Friday, February 28, 2014

Spring Riding Goals

 Winter is almost over and spring is almost here, so I decided to evaluate the three goals I set back in November and create several new ones.

Goal 1: Get better at posting.
 This one is definitely a success. When I started riding back in November, my posting was terrible and unrythmnical, and I was really bouncing around in the saddle. Now, I'm more in rythmn with the gait and I am now longer slammed down into the saddle when I sit. 

Goal 2: Develop riding muscles.
 After several months of riding almost weekly, my legs are getting stronger, a reason why my posting is much better.

Goal 3: Canter by spring
 Success! Over the past few lessons I have done a bit of canter work on the lungeline, and most recently, on a serpentine and during my dressage test

Now that those goals are completed, I'm going to list some more goals, this time for spring. I hope to make small, attainable goals that I will be able to complete over the next few months.

Goal 1: Improve at Intro Test C
 During my last lesson, I learned my first dressage test, Intro Test C, and went through it twice. Now that I know how it's done and have watched several other people do it on YouTube, I can begin to improve at it through lots of practice and study. By summer, I hope to be much better at it.

Goal 2: Improve my equitation at the trot
 My EQ it much better than it was starting out, and even a bit better than it was last month. However, sometimes at the trot my shoulders go forwards, I glance down, or I lean a bit forward. I hope to get better at not doing this.

 A storm has been hitting the area where I live. This past week, it has been cold(down to 48F) and pouring down rain with almost gale force winds reaching up to 10mph(at least that what I read). It's supposed to be a 100% chance(seriously?) of raining tomorrow. Even without the rain, riding weather isn't ideal. My lesson might be cancelled again because we don't have an indoor or covereded arena to use in inclement weather. It sure doesn't feel like spring the way the weather is now. 


In the mid-11th century, William the Conqueror brought large draft horses, called the Great Horse at the time, with him from France to the United Kingdom. During the 1600s, Dutch people came to England to help drain the marsh land. They brought with them Friesians and Flemish horses to help with their work, leaving them behind when the work was done. These horses were later crossed with descendents of the Great Horse, creating what was called the English Black.
Shire credit

 These large, strong horses were initially used as war horses in the Middle Ages, when knights wore heavy armor to battle. When heavy armor was no longer used by soldiers, people began using the horse to pull carts, plough fields, and work in forests throughout the counties of Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, naming the breed Shire in honor of that fact. In London, people used the strong, calm Shire to pull cargo and deliver beer from the breweries to local pubs.

  During the early 1900s, the Shire became popular in the United States, and several thousand were imported. However, after World War II, when the use of horses for work decreased, the number of Shires quickly declined, dropping down to only a scant few thousand in the 1950s. People interested in the breed crossbred it with Clydesdales to save it from extinction, causing the breed to change a bit. Today, the breed is becoming increasingly more popular.

Breed Description and Uses
 Shires, standing up to 19 hands high and weighing about a ton, are one of the world's largest draft breeds. They have big barrels and long legs with thick feathering and are usually found in black, brown, gray, and bay. Despite their large size, they are gentle and kind. Even today, they are often used for pulling carts and working on small farms. A brewery in London still uses them for their traditional use of transporting beer to pubs, as they have for several hundred years.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mine That Bird

 On May 10, 2006, a small bay colt was born in Kentucky out of Mining My Own, with the Birdstone being the sire. As a yearling, Mine That Bird was sold to a Canadian horse trainer, David Cotey, for $9,500 and put into training in Canada. He had a nasty temperament at first, so they gelded him not long after he went into training.

 Mine That Bird began his racing career in Canada, winning four of six races, including the Silver Deputy Stakes, the Swynford Stakes, and the Grey Stakes, with jockey Constant Montpellier riding the gelding for the first two races and Chantal Sutherland aboard for the last four. By the end of his two-year-old season, he had become Cananda's Champion Two-year-old Male Horse of 2008.

 After his successful first racing season, Mine That Bird was sold for $400,000 to a ranch in New Mexico and was put under the trainer Bennie "Chip" Woolley with the jockey Calvin Borel. He arrived just in time for the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but finished last among twelve starters.

 He didn't race again until 2009, during his three-year-old season. The season didn't begin with a any wins, starting with Mine That Bird finishing second in the Borderland Derby on February 28, then fourth in the Sunland Derby on March 29. Despite the losses, Mine That Bird qualified for the Kentucky Derby, which would be his first race that year outside of New Mexico. He arrived at the as an underdog, his odds being 50-1.

Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby.
 The night before the big race, rain poured down, leaving the track muddy and sloppy. Mine That Bird had trouble at the starting gate that race, leaving him eight lengths behind everyone else. By the time the rest of the pack was travelling down the backstretch, it seemed impossible for Mine That Bird to catch up. Calvin Borel urged the gelding onward, travelling along the inside rail to save time and distance. When Mine That Bird caught up with the rest of the pack, he zoomed passed them from the inside, taking the lead near the homestretch. Remarkably, he won by six lengths against horses whose odds were much better than his.

 After his amazing performance in Kentucky, which many people considered a fluke, Mine That Bird entered the Preakness Stakes under the jockey Mike Smith since Calvin would be riding Rachel Alexandra. Mine That Bird again started out slow and came from behind to pass the rest of the pack, but he was unable to catch up with Rachel Alexandra. He finished second behind her by only a length.

 Next, he entered the Belmont Stakes and was once again ridden by Calvin Borel. He came from behind, catching up with Dunkirk and Charitable Man near the end, but ended up third to Summer Bird and Dunkirk.

 He then came third in the West Virginia Derby and ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, ending his career. Afterward, he was nominated as New Mexico's 2009 Horse of the Year.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shetland Pony

 The Shetland Pony, as the named suggests, originates from the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. No one knows exactly how the foundation horses came to Scotland, though some theorize that they are related to Scandinavian horses and were brought to the area by the Vikings. Nevertheless, several hundred years of living in the harsh climate of the area has caused the breed to develop in hardy pony.
Shetland Pony credit

At first, the pony was used to pull carts work farms. However, in the mid-1800s, when laws were passed prohibting children and women from working in mines, men needed someone else to help them haul coal. They resorted to the Shetland, a strong breed for it's small size. Until well into the 20th century, Shetlands were used as pit ponies not only in the UK, but also in America. These mines closed in the late 20th century.

Breed Description and Uses
 Shetlands are small, sturdy ponies standing up to 10 hands high. Two types exist within the breed: a stocky one with a large head and a lighter one with a small head. Both kinds have thick manes and tails, hard hooves, wide backs, and broad hindquarter, and can be found in black, chestnut, bay, and even pinto.

 Despite their small stature, Shetlands have a large weight capacity and are able to carry a third of their body weight. This means they can carry a average adult, though they are most commonly ridden by children due to there small size. Shetlands participate in both English and western classes, as well as gymkhana. Some children even jump with their ponies. Whatever the task, the Shetland seems to have done it. That includes harness and packing as well as riding.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Preparing for Spring

 With March just a few days away, spring is just around the corner. This means warm weather, more riding, and a quickly approaching show season. However, with the all those good things come things horse owners need to look out for, such as flies and other insects, green grass that can be dangerous if consumed too quickly, and other things. It is important to be prepared and ready for the coming spring.

 One way to get ready for spring is by preparing your grooming and first aid kit. Replace old flysprays, shampoo, wound ointment, and tack soap, which may have been ruined if the weather was too cold. You will need all that stuff when spring comes in full swing, and you don't want to rush to get anything when flies are already bothering your horse or when he gets a wound. While you're at it, repair, clean, pack away your horse's blankets for next winter.

 Vaccinations should also be done soon, as well wellness exams. It is important for you to get those done, especially since some diseases are spread by the various types of insects that come out in the spring. Your vet may also set your horse on a deworming schedule to eliminate parasites that come when the weather is warm.
This green pasture may look nice, but you have to watch out for the hazards that can come with it.

 The coming spring also brings pastures of verdant grass. Though it may tempting to let your horse graze on the lush green grass, it is important to monitor his eating. Overeating spring grass, which is usually high in sugar, can cause problems such as laminitis, also known as grass founder. A horse with laminitis will often appear fat with cracked hooves. Preventing it is as simple as accustoming your horse to eating fresh grass, starting with a short peroid of about 15 minutes and gradually increasing it. (see Laminitis 1, 2 for more information)

 The warm weather may make you want to begin riding again as soon as possible, but before continuing work in full swing, you should condition your horse, particularly if you haven't ridden him much this winter. Start with light flatwork and hacking, especially if your horse hasn't been regularly exercised for over three weeks. As your horse regains fitness over weeks of training, slowly increase the difficulty of the workout, adding jumping and cantering when he is ready. The less time your horse had off, the faster you can return to the riding program you had before winter.

 Keep in mind the different ailments that occur in the spring, such as rain rot and other skin ailments, and learn how to prevent and treat them to keep your horse as healthy and safe as possible this season. Being prepared will help you make the most of spring.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stories from off the Track: Aimee and Courage

For my second edition of Stories from off the Track, I will be featuring Aimee and Courage, from SprinklerBandits. If you haven't heard of their blog, go check it out. 

A bit about Courage:
Courage is a 2005 OTTB out of California. My favorite bit of trivia about his early life is that the summer of his two year old year, he was sold for 60k and then 40k, so I call him my $100,000 horse. He ran very consistently as a young horse. He had a year off, which I believe is when he had chips removed from his ankles and knee. He returned to racing sound, and ran through his eight year old year. He won about 40k on the track, so not wildly successful, but no slacker. 
How we met:
We met at the racetrack. He was running out of a friend's barn at our local track. I was caught by his dashing good looks, charming personality, and incredible brain from day one. I started hanging out at the track and he was my buddy. When the owner decided to retire him, the trainer gave him to me. I was blown away by the generosity. I certainly couldn't say no. 

Courage has only been off the track a little over six months at this point. I started him into work immediately because I wanted to put basics on him while the weather was good and he was still used to having a rider. He's had the past couple of months off to reset physically, but he's coming back great! He seems to remember everything we worked on last winter, but he's moving like a whole different horse. My biggest training challenge is just to remember that he's green at what I'm asking him to do and let him take his time. He's a quick study and a joy to be around. 

Future plans: 
I try not to make plans with horses. It never goes well. That said, I think he'll make a superb hunter/jumper. We're working in that direction. My end goal is a hunter derby, but we have a long ways to go to make it there. For now, I'm just enjoying introducing him to life as a sport horse and enjoying the ride. 

A painting I did of Aimee and Courage.
Note: Photographs are from SprinklerBandits

 I am always looking for people to spotlight, so if you own an OTTB and would like for him/her to be spotlighted, email me at I do have a couple people lined up, so yours will not be the next one but I will make sure you get your spotlight done.


 Near the beginning of the 19th century, breeders from the Austro-Hungarian were searching for the perfect calvalry, one that was strong, beautiful, obedient, and had lots of endurance. The famous Arabian horses caught their eye, so they imported a desert stallion named Shagya from Syria. Because they wanted larger, stronger horses, this horse was bred to several breeds of horses, including the Thoroughbred, Lippizzaners from the Siglavy line, and several Asian and Spanish horses. Afterward, the best offspring were bred to other Arabians.
Shagyas are typically grey or white, though chestnut and bay can also be found.

 The result of this cross-breeding was a Arabian-type horse with stronger, more substantial bone, and a calmer temperament. The breed became quite popular throughout Europe. It was not only used as a calvalry mount, but also as a royal parade horse and a carriage horse. After World War II, however, most countries didn't see breeding horses as a priority. Consequently, the number of Shagya-Arabians dropped to the 3,000 they are today. They remain extremely popular in Hungary, though.

 In 1947, a Shagya-Arabian named Bravo was imported to America and bred to create the American line of Shagyas. His sons and daughters are being used for breeding today.

Breed Description and Uses
 The Shagya-Arabian, named for the foundation stallion, stands 15 to 16 hands high and has the same high-set tail as the Arabian. However, it is much more substantial and less refined than pure blooded Arabians, with stronger hindquarters and bigger bone.

 Today, they are used dressage, jumping, eventing, endurance racing, and even as a western mount by some.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

First Dressage Test!

 When I arrived at the barn Saturday, quite a several girls were at the barn with their horses, and both of the crossties, as well as the grooming stall and the tying ring by the tack room, were in use. I grabbed Reno and stood in the aisle only a minute or two until the girl grooming Ginger in the grooming stall was done. Then I quickly groomed and tacked him. He had new half pad from the saddle fitter, which you could put foam squares in the make the saddle fit better. Meghan put that on him while I worked on the bridle.

 Surprisingly, the arena was not in use when I was ready. I began warming up with a few laps at the walk then did some trotting. After that, I entered the dressage part of the arena and began working on basic dressage. I walked a serpentine, the trotted it twice, before Meghan decided I was ready for my first dressage test: Intro Test C. Some explained about the centerline and saluting at X, then began walking me through the test while I rode, directing me where to go and what to do.

 To begin with, I did it without any of the canter parts so I could learn how it went. I trotted down the centerline, saluted, then rode on, turning right at C and circling at B. I made another circle at A, then rode across the diagonal of the arena, turned left, and made a circle at E. I made my another circle by A, then walked along the short diagonal when I reached B. Finally, I trotted back to A and rode down the centerline for the second time. I saluted at G, then was finished with my test.

 After going through it once, I did in again, this time cantering in the appropriate places. By the time I was done, two other horses had entered the arena with their riders. Meghan got on one of the horses to ride him a bit before his owner got on, telling me to begin cooling Reno down. She said I could ride a few minutes longer at the walk if liked. which I did.

 Meghan also told me that next week I might be able to ride Ginger. Now that the saddle fitter has come by, Ginger's saddle is more comfortable, so I can now ride her. Also, I will be watching videos of other people doing Intro Test C so I can learn it better.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lesson Pictures 2/15/14

I love this trotting picture. My back seems much straighter than last time, though there seems to be bit more room for improvement.


Another  circle.

Another canter picture.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Canter Serpentines

 Since the heavy rain last week, the sun has shone for a week straight, quickly drying up both arenas so I could have my lesson. Meghan was feeding the horses their lunch when I arrived, so I helped, then grabbed Reno and hooked him in the crossties. He was dirty, with mud on his face and hooves. To save time, Meghan helped me brush him off, dusting off his face and coronets while I curried and brushed his body. Lots of loose winter hair came out as I curried, meaning that spring must be on its way.

After tacking him, I headed of the main arena, which was finally dry enough to use. Someone was practicing a dressage test in the dressage half of the arena, so I walked Reno to the far side and began warming up with some walk-halt transitions. Then I did walk-trot transitions, walking along the shorter sides and trotting the long sides.

 Once Reno was warmed up enough, I began trotting the whole perimeter of our half of the arena. However, he began to get eager and energetic, as he often does when we begin trotting or canter, and began trotting way too fast. Meghan suggested that I put Reno on a circle every time he canters unexpectedly or trots to quickly, rather than pulling the reins and saying "whoa." I did as Meghan instructed, circling as soon as he began to canter or trot as if he wanted to be in a Standardbred race(not quite that fast, but you get the idea).

 After the other rider left the arena, once Reno was going a bit slower, I rode into the dressage side of the arena to work on some serpentines. Meghan set up two sets of parallel poles, one at each point where to circles met. These poles acted as a guide, marking the places where I need to turn and change my diagonal. I did two serpetines at the trot without stopping, then let Reno rest. Then, Meghan added another exciting element: I would canter the middle circle. I did two serpetines like that, then loosened the reins and rode around the entire arena at the walk.

 Then I walked around the property, on the path that looped around the barn and several large paddocks. Afterward, I untacked and groomed Reno. When picking his hooves, I found a fairly good-sized pebble in his left front, prying it out. Once he was all taken care of, I led him to his little corral, which is connected to a paddock, a let him rest.

 It was a great lesson. So far, we are planning for more lessons every Saturday, but that may change since show season is coming up. We'll have to be a bit flexible.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Selle Français

 The Selle Francais is a French warmblood that was developed in Le Pin, Normandy in the 1800s, at the famous state studs. When breeding the Selle Francais, French horse breeders focused on making different types a various purposes, using the Anglo-Norman, Norfolk Roadster, and Thoroughbred, as well as other French horses.
A Selle Francais is similar to a Thoroughbred.

 The Norfolk Roadster-Thoroughbred cross went on to become the French Trotter, while the Anglo-Norman(Thoroughbred and Norman horses) was used for draft work. This continued until after World War II, when breeders began focusing on creating good riding and sport horses, rather than work horses. Anglo-ArabsIn 1958, these horses were name le Cheval de Selle Francais(French Saddle Horse) by the French government.

Breed Description and Uses
 The Selle Francais is a strong, athletic horse that is often described as a more muscular and substantial Thoroughbred. They have the same strong legs, sloping shoulder, long neck, and prominent withers. Though the breed used to be classified into several types, divided by size and weight, that classification stopped in the 1980s. The breed can range from as small as 15.2 hands high to as tall as 17 hands high. All colors are found, but bay and chestnut remain the most common.

 Lighter Selle Francais horses are used as racehorses in France, while the heavier ones are used for jumper, dressage, and eventing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blue Hors Matine

 I just saw this amazing video of Andreas Helgstrand on the then nine year old mare Blue Hors Matine. Watch it--it's amazing.

Sable Island Horse

 The Sable Island Horse comes from the Sable Island, a sandbar off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Although no one is quite sure how they came to such a remote place, many people believe that French colonists, who colonized the area in the mid 1700s, purchased a small herd horses to use in their farming settlement on the island.

 Between the years 1755 and 1763, thousands of French colonists were forced off of the Sable Island by the British, leaving their horses behind. For the next few decades, the horses remained on the island, thriving without any influence, for good ir bad, by humans. Occasionally, a few would be taken to work in the coal mines on the nearby Cape Breton Island, but other than that they were completely isolated from mankind.
A group of Sable Island Horses. credit

 However, in the early 1800s, draft horses were brought to the area to work at stations helping shipwrecked people. In the 1900s, stock horses were brought to the area and introduced into the feral herds. People began rounding the horses up and sending them to the slaughter. Consequently, the number of purebred Sable Island Horses began to decline, getting as low as 300 by the 21st century. Now, the island is a wildlife reserve, and the horses are protected by the a law as of 1960.

Breed Description and Uses
 Because the Sable Island Horses are the descendents are various breeds of horses, they can be quited diverse. They do have things in common, though. All of them are small, standing from 13 to 15.2 hands high, and seem to be genetically similar to horses on the mainland. Some of them have straight profiles, while others have concave, Arab-like faces. Most come in dark colors.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Checking Your Horse for Lameness

 People who own horses or have been around them long enough know that they can become lame in a variety of ways, sometimes unexpectedly. However, signs of lameness can often subtle, making diagnosing the problem difficult, particularly if you aren't looking for it. By carefully looking for signs of lameness, you can diagnose a problem and treat it before it gets any worse.

 One way of detecting lameness is not very obvious. You can look for nonspecific signs, such as your horse's attitude and appetite. Although looking at these signs will not tell you what is wrong, it will confirm that something is amiss, making you more aware of finding out what the problem is. Take time to carefully observe your horse. Is he more moody, irritable, or agressive than usual? Perhaps he is reluctant to move forward or unwilling to work.  Maybe he is standing off to the side rather than with the herd and is refusing to eat much. All these are signs that pain may be bothering your horse and must be investigated further.

 Once you have determined that something definitely is wrong, you should carefully observe your horse from head to hoof to tail---don't just take a cursory glance. First, observe his legs during turnout or when he is in his stall. Watch to see if he rests on one leg more than another or if his toes are pointed outwards. Next, run your hand over his body and legs. If he flinches, pins his ears, kicks, or pulls his leg away when he touches an area, you know that area is in pain. Also check for swelling, heat(in the legs), and tension.

 Another test for lameness is to watch your horse move in a circle in both directions, first with no tack, then with tack but no rider. Finally, add the rider. Doing this is important because it can tell you if either the tack and/or rider is bothering him. Start with the walk. He should be relaxed, walking smoothly and rythmnically with any sign of pain(pinned ears, hesitation, taking a quick step with one foot to avoid putting weight on it, etc) . Then watch him trot, observing the same things as at the walk.  

Lunge your horse fulling tacked without a rider and observe him for lameness problems.
photo credit
 Next watch him fully tacked, both with and without a rider. Have him walk and trot in both directions on a circle, then watch him from every angle at both walk and trot. When in front of him, check to see whether each leg is raised as high as the other or if he is stumbling. On either side, watch to see if his hind legs land on the foot print of the front ones. If one leg takes to short a stride, it is probably in pain. Observe him from behind to see if his rump rises and falls evenly and his hind legs land without pain.

 Another test is to listen to your horses footfalls when he is on a hard surface. The rhythm of his strides should be even,  and no hoofbeat should be lighter than another. If it is, it is probably in pain. The same goes for if he takes one step more quickly than another.

 A great way to feel if your horse is in pain is to ride him. Try to feel him underneath you at walk, trot, and canter. At the trot, if you feel his diagonals are uneven, the weaker one must be in pain. The smae goes for uneven canter leads. Also reluctance to turn one way may mean soreness or pain on the inside leg.

 Finally, observe your horse's feet. Putting less weight on foot than another, or pointing it, can mean pain. Also lift the hoof and observe it for any signs of pain. Painful hooves are often slightly smaller than other hooves. Also, reluctance to pick it up may either mean pain in the opposite leg or pain that leg.

 When doing routine activities with your horse, such as grooming and picking hooves, pay attention to any sign of pain. Treating it early can prevent it from worsening.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pottok Pony

 The Pottok Pony, an ancient breed, originates in the Basque region of both France and Spain, which extwnds from the Pyrenees Mountain all the way down to the Bay of Biscay. Not much is known about the Pottok Pony, but similar horses have been found in prehistoric cave paintings, proving it may be the descendent of an ancient horse. This horse is thought to be the now extinct Magdalenian horse, though no ne knows for certain.

 Centuries of roaming the mountains has caused the breed to develop into a sturdy, sure-footed horse with hardy hooves, strong legs, and plenty of stamina. They are well adapted to the rough, mountainous terrain.

 In the 17th century, smugglers used Pottok Ponies to carry goods from France to Spain, and vice versa. Several centuries later, in the 19th and 20th, the ponies were used for a more legal means. They had to haul coal in mines throughout France and Italy.

 Up until around 20th century, though, most Pottoks roamed the Pyrenees Mountains without being domesticated. However, cross-breeding and loss of habitat in the 20th century has almost brought the breed to extinction. It was not until 1970, when the Pottok's offical studbook was created, that the Pottok became recognized as a breed by the French administration and people became aware of the breed's plight. At that time, only a couple hundred mares existed.

 People living in the area took steps to save the breed by creating a horse reserve in the Pyrenees Mountains, near the village of Bidarray. All the horses on the reserve would have owners, something that contiues to this day. At the end of January of each year, the Pottoks are gathered and branded, with soom being sold and others remaining in the area.
Pottok Pony credit

Breed Description and Uses
 Pottok Ponies are proportioned like a small horse rather than a pony. They have a sloping croup, prominent withers, a straight back, and a short, upright neck. Their profile is straight, with small ears and large eyes and nostrils.

 Several kinds of Pottok exist: Standard, Piebald, and Double. The Standard is small, standing 11 to 13 hands high, and comes in only solid colors, such as chestnut and bay. The Piebald stands the same height as the Standard, yet comes in a pinto coat. It can either have to colors on its coat(black or chestnut with white) or can have three colors(black, chestnut, and white). Finally, the Double is usually 12.2 to 14.2 hands high and comes in the same coloring as the Standard.

 Regardless of type, Pottoks can be used as either a harness horse or an all-round children's pony able to perform various tasks.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pony of the Americas

 The Pony of the Americas was created by accident when a Shetland bred with and Arabian/Appaloosa cross in the 1950s in Mason City, Iowa. The result was a small horse with Appaloosa spots all over its body and a unique black hand print on his hip. When Shetland breeder and lawyer Les Boomhower noticed the horse, named Black Hand, he bought him, thinking it would make an ideal children's horse able to compete in a variety of disciplines. He called several of his friends, also Shetland breeders, who became interested in Black Hand. Boomhower offered his idea of making Black Hand the foundation stallion of a new breed of pony, and his friends agreed to help.
The POA is like a miniature Quarter Horse with Appaloosa
spots and a slightly concave profile. credit

 In 1954, Boomhower and his friends founded the Pony of the Americas Club(POAC) with the goal of creating a medium-sized pony for older children. The guidelines were strict: the pony had to resemble a small Quarter Horse with a dished Arab face and spots like an Appaloosa. Black Hand fit the criteria and was the first horse to be registered, but was followed by twelve others a year later. Fifteen years later, over 12,500 ponies had been registered with the club, a large number for the breed's short time of existence. Today, there is over 50,000 ponies.

 In the 1960s, the Shetland Pony was eliminated from the breeding program, replaced with large ponies, such as Welsh ones. The height limit, originally 13 hands high, was changed to 14 with the adding of larger ponies.

 In addition to registering ponies and recording pedigrees, the POAC has programs in which youth compete with the ponies. They encourage children to be friends and support each other, even when showing against each other.

Breed Description and Uses
 The Pony of the Americas, though small at an average of 11.2 to 14 hands high, is proportioned like a horse rather than a pony. The breed is muscular with a deep chest, sloping shoulders, a rounded croup, and a sturdy neck. The head is often slightly concave, much like Arabian the POA is a descendent of. The breed can come in a variety of coat patterns, including blanket and leopard. In short, it resembles miniature American Quarter Horse with an Arabian head and spots like that of an Appaloosa.

 The POA is able to compete is a variety of disciplines, including show jumping, dressage, eventing, and endurance riding. They can also be used for ranch work and trail riding.

Friday, February 7, 2014


 After escaping the rain and snow seen in other parts of the country these pasts few weeks, inclement weather has finally hit California. For the past two days, it has been raining nearly non-stop, making the ground that was already soft from last week's rain even more muddy and creating conditions less than ideal for riding. Meghan decided we should rain-check the lesson(literally) and reschedule it for another weekend, because none of use want to be out in the cold rain that is supposed to continue tomorrow. Besides, both arenas and probably muddy, or worse, flooded with large puddles, and there isn't an indoor at Silver Rose Ranch. I'm sure Reno greatly appreciates out decision to reschedule for a drier, sunnier day. Hopefully that day will be next week, before the show season starts. Meghan, my parents, and I need to work something out for show season, since she will be busy taking some of her more exerienced students to shows Saturdays. We'll see what happens. For now I plan on getting a hot chocolate.

Understanding a Horse's Digestive System

 Understanding your horse's digestive system, which is a bit different than our own, is an important step in keeping your horse healthy. Knowing what is going on as food is digested and the specific dietary needs of your horse can help you ensure that he is healthy. The major difference between a horse's digestive system and that of a human's is that horses have hundreds of bacteria, called microbes, in their hindgut(cecum and large colon). These microbes break down(ferment) the plant fiber into a usable energy.

 A horse's digestive proccess is much like ours. It begins with the horse taking bites of food, grinding it into small, digestible pieces and swallowing it. From there, it travels to the stomach, which is quite compared to the rest of their body size, holding only two to four gallons. This is because horses are meant to eat many small meals all day long. Once in the stomach, acid and enzymes further break the food down, and it moves on to the next step: the small intestine(70-feet long). There, sugar, starch, protien, fats, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed before the remaining food travels to the hindgut(cecum and large colon). The cecum(three to four feet long) and large colon(ten to twelve feet long) store fluid to be used during prolonged exercise, while at the same time fermenting the food and providing 30 to 70% of a horse's energy. Finally, whatever is leftover enters the narrow, small colon, where 90% of the fluid is absorbed, and exits through the rectum.
Digestive system credit

 Now that you know how everything works, you can better understand some of the problems that occur in the digestive tract.

Stomach Ulcers
 Stomach ulcers are becoming increasingly more common among domesticated horses. This is due to the fact that domesticated horses are fed only several times a day, rather than being allowed to eat all day long as they do in the wild. Since a horse's stomach continuously produces stomach acid, whether he is eating or not, long periods of not eating can cause the acid to burn the stomach, creating an ulcer. Too much grain, intenste exercise, stress, and illness can also cause stomach ulcers. Symptoms can be a rough coat, poor performance, grinding of the teeth, and possibly colic-like symptoms. The only way to know how severe an ulcer is, or if your horse even has one, is by your veterinarian performing an endoscopy.

 Prevention is the best cure, and can be done by feeding your horse several small, more frequent meals rather than two or three bigs ones, or allowing him to graze all day if possible. Reducing grain may also help. Essential oils, too, can assist with the prevention of stomach ulcers, according to Lisa Carter from Heavenly Gaits Equine Massage. She recommends three to five drops of copaiba oil between the lip and gum, taken two to three times a day.

 There are several types of colic: impaction, gas, and intestinal twists. The first is caused by solid food becoming lodged inside of the digestive tract, and can be prevented by providing plenty of fresh, clean water for your horse to drink. Gas colic, as the name suggests, is when a horse becomes bloated and gassy. It can be caused by too much starchy grains or by a sudden change of diet and is not as serious as other kinds of colic. Torsion colic, or an intestional twist, is the worst, but also the most rare, kind. Only surgery can fix it. Since it usually isn't readily apparent what type of colic has occured, call you veternarian as soon as you notice any symptons.

 Laminitis can also be very serious. It is an inflammation in the hooves and can be caused by a horse eating food high in non-structural carbohydrates(sugar, starch, etc.). Limiting concentrate feed(grain) to 1/2% of your horses body weight or less per meal can help prevent laminitis.

 Understanding your horse's digestive system is a huge step in creating a healthy, happy horse.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Stories from off the Track: Sarah and Bohemian

 I decided to start a series on my blog, called Stories from off the Track, where I will spotlight bloggers with OTTBs. If you would like to be featured, you can submit your story by emailing me at

 Without further ado, I bring you Sarah and Bohemian, from Eventing in Color. If you don't know her, go check out her blog.
Photo by Sharon Weaver.

Their Story

 My horse's Jockey Club name is Bohemian Spirit. I kept the name Bohemian because it suits his personality. He is 9 years old this year. He was not a very talented racehorse, never "breaking his maiden" (winning a race). But he was smart and handsome, so HBO bought him and used him for filming the HBO TV series "Luck" with Dustin Hoffman. The show was cancelled after just one season and all the horses were adopted out.

 I got Hemie through Thoroughbred Rehab Training Center, Inc which is just a few minutes from Santa Anita Racetrack. My trainer and the rehab center's manager picked Hemie out for me based on my experience and goals - I did not try out a selection of horses as most people normally do. I met him in a box stall with my trainer and close friend. I did not test ride him or even trot him out - I just signed the paperwork and my trainer led him onto the trailer!

 We quickly became close friends and have a very special bond, but we certainly have had some challenges.

 Our first challenge was that Hemie had a problem with the idea of going forward. I thought this was quite ironic for an ex-racehorse. Especially early on in our training, he would get stuck in place and get more up-and-down rather than move out. Sometimes he would wiggle sideways or swing his hips or shoulders instead of just move forward. Luckily my trainer is very experienced with OTTBs and we've been able to address it through consistent, positive training. 

 Our second challenge was Hemie's inexperience as a personal pleasure mount. As a racehorse, and later as TV horse, he had a specific job to do. That job did not include looking out for the well-being of his rider. That job did not include easy-going relaxing rides, nor bareback work, et cetera. That was a fun challenge to fix - it took time but now Hemie knows how to just be a fun pleasure horse in addition to working on our "job" of eventing. Interestingly his spook has changed. He used to have huge spooks where he'd leap out sideways or bolt, but working bareback had taught him to look out for his rider and her balance, and now he has a much more subtle spook (even when under saddle).
A painting I made of Sarah and Bohemian.

 Right now we are starting our 2nd show season together. We are moving up from "Intro" to the "Beginner Novice" division in eventing. We both enjoy eventing so we plan to continue on in that discipline, potentially moving up levels as we gain skills and experience. I don't have particularly competitive goals - I just want us to do the best that we can.

Peruvian Paso

 Just like many of the other breeds originating in either North of South America, the Peruvian Paso is descended from horses brought over by Spanish conquistadors. Those brought over to Peru were likely Spanish Jennets, Andalusians, and Barbs, who each contributed something to make this breed unique. For centuries since, people have selectively bred the Spanish horses, choosing horses with the desired conformation, strength, and gaits. With no outside influence, the breed didn't change much and only became more refined.
Peruvian Pasos demonstrating the paso llano. credit

 For centuries, the horses were primarly was used for transportation across Peru and breeding. However, all that changed with the turn of the 20th century, which brought large highways and lots of cars. Horses were given away to peasants because they were no longer needed by those who could afford cars. The breed would have completely died out, had it not been for the growing interest of those in the United States and Central America. Since then, the number of Peruvian Pasos has increased up to 25,000, and has regained it's popularity in Peru as it's National Horse.

Breed Description and Uses
 Peruvian Pasos are a muscular breed, standing from 14.1 to 15.2 hands high. They have a straight profile, an arched neck, a deep chest, and a thick mane and tail. They come in all solid colors. Much like the Paso Fino, the Peruvian Paso is a gaited breed with several unique, four-beat gaits. The slowest, called the paso llano, is a four-beat, lateral gait. The sobreandando is even more faster and lateral. The termino is a high-stepping gait that involves the horse swinging his hooves outward.

 Today, the Peruvian Paso is mostly used for trail riding, other types of pleasure riding, and ranch work, though it can also be found as a parade horse or and endurance horse. Peruvian Pasos are spirited yet willing to please his rider or handler.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lesson 2-1-14 Pictures

I have lots of nice pictures from Saturday's lesson.

One of the most harmonious moment of the ride.

I love this picture. My heels are done,  Reno's neck is arched,  and the picture was taken a the perfect moment. 


 The development of the Percheron breed began when Moors invaded the Perche region in Normandy in AD 732, bringing with them Barb horses. These horses were left behind after the Moors were defeated and were put to great use in creating the famous Percheron. They were crossed with huge Flemish horses, creating a large, muscular breed.

 Originally, the Percheron was used as a war as a war horse, bringing many soldiers into battle, but as time went, such horses were no longer needed, so the role of the Percheron changed to that of a carriage. The Percheron was well-fitted for the job for several reasons. It was(and still is) elegant, strong, and able to trot all day.
Percheron credit

 When the train was invented, providing a faster means of travel, the Percheron was once again out of a job. It didn't last long, though. People wanted fast horses to replace the oxen in agricultural uses, and others needed a strong, sturdy animal to haul heavy loads from the dock to the railroad, to be loaded onto trains. The Percheron fitted the job description.

 Americans, too needed heavy draft horses, so a few Percherons were imported in 1839 and 1851, followed by a large number in the 1870s and 1880s. The Percheron increased in popularity, though World War I and the use of cars and trucks threatened the survival of the breed. By 1954, only 85 remained. Several people, however, were dedicated to breed, persevering until that number grew to over 2,000.

 Today, Percherons have a much different purpose: sport. People cross them with various athletic breeds, including Thoroughbreds, warmbloods, and Spanish breeds, creating a large and strong, yet athletic horse that can be used in dressage, jumping, and eventing.

Breed Description and Uses
 Though large and strong, standing 16.2 to 17.2 hand high, Percherons are more energetic than your typical draft breed. Their legs have no feathering, also uncommon among draft breeds, and they are born black, graying as they mature.

 Many people use the Percheron for driving competitions, hay rides, and even dressage.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Orlov Trotter

In the late 18th century, Count Aleksey Orlov, a professional horse breeder, wanted to create a fast horse able to pull the troika, a type of Russian sled pulled by three horses abreast. He began by breeding a gray Arabian stallion named Smetanka to a Danish mare named Isabelline, producing Polkan, who was bred to a Dutch mare. His offspring, Bars I, began the first Orlov Trotter and the foundation for the breed.

 During the 19th century, it was considered to be the best harness-racing horse, not just in Russia, but throughout Europe, though it was used only by Russian nobility. However, before long Europeans found out about the Standardbred, an even faster trotting horse, so the Orlov Trotter was crossed with the faster breed. The result was the Russian Trotter, a faster, yet less beautiful breed.
Orlov Trotter

 With the creation of the Russian Trotter came devestating problems for the Orlov Trotter. Cross-breeding became so popular that the breed dwindled until it came near extinction. Only after 1920 did people begin raising pureblooded Orlovs again. When that happened, they bacame almost as popular as they once were. However, this didn't last long. During World War II, the breed once again diminished.

 The Orlov Trotter first came to America in 1959, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave several to Ezra Taft Benson, the America secretary of agriculture. Americans loved the breed, but it was still rare, and in 1997, the International Committee for the Protection of the Orlov Trotter was created.
Alexandra Korelova and Balagur credit

Breed Description and Uses
 Orlov Trotters are a large breed, growing a average of 15.2 to 17 hands high, and are strong and muscular. They have long legs, prominent withers, broad croups, arched necks, and large, beautiful heads, complete with the expressive eyes of the Arabian. Also like the Arabian, Orlovs are usually born dark, yet grey out as they mature, though some exceptions, such such as bay and chestnut ones, have occured.

 Orlovs are fast horses with the stamina of the Arabian, performing well not only in driving, as it was bred for, but also in dressage. As a matter of fact, a famous Grand Prix dressage horse named Balagur, who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games, is an Orlov Trotter.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lesson 2-1-14

 Saturday, after three weeks of not riding due to both Meghan and I having busy schedules, I finally was able to get in the saddle again. The arena I usually ride in near the front gate was flooded after the heavy rain we had Thursday, so I would have to use the higher one often used in times like that. Reno had moved from his usual paddock to one of the small outdoor stalls nearby. It turns out, the living arrangements had been switched about a bit.

 While grooming Reno, I noticed two things: he was beginning to shed, and his mane, once very long, had been pulled until only a few inches was remaining. After grooming and tacking him, I led him to the large steps I had used to help me mount before my first few lessons since the second arena only had a vetry short mounting block. Then, I rode him up a slight incline to second arena. Meghan warned me that this arena is often windy, so even Reno, a usually calm and steady horse, could be a bit frisky. Then I entered the arena.

 Several other horses, a large bay and a pony, I think, were also working in the same arena. Meghan instructed me to ride in a circle around to poles, set side by side, and warm up with some walk-halt transitions. After warming up with several loops around the circle, I began to trot. Meghan said that she was impressed at how well I was doing after nearly a month off, which made me beam.

 This time, I worked a lot at getting a feel for the horse. When I felt he was resisting, I would apply more rein and leg, when he was moving at a pace I was comfortable with, as well as circling in the direction I wanted without any resistance, I would release the pressure, rewarding him. As always, I worked on making sure my equitation was correct. A few times I would look down or make another mistake, and would tilt a bit forwards. If Reno lowered his head, a bad habit of his, I would nearly fall over onto his neck. Well, at least he doesn't buck like Ginger sometimes does. I probably would have fallen off if that happened.

 Anyways, after trotting a circle to the left for a couple minutes, I slowed the the walk and changed directions. I walked around the circle several times, giving both Reno and I a break, then picked up the trot again. I worked on this for the bulk of the lesson, changing directions several times, then Meghan said she would put me on the lungeline so I could canter a bit. I would still control whether he walked, trotted, or cantered, but Meghan would use the lungeline so she could steer him.

 I brought him to the corner, giving us two walls to use, then Meghan hooked the lungeline to his bridle and I began to trot. After going around the circle several times, I did a few strides of canter. Meghan removed the lungeline and hooked it on the other side of the bridle so I could change directions, then I circled and trotted and cantered some more.

 Afterwards, Meghan removed the lungeline and I began the cool down on the same circle I had started on. We wanted to make sure Reno wasn't energetic and ready to canter so he didn't think that after he cantered, he would be done with his workout. His trot was more bouncy and energetic than usual, and he threw in a canter stride here and there, but by decreasing the size of the circle, I finally calmed him down. Then I rode around the entire arena once to cool him down completely, dismounted, and led him back to the barn. I gave him lots of pats because he was good boy a returned him to his new paddock after untacking him and grooming him.

 It was a great and fun lesson. I'll have another lesson next week, but after that I'm not sure, because show season is just beginning, meaning a hectic schedule for Meghan. Hopefully we'll be able to work things out.

 Also, check out this neat giveaway.