at the trot.

The drive home was initially wet, then cleared, then was a real mess through Atlanta, but we made it home in one piece and Swiss Miss was quite glad to rejoin my small band of mares when we arrived at the farm. It's good to be back, and I'm looking forward to applying our new knowledge to our training schedule this week.

Day 4 Complete: ATL/NC Training Trip, Summer 2013

Day 4 of our trip complete. As Sophie has said before, it is always lesson 4 where we get to the root of the problem. Day 4 was where we discovered that, as far as fight or flight instincts go, Swiss Miss will give you a fight. Swiss Miss is still lacking in some of her basic vocabulary. She has a grasp on some of it, but she is so green and I'd been grounded for 5 weeks up until right before our trip, so she had only gotten the bare beginnings of training before we came.

She was worked on the lunge and in the saddle during our morning lesson, but was put back on the lunge in the end. She kind of just decided, "I've been working and mostly behaving for the last 3 days, and now I'm going to give you the finger." She grew very rude about space, and anytime you touched the right rein, she tried to swing her hind end out, so alternated between going sideways in the saddle or just popping the hind end off of the circle and pivoting, or on the ground she would attempt to spin out and face you to get out of work, then would try to bully you by putting her shoulder in your space. We worked hard, but managed to end on a good note for the morning lesson, and she was a bit tired by the end because we just let her fight herself and work it out on the lunge.

Our afternoon lesson started in-hand and was going quite well, but then she started being a bit defiant and bullying into your space again, swinging her head at Sophie (BIG mistake) and popping her shoulder at you. We have determined that her right side is the one she really avoids being through on, so that's the side we've been focusing on claiming and getting softness on. We worked most of this on the lunge and then tried to replicate in the saddle, and Sophie put us together on the lunge line so she could keep her forward for me so I could really focus on maintaining my own body and really focusing on my aids to get that release for Swiss Miss. Once she finally stopped squiggling all over the place, we had a few really nice rotations in each direction, then I vaulted off.

The final lesson concluded with her working beautifully on the lunge and finally "getting it" and cooperating, then she was given a walk break. Since Sophie unfortunately won't be able to have us stay another week, we reattached the side reins after her short break to see if the changes stuck, and voila! Soft, forward, softly chewing and licking pony with soft eyes going around on her circle with a proper frame and no more objections. 

We're likely going to do a 6 week lunging program to work out the dangerous rudeness on the ground till she is responsive to just voice aids without any rein aid or exaggerated body blocking, and then I should have a better horse under saddle. We will ride today for lesson 6 before we head home, so wish us luck! We ride at 9:45 and haul out by noon!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 3 Complete, ATL/NC Training Trip, Summer 2013

Day 3 of our trip complete. What a productive day yesterday! I am learning so much! Ok, so the thrilling parts. Sophie informed me that she was quite pleased that my position in the saddle has come a long way, and she said that she didn't have anything to fix, seatwise! She says that I have caught on to the concept of the perfect position, and while Swiss Miss can be a little squiggly and throw me off sometimes since she is green, I am now steady enough that I regain proper position quickly. Also, she told me she can tell that I am way more fit than the last time I came up. She said that she has always felt that I'm very athletic, but I am on day 3 of lessons for this trip and I'm not exhausted this time :) I only have a little bit of inner thigh soreness from posting and correcting on a green bean. Anyway, during each lesson yesterday, we started off in the surcingle and side reins. During lesson one, we lunged and have been teaching Swiss Miss how to properly carry herself in a frame and keep her poll high, plus we're working on her balance in different gaits. She is such a quick learner! The latter part of each lesson involved mounted work, and teaching Swiss Miss to maintain being poll high and coming into the bridle. We are really working hard at keeping her more forward so that she really rounds and comes into the bridle, coming onto the bit. I am focusing on keeping her forward and not yielding by giving up too much rein to make her confused with inconsistent contact, and I'm really glad for new gloves and my thin rubber laced reins. Our second lesson started in the surcingle, but instead of lunging we started with in-hand work! I am very excited to be learning how to work her in-hand. To begin with, we had to teach her forward while we make her feel a wee bit claustrophobic since we sandwich her between my body and the wall. She's quite sensitive and initially emotional, so keeping calm and just waiting her out till she yielded was critical, but she did so well! She is better to her left than to her right like a lot of horses can be, so touching the right rein is something she doesn't much care for and is a little resistant at learning to be through on her right side if she feels any contact on her right rein. Even so, she still caught on and managed to do some really lovely work. With Sophie's really fabulous arena footing, this pony is so fancy and such a nice, big mover. She really doesn't move like a pony at all. I am having such a good time! Onwards to two more lessons on day 4, then one more lesson on day 5 before we travel home. WOOT!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 2 Complete: ATL/NC Training Trip, Summer 2013

Day 2 of our trip is complete. Aside from Swiss Miss tangling with the perimeter gate and losing yesterday, we still had a productive day once we arrived at Sophie's. Once we arrived at Blue Moon Farm, I got her unloaded and grazed her in the front lawn for a bit. She thankfully was not swelling, was calm and steady, and did not appear unsound anywhere. Sophie worked her over and said she's remarkably fine for having crumpled like a wet noodle into a heap after flipping over the gate, so we put her on the lunge line and she still managed to impress Sophie :) Many thanks to Juliette and Dr. Easterwood yesterday for helping me find the right quick action and medication to make Swiss Miss comfortable yesterday! As long as Swiss Miss is sound this morning on the lunge line, we will ride. However, I'm thinking a chiropractic is still in Swiss Miss's near future regardless! Fingers crossed for two good lessons today :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 1 Complete: ATL/NC Training Trip Summer 2013

Day 1 of our journey complete! Swiss Miss and I arrived safely yesterday afternoon at Juliette's farm and settled in. We had a nice lunging warm up, then attempted to work on position and faced some challenges staying focused with tons of distractions (other riders, shadows, other horses). Aside from some snarky faces at the other horses, she did quite well for a green bean. We managed to get forward and straight for a few strides, a few very good, responsive transitions, and ThePone gave me a very nice, square halt a few different times. She's really coming along, and most importantly, the willingness to get her head back in the game when I asked was one of the best parts of the whole lesson :) Post lesson she was thrilled to have her dinner in a nice stall, then Karen and I had our traditional night at Ru San's for my one night in ATL. So good!. Afterward I cleaned and conditioned all of my tack till the wee hours of the morning. Fred, my saddle looks and feels like a different saddle now! That Lederbalsam is good stuff! Also, apparently I've been using LeatherNew incorrectly for YEEAAAARRRSSSS... Now, to have some breakfast, repack my gear, hitch the trailer again and load the pony, then off to Sophie's for day 2!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Failure is just feedback and an opportunity to grow

For the thoughtful student or when working with the horse, resistances and confusion are a sign of an opportunity to learn. Rather than overpowering resistance with aggression or running always from confusion, one needs to look into it. It is only by exploring the fabric of yours or horse's confusion or resistance that one can grow. Dressage is not and should not be a stagnant body of fact but rather, it is the tools one uses for exploring resistance or confusion. Success is not in doing tricks or special movements but in the confidence and positive attitude that is cultivated in the horse and rider which results from skillful means one uses in exploring these difficulties. Confusion does have a use. It is the door to the next level. Resistance is useful. It shows you where you have lost the connection. Good dressage cultivates a willingness to work together on both sides of the relationship.

~Craig Stevens

Friday, August 2, 2013

Timing and Rate of skeletal maturation in Horses – by Deb Bennett, Ph.D. | Horsemanship & Herd Dynamics Harmony between Nature & Nurture ©

Timing and Rate of skeletal maturation in Horses – by Deb Bennett, Ph.D. | Horsemanship & Herd Dynamics Harmony between Nature & Nurture ©:

'via Blog this'

Timing and Rate of skeletal maturation in Horses – by Deb Bennett, Ph.D.

  • Short pastern – top and bottom between birth and 6 months.
  • Long pastern – top and bottom between 6 months and one year.
  • Cannon bone – top and bottom between 8 months and 1.5 years
  • Small bones of the knee – top and bottom of each, between 1.5 and 2.5 years
  • Bottom of radius-ulna – between 2 and 2.5 years
  • Weight-bearing portion of glenoid notch at top of radius – between 2.5 and 3 years
  • Humerus – top and bottom, between 3 and 3.5 years
  • Scapula – glenoid or bottom (weight-bearing) portion – between 3.5 and 4 years
  • Hindlimb – lower portions same as forelimb
  • Hock – this joint is “late” for as low down as it is; growth plates on the tibial and fibular tarsals don’t fuse until the animal is four (so the hocks are a known “weak point” – even the 18th-century literature warns against driving young horses in plow or other deep or sticky footing, or jumping them up into a heavy load, for danger of spraining their hocks).
  • Tibia – top and bottom, between 3 and 3.5 years
  • Femur – bottom, between 3 and 3.5 years; neck, between 2.5 and 3 years; major and 3rd trochanters, between 2.5 and 3 years Pelvis – growth plates on the points of hip, peak of croup (tubera sacrale), and points of buttock (tuber ischii), between 3 and 4 years.
Back and Neck vs. Limbs
  • Comfortable being touched all over. Comfortable: not put-upon nor merely tolerating, but really looking forward to it.
  • This includes interior of mouth, muzzle, jowls, ears, sheath/udder, tail, front and hind feet. Pick ‘em up and they should be floppy.
  • Knows how to lead up. No fear; no attempt to flee; no drag in the feet; knows that it’s his job to keep slack in the line all the time.
  • Manners enough to lead at your shoulder, stop or go when he sees your body get ready to stop or go; if he spooks, does not jump toward or onto you, will not enter your space unless he’s specifically invited to do so.
  • Leads through gate or into stall without charging.
  • Knows how to tie, may move to the side when spooked but keeps slack in the line all the time.
  • Knows how to be ponied.
  • Carries smooth nonleverage bit in mouth. Lowers head and opens mouth when asked to take the bit; when unbridled, lowers head and spits the bit out himself.
  • Will work with a drag (tarp, sack half filled with sand, light tire, or sledge and harness).
  • Mounts drum or sturdy stand with front feet.
  • Free longes – comes when called and responds calmly to being driven forward; relaxed and eager.
  • When driven, leaves without any sign of fleeing; when stopped, plants hind feet and coils loins; does not depend on back-drag from your hand to stop him.
  • Familiar with saddle, saddle blanket, and being girthed and accepts it quietly.
  • Backs easily, quietly and straight in hand, “one step at a time”.
  • Loads quietly in horse trailer, unloads by stepping backwards from inside horse trailer without rearing or rushing.

©2005 By Deb Bennett, Ph.D.
All Horses of All Breeds Mature Skeletally at the Same Rate
There is no such thing as an ‘early maturing’ or  ‘slow maturing’ breed of horse. Let me repeat that: no horse on earth, of any breed, at any time, is or has ever been mature before the age of six (plus or minus six months). So, for example, the Quarter Horse is not an “early maturing” breed – and neither is the Arabian a “slow maturing” breed. As far as their skeletons go, they are the same. This information comes, I know, as a shock to many people who think starting their colt or filly under saddle at age two is what they ought to be doing. This begs discussion of (1) what I mean by “mature” and (2) what I mean by “starting”.
When is a Horse Skeletally Mature?
Just about everybody has heard of the horse’s “growth plates”, and commonly when I ask them, people tell me that the “growth plates” are somewhere around the horse’s knees (actually the ones people mean are located at the bottom of the radius-ulna bone just above the knee). This is what gives rise to the saying that, before riding the horse, it’s best to wait “until his knees close” (i.e., until the growth plates convert from cartilage to bone, fusing the epiphysis or bone-end to the diaphysis or bone-shaft). What people often don’t realize is that there is a “growth plate” on either end of every bone behind the skull, and in the case of some bones (like the pelvis, which has many “corners”) there are multiple growth plates.
So do you then have to wait until all these growth plates convert to bone? No. But the longer you wait, the safer you’ll be. Owners and trainers need to realize there’s a definite, easy-to-remember schedule of fusion – and then make their decision as to when to ride the horse based on that rather than on the external appearance of the horse. For there are some breeds of horse – the Quarter Horse is the premier among these – which have been bred in such a manner as to look mature long before they actually are mature. This puts these horses in jeopardy from people who are either ignorant of the closure schedule, or more interested in their own schedule (for futurities or other competition) than they are in the welfare of the animal.
The Schedule of Growth-Plate Conversion to Bone
The process of converting the growth plates to bone goes from the bottom of the animal up. In other words, the lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal’s back you look, the later. The growth plate at the top of the coffin bone (the most distal bone of the limb) is fused at birth. What that means is that the coffin bones get no taller after birth (they get much larger around, though, by another mechanism). That’s the first one. In order after that:
And what do you think is last? The vertebral column, of course. A normal horse has 32 vertebrae between the back of the skull and the root of the dock, and there are several growth plates on each one, the most important of which is the one capping the centrum. These do not fuse until the horse is at least 5 ½ years old (and this figure applies to a small-sized, scrubby, range-raised mare. The taller your horse and the longer its neck, the later the last fusions will occur. And for a male – is this a surprise? – you add six months. So, for example, a 17-hand Thoroughbred or Saddlebred or Warmblood gelding may not be fully mature until his 8th year – something that owners of such individuals have often told me that they “suspected”).
Significance of the Closure Schedule for Injuries to
The lateness of vertebral “closure” is most significant for two reasons. One: in no limb are there 32 growth plates! Two: the growth plates in the limbs are (more or less) oriented perpendicular to the stress of the load passing through them, while those of the vertebral chain are oriented parallel to weight placed upon the horse’s back. Bottom line: you can sprain a horse’s back a lot more easily than you can displace those located in the limbs.
Here’s another little fact: within the chain of vertebrae, the last to fully close” are those at the base of the animal’s neck (that’s why the long-necked individual may go past 6 years to achieve full maturity – it’s the base of his neck that is still growing). So you have to be careful – very careful – not to yank the neck around on your young horse, or get him in any situation where he strains his neck (i.e., better learn how to get a horse broke to tie before you ever tie him up, so that there will be no likelihood of him ever pulling back hard).
Relationship of Skeletal to Sexual Maturity
The other “maturity” question I always get is this: “so how come if my colt is not skeletally mature at age 2 he can be used at stud and sire a foal?” My answer to that is this: sure, sweetie, if that’s how you want to define maturity, then every 14 year old boy is mature. In other words, the ability to achieve an erection, penetrate a mare, and ejaculate some semen containing live sperm cells occurs before skeletal maturity, both in our species and in the horse.
However, even if you only looked at sperm counts or other standard measures of sexual maturity that are used for livestock, you would know that considering a 2 year old a “stallion” is foolish. Male horses do not achieve the testicular width or weight, quality or quantity of total ejaculate, or high sperm counts until they’re six. Period. And people used to know this; that’s why it’s incorrect to refer to any male horse younger than 4 as a “stallion,” whether he’s in service or not.
Peoples’ confusion on this question is also why we have such things as the Stallion Rehabilitation Program at Colorado State University or the behavior-modification clinic at Cornell – because a two year old colt is no more able to “take command” on a mental or psychological level of the whole process of mating – which involves everything from “properly” being able to ask the mare’s permission, to actually knowing which end of her to jump on, to being able to do this while some excited and usually frightened humans are banging him on the nose with a chain – than is a 14 year old boy.
What Does it Mean to “Start” a Young Horse?
Let us now turn to the second discussion, which is what I mean by “starting” and the whole history of that. Many people today – at least in our privileged country – do not realize how hard you can actually work a mature horse – which is very, very hard. But before you can do that without significantly damaging the animal, you have to wait for him to mature, which means – waiting until he is four to six years old before asking him to carry you on his back.
What bad will happen if you put him to work as a riding horse before that? Two important things – and probably not what you’re thinking of. What is very unlikely to happen is that you’ll damage the growth plates in his legs. At the worst, there may be some crushing of the cartilages, but the number of cases of deformed limbs due to early use is tiny. The cutting-horse futurity people, who are big into riding horses as young as a year and a half, will tell you this and they are quite correct. Want to damage legs? There’s a much better way – just overfeed your livestock (you ought to be able to see a young horse’s ribs – not skeletal, but see ‘em – until he’s two).
Structural damage to the horse’s back from early riding is somewhat easier to produce than structural damage to his legs. There are some bloodlines (in Standardbreds, Arabians, and American Saddlebreds) that are known to inherit weak deep intervertebral ligament sheathing; these animals are especially prone to the early, sudden onset of “saddle back’” However, individuals belonging to these bloodlines are by no means the only ones who may have their back “slip” and that’s because, as mentioned above, the stress of weightbearing on the back passes parallel to its growth plates as well as parallel to the intervertebral joints. However, despite the fact that I have provided a photo of one such case for this posting, I want to add that the frequency of slipped backs in horses under 6 years old is also very low.
So, what’s to worry about? Well…did you ever wish your horse would “round up” a little better? Collect a little better? Respond to your leg by raising his back, coiling his loins, and getting his hindquarter up underneath him a little better? The young horse knows, by feel and by “instinct”, that having a weight on his back puts him in physical jeopardy. I’m sure that all of you start your youngstock in the most humane and considerate way that you know how, and just because of that, I assure you that after a little while, your horse knows exactly what that saddle is and what that situation where you go to mount him means. And he loves you, and he is wiser than you are, so he allows this. But he does not allow it foolishly, against his deepest nature, which amounts to a command from the Creator that he must survive; so when your foot goes in that stirrup, he takes measures to protect himself.
The measures he takes are the same ones you would take in anticipation of a load coming onto your back: he stiffens or braces the muscles of his topline, and to help himself do that he may also brace his legs and hold his breath (“brace” his diaphragm). The earlier you choose to ride your horse, the more the animal will do this, and the more often you ride him young, the more you reinforce the necessity of him responding to you in this way. So please – don’t come crying to me when your six-year-old (that you started under saddle as a two year old) proves difficult to round up. Any horse that does not know how to move with his back muscles in release cannot round up.
Bottom line: if you are one of those who equates “starting” with “riding”, then I guess you better not start your horse until he’s four. That would be the old, traditional, worldwide view: introduce the horse to equipment (all kinds of equipment and situations) when he’s two, crawl on and off of him at three, saddle him to begin riding him and teaching him to guide at four, start teaching him maneuvers or the basics of whatever job he’s going to do – cavalletti or stops or something beyond trailing cattle – at five, and he’s on the payroll at six. The old Spanish way of bitting reflected this also, because the horse’s teeth aren’t mature (the tushes haven’t come in, nor all of the permanent cheek teeth either) until he’s six.= This is what I’d do if it were my own horse. I’m at liberty to do that because I’m not on anybody else’s schedule except my horse’s own schedule. I’m not a participant in futurities or planning to be. Are you? If you are, well, that’s your business. But most horse owners aren’t futurity competitors. Please ask yourself: is there any reason that you have to be riding that particular horse before he’s four?
When I say “start” a horse I do not equate that with riding him. To start a young horse well is one of the finest tests (and proofs) of superior horsemanship. Anyone who does not know how to start a horse cannot know how to finish one. You, the owner, therefore have the following as a minimum list of enjoyable “things to accomplish” together with your young horse before he’s four years old, when you do start him under saddle:
Various people might like to add to this list. Please feel free, just so long as what you’re asking your young horse isn’t more than he can physically do. Getting the horse “100% OK” mentally and emotionally – those are the big areas in successful early training; most of the physical and athletic skills can come later, when it is fitting.
I’ve had people act, when I gave them the above facts and advice about starting youngstock, like waiting four years was just more than they could possibly stand. I think they feel this way because the list of things which they would like to include as necessary before attempting to ride is very short. Their whole focus is on riding as why they bought the animal, and they think they have a right to this. Well, the horse – good friend to mankind that he is – will soon show them what he thinks they have a right to.
The full article is linked below

Friday, July 26, 2013

Annual Post: When is it too hot to ride?

With the heat & high humidity wave we are having in Alabama, I thought this was a good time to remind everyone to be careful with their horses. As all of us Southerners know, its not just the heat, its the humidity! When the humidity is over 75%, a horse's ability to cool itself is greatly reduced, no matter what the temperature. When making the decision if its to hot to ride, you have to consider the temperature, humidity & wind. To figure out if its safe to ride use this simple formula...

The Formula:
air temperature + relative humidity - wind speed = answer

Less than 130: All go-horses can function to cool themselves assuming adequate hydration.
130 - 170: Caution-a horse’s cooling mechanisms can only partially function as intended. Some cooling management procedures will need to be performed.
180 or above: Stop-a horse’s cooling systems cannot and will not function adequately. All cooling procedures will need to be utilized to keep the horse out of serious trouble.

For example
Temperature (F) + relative humidity (%) - wind speed
This morning (7/11/11) at 10:00 am in Oneonta, AL:
Temperature (F) 84 (so not that hot)
Relative Humidity (%) 80 (but VERY humid!)
Wind Speed 1 (MPH) (and no wind)
Answer = 163- use caution! As someone who has had heat exhaustion more than once, if I decided to ride, I would opt to go on a leisurely trail ride & not work my horse in these conditions, even though my ArabX handles the heat better than I do :)

Of course, you should consider both your & your horses level of conditioning, level of work & heat tolerance when making these decisions. And make sure you are aware of the signs of heat exhaustion in both horses & people!

If your horse does get overheated, remember that research at the Atlanta Olympics showed that the best way to cool a horse down quickly is to use cold water (ice water) with the sponge & scrape method. Do not leave the water on the horse since it heats up quickly & can actually slow down the cooling process- scrape the water off and apply more- repeat till the horse is cooled off.

For more information check out - this one covers the signs of heat illness in humans and equines, well worth a quick read

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Salespeople *sigh*

I think it can be rather telling what people think of you when they try to sell you something. For example, one tack shop owner loaned me a $2200 saddle package for my saddle fitting today and didn't blink an eye. She didn't indicate she had any doubts as to whether I could spring for it or not, and trusted me to take care of it. Another tack shop owner whose shop I visited afterward looked me up and down and loaned me a $200 saddle.  She also kept trying to tell me I don't know what size saddle I should really be in, and still tried to tell me I should be in a smaller saddle when the 16.5" Passier she had me sit in was pressing so hard up against my derriere that it made my tush look like it had rolls. Somebody doesn't know how to properly fit a client to a saddle... At any rate, I was a bit miffed over the second experience. Just proves that my favorite tack shop in town is my favorite tack shop for a very good reason. Many thanks to the people who work there who are always so friendly and helpful :)

New Ponies!

Swiss Miss has joined my motley crew! Swiss Miss is a 2009 rose gray Thoroughbred/pony cross who belongs to my friend Danielle of Mardi Gras Time Stables in Pensacola, FL. She is up with me for training for the next year or so, unless she becomes a longer term resident ;)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Husband

The husband makes me laugh. Some days, the husband makes me want to tear my hair out (and his eyes, too), but most days he just makes me laugh :) I think every wife can understand these sentiments.

Yesterday, it was a two part day. We won't go into the details, but we'll suffice it to say that he survived the errors of his ways and made it to the next part, the fun part. On the way to dinner, he starts telling me how he thinks it would be a really great thing if we had a hundred or so acres of land and made a real working farm out of our place. He said he thought he would finally get on board with me having as many animals as I wanted. He started going on about goats, dairy cows and beef cattle, sheep, poultry and water fowl, and making our own hay. A big barn with an indoor arena, and farm hands. I couldn't help but laugh a little, but I love how my city-bred husband is so adaptable to my farm ideas. I think in order to make something like that work,  we'd have to start with either something already established or just the land and a cabin, and cultivate from there. He's cool with my gardening ideas, and supports my desire for a large tractor with a front loader.

Now if I can just talk him into however many dogs, cats, and horses I want, we'll be good...

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Daily Rant - You Can't Even Call These People Equestrians

Erika Folse: "The lack of sense some people display amazes me sometimes. For example, earlier today, a woman on a public horse forum on Facebook commented on a sale ad for a broodmare. The ad very specifically states that the mare has been a broodmare and has not been ridden in a number of years, and that if you wish to ride her then an experienced horse professional should possibly retrain her first. The interested party asked the following, "Beginner safe if warmed up first?" I literally facepalmed over it. Do people just leave their brains in a box for safekeeping before they start trolling the internet? What part of BROODMARE and HASN'T BEEN RIDDEN FOR YEARS makes you think that a beginner could ride this horse after the current owner specifically states needs an experienced rider.

Your daily rant over local idiots. I feel better now, thanks. Don't be brain dead and ride."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Miss Sassy Pants Pippa

My Pippa is getting so BIG! I need to measure her again. Little Miss Sassypants is getting really big bodied and has really shot up since I first got her. A year ago, she was only around 13.1hh when I got her in early August. And now only 11 months later, she's around 15hh. I need to measure her to be certain, but she was 14.3 and change a couple of months ago. She's really starting to calm down, too, and has really become even more lovey dovey as the months have gone by. I'm itching to start her, but we're going to keep waiting till next spring as she only just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half: World's Best Relationship Tips

Hyperbole and a Half: World's Best Relationship Tips:

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Oh. Dear. God.

FUNNIEST thing I've read all day! From a blog I checked out. This can reply to human relationships and new relationships with a colt in training, too ;)

"If you're in a relationship, sometimes you probably feel like you're fighting a caged death-match with an invisible spider monkey. And the monkey is rabid. And you don't have any legs. And then a buffalo jumps in there and starts head-butting everything and your face catches on fire and there is a general atmosphere of chaos."

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Baby Horse Blues | The Chronicle of the Horse

I loved this article!

The Baby Horse Blues | The Chronicle of the Horse

The Baby Horse Blues

Careful preparation helps Paige Cade turn nervous young off-the-track Thoroughbreds like Stonecrest into confident performers. Photo by RideOn Sports Photography

Not showing at the Upperville Horse Show (Va.) this year was a victory. It meant one thing; that I’d sold the horses that were ready to compete at 1.0-meter and above. And that’s the point of this exercise, right? But as I stood on the sidelines, I couldn’t help but be bummed that I wasn’t galloping around the grassy ring. Success can sometimes mean sitting out some shows.
Selling horses is both exciting and stressful, but once everything’s said and done there’s a bit of a slump that accompanies starting up the next batch of greenies. I jokingly call it the “Baby Horse Blues.” Because, yes, the newbies could be the next Donner or Touch Of Class, but in the beginning, riding them around at a show feels a lot like rowing a leaky boat across the Atlantic. I find that I have to recalibrate my riding whenever I start a new horse. I have to remind myself to ride this horse on this day and not get hung up comparing new horses to sold horses. And that’s not easy.
An early phase of the baby horse blues is what I call “the abandonment of ego.” It happens, whether you want it to or not. You’d gotten pretty comfortable; riding around on something reasonably broke in public. You’d even been able to stand still at the in-gate to learn a course. You hadn’t unintentionally cleared a warm-up area in at least a month. And then the natural thing happens, the right customer meets this well-tamed creature that you’d become so fond of and buys him. And you, the picture of sophistication (his mane had even started to lay down on the right side of his neck!) are jolted unceremoniously back into the unplanned dressage movement, romping ridiculousness of baby horse blues. Show reports change from, “great trips, bringing home primary colored ribbons!” to “kept all four feet on the ground.” Humility is an undervalued trait in riding. If you ever feel you’re lacking it, just take a baby thoroughbred to his first public outing.
And this is not for lack of preparation. Don’t think that I just go out and throw the kids in the deep end of the pool without a few rudimentary swimming lessons. Those early lessons, frequent field trips and daily training help prepare the young horses for the busy show environment. But nothing compares to the warm-up area at Culpeper during the Level 0s and 1s. Because, the heck with the deep end of the pool, you’re chucking the kids out in the open ocean with 30 or so others just learning to swim themselves.
So how do they go from kangaroo-hopping, trembling time bombs to child-safe mounts? Simple, practice. Lots and lots of practice. Make mayhem their new normal. The next phase of the baby horse blues is “going and doing.” The only way to teach them to go and do is to go and do. And yes, leave your ego behind. People underestimate just how much time and sweat equity goes into civilizing these horses. It’s not about having the nicest, fanciest facility or the biggest show budget; it’s about devoting the time and energy to make it happen. Most of the fundamental off-the-reservation training takes place not in the show ring, but in the warm-up ring. That’s where they really learn to exist at a horse show. That’s where they get broke.
Generally, my horses don’t show on their first outing. They go along for the ride and learn how to function in the show environment without the added pressure of competition. And taking that pressure away is key to their success. The only way to teach them to take a breath and relax in a stressful situation is if you can do it yourself. That might mean not competing.
If you’re devoted to the success of your young horse, you know that sitting out this show and focusing on the basics will better prepare him to compete at his next outing. I spent a thrilling four days at HITS Culpeper (Va.) this spring on a horse that couldn’t trot. In the beginning of the week he had two speeds—stationary trembling and romping. He was totally overwhelmed by the environment. Yes, I could have longed him into exhaustion, but that’s not training. Don’t get me wrong, longeing has its place. But this horse wasn’t wild; he was terrified, so making him tired wasn’t the answer. Four days of methodical training in the ticketed warm-up area was. And no, he wasn’t perfect at his next show, but he could trot. And the show after that, he laid down a double-clear round at the Loudoun Benefit in the .95-meter class and walked around the grounds flat-footed. A week late for Upperville, but a huge accomplishment for my baby horse. I walked out of the ring grinning; I could see the baby horse blues ebbing away.
Hunter/jumper trainer Paige Cade works at Tebogo Sport Horses, a facility in Delaplane, Va., devoted to the re-training and sales of off-the-track Thoroughbreds. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hooker Hoebag #2

What a day! Apparently I own TWO hooker hoebags. My friend Anne is doing a breeding lease on my donkey, Cookie, and so I hauled her up to stay with new friend Amy for a matchmaking vacation early this morning. She managed to "date" her new boyfriend, Rowdy, about half a dozen times before I even left to come home! I do believe Anne will have her companion animal for her mare about 12 months from now :) It was a lovely visit that included donkeys, some sweet ponies, and a passel of puppies! I'm in love with a beautiful brindle Great Dane female pup now, so friends of the husband should drop hints to him that my birthday is coming up and that she'd be perfect.

Flash forward to this evening, and had a good mental schooling session with my giant yearling, Queen, after she finished her dinner. I didn't have my measuring tape, but I stood her next to her mother, and she MIGHT be her mother's height already! Ridiculous, particularly since she's not even two and her mother is a hair shy of 15.3, sticking at 15.2 1/2 hh on concrete. I'm going to have to measure Queen on concrete and get an update soon!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Researchers Develop Subjective Equine Personality Test |

This quote from the article is EXACTLY why I prefer hot horses :)

Researchers Develop Subjective Equine Personality Test | ""For example, a neurotic horse will be more prone to stress and will be more likely to spook, which may be difficult to work with. On the other hand, their sensitivity means that they are incredibly responsive and can thus appear 'in tune' with their handler. If you're a good, calm handler, you can get amazing results by putting this to good use.”"

'via Blog this'

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pippa is a Ninnyhead and NEEDS Bubble Wrap

Pippa makes me want to do this to her sometimes. *sigh* Ninnyhead...

The Training Scale of Learning Dressage

Broken into six levels, this illustrates what you must first accomplish WELL with your horse before you begin to focus on the next level.

The Pony Learned How To Be Ponied

Well, small hiccup in our training day. ThePone and I had a frank exchange of ideas this afternoon because she attempted to unhorse me off of Classy Lady about 4 or 5 different times while she informed me she didn't know how to be ponied and didn't quite care to learn. A few choice names and whacks to the hiney later, she decided it was easier to cooperate. After that she was relatively good, and we racked/she trotted about 60% of our 5 mile trail ride. We had another hiccup when I asked her to shoot the gap in the gate back by the lodge trail, and we had another frank exchange of ideas, after which we patiently negotiated a deal that ended up with her on the same side of the gate with Classy Lady and myself. Overall she was pretty good, so she still got a cookie at the end of the lesson.

*Note to self: Don't wear jeans when using the bareback pad. Like ever. RAWR chafing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great Tack Locker Idea!

I love tack lockers! A great MDBarnmaster option is to take a small corner out of each stall, and make a locker that opens into the aisle right next to your cross ties - brilliant!! This was in a private barn on small acreage (so needed a small barn where every inch counted) but it's a super option for de-cluttering boarding barns too. "If your stuff fits in this locker you can keep it here!"

Monday, June 17, 2013

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine - News & Events

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine - News & Events:

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Heat Advisory for Horses

What's New Image
Spraying off your horse can be effective at lowering body temperature.
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (June 7-9) will produce record hot temperatures throughout northern California.  Many horse events are scheduled during this time.  Here are ten important tips to prevent heat related problems in horses.
1. Heat can kill: High environmental temperatures and related heat issues of dehydration, exhaustion, and heat stroke can occur in horses and can produce illness and death. This is serious business and you must take steps to ensure your horse is protected when traveling in a trailer, being ridden on trail rides, or in competition events. 
2. Drink water: Maintain hydration in your horse by allowing free access to water at all times during hot weather. It is a myth that a hot horse drinking water will experience colic or other medical problems. Never let your horse pass up a chance to drink water. Only horses that have been deprived of water for a significant time (many hours or days) need to have water provided in smaller amounts over time. Let your horse drink on the trail or after a class at a show. Hint- You can lead a horse to water .  . .  . this is true, so offer some hay and your horse will often drink after eating the hay. Soup-consistency bran or pellet mashes are another means of getting extra water into your horse
3. Shade: Provide shade as much as possible. 
4. Limit what you do with your horse during peak heat:
  • Ride or compete with your horse in the early mornings when it is cooler.
  • Have the ride or event management consider a change in the program schedule to limit afternoon activities during peak heat.
  • Shorten your ride.
  • Go slower and provide frequent breaks for your horse, in shade.
  • Encourage your horse to drink whenever they want water.
5. Ventilation: Provide open vents and windows in trailers which can open for cross ventilation (however, don't let your horse stick its head out while on the road). 
6. Know signs of fatigue and overheating in your horse and stop before more severe signs of heat exhaustion begin: Persistent high respiratory rate that does not come down with rest over 10-30 minutes (normal is 20-40 breaths per min). Change in mentation, decreased energy level and reluctance to keep going. Dry mucous membranes in the mouth (they should feel “slimy”). Prolonged capillary refill time—Push on your horse’s gum. They should be pink to start, then it will blanch to white after pressure, and return to pink in approximately one second.  Check this at the start of your day and frequently throughout the day. If it is prolonged, your horse is trying to tell you to stop, rest, provide water and if other signs of colic or muscle pain occur, you need to stay put and seek veterinary attention. Gut sounds—Listen at the start of your day (if you don't have a stethoscope put your ear on your horse’s flank- behind the ribs). You should hear gurgling sounds on both sides of the belly– that is normal and good. Quiet gut sounds are a warning that your horse may be heading for dehydration or exhaustion. 
7. Fans: If in a barn with limited ventilation, try to arrange more air circulation by careful placement of a fan in front of the stall or in the aisle way. Keep electric cords out of reach of horses. 
8. Hose (spray) off your horse or pour water from a bucket over your horse. Cool water is fine, normal temperature (not hot) water is good too. Evaporation produces cooling and continuous hosing is one of the most effective means of lowering body temperature.
9. Water source: Keep a supply of water available for your horse to drink.  Obtain some clean 5 gallon cans and fill them up with water before you travel.

10. Electrolytes: These may be useful if the horse has been sweating excessively. Only use if they can be followed by access to water to drink. Have a plan outlined by your veterinarian if you have not used electrolytes before. Only use electrolytes specifically made for horses.
Trailering Tips in the Heat
If you need to trailer your horse, do so in the cool early morning or late evening hours when it is cooler. Don’t leave your horse in a parked trailer, especially if there is no shade. Just as with a parked car, temperatures inside a trailer can rapidly reach 140 degrees and the horse can quickly develop heat stroke.Provide as much ventilation and airflow as safely as possible on the road.Be very careful with hauling foals – they appear to be even more susceptible to heat than adult horses.
Tips provided by:
John Madigan, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, ACAW*
Gary Magdesian, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, ACVECC**
W. David Wilson, BVMS, MS, MRCVS***
*International Animal Welfare Training Institute
**Head- Equine Critical Care- VMTH
***Director- Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH)
School of Veterinary Medicine University of California-Davis

Feel free to print and redistribute this advisory with credit to the authors and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fodder/Forage/Hay/Grass is important!


Horses are biologically designed to eat 20 hours per day. Unlike deer, they are not browsers, they are grazers. Chewing produces saliva, which helps buffer stomach acids. On a pasture/hay diet a horse normally produces up to 10 gallons of saliva per day. When there is less for the horse to eat all day, less saliva is produced which translates into less buffering of the stomach acids. This can result in an increased imbalance of the bacteria in the stomach, and increased production of stomach acid, and thus the potential increase in gastric ulcers. If the stomach becomes more acidic than it should be, gas is produced by bacterial fermentation, and the result can be pain, colic, or even stomach wall rupture.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rider Fitness Tip of the Month: Improve Core Strength

Rider Fitness Tip of the Month: Improve Core Strength

Start with one set of 20 repetitions of each exercise. Work your way up to being able to cycle through up to four sets of each exercise in one workout. All begin with you lying on your back on the floor.

  1. Full Body Curl: This is a nice warm-up abdominal exercise that gets you in touch with your upper, middle and lower abdominals all at once. Start with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor like you are about to do a sit-up. Then, as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor, bring your knees in. Put your feet back on the floor as you lower your head to the floor again. For a tougher variation, keep your legs straighter or straighten them out as you lower them to the ground. The straighter your legs are, the more you will be engaging your lower abdominal muscles. Ideally, you should be able to perform at least 30.
  2. Bicycle Crunch: Raise your legs to about 45 degrees from the floor. Bend one knee while keeping the other straight. At the same time, lift your shoulders and head off the ground while twisting to touch your opposite elbow to your knee. I consider one rep to be one of each side--or a pair. You should be able to do 20 pairs. (For a harder variation, lower your legs to just above the floor.)
  3. V-sit: By now, your whole abdominal area should be feeling it. Finish yourself off with a static or isometric exercise. (An effective abdominal workout includes both isometric and dynamic exercises.) Hold your legs at about 45 degrees to the floor--or lower--and lift your arms and upper body off the floor. The more directly above your shoulders you place your arms, the heavier they will be and the harder the exercise will be. In this posture, pulse your hands up and down rapidly for about 30 counts.