Spring has sprung!
Finally, after what I would consider a mild winter here in Ohio, the
birds are chirping, flowers sprouting, and the wind is losing it cold chill.
And of course, the horses are shedding like mad!
Along with the Spring sunshine come the new collections of riding and casual apparel. Kastel has released their new 2020 line which includes new pastel colors. Their Signature Sun Shirts come in a variety of colors (traditional and pattered) and sleeve lengths to keep you comfortable and stylish while riding.
Ariat has come out with a great assortment of riding and casual wear for everyday use for both men and women. The new colors of this season for Ariat are a pastel blue, grey and light patterns in a variety of styles and clothing options. Along with their new Fatbaby colors, they have released their new patterns of their Cruiser pull on shoes which include some sunny yellow prints that I am in love with! To round out their Spring color collection, Ariat has new patterned and solid baseballs hats which are perfect to cover up that barn and helmet hair!
Kerrits’ 2020 Spring Collection as a matchy rider’s dream. They have new lines of colorful breeches and riding tights that perfectly coordinate with their Ice Fil short sleeved and long sleeved riding shirts. Their new colors of breeches and riding tights are in both ladies and girls sizes and have both full seat and knee patch options. Kerrits have also put out casual wear such as headbands, tee shirts and some cute riding tank tops to keep you cool this spring and summer!
Did I mention the coming shedding season? And you know what that means, here comes the flies! Big Dee’s has brought in Terry Bradshaw’s fly product line! He has developed a variety of fly relief products starting with limiting the amount of flies around your barn. The “4 Ring Protection Mosquito Free Zone” products come in a 2 day, 7 day and 15 day packs that deter the flies naturally away from your property. These are not only great for horse barns, but for family parties and cookouts as well! Terry has also made topical fly treatment formulas that range from repellent, no bite lotion and sunscreens that are safe for your pet friends and yourself!
Keep checking our “New Arrivals” section on our home page, as we are adding new Spring products all the time!
I have always been horse crazy – and I am incredibly fortunate to have family that supported (and continues to support) that passion; from my grandmother teaching me horse colors on my toys, to my parents who gave me every opportunity they could to be around horses. My “horse crazy” has never gone away. Through the years, I’ve had some incredible experiences that both inspired and humbled me in the equestrian world.
Wizard’s Baby Doll “Roxy”
Like most great stories of “I knew someone, who knew another person”, that’s how I not only got to meet Roxy and her owner, but also was allowed a very brief ride.
I used to work my 4H horses every day, and a kind neighbor who enjoyed watching me ride reached out to me about a “famous horse”. She offered to take me to meet this horse because the owner was a family member – and she was willing to share this privilege with me! Of course I jumped on the opportunity, and not long after, I got to meet the legend that is, Wizards Baby Doll. Roxy accomplished so much in her lifetime with trainer Stacy Westfall, but the most known was her win in 2006 at the All American Quarter Horse Congress for Freestyle Reining.
Her owner was incredibly kind to not only take time out of his day to let me fangirl over Roxy, but to also let me hop on. She was a kind, calm mare that really just wanted to graze but allowed me shuffle around a bit and smile for a picture. Those few moments with her felt timeless, and really gave me a push towards wanting to learn more, experience more and go outside of my comfort zone..
Afternoon Deelites/Popcorn Deelites
Through my years of riding, making barn friends and drooling over beautiful horses – I found myself “owned” by a scrappy senior Off-Track Thoroughbred. I discovered his sire, Afternoon Deelites, a Graded Stakes winner with earnings over one million in his race career, was at Old Friends in Kentucky! Bonus, another relation, Popcorn Deelites, one of the horses that portrayed Seabiscuit in the movie, was also there!
I can’t emphasize enough how incredible Old Friends and our fabulous tour guide was. When I mentioned I would love to meet both Afternoon Deelites and Popcorn Deelites, her eyes lit up and she went on to give us more than the standard tour. It turns out that Afternoon Deelites has the same charismatic and playful personality as his son. They could have also been twins!
Popcorn Deelites was far more easy going but just as handsome. Popcorn was used for the breaking from gate and race scenes in the Seabiscuit movie since he was a natural sprinter. The visit to Old Friends was remarkable on it’s own, but meeting two horses that held a sort of sentimental value to me made it that much more special. To be in the presence of a superior race horse and a movie star made me appreciate all that off-track horses have to offer us.
While I never got to meet the “Cinderella Horse “, better known as Snowman, I did get to meet Harry de Leyer. I have never been a Show Jumper, my riding career has mostly been rooted in Dressage, but I knew there was something to learn from Harry. In all honesty, I just listened to him tell his stories. I didn’t know the full Snowman story until I read the book, but hearing the memories recounted in person was fascinating and truly humbling to be sharing the same space with Harry. I wish I could have listened for hours, but we unfortunately had to part ways. He left an inspiring note that I like to look back on when I’m having a hard day – whether it be a hitch in progress for my goals or a bad ride.
Over the twenty plus years I’ve been around horses, I’ve realized one really important thing – there is always room to learn more, you never know everything. Roxy encouraged me to take lessons to improve my riding ability, Afternoon Deelites and Popcorn Deelites proved to me that racehorses are capable of so many great things after their racing careers and Harry taught me the patience to listen, absorb, and learn. Those little moments with each role model helped shape me into the equestrian I am today.
Who have you met (horse or equestrian) that inspired you?
I started riding when I was 10 years old. My parents, albeit supportive of my “obsessed” tendencies of wanting to learn to ride, were not accustomed to the world that is equestrianism. I was lucky to attend weekly lessons and had big dreams of showing, clearing massive oxers, leaping over 10-foot Liverpools, and galloping around Spruce Meadows or the Washington International.
However, all those dreams (my parents quickly realized) cost money. How much? Well, considering I calculated how much weekly lessons cost for a year alone and maybe one or two shows a year – then promptly burned the piece of paper with the number on it – I can’t say I blamed them for firmly stating, “NO,” when I would beg to lease or buy the pony of my dreams.
Over the course of 14 years, until I made the insane decision of purchasing
a horse of my own, I had to learn to adjust – and appreciate – the value of
being the obsessed horse kid that didn’t have one of her own.
In order to get my “fix,” to earn as much saddle time as possible, I would wake my mom up at 6 AM (on a Saturday) to have her drop me off at the barn. From there I would muck stalls, groom horses for lessons, learn how to show prep horses with clipping and bathing, and learned the ins and outs of what working a full-scale show barn was like. It was a ton of fun getting to play with ponies all day, and even if I was covered in Lord-knows-what and smelled to high heaven, I felt so accomplished with my days’ work and the chance to earn an extra lesson or work off my haul-in fee for a weekend schooling show.
Eventually, I got my license (much to my mother’s delight), and began assisting in managing the barn I grew up riding in – waking up at 4 AM to do morning feed and turnouts, muck a few stalls – while balancing a Honor’s course load and after-school activities. I won’t ever say that it was easy, or I didn’t feel overwhelmed, or that I was “missing out” sometimes unlike my other 984 classmates in high school; however I was so proud of my efforts and was fortunate enough to show some amazing horses at some incredible venues that it was all worth it to me.
Fast-forward after high-school graduation and heading toward my collegiate career at Lake Erie College. I was ecstatic to have my schedule full of facility management, equine business, and course-design classes. Plus, I got to ride ALL THE TIME. Between helping at IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association ) shows, riding for IDA (Intercollegiate Dressage Association) under the tutelage of Barb Soukup and showing my leased OTTB, Tego, I was in heaven.
Don’t get me wrong, it got frustrating at times, seeing all these other people around me with their beautiful horses they’ve owned over the years or even brought to school with them! However, I was able to enjoy other aspects of my college career without having to handle the responsibility of taking care of my own horse.
There are so many ways to enjoy horses, even if you can’t own one of your own. Plus, you get the biggest benefit of not having to handle the financial burden of owning a horse! Ultimately, I learned bravery and tenacity because I would hop on anything for the chance to learn or ride something new. Offering to help at the barn gives you the advantage of learning a new skill and to absorb information like a sponge someone otherwise might not have gotten. Same thing applies to grooming at shows – you become so well-connected to your local community and watching other riders.
Attending clinics by either riding in them or auditing gives you another avenue for “pony time.” Same thing applies to traveling to fun equine-related events such as tack swaps, Equine Affaire, spectating shows and more. Plus, you have so much time to educate yourself further, whether it be books on riding, grooming, or even reading stories of famous horses from previous years. You can even try something you normally wouldn’t, like a new discipline such as saddle seat, driving, or even polo!
So, if you happen to be “horseless,” try not to feel discouraged. Take comfort in the fact that the all-consuming love and passion you have for horses is a gift. That can’t be taken away from you. Whether you own, lease, take lessons, or tack up for the occasional trail ride, you’re living the dream of having horses in your life. There are an endless opportunities to being around these incredible animals, and like my mom told me – “If something matters enough to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”
As a horse girl – my answer would always be a famous horse! I’ve been lucky and had the chance to meet Cass-Ole’ or as you may know him – The Black Stallion!
Picture it – 1980, Peace Bridge, New York.
I’m seven years old and on my way to the Canadian Arabian Nationals in Toronto with my family. We are stuck at the Peace Bridge waiting for all of the horses’ papers to be checked so that we can cross. Some of you may know, it takes a LONG time to get across the border. Each horse marking needs to be checked off, coggins looked at, etc. At seven years old, even 15 minutes can seem like a lifetime. While waiting, a trailer pulls up next to us. Always curious, I check out the horses. Low and behold, it is the Black Stallion himself!
I had been to the single movie theater in town recently to see the amazing movie of the Black Arabian Stallion, and I was in awe.
The owners allowed my brother and I to climb up onto the
fender of the trailer and pet the magnificent horse. Time actually sped up at
that point. I didn’t have nearly enough time to talk to him.
He was going onto the Canadian Arabian Nationals as well. He
had been shown quite a bit before the movie. With a National Championship in
Arabian Western Pleasure, Reserve Champion in Side Saddle and U.S. Top Ten in
English Pleasure. Over his show career he had won 50 Championships and 20
I was able to catch glimpses of him at the Nationals but
wasn’t able to get close to him again.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet other greats in my life at
shows – Charlie Watts (the drummer from the Rolling Stones) and Patrick Swayze.
Wayne Newton called me honey once. But, none of these greats will ever compare
to the time that I was able to meet the Black Stallion!
“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” – Roger A. Caras
I remember the day I got my first dog, a little Lhasa Apso we named Dixie. She was a present for my sixteenth birthday. Soon after began the roller coaster of extreme joy coupled with daily frustrations of the responsibility that goes with raising and training a puppy. After watching commercials for dog foods boasting their high quality, I selected a brand I believed to be premium.
After a couple years, Dixie began itching uncontrollably to the point that her skin would crawl when you touched her. Mortified that she was so miserable, I sought a veterinarian’s help. I was given a list of things that she felt may be the cause – one of which was dog food. After a month or so on Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream, Dixie was back to normal!
When I got my second dog, a Rottweiler Labrador mix named Foose, I chose a line of dog food that was extremely popular among breeders at that time. Vet appointments soon became a regular thing due to recurring ear infections. One vet told me to clean his ears more, and the next told me I was cleaning them too much. Finally, one veterinarian suggested a change of food. After switching his diet to the one that had provided so much success prior, I impatiently waited for results, but to no avail. I eventually found relief with one of the Blue Buffalo lines.
After years of researching nutrition, attending seminars, and working with veterinarians (as an undergrad pursuing veterinary medicine), I was able to use my experience to assist customers find a diet best suited for their four legged family member. For the average dog, a diet without corn, wheat, or soy was commonly recommended. Switching between the different lines such as chicken, lamb, beef, and fish was also encouraged (gradual transition to reduce the chance of digestive upset).
For those with allergies or sensitivities, grain free or limited ingredient diets with salmon as the main protein, was the preferred choice. Finding a diet for these situations is extremely difficult and typically a long process. Everyone thinks that because grain free is commonly recommended that it WILL fixthe issue. But keep this in mind – if your child is allergic to peanuts and you cut out all egg in their diet, your child will still have an allergic reaction when consuming peanuts.
Every dog is different; they are not all allergic to the same thing.
Since allergy tests are commonly inaccurate in relation to food allergies, an elimination diet trial is still the most accurate method. Make sure you give the new food some time to see if it helps – it can take over a month to see results. Treats should also be eliminated, because that will have an impact as well. Once you see results, you can then make small changes to see if there are any issues. Other health conditions can occur that could affect your food trial (conditions that require medications), so it is important to work with your veterinarian in these situations.
Does this mean that diet issues are the only reason to recommend higher quality pet food? Not at all! When you look at a bag, always look at the recommended feeding guide. One thing you will notice is that on cheaper quality dog food, you need to feed a lot more of it. Therefore, that cheap bag is not as economical as you think. That coupled with the potential recurring visits at veterinarian offices should help motivate you to feed something better.
Here at Big Dee’s, we have a large selection of high quality pet food to meet your needs. All of our lines are free of corn, wheat, and soy. We have a vast array of grain free options as well. If there is something that you want that we do not carry, reach out to us by phone or message us on Facebook and we can see if we can get it.
Finding a diet for your pet can be stressful – we are here to help!
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, if you’re reading this you’re either a) Someone who is dating/married to an equestrian or b) a Horse Girl and feel like this “manual” will help those wayward individuals that don’t quite understand the “rules” to dating someone involved with horses.
If you fall into the category of a non-horse person who is now dating a horse girl – congrats. You have superior taste, and this guide will help make your dating relationship a success! These helpful hints will give some insight to the Horse Crazy Brain and how to win her heart (and hooves) over.
Understand that the horse will ALWAYS come first. Horses were her first love, and nothing is going to replace that. Don’t take it personally – it’s not to say she doesn’t love you dearly, it’s just a little less. Horse Girls spend a lot of their time with horses. If a Horse Girl has chosen to involve you in her hectic schedule, you can rest assured with the fact she knows you’re worth it.
Learn your way around baling twine and duct tape. Horse girls appreciate the gift of resourcefulness. We can and will reattach the same pitchfork head five times instead of buying a new one.
Horse Girls are known for their signature…. aroma. Don’t be surprised if we show up for a date covered in dewormer paste, have hay in our hair, and sit down to eat without washing our hands. We consider Effax or Leather Balsam to be a nice rub-on perfume.
The Horse Girl is easy to shop for. You do not need to go all out for a seafood dinner or trip to Paris to impress the Horse Girl. Simply provide a bag of treats or a gift card to Big Dee’s and she will be thrilled.
If you attend a horse show with a Horse Girl, do NOT ask how long it will be till you go home. Unless the Horse Girl has a set ride time for her Dressage or Cross-Country test, prepare for a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. This will be an exercise in strengthening your patience. Use this opportunity to ask the Horse Girl how to polish boots.
The same rules apply for asking a Horse Girl how long she will be at the barn. Time is a foreign concept to us. Unless you have set dinner reservations at 7, expect that we will show up at least 2 hours after we said we would be there.
I’ll just say it – horses are ungodly expensive. Between lessons, boarding, feeding, shoeing, showing, vet bills, and more, the Horse Girl will have no qualms in spending thousands of dollars on Fluffy. If you are dating a Horse Girl, understand that these costs will never diminish. It’s best not to argue with her about the cost of a new custom saddle or show coat. There is no such thing as too many saddles pads. Chances are she already bought it and was considerate enough to tell you.
Expect to have your phone on you at all times. More than likely, the Horse Girl has an Instagram page set up for Fluffy and requires a constant feed of new content to post of her riding or grazing Fluffy. This designates your job as the on-call photographer.
Do NOT tell us that horseback riding isn’t a sport. Or that it’s easy. It’s in the Olympics and classified as an NCAA Division-1 athletic. You will lose that debate every time.
If the Horse Girl ever has a bad day, suggest a date night at the barn. It will mean the world to her that you want to support her and watch her ride. Ask questions, be attentive, and show interest. A little goes a long way.
Horse girls are a rare breed. Are we crazy? Sure. Are we hardworking, passionate, and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty? You bet. Are we worth it? 100% percent.
Do you have a horse that needs some leg support? Where to begin, right? There are so many options now that it’s easy to choose exactly what your horse needs for where they need support. Leg protection can be used for a few reasons – as a preventative, as a barrier, or as support.
Let’s start with the easy one – Bell Boots. Is you horse tracking up too far and catching his back hooves on his front hooves? Does he pull his shoes occasionally? Bell boot come in two basic styles with some variation – Pull On Boots or Velcro Boots. For people who use Bell Boots for turn out, or know their horse can get the Velcro off, the Pull On boots are for you. After a little bit of stretching over your horse’s hoof, the bell boots will stay on as long as you need them and are incredibly sturdy! The second style is the Velcro attachment, these come in a few more options such as having a fleece lined top, no turn style, or wrap style to fit your horses comfort level! Velcro Boots are great for protection while working your horse.
Next up – the Polo Wraps. Do they serve a purpose? When I was first learning about horses I was taught to polo wrap your horses’ legs for all around leg and tendon support. Years later while working for a dressage trainer, I learned the safe and effective way to wrap Polos. It does take practice to be wrap the correct way in order to help your horse while in work. Polo Wraps are beneficial during intense workouts and training sessions to support the horse’s lower leg. One of the best bonuses of Polos, is that they come in so many different colors to match your tack!
Specialized Sport Boots
Following the faithful Polo Wraps – Sport Boots Do you want Open Front or Fleece Lined? Before mastering the polo wrap I looked into sport boots, there are a few options and some of them have better uses depending on what your discipline is (although most can be used for any discipline).
Open front jumping boots have a strong outer shell to protect the horses fetlocks when jumping over poles or cross country obstacles. They sometimes have a matching back set of boots to protect the horses hind legs from knocking as well!
Dressage Sport Boots offer protection on the inner sides of your horse legs that help prevent rubbing or knocking into each other when doing those advanced movements. These boots are either neoprene or fleece lined for extra padding and protection. I personally love the DSB boots!
Specialized Western Boots
We covered Open Front and Dressage Boots – how about western? How are Skid Boots different than Athletic Boots? For Reining and Western Riding, skid boots wrap around your horses fetlock and cannon bone and have a soft neoprene lining. There is a skid cup around the bottom to prevent the sand from scraping your horses fetlock when doing sliding stops or cutting.
Skid Boots are very similar to the Athletic Boot style which has an extra supportive strap that wraps along the bottom of the horses fetlock and helps with dropping fetlocks and overall support with the tendon. They can be used on both the front and hind legs. These can come in fun colors and patterns – sometimes with matching bell boots!
Splint and Tendon Boots
Last and certainly not least is the faithful Tendon/Splint boots. Are Splint and Tendon Boots ideal for general leg protection? Splint Boots are usually padded on the inside with Velcro straps on the outside of the leg. These boots offer cannon bone protection and helps with brushing of the legs and support the most important tendons on your horses legs.
Tendon Boots are great for just adding to your horse as a preventive that helps add a basic level of protection for your horses legs for a great price.
So which is best for you and your horse?
Well, first you need to question where your horse needs that extra bit of support. Then, what level and type of riding are you doing? If you have any further questions and can’t quite decide call us here at Big Dee’s and we would be happy to find you the right fit!
Written by Laura Brubaker, Customer Service Representative
I remember the first time I met Copper, as a completely horse-crazy pre-teen. He was this sassy little four-year old that came as a package deal to a far more seasoned horse. My first thought for Copper was “no way, not MY horse”.
After several years on the farm, I was tasked with continuing his training to help family, and soon discovered an honest and willing partner. We both just needed time to mature and to realize what a cool team we could make! Who would have thought the horse I didn’t want as a kid, would become the horse I would never sell?
Cherokee was my “step-up” horse that came into my life about the same time I realized Copper and I were pretty good teammates. Life changes had us part ways for nearly ten years, but in February of 2019, he came back to me to live out his years. While he is twenty-four years young, he’s not the spry teenager he once was.
Both of these horses played a pivotal role in my childhood, shaping me into the Equestrian I am today. It is both an honor and a privilege to care for them as they continue aging into their senior years.
Easing Into the Older Years
I have been able to watch Copper as he ages. It hasn’t been sudden or abrupt – it has been gradual changes through the years. It was in the moments of hearing clicking joints, feeling him take longer to warm up, and noticing he doesn’t keep muscle tone over the winter like he used to, that I learned I needed to adjust with him.
Cherokee’s changes were a little bit harder for me to experience. When came back into my care, he needed improvement. I immediately worked on bringing him back to his former shine, which included dental care, complete nutrition and building his fitness. I discovered along the way, that senior health care can be improved dramatically with a few key factors.
All horses need to be able to stretch out, not just seniors. Older horses might be a little slower out of the stall, but to keep them in great health, the need that fresh air and movement! The mantra “use is or lose it” applies here. While I don’t ride intense workouts like I used to, I try to keep Copper and Cherokee in motion daily from turnout in their winter paddock, as well as turnout in a large field for them to run, hand grazing or riding. It’s harder to accomplish in the rainy season – but it truly helps their body and mind.
I help combat the joint discomfort by feeding Spectra’s Mega-Flx to both horses to help with their joints and mobility. Mega-Flx helps reduce inflammation and provides key amino acids, MSM and HA.
Blanketing and Coat Growth
A heated topic among equestrians is often whether or not to blanket. With blanketing, there is no “one size fits all” method. Some older horses grow glorious coats, while others may need the additional help to maintain their weight and not use up their calories trying to stay warm. This year has been a disaster for coat growth – our temperatures have been so unpredictable and unseasonably warm, so neither Copper nor Cherokee grew a heavy coat. While they are in excellent weight, I don’t feel comfortable letting them go out “naked” on really cold, windy or heavy rainfall/snowfall days. They are turned out for twelve hours a day, without a run-in, so they usually need an extra layer of protection.
I use a rain sheet for the chilly days and light rain when I need just a protective shell (usually anything with rain under 45°F). I go for a midweight like the Arctic Breeze when I need some warmth (usually days between 20°-30°F) and a heavyweight turnout blanket for really cold and wet days (under 20°). The forecast always plays an important role each morning, determining if they need a blanket, sheet, or can go au naturale!
One of the most important factors for keeping a senior horse healthy, is their ability to eat and utilize their food. First and foremost, teeth should be checked regularly. While I check their mouths often, I also schedule a dental float with my veterinarian annually to keep them in tip top shape.
I provide 24/7 access to quality hay, but Cherokee has started quidding more frequently (chewing up hay bits then spitting them out) as he loses more teeth. To supply him with the calories he loses from quidding, I have added soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp to his morning and evening rations. Both horses are fed Buckeye Nutrition grain for a complete diet. Copper eats Gro N Win in the Spring/Summer months and transitions to Safe N Easy in the colder months for extra nutritional support. Cherokee has maintained beautifully on EQ8 Senior; he used to have loose stool, but the probiotics along with added beet pulp has balanced him out!
I have recently added dac E Natural to help with muscle support and topline for Cherokee and dac Oil to both of their diets for the Omega 3 benefits. I’m already seeing some filling in Cherokee’s hindquarters – I can’t wait to see more improvement!
It sometimes takes trial and error to find the perfect combination for your senior- but that’s okay! Start with the basics, and go from there. Just remember to be kind and forgiving as they slow down – they deserve the same dignity now as they were given in their youth.
With the arrival of a new year, and a new decade, I’ve wracked my brain over
the final days of 2019 to figure out, “What do I need to do to become a
better me?” especially when it comes to time at the barn.
If you’re anything like me, a busy, working adult trying to keep the career,
bills, riding, sleep – oh, and MAYBE a social life – all in check, you know how
overwhelming and chaotic it can be. Add owning a horse into the mix, let alone
trying to find time to ride in between managing shots, deworming schedules,
farrier bills, massage appointments, Reiki sessions (because Millennial) and
it’s downright exhausting. To be honest, there are days (or weeks) that go by
that I do so much FOR my horse that I don’t actually get to spend time WITH my
So on January 1, I made a list of New Years Resolutions of all the bad
habits I will break…. and within the first week of the new year I broke them.
And I realized, instead of putting myself under all this pressure and stress
(with a side of lingering guilt) why not put my energy into making a list of
the things I WANT to do and a list of things I absolutely DO NOT want in 2020
that keep me from enjoying myself at the barn.
Attend at least 2 clinics – whether an auditor or a participant
Submit my application for the 2020 RRP Project (Retired Racehorse Project)
Get measured and order a pair of custom boots. I’ve been dying to get a pair of custom DeNiro’s for years to replace my current tall boots and would love to do something crazy like a patent leather toe and boot crown!
Ride in the Cleveland Metroparks or on the beach at Lake Erie!
Attend one show every season (winter, spring, summer, fall)
Be a better boarder – if that means being 5 minutes early for my lesson, bringing my farrier a heating pad when he’s stuck putting shoes on in subzero temperatures, and being a positive role model for the younger girls that ride with me.
I think whatever your goals are for the year, whether you’re an active
participant in any discipline or the World’s Best Cheerleader, it’s important
to be mindful of the time you spend. So often, we get stuck in the daily
routine – and while it’s comforting – it can also be limiting. Growth and
positive change never happens by standing still. It doesn’t matter if your
goals are riding once a week or qualify for Washington International Horse Show
or cleaning that moldy bridle that’s been sitting in the corner of your
basement. Just give yourself something to shoot for, write it down, and
GO DO IT!
So relax. Hug your horse. Trust you’re doing the best you can. And remember
to check in with your inner horse crazy child, to remind yourself why you fell
in love with these amazing creatures in the first place.
In the off-season when the snow is flying and the dread of going to the barn to crack water buckets is looming, reading about a favorite topic (wait for it) HORSES, can be a favorite pastime! Once in a “while,” you come across interesting reads about little know horse factoids. Yet finding historical references explaining the extent of the horse’s involvement in civilization’s prominence are not readily found.
From the beginning of the human-horse relationship, historical evidence shows us that owning horses was a privilege reserved only for the upper crust of society. With the Romans, horses were a show of power and strength. Generals rode while the foot soldiers walked. However, without the domestication of the horse ancient civilizations might not have been, and quite possibly our world could look much different. Throughout history, the horse’s usefulness has been at the forefront of what it has become. Harnessing the power of horses probably enabled the building of the great pyramids or the Coliseum. Horses pulled great shovels to dig canals and build infrastructure. Becoming a mode of transportation was one of the most significant historical turning points. No longer would humans walk but could ride and carry their wares to market or to other tribal areas with more speed than other animals. The average 1,000-pound horse can pull a wagon of twice its weight and travel at a top speed of around 35 miles per hour.
The horse has evolved over 50 million years. Originally known as eohippus, horses were no bigger than a dog and were prey animals that walked on three toes. The chestnut of modern-day horses is said to be a remnant of the toes that became a hoof. Something else that is unclear about the horse is the existence of whorls; those cute little hair patterns that look like crop circles on the face and body. No one can explain whorls any more than they can explain cowlicks in humans. Whorls have been studied for centuries resulting in correlations between whorls and temperament. Gypsies believed one whorl on the center of the forehead could mean an easygoing temperament and two whorls high on the forehead meant a more complicated temperament giving way to more modern training methods. Theories about flight responses and predicting the direction a horse will go when startled were recently studied by Colorado State University. After exposure to a spoke stimulus, researchers determined if the hair pattern in a whorl on a horse’s face grows counterclockwise it most likely turned to the left and if the hair grows clockwise, it will go right. Could this also indicate if a horse is right-sided or left-sided? I find this fascinating!
UNSUNG AND UNDER REPRESENTED
The human-horse relationship roles seem a bit reversed today. Have horses become our masters? We carry their water and grain to them when history tells us they carried ours. We willingly groom, clean, care for and pamper them. Well I say they have earned it! They are the unsung and overlooked heroes of our civilization. In every aspect of our world history, from depictions in cave drawings to the pinnacle of competition, the horse has always served man well. Today the status symbol of a horse is not as shiny as it once was, but caring for a horse is truly a rewarding experience. I always know that whatever is troubling can be resolved while grooming a horse. Whether you use horses for pleasure, competition, or as a therapy animal you have to agree they are in fact magnificent creatures!
Written by: Big Dee’s Web Products specialist, Kathy Kilbane
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