Wednesday, August 24, 2011

People Problems

Years ago, 60 to be exact, a riding instructor told me, "There is no such thing as a bad horse, just bad riders." She was right. Instead of people learning to fix their problem horses, our horses need help fixing their people problems.

Everyone needs to spend at least a weekend observing horses in a pasture with their mothers, other foals, and other herd members. They have an amazing social order. It's pretty simple, but very effective. Something from which we can all learn.

In order to establish dominance with an equine, it's important you do it within the first two minutes of handling. Horses really don't care who the leader of the gang is, they just need to know quick. First, they need to respect your space, then you can start educating them in other areas. Once you've established a comfortable distance between the two of you, the beginning of a trusted, respectful bond starts to occur.

A well-trained, educated horse starts with hours of groundwork. It's the basis for everything you'll do with your equine. It's safe, fun, and stress-free for both you and your horse pal.

Happy trails.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


"A true horsemen does not look at a horse with his eyes, he looks at a horse with his heart." ~ Author Unknown

Silver and Sadie
It's amazing how quickly time passes when I'm with my horses. The moment that turns into minutes that blend into hours are a small part of the equine experience. When I'm with each of my mares I have complete focus and fall in love all over again with that magnificent spirit called "horse".

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hay: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

People ask: "What's better; first cut or second cut?" The answer to that question varies according to growing region, weather conditions, type of hay, and type of soil. I like to keep it simple; if it smells sweet, looks green, and the stems are soft and palatable, then it's good hay regardless of anything else.

Your horses are the best indicators of good hay. If they turn their backs on the sweet feed and walk over to eat their hay, you know you've got some excellent hay.

You'll find guidelines below for good, medium, and poor quality hay provided by the University of Maryland Cooperative Extentsion. 


Hay Evaluation Guidelines
  The score sheet below is a guideline for evaluating hay. The sheet indicates the amount of importance

to place upon each quality factor. Note that maturity, at 30 points, is the most important factor.

Leafiness, color, and odor and condition each receive a possible 20 points. Foreign material has a

possible 10 points.

Sample Score Sheet

Possible Score

score given


30 ______

Alfalfa should be cut in the late bud or early bloom stage,

clovers at 20 percent bloom. Most grasses should be

cut in the boot to early heading stage. These stages of

maturity score highest (25 to 30 points). Alfalfa and clover

cut at full bloom and grasses cut between late heading

and full bloom score low (1 to 10 points) because

they have lower feed value.


20 ______

Hay with a high ratio of leaves to stems and a substantial

portion of the leaves attached to stems scores high

(5 to 20 points). Stemmy hay and hay with shattered

leaves score low (0 to 5 points).


20 ______

Hay with a bright green color scores high (15 to 20

points). Golden yellow to yellow hays score 5 to 15

points. Dark brown or black hays score 0 to 5 points.

Odor and Condition

20 ______

Smell of new mown hay scores high (15 to 20 points).

Hays with musty or other off-odors score 5 to 15 points.

Moldy or unusually dusty hays score very low (0 to 5


Foreign Material

10 ______

Hay with noninjurious foreign material should receive a

lower score than that without. Hay with injurious foreign

material should not be fed to animals.

TOTAL 100 ______

Hope this helps. If you have further questions, email me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Peace, Joy, and Dark Days

"Through the days of love and celebration and joy, and through the dark days of mourning - the faithful horse has been with us always."   ~Elizabeth Cotton

Last week was was a tough week emotionally. I won't go into detail. The one, true constant was the horses. They are always there to remind me of  what's really important in life. There seems to be an "other world" spiritual connection when I'm around the power and graceful presence of my horses. All the emotional pain goes away. Balance returns. Peace returns. The world becomes...beautiful.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So, You Want To Build A Barn

Buyer beware! Having your horses at home is wonderful, but, like anything else, there are trade-offs. Before you decide to build your own barn, talk to others who have done so and get their take on the pros and cons of having your equine pal at home.

The expense involved in building a quality barn can be summed up in the actual cost of labor plus the cost of building supplies.Be sure to get at least three estimates from reputable barn builders. Be sure to ask loads of questions. You may email me for further assistance. I have way too much barn building information to put in this blog post.

Manure management is the biggest expense when owning your own equine facility. Bedding is expensive, waste removal is costly, and repair to farm equipment can be pricey. Any type of horse-at-home establishment is very time consuming. Remember,time is money. Be prepared to spend 365 days a year and at least four times per day doing some sort of barn/horse chore. It will cut into any leisure activities you currently have.

I don't mean to be discouraging, just realistic. Yes, it's great having Trigger at home, but be prepared for a major life style change.

Happy trails.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Oops! Brilliant Speed didn't win the Kentucky Derby, as I predicted. He's still a great horse. After watching replays of the race, I noticed he got boxed in by the other horses. Number 2 post position is not a good place to be in the starting gate. There's no chance to settle into a pace.

I'm always thankful the jockeys made it around safely and the horses, except for one, didn't get hurt. Archarcharch went back to his stall after the race in a  horse ambulance for an xray, for a possible minor fracture. It always bothers me when horses pull up with any kind of injury. They give their all when they run.

It'll be interesting to see what Billiant Speed does with the rest of his racing career. You never know what can happen in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.

P.S. Congratulations, Animal Kingdom, for winning the Kentucky Derby.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Kentucky Derby Pick

Brilliant Speed
"For one to fly, one needs only to take the reins." ~ Melissa James

I don't normally do this, but I'm going to this time. After checking all the pedigrees of the 20 horses, their jockeys, and their trainers, I'm going to give you my Kentucky Derby pick. He's not a choice by the top professionals, in fact, he's not a choice by anyone, but the colt is my pick based solely on pedigree.

My Kentucky Derby pick is Brilliant Speed. His sire is Dynaformer, his dam is Speed Succeeds. Dynaformer produced Barbaro one of the top speed and distance horses in racing history. Speed Succeeds comes from the Mr. Prospector blood line. Mr. Prospector was one of the top throughbred stallions in the world. In fact, most of the Derby contenders have Mr. Prospector as part of their pedigree. Should be an interesting race.

We all know anything can happen in a horse race. But, I feel really strong about this pick. I'm hoping Brilliant Speed takes after his half-brother, Barbaro. We need a hero.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

To Blanket or not to Blanket

"The horse. Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity. A willing servant, but never a slave." ~Ronald Duncan

This time of year, Spring, is always difficult when it comes to blanketing horses. The general rule is, if the weather temps are 40-57 degrees in the Spring, use a lightweight blanket. Problems arise with the fluctuating temperatures during the day, this time of year.

You don't want your horses to get too hot under their blankets or they'll colic while eating pasture grass, and when they're brought in at night for their grain ration.

When in doubt about the weather, leave their blankets off. Mother Nature gives them extra "fur" when the weather turns chilly. It's better to have a horse who feels cool to the touch, than to have a horse feel too warm.  Colic can occur from being overheated because of a blanket. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Freedom to Be Horses

"The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom." ~ Sharon Ralls Lemon

Someone at the barn asked me, "Do you ride those things?" At the time the question was asked, both of my horses were bucking, rearing, snorting, and kangaroo-hopping in the indoor ring. It is always impressively scary for the first-time observer. This is what my horses do when they are turned out first thing in the morning. They are free to get their ya-yas out before I get on them.

Once aboard, they become respectful workers; light-in-hand, well balanced, and full of positive energy. My horses take care of me out of trust and respect. I take care of them for the same reason.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Magic Moment

Sixteen more days to the Kentucky Derby. It's that magic moment when the equine contenders become heroes for the day. We all need a hero. A real hero with no agenda. It's the day when a simple animal shows us there is always hope for a better tomorrow. A day when we see what true heart and courage really is. A day when sixty seconds of time creates the ultimate dream for owners, trainers, and jockeys.

The only thing our equine athletes expect in return for their hard work is a pat on the neck, a few quarts of grain and some quality hay. I call them "simple animals" for a reason. They respect and trust their human handlers unconditionally and give 150%. They have no agenda. Their needs are uncomplicated.

Over the years, I've learned a great deal from my horses and other equines I've worked with and studied. I've come to the conclusion, I have a long way to go before I come remotely close to their greatness.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Make a Good Day Better

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill.

When I'm overwhelmed with work responsibilities, caring for others, and running to the grocery store, cleaners, bank, and whatever else eats up my day, I'm always grateful I have the energy to do all these things. 

But, when I need to get centered, I make my daily trip to the barn to make a good day better. Peace.