Saturday, February 28, 2009

Idiot or Super Trainer?

So, crazy person, horse wisperer, or genius?? You decide.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why I Love Cutting

There it is, my fanciest show saddle. Fancy because of the rawhide cantle and metal lacing. How can you not love a sport that doesn't require silver reflecting off your cantle enlarging your butt and screaming look at me?? Who wants to polish all that? Not me. Furthermore, I will never understand why its a good idea work in one saddle and show in another. Its hard, they feel different, ride different, and how in the world do you ever break in your sparkly show saddle?

Note the oxbow stirrups on this guy. I think they have the best feel. I really only choose to ride in oxbows (when I have a choice). I like them at the back half of the ball of my foot. (which I'm 99% sure is the way it should be done) I have seen people ride with their feet way to far in, jammed into the heel of their boot. I've also heard many find them uncomfortable compared to flat-bottoms. Not me, I love them.

I need to spend some to have this beauty re-fleeced, but I couldn't be happier to do it. I should also get the rawhide cleaned, but I actually don't know how to do it. This is the only piece of tack I own that actually has any rawhide.

[Wow 2 posts. Can you tell I'm really bored today??]

Not in My Backyard.

Guess what, ND is going to provide somewhere between 75-100K to do a feasibility study on opening a horse slaughter plant. Yay, just awesome. Not.


I'm really not for horse slaughter. Here are some of my reasons:
1. I don't think it is done as humanely as possible;
2. It isn't done to feed families in America first;
3. I'm hugely against horses traveling in double decker trainlers;
4. It promotes the breeding of a ton of crap for meat which in turn makes all my costs go up.
5. Horses raised for slaughter do not have the same paperwork requirements and what not that cattle do.

I don't want ND known for this. Compared to other states, ND does not have a huge horse population. It is likely then, that many would have to be trucked a great distance. I don't want truckloads of horses traveling through. Plus, hello, we have this little thing called winter that lasts like 6 months out of the year. Wouldn't it be the best ending ever to travel from somewhere south with no winter coat to ND in January? Cattle from ND go south to the feedlots, people don't ship them here to be slaughtered. Why do this with horses?

I don't care about every horse. Sorry, but I don't. I've seen several that I think should be dog food. However, just because they are crappy horses does not mean that they should be mistreated or slaughtered inhumanely.

I get that the market has dropped out, but guess what, its really only dropped out for horses that would have gone to slaughter. What does this tell you people?? Hmm, maybe those of you pasture breeding 50 mares just because they go back to Two Eyed Jack, Hancock, or Driftwood then selling wild weanlings are delusional. Those of you breeding a pile of no-name know-nothing pretty colored horses are halucinating too. Those of you breeding designer mutts like Morabs, Pintabians, Walkaloosas, American "warmbloods", etc are the worst offenders.

I'm all for breeding, but in a responsible manner. If you own a mare and want to breed, great, but its your responsibility to raise a foal and train it to do something. If you are selling as a weanling-2 year old, it better darn well be haltler broke, lead, tie, groom, load in a trailer, lunge, and be able to have its feet handled (all 4 of them). Anything 2-3 should be at least exposed to a saddle and accept it. Over 3, this horse should be started to fairly broke. If you own a stud, don't breed him to any mare that waves money in your face. I don't and I won't start anytime soon.

I know that not everyone shows their horse. The fact is, horses that are shown in some way are generally easier to put a value on. A horse with a value and a job does not need to be eaten by someone overseas. Join a club, do an open show, have a game night, go on a judged trail ride, the possibilities are out there.

My last rant, if you can have your horse registered, do it. Give him a history, give him that opportunity. And for Pete's sake, if you buy a registerd horse spend a couple bucks to do the transfer. I have nothing against a grade horse. Many of them are great. But even if the poor guy sold with a golden ticket he won't bring more money than a horse of equal training/ability who has papers.

The end to this is education. Education on how to ride, how to train, and how to breed responsibly. Slaughter quality horses will begin to drop off the map when its no longer profitable to breed them. Someday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Best Advice Ever

I have a secret. It's the best advice I've been given to date regarding riding/training.


"You don't use your show horse for practice."

Simple enough. I received this advice from a fellow HS Rodeo contestant who is now very successfully roping/traveling the pro-rodeo circut. He and I may disagree with training methods in some areas, but this has been the most helpful insight I have ever been given. In order to advance his career, he had horses that he could use at home to practice. Practice in this sense has little to do with the horse and more the rider. Having acess to this, he was able to season himself and horses while keeping the horses fresh to do their jobs.

I understand that having one horse is a luxury, let alone having multiple horses available to you. I never had a "practice" horse so to speak, so I adapted the idea to mean, variety. Horses get bored and sour with the same routine, not a new concept. When you practice the same thing all the time and your horse doesn't need any tuning up in that area, he will get sick of it. Think about it, how annoying and mundane is it to do the same thing over and over just so the other half of "I'm with stupid" can get it right?

I quit practicing my horses on cattle before every show shortly after this. Practicing was fun, it was extra time to get that rush, and it was cheap. It wasn't fair, though, because my horses are far beyond my level of knowledge and they don't subscribe to the No Rider Left Behind club.

My point is, you must put in the forethought to determine a way that you can prepare you and your horse for your event without being a broken record. In the end, all you need is a supple and responsive horse to do most anything.

Get out and do some hill work, pull out the cavaletti and cones, work on moving off your leg, try riding in the arena without moving your reins, rope a dummy, or invent a game. My personal favorite is broom ball (polo with a large $1 Wal-mart ball and some broomsticks)

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Show - Jockeys

Horsepower, was the last show on Animal Planet that I really liked and followed. As far as horse reality TV, it was pretty good.

The new show, Jockeys, worries me. The intro that I have seen over and over to Kanye West's "Stronger" which comes in when one of the horse rolls at a dead run. A voice over then says something about its not if you get hurt, its how bad. How dumb is that? I don't think injuries should be glamorized. They certainly don't make you "stronger", in fact, for most of the horses injured, I'm sure they get a fast trip to the auction.

Every industry has its good and bad sides, but horseracing has really been showing its bad side lately. I have no personal experience with any off the track animals. In my opinion, though, racing turns out more discarded and/or broken down horses that are in a worse position than those discarded and/or broken down from most futurity events. I think the off track horses need almost a complete restart and an experienced hand whereas futurity horses, are a little more broke and compatible with variety of experience levels. I can't speak to the comparison of injury level, recovery time or the future level of soundness, but I think the industries are likely close to even. My point is that a horse not from the racing industry has a better chance of being picked up by a subsequent owner and being usable right away (or after injuries are healed) where off the track horses need much more input. Of course exceptions to every rule will occur.

I just hope this show has some sensitivity to welfare issues. I doubt that it will, which would be contradictory to the channel's apparent stand on animal welfare which is evident through their many animal cops type shows. (even if what happens on them is sometimes maddening and laughable) I'm on the fence about watching. I'm not planning my evening around it, but I will probably catch a rerun. If the first episode doesn't have any consideration of welfare, I won't tune in again.