Sunday, December 29, 2013

Runnin' in Circles

 Saturday's lesson brought a lot of learning. When I arrived at the barn, I went to fetch Reno, who was lying on his stomach at the back of his paddock, napping. I had to nudge him to make him get up. Then I brought him to the grooming stall to clean him and tack him up. Like last time, I used the dressage saddle.

 I warmed up by riding Reno around the arena at the walk, doing several walk-halt transitions at places I designated myself, rather than places Meghan told my to halt at. Then, I changed directions and gradually worked up to trotting. As usual, I started by doing corners, then short ends, and then long ends. Once I finished doing that, Meghan introduced something new to me: circles. She described how the typical dressage court consists of three adjacent 20 meter circles, each marked by several letters and lines.

 I practiced the circle with the points at C, H, between S and R, and M at the walk, then did it at the trot several times. Next, I did the S-R, E, L, and B circle at the walk and then the trot. Once I had done those several times, Meghan asked me if I knew how to do a figure eight. I guessed how to do it, and then Meghan had me execute it. After that, I moved on to doing the final circle in the court at the walk and then the trot. I did the figure eight involving it and then learned how to a serpentine. I did that once, at the trot.

 Meghan explained to me the importance of learning circles, telling me it is useful to learn how early on in case I will need to use them with another instructor or when showing.

 After finishing the serpentine, I dropped my stirrups and rode around the dressage half of the arena(As I have said before, the arena is cut in half lengthwise using poles, with one half marked with dressage letters) at the walk. Once I did that, I exited the arena, turning left toward where the trailers are parked when people bring their horses to the ranch. In this area is a steep ditch. Meghan had me practice riding hills on that ditch before riding around the barn and the adjacent pasture to to cool down like I usually do. This time, I rode in the opposite way I usually do.

 Overall, it was an awesome lesson with a lot of learning. I really enjoyed myself and can't wait to find out what I'll learn next time.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

More Posting Work

 When I arrived at the barn today, I met Annica and her bay mare, Roxy, We talked a bit, then I went to fetch Reno from his paddock, leading him to a stall that is used from grooming. I brushed him and picked his hooves, which surprisingly were not caked in mud from his water trough. Once I was ready to saddle him, Meghan brought out a dressage saddle rather than the jumping saddle I used in my other lessons. She said the dressage saddle could help me with my posting. I put it on, tightened the girth, and led Reno to the mounting block in the arena.

 Before mounting, I checked his girth. Then I mounted and rode around the arena at the walk to warm Reno up. I did some walk-halt transitions, too. After that, I began working on trotting, starting by trotting corners, then short sides, and finally part of each long side. Meghan made sure I focused on posting in rythmn with Reno, making sure I rose out of the saddle rather than being bumped around. I can really the difference. By the end of the lesson, my posting had improved a lot.

 At the end of the lesson, Meghan told me that I am almost ready to begin riding Ginger regularly now. I will do another lesson on Reno next week, and after that lesson Meghan says I will begin riding Ginger every lesson. Once that happens, I can begin cantering. Yay!

 Before returning Reno to his paddock, I untacked him, brushed him and picked his hooves. I also brushed his tail.

 I really enjoyed my lesson and had a good time. Reno was such a good boy, too, and not energetic like last time.

Friday, December 20, 2013


 Flyinge is a large, well-known equestrian center in Lund, Sweden. They have magnificent warmbloods, many of which can jump up to five feet fences. They have some awesome horses there. Throughout the year, they host clinics and seminars on various disciplines at different levels, and professionals can come and share their knowledge.

 I also noticed that they have a high school program. You can do your regular classes there, and ride at certain times during school hours. Better yet, professional riders come there to train you for elite competitions, so if the A circuit is your goal, you can go there. If you have a horse, you can bring him, but you can also use their school horses, which are fancy warmbloods.

 If you want to be a veterinarian, you can take their science and hippology course. The courses are horse-related, and you learn both science and horse management. Who doesn't want a horse-related class?  When you graduate, you recieve a certificate that you can care for horses.

 It sounds like a great program. Too bad there is not anything like that in America.

Day 7: Your favorite ribbon won at a show and why.
 I have shown so I don''t have any ribbons, but I hope to someday.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Horse Health Myth Busters

 Over the years, many ideas have appeared regarding horse health. Recent technology has studied these ideas, disproving some, while verifying others. As horse people, we are responsible for seperating the truth from the myths.

 One idea states that horses cannot vomit. This, in fact, is true. When a horse swallows food, it passes from the esophagus into the stomach. The lower part of the esophagus, called a sphincter, is much stronger than that in humans. The ring-like muscle prevents food or liquid from coming out of the stomach. As a result, a horse is incapable of vomiting.

It is commonly thought that white hooves
are weaker than their dark counterparts.
 However, their inability to regurgitate can cause colic. Because a horse cannot vomit, if food, liquid, or gas gets jammed in their gastrointestinal tract, they experience pain in their digestive system and in serious cases require surgery.

 You have probably heard that white hooves are weaker than dark hooves, which we now know is simply a misconception. Radiographs(X-rays) have proven that other than color, there is nothing physically or structurally different from a white hoof than a black one.

 People also say that horses cannot breathe through their mouths, another fact. This is because the soft palate on the roof of the horse's mouth, which seperates the nasal cavity from the oral cavity, extends all the way to the back of the throat. Therefore, no air can reach their lungs from their mouths.

 When a horse breaks or fractures a leg, many people treat it as a death sentence, saying they should euthanize the horse. In some cases, there is an alternative, but it takes a lot of work. A horse with a broken or fractured leg must be kept from laying down for extended periods, which can cause nerve and lung damage from his own heavy weight. This is often done using a large sling. Also, his leg must be splinted.
A broken leg must be care for like this.
 You must take into account where the fracture is, too. One below the knee proves relatively easy to perform surgery on and put in a splint, while the chances of repairing one higher up on the leg proves dim. Even if a horse does successfully heal, other complictations may occur. Putting too much weight on his good legs can cause joint problems. Also take into account the age of the horse. The future of foals with broken legs is actually brighter than that of adults due to their light weight.

 A final myth is that horses can only sleep standing. While they do sleep standing most of the time, this is only for lighter sleep. To get a deep sleep, they lie down, though this is only done for up to an hour at a time. In order for you to understand why, you must remember that horses are prey animals. Standing allows them to start running more quickly should a predator come.

 Knowing the truth when it comes to your horse's health leads to his well being. Do not trust that old stories that have been around for over a hundred years are valid.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lots of Pictures

 I have lots of pictures from Saturday's lesson, and even have some pictures of the ranch and barn, which I'll publish in a later post.
In this picture, I am riding down one of the short ends of the arena.

In this picture, I am finishing up a lap at the trot.
It was around this part of the lesson that Reno began to canter.

 Day 5: Your First Fall
  I haven't fallen off a horse yet, which is good. Just like it happened to everyone else, there will be a time that I will fall, so I'll tell you about that. For now, my horse riding lessons have been injury and fall free.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fast Reno

 Today for my lesson, I rode Reno again. Although I didn't ride in the round pen, I did a whole lot of trotting and rode without having Meghan help to guide Reno. I started by warming up with two laps at the walk. Then, I began trotting. At first, I only trotted around the corners, walking the rest of the way. I gradually worked up to trotting even longer distances. After doing a few laps with just trotting around the corners, I began trotting along the short sides of the arena, then walking again until I reached the other side. Meghan made sure I kept Reno, who often strayed to the inside of the arena, along the rail.

 Reno also showed me a side I have not seen before. Usually, he prefers to keep at a walk and has be encouraged a little to stay trotting. This time, however, he was eager to trot, and often began trotting at random times when I was supposed to be walking. He even added several canter strides randomly throughout the lesson, catching me off guard. The saying that says something along the lines of "Every ride you ride a different horse," really is true. Depending on the time of day and the mood the horse is, your ride can very different.

 Anyways, by the end of the lesson, I had worked up to trotting a consecutive lap all the way around the arena---twice!  I am really excited about that and feel pretty accomplished. Hopefully I can trot just as much next week, too.

 Meghan had pointed out several things I need to think more about next time I trot. She had to remind me to keep my shoulders back throughout the lesson, as well as to not lean forward too much, which makes Reno want to go faster. I'll have to keep this in mind and write it in my journal.

 I have some pictures of Silver Rose Ranch, the 60 acre ranch where I take lessons. I have only been to the front part, where the barn, arena, hay storage, round pen, and several pastures, covered outdoor stalls, and paddocks are. I think further along the trail I ride on to cool down is a house. I'll post some pcitures and give you a tour in another post.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Some are Jumpers; Others are Painters

 Metro Meteor is the popular OTTB who paints. Before retiring from racing due osteoarthritis in his knees, he won eight races and earned $300,000. Upon his retirement, Ron and Wendy Krajewski, who owned shares of horses racing for Renpher Stables, decided to adopt him.
Metro Meteor

 For nearly a year, they rehabilited him and did intensive vet care to aid the recovery of his knees. After nine months, they could ride him, but he could only be worked lightly, so they went on trail ride with him. Fast forward two years, and Metro was having knee problems again. This time, excess bone was growing on his knees. Eventually, his knees could lock up and he would have to be euthanized.

 Despite the pain and stiffening in his knees, Metro kept good spirits. He is a really strong-willed horse, much like other Thoroughbreds.

 One day, Ron noticed that Metro loved to bob his head. He would do it in the stall and any other time he was standing still. An idea struck him. What if he could teach Metro how to paint? Since Metro already bobbed his head as if he was painting, all Ron had to do was teach Metro how to hold a paintbrush. Ron did so, then took Metro in front of a blank canvas, giving him a bursh with paint on it. Metro bobbed his heads, creating a beautiful abstract art. 
Painting a beautiful picture

 The owner of metro's boarding stable set aside Stall 6 for Metro to use as a studio. When a TV crew comes to film, Metro paints either outside or in the indoor arena.

 Therapy using injections that slow the bone growth in Metro's knees have made it capable for him to be lightly ridden. Metro continues to sell his paintings to cover his treatment cost and help other ex-racehorses get a second chance. Metro even has his own website,, as well as a facebook page.

 Also, check out this youtube video of him painting. This horse is awesome!

 *All pictures are courtesy of Metro's website.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Checking Your Horse's Vital Signs

 One of the most important ways to check your horse's health is to observe his vital signs. These include pulse, respiration, temperature, and capillary refill time, the latter being how long it takes for color to return to the gums when you put pressure on them.

 The normal temperature of a resting horse should be around 99 to 101 F(37.2 to 38.3 C). His heart should beat 36 to 40 times a minute, he should take 8 to 16 breathes a minute, and his capillary refill time should two or less seconds. Also, in a healthy horse, the gut should make a wide range of sound.

 It is important to take your horse's temperature when he is resting, since horses get hotter when they exercise. Start by taking a thermometer, tying a long string securely to it, and insert it rectally, being careful not o get kicked. Wait a few minutes for the thermometer to get an accurate reading. Mercury ones take as long as three minutes, while digital ones can work as quickly as one minute. If you are uncertain, waiting a little longer never hurts. Just remember to keep a tight grip on the string. In a healthy horse, the temperature should read around 99 F, though you should not be concerned if it is a little bit lower. If it is higher however, the horse may be running a fever so you should call the vet. When you are done, make sure to clean the thermometer thoroughly.
You can check your horse's pulse using the artery on the leg.

 A healthy, resting horse's pulse should be around 36 to 40 beats per minute. When taking the pulse, you may want to set a timer so you accurately measure it. Start by finding the main artery in the cheek and press inward and upward at the same time. If you don't feel the pulse there, try the artery on the inside of the leg, just under the knee.
Another way to check the pulse is by using the artery in the cheek.

 To check a horse's respiration, stand next to his shoulder and watch his flank and stifle joint carefully. Every time they go in and out, count the breath. An average respiration is 8 to 16 breaths per minute, though it can vary depending on the size of the horse. ALso, make sure to check whether his breathing is labored or shallow. If so, call the vet.

 You can check you horse's hydration by two ways: capillary refill time and a pinch test. The first is more reliable and involves pressing the horse's gum and checking to see how log it takes for the color to return. it should take only two seconds. Three or more should be a cause for concern and the vet should be called. While doing the test, check the color of the gum too. It should be bright pink, not pale yellow, dark red, or blue.

 Another test you can do is pinching the skin above your horse's shoulder and seeing how long it takes for the pinched skin to flatten, which should happen right away. This test been disproved, though.

 A final way to check your horse's health is gut sounds by putting your ear to his stomach. There should be a wide range of sounds. Silence usually means colic.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kiger Mustang

During the 1500s, the Spanish explored the New World, bringing large groups of horses with them. Many of these horses escaped, forming large herds throughout the western United States. Because so many different breeds escaped, the appearance of horses in different areas can vary slightly. Some herds, called Colonial Spanish Horses, resemble the horses the Spanish brought over, while others, known as Mustangs, are hardier.

 In the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, herds of dun horses with black manes and tails roam. A herd of these horses were found in the '70s by E. Ron Harding, who was gathering Mustangs at Kiger Gorge in the Steen Mountains. Since this herd seemed special and was thought to be of Spanish descent, the Bureau of Land Management decided to relocate the herd to southeastern Oregon rather putting them for adoption. The separated the herd into two groups, with twenty going to an area near Diamond, Oregon, and seven going to Riddle Mountain Herd Management Area.
Kiger Mustang

 Every few years, the herds in these areas are rounded up and inspected. Those with desired qualities are returned to the wild. The rest are auctioned off.

 Today, some domesticated Kigers are bred as trail and endurance horses. Since they are now domesticated and not considered Mustangs, they are called Kiger Horses instead. They can be registered under the Kiger Horse Association and Registry.

Breed Description and Uses
 Kiger Mustangs, named for the area in which they were found, are small horses, standing only 13.2 to 15.2 hands high on average. They are compact with slanted shoulders and strong hooves. Traveling the foothills of large mountains has made then very sure-footed, thus making them excellent trail horses. They have a small, refined head with hooked ears.

 All Kigers are some shade of dun, whether that be grulla, red dun, buckskin, or any other variation.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five Day Challenge, Day 5

21. Favorite classes to watch
 I love watching jumper classes of all kinds. It's exciting to see the horses soar over a jump, then turn tightly and take off several strides away from the previous jump. Basically, I love all jumper classes. Jumpers amaze me.

I don't know who this is, but this picture is awesome.
22. What's in your cooler at horse shows?
 I don't show yet, but I would probably bring lots of water and, if I am staying there all day, some healthy snacks, such as fruit and sandwiches with lunch meat. Of course, I would bring treats for the horse to eat when we are done.

23. One thing about showing(or riding in general) you wish you could change?
 I would want there to be more English riding shows in my area. Mostly, I hear of rodeos going on nearby, but I have only heard of a few shows with English classes that are nearby us. Maybe if I look around more I'll find one I can go to when I have my own horse and start showing.

24. Your ringside crew
 I don't show yet, but every time I do a lesson my parents are always there, watching. They are very supportive of my riding and I'm sure they'll do the same once I go start showing.

25. Best prizes
 I love any type of prize, no matter what it is. Ribbons are nice, especially if they are blue, but to me the best prize is the fact that I gave it my all and did well.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Common Equine Winter Ailments

 Winter, for some, means bitter cold and snow, while for others it means lots of rain and mud. Nevertheless, no matter where you live, you still must watch out for similar ailments in your horse.

Mud Fever
 Mud fever is an infection caused by Dermatophilus congolensis. As the name suggests, it only occurs during moist conditions, such as when a horse stays muddy too long. It causes painful, inflamed sores full of bacteria to erupt on the horse's legs. These scabs carry bacteria and must be gently removed.

 According to Melissa Shelton, DVM, mixing 10-20 drops of lavender essential oil with 4 ounces distilled water into a spritz bottle, then spraying several times a day on the affected area, often relieves the condition. Oils like Roman chamomile and geranium also work well.

 You can even apply the Animal Scents Ointment to the wounds. Just be careful not to hurt your horse while applying it.

 Dr. Shelton also recommends using oregano or Thieves essential oil blend orally for bacterial infections by placing a drop on the horse's lower lip. Be warned, though, that those oils are strong and should only be used in more severe conditions. Even then, you should probably dilute it by mixing it into a moist feed.

 The affected horse should be keep inside a stable if possible while his wounds heal.

Click to enlarge.

Rain Scald
 Rain scald is similar to mud fever and is caused by the same bacteria. It mostly occurs on the back of a horse that has been body clipped and is lacking his winter coat. Again, the spray I mentioned earlier is recommended.

 Colic can be caused by multiple different factors, such as the horse eating quickly. If horse horse colics, you should call your vet. Check out my post about colic for more information.

 In the winter, with the ground likely being frozen or muddy, lameness often occurs. Be careful when you ride and make sure you thoroughly pick out snow and ice when you are done.

 Be on the look out for thrush, a hoof ailment that causes the frog to secrete a black, oily substance. thrush is caused by the horse standing on wet, muddy ground for extended periods of time.

 As with anything, prevention is best. Check your horse regularly to make sure he is dry and warm.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Five Day Challenge, Day 4

 Again, I'll change it a little, but that's okay.

16. One thing you would like to change your horse.
 The fact that I don't have one. :)

17. Your future with horses.
 I have a lot of plans about my future with horses. First on my list is to save up to buy a horse of my own. Although I would prefer an OTTB or a Fjord, any breed that is capable of doing show jumping with me is fine. I plan on teaching the horse to jump and going to lots of shows. Once out of college, I'll  buy several acres of land suitable for having horses and start getting racehorses off the track that I can rehabilitate, train, and set up for adoption. While doing this, I want to continue showing with my own horse, hopefully making it to A Circuit shows. Someday, I want to go the Olympics or the WEG. Even if I don't place, I'll be happy just to be there.

18. Worst show ever.
 I don't show, so I haven't had any worst experiences.

19. Favorite horse show venue.
 I've only actually been to one venue, the Fresno Horse Park, so I have nothing to compare it to. Out of the different ones I have heard about or seen on TV, I like the one in Washington, where the WIHS is held.

20. Show day routine.
 Again, I don't show but I'll make one up. I would arrive at the show grounds early so my horse can get used to his surrounds while I get ready to show. Two classes before mine, I would start grooming my horse and tacking him. Then, once the class before mine is almost done, I would begin warming.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Five Day Challenge, Day 3

 Okay, so since I don't have a horse I'll have to change these questions a little.

11. Find a horse you want to buy and critic it's conformation.
This is Witt's Midway, a Thoroughbred I wanted to buy. First, he has slanted pasterns.  His fetlocks are nice and his cannons are long and straight. The hock and knee are clean, and his upper front legs are straight, while his gaskins are slightly slanted. His shoulder, too, has a bit of a slant to it. His back is straight, as well as his croup. the neck seems a little bit short. 
12. A riding exercise you love
 I really love trotting, which I am working on right now.

13. Grooming routine
 I start by currying the horse to loosen all the dirt. Then, I use the stiff brush to flick it all off. I usually  stop to several times to get the dirt out of the brush before continuing. Next, I pick out hooves, starting with the left front and working my way to the left hind, then the right hind, and then the right front.

14. Three best things about riding
 My favorite thing about riding is horses, because that's the reason I started riding in the first place. I also like the people I meet and doing something I love.

15. Favorite picture of your riding.
I really love this picture of Ginger, a lesson horse, and I.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ginger Pictures

Here are some of the best photos from Saturday's lesson.

This a picture of Ginger while I am grooming her.
She has such a cute face!
I rode Ginger around the arena at the walk to warm up.

Trot, trot, trot.

Five Day Challenge, Day 2

6. Favorite equestrian book and movie
 I read a lot of books, particularly horse books, so narrowing it down to just one is kind of hard. however, I do really like Beyond the Homestretch, by Lynn Reardon. It's an awesome book that you guys should read some time.

 For movies, my favorite is Secretariat. I enjoyed the movie, which follows Penny Chenery and Secretariat up to the point where Big Red won the Belmont Stakes by a whopping 31 lengths.

 I also like Buck, though it is really a documentary, not a movie.

7. Most common riding misconceptions
 I think this one is supposed to be about what other people think about riding. In that case, a common misconception I hear is, "Riding is easy. The horse does all the work." That kind of annoys me because, as equestrians know, the horse does not do all the work. An equestrian is an athlete.

8. Two riding strengths and one weakness
1. I am learning pretty quickly.
2. I sit up straight in the saddle.

1. Sometimes I don't keep my head up and look where the horse and I are going.

9. Least favorite thing about horses and/or riding
 The cost is what I don't like. Not only does buying one often cost a lot, but when you include, feeding, boarding, and training, the price goes up even more.

10. What do you feed your horse?
 I don't own a horse yet, but before I get one I'll do my research on what to feed a that particular horse.