Monday, July 26, 2010

Delicious Horse Muffins! (And why I love your blogs!)

Well, I just want to share that I really enjoy reading your blogs, especially the ones listed on the right side of my blog. I have been reading slowly through your archives and have enjoyed “getting to know you.” All of you are excellent writers, and the stories and adventures and struggles you have faced are informative and touching and often, humorous. Sometimes you just make me burst out laughing at your humorous anecdotes; there are many that I relate to. (I love the ones where you tell a family member to hurry up by clucking to them, or some other horse-talk method! LOL)

And it was in reading one of Stacey Kimmel-Smith’s archived posts in Behind the Bit that she mentioned the German Horse Muffins sold by Equus Magnificus. So to thank my horse for his patience with me while I learn to canter (he already knows how to do it quite well), I thought he deserved a special treat. I decided to buy him some of these muffins. I ordered them and because of a snafu with the online ordering, spoke to and exchanged emails with the company owner, J, who was very nice and helpful. I ordered a large bucket of them since they were on special. They arrived promptly and I have now shared them with Buckshot several times. Well, let me tell you, he LOVES them! He practically smiles and sighs when I give him one! (They are so large that I break them in two, and each half is a generous amount.) He salivates like crazy, and I think he would jump to the moon and back for me if I just keep feeding him these muffins! So I now have my “secret weapon” or the treat from heaven that he just adores. These muffins are making our clicker training a LOT more effective!

I would highly recommend them to anyone. The ingredients include molasses, corn, oats, bran, and many more goodies.

Their website is Equus Magnificus, or you can call them at 1-877-621-1023, or email them at Thanks, Stacey, for writing about these treats, and thanks to the great folks at Equus Magnificus, for making such a wonderful product!

Update on uveitis…. In short, Buckshot is fine. The eye I had been concerned about is clinically normal, with no signs of it. The other eye, however, does show evidence of past episodes of uveitis. I don’t think an episode has occurred since I became his owner; I assume that it occurred prior to my ownership. The vet was very nice and very thorough. She taught me a lot and I will now be able to watch for it and call her if I see the signs. Later, I continued to research it on the Internet and found information about a special UV protection mask for horses with eye problems.

The site is Guardian Mask, if you are interested. It is a very interesting product I am considering purchasing just in case it is ever needed.

This past weekend – July 24-25- can be summed up in just a few words – incredibly hot! I went to the barn both days, but didn’t ride Buckshot. It was 105 degrees both Saturday and Sunday! That was just too hot to ask a horse to do any work. I survived the days by drinking water, gatorade, tea, eating snacks, using my “cooler collar” (one of those wet collars you tie around your neck that give off moisture throughout the day), and moving slower than normal, with frequent sit-downs. Whew!! Even with all of these helps, it was a killer weekend! I will be glad to see the cooler days of low 90’s! LOL!

And lastly, I want to recommend a book I read recently. It is titled The Dark Horse, and is by Craig Johnson, an author of wonderful Western mysteries from Wyoming. He has drawn some wonderful characters, the best of which is Sheriff Walt Longmire, who is, in this book, a horse-loving, laconic, wise, thoughtful, realistic man, who embarks on finding the truth behind murders of horses and people. There is a terrific section of the story in which he rides an abused horse through a series of escapes and attacks, and both arrive safely at their destination.

Here is an excerpt from the book by Craig Johnson. “In my life, I have been kicked by horses and bitten by them. I’ve been stepped on, crushed against gates, and thrown to the ground, but I have also been nuzzled, rubbed against, carried by, nickered at, and warmed by the great beasts. I thought of all the horses I’d known and couldn’t think of a bad one. My father had said the beasts of the field didn’t feel pain like we did, but I never saw him mistreat one, ever…” I highly recommend this book! I intend to read his other books as well.

You can visit his website as well at Craig Johnson.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Updates on the canter, uveitis and etc

I haven’t written yet about my time with Buckshot about a week ago. The weather was just a touch cooler (if you can call the low 90’s cooler! LOL) and Buckshot and I had some great rides. I worked on the lope with him. My instructor has me working on twisting or shifting my seat, to help me match his rhythm, so that my seat stays in the saddle. We did a number of lopes with me concentrating on this. Some were quite good. Some weren’t. I started to get frustrated by my lack of progress in this.

But I have to remember and encourage myself that to improve my skills at the canter will take some time. Just as it did years ago at the posting trot. Today I love the posting trot. I have developed some tips that really helped me with it, and there have been times Buckshot and I have just floated along as one at the trot. Heavenly!

So I will need to be patient with myself on the canter as well. And I have to remember not to overdo it and bore Buckshot to death with it. I alternated the canter work with some patterns, and some precision work, at both the walk and the trot. And a few times, I stopped him in the middle of the arena and gave him a long rein. And don’t you know, he would walk slowly over to the gate!! As if to say, “I think we’ve done enough today, don’t you?” What a kidder! I would redirect him to do something else for a few more minutes. When we had ridden for about an hour, I said to him, “okay, we’ll do our cool down now” and started walking him around the perimeter of the arena. I think the term “cool down” is one of his favorite terms! He knows that it means the end of the riding is near, and so are his post-ride treats!

On the issue of moon blindness, his symptoms have gone away, this past week and weekend I haven’t seen the symptoms I saw (or thought I saw) earlier. But we are going to have the vet check it out soon. I’ll keep you posted on this.

This past weekend (July 17-18) it was beastly hot at the farm. High 90’s and high humidity. I rode Buckshot both on Saturday and Sunday, but for much shorter times. We worked on some patterns and exercises from the book “101 Arena Exercises” by Cherry Hill. Buckshot did very well with everything we tried. And we did a few canters! On Sunday, we only did a few canters, but they were great. My seat stayed in the saddle and found his rhythm, and his pace was great – not rushing. A great day for both of us, regardless of the miserable weather!

PS Thank you to Story for becoming a follower of my blog! I really appreciate it! I am trying to follow the steps to become an official "Follower" of the blogs noted on the right side of my blog. The first time I tried it, something didn't work right, so I undid it. But now I have added a tiny pic of myself to my profile and will again sign up to become a Follower of these great blogs. I'll do it slowly, to make sure I am doing it correctly. Thank you again, Story! You made my day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What is Moon Blindness?

Yesterday I went to go to the eye doctor to get my contact lens prescription re-evaluated. I saw on the eye clinic website that the doctor I was going to see, had listed as a hobby, that she had horses! So I couldn’t wait to talk to her. After the preliminary tests by the technicians, she came in the examining room and I, I’m sorry to say, immediately jumped in asking her about her horses and wanting to talk about horses! Normally I am reserved and a bit quiet, but not today! I turned into a chatty cathy!

When I mentioned that my horse is an Appaloosa, she mentioned that hers is part Appaloosa. I asked her about moon blindness since this is something that can afflict Appaloosas. I don’t know what the symptoms are to watch for. And Buckshot has had a few eye issues lately that have caused me to wonder about moon blindness. She suggested that four of the symptoms are 1. Sensitivity to light (the horse will not want to open his eye all the way), 2. The eye will be swollen or inflamed, 3. The eye will tear (or water tears will drip down from the eye) and 4. The cornea will show some cloudiness. She explained that this is able to be seen if you use a penlight. So I resolved to get a pen light, and watch for these symptoms. If I am concerned, I’ll call our vet.

We also talked about using sunscreen on the white parts of the Appaloosa. I have been using two products I got from SmartPak. One is Vetrolin spray- it has a sunscreen in it. I spray this on the big parts of his body that are white. I also use a product called Quic Shade, which is a thick gel-like sunscreen I apply to his blaze. I hope they provide him some protection.

The eye doctor does eventing and fox hunting with her horses and I asked her about these sports. Boy, they seem to be the pinnacle of horse athleticism! For a horse to do well in jumping, and dressage, and cross country work- wow! What a combination! I have a lot of admiration for the riders and horses who do eventing! And what a chatterbox I was! I want to apologize to her that I monopolized the conversation too much. Next time I resolve to just ask her about her horses and listen more! LOL.

Then, later...

Oh, gosh. Last night I read some great information about moon blindness (uveitis) on and from Stacey Kimmel-Smith’s great blog, Beyond the Bit. And was I ever sad after reading it. I don’t know if I am imagining it but Buckshot seems to have some of the symptoms. Oh, dear. It made me so sad. I have to tell myself that in the past, whenever I have looked up symptoms and health issues on the Internet, I automatically think I have half of the symptoms! I don’t know if I am doing the same thing with Buckshot, though. I also bought a pen light today.

Tomorrow after work I am going out to the barn to see him. I always want to see him, but now I am just a little afraid that I’ll see more symptoms and think that maybe he is developing this disease. Oh my. Have you had to deal with this kind of thing? Any suggestions for not getting too paranoid and worried?

If you would like to see the articles Stacey compiled on Behind the Bit, go to Behind the Bit and look for her topic label "blindness."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Fun Reining Clinic!

(Written July 1, 2010) Last weekend I had a terrific time attending a reining clinic and picnic at a reining trainer’s farm! Eight of us went from our barn (where I board Buckshot) – seven riders, four horses, and all of the accompanying gear – to the reining trainer’s barn, to have a lesson, followed by a picnic. Although the weather was sweltering, in the high 90’s with beastly sunshine, it didn’t diminish the excitement of this wonderful outing. I was one of a few riders that had to borrow a horse as I didn’t bring Buckshot with me. After setting up, and finding a seat near D’s (the reining trainer – an excellent trainer, instructor and all around horseman) arena, I watched as eight of his other students rode into the arena and started warming up. Our barn’s four horses/riders slowly joined them. The horses and riders all looked great – well cared for, well turned out, well behaved. After a few minutes, D began the clinic with exercises/ maneuvers of reining that he had each rider perform, followed by his critique and suggestions.

A while later, after doing a number of maneuvers with each horse and rider, D called me into the arena and had me borrow a horse of one of his students. I mounted a lovely horse, but after a few minutes of trying, I wasn’t able to get him to canter (lope, in reining circles), despite how hard I tried. I wasn’t wearing spurs and perhaps this horse needed them to canter. Apparently D understood and told me to stand in the center. All of the other riders were standing near the center of the arena as well. D told one woman to bring her horse forward and to demonstrate a spin- legs out, lay reins over the neck, kiss to horse and as he moves around, to use the outside leg. Very nice – she was excellent at the maneuver. Another rider followed. Then, surprisingly, D asked me to come forward and spin. Now, I have never, ever done a spin on a horse before. My trust and respect for D is such that if he asks for it, I can go ahead and do it. So I did – and wow! How amazing it was to spin the horse! I felt the tiniest bit of dizziness at the end, but it was overshadowed by doing the maneuver! I did it! Not very well, of course, but I did it! The confidence boost was huge.

A bit later, D switched me to a different horse. This horse’s owner – a very nice woman – assured me that he was the school master horse and had safely taught many, many people to ride. So I was not worried about being on yet another unfamiliar horse. After mounting, we rode to the end of the arena and stood, watching the advanced students lope and gallop down to the other end to do sliding stops. I wasn’t ready to try this maneuver at all, but I listened carefully to D’s feedback to the students. One by one, D released the horses and riders with a “well done, now give that horse a bath.” He then turned to me and asked me to walk the horse forward and spin him. I did so, and this horse spun twice as fast as the first one! I was blown away by such a spin, and that I stayed on and, more or less, stayed in control. No, not in control, just stayed on. Wow! What a neat feeling, the sense of circular power under you, and how quickly that power turns off when you ask for the “whoa.”
D then told me to lope him in a circle. Well! As you can tell from my writings, I am learning to canter and lope, but am not yet very accomplished at it. Despite that, I trust D’s instructions and expectations, so I girded my insides with the thought, “okay, I can do this,” and started walking the horse in a large circle. After a moment, I gave the cues and –voila! – I was loping, and in a circle! I don’t know how long I loped – probably only a few revolutions, but I was doing it!! D was so kind – he even called out to the “audience,” “hey, everyone, look at Jan loping!” My smile couldn’t have been any bigger! Even though I was dripping with sweat, tired from the intense heat and humidity, on an unfamiliar horse, at an unfamiliar farm, I did it – I loped a horse in a whole circle! Wonderful!

I took the horse to the wash stall area and thanked his owner for sharing him. After I washed him off and got him back into her care, we commenced with a lovely picnic. The students and boarders from D’s farm, and the students and boarders from our farm meshed well- everyone was cordial and encouraging to each other. A very nice, unique, get together to be sure. I had a great time, though by the time we loaded our horses, and returned to the farm, unloaded all the gear, fed all of the horses and made sure everything was done, I was quite tired,. But it was a good kind of tired, the kind that comes at the end of a good day. And I had actually done reining spins on two horses and loped in a circle!