Second Careers for Older Horses

Posted on April 2, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, therapy, training.
Author riding 25 year old Morgan Mare

Author riding 25 year old Morgan Mare

I once had an instructor who firmly believed that we don’t pick our horse, the horse chooses us. Whether that be true or false, purchasing or accepting the gift of a horse from someone is one of those decisions that compares with finding the right relationship, or the best job. First of all, it calls for a clear and honest evaluation of  both our intended use for the horse and of our goals, such as the strategies for training, if needed, and are we equal to that task. Ignoring this simple process has left many a hopeful horse owner with post-purchase blues.  Secondly, the number of horses rescued from squalor or brutality indicates the need for correct assessment, not just of our riding skills, but also our available funds and time to spend with our horse, and our ability to provide a clean, natural environment once we accept the horse as our own.

Every level of rider will find their equal level in a horse when it comes to matching talent for talent, skill for skill. Horses range to each extreme in temperaments and athletic ability. But one of our most valuable resources in the horse industry is the older horse.  These seasoned campaigners are one of the best catches for children, novice, handicapped, or elderly riders. The older, more traveled horses provide safe, predictable interaction for novices learning their way through the horse world. The slower pace of the beginner, whose focus is on position and saddle competence rather than on high level, show-quality performance, is an easier pace for the older horse. The elementary curriculum also provides a job for a functionally impaired horse, who may have arthritis or soft tissue weakness.  How often we discover that the new schedule gives old chronic injuries the time to heal, and our impaired horse is much sounder and healthier.  An extremely aged horse who can no longer be ridden can still live out its remaining years serving as a companion for foals, breeding mares, or convalescing horses.

Choosing a horse in its late teens or early twenties still offers many years of opportunity for a rider to continue to learn from their horse. I once had a friend who accepted the gift of a 26 year old horse and found it to be the perfect companion for an occasional ride. He had never ridden or owned a horse before but his horse carried him around the mountain trails of his home with ease and with perfect manners.  This same horse lived to be 31 and my friend still reminisces about the five years they spent together camping out in the mountains. But his happiest moments, he said, were those just spent hanging around the barn with a beer and his favorite horse buddy.

Mules;the other war horse

Posted on April 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding, therapy.

A post from “civilwartalk.com” in honor of the indomitable war-mule:

army mule

On the evening of October 28, 1863, during the Chattanooga campaign, Confederate troops under the command of General James Longstreet attacked the Federal forces of General John W. Geary. General Joseph Hooker had left Geary’s troops to guard the road along which ran the “Cracker Line,” the round-about route by which Union troops were forced to supply occupied Chattanooga. Although the fighting was disorganized and confused, it raged until 4:00 the following morning and ended in Confederate failure to break the Cracker Line.One of the more enduring and amusing stories to emerge from the Battle of Wauhatchie concerns a purported “charge” by a herd of Union mules, who broke loose from their skinners and dashed headlong into Confederate lines. In his account of the engagement, which appears in Battles and Leaders, overall Union commander Ulysses S. Grant claimed that Southern troops under General Evander Law mistook the runaway mules for a cavalry charge and fell back in confusion.This poem, an obvious parody on Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous “Charge of the Light Brigade,” was probably composed shortly after the incident and gained widespread circulation.

Half a mile, half a mile, Half a mile onward, Right through the Georgia troops

Broke the two hundred.

“Forward the Mule Brigade! Charge for the Rebs,” they neighed. Straight for the Georgia troops, Broke the two hundred.

“Forward the Mule Brigade!” Was there a mule dismayed?

Not when their long ears felt All their ropes sundered.

Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to make Rebs fly.

On! to the Georgia troops, Broke the two hundred.

Mules to the right of them, Mules to the left of them, Mules behind them

Pawed, neighed, and thundered.  Breaking their own confines,

Breaking through Longstreet’s lines –  Into the Georgia troops,

Stormed the two hundred.

Wild all their eyes did glare, Whisked all their tails in air

Scattering the chivalry there, While all the world wondered.

Not a mule back bestraddled, Yet how they all skedaddled  —

Fled every Georgian, Unsabred, unsaddled, Scattered and sundered!

How they were routed there By the two hundred!

When can their glory fade? Oh, what a wild charge they made!                                                       All the world wondered.  Honor the charge they made!                                                      Honor the Mule Brigade, Long-eared two hundred!

Photograph, poem, courtesy of the Denver Public Library, Western Heritage Collection.

Twist vs Bend

Posted on March 23, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, riding, therapy, training.

from: Science of Motion. Author Jean Luc Cornille
Question- Chazot looks beautiful in both these pictures, but you said there was a problem with his position. Can you explain what is wrong and how to fix it?

-Question by Helyn

Jean Luc’s response:

Jean Luc Cornille training Chazot

Jean Luc Cornille training Chazot

Well, the problem starts at the first picture. I am asking him to bend the thoracic spine to the left. Chazot is not then optimally ready for such bending. He starts to bend left but does not really bend the thoracic spine. Instead, he is contracting the middle of the neck on the left side. The neck contraction is only the visible part of the iceberg. It is due to the fact that he is not properly coordinating lateral bending and transversal rotation. The neck contraction is barely apparent and the picture still looks good.

Meda by Science of Motion

Media by Science of Motion

The next frame shows the evolution of the wrong vertebral column’s coordination. Chazot could have corrected himself. Instead, he does increases the contraction of the middle of the neck and is now twisting the cervical vertebrae. This torsion is placing his nose to the right and is shifting is thoracic spine to the right. This torsion also disconnects the proper coordination of the main back muscles and Chazot is slightly extending the thoracic spine. His reactions demonstrate that he is not bending the thoracic spine properly. He is in fact combining lateral bending and inverted rotation. The solution is to go back straight on shoulder fore until proper lateral bending of the thoracic spine is recreated and then try again the shoulder in. This reaction exposes one of the major side effects of the outside rein concept. Quite often, acting on the outside rein does turn the horse’s nose toward the outside. This abnormality shifts the thoracic spine to the right and therefore shifts the weight on the outside shoulder. In such case, the outside rein is creating the problem that it is supposed to fix.

Due to the fact that feedback corrections are relatively slow, this series of event is happening too fast to be corrected through the usual process of feedback correction. The two frames are 100 of a second apart. The horse nervous system is using predictions, allowing it to deal with event occurring faster than the speed of normal feedback correction. Prediction means that the horse’s brain predicts the coordination for the upcoming effort. This equine neurological capacity underlines the inefficiency of an equitation based on correction and submission. Instead, clever riding is using the privilege of the human intelligence, which is the capacity to use past experience for better future. Instead of punishing the horse for the error, which is obsolete since the error is already in the past, the rider needs to register the error, analyzes it and use the information to better prepare the horse for the next strides.

See you in a few strides.

Jean Luc

 

The Shying Horse

Posted on January 20, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, therapy.

photo courtesy of: Your Horse Co.UK

It is the classic story of the horse who ran back to the barn. In every crowd is a person who remembers the time they rode a horse who spooked and ran away. “I’ll never ride again!”, they confess.  Unlike a bicycle or a skateboard, the horse is a living creature with the ability to think and observe. This means they are capable of reacting to whatever they see. Riders cannot control the random events in the woods or the ring where they ride, nor predict the reaction of the horse to those events. But it is possible to minimize the reaction of the horse by pre-training them to respond to guidance from the saddle. The historic mounted cavalry was highly successful in training their horses to charge straight into battle regardless of the noise and confusion. The average horse can be trained to understand that the rider’s directions are a priority over any instinct to run away. This pre-conditioning will bring momentary hesitation when the horse discovers a wild deer or a motorbike out on the trail. This hesitation gives the rider a chance to reassure the horse before he loses control.

However, occasionally you encounter a horse who stubbornly resists any training efforts and continues to spook and leap sideways at every noise. They are displaying a learned behavior rather than an instinctual reaction. We call these types of horses ‘shyers’.

photo:Linda Parelli teaching horse to focus

The habitual shyer is a menace for its rider. The constant bolting or sideways leaping to get away from imagined danger unseats the rider and can leave a loose horse on the run. To develop safer behavior in these horses it helps to determine the reason for their continual disruptions. While there may be several factors involved, here are three basic reasons why horses develop the habit of shying: aggression, insecurity, or the rider. Let’s look at these individually.

Aggression.   Over the centuries, the horse’s job was to carry soldiers through battle. Through the trials of war, certain breeds of horses demonstrated the ability to be warriors in their own right. They quickly grasped the need to charge, bump, or even trample down the enemy troops. They didn’t flinch as they took a stab from a bayonet or a bullet in the flesh, but continued into the thick of battle with wounds that were often fatal. These breeds still exist today and carry the genetic code of their ancestors. They excel in police work where they are asked to intervene and redirect the public through bumping or stomping into unruly crowds, or in search-and-rescue work where they must crash through rocky, wooded terrain in search of criminal escapees or lost hikers. These ‘warrior’ horses fit very well and yield very quickly to a forthright, commanding personality who assumes control such as the policeman riding on mounted patrol. But when ridden by an indecisive rider who avoids confrontation, the horse will assume control. Centuries of breeding make the warrior horse dominant and vigorous. Without a dominant rider, disaster is immanent. These horses will develop the habit of shying because they need an object to be overpowering and a reason to charge forward.  It is best to always have a job for these horses to keep them occupied.

Insecurity.  The oversensitive, insecure horse is clearly the opposite of our warrior horse. Ever fretful and in need of a soft touch and kind word, they refrain from the overt action of the bolder horse. They are generally the quieter horses in the corral who follow the lead of the warrior horse. When ridden they prefer a soft seat from the rider and perfectly fitting equipment. Beware of using bits too harsh for their mouth assuming it makes them easier to control. It will only elevate their hyper-tension, making them squirm and spin until the problem is fixed.  Sensitive horses do their best trail work with a dominant horse as a mentor. They ride behind their mentor, who shows them how to walk over rough footing, cross water in creeks, or step over tree trunks that may have fallen across the path. If they aren’t guided in this way, they often develop skittish behavior, shying at every leaf that scuttles across the path because they are too afraid to be out on their own. This is why the rider of sensitive horses finds their role to be more of a cheerleader, building the confidence of the horse and convincing the horse to work for them. Once their confidence is won, these horses are nearly indefatigable. They display a brilliance and intuitiveness in show competitions and ring work that never wanes. The complex work of dressage or the split second timing of stadium jumping are equal to their level of focus and intelligence. This is why so many of these horses compete at the international and Olympic level. They are best matched with the analytical, ambitious person with long range, competitive goals, rather than wandering through wooded trails.

Riders.  Developing your competency in the saddle is a life-long necessity. Each decade brings changes in physical abilities through the aging process that we need to adjust in both ourselves and our horses that we ride. If you love your horse you’ll want to be sure that your position in the saddle is balanced and easy to be carried around. This correct posture in the saddle is your best protection from the unpredictable, shying horse. Equally important is matching your interests and personality to that of the horse.  If your horse is constantly shying on the trails and nothing is fixing it, you need to analyze the personality of the horse and see if it fits with yours. It may be time to find a horse that better suits your personality. If you want to keep your horse in spite of its problems, consider help from a professional who can work with you and your horse. Their suggestion to change your saddle posture, or the saddle you ride in, could make a big difference. Riding should always be adventurous and fun. With a little homework, you can make your rides outstanding!

Olympic Rider Kyra Kyrkland on Matador

Sharpening Your Hoof Nippers

Posted on December 8, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history, hoofcare, therapy.

That trusty pair of nippers you depend on so often will gradually dull with use, until one day you realize that you’re having a tougher time trimming the hoof wall than you should. It’s best to sharpen those nippers before that day arrives. Exactly how you go about that will determine whether the nippers return to peak performance for an extended period or if they’re a big step closer to the trash bin.
“What destroys the most nippers is the way that horseshoers file them,” says Donald Jones. As an International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame farrier and the owner of NC Tool Company, he ought to know. He’s used a lot of nippers over the years, and he routinely refurbishes the tools sent in by farriers across the country.  “A good sharpening that prolongs the life of the nippers isn’t difficult,” says Jones. “The secret to making the nippers cut well is to keep the shoulder area thin. Most people get their edges too blunt,” he says. “The actual front edge, the cutting edge, will feel sharp, but there’s so much metal back on the shoulder that it makes for resistance when you’re trying to cut the hoof.”

He offers the following advice for best results:
A. Secure the nippers horizontally, with the lower handle firmly in a vise. Pull the top handle upward to open the head of the nippers and expose the underside of the jaws.
B. Identify the area to be filed. Always file the underside, or inside, of the nipper jaws. Although a few strokes may be needed on the front cutting edge, most of the filing should run from the front edge through the back shoulder.
C. Use a two-handed grip on the file for long, flat strokes. Strive for a sharp cutting edge that runs smoothly back into the shoulder of the nippers without any sudden angles along the way. Repeat the process for the second side of the nipper jaws. Avoid damaging the corners of the jaws, which help pierce the hoof wall during trimming.
D. The stops down in the handles come together at the same time as the cutting edges to prevent the cutting surfaces from blunting one another or overlapping. If you take a bit of metal off the cutting edges when you sharpen them, then you have to take a little off the stops, too, so the cutting edges close correctly.

Even with proper sharpening, nippers eventually need professional resetting of the handles and tightening or replacing of the rivet. There are two reasons for this, Jones says:“One reason is that after adjusting the stoppers a few times as part of the sharpening, the handles start getting closer together. Send the tool to a professional when the handles become too close to use the nippers efficiently or comfortably. Another is that after nippers have been sharpened a few times, a gap appears between the cutting edges. The nippers should be sent to a professional for resetting. But you should be able to sharpen nippers several times before you need to send them off for reworking,” Jones says, “and then they’ll work as good as new.”
(article and photo from the American Farriers Journal)

A ‘Buru’ of Life

Posted on October 14, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, history, therapy.

Wild-burros-wreak-havoc-on-Texas-ecology-DIL8N47-x-large

(By Fred Covarrubias, for USA TODAY)

excerpt written by Brian Narelle for “Animals as Teachers & Healers

Murray is a burro – a real one with big hairy ears and a bray that can bring down a barn. Murray lives in the pasture right behind my house. I established a small church in his name because Murray is so special. Why, you ask? Because Murray is an individual of great character, and as a screenwriter, I can tell you, character is everything! Murray is the embodiment of humility, patience, and tolerance. He never complains, even when some fool throws a board into the pasture with nails in it and Murray steps on one and can barely walk for weeks. He suffers the bullying abuse of Julio, his llama pasture mate, with a calm demeanor, moving just far enough away to bring it to a halt. He is exceedingly present. When he is with me, I feel that I am with someone. His presence is calm and centering. With him, I feel the whirring insanity of my mind decelerate. He teaches me to stand, to be, to breathe, to take my place on the planet with pride and dignity — in this very moment.

We must all suffer the obnoxious llamas of life. We all stand in the rain of collective ignorance, pelted by the media. We all find our lives constrained by the barbed wire of our own minds. I, for one, someday hope to conduct myself with the centered peacefulness of Murray. That is why he is so special to me. That is why he is my living teacher – my “buru.”     Murray lives in vertical time. I’ve been there a few times. Most of us live much of our lives in horizontal time: a plane upon which our lives are stretched out like railroad tracks running across the Great Plains. The tracks begin somewhere and continue until they reach those big bumper things you find at the end of tracks in railroad yards: For our purposes here, we will call that death. Most of the time I walk this track, stepping from tie to tie. As I walk along, I often stop to look back and remember ‘events,’ things that ‘happened to me.’  Murray doesn’t do this.

I wonder what Murray gets from me, besides carrots. Love is an obvious answer but I’m not sure it suffices. I think presence is a better word. When I’m with Murray, I move closer to vertical time: I’m much more contented just to be. I am temporarily satisfied. I don’t need money or things or success or sex or assurances. I have contentment. This is it. The more I enter this state, I have a feeling that it feeds something back to Murray. Sharing deepens the richness of the moment. Spiritual leader Meher Baba said, “Things that are real are given and received in silence.” Something real goes on between Murray and me in silent, vertical time.  Imagine, for a moment, that Murray could talk. I would venture to guess that he would not be capable of lying. To lie you have to have an eye firmly fixed on the past because all your energy is tied up in suppressing facts that linger there. Lying happens in horizontal time, and Murray doesn’t live there. I went to a talk given years ago by Rev. William Sloan Coffin. He started his talk with seven words that still echo inside me. He said, “The function of government is to lie.” He continued, “Lies require violence to support them..and violence requires lies to support it.”  There it was, a graduate course in political and ethical science in twenty words. I think if Murray could speak, he would say things like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Stephen O’Grady:Flexor Tendon Flaccidity

Posted on August 23, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

tendons

Flexor tendon flaccidity or tendon laxity is a relatively common limb deformity seen in newborn foals usually involving the hind limbs although all four limbs can be involved. Weak flexor tendons is thought to be the cause which results in digital hyperextension where weight-bearing is placed on the palmar/plantar aspect of the proximal phalanges and the toe of the hoof is raised off the ground. The condition often tends to self-correct within days after birth as the foal gains strength and is allowed moderate exercise. However the tendon laxity often persists and it is not uncommon to see a fool that still has digital hyper-extension at 4 weeks of age.

Treatment is sequential depending on the severity of the tendon laxity and the response of the foal to treatment. Therapy begins with controlled exercise allowing the foal access to a small area with firm footing for 1 hour three times daily, the toe of the foot can be shortened and the heels can be rasped gently from the middle of the foot palmarly/plantarly to create ground surface and a palmar/plantar extension can be applied if necessary. This extension which extends approximately 3-4 centimeters beyond the bulbs of the heels immediately relieves the biomechanical instability. A cuff-type extension shoe is commercially available or a small aluminum plate extension with clips. In either case, the author feels that either type of extension should be attached with adhesive tape rather than a composite if the foal is less than 3 weeks of age as this avoids excessive heat being applied to the fragile hoof capsule as the composite cures and prevents contracture of the hoof capsule at the heels. Regardless of the method of application, the extensions should be changed at 10 day intervals. Bandaging the limb is contraindicated as this will further weaken the flexor tendons.

Photo: uncorrected adult legs in 7 year old mare

Angular limb and deformities are common limb abnormalities in foals that require early recognition and treatment. The pathogenesis of this problem is not clearly understood. Angular limb deformities can be classified as either congenital or acquired in the first few weeks of life. The primary lesion is an imbalance of physeal growth; for various reasons, growth proceeds faster on one side of the physis.

Coffin Bone Rotation

Posted on August 21, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, hoofcare, riding, therapy, training.

GUEST ARTICLE FOR OUR READERS

photo: groton city vet .com

New information from the Swedish Hoof School (swedishhoofschool.com) on this controversial issue. Translated into english

To read Article click:    swedish hoof school

Mark Russell’s “En”-lightening Approach

Posted on July 31, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, therapy, training.

“..elicit a calm thoughtful movement from the horse..”

While he is no longer with us to teach in person, Author and Horse trainer Mark Russell continues to explain the value of suppling the horse before and during the riding session in his book, “Lessons in Lightness”, available through his website. The book delves into the bio-mechanics of both saddle and ground work with engaging additions of his own personal life lessons that helped to shape his riding talent.   His web site: naturaldressage.com still provides insights through his articles. Here is an excerpt of one that was published in PRE Magazine:

The Pursuit of Artful Riding  (by Mark Russell)


author demonstrating: Lessons in Lightness

Artistry and lightness in riding is often an elusive goal for riders although paving the path to its development is really very simple. The integration of a few basic principles and adherence to them throughout the training process will create a scenario in which responsiveness and lightness will flourish.  The Reality We Present to the Horse is the Reality That He Lives In.. One of Natural Horsemanship’s most significant contributions to the development of the horse is its approach to the training process from the perspective of the horse. This includes an understanding of who our horse is and how he learns: qualities to which we temper our approach. The horse learns from us every moment we are with him and each of his behaviors, no matter how subtle, reflects a message he is sending us.  Importantly, this process includes mindfulness of ourselves: where we are emotionally, what information we are sending the horse through the reins and through our seat. There is a continuous back and forth conversation between us and our horses every moment we are with him whether intentional or not.

Artistic dressage forsakes force. A horse that has been brought down the path of learning in his comfort zone will easily learn balance without brace. Channels of energy will be opened in the relaxed horse which the rider can then direct. Once the basic principles become a staple in the horse’s training we can begin to advance the concept of relaxation through releases of the jaw, poll, neck, through the back and hind end of the horse. Flexion, impulsion, balance, and freedom of movement will thus come easily. An attentive and conversant rider creates a scenario where their requests can comfortably be followed by the horse. The outcome will be a horse who will be able to express free flowing energy and movement which is a pleasure to ride and beautiful to watch.

You can read the entire article at: Mark Russell Dressage

 

 

 

Trimming the Hoof Bars

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

Natural hoof trimmer Linda Harris of  thehappyhoof youtube channel  explains the importance of the bars of the hoof, and the 3 V’s of natural balance.

In trimming the bars you are just getting what ever may be laid over the sole off of it, so that as the hoof wall grows past the sole so will the bars (instead of laying over towards the outside wall and growing sideways, covering the sole in the seat of the corn).  You do not want to dig the bars down past the sole. You do not want to reduce the bars to where any leverage on the heels will push them forward, because then your heels will also go forward. That whole area of the heel buttress is formed to try and hold the heels in place.

 

In this photo, the inside bar (pictured on right and not yet trimmed) is slightly laid over with a chunk laying on the seat of the corn of the sole. The outside bar (pictured left and just trimmed) shows you where the white line is.  As you’re trimming, keep in mind that your actions in the back also affect the front of the hoof. NEVER take off any of the back half of the foot without taking some of the front half, even though it may seem like the front half did not grow much, and here is why.

The front half of the hoof is where the main sole ridge is that protects and surrounds the coffin bone. That sole ridge will grow forward with the wall and get thicker and thicker and begin to raise the front of the foot as well as grow gradually forward. With some horses, the wall will grow out past that sole ridge and you automatically know to trim or cut it off. With others the sole ridge will just grow and thicken along with the wall and so you think your foot has not grown. This is even worse if the toe in general has been stretched forward and is at a low angle because it will “seem” like the wall hasn’t grown at all. This then eventually creates a situation where the sole ridge, that is supposed to be thickest at, and surrounding the rim of the coffin bone, is actually out in front of it. So then you have thick sole ridge not under the actual toe of the inner foot, (as it’s supposed to be). Therefore the inner foot itself is sitting behind the toe callous, on thin flat sole. This slowly drops the toe of the inner foot down low and closer to the ground.
This is one reason why we rocker the toes to try and thin that sole ridge which is out of place.  This allows the wall to grow down very tightly connected to the very end of the internal foot where it will once again connect with the sole in that area. It grows down to the ground and then RETAINS that sole ridge under the front perimeter of that internal foot where it’s supposed to be.

Now this picture looks pretty good, the walls are trimmed down and the bars are defined and fine.

In the end the final and ultimate goal is to get the walls to grow down without being leveraged so they will reconnect in the right spot at the very bottom of the internal foot with the sole that grows from the sole corium. From there they continue to the ground and contain that V under and around the V of the internal foot.

What are the three V’s of the hoof?

Problems occur when the 3 V’s disconnect from one another. The V shaped rim of the coffin bone and sole corium drop onto FLAT sole instead of being in the V shaped ridge of the Wall and Sole ridge.  Then you will get coffin bone remodeling, because you have a V sitting on a _ like so V . Our 3 V’s are these:

V   Coffin bone / which is hard but also a softer bone than the rest.

V   Sole corium attached to coffin bone / which is soft and padded full of blood.

V   Wall and sole ridge.

Now we can not undue whatever prior damage may have been done to the feet. BUT when the hoof capsule is as correctly grown and reconnected as close as possible in alignment with that internal foot, the body has a “chance” to heal itself, proving our bodies and the bodies of animals are in and of themselves wondrous things.

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