Am I God’s Donkey???
Suppose a friend’s horse was misbehaving and you believed you knew how to “fix” the problem. Would you share your solution freely, or would you offer to train the horse yourself and charge a fee? Or—would you keep still, afraid to fail or look like a “know-it-all?” Such a project could become very time-consuming and emotionally exhausting, if you gave it your all. And with today’s quick-to-sue mentality, the liability of helping might be as big a fear as getting hurt by the horse. I’m very glad a new friend wasn’t afraid to get involved in helping me when I needed it about 30 years ago!
My son’s 4-H project mare was given to me after she had her first colt. He kept the colt and I got Fanny as a birthday present. For three years I had tried to help him “train” this young headstrong mare and although he had won some ribbons in speed shows, she was definitely not well-trained. I didn’t know one-tenth of what I needed to know! (More)
Patience and Persistence
Isn’t it wonderful to feel that you’ve accomplished something with your horse? Maybe you’ve worked to get one ready for a show and you get the blue ribbon. Maybe you’ve paid for a trainer’s help and now the horse is working for you better than before. Or maybe you just realized that your horse is more relaxed on the trail and you are starting to really enjoy riding!
I can identify with all of that at the moment. Rocky earned a few blue ribbons in the last two shows (well, yes, we were the only entry in two classes, but I was still proud of him. His gait is improving, he didn’t spook at something blowing in the wind, and the yellow raincoat in the trail class didn’t faze him). He is doing better on the trail as well. (More)
Two months ago, I thought buttercup poisoning was the cause of Lady’s diarrhea, anemia and colic. I also thought the problem was solved and she was on her way to recovery. I was wrong.
Since then, Lady had another colic episode. While I was walking her, she pooped and I saw that as a good sign. But I saw other things as well. Her manure was full of rocks! Limestone, to be exact. No wonder the poor girl had a belly ache!
She had already passed three piles of manure visibly full of limestone by the time the vet did a stomach tubing with mineral oil. I went home and did an internet search on sand colic (didn’t know what else to call it), then bought a package of Sand Clear. Lady refused to eat this additive and the feed to which it was added. In fact, she refused to eat almost everything for a couple of days. She refused her grass hay, so I offered alfalfa. She even refused the alfalfa. And she didn’t drink much water for a whole day, when she usually drinks 20 gallons. For several days, she would eat only real grass. So I got her out of her stall whenever I could to eat in the yard. (More)
A Horsewoman’s Network!
The actual publishing of a book is only the beginning of its journey. I have witnessed an interesting chain of events regarding my latest book, “MARES! (ya gotta love em),” and I gotta share it! But first, some background and information!
Betsy McGee Rice of Ohio, is actively involved with equine assisted learning (something that extends much further than therapeutic riding facilities). I had “met” her online while doing genealogy research. After discovering she was a horse person, I invited her to contribute a story for the MARE book. Her bio is quite impressive. Betsy owns “In His Hands Stables” where she trains and instructs horses and riders. Also, she is an EAGALA and OK Corral certified horse specialist, helping people learn about themselves and others through the eyes of the horse. To explain that, we need to learn more about this rather new field of “equine assisted learning.” (More)
Don’t Eat the Buttercups!
I’ve always enjoyed the pretty yellow buttercups growing around our barn. Now they have become an enemy.
Lady was fine before May 31st, when I wasn’t able to get to the barn all day and she stayed in her stall with the window closed and no fan and temperatures were high. Next day, Lady showed minor signs of colic and I decided that she probably got overheated.
Life’s a Carousel
Horse shows (especially Western Pleasure classes) remind me of a Merry-Go-Round. Round and round the arena they go, pretty groomed horses with silver ornamented saddles, carrying sparkly dressed riders. It’s a beauty pageant!
I’ve been in the show ring just enough to understand the amount of work it takes to get there. I know the feelings of wanting to win and not making it! My first mare literally ran away with me in our first and only western pleasure class. She didn’t win any competitive trail rides either, but we both enjoyed that a lot more! I’ve shown Traveller in trail class, jumping and English pleasure. I’ve shown Lady several times in trail and gaited classes and actually got one blue ribbon! And I showed Rocky not long ago in two classes. I admit I am NOT great in the show ring! I started showing Lady just for the experience of loading and going somewhere and exposing her to more stuff. We love watching horse shows, and it’s something to do. But I had lots more fun riding a Hunter Pace!
And I’m not complaining about not winning. The day I showed Rocky, I knew why we didn’t place. By the end of the class, I knew exactly what I had to work on. It was his first show, and I was happy with most of his performance (spurs might have helped). (More)
Something to Bug Us
Finally, there was a nice day when we thought the trail might be dry enough for a ride! Behind our stable’s pasture is about five acres of woods with nice little trails all through it. I love riding in the woods.
Russ rode his bombproof old fox trotter mare (she just turned 21) that we’ve worked on for a year with different supplements for her arthritis. And I decided to ride Lady. She needed some exercise since I had been riding Rocky so much.
Lady seemed especially calm and cooperative, and I was really enjoying our little ride. I was thinking that the mosquitoes weren’t so bad, or maybe the freshly mixed bug spray was working. The trail was a little wet, but it wasn’t generally slippery or muddy. We went around the first loop of wooded trail, coming out onto a grassy path. I planned to go back into the woods on a different loop until I heard Russ behind me and I knew he had a problem. (More)
Horses Want Our Attention!
RFD-TV’s Equestrian Nation recently featured an interview with the late Tom Dorrance. A master horseman, Dorrance asked people to approach the horse in a new way, so that the horse is comfortable and happy.
I remember reading his book “True Unity” many years ago, wondering what on earth he was trying to say! His words came from a heart tuned into horses, but his talk about feel and timing seemed too abstract. Perhaps I lacked the right experience back then. In case you’re interested, his website (apparently kept running by his widow) is www.tomdorrance.com. (More)
On with Plan B!
Who could have known that the 20th annual Illinois Horse Fair—an event with such huge impact—would be canceled? I surely wouldn’t have paid extra for a rush job on my new book! But things happen.
The question is: how do we respond to disappointment? How do we accept a change of plans? Always have a Plan B, for one thing. Don’t give in to discouragement and don’t let life’s “stuff” get you down. Keep a balanced perspective. There’s always some reason to keep going. The secret is to keep hope alive within and to look for all the good things we can still enjoy. (More)
March starts with the Illinois Horse Fair! Every year, my husband and I start counting the weeks until this annual event! It’s probably the highlight of the year for us (and incidentally, our anniversary). For me, it means blueberry pancakes at Cracker Barrel on the way to Springfield!
I’ve learned to print the schedule off the internet and decide which seminars I want to see before I get there. I go to learn, to buy, to meet old friends, and sell a few books as well. This year, I have my new book, “MARES! (ya gotta love em), Fifty Stories to Aid and Inspire Mare Owners.” (More)
2005 and Earlier Columns