Monday, March 30, 2009

Not horse-related.

I'm in Hawaii! And the girls were complaining about having a serious topic set up so here's the happiness... party away ladies haha

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It makes you appreciate things

When you travel to less fortunate countries. Two years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Cuba with the music department. Where it was an amazing trip, I couldn't help but feel devastated at every turn when I saw poor, emaciated and in many cases miserable horses struggling to work through the day. Everything from cart horses to pull tours to horses that are actually the people's mode of transportation to ponies being galloped around the marketplace.

Now, I had such torn feelings. One one hand, these poor animals are in horrible conditions... but on the other hand, the people can't help it. They rely on these animals to get them places (and I saw many a yearling or YOUNGER pulling a cart), to get them to the small jobs they have, and they don't have access to food for THEMSELVES, never mind the animals.

And the arguments that work here don't apply there, either! You can't say "well if you can't afford them, don't get an animal" because without these wondrous animals these people would most likely die from lack of funds. Yes, Cuba is communist... but in order to get your "fair share" in a communist country, you need to do your part for society. To do this, they need to get to their jobs or work their fields, and to accomplish that they need these animals because cars are NOT readily available to citizens there. What cars are available aren't very new, either.

Sometimes, such as the case with tour guides, the horses ARE the people's job. No horses... no job... no money, no food, no clothing, death.

It was a very life-changing experience. I would go back there any day, I had so much fun... but that was a big turn-down. I just felt like sharing. Witnessing animals in this condition so first-hand really gave me a huge kick to step forward into actively helping the ones it was possible to help.

And to lighten the mood, my favorite picture from that trip... me standing fully clothed out in the ocean.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mud and shedding... what a lovely combo.

Well, spring is coming, no matter how far away it seems... this means we have the wonderful thing known as mud that's going to be covering every inch of our wonderfully furry friends. This is, in particular, most frustrating for us draft lovers. Mud stuck in feather is a PITA to deal with.

So, there's the issue of keeping your horses clean and happy as you put them (and yourselves!) back into training.

However, on top of this problem which is bad enough, say, in the middle of summer... us in the north also have to deal with horses shedding their winter coats.

So, this is a discussion! Share your mud and shedding solutions.

A few years ago I was introduced to a wonderful thing called a shedding stone. If your horses' winter hair is coming out in patches or if you have an early-mid spring show coming up and need your horse looking sharp, you can pick up a shedding stone at your local horse supply store. It also works for getting out stubborn patches of mud.

It's actually just a big pumice stone. It's smooth and gentle and feels like a massage.

If that's not available, I love the good old rubber curry comb. That, a body brush, and a damp cloth with thoroughly clean a coat just as well.

For feather, you can bring a bucket of warm water, plastic curry comb, mane comb, rag, and some elastic bands... soak the feather and wash it all out with the water and rag, brush it thoroughly and shampoo, whatever you need to do, comb it out and if you can manage it, blow dry it.

Separate the feather, band it, and braid it, fold it up like a plait and band it, and a workout later your draft won't have huge mud balls stuck to its feet.

You can keep it braided in the field, even. I'm not so sure about keeping it folded but again it saves the problems of your drafts coming in with mud balls stuck to their legs that makes you want to shear all that stuff off. I've only ever done it with show drafts... the others I just clip the feather right off in the spring, it's not worth it.

Of course nothing works better than a thorough bath. And dish soap.