Wednesday, April 30, 2008

And this is why we have to BAN these people from owning animals

Remember this?

Check it out.

*head explodes*

Can't you collect Beanie Babies?




Baseball Cards?

Teddy Bears?

Garden Gnomes?

Depression Glass?

Star Trek memorabilia?

Something that does not suffer when you lose interest in it?
Something that does not need to eat and drink?
Something that does not need hoof care?
Something that becomes more valuable with age instead of less?

Just collect something else already. There is not enough money in the world to clean up the messes you people keep creating. How much do you suppose these rescuers have spent already cleaning up after you?

There isn't an endless sea of money available to rehab all of the starved, sick, neglected animals the hoarders, collectors, and just plain delusional BYB's keep dumping on the world. F your personal freedoms, this needs to STOP.

And more...old does not mean skinny!

Just to make the point again, because honestly it's a point that can't be made too often, here are some of your very old, very good weight, very happy horses! I also want to talk a little bit about what your best tips & tricks are for putting weight on an oldster. Some of the things I like to try if the obvious things don't work (i.e. free choice hay/good pasture):

1. Probiotics. I've just found that they seem to help a lot of horses get more out of their food.

2. Daily dewormer, like Strongid C. I've had very good results with this.

3. Obviously, check teeth and if you can't fix the dental issues immediately (lots of vets won't sedate a horse in poor condition until he's stronger) put the horse on a diet of orchard grass pellet mush. You can feed this pretty much free choice, even to a horse who is very thin, and I have not seen it hurt them a bit. Basically take 2 scoops, soak in hot water (temp you'd shower in, not too hot) for 10 minutes, and serve. The pellets soak quickly, not like beet pulp. You can top dress it with something tastier for a picky eater - I've used a little high-fat rice bran, or a handful of wet COB, or oats. When I first got Clover, the sorrel pictured yesterday, she got four feedings a day like this. Packed the pounds right back on her in 2 months time. They can eat mush if they're toothless and they can eat mush if their teeth are sharp. It is a quick, easy, and pretty much fool proof way to refeed a starved horse.

4. Blood work. If lots of good food is having no effect, run the blood panel. See what you have going on.

5. A stressed horse will not put weight on - remove him from stress. If your other horses are hard on him, come on -it's easy to put in a cross fence with hot tape and t-posts. A horse who is in a lot of pain on a daily basis will not put weight on. When a horse cannot maintain weight due to pain, it is probably time to say goodbye.

6. I've had good luck with commercial weight builder supplements. My favorite so far is Weight Builder. I am trying Source right now on an older TB mare that I would like another 100 lbs on. I did not particularly get results with Cool Calories and it gave the horse I tried it on diarrhea, but your mileage may vary.

OK now for the fun part...and those of you who own these horses, YOU ROCK!

"This mare is off a Nevada Feedlot 1 day before she was due to be shipped to Mexico Slaughter Plant. She was "Free" to me...

Hay..HAY and more hay (fed free choice of course!), Beet Pulp, Senior Pellets, Hay Pellets,Special joint lube stuff, vaccinations (X2 as I didn't know her History) Wormer (X4) due to her horrible parasite load. Ferrier Services (X3) due to her horrible over grown hooves. Vet (X3) she was a body score of 1+, Equine Dentist Services(which is how I know for sure she is 30+,and LOTS of misc. horse items she "needed= $2500 for 9 months.... Looking into her soulful eyes and seeing her say "Thank You"==== PRICELESS!!!!"

"I thought you might like to see a picture of my elderly Peppy San bred quarter horse gelding. This picture was taken last summer when he was 30. He'll be 31 in a couple of months and is still going strong with just a little arthritis that is manageable with glucosamine and MSM. He still loves to run and is still being regularly ridden. I'll probably still show him again this year. He's smooth and a pleasure to ride."

"She was an Appaloosa/TB broodmare at the time (by Rustler Zip) - broke, but poorly (had a rearing habit, absolutely couldn't abide any pressure on her mouth). She had a quirky reputation and some disturbing behaviours, but right from the start I trusted her. She was hot and reactive, but honest with a heart of gold and we got along famously. It wasn't long before she became a wonderful horse to ride. I trail rode her in the mountains and showed her in hack classes. Unfortunately when her owners sold her the following year for $2,000 I was unable to buy her because I was a starving student. Her new owner had a beautiful stable and was an advanced rider, but it was a bad match ... her behaviour deteriorated again until she gained a reputation for being dangerous. They decided she had a brain tumour that was making her crazy, and a couple of years later they sold her at auction for $405. It took me a few months to track her down because her new owner hadn't updated her papers, but after canvassing all the vets and farriers in the area I finally got a tip that paid off. I bought her from a dealer for $600 (she was 10 then) and swore she would never be sold again; she was too easy to misunderstand and in the wrong hands would have had a miserable life. She soon became one of the most reliable horses I've ever owned. I showed her in hack classes and dressage and won a lot. I also trail rode her extensively. There were some hard times in those first years when I had nothing to eat except plain spaghetti with nothing on it, but she never went without." This mare lived to be 24 and is pictured above at a horseshow with a young rider at age 21. You can bet she never got "skinny because she was old" with this owner!

Now here is a before and after from someone who easily put weight back on a skinny rescued senior!

"In March 2003 we rescued a Belgian draft gelding from an auction. He was the perfect example of so much of what you preach in your blog. As we found out later, He started his journey in the winter of 02. He was an old (22) work horse that probably started loosing too much weight and then was promptly taken to the local horse auction to be ditched before he started costing his owners money. Bad news, the nearest auction was The New Holland Horse Auction in PA. They are probably the biggest sellers of horse meat on the east coast. By some miracle he left with a horse dealer not the meat man. Well, after years of abuse (and the scars to prove it) he bounced from trader to trader. All the while getting thinner and thinner. Finally he made it to our local auction. I went with a friend to look for a horse for her. But, The second I saw this poor horse I knew he was coming home with me. I told my husband, at the very least we can give him a humane end to an awful life, like the asshats that used him up and threw him away should have!"

"Our 1st call was to the vet. After an exam and blood work we decided that he might be able to make it. The only thing we could not identify were 2 hard lumps on ether side of his neck. They did not appear to be a problem, so we decided to worry about them later if he even survived. Well after 2 months in a pasture Bull got really sick. We rushed him to NC State Vet School Hospital. They scoped him and found nearly a foot of "food" stuck in his throat. They had to DRILL the mass, and it wasn't going well. They found food in his neck that I never fed him, like CORN! They figure he probably started having a problem with choke a while back, but was never properly treated. That was most likely the reason for his sale in the 1st place. Of course, now we knew what those 2 strange lumps on his neck were, hard masses of food product collected in "pockets" in his throat caused by chronic choke. After 24 hours my husband and I had decided that if they couldn't remove the mass, we would have him put down. We were just thankful for the 2 good months we had. After another 24 hours they called us to let us know they finally cleared all the "food" out of his throat, and he was ready to come home! Everyone was amazed. It took 2 full days of drilling and flushing to remove all the crap that had built up in his throat, and all the while he was a perfect gentleman. Before sending him home they weighed him on their scale. He was only 1250lb, after 2 months of GAINING weight.

Over time Bull improved both physically and mentally. He had many scars from his younger days. That dent in his neck just in front of his withers was a full 1in deep indent from the harness that didn't fit him. He also had a string of bald scars around his neck from the same harness. They where so scarred the hair never did grow back. He was very suspicious of people, and would literally cringe when you reached your hand out to him.

The happy ending? Bull grew to a whopping 2500lb! He figured out we were not going to hurt him and just loved being ridden on the trails here. He also gave lessons here to both the kids and adults. He was always the 1st to the gate to greet you. He finally had the life every horse dreams of, food to eat, kids to love him, and a family that would never sell him.

Sadly, at the age of 26 we had to put Bull to sleep due to internal bleeding and an abdominal abcess. We were blessed with the ability to give this great horse what he deserved after years of service to humans, a dignified and PAINLESS death. He is buried in the pasture so he can be with us forever."

Isn't it AMAZING how many of you CAN successfully keep your old horses shiny and happy and healthy? Sure, it is harder with some than with others. I mentioned that I'm trying to pack another 100 lbs. on my most recently acquired mare - a typical tall, nervous Thoroughbred who can drop weight because the temperature drops, or she is upset, or the day ends in Y - you know the type! Some of them are puzzles but they are puzzles that CAN be solved. Don't just accept that an old horse will look thin - I was taught that too, when I was growing up, but we're all adults now, with Internet access, and we can educate ourselves about how to make sure our seniors look fantastic!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"They look as good as can be expected for horses this age" - BULL SHIT!

I started hearing yesterday about a serious case of hoarding/neglect in the Astoria, Oregon area. Today I received this:

Here is what the sheriff in Warrenton Oregon is saying:

All, Per reports of animal abuse related to horses at 89729 Young's River Road I responded and viewed the entire 80 acres and approximately 40 horses Monday April 28, 2008. I met with the owner John Haug who gave me an extensive open tour via 4wd. All horses and mules were in good shape except one that has a bad foot and has been unable to move to eat. Haug is the one who has this horse now penned in a barn and is giving foot care and antibiotics to bring back its health. Yes, the horse looks bad but Mr. Haug is taking care of it and has the experience to care for equine.

There are no dead horses on the property however an old horse died last year and was buried accordingly. The bones in the field are that of an elk that was butchered and not a horse. There is feed and supplements. There are many older horses here at this ranch some in their late 30's and early forties. They look as good as can be expected for horses this age. Think of it as people who age, we often lose our bone and body mass and look thinner than we did in our prime but it does not mean we are being neglected. The fields have plenty of grass and yes there is a lot of mud and water but this is not uncommon for the coast and there is plenty of high ground and shelter. This apparently started from a person who is upset with the Haugs and made some erroneous reports to the Internet world, PETA and LE. Deputies have responded to this residence 3 times in the last 2 months and have not found any abuse or neglect. In Clatsop County we take these cases very seriously and have seized many animals whenever there is any question regarding the animals safety or welfare. This includes from the smallest kitten to the largest horse including a recent seizure of 23 horses and many additional farm animals whereupon the owner was prosecuted. If anyone has any additional questions please feel free to contact me at the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office. 503 325-8635

Well, here is the email of the cop who thinks that there is nothing wrong with the horses

All right, where do I begin "This apparently started from a person who is upset with the Haugs and made some erroneous reports to the Internet world, PETA and LE." So did this person photoshop these pictures to make the Haugs look bad? 'Cause they are looking awfully genuine to me!

"All horses and mules were in good shape except one that has a bad foot and has been unable to move to eat. Haug is the one who has this horse now penned in a barn and is giving foot care and antibiotics to bring back its health. Yes, the horse looks bad but Mr. Haug is taking care of it and has the experience to care for equine. " NO, HE DOESN'T. If he did, he would have separated the horse to eat and given it proper care BEFORE, BEFORE, BEFORE it got thin! They simply DO NOT lose weight overnight or in a day or two. Not like that.

Secondly, few comments show your ignorance of horse care more quickly than stating old horses are thin because they are old. I cannot argue this more effectively than via pictures.

All of the following horses are over thirty years old and are horses I know in real life. All were rehabbed from starvation and this is what they look like now. I expect that a properly cared for horse will be proper weight no matter how old it was. Mr. Sheriff, you need to raise your expectations!

Click at your own risk!

Warning for sensitive eyes:

This is a picture of someone's farm logo tattooed on their, um, upper ass in the grand "tramp stamp" tradition. I PARTICULARLY like the Christian quote above it. God and tramp stamps - they go together like peanut butter & jelly!

Ma'am, nobody wants to see your ass crack. And while we're at it, your stallion's pedigree screams "We've got COLOR COLOR COLOR and not a damn thing else." I mean, it is a goddamn rainbow of useless tobianos with no accomplishments. OK, one of the great grandsires was a halter champion. Woo.

Also amusing is how you say your 2008 foal is "by" a mare. That's unique! Would it be wrong to suggest Blu's Nothin Speshul as a registered name?

Would it also be wrong to suggest that the pony shouldn't have to pull you when you are bigger than the pony?

Probably. Ah well. I'm wrong on a daily basis, according to a lot of folks!

Sunshine, blue skies and justice in progress!

We are having a killer perfect day here in the PNW...I wish I could skip out of work the rest of the day and ride, but alas, the VLC will have to wait til evening...

I just got back from the criminal arraignment of Dean Solomon. You will remember her as the woman who photoshopped her ass. She has now formally been arraigned on four counts of second degree animal cruelty, and additional charges are in the works according to the prosecuting attorney, Lisa Kline. I know the locals are dying to hear the play by play, so here you go.

Despite many reports that she had one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel due to a brain aneurysm, Dean was in court today looking hale and hearty - her long, flowing hair untouched by any surgeon's razor. If she had surgery, it sure as hell wasn't on her brain.

Dean acknowledged that Dean Marie Solomon is her correct name and she understood the nature of the charges against her. She entered a plea of not guilty to all four counts. The prosecutor requested several conditions of release:

1. That all remaining horses be removed from her property (I believe they are only referring to Pacific Equestrian Center in Kent when they say this - where rescuers discovered a critically ill seven month old colt with strangles earlier this week as well as approximately seven other horses).

2. That Solomon be barred from acquiring any more animals during the pendancy of this case.

3. That King County Animal Control and/or the City of Auburn may inspect the property as needed, within reasonable limits.

Dean's attorney objected to conditions #1 and #2, stating that it was the first he had heard of them and the conditions constituted sentencing her before a conviction. He also stated all the horses are currently getting vet care. The prosecutor pointed out that this is not a case about property - that there are horses here who may suffer during the pendancy of the case if not removed. Dean's attorney said that KCAC could visit any time and that Dean has been rescuing for 25 years and is "devoting to saving and helping horses." (You know what, you can do something for 25 years AND STILL SUCK AT IT. You don't get a merit badge for longevity when your horses are full of lice and rainrot and look like shit!) The prosecutor pointed out that KCAC is overburdened and cannot babysit Dean and it makes more sense to remove the horses. (She is correct.)

The Judge said he needed more information before making the decision, but likened it to a child rape case, where it may be necessary to take immediate action to protect an innocent even if that means taking action prior to a conviction. Good logic, sir! He will schedule a hearing later in the week to decide after he has had a chance to review all of the evidence in more depth. The state requested that Dean be fingerprinted and processed, and they took her off to do so.

So then the real fun began. I don't want to ruin Linda Byron of King 5's scoop too much - she'll have all this on the news tonight at 11 - but Dean's attorney is either misinformed or wildly full of shit. He tried to claim Dean has been getting rid of horses and has only "twenty-something." He said she had not acquired additional horses, but then caught himself and said she had not done so to the best of his knowledge. Counselor, allow me to warn you - your knowledge is incomplete. Your client has been up to all of her old tricks and there are plenty of witnesses. She tried to get horses from some lady in Oregon last WEEK. Fortunately the woman was on to her and she did not get any.

Having Dean Solomon loose in a world full of free horses being dumped is like setting me free in a parking lot full of free size 6.5 designer shoes. I am going to go home with as many as I can possibly snatch up, and so is she. Nothing short of a permanent ban on animal ownership is going to fix this situation.

Anyway folks - watch King-5 in Seattle at 11 PM tonight for the full report! It will also be covered on KONG at 10. Linda is doing a stellar, stellar job of bringing the facts to light. Woman deserves a Pulitzer. She also told me the complaint will be posted on their web site soon. Thank you, Linda, for caring about the horses and making sure the public is warned about Dean. When I think about all of the "free to a good home" horses who have wound up in Dean's clutches, it absolutely makes me ill. Don't even get me started on the ex-racehorses...

Monday, April 28, 2008

OK, let's talk about the TWH show industry...

Disclaimer for those of you who are easily confused and angered...I personally do not have any experience with Tennessee Walking Horses. Never been on one, not once. Have been to a TWH show but have never worked at a TWH barn. So this is a guest blog from someone who has done those things.

Here's what I do know. The TWH shows are notorious for abuse. Always have been. Has it changed? I don't know. You tell me, if you are involved.

I also know that this is another breed where riding yearlings and young 2's is rampant and there is a lot of money in winning the 2 year old stuff. You all know my opinion on that.

Oh, and now we're on to my personal opinion...I just plain think they look fucking ridiculous. Sorry. It's a nice breed of horse. I'm not bashing the breed, not a bit. The ones that are flat shod look like they'd be lovely pleasure horses.

How to sore a TWH - read the comments, they're REALLY educational.
Interesting reading for the legal types - the appellate court smacks down an exhibitor who got the boot for soring.

Kudos to Friends of Sound Horses - a group that is trying to end soring and encourage the natural exhibition of the Tennessee Walking Horse. They are outing abusers by publishing the suspension lists on their web site and you guys KNOW how much I LOVE people with the guts to do that! Bet they get a lot of lawsuit threats, too!

From a reader:

My first horse was a TWH but not the quality that would do well in the ring. So after being around the shows for a couple of years I decided that I would buy a baby and bring her up starting with halter. I sided up to a friend who has been training for many years and she agreed to help me with B____. I also had another horse, a 4 yr old that I had been trail riding for a year that was a very Pacey horse. Most of the horses that are pacey can be worked with to make a good gate. So we started B____ learning halter, and R____ learning how to walk like a walker.

What I didn't know was what she was doing to her horses in addition to what we were doing when I was there. So here is the bloody truth of the walking horse industry.

To get the horses that are "straight going" = tends to trot to swing = lateral movement. They will put chains on the back legs to change their balance and make them reach up under themselves. This is not a terrible thing. It does tend to make the pastern area tender from the movement of the chain.

To get a horse that are pacey or have to much "Swing" they will put heavy shoes on the front and use rollers or chains to "Square" the horse up.

Now these are flat shod horses. The ones who are swinging to just right in the square department. They use chains and rollers to enhance their movement.

I admit I did all of these things because there is no permanent damage, and it doesn't make them sore, however there are the "other things" I mentioned.

I didn't realize what the leg wraps were for and it wasn't until almost the end of the first show season that I finally discovered what it was all about.

Kerosene, Diesel, Mustard Oil, koppertox, and other harsh chemicals are placed in the pocket of the front feet just above the cornet band and in the small crack going down to the frog. Then they wrap the leg in plastic wrap, with a quilt and leg wrap over that. The horse will stand with this on their legs for 23 of 24 hours. They take them off to work the horse the next day and often put them back on. They will do this the week or so before the show. Horses that are shown every weekend are subject to this every they get over being sore and the effect on their gait wears off.

Most of the horses skin peels, cracks, and bleeds. After the horse has been "sored" they often won't stand at all in their stalls, because their feet hurt so bad. When they come out of their stalls they can barely walk and the trainers will whip their legs to make them move on. The can't stand still in the cross ties because their feet hurt so they shift back and forth. Now while the horses are sore they apply the rollers and chains to make the horse show more action in the front and "teach" them how to "go".

The horses that you see the most are the padded horses, they are the ones that have the huge front leg lift. They do the same things to these horses to a greater degree. They also do other cruel things, like pressure shoes, and bands.

Pressure shoes have bebe's welded to the underside (next to the hoof) at the white line area. So that when the shoe is applied it puts pressure on the white line and makes the horse "hot footed" so they will spend a short time with that foot on the ground when gaiting. They will often do it in addition to light chemical use because it doesn't show up as easily. They can put pressure on the foot without causing bleeding or scars.

The Bands are placed across the top of the hoof to help hold the shoes on because the shoes are very very heavy. Some flat shod horses have bands because they are considered lite shod but the shoes are still very heavy.

The Bands can and do often put pressure on the hoof wall and can make the hoof break off. Especially when the toe is grown out to 6 or 8 inches. This is often the practice because it again changes the break over of the foot and makes the horse have to pick up the foot higher in order to clear the ground. It also speeds up the front feet in order to get them out of the way for the back foot to come down under it.

There are of course other things that I don't know, but what I have witnessed make me pull my B____ out of the big shows when she was two because it was clear that in order to win I would have to participate in these practices. Now keep in mind I wouldn't subject any horse to this kind of treatment but B____ is my baby. I purchased her when she was 4 weeks old. I went to the farm at least once a week to play with her or just be close to her until she was old enough to be weaned. When she was four months old I brought her home and she has been with me since. I did take her to a trainer when she was two because I didn't think I could "finish" her, but she stayed there for two weeks and the trainer told me that I could leave her but it would be a waste. He wished that all the two year olds knew as much as she did when he got them.

During the two years before I got B____ and the time after I poured myself into every book, or, article I could find to learn health care, training, and just anything I could so that my horses wouldn't end up like the ones that we see on the rescue site.

There is more to tell but it I can't remember it all I am sure as I think about it I will remember.

Oh, speaking of.... Blinders... half and full. They use them to keep the horse from seeing the ground so they will pick up their feet. The goal is to get the horse to break level or above with their knees I have witnessed a horse in full blinders because he would tuck his nose to far toward his chest so he could see over the blinders.

There are over checks to keep them from getting their heads down to far

Long shank bits to make them hold their nose in and break at the pole. Twisted curb chains to keep them from breaking gait.

And it goes on and on.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Repost: The FHOTD FAQ

I know the regulars are sick of seeing this, but we get newbies all the time and I see the same statements being made over and over about this blog by people who don't get it or read things into it that are not here you go!

Fugly Horse of the Day!

Q. What is the point of this blog?
A. To amuse, to entertain, to educate. Overall, to discourage irresponsible horse breeding, but I do address other topics, typically by popular request. I am always surprised at how many people breed horses using less planning and forethought than they put into planning their kid’s birthday party. They will breed a horse because they like its color or they think it is a nice friendly horse and there’s nothing deeper than that going on. Then they are surprised when the foal doesn’t sell. The complaining starts about the expense of keeping all of the horses. The ads get more and more desperate. Next thing you know, here they come to the horse auction and there go three yearlings on Mr. Kill Buyer’s trailer. But you know, this is so hard for them. They didn’t want to sell the horses this way, they just had no choice. Bullshit. Everything right down the line has been a choice - they’ve just made bad ones and it’s the horses who suffer.
Q. Can I e-mail you?
A. Sure. It’s and I’m usually way behind reading it because I’m getting so much mail so don’t hold your breath on a response.
Q. Can I send you my horse to critique?
A. I just don't have the time, but you can post to the conformation forum on the message board. There are tons of people equally or more qualified than I am to critique your horse. Take them to a show, go in halter/in hand, and ask the judge for feedback.
Q. Are you opposed to horse breeding?
A. Not at all. I fully support the breeding of horses with good conformation, good dispositions and athletic ability by breeders who are knowledgeable horsepeople well-versed in bloodlines, genetic defects, and the proper care of mare and foal including nutrition. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people breeding horses who do not meet these simple standards.
Q. Is it wrong to breed a horse who was a rescue?
A. It depends on the horse. I believe it's completely irrelevant if the horse was a rescue. If you are the lucky winner who finds the stakes winning, gorgeous mare or a Superior western pleasure horse or a NCHA money winner in crappy condition at a low end auction because they fell through the cracks, it doesn't bother me a bit if you fatten them up, breed them again, and they proceed to have a cushy life at your nice breeding facility. Now, if the horse was a rescue because it is fugly and lame, then of course I am opposed to breeding it.
Q. Why are you so mean?
A. Being snarky is funny to many people and has made many comedians rich. If you think I’m mean, turn on a Sarah Silverman special sometime. (I love her, by the way) I’m not making money here, but the snark does keep people’s attention more than a boring daily lecture on conformation. If it upsets you to read, you might note that you are not in any way required to visit the blog. Look next to your head – no gun.
Q. Why do you make fun of fugly geldings if the point is to criticize breeding?
A. I make fun of fugly geldings because someone bred them. I give kudos to the person who recognized they should be gelded and carried that out.
Q. I think it’s wrong that you take pictures of people’s horses.
A. I think it’s wrong that those horses exist.
Q. What should people do with fugly horses? Do you want them sent to slaughter or something?
A. Of course not. I am 100% anti-slaughter and I’ve worked with many victims of abuse and neglect, both small and large animals. Fugly horses deserve a good life and proper care every bit as much as quality horses. They simply should not, under any circumstances, reproduce.
Q. If you're opposed to slaughter, what should someone do if they can't sell or even give away their horse and can't afford to feed it?
A. Euthanize. It always amazes me how uncomfortable people are with this option (calm, humane death at home, assisted by a veterinarian) and would rather choose slaughter (horrible, terrifying, painful death in a scary place, after days of traveling with no food or water and getting the shit kicked out of them by other horses, by a low paid employee who isn't skilled enough to do anything else but knock horses in the head for a living).
Q. If we only bred really good horses, people who don’t have a lot of money would never be able to afford horses.
A. Biggest load of bull crap I’ve ever heard. Even the best breeders have enough culls to keep every Pony Club and 4-H and trail rider in horses forever. Look at Secretariat. Great racehorse, gorgeous, indisputably breeding quality, but he sired a whole lot of mediocre horses. Nice minds, at least the ones I’ve met, but they didn’t cut the mustard on the track. You can breed wonderful horses to wonderful horses and still produce a fair share of mediocre horses that will have to be sold for substantially less money. Not to mention all of the fabulous horses that suffer an injury and need to retire to a lighter use home. There will never be an actual shortage of affordable horses.
Q. You’re wrong about just the fugly horses going to slaughter. We rescued Blah Blah Racehorse who won 8 zillion dollars on the track from New Holland!
A. There is an exception to every rule. Yes, some excellent horses take a wrong turn in life. But every time I go to an auction that has killer buyers at it, I see that the vast majority of horses going to his trailer are really horrid looking young stock (3 and under, typically barely halter broke, often without papers) or horses 15+ years old who are totally broken down and crippled, often as a result of having conformation that predisposed them to conditions like navicular disease. People like to talk about the rare “celebrity” rescue horses because it results in more attention from the public and more donations for the rescue. I’m not begrudging the rescues this – it’s a good fundraising tactic. Still, it doesn’t mean that your typical horse heading off to become a steak is a stakes winner. Most of them are sad little horses who have had sad little lives full of poor care, irresponsible ownership, and in some cases, serious physical deformities.
Q. I’d like to see a picture of you! You’re probably fugly!
A. And I’ll put that up just as soon as I start criticizing how human beings look. (Actually, since I wrote this, I have put up my own picture - feel free to critique. I stopped caring what other people thought around age 30, like most women.) If you want to criticize horses I’ve owned or own, I already did that post – July 4, 2007. Much of what I own is fugly. Nothing I own is pregnant.
Q. But you have a stallion and I think he's a piece of shit.
A. And you are welcome to your opinion! Most people who have seen him disagree with you, but you are very welcome to post your opinion, and you will not be deleted or edited. He has not bred a mare, nor will he until qualified, experienced AQHA judges have shown me by their placing decisions that they believe he is superior to most of his peers. (By the way, you people posting that he isn't going to ride because he has one cross to Impressive? Do you truly understand how ignorant that sounds? Do I really need to make you a list of all of the top ten or better performance horses at last year's World Show that had at least one cross to Impressive? His dam's a full sibling to a horse with over 2000 performance points. I think he's gonna ride just fine.)
Q. You just don’t like my breed!
A. I try to balance pictures of horses I don’t like with horses I do like of the same breed. And just because I don’t personally care for a breed doesn’t mean I don’t know what a good one looks like. If it’s a breed I truly do not know anything about – I don’t critique it unless it’s got some really obvious flaw that would be a problem in anything that whinnies.
Q. Who the hell are you that you think you can judge everybody?
A. I’m just another citizen of the Land of the Free, where we are all free to judge anybody we like. You can start your own blog and criticize me, if you’d like. It's been done! Blogger is free to use and simple to set up! And yeah, I know I suck about formatting posts...I just haven't had time to figure out why the HTML on this thing is so wacky.
Q. You’re not very Christian!
A. You’re right.
Q. You’re just some amateur with a bad attitude!
A. In this context, I’m just another horseperson with an opinion. If you disagree, feel free to comment. Again, I am not blocking anybody from commenting, nor do I delete comments. No one has ever been banned. I have only ever deleted someone who posted the same thing like 100 times in a row (c'mon now, grow up) and I did delete someone once for just being over-the-top racist. But for the most part, your comments will stand.
Q. You think you know it all!
A. Actually I have posted many times that I don't know X or Y and I'm interested in hearing from people who do.
Q. Sometimes you're wrong!
A. I'm sure I am, like everybody else. That's why you can use the comments to tell me so. No, I am not going to go back and edit posts every time someone corrects me on some minor detail. And no, I honestly don't think there's such a thing as a naturally gaited (as in, something other than w-t-c) Arabian. That is something I am going to have to see in real life to believe it, and I haven't seen it yet. Send me a video of your yearling Arabian slow-gaiting across a field, then we'll talk.
Q. It’s not fair to criticize so-and-so for sending their horse to auction. Not everybody is rich like I am sure YOU are, they had no choice!
A. I’m not rich but I do have enough money management skills/motivation to work to ensure that I don’t have to send horses to auction, because, shazam, fall came and what do you know, hay costs money! Sure, hay has gone up. Gasoline has gone up too, do you use that as an excuse not to go to work? I have two jobs right now and, no, I'm probably not going to buy your excuses why you can't get a job/a second job.
Q. How would you feel if a horse didn’t get sold as a result of your blog!
A. Ha ha, first of all I’m not so egotistical as to think the whole equestrian world reads my blog and takes it as gospel – but I’m flattered you think I have that kind of power. Second of all, if someone walks away from a horse featured here and instead rewards a breeder who has done their homework and bred a higher quality horse? I’m thrilled.
Q. How dare you say that about my horse? I’m going to sue you!
A. Whatever floats your boat. You may wish to speak to an attorney about whether or not you have a case. Two key concepts – “Fair use” and the fact that you have the right to respond to your heart's content in the same public forum. As I said, I do not censor comments. Come on over and call me every name in the book and defend the honor of your Andafriesanwalker if it makes you happy.
Q. All the bad rescues featured on your site are PROOF we need slaughter!
A. That's ridiculous. First of all, of course you're seeing bad rescues here - just like the nightly news doesn't feature the guy who didn't kill someone. Do you get it? Of course I have now started to feature good rescues on Friday for a bit of balance. Secondly, in what world is the solution to cruelty and neglect killing the victim? Ludicrous. We have humane laws and we ARE enforcing them. Ol' photoshopped ass, Dean Solomon, has four counts pending right now. It's not like it's the wild west and there are no laws and nobody ever gets in trouble for cruelty/, it's not as consistent as we'd like but what is?
Q. How dare you make fun of children and how they ride!
A. I'm not making fun of them. I'm making fun (actually it's not really fun, I'm usually pissed as hell) of their idiot parents and trainers who let them do things they are not ready for, like jump and barrel race when it's blatantly obvious they are not ready to do so. You should not be jumping until you can trot and canter without your stirrups with proper equitation. I will argue this with ANYONE. You, as the parent, or the instructor, are charged with the responsibility of keeping the child as safe as possible. That means saying NO until the kid truly can ride well enough to progress to the next level. I'm not going to back down on this.

Q. You're making money selling Fugly Horse Swag! That's not right!
A. No, CafePress is making money selling Fugly Horse Swag. I marked everything up a dollar or less and so far have made around forty dollars, with which I bought some dewormer and some berry treats for the moneysucking four hooved critters I'm responsible for. If that disturbs you, don't buy anything!
Q. I can't believe you made fun of X! I'm not reading your blog anymore!
A. As I always say, you are not Elvis and nobody really cares if you leave the building. Truly, few things look sillier than the Grand Pronouncement on a message board or blog that "I'M LEAVING AND I'M NEVER COMING BACK!" If you think people are going to come running after you to soothe your hurt feelings, all I can say is don't hold your breath.
Finally, to the lady who asserted that I was to blame for the entire world becoming more looks-ist or something, you are working too hard on your thesis. Step away from the computer. Go get a beer. You’ll feel better.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gee, maybe I just figured out who is teaching all of the asshats!

At least in Alabama!

The always entertaining Manure Pile message board tipped me off to the existence of the Mobile Riding Academy. Wow. And I thought the place I learned to ride was a shithole!

"Moulin Rouge: 4yo 15.3 h. tb g. Super Sweet horse. “Red” is like a big teddy bear, but with a lot of step, spunk, and a huge, honest heart. He is a cute mover and jumper. He is forward and fun to jump, so my intermediate students love him! $2,000 obo"

Who the hell puts up this picture for a horse for sale? Are you blind? He looks like animal control just confiscated him. What's the BCS on this one, maybe a 2.5? You can't miss the rain rot even in the picture. And you want $2000? And you're using him for lessons in this condition? Are you crazy? Get your ass down from there! The saddle is sitting RIGHT on his poor, bony withers. And you are an instructor? A "level two Parelli" instructor, as you brag. And people are paying you $65 for a lesson on Bony Pony there? I think I am going to throw up.

'Course, Asshatella is breeding horses, too. Grade ones. With blue eyes.

"Bella: 7yo 15.1h Blue eyed Registered American White Horse. She shows in mini stirrup and we use her for beginner through advanced lessons- both English and western. She gets used also for birthday parties and camps. This mare is super bombproof even with beginners on trail rides with wagons! She is a great trail horse, and is a beauty to boot. She was bred to my white stallion with blue eyes. Their baby, Skylar, was sold as a unicorn to nice people who work the renaissance festivals! He was also white with blue eyes. $3,500. obo "

The baby was sold as a unicorn. Yeah. Sounds about right. WTF is a Registered American White Horse?

Don't we all break out our Trakehner crosses at age two, in a western saddle with just one of those thin little navajo pads under it? Yep, she certainly looks well-developed and ready to ride, doesn't she? But hey, no time like the present for her to learn to go "properly" under saddle.

*drips sarcasm*

"Lilly: Sweet 2 yo 15.1 Trakhener cross filly. 2 white sox. Beautiful, floaty movement. Built very athletically for either dressage or jumping. Very talented youngster. Currently learning how to go properly under saddle. $2,500 obo."

Here's my favorite pic of Miss Expert Instructor. 'Cause we all know over a fence you should throw your ass as far skyward as possible! That looks goooooood.

But hey, she got a degree in Equine Studies from Findlay! I know, I know, I'm sorry to the three of you who went there who are actually competent, but I've seen so many asshats come out of that program that, really, if I were you, I'd just leave it off your resume.

And of course - no trip to the land of NH idiocy is complete without at least one asshat who looks like he barely got a GED standing on a horse's back.

All right, I'm gonna go outside now and tell the VLC how damn lucky he is that he doesn't live at the Mobile Riding Academy, and how he'd freaking damn well better appreciate it and behave himself forever.

You might be an asshat if...

Horsewings just posted this BRILLIANT compendium of reasons you might get yourself featured on this blog. It definitely deserves front page billing!

Asshats abound! In that spirit, and with due deference to Jeff Foxworthy, here is how you can tell if YOU are an ASSHAT:

If you have ever bred a stallion to a mare “just to see what you get”, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever put your barefoot, helmetless kid on an unbroke horse to pose for a horse-for-sale ad, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever bred your mare so you could watch the “miracle of birth”, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever bred 30 mares for this spring but haven’t yet sold your last two years’ fuglies, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever bred 30 mares for this spring and now think hay is too expensive so you’re going to sell them all at rock-bottom prices via dispersal sale/auction, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever put your child in a dangerous situation for your own selfish gratification (FHOTD in: Or for marketing purposes, or because YOU are afraid to put that first ride on yourself so you throw your kid up there like a convenient sack of potatoes!) you might be an asshat.

If you have ever had a buy-one-get-one-free sale at your HORSE RESCUE, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever got drunk and let your friend’s stallion mount your mare so you could laugh it up, you might be an asshat. (FHOTD in: Extra credit for putting it on Youtube)

If you have ever made “expert” videos of yourself really bitching up horse-related activities, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever bred a lame mare because she wasn’t able to do anything BUT reproduce, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever ridden a horse that you outweigh, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever bought a stallion because it is a “rush,” you might be an asshat.

If yore breading praktisses are as shitty as yore speling, you might be an asshat.

If your idea of good conformation is four mostly useable legs and a totally useable uterus, you might be an asshat.

If it never occurred to you to leave your mare open for a season or two, you might be an asshat.

If you think letting a 5 year old child run a barrel pattern is kyooot, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever “got after” a horse that had no clue what you were asking of him, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever jumped 4 feet or done sliding stops with a 2 year old horse, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever sold a young green horse to a novice promising they would learn together, you might be an asshat.
If you have ever taken a horse you knew was lame to a horse show, you might be an asshat. (FHOTD in: Or a horse so thin that all of its ribs were showing and it was tucked up like a greyhound!)

If you have ever posed as a rescue, accepted money for a horse’s care, then dumped it once the cash was gone, you might be an asshat. (FHOTD in: Extra credit if you never had the horse in the first place!)

If you breed Pugadoodlemations or Goldenlabrashepherdachshunds to go along with your
WalkaRockaloosacurly sport cobs, you might be an asshat.

If you are standing a stallion that has no show record, no performance record, no talent, and isn’t even broke, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever traded your stallion’s services for beer or dope, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever written an ad using the term “out of” when referring to the father of a foal, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever stood agog at clinics where clinicians “play” with their horses and teach you how to be your horsey’s friend, you might be an asshat.

If you have a website that has pics of your barn made out of old scrap lumber and blue tarps, plays crappy music, and pictures of Pegasus, you might be an asshat.

If you tell people you are a rescue but place sick, untreated horses, never check references, approve adoptions to people you have never met based only on an application you received by email, or never check on the horse again, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever advertised your stallion citing only his distant ancestors’ accomplishments to promote him because he has none of his own, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever emailed a rescue asking them for free horses, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever told people you are a trainer because you watched a series of videos from a “renowned” national NH trainer, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever promoted a HYPP N/H or H/H horse as a “great broodmare prospect” or “awesome stud,” you might be an asshat. (FHOTD in: Or you have no idea of your linebred Poco Bueno horse's HERDA status)

If you have ever used up a good horse then tried to dump it “free to good home” rather than either giving it a much-earned retirement or a dignified death, you might be an asshat.

If you have ever posed as a loving horse owner, scooped up a bunch of “free to good home” horses and then shipped them to slaughter, you might be an asshat.

FHOTD in: If you have ever posted online that you can't afford hay/grain/the vet/your mortgage and you don't know what to dooooooo yet you DO NOT HAVE A JOB, you are definitely an asshat!

If you do any of the above on a regular basis or see nothing wrong with any of this, you ARE an ASSHAT!

So sayeth the FHOTD Mafia!

I know it's San Diego and there's smog but past that I am lost...


"LOOKING TO BREED MY AZTECA STUD.. HE IS 3 YEARS OLD..he is a fast learner,very flashy and athletic. well built and tall. he is not registered and i dont know his weight.. since he is not registered thats why im only charging $100. its his first time breeding. ill do it like doing your smog "foal or free redo". "

I really had to think about this. Then I remembered that when I lived in L.A., when you go to smog test your car, if it fails they will give you a free retest within a certain amount of time. So I think that is what he is getting at here?

Just another lovely example of the BYB mentality...

Though while we are on the subject, can someone please explain the Azteca to me? I cannot for the life of me figure out why you'd breed a Quarter Horse (ideally low headed, flat moving, suited for traditional pleasure events) to an Andalusian (ideally high headed, flashy, lots of knee and hock action, bred for high performance disciplines like dressage)? I mean, to me that's like crossing a pig with a zebra...just WTF are you trying to get? What is it supposed to look like? Move like? Be good for?

P.S. Again, if he's tall, that guy is Andre the Giant.

Friday, April 25, 2008

You've all heard of a fifty-dollar whore...

Now we have the equine version! Looks just about as good, doesn't it? Click on it to enlarge it and read the text clearly - blogger wouldn't make it larger without losing clarity.

TGIF! Boy, do I have a lot of unread e-mail...sorry everybody, I just run out of time!

Check out the winner of the Drum Horse Association's Photo Contest. *sigh* Nothing like rewarding bad parental decisions yet again...

Someone sent me this...typical. I particularly love her theory that if a horse isn't downhill at three, it will be uphill by the time it is seven. Say what? Despite the writing style, she's not a kid...she posted plenty of pictures proving otherwise. Ah well. At least he is a gelding!

"This was posted on the message board for a sim game called "Furry Paws". I quote the entire post, in its entirety:

'this is my Foundation QH commanche,he is 2.8 years old,he is young right?well I can do almost anything on him,Stand on his back Slide off of his back,crawl under him,Jump on him(not as english jumping),Ride him without Anything ECT. Hes A total Sweet heart I have bet you have been working with him all of his life?no not really,The year we had him we had 8 foals,8 foals to imprit,8 foals to halter Break,and grandpa had is stroke around the time he was a yearling so he was let go for about a year.I got attached To him and Have been working with him every since.Hes beefer then what I like but hes my baby btw:I know hes down hill If he was stright now he will be uphill when he reaches seven.Commanche IS a gelding and has never bred a mare.Excuse my hair windy/wet/hot day,Didnt feel like prudin up for yall guys! enjoy No rude comments DCant say anything nice LEAVE!'

BTW, is "prudin up" some regional expression I haven't been exposed to prior to this? And I LOVE people who think they can order other people off the Internet...

What do you suppose a side range is? Also, she is an Arabian - albeit not a very good one - she CANNOT be "gaited." Unless by gaited, you mean that she has the ability to move forward in a gait...Oh look, even better, here is their stallion. Say it with me, choir - CUT OFF ITS BALLS, DEWORM IT AND FEED IT FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

Look, he is parked in the handicapped space! Is he handicapped, or the owner? Isn't there a fine for that? OK, I have to say, this looks like a super nice horse, for you midwesterners looking for kid safe or scaredy cat re-rider safe. :-)

If you've ever wondered how it looks when your saddle is too far forward, here you go! This is a really unattractive picture of this mare, too - if she is really that downhill at age ten, eeek. She certainly doesn't have a pretty head, and the head/neck balance is way off. I like her bloodlines but she's not the best representative of them. Hopefully her new owner will confine her use to the show ring!

*sigh* Why are people so allergic to riding lessons? And it's not a fluke bad picture, look at the ad for more.

Again, Marketing 101. When you want $4,000 for your mare, you need to present her so that she looks like she's worth it. That may mean investing $50 in having someone with pretty equitation come out and ride her for pictures.

Here is the part that REALLY scares me... "Only selling her because I bought her 8 months ago for barrels, and she isnt as fast as she needs to be, but is the best trail horse you will ever meet." OMG. You are not serious. You are trying to run barrels? I say this out of genuine concern - please, please, please invest in some riding lessons. Otherwise, I can see your future and it involves a trip to the ER.

Someone is responsible for making the decisions that brought this yearling colt into existence...and they need a slap upside the head. Yes, deworming and better nutrition would help but I guarantee you, this is not the offspring of two breeding quality individuals!

For sale as a broodmare, because those knees really need to carry a few hundred more pounds...BTW exactly what knee injury would cause this extreme of an effect? Racetrackers, any thoughts? I really have never seen anything like this. By the way, person who sent me the link to the online auction to buy Thoroughbreds, I hate you. That is the last thing a Thoroughbred addict like myself needs to see when she is at capacity...I now want this mare so badly...fortunately she is 3000 miles away. Can someone on the East Coast please buy her, give her a good home, and update me on how she is doing? Hell, if she really is sound, she's a bargain.

You all know that locally, we're working to make sure the criminal charges stick against Dean Solomon. But she's certainly not the only faux rescuing hoarder in the world. Colorado has had its hands full with Alesha Matchett and thanks to various dedicated individuals, Alisha is facing charges as well. These updates were sent to me:

Photos taken yesterday of horses at "Animal Angels Horse Rescue" In Wellington, CO:

Horses that have been rehabbed from this crazy hoarder:

These horses originally:

News story:

And it's Friday so here's a rescue of the day to think about adopting! I've shown you the east coast and the west coast so today here's one for you guys in Texas. LOPE in Austin, Texas is a great organization and I have visited their farm and was very impressed. It is safe, horses look great, and they do ride and work with their horses to ensure that they can make the right match between horse and rider.

HOW FREAKING CUTE is this guy? This is a 4 year old gelding named Hey Doctor Mike. He's 15.2 - perfect for you ladies who don't want to be up at the higher altitudes anymore. LOPE also has racing Arabians and Quarter Horses. Check them out!

Have a wonderful weekend with your horses, everybody! The PNW is expecting sunshine and good weather so I may actually ride the Very Large Colt outside and get some good pictures.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

By popular request...

For all of you scaredy cats who want to discuss overcoming the fear and riding/training your darn horses, I've set up a new blog. I'm going to chronicle training the Very Large Colt, but more than that, we're going to use it as a place to talk about riding through not only our horses' antics, but our own psychological issues that are interfering with riding. So come on over and get back in the saddle!

Brad Paisley wasn't kidding about people online...

This is kinda-sorta horse related.

Someone brought up the concept of pseuicide yesterday on the blog and I about died laughing because I have seen people pull this shit! Check out this tale of drama...unbelievable. However, it is NOT limited to fandom. I have seen people pull it on horse communities! Let's face it, if you're an attention whore, the Internet is your playground. You can develop a fatal disease and collect sympathy AND cash with often no one the wiser. Or you can just tell a grand and elaborate story guaranteed to garner sympathy and freebies galore.

There was an incident on COTH last year with a person who claimed to be in a scary equine employment situation. We'll call her CrazyAssBitch. Hey, fairly believable ... most of us have been in a scary equine employment situation at least once! CAB claimed her horses were in danger which of course got everybody all revved up to help poor her. Some kind but a bit too gullible person let CAB bring herself, her horses and her dogs and move in. OMG. You all see the train coming around the bend, heading for the place where the tracks are out over the cliff. Unsurprisingly, CAB was nuttier than a fruitcake and the kind, gullible person had one hell of a time getting themselves out of the situation.

It happens every day. We decide we "know" people based upon many hours talking on the 'net, and it turns out we don't know them at all. The world - and particularly the horse world - is full of scammers, con artists, and people who are flat out delusional. The Internet is the perfect place for them to create new identities, win friends and influence people. Dean Solomon's message board is still full of people who love and support her - even though most have never met her. Well, duh. They have bought the bill of goods she sold them on the Internet. They believe, damn it, and no amount of animal cruelty charges are going to make them reconsider their position.

(Come on folks. Get real. Do you know how hard it is to actually get animal cruelty charges brought? It DOES NOT HAPPEN without good reason. IT DOESN'T. This is not like robbing a convenience store, where someone might be unfairly accused because they look like the thief. You have to leave a trail of dead animals behind you before you actually get charged and that is exactly what Dean did.) As to her health - it has now been posted that she had a brain aneurysm and is in critical condition - all I will say is that the last time the shit hit the fan, she allegedly had to get a pacemaker - but was posting to her message board that night. Anybody here ever have heart surgery? Were you posting on the net that evening? From the ICU? Who allows that? Obviously I am not privy to Ms. Solomon's medical records, but common sense tells me that it's interesting when you are hale, hearty and merrily going to horse auctions and Starbucks one minute, then you start to get in trouble for your hoarding and, shazam, immediately you are on death's door. Hmmm...just saying...

Back to the topic of Internet personalities, I "knew" this woman for years who claimed to be a Friesian breeder in North Dakota. I still wonder about her, because she knew a lot about horses and must have had them at one time. Her internet personality was very believable because she could talk the talk. She claimed to be wealthy (though I did wonder from the start what a wealthy person was doing choosing to live in Wahpeton, ND, a fact that came out early on). She had a lot of drama in her life. Some believable, some not so believable. Also tons of health problems. Honestly, it was a damn good internet reality show and I kept chatting with her long after I discovered that she was really living in an apartment in the middle of town, had money judgments against her, and her dogs were real but her horses weren't. I will say this - she was clearly just doing this for her own amusement/ego. She never asked for money or anything from me. No real harm done. The funny part is, I'd still be friends with her because she was so damn entertaining, but I think she figured out I was on to her, and went poof.

One well known internet scammer is Trina Kenney. Ms. Kenney, thanks to the Internet, has been able to sell the same horse to multiple people and laugh all the way to the bank. She is also infamous for selling lame horses, mentally unsound horses, and misrepresenting horses in every way possible. The Internet has made many of her deals possible - after all, she can create endless identities online and there are a million places to post horses for sale that do not verify your identity in any way.

I know a lot of people think I could be guilty of the same kind of fraud. I have been accused of being all sorts of things and people, but we have at least two dozen people who post here who do know me and my horses in real life. I am not trying to hide anything, and no, I truly am not madly posting this blog from my trailer in Arkansas where I breed Pit Bull mix puppies. :-)

So share your stories - who have you met who is so much cooler online? Have you been swindled by someone on the Internet - a rescuer, a private party claiming to have money problems? Have you just been emotionally swindled by someone who pretended to be someone they weren't and sucked you into their drama? Have you met someone on the horse boards, thought they were way cool and then met them in real life and went, holy shit, they're a BYB? Have you found out that a good internet friend was hiding all kinds of craziness in their real life?

This should be good...

Pictured today is Star, a three year old TB gelding with a slab fracture of his knee. Star desperately, immediately needs a home - no adoption fee. He will need stall rest and a slow rehab. There is a rescuer willing to board him for you and hands-on handle the rehab if you pay the bills. For those of you who are getting skeered of the big ones, this is a little 15 hand guy! He is at Emerald Downs, south of Seattle. Pictured as a long yearling. Contact me if you're interested.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can't I just order some guts from Country Supply?

Unrelated to the post but pictured today for decoration, several rescued Thoroughbred mares available through Save A Forgotten Equine in Monroe, Washington. They are track broke and both riding quietly.

When I was a cocky teenager who would ride anything, me and my cocky teenager friends would sneer haughtily at this middle-aged lady at our barn as only cocky teenagers can. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with her - she was afraid to ride her own horse. Oh, once in a while she'd get on and do a little walk-trot but mostly she paid someone else to ride him. And he wasn't a tough horse. A little hot, maybe, but in retrospect I don't think he ever got turned out and given the circumstances, the horse was a saint.

The thing that baffled us is that we all remembered when we were little kids at the barn and we remembered her riding the toughest horses there without a second thought. Did this mean we were going to get old and chicken shit too? Perish the thought. We were sure it wasn't going to happen to us.

Until I was about 27, I rode six days a week, no fewer than three horses a day, and often as many as ten. Many of them green, many of them horses with "issues." It took a lot to scare me. I won't say there aren't horses I turned down riding back then, but they had real problems - rearing, brain-turned-off-bolting, flipping. (I still (knock on wood) haven't been flipped with and I really do intend to try to avoid that experience)

Then, life happened. I finished college, I broke up with the horsey guy and married a non-horsey guy, I moved a couple of times. I sold off everything but two horses and I pretty much just stopped riding. Oh, I rode here and there - I put some training rides on a friend's greenie after she unexpectedly got pregnant, I hopped on my old gray mare and rode her around the field a few times - but for the most part, I quit. I lost my riding muscles, I lost my balance, and I gained thirty pounds.

In 2003, I got the urge to start riding again - and was quickly in for a shock. Where was my balance? Where was my flexibility? Where the hell were my guts? I got scared easily. I got off and walked horses back to the barn if they acted barn-sour. I could hardly post halfway around the arena without my stirrups. WTF?

First, I blamed my weight. Surely it was just the thirty extra pounds that had turned me into a bad rider, so I starved it off over the course of a winter and wound up thinner than I had been in my 20s. I ran every morning before work and weight trained, convinced that fitness was the answer. You know, it helped - but it didn't help enough. I was still gutless. My balance felt off. If a horse did the spook-spin-bolt with me, I got dangerously off balance. It wasn't that I was coming off but I just didn't feel tight and secure like I used to. I would get dizzy if they did something too quickly. I remembered making fun of that lady when I was a cocky teenager and realized karma was kicking me in the ass!

I went on a campaign to FIX THIS. I took longe lessons with no reins and no stirrups, doing endless transitions using only my seat and legs. The trainer told me I was perfectly fine, didn't suck, and it was all in my head. Did I need to quit the trainer and go to a shrink? Take a few shots of vodka before riding? Prozac? Zoloft? Hypnosis? What? I decided to stick an ipod in my ears, crank up the music and try to distract myself from any fears. It kind of worked.

Strangely enough, the thing that helped me was getting back into horse rescue. If you are going to help the horses, you have to get on them and evaluate them. You don't have history. The horse might be dangerous. You simply do not know until you get on, but someone has to get on and when you look around at your fellow rescuers, you realize that you're in the minority as someone who has started greenies and ridden a lot of OTTB's - even if it was many years ago. You find that, like it or not, you're the most qualified person to hop up there and find out what you've got. You're IT, sunshine. Being chickenshit isn't going to save a life, so just cut out the mental bullshit and get on the horse already! I started getting on the "unknown history" horses again, and at least so far, it hasn't bitten me in the ass. In fact, in honor of my 40th birthday last summer, I decided to volunteer to ride an extremely green Arabian mare owned by a rescue in a schooling show. Did I mention I didn't have any opportunity to ride her beforehand, and that she had been a totally unhandled 10 year old just five months earlier? She was green but nonviolent and while our show performance would have made for one hell of a funny Youtube video (you guys probably would have posted it here and gone "who is this yahoo, maybe she should have gotten the horse trained before the horse show?"), I had a good time and felt like at least I wasn't a total wimp in my old age. :-)

So now I am on to the next hurdle: Breaking out my gigantor 16.2 three year old. I love this horse and he has a great mind and is easily the best quality horse I've ever owned in my life. I have heard even more training horror stories than usual in the past years and am paranoid and trust no one (well, Mugwump or OFCOL or CutNJump but they are all too far away from me) so I have been doing ground work for weeks and contemplating putting the first ride on the very...very...Very Large Colt. Last night seemed to be a good time - no thunder, no lightning, no jack donkey braying continuously while locked in a trailer in the parking lot (that has happened before, and Very Large Colt doesn't care for it, to say the least). We tacked, we longed, we hand walked around the arena and practiced our "ho" and he was every bit as semi-catatonic as he usually is.

Then the internal conversation began - which I suspect will sound very familiar to many of my over-35 readers:

Left Brain: Just get on the damn horse. You have been getting on feedlot rescues for the past two years. This is a nice horse from a good home. This is actually easier.

Right Brain: Fuck, that is a long way down. Why did I want a 16.2 hander again?

Left Brain: Because the judges would laugh you out of the ring on your 14.3 hand mare, even if she does want to be a hunt seat horse. Remember?

Right Brain: Oh yeah.

Left Brain: Speaking of said 14.3 hand mare, you got on her not thinking she was broke AND she was violently cold backed AND you did it after only three days of ground work in a crowded arena in December.

Right Brain: Yeah, but I had to do that. Someone told me to just get on her and there were witnesses so I couldn't wuss out. I'm all alone here, nobody is gonna know if I chicken out but me. Hey, there's another good reason not to do this! Nobody is here. Guess it'll have to wait for another night!

headlights roll in

Left Brain: Try another excuse, Wimpy Wanda. Your friends are here and will be happy to call 911 if you eat dirt. After they stop laughing, of course.

Right Brain: Maybe I'm rushing things. He's kind of girthy and stuff...he probably needs more ground work.

Left Brain: *snort* Oh yeah there ya go. Why don't you just put the horse away and go in the house and go online and order the Parelli videos now? You too can be one of those middle aged ladies doing perpetual ground work with her horse that walks all over her! Hey, maybe he can wear a tarp on his head. I'm sure they've got a class for that at AQHA World!

Right Brain: Shut UP left brain. You know, if I got hurt and couldn't work, how could I support all of these horses? I would have to put myself on my own blog as one of these losers who can't afford hay. Check it out everybody, this stupid 40 year old woman with eight horses to support got the genius idea to break out her first greenie from scratch since about 1994. Of course she wound up putting herself in traction and now she's on the Internet begging for someone to take care of her 30-something mush eating mare for her. Pathetic! Wouldn't it have made more sense to spend the lousy $500 and have someone else who can actually still ride do it?

Left Brain: OMG I'm ashamed to share a head with you. For fuck's sake, the horse doesn't even buck when he's turned out. His idea of being a bad ass is to put his head down and shake it a few times. Are you gonna fall off if he does that? Go roll yourself in feathers if you're going to be that chicken. BWAAAAWK BWAAAAWK BWAAAAK! *flaps arms*

Left Brain won. I got on the Very Large Colt (pictured left, several weeks earlier, and yes, there IS a fence in the middle of the indoor that I am kneeling on in this picture...old converted dairy barn). As I predicted, the worst thing he did was back up a little bit in confusion. He quickly figured out forward motion, stopping, turning, etc. The "ho" command worked just as well from the saddle as it did from the ground. He reacted to the sudden appearance of the little gray barn cat by following said barn cat along the fence line and sticking his nose on the barn cat and snarfling all over it. (Now, we all know that the real challenge is ride three or four...but I'm gonna pretend if nothing happened the first time, nothing is going to...)

All right, the rest of you - as COTH calls them "re-riders" - or just admitted middle aged wimps, tell me your stories! I know I am not the only one struggling with this issue. We can all feel stupid together, woo hoo!