Precious has a rider!

Oh joy of joys, I think I have finally found the right rider for Precious. Kim is a very nice young woman who loves animals and horses. She has never owned a horse of her own but has good riding skills.

Precious was full of herself tonight because it had been several days since she had been ridden. Kim lunged her and to burn off some of the energy, but when she got on Precious was being a pill (oh, new rider again, I think I will have to test you). So I got on Precious, re-inforced the PROPER Precious behavior and viola!, they had a very nice ride.

She is coming back on Saturday and should be riding on her own in no time. It is a relief to know that I can worry much less about one horse. I will still ride P at least one day a week because sometimes I just want to relax and she is the only one I can do that with. :)

If you have never had 'hangers-on' (as my mom refers to them), they are a great way to help you manage too many horses.


Death of an animal

This summer my Garfunkel died. For 11 years he was the only consistent thing in my life (day in, day out). He was such a wonderful dog and on days I am really sad I miss him so much more than I usually do.

He had so many faults, but he loved me unconditionally and worked so hard to show it. For that, you can forgive almost any transgression.

I miss you Garfunkel, I hope that in Heaven they always know when you want to be covered by a blanket, there are no fences to jump and no one cares if you eat off the counter. I love you.


Blogvertise. Blogverwhat??

I just got a follow up email from Vegas for Blogsvertise. She called while I was on the phone and sent a follow up email, so definately doing her job as a sales person.

Blogsvertise is this organization that pays you to blog. Sounds great huh? Well, maybe it will be great, I'm not sure. Supposedly because I have a 'specialty' blog I might make more blogging about people's products and services (don't worry, you will always know when I am getting paid-and I will ALWAYS be honest), but really, do they have advertisers who want horse people to write about their blogs? We will see.

If I sound only moderatly thrilled about Blogsvertise, the reason is simple. To get my account approved, I had to post about them on my blog. But what in the world does this have to do with horses? Absolutely nothing. However, if I actually make any money I will save it for a lesson, so I guess in some strange way, it is about learning horses.

The real cost of raising a baby (horse)

I just posted this on a forum, after reading it, I thought you might find it an interesting analysis.

I have only raised one baby, here were my costs to get him to 3 years old:

1. Board. We did not have pasture board and she wouldn't have allowed it anyway. Babies get into trouble, into fences, etc., she felt he was safest up at the barn. He had a stall with a 20x100 run and another baby same gender next to him with two sets of hotwire in between him. He also got lots of human affection (he was pretty much wild first 9 months).They went out together 2-3 days a week for the day in the pasture. My board was $200/month. Included hay/grain. I cleaned the stall. Two years three months: $5400.

2. Vet. Having him gelded. $100. Accident free lunging in the round pen $400.

3. Halters. I bought 3 halters as he grew. $60.

4. Blankets. I was given one baby blanket, he wouldn't wear it. I was given another blanket for him as 2 year old, he wouldn't wear it either (luckily this resistance didn't turn into vet bill). But it would have cost $60. total $120.

5. Registration. I didn't get him registered on time. I was already a member of the assn ($55), but I got amnesty so instead of $400, it was only $200. If I would have done it on time $50 (I think). Plus $50 for the genetic testing. total$305

6. Shows. I took him to every show I went to (that had in-hand non-pointed classes). I think that is 5 or 6. Stalls plus classes around $600 (in addition to the other horses).

7. 45 days professional training after he bucked me off, I didn't know as much as I thought. $1050.

8. Transportation. I took him to some friends for trail training (I don't have trails). Gas $200.

9. Name tag for stall. $10.

10. Regular vet & farrier approx $560 for two years (I take them once a year for a good 'once over'.

11. Dental visit for wolf teeth (pending, but very realistic to get him on the bit). $80 (and that is cheap).

12. Purchase price $1500.

13. Board from 4 months to 9 months $100/mo. $500.

14. Stuff I am sure I forgot $500

Total $11,000+

He will never sell for that. But, would I do it again? There was so much learning involved with it, that I would have to say yes. When he came back from the trainer and she said 'Don't sell this horse, you will regret it. He is a once in a lifetime horse', I guess that made the blow to my checking account a little easier. He is, after all, my horse. I 'ordered' him by asking for a specific breeding. I had complete control over his care, his handling, his training, his feed. His mistakes are mine, his successes are mine and I am looking forward to our life together.

And you know what? He is a Paso Fino and doesn't gait (well at least not yet), so it is true, you don't always get what you pay for. He is going to be my dressage horse.


Good Horse Sites #2

1. Ultimate Dressage: Classifieds, Calendar and Forum. I read through several of the forum posts, many were well written, lots of good posters with experience. I will definately visit here often.

2. Natural Horse Supply: Lots of great horse stuff including rope halter kits to make your own! You can also order left handed (usual) or right handed (not usual) rope halters. I love it! I am going to buy everyone rope halter kits as gifts (except my friends and family who read this).

3. Saddle Fitting: This is a great source of information on how to properly fit a saddle. The progression of steps is interesting although a little annoying that every time you click next you have to scroll down to see what's next. BUT, it is definately worth the annoyance. All horse owners need to know this stuff.

4. Oklahoma State University: HUH??? I've encountered this site several times on google searches for the word 'horse'. Turns out they have an AWESOME directory of horse breeds. I consider myself fairly well read on the subject of different breeds. WRONG. There were more breeds than I ever imagined. Check this out for some good horse learning. And in case you needed goat, cow, sheep or swine breeds also, this is an excellent resource for that as well.


Neighbors, Communities & Unconditional help

I just read a really amazing story posted by my friend Cookie on the NWPFHA message board.
If you have the opportunity to read it, I would most definitely suggest it, but what strikes me most is how in this time of turmoil (flooding, rivers rising and washing away), neighbors came together and helped each other. United by horses and humanity, people risked property and life to help each other.

There is so much finger pointing and politics in the horse world. When we are divided in our pursuits or have disagreements about training, take a moment, take a deep breath and ask yourself 'would I help this person if they were in need'. Your answer should be yes, so whatever trivial problem you may have, it is time to look at it differently. I am here to help my fellow humans and horses, whatever it takes.

My hats off to Cookie. She is an amazing woman and I am glad to know her.


Posting on the sly

Uriah and I came to Portland for a quick getaway and I forgot to post, but we snuck into the Mac store and Viola! today's post. Greetings from Portland!


Favorite Horse Things #3

1. Passier Lederbaslam: Thanks to Patricia who helped me discover Passier Lederbalsam which is the most amazing stuff ever. Patricia's can looked different than this, but it made all my old stuff look new. Worth every penny. You can find it online at MM Tack Shop, but look at your local tack shop first and use it today!

2. Plastic Curry Comb with Hose Attachment: When I moved into Pam's barn, not only did the wash rack have hot water, it had a plastic curry comb with hose attachment. I'm telling you kids, this is GREAT for horses who don't like bathing as they can hardly feel it coming through. Best part is, this nifty gismo is well priced at under $2 at Country Supply, less than $1 if you order 25 or more, so it would be a great stocking stuffer for all your horse friends!

3. Toklat Splint Boots: After doing a couple of tough obsticle courses with the horses this spring, I realized that I needed to work on their jumping. Both Precious and Zapa have broken splints (vet says no worries), but I want to do everything I can to protect their small legs. After looking around, I asked at a local feed/tack store (Wagon Wheel in Creswell) if they could order smaller sizes. Sure enough, I ended up with really awesome split boots that FIT my horses. You can order these in multiple sizes from anywhere that carries Toklat products (which I also love). Toklat works through local dealers, but you can find one on their website. My horses are wearing POA size split boots (extra small), which no tack store carries. The price was good too at about $25 a pair. Of course mine are blue and Zapa looks so handsome wearing them!

4. Rubber boots. I had been using my rafting boots from my childhood, but this last move seperated the right from the left, so I ventured out for a new pair. After a trip to GI Joes, I spent $24.99 to find a totally water proof pair of boots. They are awesome for turning in/out, mucking stalls and pushing out to the manure pile. I would picture them here, but couldn't find the ones I bought on GI Joe's site.



Thanksgiving was very nice. I cooked a lovely dinner and Uriah's family came over. My cold was getting to me so much that I left the table and went to bed before we had dessert. I got up to cancel Bette's lesson for tomorrow and Uriah asked me if I was going to post. So, here is my post. A NaBloPoMo disaster has been averted.



I just read a NaBloPoMo post about being thankful and I being the cheater/stealer I am, here is my horsey thankful list:

I am thankful for
1. Pergolide. What a wonderful medication and treatment for a terrible disease (Cushings). It has given me back my horse and I am so pleased that it exists, even at $40 a month.

2. Precious. Even though she is a monster in the show ring, she is a pleasure to ride (almost) the rest of the time. If I want to be on the trails or just poke around the arena, she tries so hard for me and is such a good sport about being a lesson/learning horse.

3. Santana. It is really an amazing opportunity for me to work with such an amazing little horse, so I am thankful that I have been given this chance. Let's hope I don't screw it up!

4. My barn. Wow, to have such an amazing facility only a few minutes from me at such a reasonable price. I love my barn.

5. My horse trailer. I love having a trailer. I just want to ask my van to hold out a little longer until it can be replaced because I still want to go places with my horses!

6. Horse friends. So many of them, I am thankful to have people that share my passion for horses. I am also thankful to have such great friends.

7. Zapa. I am grateful Zapa has his daddy's disposition. If I ever do decide to sell him, it shouldn't be hard to find him a home.

8. Tesoro is coming home and I have a lot to learn, so I am looking forward to that.


A trotting Paso Fino?

When I asked Bruce and Betty to breed for me, I always imagined I'd raise a young horse and sell him. With Zapa that had always been my intention, even through last summer. I had planned to sell him and find myself a nice dressage horse to lease.

When he was about to come back from training, the trainer told me I was making a big mistake selling him, that he was a special horse.

Zapa is young, so I expect that he will gait someday, but for now he is content to trot and has a wonderful canter, so my intention is to use him for my dressage horse. My only concern was if he could get extention in the trot.

Elisia set up the jumps for Soda, so I put on Zapa's split boots, lowered the jumps and got him a little exercise. Elisia gave me some tips on how to balance him into the jump and shortly he was doing swell. The poles made their way to the ground where I spaced them out. Zapa shortly had a beautiful extended trot over the poles and I thought he may be my dressage horse after all.

I know lots of Paso Fino folks are cringing, but I rasied him from a baby, he is so gentle and kind (and willing to work for me), that maybe he is trying to do what he knows I want, just so we can stay together.

So for now, he is not for sale.


Bad Content

I think I have done a moderately decent job of posting quality content through this NaBloPoMo, but today, I feel like ick. I didn't go to work (at first I thought I just feeling a little bad, but now realize I feel REALLY bad) and not to the barn, so I am headed to bed now. I realize it is only 7:30 and I have slept most of the day today, but like I said, I feel icky. Here are some pictures for your entertainment.

This is a trainer I really admire named Luis Villa. He has a son Sebastian who is just hilarous and although only 12, a lady killer. Precious spent 60 days with Luis a couple of years ago. Luis is riding Vigilante a very beautiful buckskin Performance stallion. If you are in the Northwest and need a Paso Fino trained, he is the guy. It took me two years of getting to know him before I made that decision, but he is someone I really trust.

This is a picture of my mom's Paso Finos at a wedding in Alaska a couple of years ago. The horses carried in the flower girl and ring bearer. The bride is the daughter of a good family friend, my sister was the maid of honor at the wedding. The bride and groom just had a baby! Congrats to Matt and Keeley on baby Julia (also named after my sister). I am very thrilled for them.



Visit About Random Crap for a very funny video of Tommy that matches this picture.

Boarding Overview

Today I went to the barn to see my horses but I wasn't too motivated to do anything, so instead I hung out with Elisia then ended up chatting for a long time with Elisia and Pam.

I am SO lucky to have such a great boarding facility so close to my house. I informed Pam (the owner) that I am never leaving, so she had better get used to me.

This is a basic knowledge dump from years of boarding and asking (or not asking) the right questions. Over time I will detail each of these subjects so you can have a better idea what the 'best' answers will be (although they will vary based on your need).

There are 3 types of boarding care: Full care, partial care and self care. Each of these levels of care can vary by definition when you choose a barn, so it is important to know the ins and outs when making your choice. Here are some of the basic topics, find out what your potential barn does then you can classify which category of care you are getting.

1. Do you provide feed. If so, what is included? Hay? Grain? If hay, what type and how much? What types of grain do you feed? Do I have choices? May I change what my horse gets? What if I travel, may I take hay/grain with me (the answer should be yes, you are paying for your horse to be fed, even if you leave). If my horse has special needs for additional hay/grain is that included? (Some horses have MUCH higher needs for hay/grain so a barn may limit the amount included and charge extra for a high consuming horse). How many times a day do you feed?

Are supplements included (usually no). If I provide them will you feed them? Is there an extra charge? Do I need to put them in baggies or packets? If medication needs to be refrigerated, is that possible?

If self care-do you feed? Can I set my AM or PM feed out for my horse? What arrangements are there if I am unable to get out to feed my horse.

If self care-storage. Is there a place to store hay? How much can I store? Is there a place to keep my grain? Is it horse/mouse/rat proof?

Is turnout available? Do you turn out? Is there a charge for that? Will my horse be alone or with other horses? Is there shelter? Is there water (you would think the answer is yes, but ALWAYS ask). Is the turnout pasture? If you turnout, who will be handling my horse? If you do not turnout, is there a limit to the amount of time I can use the turnout? May I come turn my horse out then leave or must I remain on the property? Is there hotwire on the fencing? If so, how hot is it? May I walk your fenceline (to look for debris/barbed wire/unsafe horse objects). How often do you walk the fenceline? Will my horses be out with other animals?

Will you blanket/unblanket my horse? Is there a cost to that?

Stall cleaning:
Do you clean stalls? If yes, how often? If I would like them cleaned more often is there a charge for that? If no, how often will I be expected to clean? Do you provide bedding? How much is included? What if I need more? Where is the manure pile? Do you provide wheelbarrows/forks? How often are water buckets cleaned?

Is the arena covered? Closed in or open? How deep is the footing? When can I use the arena? May I free lunge/turnout in the arena. Are there poles/barrels/obstacles that I may use for training purposes? Do I need to pick up my manure after I ride? What is the footing made from? How often do you drag the arena? Do you have a sprinkler system (for watering)? How often do you water? Do boarders ever water the arena? Is the arena ever closed? For what reasons?

If there is a trainer/lesson giver ask-may I use the arena while lessons are being given?

Is there a tack room? Is it locked? How much room will I have for storage? Where may I hang my blankets? Is it heated?

Round pen:
Do you have one? Is it available all the time for use? See arena questions.

Trailer parking:
Do you have trailer parking? Is there a cost for it?

Wash rack:
Do you have a wash rack? Is it matted? Are there cross ties? Hot water? Any limitations on its use?

Where may I groom my horse? Am I expected to pick up after myself? Is there electricity for clipping?

May I use my own vet/farrier? Where should the work? Any expectations from them? If I may not use my own vet/farrier, is the barn on a schedule? Can I split the barn call fee with other owners?

Do you have a worming program? May I worm my own horse? Can I get onto the worming program?

May my own trainer come to the barn and give me lessons? Do you have any 'style' requirements for training (natural horsemanship, dressage, hunter/jumper/western pleasure)?

Atmosphere: What is it like to board here? Do people bring kids? Dogs? Is that allowed? How long have your current boarders been here? What kind of turnover do you have? Do you have plans to change ownership? How do you resolve conflict between boarders? May a friend come and ride my horse? Do you have waivers? Helmet requirements? Are there events (shows/clinics/etc) that happen here?

A good barn is like a family. I have been lucky enough to have two of those in my years of boarding (and I have tried many). In the good ones, the time passes quickly and your memories are fond, no matter what your trials and tribulations with your horse was. In the bad ones, being at the barn is a dreaded chore and even the soft nuzzle of your equine friend cannot lift your negative spirits.

So ask the right questions to find the right barn. Be willing to give up two or three of the 'perks' for the right atmosphere. Look beyond the polish and determine if the horses are healthy and happy, sometimes just because the barn is new, doesn't mean it is home.


How often to work your horse

Since I have been traveling for a few days, it became painfully obvious as I worked with each horse that my horses are used to me being around and moreover, used to work. I'm not sure how much they have been in their stalls, but I know they aren't getting the usual exercise that I have planned for them.

I wanted to show you a typical week at the barn and what that looks like in terms of learning for the horse.

No stall cleaning
Ride Santana
Ground work with Zapa
Ride Precious
Wash feet Santana & Zapa

Clean stalls
Ground work with Santana
Lunge Zapa
Ride Precious

Clean Stalls
Ride Santana
Ride Zapa
Precious Off

No Stall cleaning
Santana Off
Ground work with Zapa
Ride Precious

Lunge Santana
Ride Zapa
Lunge/groundwork with Precious

Ride Santana
Groundwork with Zapa
Precious Off

Groundwork with Santana
Ride Zapa
Ride Precious

Both Precious and Santana get a couple of days off. I don't do that as much with Zapa because I work him for shorter periods of time both on the ground and under saddle.

When I ride, I ride for minimum of 15 minutes, max 1 hour 30. Santana is maxed out at an hour (maybe less). Groundwork is 15-45 minutes. Lunging is 15 minutes usually. Lunging is ONLY for exercise, usually if they haven't gotten out or I plan to ride the next day.

The schedule varies and occasionally I take a day off, when I do, it is usually Wednesdays or Sundays.


The Future of Learning Horses

Today, Learninghorses is just a blog. Sometimes I research something or write about a topic that is interesting to me, sometimes I just write about my work that day with the horses, but I really want to give more to the community and facilitate learning about horses.

This week at Webmaster World, I learned a lot of things about making a website and I have some really good ideas (in my humble opinion) about what I help offer the horse community.

I know the cost to attend clinics and shows can be outrageous, but maybe I can figure out a way to bring some of that to you in a virtual format. I am hoping that we can cross 'hauling' & cost barriers to open up our horse world. I know there are people out east who cannot fathom the terrain that many of my fellow colleagues ride in and I have a hard time grasping the enormity of the racing industry. So over the next few months, expect this blog to move, for a site to evolve and for the opportunity to create community in a new way.

I am looking for the assistance of all of you (my friends, my family and my random readers) to help me build this community. My purpose is to help people learn and if you have something to teach, I would ask that you let me share it with the world. Regardless of breed, gait, activity or type of hat you wear, we all love the equine; let us unite in our love.


Cloning Horses

Jax sent me this article and it is an interesting read about a world-class barrel racing champion horse being closed.

Jax pointed out that although the baby is a close (same genetic material), the baby has white face markings and the older horse does not. It shows how little we know about the genetics of markings.

I am facinated by this and scared at the same time. What do you think about cloning?


New Learning Horses Featured Post

I wanted to add some nice elements to the site, so I wanted to do a 'Horse of the month' posting. So starting in December, every month we will feature a horse of the month. I want your submissions for your horses. Tell me the story of your horse and why he/she is interesting. I need pictures and preferably video. If you are local I will come take video, if you are far away you can send me vhs tapes, dvd, and mini dv tapes. I will do my best to make something everyone can watch.

The featured horse will get a $25 gift certificate from a tack or feed shop in their area (we believe in supporting local business) and be listed in the Horse of the Month category.

Contact me if you have questions. I look forward to hearing from you! You can email me at learninghorses@gmail.com or call 541-654-0321 (Pacific time). You must be 18 to submit.


What makes a horses coat shine??

I was asked to blog on why my horses have shiney coats. At shows it is something that people comment on every time. My horses are just super shiney. And yes, I will use a little show sheen at a show, but that isn’t they reason they are shiney. There are several reasons:

  1. Good nutrition. My horses get local grass hay with a grain supplement. Precious gets a high fat grain which contributes to her shineyness. But they don’t all get that, so that isn’t entirely it.
  2. Blankets. Blankets keep them from getting dirty so it is easier to see the gleem on a coat, but I only blanket Oct-April (at the most). My horses are shiney all year long, so blankets are not the entire reason either.
  3. Brushing. I do a little brushing every time I ride. When they are blanketed, sometimes I just run my hands down their coats and don’t even brush. And I’m not fanatical about it at all, so that’s not the reason.
  4. Work. All my horses get work. They get work all year long and consistently. I ride with its cold/wet/dark/hot/sunny, you name it. I board where there is a covered arena and I work each horse 3-4 times a week. Maybe 1 session will only be groundwork, but they get a good solid workout at least 3 times a week. THAT is why I think my horses are always shiney. They work up a sweat, drink lots of water, dead hairs come off and after a quick brush I am left with a shiney gleaming coat. I may take off a week here or there, but the overall pattern is work, work, work.

I will try and take a picture sometime that really captures how shiney they are, but maybe someone can comment on that below. Not everyone works their horses as much as I do, and that is why I think I get the coats. Maybe someday I will research this and see if there is science to it. But right now I am enjoying an epidose of Law and Order. It is the next best thing to being at home.


Santana Update

I recently felt like I wasn’t making any progress with Santana. All attempts to get him on the bit were failing and he was leaning against me more and more on the bosol. I reached out to the forum at PasoPedigree where I got some good answers (they had a video of him to watch).

I was making the same mistake with Santana that I originally made with Precious. I was worrying so much about his uniqueness (classic fino), that I neglected the fact that he was a horse. When I was learning with Precious I kept worrying about gait (for all who know her, this is a dumb thing to worry about) and I failed to learn the horse basics. With Santana I was worrying about this classic fino and was not doing the right thing to get this horse in balance.

What is ironic is that I sent the owner a long email on what I would do if it was my horse (when he first came to me). It described all the things I needed to do, but I just skipped them and tried to pick up where I thought his training had left off. BAD IDEA. So now I am refocused on getting the horse in balance and the results so far are remarkable.

Santana is now using a French link snaffle (referred to as many things, but pictured here). I have tried two different ones, the 1st one was a winner, the 2nd not as popular, but the first bit belongs to Precious, so I’ll have to pick up another one. Day one with the French link I could get him to drop his head, but once he took a step, his head popped up. Today, he was doing quite a bit of walking in the correct frame. Now we will work on building that strength while still creating balance, so as he collects it will be even and soft. Slowly I will add gait asking with my seat for him to engage his hind end. I will keep you posted on his progress.

He recently transferred owners and his new owner is a novice. I have been very worried about him going to a beginner, but after today I feel with a few more months worth of work (and if she does her part), he could be safe for her to ride.


Oregon Horse Center Mountain Trail Championship

A sight to behold. An indoor waterfall, a railroad style bridge 10 feet in the air, teepees, mountain scenery and hundreds of horses.

Jax and I went to horse center to watch folks ride in the Mountain Trail Championships. Just as we were coming in, we ran into Bruce. That morning, Bruce and his Paso Fino mare Moonlight, took 3rd in the timed and judged 50 & over competition, finishing the course in 1 minute 4 seconds. My friend Marianne took 4th on her Trote y Galope horse. Sorry Marianne, I guess Bruce was meant to win.

We got to watch the 50 & over class where we say 4 Paso Finos (one was 1/2 paso, so that counts) ALL that did excellent. I was proud to watch them.

Next year I will have to gather up the guts (and the funds) to participate. It was definately a different kind of event!

We were lucky enough to see the 'run-off' in the 19-49 speed event. One donkey and two horses competed for title of best AND FASTEST on the course. Here is the winner.

And for my NaBloPoMo readers, I just kept watching the clock tick by as Youtube uploaded my video. And at 11:23PM PDT I reached 100%, copied the code and clicked publish. Whew. That was a close one.


How to tie a rope halter

If you have never used a rope halter before, I would suggest trying one out. I like the very soft kind because the horses don't feel it at all when it is laying flat. The stiffer ones can rub hair, etc. even without your action on the other end.

Using a rope halter is a personal choice, but it works well for me and is the choice of many popular natural horsemanship folks. In combination with a 12 foot lead you can teach your horse to do just about anything without lots of extra gear. Invest in a good one, even though they are pricey, they will last.

If you don't have access to high-speed internet, my apologies, but I'll try to do my best to describe how to tie a halter after the video.

The only part of the rope halter that is doubled (besides the tie end), is where it goes over the nose. Use that as your guide. The loop goes on the same side as you, the long tail over the horses head (like a tradiitonal halter). Place the tail through the loop towards you, pull it to a gently tightness (it will loosen up some in the tying process). Pull the tail to the left of the loop, then holding your finger around the tail (near the loop), put the tail back under the loop (going south not north), put the tail back through where your finger is.

Practice, practice, practice, but with the exception of showmanship and practicing for showmanship, I'll never use a flat halter again.


Horse Friends

So if you don’t have a horse friend, get one. Seriously. Horse friends are great and I think Jax is first horse friend I have had who is at my level. I don’t mean riding ability or knowledge, she has tons of experience, but she gets that young horses are scary to ride (starting her own) and that when you get hurt, you get scared. I will write soon about riding after illness and injury, a topic close to my heart.

On another positive note, my friends are reunited with their animals and have evacuation plans in place. I am relieved that everyone is OK and I hope they continue to survive the torrent of water falling out of the sky (with no end in site).

The Mountain Trail Championships started today and I am bummed & relieved I am not participating. I am bummed because it would have been a lot of fun & great experience for Zapa, relieved because it would have been very costly & stressful. I can use hay more than entry fees and with a big trip for work next week, my usual after show exhaustion wouldn’t have been a great way to start the conference.

Jax is going to come here tomorrow and we plan to go watch the Mountain Trail Championships, I am supposed to take notes of some kind. Instead, I’ll take video and lots of pictures for posting. I think learninghorses needs a flickr account, maybe I will get that done while I’m traveling (it is a Webmaster conference after all).


Exciting and Eventful Days

Many horse things happened today.

#1. I am giving up my amatuer status. Yep, it is true. For those of you new to the horse game, an amatuer is someone who does not get paid for horse related activities like training/giving lessons/etc. Every association has different rules, the PHFA guidelines are pretty darn strict.

I am giving it up because I have been asked to give lessons. I thought about it and decided I would. I am sure I could find many ways to cheat the system, but that is not my style, so I will inform PFHA in the next week or so. I'm not showing much anymore, but that does kick me out of some classes and forever out of Country Pleasure.

#2. I think I found a rider for Precious. She is a very nice young woman who owns a Dalmatian (how can I like her???). They got along pretty well and she enjoyed her ride. She is coming next Sunday as well. Schedules are difficult for now, but eventually if things go good, she can come ride on her own.

#3. I did not overtax Santana. I am following a lot of advice from this forum thread on PasoPedigree.com and really asking him to LIGHTEN UP! Our first session went well (bosol only), so I just have to be consistent and keep the sessions short for everyone's sanity.

#4. I got to lunge Zapa too, so that means two horses got ridden, 1 got lunged and stalls got cleaned and I was home before 9PM! I really like horse helpers.

#5. I started another blog (now that took a lot of effort) because I want to keep posting about random crap that has nothing to do with horses. So rather than bore my horse readers with that, I have already begun posting random crap.

#6. I have the 'how to tie a rope halter' video downloaded so I can work on that over the weekend for another NaBloPoMo posting.

#7. Jax has agreed to help me get Tesoro, so I don't have to take my van with bad breaks and my trailer with bad tires through the rain. I must save to get all that stuff fixed before spring because I have a lot of horse camping planned.

It was a good horse day.


Grateful and praying

I just figured out how to add the NaBloPoMo logo to my blogger page. I know it isn't a big deal to most of you, but for me it was a huge accomplishment. I am really enjoying the daily posting and the RANDOMIZER created by Lane which will take you to random NaBloMoPo pages. It is fun and addicting. Way too many posts yesterday about voting, but I expect things to have more variety in the coming days.

I was expecting a group of Paso Fino horse women to converge upon me this weekend. I was excited to see them, they are all interesting and fun, the kind of women you can stay up with for hours and talk. They have children my age, but I just love being around them and was really looking forward to watching the Mountain Trail Championships with them.

I just got word that they are really suffering with the terrible rain storms in the northwest. Roads are wiping out, one woman whose husband has been ill in the hospital cannot reach her animals. Way too many worries for one person. She has friends to help but the roads are so bad they cannot get in.

So today, I am grateful for all the mud at my barn and that our roads are clear to travel. And tonight, I will pray to my higher power for positive outcome for all of them.


What is a Farrier?

Precious got her shoes pulled today and her feet trimmed. She is off of rotation with the other horses because I didn't like her first set of shoes this summer, so she got another set a month later. Starting next month she will get a little trim then back on the same rotation (which is good, I don't like missing work 1x a month for the Farrier, I need to miss for more important things like shows and trail rides).

Exactly what is a Farrier??? Wikipedia gives a great overall description and clarifies the Farrier/Blacksmith question. Basically, the farrier is the person who trims and shoes a horse. A farrier should be a good resource of information and should help you with all hoof related issues. When my mare foundered my vet told me that my relationship with my farrier was very important and that he also leaves much of complex hoof care to the farrier. I think his words were 'We treat from the hoof up'. So having a good farrier is as important as having a good mechanic, maybe even more.

So how do you find this all important person in your horses life?
1. Ask around. Ask the people you trust (and the people you don't so you know who to avoid). If you don't know anyone who uses a farrier call a local vet, they will usually have someone to recommend.
2. Look at tack shops, leather shops (not THAT kind of leather shop silly), feed stores, etc. Lots of them will have cards up on bulliten boards or on file.
3. Post on Craigslist. If you haven't been to Craigslist, you are really missing out. It is a free bulletin board and I have gotten my dog from it, met several great friends, found riders for my horse, given away random stuff to people who cherish it and even got my job from there. Craigslist isn't in every city, but if you live near one of the Craigslist cities, post anyway.
4. Call a trainer. Have you thought about using a trainer? They have to get their horses trimmed too, ask them who they use.

Questions to ask the Farrier
My favorite question to ask the farrier is 'Have you ever worked on gaited horses'. I ask this question because it can tell me what level of expertise a farrier has and how willing they are to jump to conclusions. Even if I no longer own gaited horses, I will ask this question. If the answer is 'Yes, give them a long toe and put a heavy shoe on them', I say NEXT! Some gaited horses are trimmed and shod that way, but not all gaited breeds are done that way. That tells me how experienced they are and a glimpse into how well they know horses.

Next I like to ask them how long they have been doing this job. I am perfectly OK with young novice farriers as long as they are willing to learn and receive feedback. I do expect them to be a good source of information like 'what am I doing right, what am I doing wrong' in terms of hoof care, but I don't want them to be such a know it all that when I make a suggestion it is heard by deaf ears.

What credetials do they have? A journeyman farrier is somene at the top of their game, so credetials can be very important. It shows knowledge and training. But note, in some areas Farriers are hard to find and don't often take new clients. So it may not be possible to find a CJF where you live.

Here are some good additional resources for choosing a Farrier.
Fair Hill Forge: This guy has some good insights.
American Farriers Association: This link is excellent for evaluating the work of a farrier, but is pretty in-depth. If you are new to horses, bookmark this link and read it a few times.
Horseshoes.com: More information on hoof care than I could read in two lifetimes, but an excellent resource for specific issues.
Petplace.com: Another good general article on choosing a Farrier

Finally, trust your gut. If you are not comfortable with the way he/she trims your horse? Can you call this person and ask for advice? Do they treat your horse OK? Do they return phone calls and show up on time? I am on my 3rd farrier in the 18 months since I moved to Eugene, but I like this new guy. But when I lived in Portland I had my farrier for almost 3 years, he was great and I still miss him. Try it until its right.


Good Horse Sites #1

I get to talk to web publishers every day and there are amazing new sites that keep poping up. In the horse world most of us are sadly behind the curve, failing to utilize technology that is sweeping the internet and known as Web 2.0.

That said, there are many sites that are still interesting and purposeful. Here are a few I have discovered (or have known about for a long time):

Ultimate Horse Source: This site has a lot of information, many different people have contributed and the forum is very active. I learned a lot about genetics and color reading these pages. The pages are slow and poorly formatted in Firefox, I have not viewed them in IE.

Dreamhorse: This is THE destination for someone wanting to sell a horse utilizing the web. Honestly I think they are way to restrictive on pictures, it is confusing to have multiple logins (one if you buy a picture ad and one for dreamhorse) and not really taking advatage of new web features. But, it has huge market share and name recognition, so everyone uses it.

Horse.com: This is also the Country Supply catalog, so you can find tons of great stuff there and the prices are great. I would definately encourage you to visit your local tack shop/feed stores and shop locally (good for the economy), but this is a great place to research. I have actually found better prices at my local stores so I haven't needed to shop here in a while, but occasionally they have a killer deal I cannot pass up. They are experimenting with horse sale ads, I'll keep an eye on that.

Thehorse.com: Good information here on horse health. Looks like you just have to be a member now, but they used to charge for full length articles (if I remember correctly). I guess they figured out they can make money from advertising. I wonder if I should contact them about my product RMX Direct. I would hate to mix work and pleasure.


This blog is dedicated to learning. Learning is about tolerance and respecting points of view. The topic of our learning is usually horses, but today I have to write about something much more important. My friend Margo sent me an email yesterday with an article written by her son.

I can no longer be silent, I want the world to be a more peaceful tolerant place. I want to honor Brian for challenging our beliefs. Here is what I wrote to him:


Your mom sent me this column and I think that this message must be spread if we are to live in a world of tolerance. It is easy to hate someone different than you and when we are overwhelmed by fear, the ease only continues.

I lived in the mid-west when the Oklahoma City bombings occurred. I remember very distinctly that the two men who bombed were white and Christian. We did not turn our country upside down persecuting young white Christian men, we realized these two were different, that the evil that lay in them was not because of their race, gender, or religious affiliation.

But that tolerance is easily forgotten when the evil people look different, speak a different language and worship differently than we do. So easy it is to think we can wage a war on a relgion, when indeed it is a poisonous few that taint a beautiful culture.

A mile in their sandals: My day with Muslim missionaries

September 14, 2006

By Brian Mittge, The (Centralia, Wash.) Chronicle

Editor's note: As part of remembering the tragic events of five years ago, Chronicle columnist Brian Mittge reflects on a surreal encounter with five bearded Pakistani men who were walking through the heart of the Twin Cities just a few days after the terrorist attacks.

Into the scary, strange days just after Sept. 11, 2001, an unexpected group walked calmly into Centralia and Chehalis.

The bearded men, clad in turbans and robes, chanted verses of the Koran and fingered strings of wooden beads as they walked through town on a six-month journey to visit and encourage West Coast Muslims.

The people of Lewis County, myself included, stared at these foreign men. Some were frightened by them, or saw in them the personification of the evil unleashed on the East Coast a week earlier.

The police called the FBI to make sure the men were on the up and up. After receiving 911 calls describing them as "f--ing ragheads," Sgt. Jim Shannon publicly compared the Pakistani men to tourists, not terrorists.

"Last Sunday I helped some German tourists find their way," he nonchalantly told The Chronicle - then warned that any attack on these particular visitors would be dealt with as a hate crime.

Being a curious young reporter, I decided to go meet these unusual travelers.

I caught up with them at Stan Hedwall Park, where they were cooking lentil-onion curry sauce and fresh pita bread over a fire.

They shook my hand and invited me to stay for lunch. As they laid out their mats to the east and prayed, I began to learn more about the rituals and beliefs that bound together their life and religion.

They wouldn't let me sit down on my reporter's notepad. The Koran was the holy book, they said, so all books were also sacred and should not be desecrated by being placed on the ground.

As best I understood it, their version of Islam was not just about belief in Allah and his prophet, Mohammed ("peace be upon him," they would add). Even the smallest things they did during the day seemed to be vital parts of being a good Muslim.

I made them very happy by practicing "absolution" - the ritual washing of my head, hands and feet.

The way I tipped up my hand to wash my arm and beard generated lots of smiles and congratulations.

I wasn't bothered by their attempts to convert me. It only seemed fair to listen to their spiel, since I've had plenty of friends travel around the world with hopes of converting foreigners to Christianity.

To me, the chance to spend time with these men expanded my world.

To others, their presence was a slap in the face.

I had decided to walk with them part of the way into Napavine. As we crossed under the Exit 72 overpass I saw the driver of a minivan stare at us, mumbling audibly in rage.

"How dare they come here," I heard her say before she drove away. Her anger apparently grew, because a few minutes later, shortly after we crossed the Newaukum River, she drove past us and stopped her vehicle.

"They killed 5,000 people in New York," she said, pointing to the turbaned men, who had stopped to listen to our confrontation. "There are babies in New York who have no parents now because of them!"

These men, of course, were not the suicide hijackers, but I understood the rage she was trying to communicate. America was attacked by Muslim men trained in Afghanistan, and these men seemed to personify that enemy.

A few minutes later one of the men expressed wonder that anyone would be angry at them trying to share what they saw as the way to a closer walk with God.

"We are thinking ... will they be in paradise, and they are thinking we are cruel people," one of them said to me.

I explained to the men that they ran a risk by walking through America after the terrorist attacks. They didn't seem concerned.

"We know that God is the one who gives us death and life," they replied.

When we arrived at Mayme Shaddock Park in Napavine, the men began issuing their call to prayers. I didn't think there were any Muslims in Napavine, but I didn't say anything to them. Students just out of school watched us silently.

I tried to ask these Pakistani men about the situation in Afghanistan, or about the attacks on America, but they turned every answer back into a sermon about their religion.

"Real Muslims don't do that," one of the elders said.

"We want to have peace," another added.

"The subject is closed. We do not speak about this, nor do we care," another said. I asked them, point blank, if they were terrorists.

Their response could be seen as evasive, or could be seen as the truest available. "You have spent two days with us, you have walked with us. Do you think we are terrorists?"

Clearly, those particular men were not, but whether the rest of the Muslim world harbors murderous intent against us is something that Americans continue to discuss five years later.

The diversity within Islam's 1.2 billion adherents hasn't sunk completely into American political discourse.

It's easy to say the Muslim religion is the enemy, but it's not accurate, no more so than claims by Iran that America is a marauding Christian nation bent on global conquest and domination.

The day before I met the Muslim walkers, I covered a town hall meeting at which Congressman Brian Baird addressed an anxious crowd.

One local man discussed the idea of a holy war of Christians and Jews against Muslims.

Baird held up his hands to protest the concept.

"That would be reckless - I cannot tell you how dangerous to contemplate a Judeo-Christian war against Islam. The dead would number in the billions," Baird said.

I've often thought about those words.

The attacks on 9/11 were horrendous, but the worst terrorist act doesn't scare me nearly as much as the potential of an all-out "shootin' war" between Muslims and the West.

I see our nation and world edging toward that outcome, and it terrifies me.

I recently came across the text of a speech delivered in Chehalis 100 years ago, Sept. 4, 1906, to a joint meeting of old Confederate and Union soldiers. It seems eerily appropriate today.

Judge W.W. Langhorne, describing the way America healed itself after the Civil War, said we were lucky that it wasn't a conflict fueled by religion.

"Happily for mankind and for the country it was not what is known as a religious war," Langhorne said. "These have always been the longest, deadliest, bitterest ever waged by the nations of the earth."

There are those who say that Islam is an inherently violent religion, with no tolerance for "infidels."

I don't know if that is true or not. I do know that if we respond with suspicion to all Muslims, who make up one in every five people on this earth, we will close ourselves off to human contact, perhaps even unexpected blessings.

My most vivid memory of these men from five years ago came as we walked down Rush Road near Interstate 5.

One of the men, Khalid, broke from his nearly nonstop Islamic history lesson to reach down to pick up a nail on the side of the road.

He said Allah would smile on him for getting rid of the dangerous object.

A mile later he kicked a nasty-looking tangled piece of metal off the side of the road. Not far past that, he picked up another steel nail and stuck it in his turban to throw away later.

I knew then that he was no terrorist - simply a godly man hoping for a heavenly reward by making the world a little bit better.

Five years ago a group of angry men used their Muslim faith to justify turning airplanes into bombs.

That same religion also prompted an elderly Pakistani man to help Napavine drivers avoid a flat tire - a small gesture, but significant.

The first kind of Muslim is the enemy. The second is simply a fellow citizen of the Earth.

In a time of war, the fate of the world depends on us recognizing and respecting the difference.


Brian Mittge has covered local issues for The Chronicle since 2000. He may be reached by e-mail at brianmittge@hotmail.com, or by telephone at 266-0568.

Copyright, 2006, The Chronicle, Centralia WA


Favorite Animal Pics

I thought it would be fun to post some pictures. Not necessarily about horses, but just some that I love and wanted to share with the world.

This is Steinbeck hanging out with a St. Bernard at the dog park.

This is our cat Tom. I think he had just eaten a bunch of catnip right before this. It was the 2nd or 3rd day that we had him, so we thought we had adopted the funniest cat ever.

Uriah and I went to Alaska in June to celebrate my little sister Julia's high-school graduation. This picture was taken at the Flatop parking lot (you walk up to a viewing platform from the parking lot), at about midnight. Anchorage and Cook Inlet are the background, it was a beautiful night.

I took this picture in June, just before Garfunkel (the Dalmatian) passed away. I had to work hard to get them to pose like that, but they did it (0f course) for food! :)

And of course, how could I post without a horse picture? Here is a great picture of my sister riding one of my mom's Paso Finos.


Shorter Sessions

When I went to the Steve Rother clinic, something really stuck in my head. You need to practice these activities (which ever one you choose) 10-15 minutes. That really resonated with me because I know I have a tendency to give up on things too early. If I worked on side passing for 10-15 minutes, I bet I would have much more success than I have had working 2-3 minutes a time (then skipping long periods of time with practicing). Usually we are not getting what we want, so we give up. TENACITY.

Yesterday I had a short session with Santana, he was much happier. And then today I had a short session with Zapa. I only worked on a couple of things in these sessions and the horses were more responsive. I have a tendency to want to get on and ride for an hour, when 15 minutes of the SAME thing (or related activities that build) can often get me better results.

I will be working on more short sessions. Hopefully this will allow me to work with each horse more and be more successful. Of course, if I need to follow something through, I'll definitely do that. But we all know my horses are pretty perfect and that rarely happens (LOL).


Frosty Horses & frosty Jerri

I must admit, when winter hit us hard last week, I wasn't prepared. The temperature dropped below 30 at night and I doubt it was much warmer than that during the day. And we were without heat. The blower on our furnace had gone out a week before and we were just waiting for our appointment to come.

I don't like the cold. I lived my entire childhood in Anchorage, Alaska and I really feel I have lived a lifetime worth of chill. I live in Oregon not because I don't love Alaska, I really do, but I live here because it is the closest thing to Alaska, without the chill. I even moved to Eugene to live in a town more the size of Anchorage, so there are parts of me that miss The Greatland. But I never miss the cold.

So it was cold at home (freezing), cold in my car (the heater doesn't work at all in one, barely in the other), cold at work (the temp in our office was really cold, that got fixed yesterday), and cold at the barn. The last thing I wanted to do was freeze at the barn to come home to a frosty house. So I just didn't go. Yep, I said it. For 2 days this week I didn't go. I didn't ride, didn't clean, didn't even look at horses. I don't know how people live with horses in cold climates. I couldn't do it.

But yesterday the rain came and with that comes mud and ick, but also warmer temperatures. So yesterday I only needed my t-shirts (2) and sweatshirt, my coat wasn't necessary. Back to the glory days of wetness. I was thrilled to be at the barn again, rode Precious, did groundwork with Zapa and then came home to my house that now has working heat. Sometimes, it is the little things that matter.


What every barn should have #1

I realize I live in a dream world, but if I could wave my magic wand for all barn owners out there, here are a few things I would wish for you.

#1. A sink. Let's face it, horses are dirty. Every barn I have ever been to has a hose, some have drainage, if you are going to have both, spend a few extra hundred for a water heater, buy an old sink from a recycling center and VIOLA! hand washing heaven. We don't have a sink at my barn, but we do have Gojo Cleanser AND a nifty paper towel dispenser (also should be on the list).

#2. Hot water wash. My current barn is the first I've been at to have a hot water wash rack. It is heaven. My horses are more amenable and I don't have to freeze on the days they must be washed when the weather isn't so nice. We have a lovely stall with cross ties (or single tie, your choice) which is matted with a drain. I feel very spoiled. I love it.

#3. Decent sized tack lockers, one per horse. That means if you have more than one horse, you get the number equaling the number of horses. I have used shared tack rooms, designated spots, keeping stuff in the car and NOTHING beats a tack locker. I actually have one in my garage (doh, I should have taken a picture, I'll add that later). I can store buckets on top, it has a shelf for all of my misc. bottles, hooks for my different bridles/halters/random horse crap to be hung, and two saddle holders. Mine happens to have a locked combo lock on the front (I bought it that way), but normally you can put a hesp on it and lock it up if you wish. I never locked mine at the barn I had it at, but I liked that option.

#4. Stalls with runs. And I don't mean these puny 12x24 runs, I'm talking a minimum of 50 feet, preferably more. I boarded at a barn with 15x100 runs and we didn't need to turn the horses out every day. They could kick up their heels and they were ALWAYS healthy. No one ever got shut in at night (unless it was super cold or they were sick). It was great.


Steve Rother Revisited Part 1

Last week I went to the demo night of the Steve Rother clinic. I met Steve 4 years ago when Precious had me scared out of my wits and running me over. His methods so greatly inspired me that I used them to start Zapa. Steve is a natural horsemanship guy, but also a realist that a 1200 lb horse should not be running over a 15 year old girl, and if he has to block her space appropriately he will do that.

The demo was great, he doesn’t allow video so I cannot give you a taste, but if he is in your area I recommend going to see him. The demo is $10 or two people for $10 (I like to call that new math). It does get people bringing friends, Elisia went with me.

Steve has a trick horse named TC, so if you have never seen a trick horse, this demo is worth it. He rears on command, jumps barrels at liberty (no halter/lead rope), lays down, bows and even sits like a dog. Steve mentioned that he usually works with young/unstarted horses and people wanted to know about older horses. TC is twelve (if I remember correctly) and definitely proves you can teach an older horse new tricks. A word of note, Steve said it took him a year to teach TC to sit.

After the clinic was over, I couldn’t resist and decided to see if there were openings for Zapa and I. I could only attend on Saturday and only the groundwork (or foundation) as Steve calls it was open. I ABSOLUTELY couldn’t afford it, but wanted to make some progress with Zapa. The next morning I learned that the afternoon session (horsemanship) had an opening. That meant riding. I was not inclined to do it but Steve’s girlfriend (and Steve) said ‘Sure you can, that would be good’. So, I did it.

Before I talk about the clinic, I just want to say, I am pleased that I am in a place where I will not be bringing the problem horse. Precious was most definitely one of the worst horses at the last clinic, Zapa this time, was one of the best (in groundwork anyway). So for all of you starting out, if you work at it and get help, you can learn. AMEN!

Part 2 due out next week!

Learning Horses is Learning

Today I worked diligently on a video 'Stall Cleaning 101'. I just discovered it is about 5x too big for Youtube. So, I have to go back to the editing board and figure out how to reduce the size. I was hoping to open November with a splash, but that was more like a flush.