Sunday, May 31, 2009

The other side of the coin on young people!

A few posts ago, I had to hear from some early 20's riders who were eager to assure me they are not idiots despite their age. Well, I never said they were, but to be fair, I'll give you a great story today about a young man who saved a horse!

Getting involved when you see a neglected animal is something that many fifty year olds do not have the guts to do. They are afraid of revenge/reprisals or just don't want to stir things up. If something finally is done, they will say, oh good, those horses have looked like that for years. It never seems to occur to them that the horses' suffering could have ended much more quickly if they had simply filed a report!

This mare was rescued by JD Acres thanks to a report from a neighbor. "The neighbor, a 20ish guy is the one that called us. He works for a local market here and was throwing her the produce scraps he could take from work and giving her water. He probably saved her life doing so. He said he they have had her for years, and he saw them riding her last year and she was fat and well taken care of. Not sure if money became an issue or what happened. They really didnt think she was that bad. They disagreed with me when I said she was emaciated, they said she was just a little underweight!"
Uh, yeah. This is not a little underweight!
Fortunately, Lexie is doing well now that she is safe and has food she can eat: "Lexie is a fighter. She is bright and alert, and so happy to be around other horses. She was in a backyard with only dogs before. Her owners stated she was a hard keeper in the winter, and that was the reason for her condition. They had unopened bags of SR feed and new bales of hay, not sure why they were not feeding it to her. AC is involved and they will face a judge next week. Dr. Bravos came and did a full exam, her only reason for being so emaciated is lack of food. He feels she will make a full recovery. We will have her teeth done as soon as she gains 100# or so. Its hard to get pics that truly show how emaciated she is. "
Kudos to JD Acres, to Animal Control, and HUGE kudos to the neighbor - the guy who WASN'T afraid to get involved! And yes, I am sure JD Acres would appreciate any contributions to help with Lexie's expenses. I only wish we could also buy the neighbor a case of beer - he surely deserves it!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A 501(c)(3) Rescue: Not your personal line of credit!

Here we go again...

I've said some very good things about Pasado's in the past. I thought their staff/volunteers did a remarkably good job at Hurricane Katrina (yeah, I know about the Tammy Hansen problem but still - they did a great job in the trenches and were super helpful to upset pet owners). But when I moved up to Washington, I started hearing stories that they didn't take such great care of animals in their possession and that while they did a great job with the media and marketing, things like cleaning stalls and keeping clean water in front of the animals wasn't as consistent.

You never know if someone walked into a facility on a bad day, though, and I've never heard anything really bad about them...they haven't been caught sending rescue horses back to kill like CBER or starving horses like Dean Solomon, so I reserved comment until now.

News Article on Pasado's Safe Haven

Read the comments! Wow, I had very little idea there was this much of a drama going on. I STILL don't think it's justifiable to pull down a six figure salary for running a rescue - $50 or $60K, so that you can live, okay, but not twice that. And if your rescue pays for upgrades to your property that increase it's value and then you sell the property to that rescue for the increased price, I do not see how that can be seen as anything but unethical.

Another thought: Is it even justifiable for a rescue to purchase a property that is almost two million dollars? Shouldn't the rescue instead go an hour further east and purchase a more reasonably priced property, considering that its president works for the rescue full time and does not need to be close to outside employment?

To me the best reading on the whole page is the letter from her ex-husband! I'm copying it here. He sounds like the reasonable party in all of this to me.

"Notice a common thread in defensive posts....

If you take the time to really read all of the posts defending Susan, they all share a common thread: NONE of them directly address the charges that she uses deceptive fundraising tactics. That's because all of these people probably know that Susan does so, but somehow they accept it and justify it because all of the good that Pasado's has accomplished. I'm sorry, but in my book that just doesn't cut it. You can accomplish great things without being unethical; without fooling people; without taking advantage of people and misleading them; and mostly, NOT at the expense of other groups who truly use most of their donations by spending them on the animals.

Instead, all of these followers use Susan's tried-and-true tactics: praise the accomplishments and attack those criticizing. By all means, NEVER actually address the charges. Turn it back on your critics and make them defend themselves so the focus is off of the main issue.

Oh and another thing....unless it's been removed, notice how Susan has re-posted the exact same post she did earlier....another one of Susan's common tactics. She does this so that her post stays near the top. Don't be fooled. Susan, if you have something NEW to say....if you actually want to address the charges of unethical behavior, please do. If you have nothing new to add, then please just remain silent.

And for those who criticize me for publicly addressing these issues, maybe you don't know that Susan stopped talking to me after I left her. She refuses to speak to me privately, so I have no choice. At first she was blocking my emails. Now she has resorted to blocking virtually any emails from anyone she hasn't "approved". She has created new email addresses so people can't find her and she has changed cell phones, according to one person. If these aren't classic signs of cult leader mentality, I don't know what are - Susan can't stand to hear criticism, so she blocks it out and prohibits those around her from criticizing anything she does. Forums like this infuriate her because it gives everyone equal footing to voice their opinion, which is something Susan never allows around her.

Also notice how the same "talking points" surface in all of her defenders' posts? In the past Susan has sent out "blast" emails to untold numbers of people, soliciting them to join in her online battle. She gives them specific direction, including these "talking points" so that everyone stays on message. Hmmmm....yet another cult-like tactic.

If you defenders of Susan would address the ethics issues, I (and most critics) would love to hear how you justify her tactics. Dishonesty and deception are never justified....simply rationalized."

Multiple e-mail addresses, defending oneself, attacking anybody who criticizes...yes, all par for the course with scammer rescuers. What a huge disappointment to find out Pasado's is being run by one. Sounds to me like it's long past time for Susan to step down and let someone who actually puts animals first take the reins.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cute, cute, cute but STILL a bad idea!

On the better quality horse boards that discuss breeding, ultrasounding pregnant mares is considered a must - not only to confirm pregnancy but also to ensure the mare is not carrying twins. Usually, the discovery of two embryos results in one of them being pinched off so that the mare carries just one foal to term.

There are numerous reasons why most vets don't recommend that a mare try to carry twins to term. First of all, even in the best case scenario, instead of getting one large, healthy foal, you are going to get two small foals that may not have developed properly. Stillbirths are common and the mare herself may be lost. She may rupture her uterine arteries or prepubic tendon - mares just aren't engineered to carry two foals successfully. Most breeders agree that, when twins are discovered, you abort one and pave the way for the survivor to develop normally.

But ultrasounds can be difficult to read and sometimes a second embryo goes unnoticed. Usually this ends in heartbreak - a study showed that 64% of the time, both foals are born dead and an additional 22% of the time, only one foal survives. But every once in a while, someone wins the twins lottery - except that the vet bills might require you win the regular lottery!

Twins survive just often enough that the internet is full of posts from people who have discovered their mare is carrying twins and want to roll the dice and "let nature take it's course."

Does my mare have a breeding problem or is she just lucky? Uh, I'd say she's quite unlucky to have an owner who is willing to risk her life to try to get a second set of twins! Best "edited to add" line ever: "also i'm looking for some names for the foals, if they make it that is" *sigh*

My husband says that twins are very unusual and if they do happen you just get "two for the price of one" Lady, send your husband shopping at Wal-Mart if he wants a deal that badly, but keep him out of the barn! Jessica Jahiel gave excellent advice.

Here's a story these people should have to read: "I have dealt with twins on a mare that was pregnant when I bought her. It was a nightmare! One twin was the size of a football and the other one was a monster, but emaciated and had angular deformities. Both were stillborn. The mare retained her placenta and it took 22 hours of oxytocin shots every two hours, plus gentle traction (via zip-loc bag of water) and almost getting my head kicked off when attaching and reattaching the bag. (Because she kept kicking at it and busting it.) $1,000 later, plus a couple of weeks... I had a heathy mare again."

Another pleasant mental image: "My uncle had 2 mares that were infoal with twins. The first reobsorbed both the second one cared to term and foaled one foal had sometime before birthing and was starting to actually decay the other died 10 mins after birth."

So if your mare is carrying twins, listen to your vet and the statistics - one live, healthy foal is a lot more fun than two stillborn twins and a dead mare. The best time to catch twins and remove one is early - an ultrasound 17-30 days after breeding is the best idea.

While I was researching, I found a good little test about whether you know enough about breeding to breed your own mare.

Some odds and ends I wanted to mention:

California judge throws the book at neglectful home. Good job!

Hobby Horse Clothing Company - Huge theft case! Now, those thieves are idiots. How/where will they sell that stuff without it being identified? The company is asking that you all keep your eyes open for suspicious quantities of Hobby Horse clothing for sale by private sellers.

And yes - Jason Meduna got whapped with 149 counts of animal cruelty! In rural Nebraska. So don't ever tell me that the world isn't changing and taking these cases is and it will continue to go in that direction.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just like Octo-Mom, if you can't do anything else...

At least you can still breed!

"Raja is a very sweet 2 year old stallion, about 13-14 hh with a crooked neck, however, able to breed, run, eat, play- he just has been in the womb over 11 months and the problem was never corrected, thus his stunted growth as well. would produce gorgeous offspring- hes registered, has the egyptian nose, make the sweetest companion excellent bloodlines- can have the papers for add price registered egyptian arabian email me for more info, pics and video available for serious horseowner to good home, price is to ensure this."

(I always wonder how a $300 price tag ensures as good home. How exactly does that work? I can never figure out if the philosophy there is:

1. The rich are evil.

2. Since the person is getting SUCH a great deal on a $300, crippled Arabian stud with no papers, he is SURE to provide him with a fabulous lifetime home in return.

3. Price will help him fly out the door since I already know MY home is a bad one and damn near anything else will be an upgrade.)

(FYI, crippled Arabian studs selling without papers for $300 will not fly out the door - in case anybody had any questions about that)

There's just so much here that is wrong and sad. First of all, I wouldn't have even noticed the neck because I was too busy staring at the god-awful cow hocks. A little bit of this particular fault doesn't bother me but this horse's hocks are touching! Second, studs do not make good companion horses for obvious reasons. Third, if Brandi can't afford gelding, my guess is no vet has ever seen this poor little guy or tried to determine if anything about him was ever correctable.

Side note: Have you ever noticed that almost any situation where a girl who has the same name as a "Flavor of Love" contestant owns horses, it's a train wreck? I'm sure there are exceptions but for the most part, girls named Brandi, Tiffany, Britney and other stripper names tend to be 20 year old backyard breeders with hideous stallions, pink cordura tack and boyfriends with felonies. You can see their pictures all over their Myspaces. Somebody should really start a blog just about Cowgirl Skanks. They would never run out of material!

Anyway, inquiring mind that I am, I googled Brandi's phone number and guess what, she's a farrier. Last time I checked, most farriers were doing quite well despite the economy so, Brandi, why exactly are you dumping a deformed, two year old stud colt without his papers on the Internet? Don't you think you could handle this situation a little more responsibly? Like maybe gelding him and keeping him if he's such a great companion and your vet has determined he is not in pain? You'd better start thinking about it, because this ad screams "backyard breeder, come and get me!" and as a horse industry professional, ask yourself if that is the image you want to portray to your clients about how you see your responsibility toward your horses?

I know that as a farrier's client, I like to patronize farriers who are not only talented, but who are responsible with their own horse ownership. I'll choose that person over someone with an iffy reputation in that area. So will many horse owners. Food for thought!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

OK, just which faux rescue was this?

Read TB Friends today. I assume Lark was a TV Lark horse, knowing Joe's penchant for obvious naming. What a fucking shame. So who was the rescue in the rich part of Marin County that starved this beautiful horse to death? Joe doesn't out anybody but kill buyers but you know no such rule applies if you know which Marin area rescue just went under, and the story, fill me in.

How the HELL do you live in a rich area and starve horses to death? What, there's NOTHING on your property you could sell to buy hay? You don't have a nice TV and a Nintendo and a Wii and a cool car and jewelry? Yeah right. Give me a break...asshats.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Please practice suicide without your horse!

Yes, it's that time of year again, when knuckle-dragging high school dropouts try to prove the theory of natural selection but insist upon taking their horses along for the ride.

Omak Suicide Race Practice Video

I want you all to know, I have no problem with any of these individuals practicing suicide! Have at it! Just leave the poor horses at home.

2009 Race Schedule

Original blog on the Omak Race

Here's info on how you can write and ask their sponsors to stop funding this. This campaign has been VERY effective, with MANY major sponsors pulling out as a result of the public outcry. Let's get the rest of them to abandon ship!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Show me 300 animals and I'll show you a train wreck in the making...

Serious question: Does anyone know of a sanctuary/rescue with 300 animals that is actually well run and well financed? As in, the animals really are fed, feet are done, deworming is up to date, and injuries and illnesses are treated?

Any kind of animal. It doesn't have to be horses.

What is the largest rescue/sanctuary you know of that IS well run? How many animals?

I'm leaning toward a belief that it doesn't matter how much money you have - that an individual sanctuary should have a hard limit that is no more than somewhere between 100 and 120. What do you think? I feel like that's the most one manager can efficiently oversee, and ultimately somebody has to be responsible. I also think that would make it easier to deal with the situations that do go bad. 100 is a lot to rescue, rehab and place, but it's not as bad as 360 which is what we have this time around!

This time around, it's a sanctuary gone bad situation in Wisconsin. It's lots of animals, not just horses - a place called Thyme and Sage Ranch. The founder's "about me" story shows exactly who she is - an individual with a high level of emotions and a low level of logical reasoning skills. This is exactly the kind of person behind every one of these situations.

"She was more determined to save at least one soul. She was reassured that the one cat she left behind would find a home, she was on her way to spoil and love the one she chose. After a sleepless night of dreaming about the one she left behind, she got up and went down to the pound the very next morning right at opening time. To her dismay and great sadness- the cat was gone. Thinking the best, she checked at the counter on the impound number. The cat was put down two hours after she had left the prior day. Holding back tears, she requested the reason why. Space."

*sigh* I get so frustrated with the no-kill fanatics. Nobody likes to see animals die, but veterinary euthanasia isn't exactly the electric chair. The kitty who was put down two hours after Jennifer saw her was in la-la land in five minutes, not starving, filthy, sick and suffering like Jennifer's animals.

Blog from the rescue effort now in progress

News story

News story about the criminal charges

News story with video

The animals were given "little to no food or water and were suffering from malnutrition and open wounds," said Kelley Weir, a spokeswoman from the American Humane Association. The AHA was in charge of removing the animals from their cages."

"The complaint also states that a ram had to be euthanized on site Tuesday because of severe injuries and that the carcasses of several dogs, horses and donkeys were discovered. "

Of course, the Internet was on top of the story long before the authorities did anything.

Thyme and Sage Ranch Complaints - HIGHLY entertaining comments, as it's obvious Jennifer is on there with multiple aliases trying to defend herself from comments like these:

"We then picked up Beckham and headed into the house, which we thought was her house but when we went inside we saw cages and puppies running around, puppies in dog food bags, and puppies locked in rooms. It was sad to see all the little puppies in the wire cages piled on top of each other."

"The house was disgusting and the floor in the bedroom covered with mold(from all the feces) with blankets on top.The smell both in the house and the out door building was horrendous."

Yes, Jennifer. Because THAT is so much better than being PTS at the shelter!

"Jennifer also told us she has a vision for the rescue, she just has to get there."

HOW? BY WINNING THE FUCKING LOTTERY? It's not enough to have a vision. YOU NEED TO HAVE A REALISTIC PLAN and not acquire 300 animals FIRST and THEN try to figure it out!

The drama continued on the Complaints site, with the expected threats of litigation by poor innocent Jennifer who of course is a saint who is only trying to help the animals.

I may be a bitch, but I think I'm starting to believe that crying people shouldn't rescue. It seems to me that the best ("best" judged on how the animals are cared for and how effectively they are rehomed) rescuing is being done by rather hard-nosed individuals who love animals but accept that you can't save them all and spend little to no time being emotionally distraught about that fact. There seems to be a direct correlation between amount of tears reported shed and likelihood the person will take on more than they can feed and care for. Funny, why aren't they crying when the animals are suffering and dying in their backyard? Why is death only disturbing when it is administered by a trained professional with an injection, and not when it happens in the mud and slop behind your house or in a filthy cage in your living room?

Well, we could ask Jennifer but - unsurprisingly - the news reports that she cannot be reached for comment.

It's Friday so we have a Friday Featured Rescue! It has been a while since I've put up something for the saddleseat riders, and you know I love old red mares, so here's one for you to check out. Maiden's Magical Voyage is a 20 year old registered Saddlebred mare who was rescued early this year and is currently being used for lessons.

When she was posted, a forum reader quickly commented in shock - she is a case of a top quality, expensive animal who slipped through the cracks. "I KNOW THIS MARE!!!!!!!! I rode her many years ago, when she went thru tattersalls. At the time she was not right for me, this was a long time ago and we were looking for an EQ horse, she was not ready to be that at that time. But she was really nice...She won at some big shows in harness, Syracuse, Devon, she is by Captain Conestoga, wow it's scary where these horses end up!"

I agree! It is scary and this elegant older mare deserves to find her final home where she can be safe forever. She is riding well and there is no reason she can't go back to the show ring, especially for local shows or 4-H. Click here to learn more about adopting her and watch video.

Have a great weekend, everybody! It is actually sunny and warm here in the PNW - finally! - so I will be trying to turn some greyish brown horses into whitish grey horses in my free time. :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Too bad you can't put a "Do Not Duplicate" on horses!

For those of you who hate it when FHOTD does not include actual fuglies, I have two really outstanding ones for you today!

Guess what gender this skinny, straight-shouldered, toed-out Appaloosa is? If you've guessed that it's one that's capable of reproducing, you're right.

Just guess, and then we'll discuss. :-)

If that isn't enough for you, here we have a broodmare for sale. She's in foal and for the low, low price of $5500, she can be yours!

Hey, that's not unreasonable. After all, you can throw a tablecloth over her and use her as a picnic table in between foals. Seats 12!

*sigh* Yeah, damn the economy, full speed ahead...because the horse world needs more horrible shoulders, long backs and camped-out hind ends.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How DID we get here from there?

One of my readers recently went to All Breed Pedigree to take a look at her horse's history and see what some of his ancestors looked like. She was shocked to see a plethora of fugly - and among some "big names" in the QH breed.

I agree, it's kind of a shocker at first glance but after thinking about it, I've realized that first glance can be deceiving. It's important to remember that horses weren't maintained years ago the way they are now. Many of those pictures show an unclipped, wormy looking horse who probably needs his teeth done. He's not going to have the pretty topline of a modern horse who is properly cared for. The lack of clipping tends to make heads and legs look clunky. The long, scraggly manes detract from the look of the neck. Old Sorrel, shown here, would have benefited greatly from everything from modern hoof care to parasite control to a power float that wasn't invented yet - but structurally, he's not a wreck. He's deep chested and has a good shoulder. Even with his super long toes, his legs look good - nice pasterns, not back at the knees. He's not "posed" at all but his hind end looks pretty correct - he may be a bit sickle hocked but it's hard to tell.

Some of these horses look excellent even by modern standards. I would breed a mare to Moon Deck today if he were still alive. I think he's gorgeous (mouseover the little horse icon at the link to see his pictures). Or Triple Chick - same thing. He is stunning! But you also see where today's conformation defects came from. Check out this Thoroughbred mare, Teresina. She's in my VLC's pedigree and I'm quite grateful enough other horses are in the mix that her legs were "overruled" by better conformed horses! Over at the knees, camped out behind, very weak gaskins. She might have been a fast, fast mare in her day but it's breeding for speed alone that has given us some of the flaws - and accompanying lamenesses - we see today. (And we continue to make the same mistakes today. Mr. Shitty Feet, Big Brown, will probably breed three gazillion mares before he is done. Expert farriers everywhere, rejoice - that vacation home will be yours!)

Here's a horror show of conformation, and again, she's from my own horse's pedigree. The only nice thing I can say about Dixie Beach is that she appears to have pretty nice pasterns (set atop hooves that are all toe and no heel). She's also got a straight shoulder, nonexistant neck, homely head, long back, and a super high set tail.

Everybody will tell you that the mare contributes more to the foal than the sire, so how did all of these fugly mares result in the beautiful horses of today? That's a really good question. It's obvious that we have had some very high quality stallions, even way back when, who really did stamp their get with their own appearance, even when bred to substandard mares. And I've heard that argument used by BYB's - that their stallion is so great he will overcome anything that's wrong with the mares. (Usually, the pics on their own web page show that not to be true). We know that prepotence is a variable - not all stallions pass along their characteristics to the same degree - but it's still an interesting question. I always enjoy hearing from those of you who have more information about the history of your breed and know what certain breeders were attempting to achieve.

Try it yourself. Go to, put in your horse's name and then select "reports" and then "photos" to see his ancestors. Are you shocked? Who do you think he takes after? Who are you happy to see he doesn't take after?

Time to strike him out for good!

Petition asking for mandatory jail time for equine abuse and neglect

They'd like to have 1000 signatures on this to present it to the district attorney in Nebraska tomorrow, so please take the time to sign! If you missed it, here are the blogs on the Three Strikes Ranch story:

I Believe That's More Than Three Strikes

Round-Up Completed

Web Site for the Adoptions - Check the message board to read the happy ending stories! Remember Piglet, the little weak filly I talked about that kept falling, the one Scotlund and I were able to get an individual ride for? Here are her updates - check out the fly mask! How cool is that? A big, big thank you to her adopter. I think she would have been the next one dead...I really do, and so it's especially great to see her enjoying the good life.

So please take the time to sign and I'll let you know if you can do more with letters or e-mails. Jason needs to be put away for a long time. I am sure HE still thinks he did nothing wrong, and that's beyond twisted.

ETA: Just found a HSUS video on the rescue with all the on-site footage we weren't allowed to shoot. So here's a look at Three Strikes Ranch during the rescue.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's an off-topic Friday link-posting free for all!

Was this a really long week or is it just me?

Hey, it's finally Friday and I'm not in the mood to address anything too serious today. So let's just have some FUN and post links that we think are funny, snarky, educational or whatever. They don't have to be horse related.

If you don't know how to make a HTML link yet, read this first. Scroll down to the part about "links." It's much easier for people than cutting and pasting if you just learn to make a link. It is not hard to do.

So here are some of my favorite fun things to read on the web:
I have to mention Why Women Hate Men and Psychotic Letters from Men. These are two of my must-read blogs. They are hilarious (warning - some rude/explicit content) - they're written by a man who snarks on men and totally understands why women get fed up!

Thanks to these blogs, I got to see the infamous Loren video and the response video, the Ballad of Douche Quadbike.
Oh.My.God. This is seriously one of the funniest things I have ever found on the web. I only wish I had the skills to respond to some of the targets of my blogs in song! Sanchez, I bow to you. Again, this is rude but SO funny. The music on video #2 is definitely not appropriate for work so close your office door or wait 'til you get home to enjoy.

I assume everybody here knows about Craigslist due to scary horse postings, but if you don't, it's time you did. There is a Craigslist just about anywhere and everywhere. Most postings are free. You can get so much cool stuff in the "free" section that it's unbelievable and the "farm and garden" section is a treasure trove of affordable finds like those rubbermaid water troughs that normally cost a mint. Definitely a resource that you want to learn about and use!

Been following the ridiculous Jon & Kate drama? Here's
the FHOTD of Jon & Kate...LOVE IT. Totally exposes them as money-grubbing attention whores. (Who's shocked? I mean, I can't wrap my brain around the Duggar family lifestyle, but at least they are genuine. You're never gonna see Michelle Duggar coming out of Mr. Chow's.) For celebrity gossip in general, I love Perez Hilton and he has plugged a lot of animal charities so he gets two thumbs up for that, too!

I am frequently asked what horse board I recommend to get GOOD advice. I would have to put the Chronicle of the Horse forum as my #1 choice. Obviously as with any board, not everybody is a rockstar, but I'd say that board has the highest percentage of experts on it. If you have a health care question or a question about an English discipline, that's the place to get the right answers.

Looking for a clean blog you can share with the kids that still sends the same messages as this one? If you aren't already a TB Friends reader, you should be. No F words, but the same messages about owner responsibility, doing the right thing and not getting rich off a pile of dead horses. The great thing about this blog is that I feel like nothing has been more responsible for turning kids and teens into budding rescuers. And if we don't create more rescuers, the horses are toast, because none of us are getting any younger and most of us are not getting any richer!

I SO love the Fail Blog. I laugh out loud at the Fail Blog! Really, absolutely everything the I Can Haz Cheezburger people do is brilliant. Even if I do have to tolerate an entire generation of people engaging in lolspeak (I'm guilty of it when talking to animals, but try to stay away from it in normal life...and sometimes fail. There are just too many situations "do not WANT" applies to!)

So what else do you read and enjoy on the web? Post your links and join me in wasting time and thinking about the weekend!

On the less hi-tech side, last night I read a book that was suggested by a blog reader, and I want to suggest it to you. Reiner Klimke's Basic Training of the Young Horse is probably THE BEST colt training book I have ever read. He starts out with getting the halter on the baby and progresses. I don't care if it's an old book, it's still 100% accurate. From his severe aversion to riding 2 year olds to his sensible, intelligent methods for conducting those first rides drama-free, everything here is chock full of common sense. Six bucks! You can't go wrong. Click on the link below and buy this before you buy some carrot-stick waving wacko's video - your horse will thank you!

It is Friday and we do have a Friday Featured Rescue. This one is in Nevada at Shiloh Horse Rescue. Inspirada is about seven years old and was rescued from slaughter pregnant two years ago. She gave birth to a healthy foal and has since been started under saddle.

As you can see from the photograph - not exactly a hot potato! If you are interested in Inspirada,
click here to learn more!

And more auction reports!

If you're new, the reason I post these is to remind beginners who might think they can "make money breeding horses" about the realities of the current horse market. Right now, no one should consider making a new horse happen unless they can say the following things:

1) They truly know their bloodlines and how to avoid the avoidable genetic diseases of their breed or breeds;

2) They can afford all of the recommended vet care for a pregnant mare including having a vet verify pregnancy and having the resources to call the vet if something goes wrong during foaling;

3) They have both the time and the knowledge to work with the resulting foal and keep his knowledge age-appropriate. Weanlings should halter, lead, and pick up feet. Yearlings should tie, load, clip and stand for baths. Depending on your philosophy, 2-3 year olds should longe (that means longe, not ricochet off the round pen like a Bengal on catnip), possibly ground drive or long line or pony, be learning to wear tack, etc. 4 year olds of any breed should at least be started under saddle unless you are positive you are keeping them and want to wait a little longer. Deb Bennett's research on spinal development was not intended to give BYB's an excuse not to train their horses. Really. And while there's nothing wrong with having your first foal (everybody had a first!), it's important to make sure you have knowledgeable friends or a trainer to help you. You'd be shocked at how hard just getting that first halter on can be with some babies!

4) They do not have an expectation or a NEED to sell the foal. If the foal doesn't sell for two or three years, that is fine with them and they will keep up on the training. They have researched the market and honestly know what their odds are of selling the foal and what kind of money they are likely to get for it.

5) They know conformation and know what specific purpose they are breeding for. "Champagne" is only a purpose on New Year's Eve (and most of you Kolor Krazies are breeding very little Veuve Cliquot and a whole lot of Asti Spumanti!). And as I've noted before, it is not a "sport horse" unless it does a sport!

6) They have a plan if the foal is born with a serious problem - a plan that does not consist of dumping the foal at a sale without papers. Euthanasia is an acceptable solution when a foal is born with a disability that will prevent it from ever being ridden. Slaughter is not. The auction is not. Dumping it on a rescue is not. Lying about the condition and selling it to some poor beginner horseperson is NOT.

7) They have room for another horse! I'm so tired of hearing "must sell to make room for spring foals." How about, we don't make spring foals if we don't have room???

So without further it and weep and think about whether or not you really want to create a new equine life. The first one is from Wisconsin. I AM happy to see how many people no-saled. I understand taking a horse to an auction when you are truly desperate, like the jobless lady, but a decent person takes that horse back home again if the bid doesn't go high enough to ensure the horse is safe from slaughter.

Sorrel Registered Saddlebred Gelding Very nice horse but he didn't go through, no coggins. (spoke to the lady his owner lost her job wanted $275)

Sorrel Registered Saddlebred mare halfsister to above. Very nice horse but he didn't go through, no coggins. (spoke to the lady his owner lost her job wanted $275)

3 year old cute maximum sabino pinto pony mare small laid back, walked through. nice pony clubbing prospect- $85 (no saled)

teen underweight brown mare 15 hands. broke to ride, real sweet heart.- $75 (No Sale)

5 year old bay gelding, trail ridden, grade, calm-$350 (No Sale)

Sorrel 3 year old nice looking overo gelding supposedly green but was really laid back when ridden in the ring.-$200 (No Sale)

13 year old chestnut Grade morgan, walked through, broke to ride. Really nice and well cared for- $260

6 year old Palomino, green toes out so bad he looked like a duck-$185 (No Sale) (FHOTD in: There is no market for young horses who resemble waterfowl. Keep it in mind when you breed!)

12-13 grade broke to ride NICE gelding-$410 (No Sale)

Dead Broke Red Dun AQHA Mare, Skipper W Breeding, ridden bridleless, exellent mare needed feet done and made her look 'off'.-$900

6 year old green broke Tovero Bay walked through nice build-$ 240 (No Sale)

7 year old overo pony. was very sore standing when I watched him before the auction. Amish ridden and broken out. intermediate rider only. -$250 (No Sale)

6 year old Pintoloosa Broke to ride mare, walked in-$225 (No Sale)

Now, Kelsey from Tennessee brings us an auction report but it comes with a happy ending, too - Kelsey picked up a mare at this sale a while back and has great news about how that turned out. "I have a TB mare that I bought from the KB at this sale. He didn't run her through the sale, she was just in a pen with the rest of the other kill pen horses, and were on a rest stop on their way to slaughter. I brought her home... she's an absolute doll. She was VERY skinny, and all beat up all over. She had a deep puncture hole in her head also. Her feet were a complete mess. She has turned into such a nice mare. Her feet are all cleaned up, she's healthy and very happy. She is a gorgeous hunter under saddle horse, and definitely moves more like a qh type hunter. She also, surprisingly, loves to jog and does it very well! If she had more of a lope vs a canter she would be a knockout pleasure horse at open shows. But she definitely has a canter, not a lope. I've hopped her over fences a few times... and she seems to really enjoy it and have natural talent. She also has been hauled out trail riding, and has been trail riding on our trails next to our house. She is a very special girl. We will be selling her soon, and placing her in a good home, and going and doing the same thing again with another horse in need. It's so rewarding!"

Very cool! I have Kelsey's info if you might be seeking a terrific TB mare in Tennessee - just e-mail me with TB MARE in the subject line.

Now for the auction report. PB - Private Buyer. KB - Kill Buyer. NS - No Saled.

1. 2005 APHA Stud. Lanky, Ugly neck. Rode in, nervous. Grey and White. $250- PB
2. 7 year old QH type gelding. Said he had been used on cattle. Ridden in. Stocky, quiet. $250-KB
3. 2001 AQHA and Foundation QH. 95% foundation bred. Been used as broodmare, not broke. Quietly led in, she would be a nice project, she’s cute. $180 PB
4. Registered mini. Appaloosa coloring. Cute as a button. 38”, in foal ( I think for ’10? ). $400 PB
5. 1996 AQHA bay gelding. Goes back to Impressive and had no HYPP status listed. Quiet enough walking around, got a little excited when asked to trot, but did do it. Ugly headed, but decent enough. $290 PB
6. 2001 Reg. Appaloosa gelding. Looks right around 14hh. Ridden all over by a jerk of a fat kid…pony looked like he’d had enough by end of night/tossing head but had been quiet all day. Seemed like a nice broke pony. Bidding went to $250 NS wanted $350.
7. 1998 APHA mare. Jetalito granddaughter. Pretty, quiet W/J/L. 1st time ridden in 2 years. $700-PB
8. 3 year old pinto (mare?). Said green broke, but compared to everything else she seemed pretty broke. Super CUTE. Pretty headed, nice hip. $385- PB
9. 2 year old palomino filly. Will not be 2 until July. Rode the crap out of her all over. She looks very baby-ish. Sweet filly… needs time to mature physically. Sadly she’s not gonna get that. $265 PB
10. 1990 APHA mare. This one killed me. She was DEAD quiet, in great shape and jogged around on a draped rein slowly. Babysitter! I would have brought her home if I had a stall. $175 KB ughhh!
11. 9 or 10 year old gelding. Ridden in by kid. Stocky and wide, not much to look at but quietly walked around. $425-PB
12. 3 year old? Tall pretty bay TB mare. Does not tie apparently ( she tore up a wall out in back ) rode around quietly bareback, little jog, sweet girl. $185 KB
13. 7 year old QH type Palomino mare. Pretty, short and stout. Very quiet. $400-something to PB
14. 4 year old BIG handsome TB gelding. W/T/C…. very cool horse. This would have been a fun project. $390- PB
15. Didn’t catch the age. Probably around 14hh gaited pony mare. Very smooth, and looked like fun! $370-PB
16. 2004 TWHBEA gelding. UGLY and pissy. Wanted to throw the guy. Said he was “rank”. Has a cloudy eye. I don’t know what the bidding was at but he NS and wanted $200.
17. Didn’t catch age. Palomino gaited mare. Not ridden in 2-3 years but they hopped on in the ring. Nervous, but ok ( can’t blame her! ). Off on LF. Bred to jack. $NS wanted $400
18. No age, TB mare. Been used as a broodmare. Tall, skinny. $195 KB
19. 4 and 3 year old (brought in together) Belgian/ Halflinger cross. Funky looking. Broke to drive. $ NS didn’t say what they wanted.
20. 2005 bay AQHA gelding. Not much to look at Said he was a “cutter and reiner” ( I enjoyed some laughs ). Attempted to do some spins, but did fast circles and moved about 20 feet(certainly no reining spin! ) LOL, I was getting a kick out of this one. It impressed the yahoos there though. $1825 PB

So there you go. Unless you're sure that the baby won't be a $200 auction horse in his future - just don't do it. If you want to work with a young horse, there are plenty of them out there for free - some surprisingly nice - so save a life instead of making a life!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bicycle Helmets: For bicycling, what was your first clue?

Before I begin this post, I want to say that I still believe it's the right of every adult to choose whether or not to wear a helmet. It's a fact of life that helmets are not routinely worn by western riders. The high levels of dressage still show in the traditional top hat, and in the hunt seat classes at stock breed shows, velvet hunt caps with no chin strap are still correct, which we all know go flying when you do.

I do believe it is the duty of every parent to encase their child's head in an approved helmet when possible. Again, it is a fact of life that the western disciplines do not compete in approved helmets so I understand when a traditional western hat is worn in the show ring (I do believe 4-H requires helmets for youth riders but I'm not sure if that's a national 4-H rule, or just local? Feel free to educate me.). When they're 18, they can make their own decision but under that age, it's your job as Mom or Dad to keep them as safe as possible by putting a helmet on their heads, boots on their feet, and ensuring they are on a horse appropriate to their abilities (i.e. NOT your two year old colt because you wanted to "see what he would do.")

This duty is especially important when your child is disabled and may have an even greater risk of an accident than a child who is not. Even if his disability doesn't affect his balance and coordination, it may affect his ability to respond to instructions particularly in an emergency. That's why so many people freaked out when they saw this Craigslist posting - and rightfully so:

"Autism and horses? (Eureka)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?] Date: 2009-05-04, 11:41AM PDT Have you wanted your child to experience the therapeutic value of horses? I have 11 years experience working with children with developmental disabilities in Humboldt county. I have extensive training in language development through movement and sensory experience, as well as behavior modification and skill development. If you have an child with a disability, and would like them to experience everything that horses and I can offer them, send me an email. I have all the gear, just bring a bicycle helmet. (I do have 2 helmets, they are medium and large size) Bicycle helmets offer equally good protection as the expensive horseback riding helmets. "

The ad continues but this is the statement that made everybody cringe. Nicki, they're not, and you could have found that easily enough by googling. Bicycle helmets are not designed for a fall from 5 feet in the air - they're designed for a fall from a bicycle. They have a lot of padding at the top but none at the back, and don't extend down as far. Horseback riding helmets are specifically designed to address the fact that you may get a sharp hoof in the head - this hazard doesn't exist in bicycle riding. To say that a bike helmet offers "equally good p
rotection" is incorrect and irresponsible. It doesn't.

Here's what the American Medical Equestrian Association has to say about using a bike helmet instead of a riding helmet. As they note (and Nikki caters to this in her ad), the usually reason for choosing a bicycle helmet instead of a riding helmet is price. But here's an approved, lightweight, dial-a-fit adjustable helmet for only $34! Who can't afford that?

I understand wanting to save money wherever possible in this economy, but this is a case of $20 extra you definitely want to spend. Disabled kids don't need any more challenges in life - a head injury is the last thing you want to add to the mix! I think therapeutic riding programs are great but (as has been noted before here), you have to be smart and check them out. Anyone who hasn't educated herself about safety equipment is a poor choice.

Arlington, WA : Abandoned Mares!

I'm posting this for two reasons: These two mares were abandoned at a boarding facility. They are in desperate need of immediate homes AND I'd like to know who dumped them (the individuals falsely identified themselves and left a bad check). Nothing is known about them other than that they lead and are very friendly. No adoption fee to the right person and I assume they will separate them.

If you are interested in seeing them, e-mail me with ABANDONED MARES in the subject line and I'll send you the contact information. If you know anything about where they came from, I'd like to know that too.

More blog to come today, just wanted to get this out there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I thought we all learned our colors in kindergarten?

As we've observed many times, the world is full of Krazy Kolor Breeders. This is what we call breeders who focus on color and tend to ignore quality, disposition, performance records and even genetic defects.

One of their identifying characteristics is that they are unable to accept the truth when their mare pops out something that is a basic horse color. So they run around the internet claiming that the foal is going to turn a new or cooler color at some later date, perhaps after a visit from the Krazy Kolor Faerie and her magic wand? They allude to white hairs and roaning, refuse to believe that countershading is just that, and claim four year old horses are
still going to turn a whole new color! So today, we're gonna give these folks a shot of reality.


Ad title: Reduced Beautiful 3 year old black & white paint stud - $450 (Poteau, ok)

"Gizmo is a gorgeous, unregistered bl/w paint stud colt. I think he is a quarter/tb cross due to his confirmation. He is turning 3 this year. He has a very sweet personality. He is 15+ hhs and growing. He is very gentle with mares. I am selling him because I think he is going to be to high spirited for what I need. He has been worked in the round pen alot, and lunges well. He is saddled and bagged when we work him. He is a skiddish horse. Bagging him has helped alot. I am needing a horse that I can ride with my kids, and I think he is just gona have to much get up and go. I will have him cut if I need to. I will consider trading or partial trade for a aqha or apha broke or green horse. Just depends on the horse. I would also consider a good saddle for a partial trade. Gizmo is going to make a good "get after it" horse. He loves attention and his treats. Good home only. These pictures do not do him justice. He is a very pretty horse, and has a better build than you can see in these pics. I will get better pics later. "

You know, he's not such a bad colt but:

(a) he ought to be a gelding and it should have occurred to her that might change his disposition into the horse she wants.

(b) I don't even want to KNOW what "bagging"
is...have they been tying plastic bags to him? I'd be "skiddish" too!

(c) Why is he t/o in a nylon halter? See yesterday's blog.
(d) he's NOT a black and white paint! Where would you even get that from? That his MANE is black?

For reference, here is a actual black and white paint. :-) Very nice one too, a Superior Halter Horse who isn't so musclebound that he looks like a freak. His name is Ima Quick Dream Maker.

Moving on, let's look at an amazing five year old mare that is allegedly still changing colors:


She was born a bright red dun out of a slate grulla mare and a chestnut stallion. Over the last year (her 4 year old year) she went from red dun, to a dun with black points, to a slate grulla. Then winter of her 5 year old year she turned dun with black points again with smutty patches. This year she shed out with a herring bone pattern on her dorsal and her dun factor markings broke down to dog type brindle marks. She is technically a dun, not sure if she will stay a grulla. She is registered a dun. She carries a brindle gene and coat pattern, she carries a second DNA type as well, one for hair and one for blood."

My response:

(a) Your mare has a red base coat as is clearly shown in her lower legs. She is a red dun, period. I can't tell if she's bodyclipped in this picture or just bleached from summer sun but neither one of those things would make her a grulla and the only way those red legs were ever black is if she waded through a creek.

(b) Horses' coats do go through changes every year. Nobody's horse is exactly the same color in midwinter with 2 inches of long hair as it is in midsummer, slick and shiny. This is not exactly rare and magical. I swear, if you people actually believe that, I'm gonna start an operation selling you rare orange horses...they will be available every August! Prices start at $10,000!

(c) The fact that mare is having a baby this year is enough to make me hork up my lunch. Where do I even begin...short ugly neck, huge hammerhead, upright shoulder, camped under hind end, terrible loin attachment...try to fit a saddle to that back. This mare is only 5 and she's got the back of a 15 year old that has lived a hard life. She might look better with a few more pounds on her, but there's absolutely nothing about her that anyone should be trying to replicate.

(d) Good God, get a better farrier. Her feet are hideously shaped. The way she's built, she needs all the help she can get. Going through life with those underrun heels and long toes isn't going to help her a bit.

Here is a page with GREAT pictures showing foal colors and the (plain solid) color the foal grew up to be. As you can see, lots of "cool" foal colors grow into very plain brown or black adult horses. Unless you color test, you don't know exactly what you have, and it bears noting that some colors are simply not possible based upon who the parents are. Here is an online color calculator that can give you some idea of what the possibilities actually are, and keep you from looking silly online claiming your filly is a grey when her parents are a bay and a sorrel.

Along the same lines...folks, people aren't stupid. There is no such thing as a tobiano purebred Arabian. Someone registered this mare called RWR Sonora as a purebred, and as many people have pointed out since - uh, unless the Krazy Kolor Faerie's been by with her magic wand, this simple is not, cannot be, a purebred Arabian. You can get a sabino Arabian that has markings that look somewhat like an overo pinto, but you can't get a tobiano. AHA is investigating. And by the way, she's not nice enough to breed from even if she's a rare pink paisley print!

Feel free to share your tales of the color foals were born appearing to be, and the colors they turned out!

Update: Never bite the hand that feeds you...or threaten to send them a horse head!


Trainer Charged Over Horse-Killing Remarks

There ya go, dumbass. If you're so concerned about your career, let us help you get motivated to find a new one! Maybe Mr. Londregan will get booted from the sport permanently and then he will be too busy job-hunting to say ludicrous, high-drama and evil things to the media.

Well done, Racing Victoria!

(Another blog coming soon...I just had to share this!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Beginner mistakes that can kill your horse...

As I've posted before, I didn't get a horse early into my riding career. I lived in the 'burbs and my mother steadfastly declared that no way was she going to that smelly barn on a daily basis. So horse ownership had to wait until I had a driver's license and as a result I was at least a mediocre owner, if not a good one, by the time I had something with four hooves to call my own. In the meantime, I took nine years of riding lessons. While my instructors were far from George Morris, I did acquire the basics and the ability to ride the "advanced" school horses - aka those given to frequent spooking, bolting, bucking and similar behaviors.

Still, I made a lot of dumb first-time owner mistakes. My horse lived in a tie stall for quite some time, something I feel guilty about to this day. I am lucky that the barn had a good farrier, because I wouldn't have known good from bad. I'd read
every horse book on earth, so that was somewhat helpful. Still, it is probably a very good thing I'd grown up in a barn full of adults all too happy to screech things like "pick up that lead rope, he's going to step on it!" at me when my teenage brain had wandered.

Sadly, not all horses are fortunate and every day, horses get sold to rank beginners - people whose knowledge base is limited to having ridden a friend's horse a few times or gone trail riding on vacation. They have a couple of acres, and their impression of a horse is that it is kind of like a big dog. It will mow the lawn and you can ride it.
An amazing number of horses survive this kind of ownership, but the fact is, some do not. Few beginners understand how easy it is to kill a horse. I see these people on message boards daily, asking questions that make me want to march the streets campaigning for ownership licensing and a test. Sometimes it is too late and they are already posting about the loss of their horses.

Since I know that a lot of beginners do read this blog, today we are going to talk about the mistakes that
really can kill your horse. Those of you who aren't beginners, please add to my list!

1. Turnout in a halter that will not break - i.e. nylon or rope. If any of you have a stack of Western Horseman magazines from the 1970s, I need a favor. Can you scan that ad showing the dead horse hung up on the fence? They don't use that ad anymore - I'm sure some parent sued for their child's emotional distress - but it's a damn shame because it got the message across. I am still, in 2009, reading message board posts from someone who turned out in a nylon or rope halter and came back to find a horse hung up with a broken neck. Even a horse who ties very well may panic when his head gets trapped unexpectedly. This can happen when he's scratching an itchy spot on a t-post or something like a piece of loose metal on the barn (of
course, that shouldn't be there either). Some horses will even catch a back foot in their halter as they scratch themselves, and you can imagine the injuries that result. The solution is simple - either turn out with no halter (this is always the safest and if you can't catch your horse, you have something to work on, don't you?) or turn out with a breakaway halter.

A related problem - tying too long. When your horse is tied, a loop of lead rope that hangs down to your horse's knee or further is absolutely too long. If the horse paws and hangs himself up, you're likely to see a panicky episode that will scare you to death and can very well result in a severe injury to both the horse and any human who tries to free him. Tie with no more than 2-3 feet of rope between the horse's nose and the tie rail or ring, tie with a quick release knot, and make sure you pull on the lead and check it before you walk off to ensure that the horse can't get a few more feet of slack free with the first tug. This is particularly important when tying to the side of the trailer at a trail ride or other event - I always see horses with so much slack in the lead that it scares me. Tie high and short and keep hay nets high and short as well - nothing at leg level. Not ever. Don't even get me started on "staking out" - yeah, I know there are .0005% of the horses in the world that someone has trained to do this and they're just fine, but most of the time, it is a train wreck waiting to happen. Don't do it.

2. Uncapped t-posts and other unsafe fencing. Your realtor is most likely NOT a horse expert. Every day, I see properties full of barbed wire and uncapped t-posts marketed as "turn-key horse farms." While there's a fairly easy and cheap fix - capping the posts and replacing the barbed wire with another form of fencing like electric rope or tape - beginners are often told "oh, it will be fine." Look, I could publish gory pictures all day showing that it may not be fine. And while it's true that horses hurt themselves on other kinds of fence, it's simply not as common and the injuries are rarely as severe as the injuries from barbs that dig in and tear the flash. With regard to capping t-posts, I once almost lost a horse myself because I failed to do that. A horse who tries to jump out can impale himself on the top of an uncapped t-post, and a horse who is scratching may cut himself. Mine cut herself on the underside of her face, right between the cheekbones and right into her jugular vein. T-post caps are cheap and they slip right on. Go pick some up if you haven't already.

3. Pasture obstacles. Horses are not, no matter what anybody tells you, "smart enough" to stay away from tractors, old cars, playground equipment, loose sheet metal, sinkholes and other pasture hazards. If there is a means of self-destruction in their turnout area, they are likely to find and use it. It is important to go out and physically walk your pastures looking for hazards before you ever put a horse out there. I've seen old farms where coils of old, rusty barbed wire hid in the weeds. A few years ago, there was a much-publicized case where a beautiful warmblood stallion fell into an old well on a property and broke his neck. You can read several cases on Netposse where the horse was found on the owner's property stuck in a sinkhole or something similar. I've also seen cases where erosion has taken back the edge of a ditch to where the horse can fall in without ever getting outside of the fence.

I've seen horses kill themselves on things like a rough piece of sheet metal coming off the back of a shed, a support cable for a telephone post, farm equipment that was parked in the pasture for just a day, and the list goes on. If you can't immediately remove a hazard, shield it from the horses using a few corral panels. These are a quick way to build a barrier around something like an old well, a collapsed building, or some metal pipe to nowhere sticking up out of the ground.

4. Grass can kill your horse. To make a long explanation short, the sunny and warm days of spring raise the sugar content of grass pasture. This can render grass dangerous to eat - the sugars upset the normal balance in the horse's digestive tract, resulting in toxins which lead to founder, aka laminitis. Founder is without a doubt one of the worst things that can happen to your horse. In its most severe form, the hooves are so badly affected that the horse must be euthanized. Even in milder forms, it is a management issue and the horse may require a lengthy rehab period, expensive special shoeing, and to be "dry lotted" - kept in a dirt field with no grass - the rest of his life. The classic situation is a beginner who purchases a horse from a boarding barn where it has only gone out in dirt paddocks, brings it home to the idyllic farm they just purchased and puts it out on lush green pasture. The horse looks happy - heck, the horse looks ecstatic - but days later it can hardly walk and by the end of the week, it is dead. Rule number one: Horses do not know what is good for them. They can also founder after getting into the grain - your grain should be kept in a locked room or a spare stall where a loose horse at 3 AM cannot get to it. If you purchase a horse who hasn't been out on grass, introduce him to it slowly. Start with 15 minutes of grazing and then back into the stall/dirt paddock he goes. Work up by increasing the time a little bit daily until the horse it out 24/7 if that's what you desire. He won't like coming back in - but you'll save yourself a four-figure vet bill and a lot of heartbreak. Another option is a grazing muzzle, which allows the horse to be turned out with the herd and drink but keeps his grass consumption to a minimum. If you've purchased a previously foundered horse (your vet can tell you), fencing in a dirt paddock is probably your safest bet.

FYI, grass clippings from the lawn are never safe for horses. They start to ferment almost immediately in a bag or pile. Hand-picking grass for your paddock kept horse is fine, but the leftover from the mower belongs in the trash heap.

5. Other horses can kill your horse. Some boarding barns are just not very smart about turnout. While a certain amount of roughhousing, nipping and the occasional kick is normal in a herd of horses, you will occasionally see a horse who is truly aggressive. He continually runs at other horses, ears pinned, teeth bared. He will start chasing another horse and it won't end after three strides (that's normal herd behavior - the chase ends when the submissive horse runs away) - he will chase that horse for laps around the pasture. This horse can kill your horse. This is how horses get so panicked that they do try to jump out of the fence. They can get cornered in a run-in shed or fence corner by a horse like this and kicked so severely they have to be euthanized. Absolutely do not allow your horse to be turned out with a horse like this, even if he does not seem to be the focus of the horse's aggression. It's much better that your horse go out in a small paddock by himself.

No, you don't want to be the overprotective horse parent who has hysterics over a tiny nip mark, but if you've ever seen a truly aggressive horse like this in action, you know what I mean. You are the paying customer at a boarding barn, and you do have the right to demand your horse be kept as safe as possible - please don't back down because someone scoffs at you and tries to make you feel like a stupid beginner. If you are going to make mistakes, erring on the side of caution is always best!

So, what else would you add to the discussion? What do you think are the most important things for first time owners to know - the things that absolutely CAN kill their horse if they don't know them? I'm not talking about all of the fine points of tack fit - I'm talking about things that can result in life-threatening conditions.