Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hey horse trainers? Why didn't you just do this?


I know I have a lot of readers who spent years, and years, and years as working students/apprentices to big name trainers in order to learn. You mucked stalls, you pulled manes, you slept in stalls at horse shows, you longed horses who tried to charge at you, you showed in 100 degree heat and broke ice out of the buckets in 10 degree cold...all that, for years and years, in order to learn what you know now.

Well, apparently, you could have avoided it all by taking a three week course! An alert reader sent me the web site for a guy in Minnesota who is offering a three week horse training course. After perusing the web site, I have determined that this is the place to go if you want to learn how to load a horse into the bed of a pickup truck, walk through a circle of balloons, or sit down and kiss you on the ear. (But apparently not lead without a stud chain...)

You guys know I never think much of these kind of theatrics. I'm more impressed if you show me a horse who will walk, trot and canter for an intermediate rider, pick up his leads, stop and stand quietly on a loose rein, get into the horse trailer without drama, etc. Ever notice THAT horse is a lot harder to find in today's world than a horse you can throw a tarp at? I can find horses who will push a ball with their nose on every corner, but try to find one who picks up a lead on command in the center of the arena.

But people, sadly, are not impressed by useful skills. They are impressed by silly theatrics. And that is why people are paying - are you ready? $7500 for three weeks of instruction. Good grief.

"During the 3-week class each student will train a horse the basics; neck reining, backing-up, sliding stop, and other basic handling techniques, such as; halter training, gentling, sacking, controlled and free longing, bitting, and flexing. Students will also desensitize their horse to gunfire and ATV's." OK, whoa, back up. We're gonna go from halter breaking to sliding stops in three weeks? WHAT? I sure hope that is not on the same horse! If it is, I'm gonna set up shop next door to him - it's going to be a rehab program for mind-blown horses coming out of his program. I'll only charge you another $7500 to get their brain back in their head. Unfortunately, that part is going to take a lot longer than three weeks...

What bugs me about this is that you know people are coming to "horse training school" without even intermediate riding skills. You know it. So what are they really getting for their $7500? They are probably getting some useful instruction in ground work and how to work around a horse, but would 150 riding lessons have gotten them a lot closer to their goal of being an actual horse trainer? OF COURSE!

(Or, you know, you could apprentice with an actual trainer...for fact you often get paid something for that or at least you get a place to live and fed...I know a lot of people who would happily give a place to live and meals to someone who reliably did the work with the horses they had agreed to do...of course that is pretty much a whole other blog topic!)

A fool and his/her money...that's all l have to say about it. Wow.

P.S. Yes, all the horses look happy and healthy. I have no criticisms of the facility from what I can see and the man has nice stallions. I am merely commenting on the phenomenal waste of money that would have been better invested in improving riding skills which would help create an actual horse trainer out of some of these students!

FHOTD welcomes a new sponsor - the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation. This is a Wisconsin based rescue which is competing in the Care2 contest for America's Favorite Animal Shelter which will award $10,000 to a worthy animal rescue. MHWF is the only equine rescue among the top 10 front runners, so please consider giving them your vote!

We found her. Queen Asshat of 2008!

A reader forwarded me this response she got to her note cautioning a "free horse" seller about the dangers the horse might encounter and offering help.

Reader's very polite note (this was all forwarded from Dreamhorse so I can assure you, nothing was edited. I got the original as it was sent back and forth)

"I am a volunteer for (rescue name), and so many times I see horses for free or at such a low price that I am afraid a killbuyer will get them. There are so many horses that get taken and then shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered and alot of people don't know about it. To keep your horse safe, make sure whomever you give him to signs a transfer of ownership contract. This will give your horse more protection! Here is a link to the one we use at the rescue (link) Please get references.If you want more information about slaughter and what can happen, please feel free to go to our website. We also provide free horse ads for $0 fee horses to keep them out of auction."

That was nice, right? Nothing offensive there. She didn't come out swinging. She was simply being informative and trying to help. Here is what she got back:

To: (name redacted)
Subject: Re: DreamHorse Ad Response: 1303986 (MANNY)
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 21:30:07 -0500








Tracey, the next time you want to see trash, look in the nearest mirror. It'll be right there, every time! Sorry to hear that you're such an incompetent horseperson that you can't successfully cure a habit like kicking and have to blame the animal and spitefully send it to slaughter. And I guess it is those racehorses' fault for breaking down on the track, too, and not being horses you can resell at a profit. How very trashy of them!

I'll give Tracey this - she's consistent. I love this ad she posted in August. Take my lame pony or I'll take her to New Holland. Of course you will...



And for you racehorse trainers who are giving Tracey horses, KNOCK IT OFF! There are plenty of reputable racehorse rehoming facilities that will work with you. Your horses deserve better than this (insert epithet of your choice, I know what I am thinking) deciding they are "trash" to be thrown out with the garbage.

Tracey, I suggest you get out of horses and do something else with your spare time. Like learning how to use lower case!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fail to to help

I blogged before about people who fail to report animal abuse and think that perhaps it's someone else's job, or that animal control/the sheriff somehow has some amazing right to search anybody's property without a warrant or any probable cause to find the starving animals. When I did that, I said I wanted to hear from AC officers and other officials who had encountered this problem. And I did!

"I am an Animal Control Officer in Canada. While I only have jurisdiction through our dog control bylaw I get calls ALL the time about abused/neglected animals. We do not have an SPCA in our area so the RCMP is the authority who can do something under the SPCA Act. I have to agree, 90% of the 'concerned' people who call, won't give their names and won't make the call to the RCMP for further investigation. These callers need to understand that often times Animal Control Officer's powers are limited. People NEED to stand up for what they believe in. I believe if a person knows of a situation that is putting an animal at risk for abuse and/or neglect they need to speak up and if they don't - they play a part in that animal's demise. What is there to be afraid of? Helping an animal escape some torture?? I don't get humans.

I myself have come across a couple of cases of abuse and neglect and have reported it to the RCMP. If you do report something to the police, it is best to go in person and get a file number so you have some assurance something will be done. The worst case scenario, you go to court and give your evidence. That's it. People need to get their heads out of their arses, stand up for what's right and maybe these terrible cases of abuse/neglect will decrease."

Another story:

"The very first time I went to court on a neglect case was in 2001 or 2002 in Texas. We had received a report of neglected horses, and the deputies would not allow us to go on the property with them as they had had problems with owner before. They went on the property, picked the horses up and we helped prepare for court. We received 2 fillies who were both in body condition of 1.0. They had both been adopted from the SPCA

about a year earlier in body condition score of 5.0. We also picked up one stallion in body condition of about 1.0 and a second stallion who was about 2.5 to 3.0 in body condition.
When we went to court, the judge agreed with the vet's assessment and my assessment of the horses and awarded all four to the rescue I ran at the time. After court, a volunteer and I stayed to talk to the county attorney and judge who heard the case. The judge introduced us to one of the county commissioners who was in the building. The county commissioner looked at us and said, 'Well, its about time someone did something about those horses.' Again, these horses didn't die - but the three in body condition of 1.0 were not far off and took months and months of rehab. This county commissioner went to the court house all the time, knew the judge, knew the county attorney, knew the deputies. He could have easily reported this since he knew the horses needed help. But he never did. That one just kills me."

And another:

In east Texas, we were called about a case involving nearly 40 registered Quarter Horses and Paint Horses. We removed all horses and luckily the only horses to die were two miscarried twins (which may have been a result of the mare's condition or may have been because twins are hard to carry). However while we were seizing the horses, people kept stopping at the location and telling us how much they appreciated us "finally doing something". These people had been watching these horses losing weight and going downhill, and not ONE reported it."

And here is what happens when you do report. In this case, a veterinarian reported his clients and good thing or there'd be more than four dead.

Starving horses rescued from Gemstone Arabians (the one in Ohio, that name gets used a lot!)

I also heard from a lot of you who DID report and nothing was done. Yes, this happens. But hold up your end and at least you can sleep at night knowing that you did what you could. Every jurisdiction is different and if you live in a "good ol' boy" county, it's going to be harder to get the job done, but animal abusers are prosecuted every day even in your state - you don't have to live in a super progressive city to get action. Sometimes you just have to be persistent. Please do it anyway. I know it's a PITA but you may be the only one who has noticed the horse(s)' condition and if you're not the only one, multiple reports go a long way toward ensuring action is taken.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"I hope you don't kill him"

I'm very glad this horse got rescued. His rescue was paid for by donors on the ABR Board. I know I've given you guys a hard time in the past for funding scammers like $am and Catherine Petersen and writing stories where Barbaro talks from beyond the grave but this time you were right on target and did a great thing. I'm glad to see good people with money to donate making smart choices - that horse will never want for a thing at Old Friends.

But did you catch the ridiculous comment by the previous owner? "I hope you don't kill him." You give your twenty six year old, one eyed stallion to a kill buyer and you think he is going to find him a good home? COME ON! Nobody is that dumb.

Now, I want to say that I don't know if this is the guy who still owned him. But just a couple years ago, that horse was owned by Alton Hoover. Alton's still in the racing industry in Kansas - in fact, he's a proud member of the "Recognized Horseman's Group" at Eureka Downs. Alton had him in the Kansas Quarter Horse Racing Association's stallion service auction in 2005. So, Alton, are you the dumper? Or did you sell/give away your late 20's, half blind stallion to someone else who dumped him?

(I'm sure someone from Kansas will be happy to tell me which of these it was!)

Either way, I hope your peers ask you these questions. And I hope you send Old Friends a generous donation, because if you can afford to be in the racing industry, you can afford to retire out your old one-eyed stallion. There's no reason on earth other people should be paying for that.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not Breeding Quality 101...class is in session!

"Herd Reduction. Older Registered Half Arabian and Quarter Horse chestnut mare. Green broke, she was broke last year. Late breaking do to bad back on the mare, but she is sound and ready now. She is an excellent brood mare and has a great dispostion. Has had 4 foals with current owner, 3 of the 4 are loud in color and 1 is solid. One colored and 1 solid on site, can bring pictures of others. Recived shots late this year, but is UTD on shots. Stands for vet and farrier. She will make a good brood mare for a couple more years, but if training is kept up will be a good mount. Rides well with other horses, might be good at barrels if trained for it. She does great on trails, just needs more riding time. Sire is Bai Handy AHR # 0281696 and dam is April with AQHA. Sorry no number for dam. $500.00 OR BEST OFFER."

Wow. This one reminds me of that old Sam Savitt poster showing all of the conformation faults at once. It's also an example of crossing two breeds together and getting the worst characteristics of both. She got the nonexistant hip, narrow build and lack of muscle of a really low-end Arabian combined with an unattractive head, short neck, straight shoulder and post legs from her Quarter Horse side! It doesn't help that she's underweight and standing like she may be foundered.

This is one of the best examples I've ever seen of a mare who should never have reproduced once, much less four times. Anybody who even considers breeding her in the future should be tied to a chair and forced to watch videos on conformation for 48 hours straight! I'm glad they finally put some training on her (at age 17) - now let's hope she's sound enough for someone to ride so that she won't fall back into the "well, she's lame - let's breed her!" trap.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Way to go, USEF!

I always talk about how important it is to teach our young riders the right things and encourage them to become the rescuers of the future. Glad to see USEF agrees - they have honored a young rider not only for her own talent, but for the fact that she donates her time to riding and schooling rescued horses!

Jessica Moctezuma Named USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year

December 11 2008Lexington, KY –The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announces that Jessica Moctezuma has been selected as the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year. Moctezuma will be honored during the USEF’s Annual Meeting, January 14-18, 2009 in Cincinnati, OH, as part of the Pegasus Awards held Saturday evening.

The Ruth O’Keefe Meredith Trophy was established in 1985 to honor a junior equestrian who has made outstanding contributions to equestrian competition while exemplifying exceptional talent, sportsmanship and dedication. After reviewing the many candidates nominated for one of the USEF’s highest honors, the Awards Committee selected the young equestrian who exceeded the demanding qualification criteria.

Moctezuma, 18, of Hardwick, NJ, has been making a name for herself in the Saddlebred world, not just by winning championships but by giving back to a cause that has given her so much. Moctezuma’s mother is the owner of North Wind Stables and in the last three years the stable has been very involved with Saddlebred Rescue, Inc. Moctezuma has been able to test ride over 200 horses and counting, and has helped in placing misused and neglected horses in loving homes.

Moctezuma is also a star in the show ring. In 2008, Moctezuma was the Senior Equitation Champion at the Lexington Junior League HorseShow. For the third year in a row she was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Equitation Champion and the 2008 NEHC Regional Equitation Champion. Also in 2008, she was the high-scoring rider in the three-gaited and five-gaited World Cup trials at William Woods University, which qualified her to compete on the five-gaited team at the World Cup held in South Africa this fall. Moctezuma is one of the few multi-disciplined riders in the ring to achieve success with equitation, gaited and show/country pleasure mounts, Hackney pony driving and under saddle, Western pleasure, hunt seat on the flat and road horses.

To qualify for the Junior Equestrian of the Year award, a young equestrian must have competed at USEF-recognized shows over the past year and while displaying good sportsmanship and integrity. The winner is also someone who has excelled and has willingly given back to their sport.

For tickets to the 2009 USEF Annual Meeting and Pegasus Awards in Cincinnati, OH, visit and click on “2009 Annual Meeting” near the bottom of the homepage.

For more information about the Junior Equestrian of the Year, please contact Melissa Davis, USEF’s Marketing Coordinator, at (859) 225-6944 or via email at

Tis the season to beg!

Click to enlarge.

$4000. She wants $4000.

We've talked about this here before. If you are Gretchen Jackson and you want to put a kazillion dollars into trying to save your own horse with expensive procedures - GO FOR IT!

But when you have to BEG for the money on Craigslist like that idiot broad who put too much on her credit cards, you are not a wonderful person. You are stealing money from horses who HAVE a future.

This is a weanling who will never be able to run. I doubt she will ever be able to be put out with other horses. She certainly won't be able to be ridden. The odds are that she will die young from an infection, laminitis in the other hoof or other breakdown of the remaining leg, or an accident while trying to get up or down or just do normal, horsey things.

How are you even going to trim her feet?

I continue to believe this is one of the most misguided "rescues" I have ever seen. Put her to sleep. Do you have any idea how many cute, happy, healthy, four-legged weanlings are going on slaughter trucks this week? Weanlings you could save for $25, raise up AND put training into for the $4000 that it will cost to buy this filly a few more months of an unhappy, limited life?

Heck, for $4000 you could buy about 14 or 15 tons of quality hay around here...imagine the lives that could save.

I only hope any potential donors have better judgment than this lady does. And I hope that she will eventually give up and let this poor little girl pass in peace. Three legs is no life for a horse, and it won't be until veterinary science is much, much more advanced than it is today.

Don't let your horse use you for a doormat!

As the person who sent me this observed, it's entertaining that she's already wearing a cast on her arm. How do you suppose THAT happened?

Of course this is a stallion. Why, you ask? Well, disposition of course. Hey, have you ever tried to count the number of stallion ads that brag about the horse's great disposition and how he's not like most stallions? It's just AMAZING how 90% of the stallions out there "don't act like stallions." Folks, do a little research...a stallion that does not eat people is not as rare and special as you think!

People, learn to edit...

Someone sent me this. I'm a little baffled. This is a serious, quality breeder with A circuit show winners. Why do they have a video up where a foal flips itself over a fence?

Watch the foal, not the mare

Just goes to show, you don't have to live in a trailer with barbed wire fence and a Trans-Camaro in the yard to wind up on FHOTD! You just have to be sloppy. Hey, foals do crazy things and the fencing is safe and I'm sure the baby bounced back up just fine after his little incident (Well, I hope...), but it shouldn't be on your web site unless you're a fence manufacturer bragging about the foal's survival.

P.S. Windows Movie Maker. Anybody can use it!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The two extremes of human nature...

By now many of you have heard about the horses rescued after they were abandoned in the woods on a packing trip. Globe and Mail story.

This is basically the same story as those scum-sucking Heydons, except with snow and subzero temperatures. Amazingly, 25 volunteers went out in -40 -- you heard right, -40 weather and dug a kilometer-long trench to get the snowbound horses to safety and food. And they didn't get in there with machinery. They dug with shovels.

They are better people than I am. I have been whining all week because it actually got into the 20's here and I've had to drag hot water from the house to the barn to thaw buckets. I will shut up now.

It's a great story and it bears noting that it involves one asshole and a whole lot of wonderful people who cleaned up after him and saved the horses' lives. This being FHOTD, we're definitely gonna talk about the asshole.

"An Edmonton lawyer who told CTV News that he was the owner said the horses were delivering supplies to hikers on the mountain in September when he got separated from them. He said he returned three times to get the animals, twice getting stuck in the snow and finally, when he located them, unable to get them out of the snow.

But the SPCA says there is a duty to at least alert authorities. “Even to humanely euthanize them would have been better than to let them starve or freeze to death,” Constable Wiltse said."

Again, WTF? You know, when you see these dumb-as-dirt idiots on Animal Cops who look like they're not sure how they got pregnant, much less their horse, it is irritating but somewhat understandable. When we see intelligent, educated people do things that are unspeakably selfish and cruel, it is not. The two veterinarians trying to pull a car out of a ditch with an emaciated Thoroughbred was bad enough, but here we go again! This guy knowingly walked away and left those two horses to fend for themselves. He just gave up and walked away! Only two kinds of people do things like that: people too ignorant to know it's wrong and people who are sociopaths and don't care. Oh, I guess there's always people too high to know what's wrong, too! Wonder which of those last two he was? *eye roll*

It's not like you come home from a trip and, oops, you left your watch in the hotel room. You don't just forget two 1,000 pound animals. Those poor B.C. SPCA employees. Between dealing with the vets from hell and now Satan's personal attorney, they must be about fried this holiday season. I hope they get some well-deserved vacation time after all of this!

By the way, it's believed there were originally three horses. One of them is either still missing or already dead. I'm guessing the latter, since it'd be very strange for a horse to split off from his herd under those conditions.

In cases like these, it's not enough to push for cruelty charges. I would argue that this kind of behavior shows severe mental defects that are not appropriate for a professional like a doctor or lawyer. The veterinarians should be stripped of their licenses, and this attorney should be disbarred (or whatever they call it in Canada. I think it's something else but I'm blanking out at the moment). Cruelty charges often lead to nothing more than a hefty fine, which a successful individual can pay. I say take his law license away. Maybe that'll keep him too busy earning a living to go on vacations and leave a trail of dying horses behind him. Now he's offering to pay the bills. Yeah. 'Cause he knows he's busted. He didn't spend a dime trying to get those horses to safety when he thought they were going to cooperate and die up there, undiscovered.

So my question to you today is - is there any way to reduce the number of these incidents? We all know intelligence and goodness/good judgment do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Every year, professionals with high IQ's shoot their spouses or beat their children or drive drunk and kill someone. I've talked a lot here about educating kids and trying to raise up these good little horse owners, but it's more than just imparting the's also about imparting a sense of what's right and what's wrong and it's pretty obvious some of these people are not getting that information from their families. How do we prevent the creation of an adult like this attorney? Can we, or are we destined to always have a certain percentage of sociopaths who lack empathy for anybody who isn't themselves? I know I'm going off track here, and it's more of a psychology question than a horsey one, but I'm always interested in discussing how we can reduce/minimize these incidents, and I'm interested to hear what you think.

Huge kudos to all of those who participated in this rescue - most of whom were not even horsepeople. You are amazing people. You are the kind of people who restore our faith in humanity. May all good things come to you for your incredibly selfless actions.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What is this, foal macrame?

Why don't you just shoot the foal NOW and not even wait until it breaks a leg?

Click to enlarge. Foal is not only wrapped up in a rope itself, it's got Mom's rope wrapped around a foreleg, too. And this is what she puts on her web site for all to see!

I just can't imagine anybody thinking this is okay. I mean, what goes through your mind?

And when something happens, they will say it was an "accident." Sorry, I don't accept that. When you create a situation this dangerous and something bad happens, it is not an "accident." It is a highly likely result of extremely poor human choices. Let's hope this little filly has a guardian angel watching over her until she can upgrade her ownership!

So, New Mexico State University...

I am curious. Are you guys PAYING for your mistake? If you haven't already, I think you'd better be writing a large check to the Horse Shelter!

An update came out on Miracle, the horse shot SIX times in the head, who survived. Now we know where Miracle came from. She came from the polo program at New Mexico State University! You guys all know how I feel about old polo ponies. I am furious to hear this!

They of course did the usual "gave her away to a good home." Which sent her to slaughter, but Brian Drake, 36, of Las Cruces decided to just take her out in the desert and shoot her. Six times.
Basically, the piece of shit followed her for two miles, shooting her. She refused to drop. Yes, he is being prosecuted. They haven't named the asshat who gave her to Drake to dispose of in the media, but they damn well should. He's just as guilty. Another cheap shithead who wouldn't pay for euthanasia or god forbid retirement board.

(Memo to colleges and universities: Did you know that you can HAVE and ENFORCE an adoption contract just like the rest of us? Yes, you can! You may have to get off your dead behinds and do follow-up visits like the rest of us but it DOES work.)

Proving my long-held theory that (a) mares are really smart and (b) polo ponies are particularly brilliant, Miracle decided to go get some help. "She got past a cattle guard in the road about a foot wide and went and found a house and banged her head against the door until someone came to the door," Rios said.

So now Miracle is safe at the Horse Shelter in Santa Fe. But who is footing the bill? I'm guessing it's the Horse Shelter, and that's b.s. If you college equestrian programs would start taking responsibility yourselves instead of throwing these horses away - and they are thrown away every damn year, irresponsibly, often ignoring the wishes of donors who wanted them back - there wouldn't be so many messes like this to clean up. Don't tell me that out of all of the kids who rode and enjoyed this horse, you couldn't find any volunteers to do site visits and follow up. Nonsense.

(I often wonder: How many of these institutions actually try to contact the kids who rode the horse when the horse needs a retirement home? Has any such effort EVER been made? Fill me in if you've ever heard from your old university that the polo ponies or equestrian team horses you rode need a home. Are you given the opportunity to step up and help?)

Here's another idea. Why don't these colleges put together their own retirement programs, on site, for their horses? NMSU offers a masters in Animal Science and a pre-vet program. You have programs like that, and you can't think of any way to justify keeping your old horses around and using them as teaching tools?

You know, this story would make a good documentary. I wonder who had this mare in polo? Her name was Fui then. I wonder if she's originally off the track. Many, if not most, polo ponies are. This is just a long progression of dropped balls, pardon the pun.

And for anybody in the NM area, go adopt this mare and write a blog about it so I can stop worrying she'll get another crappy home. You'll never find a safer horse for your little kids than an old polo pony, and this old girl deserves to be safe at last.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

First of all, for the Seattle area folks...we are looking to play a little musical horses. If you have an indoor arena at your disposal and would like a project large POA pony that is w-t-c broke and ready to finish, please contact me immediately. We are trying to clear up space for a new rescue that really needs to get to safety. Pony is for an intermediate rider, great on trails, easy to ride but pushy on the ground - needs someone who can be firm but fair and enforce manners. Good project for an experienced teen and stout enough to carry a medium sized woman. Not the one I had up here a few days ago - this one is a large.

Now, for Christmas, I decided I was going to just surf around the country today and find free or cheap horses that I think deserve an upgrade! We all know it's a bad winter in a lousy economy, and I hope some of you who can afford to have considered taking in a new rescue as a family Christmas project. After all, a new horse gets the kids outside and active - or you can buy them more gaming crap and all sit and gain 20 more pounds. ;-) Your choice!

If you can't take in a new horse, some of the horse charities I would recommend donating to are in the links on this blog. They appreciate anything you can afford. Those $5 and $10 donations add up and are always appreciated!

All right, here we go...

Not a great picture, but I suspect this is a really nice mare. This is a 16.2 black sabino registered Tennessee Walking Horse mare for sale in Elkton, Tennessee. She may be broke and is only 12 years old. For $200, if I were a TWH fan, I'd pick up this mare in a second. This is exactly what I mean when I talk about broodmares who make for easy training projects. Most likely, this girl will adapt to being ridden for a living pretty quickly. They're not breeding anymore because they have too many (Hallelujah, the light dawns!). Now this girl needs a safe home to re-route her into a riding career. Maybe yours?

Poor little free colts in Colorado Springs, CO...

It just scares me where this mare could end up. TB mare with a lot of training on her, in Ravenna, MI.
It scares me where this horse is already. One-eyed horse that has had a "bradle and sattle" on her. In Vermont.

Free Thoroughbred mare. In Chimacum, WA.

I wonder if this one is still alive
? Ankeny, IA.

This guy is in Tehama County, California, and needs the gelding bus badly and a new home!

Here's a skinny Standardbred in Newnan, Georgia. Sounds like a nice boy with some feed!

Old coot large pony Arabian mare in Michigan. Would like an owner who knows how to adjust her bridle.

Super cute old Thoroughbred gelding with back issues being dumped in Webster, NY.

All right, that's it for me as my Internet is flickering in and out so badly that this just took 3 hours. The weather needs to improve quickly, because if I am stuck in the house much longer, I am going to lose it. I am currently watching the Duggars ride horses in skirts while the baby wanders around a paddock with loose ponies carrying part of an alfalfa flake. Again, no helmets of course. I need to just go back to the Law & Order reruns - everything on TV with a horse in it makes me want to scream! I am sure I would be much happier watching Chris Noth...yum. :-)

Merry Christmas! Hope you and your families and horses have a great holiday, and congratulations to those of you who do have a new four-legged member of the family today or tomorrow. Of course we will want to hear all about if if you do, and especially if you pick up one of the horses I have listed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Setting a good example?

My Internet is finally back. It was gone for 49 hours thanks to our rotten, ridiculous PNW weather. For those of you who don't know, we've been hit with a blizzard/ice storm for a week plus now. And that just does not happen here! So we are all miserable and mostly housebound. I made it as far as the grocery store 2 miles away today - that was my big accomplishment, and it wasn't fun. See, I grew up in the Midwest, but they know how to deal with snow there. Here, it just sits on the road in big unwieldy lumps with car tracks intersecting it. What a mess!

Anyway, stuck in the house with very little to do given the lack of an Internet connection, I have been watching a lot of TV. Yesterday, I watched a bunch of Animal Planet. Now, the first thing I want to say is that I'm thrilled AP exists and that they publicize animal issues. I think they are doing a very good job educating the public about what abuse looks like and how, yes, you do need to stick your nose in and file a report. I believe those shows have heavily contributed to creating a society that is much more likely to report cruelty and I'm happy to see the hard working animal control officers recognized and lauded (they so often get unfairly bashed because of their role in euthing unwanted pets - um, bash the asshats who dumped the pet, not the person who has to clean up the mess! Do you really think anybody likes having to put animals to sleep?). However, despite the many wonderful things these shows have accomplished, I have to say, a few horse-related episodes and I was ready to punch the TV.

Did anybody else see this stuff?

1) The paint colt dragging the "professional animal behaviorist" across the yard and into the barn. I mean, dragging. I thought she lost her grip at one point. Lady, there is an invention called a stud chain. It is called that for a reason. I assume the reason Mr. Colt had not yet been made Mr. Gelding was that ownership had yet to be legally determined. Fair enough, but there's nothing illegal about giving him a come-to-Jesus meeting and teaching him to lead. Were they really afraid that viewers would think that a little basic horsey discipline would be perceived as more cruelty? Hell, do it off camera if you must, but don't put a rank colt taking you yard-surfing on TV for all to see. Of course, she did possess a "carrot stick" so perhaps that explains the utter lack of any control over the animal...

2) Then they adopt out the paint colt to two little girls who say they aren't going to saddle him until you can't see his "bumps" anymore, meaning his ribs. But they want to get him used to stuff, so they put a tom thumb bridle on him ('cause that's a colt breaking bit...) and one scrambles up on him bareback. No helmets, no adults present. And I'll bet $50 that colt wasn't three years old yet - honestly, he looked like a yearling. Narrow as a board fence. This is supposed to be kyoooot, I guess.

3) OK, then we have a starved Paint mare that is rescued and rehabbed and adopted out to a nice enough family - except the kyoot happy ending, again, is two kids riding with no helmets. First, older kid is led around the yard by mom, bouncing like a flapping sack of potatoes and hanging on to the horn for dear life. Clearly we are not believers in riding lessons. Then little brother is popped up behind the saddle. As the horse walks away, it's obvious he's listing to the left, at least six inches off center. Nobody's concerned! The mare, bless her heart, does appear to be a total saint who is so happy that these new owners of hers have jobs that she will calmly tolerate whatever without blinking.

4) Moving on, we have a starved Arabian with hind leg weakness. First of all, they rig up this deal to keep his pastern from buckling over...with a bungee cord with hooks on both ends attached to a brace above the hock and the front of his shoe (Did you guys see this? Have you ever seen anything like that?) My first thought was, OMG, he is going to go down at night and get tangled in that shit. Well, I must be psychic because the next scene, he's all banged up and bloody 'cause he went down and got cast overnight and nobody found him until morning. I don't know, maybe a vet really would prescribe a rig like that (if you're a vet and you have, tell me about it), but even if they did, wouldn't you put that horse on a foal cam and turn up the sound so you knew if he went down? Anyway, after that they put him in a sling and, tough old shit that he is, he pulls through.

5) Finally, they rescue what looks to be a rather nice Thoroughbred mare and she pops out a baby. Baby is bedded down in shavings (strike one) and Momma has a loose nylon halter on her in the stall (strike two). They get adopted out to a home where baby has a nylon halter on in the field and is dodging cement blocks lying in the yard. Actually, all of these horses seem to have nylon halters on at all times - in the stall, in the field, etc. Why?

Now, the defense to this is: It's TV. It's entertainment. A non-horseperson wouldn't pick up on any of this as questionable or wrong. And normally I am one of those people who thinks that if you are taking your behavioral cues from TV, you have bigger problems than TV is responsible for. Still, you wouldn't see a "good guy" TV character plop a child into a car without a car seat, would you? You wouldn't see the character that you are supposed to like send his kids off on dirt bikes without helmets. People would scream if that happened. And this isn't fiction - this is non-fiction, educational television - so I think they should get it right.

What do you think? Did you see these episodes? Do you think it's important that TV shows of this type set a good example in all ways or are helmetless bareback children on green colts OK in the name of artistic expression?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Global Warming, My You-Know-What!

Kidding, kidding, but if you're in the PNW, you're seeing some weather we're very much not used to. I grew up in the Midwest and spent 30+ years of my life breaking ice out of buckets. I was trying to get away from this but it seems to have followed me. We're mid-blizzard right now with temps about 20 degrees colder than we're used to at this time of year, and it's no fun.

So that gives us a good topic that I don't think we've talked about here before: Cold weather horsekeeping tips. How do you keep horses happy and healthy in colder-than-normal or subzero temps?

1. Temperate water. Horses won't drink as much if the water is icy cold, and they certainly can't - contrary to popular asshat belief - get enough water by eating snow. Some horse are smart enough to break a surface layer of ice on the tank - others won't even try. They shouldn't have to. Supply a tank heater or if that's not possible for some reason, pails of hot water poured on top will generally thaw things out. There are thermal and heated buckets available for your stall-kept horse. Remember, horses who don't drink enough get impactions. Neither you nor your vet wants to be out dealing with a colic in ten degree weather.

2. Plenty of hay! When temps are colder than normal, provide lots of hay. Free choice is ideal. I know there are folks that scorn round bales because of their fear of a moldy spot and the waste factor, but from experience, there is no better way to keep fat happy hard keepers all winter in a cold climate than by providing quality round bales and letting them eat 24/7. Failing that, adding lunch on frigid days or adding an extra flake at each feeding will go far toward helping your horses deal with the cold. If you have easy keepers, look for grassy hay that isn't rich to provide a safe choice for 24/7 munching.

3. Please warm your bits! Did you ever get your tongue stuck to a metal post as a child in the cold? What do you think it's like for your horse when you stick a freezing cold bit in his mouth? The bit should be room temperature before you bridle. Whether it gets that way by rubbing it between your hands, tucking it under your arm, a commercially available bit warmer or running it under hot water, get that bit warm or don't complain when you create a head-shy, resistant horse who doesn't want to be bridled.

4. Protect your horse from ice. Walk around your pastures and paddocks. If there are spots that are "skating rinks," do something about them. You can use a commercial ice melt solution or just throw out some kitty litter or sand, but do something to give your horse a little grip. Every winter I hear about old horses shattering legs on the ice. If conditions are just impossible, your horse is better off "suffering" a few days with just a little turnout in the indoor arena - a little stiffness and stir-craziness beats a bad injury.

5. To blanket or not to blanket? Horses who have grown a thick winter coat are usually sufficiently protected from the cold. The problems come when they get wet enough to soak through to the skin. Freezing rain, sleet, and similar conditions may necessitate a waterproof blanket even for a horse with a good coat. I've heard people argue this, but if you can see your horse shivering from 20 feet away - it's time for a blanket, even if he's never needed one before. That said, if you don't spend the money on a blanket that is truly waterproof, you are doing more harm than good. A sopping wet stable blanket in cold conditions is misery for a horse.

6. Do you have a shelter hog? I do. I have one mare who thinks she owns any run in shed she's near. She will block it like a goalie and prevent other horses from entering. Even if your run-in shed looks big enough for your whole crew, you may have to watch to see how well it works in practice. Your "wimp" who always gets pushed out may need to come into a stall on days when you see the others staying in their shelter.

7. A sweaty horse is a cold horse. If you ride during the winter enough to work your horse into a sweat, blanket early in the fall to inhibit coat growth and body-clip if necessary. A clipped horse cools out fast and can still live outdoors with sufficient blanketing, particularly if you do a partial clip like a trace clip - but a horse with a coat like a yak won't dry off for hours and will freeze in the meantime. Putting a blanket back on a wet coat is just asking for rain rot and other similar skin problems, and putting a still-wet horse back out in the field with no protection is downright cruel.

8. What goes on, must come off. It's easy to put a blanket on in November and not take it off until March, especially if you don't ride in the winter. Horse owners do it all the time, but it's really not a good idea. You can't see weight under the blanket, and all kinds of coat conditions can be developing. Horses can absolutely get rain rot under a blanket, particularly if they were dirty when the blanket was put on them. Make a habit of taking blankets off periodically to check what's underneath and give the horse a grooming.

9. Don't stall if you're not going to clean them! Ever walked into a closed up barn that isn't being cleaned regularly in the winter? The ammonia smell is enough to knock you over - and it's just as unhealthy for a horse's respiratory system. Add to that the risk of thrush and it comes down to this - if you hate the cold and you know you're get the stalls cleaned daily, better to leave the horses outside (with some kind of shelter they can choose to go into).

10. How cold is too cold to ride? When I was living in the Midwest, we didn't work horses when it was under 10 or 15 degrees inside the indoor arena. Under those temps, we walked them out or turned them out. There's a big difference between a light walk-trot ride and serious schooling, too. If it's cold enough that jogging would hurt your lungs, think twice before putting your horse through a cardio workout. And pay attention to surfaces - if you don't have an indoor arena with cushy footing that is unaffected by weather, be very careful. Frozen ground is not only slippery, but it can be like working your horse on concrete. Finally, some horses are particularly prone to ice and snow packing into "balls" in their shoes. The end result is a horse who is walking on polo balls on all four hooves. You may want to have your farrier put pads on in the winter to prevent this from happening.

That's everything I could think of - what advice can you add? I know we have some Alaskans here so you guys really must have this stuff mastered - can't wait to hear your ideas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ah, Craigslist, you never fail to disappoint!

My comments in blue. This is language excerpted from an ad for a $50 weanling breeding stock Paint colt.

Dam was a VERY old Racketeer daughter,,,,, (very high end old paint blood that traces back OVER 400 years through MANY horses belonging to European, ancient Arabic and Russian royalty) who spent most of her life as a show and production broodmare. Who the hell cares what happened 400 years ago? I have a Thoroughbred that goes back to the Darley Arabian - write me a check for ten grand, k? If the sire and dam were really as great as you say, this would not be a fifty dollar colt.

And what is a "show and production" broodmare? Has she been in a couple of

Buck Wheat ,,,aka Bucky,, should end up chestnut on the front end and a bay in the rear with roaning and black patches. Buddy, THAT I would like to SEE. As someone on the message board I snagged this from correctly observed, not without the use of Lady Clairol.

Can be registered if you want to transfer moms papers and do the paper work 'cause I am a lazy cheapskate and I don't want to do it in order to give this colt a better shot at life...I have moms Auction papers,and a hair sample for DNA (long story)

I was expecting him to be a mule,, but obviously my jack did not have the job done when I turned his mom out with the herd.

OK what? After reading the auction part, I thought, OK, maybe the guy rescued the mare and she was already bred and he had no intention of breeding her poor old self. And then I read this. So okay, he bought her at the auction to breed to his donkey. He didn't transfer her papers. He threw her out with a jack donkey without, apparently, pregnancy checking her or even teasing her unless she's the very rare mare that shows heat when in foal. Awesome.

By the way, impregnating females is not a job. If it were, Kevin Federline would actually be employable!

Bucky is in the top picture in front of his Dam at only 2.5 mos,, Sire is the black shown below. Mom was a very old neglected girl, so I dont have alot of pix of her. But that sure didn't stop me from trying to breed her and get a mule! I have an entire history of pix on his sire,, although his mom was the really great "work" horse that has given this kid a humble, kind and laid back disposition.(dad gave him looks)

All things considered, this is not such a bad colt. He has a nice shoulder and hip, he really could be a nice family horse. He's sure a lot better than a lot of the crap I see for sale on the web. But that $50 price tag doesn't bode well for his future. He's another nice enough colt out of done-nothing parents that shouldn't have been created in today's economy.

Again, can you imagine a company continuing to produce cars or lawnmowers or washing machines if all they were selling for is $50 and they cost hundreds if not thousands to produce? But not horse breeders! Fuck logic, let's lose money! I do not get it and I don't think I ever will!

Friday, December 19, 2008

What are your three top pet peeves?

When it comes to conformation? I think this is a fun question for this Friday, so I'd like you to list the three things that will turn you off of buying/breeding to a horse the fastest and also please list the discipline(s) you participate in, as I think we're going to see some trends. Here are mine. In general, the discipline I grew up with was polo, and after that both general open shows (hunt & western) and hunter/jumper.

Straight Shoulder. I grew up riding a school horse named Butch. Butch had navicular disease and riding him was a whole lot like sitting on a jackhammer. Being young and flexible, I was proud of my ability to sit his canter and even win equitation at our schooling shows on Butch. Now, looking back at those old pictures, I see why Butch rode the way he did. My scanner's not working or I'd show you old Butch, but this mare, who has already been on the blog, is just as good an example. Of course she's a broodmare and they are making more just like her!

Long back. This is more of a discipline-specific "hate." I grew up in polo and you need a horse who can quickly stop, start and turn on a dime. You know, if this mare were a vehicle, she'd be one with a really long wheelbase. Any of you who have tried to park a crew-cab dually in a downtown parking structure (I know I'm not the only one!) is familiar with the feeling of just not being able to get the small, quick precision movements you want. That's what riding this mare is going to be like. It's going to be very hard for her to pull herself together and stop on her hind end or power off her hind end. She's long and she's a little bit downhill and you can see how she's starting to sway in the back, even though she's not old, because there's just a long stretch to hold together there. I've found that long backed horses often have sore backs from their conformation. Maneuvers that are simple for a compact horse are physically difficult for them to do. It's a classic example of a conformation fault that affects performance.

Downhill! Clearly this doesn't bother a lot of people because downhill horses are a dime a dozen on the Internet. I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. This is when the horse's hip is higher than his withers. Now, it's totally normal for a young, growing horse to look like this. The growth pattern is that the hip shoots up first and then the front end catches up. However, some horses stop growing and still look like that. Almost every discipline we ask horses to do is done better with the horse squarely balanced, able to tuck his hind end under him for a stop or a rapid increase in speed or some other necessary movement (as in dressage or taking off for a jump). A horse who is downhill is predisposed to carrying his weight more than 50 percent on his forelegs. He's far more likely to stumble. He's uncomfortable to ride and it is difficult to teach him not to "prop" on his forelegs to stop. If you've ever had two green horses at the same time, one downhill and one level or uphill, you've seen the difference in how much harder it was for the downhill one to learn transitions, deal with carrying weight, and move on to more advanced maneuvers. And because all of that weight is in the front end, there's more concussion on the front legs and you're likely to see lamenesses like arthritis earlier in life. Not to mention, have you ever tried to equitate on a downhill horse? That conformation tips you forward too. Not a pleasant ride.

So what conformational flaws drive you up a tree? Tell us and tell us why!

Now, all the rescuers here are gonna die because I'm putting up a Friday Featured Rescue that I think would be a great (gasp!) Christmas Pony for some lucky child! I know, I know, we all hate the animals-as-gifts mentality. But if Mom and Dad are horsepeople (he will not go to a beginner home) and want to surprise their little one with a rescued pony under the tree, I know of one up here in Seattle that's a great choice. Chip had a bad, bad year. That is how he looked when my friends rescued him in July, along with his stablemate, an equally emaciated Appendix QH gelding. Really, do you starve a PONY? Ponies are air ferns! You can't fail much worse at horsekeeping than winding up with a pony that looks like Chip did.

Now Chip is happy and healthy and just needs someone to love his furry little butt forever. I am 99.9% sure you can get him hardship registered in the POA association and they have an active breed show circuit in this area. He is four years old, 12.2, green broke and sensible, and has been rehabbed very well - up to date on shots, farrier, chiropractor, deworming. He free jumps willingly and is careful with his back feet. Chip's adoption fee is $500 (contract, refs, site check, the usual required). Shoot me an e-mail with CHIP in the subject line if you'd like to meet Chip - the weather may be too bad for a Christmas delivery, but you could put a picture under the tree!

I know you're all getting ready for the holidays and I hope they provide you with some extra time to gather up the old pictures and put your horses up on Remember, it's not just for people who are looking for a horse, but also for those of you who want to reassure former owners that the horse is in a great, happy home! I'd also suggest that a really cool holiday volunteer project could be contacting your local rescue and offering to list their horses for them. Not all rescuers are super computer-savvy and a lot of you are, so that could a fun way to lend a hand without spending too much time in the frozen outdoors!

If you would like to print off some flyers about for your local tack store and feed mill, here they are and thank you for spreading the word.

Have a great weekend everybody! Hey, what are you buying your horses for the holidays? I have to get my VLC a peppermint lick...he thinks those are the meaning of life!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

NHR and totally hilarious

I'll write you all a new blog entry tonight. Busy with some other things. Until then - here's your entertainment. The ladies will find this funnier, but hey, that's most of my readership!

Welcome to the Doghouse

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today's Poll!

Is this the world's best or the world's worst sales video?

World's Worst or Best Sales Video?

Worst - I'm aghasted, I would never buy a horse from those people!

Best - I'm so aghasted I'm writing a check for that mare right now!

What are you talking about? What's wrong with it?

View Results

Now to clarify - no, I don't think anything in that video is abusive per se. However, I continue to be baffled at the desire to beat horses with tarps or involve lawn chairs in their training in any way. Sorry, but traditional training was working fine. It's worked fine for hundreds of years. The main problem people had with traditional training and the reason they went looking for something different is that they couldn't handle their horse. This is usually caused by a poorly trained rider or a rider who does not possess sufficient confidence for that particular horse. (And there are often other contributing factors like lack of turnout, too much high energy feed for a horse that is not worked hard on a regular basis, etc.) But of course, nobody wants to admit it and say, hey, I don't ride well enough, and sign up for lessons or go to the gym to improve their own fitness level. Nobody wants to blame themselves! So instead, we will beat horses with tarps and drag lawn chairs with them in an attempt to make them idiot proof enough for everybody with a skill level of zero who rides like a sack of overripe potatoes.

I really do think this is what NH and all of these sale video and sale ad theatrics come down to. We're a nation with a high percentage of unfit couch potatoes who don't want to admit that riding is an athletic event that requires a level of fitness to perform properly. Hey, I am the first to admit - I don't ride enough anymore! I sit on the computer way too much. I'm not as fit as I'd like to be. If a horse challenges me, my fitness level is going to negatively impact my ability to deal with the misbehavior. It's hard to put your leg on a horse and tell him he's going past whatever he's scared of when you know perfectly well your leg is the consistency of jello and if he does a 180 at high speed, you're probably going to eat dirt. But the solution here is not to try to desensitize the horse to the point where he can be whipped in the face with a tarp. It's to tighten up your (and mine) damn jello seat!

Let's stop blaming the horse and coming up with ridiculous methods to try to make him as safe as a golf cart. He's never going to be as safe as a golf cart. If that's what you want, get a golf cart. Get a mountain bike! Get an ATV. We've all signed the release that says "I recognize that a horse is an unpredictable animal." He is, and I don't care if you spend every day dancing around him with flags and tarps like a magical faerie on uppers. Eventually something's going to scare him or he's going to have the day where he says, F you mom, I don't want to. The path to a happy horse-human partnership ultimately starts with you!

I know my resolution this year is to get a new health club membership and start working out again, because I know I rode better when I was more fit. Who's with me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home for the holidays!

I had to put this up as its own post. This is so awesome! Good job, Netposse and their owner for not giving up hope!

Looking for the one that got away?

You all know that I've been working on for awhile now - a site designed to help reunite horses with former owners, breeders, or others who care about them and want to be contacted if the horse needs help. I'm happy to announce we've pretty much completed the "beta" phase - the site is going strong and ready for you to use!

Check out the information on how to use the site. It's pretty simple - just sign up and then you can log in and use the "add a horse" feature or use "browse horses" or "find a horse" to see if any horses have been uploaded that you know. Broadly crafted searches will return the best results - a simple search for, for example, black Arabian, will work best. You don't have to fill out all the fields.

The site is for anyone who would like to find a horse. It can be used to find information on your childhood horses, or horses you bred or sold, or horses you rode and wished you could have bought at the time. Rescuers, please post all of your horses - there may be someone out there looking for that horse. Duplicate listings of the same horse by multiple people interested in the horse are just fine. Use the comments section to describe your situation - do you have the horse or are you looking for the horse? What can you tell us about what you do know about the horse?

Even if you've already added yourself to the breeders' list, I highly recommend adding your individual horses to the site. That will greatly improve the chances that you will be contacted if one is in need. For you rescuers, please be sure to bookmark the breeder's list and check it when you get a new horse in who has his papers with him! These breeders are willing and able to step up to help that horse and that opens up the space for you to help another.

We will continue to refine and improve the site, so suggestions are welcomed. I know we've had a thread here about horses you'd like to find but now you have a permanent place to put that information and it's 100% free to use, so please check it out!

As always, please check out any new home before placing a horse - even if it's the horse's breeder. Anyone may put up a listing and we cannot verify how good of a home it is. I have written up some tips on finding a good home that may help. The main page has a variety of other articles on topics I've been asked to repeat here, so look there for tips on things like tattoo research, feeding senior horses, or buying a horse from an auction. More to come!

Also, check out our first sponsor, the Northwest Equine Stewardship Center. This is a great new charity designed to help rescued horses with top-notch veterinary care. Check out their rescue stories to see some of the equines they have already helped.

I'm having fun just browsing the horses who are already there. Remember, if it's a registered horse, there are many of us who can search the registry and see who the horse is registered to today (except of course for Thoroughbreds, which don't transfer through a registry). Just ask on the message board and someone will be happy to help!