Monday, April 4, 2011

Fun facts

I was reading the Fugly blog and got this idea. It's about how your horse and you are alike. So I thought I would blog about that! First, my new horse Miss. We have similarities and differences. We are both hard headed and have strong feelings about what we believe is right. Also, I would go days without talking to someone or eating just to prove that I have power over them... I know, this is only penalizing myself, but I usually give in quite easily after a while. We are both extremely patient but loose it in a heartbeat if it's something that keeps occuring and annoys us. She is a bit headshy, as I am (we are working on getting her used to it, I'm not convinced that she was treated all the best) and tends to throw her head up. She is super sensitive to pressure, but has a kind heart and is very sweet, she is not dangerous with people and VERY patient with other horses (too much if you ask me), she is forgiving and willing to work with people. She usually comes by to say hi when she is at liberty but she is a bit hard to catch (or rather putting her halter on is a task on its own), she stands tied, but she needs something to do. I've just started working with her and only have two rides on her as of now. I can't sit and do nothing either, I need a job or something to do. I can't stand puzzles and things that make me feel like I'm doing something but in reality, I'm only wasting my time. Don't take this on the wrong side, but I would rather be productive doing things on the farm than sitting inside and putting together a puzzle. I do that when it rains, if I'm not sleeping. Misty is my heart-horse, she is calm and assertive and knows what she wants, she is people oriented just as much as I am animal oriented. She is curious. Nothing spooks her and she takes everything in stride. She is short and bulky (bulldogging horse) and I am tall and... bulky (I'm working on that). She has thin hair, just like me and a kind eye. She is super sensitive and a simple loud voice will cause her to shut down completely (just like me), so kindness and softness is ideal for her. I'm more of the bully type of person.... but I am learning that this is not the way to go and that being gentle helps. I have to remind myself that the horse as probably not done what I am asking often and need to take it more slowly and "explain" it to them in order for them to understand instead of getting frustrated. Horses are such good teachers, I've learned to control my emotions and just be patient, I am extremely patient today! Wakan is not my horse, but I love him dearly... he has nothing that I have. He is an annoying little guy that is equivalent to a roll of Scotch tape if you unwind it all and get caught in it. He is always stuck to people like glue and is the first one at the gate to get loved on. He has a loud personnality and will make faces at you... this is super funny. Wakan turns two in May and has pretty much all of his groundwork done... we are just tweaking things now. He is a bunny rabbit and would never harm a person intentionally. Peg, my 18 year old ex-racer / ex-broodmare is somewhat people oriented if there is food envolved, kind of like me, LOL. If she is going to be caught to work, she is gone in half a jif, but food will get her right back in your pocket. She is the kind that doesn't take any bull**** from anyone or anything and will turn on a dog that runs and bark after her and chase it, she knows that the cows and sheep will move if she takes enough space. She is calm but has that extra boost when needed and tends to be very competitive, like me! She has her own opinions but she is easy to work with. She is bombproof but a bit hard-mouthed (racing days!?) and hard to stop once she is gone, we are working on this. Pearl, my other Ex-racer / ex-broodmare is 20 years old, but acts like a 4 year old... that is not at all like me. I'm 25 and would rather stay home and relax than go out and party, I also have a lot of responsibilities that other 25 year olds might not have. She cannot live without her buddy Peg, she is strongly opinionnated and will not do what is asked of her if she has anything else in mind, she has been known to kick and rear (not at anything in particular) to get her way (NOT working with me!). She needs constant reminder that humans are the boss, she is a BIG intimidator and she needs a lot of patience to get her where you want her. Once we leave the barn for a ride, she is the perfect little angel but is not suited for a beginner, since she has a tendency to mini-rear and bronc a little if she doesn't exactly feel like doing what she is told. She is also a gaited horse and sitting her pace can sometimes put people off balance, but she is very smooth and constantly gaits which is super pretty in parades. She is the nervous type, but is not afraid of anything on the trail or road... she just has a head full of hot air and she is very energetic. She is awesome for someone who likes a horse with a bit of pep left in them, but an absolutely safe and bombproof horse. She will probably never be able to go out alone, but we are not going to argue with her as we don't need to ride her alone and because she is already semi-retired. So there are my horses according to my views... they are all very different and I love them all equally, we all have a touch of something in common. Dandy, which has sold a few weeks ago was the exact personnality match for me, laid back, would rather not run fast (she was blind, so that is probably why), would trust me blindly and was my best partner, she wasn't affraid of anything and at her young age (5 years old), she seemed more mature than that, she was loving and caring, she was careful with beginners and children and LOVED to work, she would go bananas if another horse was working nearby and not her. She had a big heart and was willing to do anything for her human friend. She always had the biggest trust in me (I never felt so trusted by an animal before, but she was blind, so we had to have a bond in order to work together) and would forgive all of my mistakes, even the biggest ones, she always stood by me and for the few times that I have fallen off of her, she always stopped right there to wait for me and I know she felt sorry for throwing me off (not intentionally). I loved her with all of my heart and I will never forget her. The unfortunate circomstances of her sale were mostly related to her love of the work and me being under-horsed by her. I would've kept her, gladly, if she didn't mind it so much not to work. I found a great home for her where she will work often and be treated kindly and softly like she deserves. Her new people keep me in the loop of things and love her dearly which makes my heart lighter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

She's gone

Dandy has gone to her new home. I have found someone who was looking for a solid trail or road horse (Not the girl in the picture), she came by to try Dandy out and instantly fell in love with her. She wasn't even mounted on her that she already loved her. Dandy is so well behaved and respectful that I'm not surprised, she used to wow the crowds everywhere we went, and when people found out that she was mostly blind, they couldn't believe it and they were very impressed with her.

I miss her a lot, all the time. This was hard on everyone, but deep down, I know that I did the right thing and that she will be happy in her new home. She is only with one other horse in a small enclosure with a big shelter, free choice hay and a big water through.

The girl loves her to death and treats her like a porcelaine doll. Dandy should be very well there.

I've had quite a rough week. On March 18, my mom announced that the man who we wanted to buy a farm from decided not to sell it. I was devastated, that farm would be perfect for our horses and I already had big plans made for when we would move there, that shattered all of my dreams. That same night, my grandmother passed away. Her death was unexpected by all and broke the heart of everyone. My grandma passed away in the arms of her daughter, if this doesn't rip a big chunk of your heart out... I was devastated and my aunt will probably need counseling. Her mom was her best friend, they were always together. The next morning, I was driving Dandy to her new home. My heart was already heavy and I managed to not burst out crying in the truck with my trailer guy. I had cried enough the day before, I had spent the whole day with Dandy, brushing her and trimming her feet and petting her and telling her I loved her and that she was such a good girl... I sold my best horse, that's sad. I cried the whole time I was with her.

I will never forget Dandy and I get teary eyed just thinking about her. Fortunately, I get news about her and she is doing really good and the girl really loves her a lot. I feel relieved to hear this and I am sure that Dandy is as happy as a clam. I wish them all the best.

This will allow me to start my new horse, Miss, without having to leave Dandy behind and miserable. I already have a second ride on Miss, I know, it's not a whole lot, but at this time of year, in my part of the world, things get really icey and I don't want to take chances with the horses. They get regular visits and are all a bunch of attention hogs.

Misty had a really hard time with Dandy leaving. It ripped my heart out to see her standing at the gate all day waiting for Dandy to come back. Obviously, she didn't like Miss right away and there is still a big cold between them, but they are starting to sort things out. At least I don't have to sit at work and be worried about a blind horse running throug a fence or being injured because she can hardly see, I would've died if something like that would've happened. I thought long and hard about putting her down, but she was doing really well in the last months and I decided to give her a chance to find a new home where she would be happy and kept into work and I did... it's perfect for her.

If Dandy hadn't sold in a year, I would've considered putting her down, she would've been very miserable at my place not being worked and one of the standardbreds could really give her a run for her money, which had already caused her injury once. I was very nervous at the thought of putting them to pasture together again, that wouldn't have happened. Now, I can rest my head and know that, although horses are trouble magnets, that at least all of them can see and probably figure things out on their own.

Since I have been sick (since September), I have found out that stress brings out the episodes and that I should avoid all stress if possible. I know that it is impossible to completely eliminate it, but I'll try! Having this less to worry about really helps, as much as I love Dandy, I know that this is a better situation for her and that she will do very well there.

So here's to Dandy, my best buddy!

I will always love you girl

Be good! ( I always said that before leaving the pasture)

Monday, February 14, 2011


I don't know wether to be happy or sad... I have good and bad news.

I'll start with the good news... I've purchased a new horse this past weekend. She is a 4 year-old AQHA bay mare. Her name is Leos Miss Mito (N/N) she has great lineage with Impressive, Poco Bueno, Leo and Three Bars on her pedigree... she is just the breeding I was looking for. I want a horse that could move cattle and turn a barrel... she should be able to do that since she is Reining & Speed bred. She was apparently ridden all last Summer, but after trying her out yesterday, I figured she was probably just started and very green broke... or maybe she is still settling in and hasn't yet warmed up to me... I plan on working on our bond more next weekend.

Below is Miss... getting a bit of a lesson on respect.

I actually rode her afterwards... I have video of that somewhere... She did pretty well, she has movement to absolutely die for, her trot is nice and flowing and she has a natural lope and does lead changes at liberty. She has the prettiest head and tiny little ears. She currently stands about 15 hands, but I suspect she should reach 15.1 hh. She is a bit thin for my likings, her past owner could no longer afford to feed her, so she should start building with good food and exercise in the big pasture.

She will also benefit from a good hoof trim... I will absolutely take before and after pics... I don't think she has seen a farrier in a long time, but I will fix that for her and it should improve her movement (which is already stunning!!!) and her posture. I hope to try her out more in the weeks to come, but I want to concentrate on our bond too, so that she is willing to work with me. She does have a bit of a tendancy to throw her head when pressure is applied to the bit, so I will look into that as well (teeth??? bit???)

Now for the sad news... I have made the difficult decision to sell Dandy. Since Dandy is partially blind, she will never be suitable for what I want to do with my horse (barrels, poles, low level jumping and complicated trails)... I have taken her to the level she is at now, but we will not progress further. She is one solid trail horse and an amazing girl. She is by far the best horse I ever rode. The person that will get her is definately getting the greatest horse ever! I will miss her dearly and I always thought she was my forever horse, but things change and I really hope a nice beginner gets her to learn from (Dandy is one great teacher). I am waiting for the right home to come along and am in no hurry to sell her. My price is very negociable to the right person. Dandy has always taken outstanding care of me... we have a great bond, she loves kids and knows to be carefull with beginners... she is such a gem... I wont ever be able to say enough good things about her. I will certainly miss her, but she would be better suited with someone that would be doing flatwork (amateur dressage even!) or nice relaxing trails... and someone that would work and ride her more than I currently do. She is a fun horse to ride and is very beautiful when she works.

I will keep her for as long as it takes to find her a really good home. She couldn't stand to be a pasture ornament, she loves to work and has to do it. This was the hardest decision I've had to make, ever, but I think it would be the best thing for Dandy... I can't be selfish here, I have to think about what she can do and what she loves to do and find someone that does just that. I have to think about her happiness.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunday Ride

I had a pretty busy weekend. Saturday was hoof trimming day, I touched up both Standardbreds and their feet look great! I'm very pleased... I have pictures, but my computer at home quit on me and I can't transfer them (AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!). I swear I'll get some pictures on here soon! (this is my Dandy girl in the picture above).

I then trimmed Dandy's feet and Misty's fronts (my back didn't feel like doing the rear legs at that point!). So I have her rear hooves to trim and the colt's feet also, then everyone should be good for a couple of weeks... (eesh). After trimming, my sister and I took Dandy and Misty for a little ride... we rode them bareback (as always during winter), at a walk / trot, I have not yet graduated to a bareback canter although I wanted to try it, my sister didn't feel quite at ease with Misty to canter. I used to full out run bareback when I was a kid, but I wouldn't try that today... even if I know that Dandy is a solid horse, she has huge movement that could be hard to sit bareback. They both did great, it was Misty's 2 or 3 time bareback and she is super! We've seen 7 deer and no one spooked, even when one of them shot passed us.

Sunday was a quiet day, so my SO and I took the two Standardbreds for a ride... they hadn't been ridden in a good while (probably 3-4 months) so they were full of themselves and mostly trotted/ paced the whole time. I hadn't been on Peg seems like forever, so I took the opportunity to relax, since Peg can see very well, I didn't have to worry about her tripping over snow banks and things. I also practiced some dressage moves with her... I don't know the extent of her training but she can move! I had her doing side passes, leg yielding, a nice collected trot / extended trot. She has BIG movement when you ask her. Don't get me wrong, she still has a lot of racing spirit and does use her racing mouth (hard mouth) when you apply pressure, but I'm trying to ride her mostly on a loose rein to get her used to having her head / mouth... she has the most beautiful headset on a loose rein. She does amazing side passes and leg yields... she actually surprised me! I was very proud of her.

Since I don't have new pics of them, I will post some pics of Misty and Wakan (my sister's colt) playing around!


This is Misty... I really like this picture. I've done a bit of research on Misty's lineage. Turns out she is very well bred. Poco Bueno top and bottom, Jet Deck and Three Bars... and more... so she is mostly cutting / cow bred with some race breeding in there. She should be a fast little one, she already shows her herding instincts by herding Wakan away from Dandy and keeping him at bay! They constantly play together.
Here she is doing her nice flat western trot... it is extremely smooth to ride!

Here, Wakan is trying to kick Misty, I love how the snow flying everywhere showed up in the picture.

Lots of movement in this one!

The little bugger has great movement. He is 1 year and 8 months in this picture, will turn two in May. He is as black as they come and it's hard to see his features on a picture. Should mature to 15.1-15.2 hands. He's just a big suck and LOVES human attention. Already wore a very light saddle / blankets and did super! I honnestly can't wait to ride him, but we won't be doing that until he is well past his 2.5 years... maybe wait for his 3rd year. That's the guy that was bought in utero and we've had him since his birth. We wouldn't trade him for the world! I love him to death even if he's a little trouble maker with the other horses... he also tends to run away with everything you leave lying around! He's a gem!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Really?! Hoof trimming

Ok, today, I was going to bring you a post about hoof trimming.

When we separated, my SO and I separated the horses. He kept Peg and Pearl as they were bought for him although I forked half of the money. Anyways, I had trimmed the horses in June (mid-June) and they were left untouched since then, even if I offered to trim them several times (we still talked). It was in dire need but I was thankful, for once, that their hooves grow really slowly. So, my plans were to trim Peg and document the whole thing, but my camera decided differently. I was getting ready to start and took one picture... cleaned the hoof and went to take another one when I noticed that a button on my camera had gone missing. It was obviously the one I need to press to take the picture. I looked frantically on the ground to find it... no such luck.

Maybe it was the -35C that was affecting it... I'll never know. Thankfully, I can still turn it on and off, just not take pictures with it, which kind of defies the whole purpose of having a camera, but at least I can get my pictures out. It was old, but still worked fine and I wasn't really planning on buying one so soon!

Anyways, Peg's feet were a bit overgrown, one had a crack in it, so I decided to just go to work on her front feet right away, it was brutally cold and I didn't want to spend more time out than needed. So I started trimming with the nippers, but Peg's feet don't grow too fast and have always been in mediocre shape (compared to Dandy's, let's say). I decided to go with a toe rocker trim, because her hoof is so stretched forward that it is becoming ridiculous.

A toe rocker is a strategic trim that you should only do when the whole hoof is pulled forward or has become oblong. Remember, a front hoof should be as round as possible. In order to do such a trim (which is also called "backing the toe"), you need to leave a little bit of heel (not trim the heels directly to the level of the sole), I would say to leave about 3-5 mm, leave the same lenght in the quarters too. Your vertical cut should be between 10 and 2 o'clock on the hoof (imagine the hoof as a clock). The purpose of this is to remove all of the wall (thickness wise) between those points. The wall should be inexistant and backed up to the level of the sole...
Below is one of Dandy's feet... now, If I was to do a Toe Rocker on her foot (which doesn't need it at all! This is just for information purpose), I would remove all of the wall material between 10 and 2 (or in this case 4 and 8 o'clock) past the white line that you see (which is the Water Line) and right to the edge of the sole, which is greyish in colour. I would leave the rest of the wall (Quarters and Heels) as they are in this picture. The purpose of the Toe Rocker is to permit the hoof to land heel first (given that there is no Thrush or heel pain) and eventually make the hoof rounded, giving a shorter breakover, therefore greatly improving stride and comfort for the horse.

Now, you can't apply this strategy every time you trim, you can alternate between a Toe Rocker (which I don't have a picture of... GRR) and an aggressive Mustang Roll (like in the picture above, that's a very good Mustang Roll, Maybe I would do it a little more aggressive than that if the horse had a really oblong hoof). Then you can go back to the Toe Rocker for the next trim, etc. Once your horse's hooves have regained a somewhat normal shape, you can stop applying the Toe Rocker and just continue with a good Mustang Roll for the next trims. Using too much of the toe rocker might make your horse go flat-soled, so only use it if it is really necessary and don't over-use it.

As I have probably mentionned before, I like doing my Mustang rolls so there is no more pigmented area in front of the Water Line (which is the really white part that goes all around the hoof, the White Line is yellowish / Light grey, you can see it if you look closely at the picture above, right between the Water Line and the Sole). This eases the breakover and reduces the amount of "pull" the hoof has to endure at every stride, therefore reducing the risk for White Line disease and founder. I always compare it to a fingernail, If you have a long fingernail, it can easily be ripped off if enough pressure is applied, as opposed to having a nice short nail that is harder to rip off or break.

Cracks aren't normal in hooves and there is no way on earth that anyone will ever convince me of the opposite. A crack is formed by an unatural leverage force that is applied or created by the badly trimmed or too-long hoof. If treated early, you can probably trim the whole crack out, but if left long, the crack will continue to grow with the force exherted on the hoof. A toe crack necessitates a good toe rocker that extends to the quarters, make sure that the hoof doesn't have any "corners" that would exhert more pressure on the toe and making the crack even worse. The goal here is to remove ALL pressure that could affect the crack. If this is done correctly, the crack should be able to grow out and the hoof will return to normal again.

Every horse has different hooves and some might be able to take more aggressive trims than others, my advice would be to always be carefull and never go and trim a horse too short too soon. Trim a little at a time, when I first start on a horse that I don't know, I only take out the basic. I touch up my trims every week and it is amazing how the hoof can change in such little time. Take the time it takes, don't rush nature, work with what you have, your horse will thank you and will never go sore or lame!

I really wish that I could've provided more pictures... I'll try and buy a new camera soon and show you what a toe rocker looks like. Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lots of change

Hi everyone, I'm back!

There has been a lot of changes in my life. My boydfriend and I are back together since about a month ago. We are working things out. I've been really really sick for the past 4 months, this has landed me in the hospital several times with life threatening breathing problems. Since the doctors have not yet found exactly what causes my illness, I wasn't being properly treated and ended up taking medication that made my condition worse and nearly caused death. I have to say that I nearly gave up the fight... I did it for my family and friends that were very worried about me.

I have also been working on Misty's training, if you remember Misty, she is my new paint mare that I bought in April 2010.
Misty has been going under saddle since the beginning of September 2010. She is doing W/T and we are working on a bit of canter, she has extremely smooth gaits, is way too smart for her own good and learns everything like a breeze, she has a natural reining stop on her and doesn't move once stopped until she is asked to go forward again. She has had her feet trimmed 3 times now and her hooves are improving greatly. I have not been taking pictures of that since I need all the hands I can get when I trim, since she is not yet 100% used to holding her foot up for so long. She does pick up all four feet without a problem, she is great to lead and has even been bareback riding! (I don't have those pictures on my camera, they're with my mom). Misty seems to take everything in stride, she is absolutely not spooky (deer, fowl, dogs, etc.), can go alone and has been on the road / in moderate traffic once without any problems.

This is the first time anyone has ever sat on Misty (that's me on her. I forgot to mention that I lost 45 lbs...). I had my sister holding her but she is doing great, paying attention to me and basically stood still the whole time. That was enough training for that day.

The week after, we took Misty out on her first ever trail ride. The ride lasted no more than 10 minutes. Misty did great! That's my sister on Misty at the trail head. Misty is being ridden in a bosal and responding fantastically to that.

Weeks go by and we are riding Misty every week (1-2 times) and slowly building her endurance. She is doing wonderful. Here are a few more pictures! The last one is me on Misty at the end of October, we did a little schooling session and I decided to ride her back home. My sister mostly rides her and has done most of her training under saddle.It turns out that Misty is by far the smartest horse that I have ever worked with, she seems to understand her job and does her best to please. She also has very light aids doesn't like too much pressure which is nice. She has a lot of stamina and could probably go all day, but we are not there yet, I want to make sure she is in good shape before going on longer rides. As of today, she has gone for as much as 1.5 - 2 hours, mostly walk and some trot. We are planning to start her conditionning when Spring starts. Right now, it's icy, cold and miserable so we are only taking them on short bareback strolls when it's not too icy (haven't been on a horse in about a month... I'm starting to NEED it!). She has been introduced to a bit and has worked in it for 2 rides.

I think this is enough material for today. It's been mainly focused on Misty, but don't worry, I haven't given up on Dandy. Her vision seems to have stabilized and she can see a tiny bit out of her right eye when the day is really bright. She gets along great with Misty and Wakan (the long yearling gelding) and has spent a good part of Sunday playing around with them. She doesn't canter on her own in the field, but she does trot and she did throw a few good kicks and bucks. It was very nice to see her go and enjoy herself, made my heart feel light and happy. I will have more on her in the next days! I hope I haven't lost all of my readers.

Welcome back to my blog and I'm sorry for having been gone for so long.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm in shreds :(

I've come upon some bad luck and I might just lay off of the blog for a while... I'm in shreds... totally demolished.

My SO and I have separated last week. If you asked me, I never even saw it coming... I might be blind or stupid, but in my mind all was going better than ever... it hit hard.... I love that man with all my heart and all of this as left me crying, not eating or sleeping for the last 4-5 days.

To simply add to my misery, I have found that Dandy has injured herself Saturday night or Sunday morning. Since she is still at my SO's farm (and I'm not), I couldn't check up on her as much as I wanted.

I came to see her yesterday and she seemed fine from a distance, so I went and checked the others... then, I returned to Dandy. There were many flies on her so I ran my hand on her face and down her neck to her chest... and when I got to the chest... I froze, my face changed. This wasn't Dandy's coat... I was rough and humid and sticky. Yes, Dandy has managed to injure herself. There is some sort of laceration or a deep rub mark on her chest about as big as a hand and a small cut on her shoulder. I took her out and rinsed it off... it was swollen and had the same consistency as hamburger... obviously, it was painful for her. I cleaned it and put some disinfectant on it.

This brought my spirit right down... I feel so helpless and I already don't feel competent enough to take care of horses, and this happens! I was in pieces on the ground. I realize that Dandy is not as happy as she was 2 years ago... she stays away from the others but always looks for them. She does not go into the shelter even if all of the others are in.

I think that she was trying to keep up with the herd as they were running in the pasture, and she must've ran into a fence or a tree, I have no idea. The wound is not life threatening, but I can't help but think about what else could happen... is this her way of telling me "This is it"? I will not be able to care for a blind horse like that and I know it. So what should I do? Have her put down? give her away to a kids camp? Would she be suitable for that or would she just end up at auction? What are my options??

Obviously, I'm in no state of mind to make an official decision about her. My mind is all over the place and this is just the cherry on the cake. I know that Dandy is almost blind (95% I would say) and I know it is affecting her quality of life... she no longer cares for anything, she likes to see me, but she doesn't do anything else... Am I making her suffer? Am I selfish? I don't know the answer, my mind is already flooded with other types of questions... I don't know what to think. I've had no luck talking with surgeons who could fix this and I would have to trailer her far in order to get it done, but nobody around is specialized to do this... and it might be too late (cataracts are too advanced).

I need to take a break, take a breath... so please forgive me if I am absent for a few weeks.