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Taking A Moment To Just Be Happy

Have you ever had those days where you just wish you could go back to bed, put the covers over your head and pretend all the crap that happened during the day didn’t happen?

So often it happens in life, work, family and horses that we get so set on goals from getting the blue ribbon at the show to making the deadline at the end of the work day to setting up accounts for retirement and constantly planning for the time in our lives where we don’t have to work anymore that we sometimes forget to take a moment and just be happy. We get so caught up in the pursuit of happiness that we end up letting those little moments that could brighten our days slip away.

One of the reasons I love horses is because they live so much in the moment. They don’t ponder the future any more then where’s the next mouth full of food and trying to get those annoying bugs off their bellies. They may learn to avoid certain things or associate certain items with feelings but they don’t worry about the next time they might see the terrifying bag or if they are gonna have to jump the scary brush jump again.

I always say my horses are my therapists. And I know I’ve posted several meme’s about just that on my Facebook page. There is something about them that just draws you in and lets you know that no matter whats going on it’s ok to them so long as you don’t hurt them.

If you have never taken the moment to just sit down and just hang out with your horses? (ok it might be better to stand depending on the horse) I mean literally hang out with your horses.  Go out to them with no expectations and maybe a treat or two and then just give them scratches, chase the pesky flies away from their bellies and relax with them. Don’t expect perfect stillness. Allow them to nuzzle nibble and investigate your clothes. Don’t reprimand them harshly for anything just gently push them away if they get to rough.  Just relax and be one with the herd.

It’s amazing how quickly my feelings of anger or frustration or even hopelessness just evaporate when I sit like this with the boys. I start to get a feeling of peace and genuine happiness as I watch their silly little antics and find just the right spot to scratch with my finger nails. Their presence just says “everything gonna be ok” if only for that moment.

I honestly believe this is the quality that draws a lot of Veterans to equine therapy places, why kids with autism suddenly thrive in their presence and children with low self esteem suddenly start stepping out of their shells. The horses eyes speak volumes of encouragement  and their presence sets a calm and loving environment.

My challenge to you is just take an a bit of time out of your day. Don’t go ride, don’t even halter your horse just go out in their paddock and relax and love up on them and see how much you can build on just a standing relationship with your horse!  Don’t be discouraged if they walk away at first either. Give them time to realize that your just there to relax to! And if you feel like it check back and let me know how it went!

 

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For the want of a horseshoe nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Ok Ok I couldn’t help myself. This has always been one of my favorite poems since I was a kid and since I wanted to talk about the horses hooves it kind of tied right in.

As Fall is swiftly approaching….alright pretty much arrived and converging on winter. I’ve noticed my horses hooves are really growing faster then they usually are.

As riders and horse enthusiasts I think one of the best things we can do is learn to understand the workings of the horses hoof. Without a hoof we have no horse!

Now I’m not going to go into great detail about it (at least not in this post) .or turn this into a shod vs barefoot debate. Though I do prefer barefoot.

I’m learning about the horses hooves and farrier work myself but I do believe that everyone who has horses at home should at least have some working knowledge of what horses feet should look like and be able to use a rasp fairly well to smooth off any sharp edges or even up a hoof without calling out a farrier. (I mean who doesn’t want to save money to right?)

Each horses hooves grow differently. Take Jack and Cash for example. Jack’s feet try to grow way more heel then toe. It doesn’t help that he likes to drag his feet bit so I have to be careful and watch his heels don’t get to long or his toes to short. Cash on the other hand is the opposite. He tends to grow more toe then heel and I have to shave a bit of his toes every once in a while.

Another reason I believe all horse owners should have at least a basic understanding of their horses hooves is to make sure the farrier is doing a correct job. Like a Vet a good farrier is hard to find and worth his weight in gold to keep him.

I recently had my horses worked on and could not understand why Cash was almost dead lame the next day. Part of it was his feet are still adapting to Washington n having soft soles anything above soft squishy grass hurt… but he was head bobbing lame. It wasn’t until I looked at the bottom of his feet that I noticed his heels weren’t even close to even and he’d been cut a bit short in the toe.  Thankfully I always carry a rasp in my trailer and was able to rasp his heels down to be level with each other and balance his feet.  Then all it took was patience (and a bit of iodine) for his feet to toughen up again.

Jack was surprisingly great with his feet after the mess of Cash’s.

I’d like to tell everyone to invest in a farrier book. There are quite a few on the market, and just read through them. It is actually quite amazing the stuff I’ve started to learn! There is depths to shoeing and trimming I had no idea existed.

Also, If you already have a good farrier ask them if they can show you how to do a basic rasping on the horses hooves. Most are happy to show you and if you mess up they are there to help fix it before it gets to bad.  I try to make it so my farrier only has to come out 2 times a year if I can. Sometimes its not possible but who doesn’t like to save money? (and get a good workout!)

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Monday’s and that warm horse smell

What is it about mondays that just seem worse then the rest of the week? It’s harder to wake up(snooze button anyone??)…. a pot of coffee must be downed before any sort of motivation starts running though the body…And people just seem more annoying then usual to deal with.

I’m lucky in the fact that I get to work with dogs at work so if people annoy me to much or just piss me off and I fear I’m gonna do something stupid I just grab my puppy dog and head out to train by myself.  But it still doesn’t make Mondays any easier.

After a long Monday of dealing with some really annoying and frankly stupid people I just want to go home, grab an alcoholic beverage (usually wine) and watch some netflix or amazon prime. (I’m to cheap for cable/satellite)  But some days I get home and I’m just restless and I today decided that even though its a day off for the boys I really just wanted to go see them.

As I pulled up and hopped out of the truck with a pocket of treats I got to see Jack and Cash’s excited faces begging for a treat. I grabbed the Cash-man. ( sorry Jack but I’ve known him longer)  Toss on a saddle and bridle, throw caution to the wind and head out to explore the roads.  Yes roads. With traffic. And Cash surpassed all my expectations.

Oh and I might add you know I been hitting the gym when I go to get in the saddle and over compensate as Cash walked away and almost threw myself over the other side. Luckily noone was there to see that near mishap! haha.

Cash was a bit of a lookie loo but if I asked him to trot he gladly picked it up and off we went. Cars whizzed by us, the occasional one slowing down to look for the kids in the back or just to be curious but most of them couldn’t care one way or the other. Cash would flick his ears but happily move to the shoulder. He didn’t even try to steal a bite to eat. (gasp in shock)  There was one really scary hedge but he kept his calm and carried on though a bit tense until safely passed it. \

He was a perfect gentle man ( I’m still a bit skeptical…who’s been feeding my horse chill pills???)

Theres nothing like jumping off and getting that huge wiff of warm horse. Don’t get me wrong horse smell is great but warm horse smell is 100 times better!!! If I could bottle it up and take it with me to work to calm me down I seriously would. I’ve attempted taking hoodies completely soaked with warm horse smell and slobbers but it doesn’t seem to have the same effect, not to mention the weird looks I get from the guys at work when I carry it and inhale into it repeatidly.(I’m pretty sure they’ve contemplated a drug test or two)

After making up some beat pulp and the boys grain rations I just sat and listened to the boys munch happily on their goodies. (Jack forgave me for leaving him at this point) I was covered in horse slobbers, dirt and was completely at peace. The sun even highlighted the boys in a light halo like they were my personal angels and for a moment I was perfect.

These are the moments I seriously love. Where no matter whats going on in my life that moment is the picture of calm and relaxed and happy. Those of you who have horses and have spent any time near them know what i’m talking about. It’s as if the weight is lifted off your shoulders and your soul feels light and everything past and present doesn’t matter. Just that moment. It’s so easy to breath and just BE.

These moments are what keep me going and why I’ll never give up my horse lifestyle addiction.

Needless to say it was a perfect ending to a hectic Monday.

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Ground Poles Galore… The Y exercise.

The Y exercise!
The Y exercise!

I’m embracing my inventive side and coming up with new exercises to use with my boys!  Why would I do this??? Well to be honest because I’m growing bored in the arena and I must say if I’m bored I know my horses defiantly are.

So this exercise needs a tad bit of tweaking as far as placement goes to make it seamless but it really worked well to keep the boys listening to me and being able to nip their anticipations in the bud (oh yes Cash I’m talking to you). All the poles were placed 4.5 feet apart from each other (4 ft. for Jack his strides a bit smaller yet).

Having the poles set up like the picture above in  Y (hence the name) I can really change up how I use them to keep the boys attention. I can choose to ride just the poles down the center line, I can choose to ride the slanted poles along the diagonal (this is where I need to adjust the angle of the poles to a tad steeper for a true diagonal line but it still works)  or I can use them to practice broken lines by going down the center line and choosing left or right and going over the poles and circling back around. From here I can choose to go either over the other set of diagonal poles, down the center line or both or just stick to the rail…. are you confused yet?

For the more advanced horses you can change the distances of the poles on the diagonal sides to make the horse lengthen or shorten their strides as well.

I’m working on making exercises so much more complex because Cash likes to anticipate and Jack is needing stuff to keep his attention and get a bit more pep in his step.  I think using something as simple as ground poles to make arena work more fun is a must! No horse, and few people (maybe not dressage people) like to go around and around in circles in the arena.  And I must admit I tend to tense more in an arena then I do out on the trail so these exercises are as much for me as my horses.

During these exercises I try to get the boys to keep a steady rhythm through out the exercise and For myself I try to stay balanced and relaxed over the poles. I work on looking forward and not down at the rails as well as keeping equal pressure in the stirrups and not leaning forward over them (a nasty habit of mine).

I want the horses relaxed and listening. When I choose a direction I want them paying attention to their feet placement so they don’t step on the rails but also making sure I’m guiding them as best as possible without interfering. I want to give them their direction but I want them to figure it out the problem. Out on the cross country course or in stadium I want the boys really finding their own spots and thinking for themselves so that if I get in a mess they can get me out. But I need to guide them in the best direction and at the best speed before them. I need to set them up well so they can achieve success.  I start that here with the poles.  If they stumble or fumble thats alright, we reset and do it again until they learn to judge them before we get to them.

This really helps when you change the distance of the poles from say 4.5 feet to 5 feet. or from 5 ft to 4 ft.

It doesn’t take long doing this exercise to give the horses a good workout either.  Poles and small cavaletti’s are great at building muscle  and getting a horse to work correctly. At both Cash’s and Jacks stages I give the boys their head right now but as a horse gets more advanced you can use poles to help with collection as well. There are unlimited potential with poles!

I don’t ride the boys very long doing intense pole work lie this either. Around 20 minuets is about the max before they start getting tired and hitting poles.

Make sure to end on a positive note and have fun!

Here’s a crude diagram for the exercise. You can change all sizes to fit your arena and your horses strides.

Note: it’s not to scale and not idealy placed in the pic to represent an arena but it will give you a good idea of how it looks from above. I’d move it all further down then the diagram shows. The pic above is a better reference to where it should be placed in an arena. Again play with it for how it works best for you and your horses! (sorry I’m not the best at building these on a computer screen yet)

Y exercise birds eye
Y exercise birds eye