January 30, 2012

Tack Trunk Corners

My tack trunk corners arrived compliments of the USPS on Saturday! I had a heck of a time finding corners that were big enough for my trunk, as most corners are made for craft or cigar boxes or made of brass and are only and inch in size. Finding big nickel trunk corners was a challenge. However, eventually I discovered the existence of case corners! Case corners are intended to go on big amplifier cases so you know that they are burly. I found the ones I ordered on Ebay.com from cheapstudioracks and they arrived in about 3 days.

Just out of the package, seeing how they'll look.
They look great and are the right proportions for the trunk. They are 2.38" in size. However, they don't sit flush with the sharp corners of the trunk.
Milled corner.
Hubs determined that the corners of the trunk would have to be sanded down in order for the corners to fit flush. He'll varnish the exposed wood before finally attaching the corners. Our assumption is that the corners you see that have round bulb outs on them are made that way so that you don't have to round down the corners. Something to keep in mind if you are making your own trunk and want to avoid this step. However, I prefer the flush non-bulb look of these corners.
How they'll look once on
Once the new varnish dries, Hubs will attach the corners with finishing nails. There will be case corners on the four top corners and four bottom corners of the trunk. We are getting close, now I'm just waiting for Hubs to attach the handles and for the hasp latch and nameplate to arrive in the mail.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 28, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Rose & I won blog awards!
Thank you to Kelly at princessdivadiaries and Double A Training at alexandappleshow for honoring us with the


Kelly's blog is one of my latest favorites to follow, as her mare Riva is about the same age and reminds me a lot of Rose, and it's always nice to be able to relate and learn from another blogger's training adventures. Ironically, she follows my blog for the same reason! I have to admit that I didn't realize that Double A Training had a blog, so I look forward to checking that out as well.

Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. Here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award
3. Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs!

Without much adieu, here are five blogs that I follow frequently, who I don't think have already received this award:
  1. A Work in Progress
  2. Pia's Parade
  3. The Process of Learning
  4. Chrome's Training Blog
  5. Spotty Horse News

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 26, 2012

Herd Boss Mare?

I have no idea how this happened, but Rose has somehow managed to become the boss mare of her little herd! My un-socialized mare who apparently didn't know horse language, is now telling them all what to do. I can't say I'm shocked that she's become a boss mare, given how bold she can be at times, but after witnessing time and time again stupidly stand in one spot and get beat to a pulp by various mares over the years, I never thought it would actually happen.

I first noticed Rose's new bossiness when I arrived at the barn last Monday, January 16th. She was sleeping in her hay pile, and for once let me come all the way up to her while she slept. Usually she jumps up when I'm within 30-feet of her. I gave her some good scratches and pets while she lay there, letting her know I appreciated the trust she was exhibiting. In the mean time, whenever one of the other horses came near her or me, looking to sniff out my potentially treat laden pockets, she would pin her ears and bar her teeth, running them off...without getting up!

I thought she was just being a treat hog until later on when I returned her to her paddock. Once I let her free in the paddock she drove off all the other mares, not letting them get close to me. She pinned her ears, bared her teeth, and the other horses got out of there in an instant. She didn't actually have to run them off at all, they just new better and got away from Rose and I. It was impressive and I'm too sure if I should be happy about this new development in her life or not.

Rose - Boss Mare
Now here is the big question...was she driving them off because I happen to be her "person", her "treat factory" (I give her treats at the end of our work sessions, and the other horses too), or does she know I'm pregnant and is protecting me? She kept trying to sniff my tummy in the cross ties that afternoon too, which is not a normal thing for her to do. She's never acted this way toward other horses before. She even ran off her BFF Roxy. What do you all think?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 24, 2012

Tack Trunk Progress

My tack trunk has been out of sight for the last week, as Hubs was doing the finishing and varnishing work at a friend's wood shop outside of town. To my elation though, he returned home with the trunk Monday night. Happy happy, joy joy!

Getting stain & varnish applied
After much debate and deep analysis of stain colors, I decided to go with a warm stain by Chemcraft called harvest. Hubs did some sample staining of different colors on maple scraps for me to help aid in the decision process, which was handy as the manufacturer's provided oak samples were a lot darker.  I think the color came out beautifully, and I love that you can see all the pretty grain patterns in the maple.
All varnished up & back home

Inside view
I am so excited to use my trunk, I can almost taste it. Having a bandage lid and a giblet drawer always seemed like a bit of a pipe dream to me...well that and an actual tack trunk all together. However, before it can make it's way to the tack room there are still a few outstanding items that need to be added to the trunk. I still need to pick out handles, lid supports, corner protectors, a hasp latch, and of course get a nameplate put on it!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 22, 2012

Conquered...the people door & Rose tries out a new rider

This afternoon was a big day for Rose, she had a guest at the barn. One of my IHSA students HR, came out to meet Miss. Thing and to see if she might want to ride her once or twice a week under my tutelage. Rose was quick to learn that HR meant business and that she couldn't get away with any of her "new person" tricks, which I was very please to see. After a quick grooming session, we dusted off my hunt tack and quickly learned that Rose had gained some serious girth since last September. I am now on a mission to get a girth extender until she's back into shape. However, I'm happy to have her a bit more rotund during the winter, so I'm not concerned about it. Once we finally got the girth on the last billet hole on both sides of the saddle, we headed out to the arena.

I decided to go ahead and walk her through the people door tacked up, knowing I could always go back and open the garage door if I needed to and that I had a spare set of hands at the ready. However, she walked straight through it without hesitation! YES! This is the first time I have even attempted taking her through it with tack on since the door nonsense began, so I was exceedingly pleased.

Rose & HR after their ride
Rose seemed to have a bit of energy so I gave her a good longe session before we did anything else, and showed off her non-longeline longeing abilities to HR. Next HR decided to do some ground work with Rose to get acquainted with her more. After a nice session of getting Rose to listen to her and move her feet it was time to mount up. HR is a great student and easy to work with. She and Rose got along smashingly under saddle, and I was very please with the pair of them all around. I think that they will be a good team in terms of keeping Rose going during my third trimester (official as of yesterday) and for HR's continued training.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 20, 2012

Stud Chains vs. Rope Halters

In my last post I talked about how and why to use a stud chain. Now I thought I'd give you my opinion on the subject of stud chains w/flat halters vs. rope halters. Just to be clear, this is my opinion and I'm happy to own that. So please don't hate me if you happen to disagree, and I'll promise to not hate you right back. I'm always happy to hear and consider another equestrian's opinion on anything horse related.

My thoughts on this subject first came up nearly a year ago when I was required by our former boarding facility to purchase a rope halter in order for the staff to handle my horse. This was the same place that didn't allow horses to be turned out in grazing paddocks alone. All horses at the barn were required to have a rope halter, so this was not specific to Rose. There was a lot of head scratching on my part but I obliged. Soon to follow were curious rubs spots, missing hair, and bald patches on Rose's face. My leather halter (with or without stud chain) never did any of that to her. It does leave me to wonder just how the staff handled my horse when I wasn't present. But I digress...

April 2010, 2yr-11mo old Rose sporting a stud
chain on one of her first off-barn outings.
The big debate, flat halter with stud chain or rope halter?
Stud chains and flat leather halters are not all that commonly used here in Montana, as most people use western style rope halters. I'm not sure if that's because it is tradition, or because they have been popularized by the likes of Clinton Anderson and Parelli. Regardless, they are seemingly everywhere. Most of my formal equestrian training was gained in hunter barns on the East Coast prior to the natural horsemanship movement. Back then at least, rope halters did exist on the East Coast. Hence my traditional understanding and use of leather halters and stud chains.

I'm not taking a stance on whether rope halters are the end all and be all of halters or should all be melted in a giant pile of steaming nylon. Nor am I saying that I think stud chains are the perfect training tool and should replace all rope halters. That is for everyone to decide for themselves. As I see it, there is nothing wrong with rope halters when used appropriately as the training tool that they are intended to be. However, I have seen them miss-used on a daily basis, by uneducated and unsupervised horse owners, lessors, and barn staff. I've had the dis-pleasure of witnessing very serious accidents that have occurred due to the improper use of rope halters. As such, I'm not a big fan of their general everyday use. Not that I'm a fan of everyday general use of stud chains either. In my mind they both have a time, place, and purpose.

Rose and modeling her rope halter
Warning - Rope Halter Rant
At our past boarding facility, I can't tell you how many people I saw tie and cross-tie horses in rope halters only to walk away and leave their horse unsupervised for a good half-hour or more. I don't care how "broke" your horse is, that is just a very dangerous and negligent thing to do, even in a leather halter, not to mention a rude hogging use of the cross-ties or hitching post. Not once did any of these people ever ask me to keep an eye on their horse in their absence. Being the polite and anti-drama boarder I am, I would just ring my hands and walk away, hoping that nothing bad would happen.

Why is tying or cross-tying a horse in a rope halter dangerous? Horses should never be tied in anything that does not have breaking point (i.e. leather halter, leather crown piece, or leather panic strap). If something were to seriously spook a horse there is no part of a rope halter that will give way, no part that can easily be taken off, and all the while the horse is panicking it is being severely punished by the pressure applied by the rope halter. This can actually cause the horse to panic more. To that end, I don't like the excuse that "it's unlikely that my horse will do that", because people use the same statement to justify the existence of barbed wire fencing on their horse pastures, "my horse is barbed wire wise". Excuse me? During what Pareli game did you teach your horse to not spook and gallop into a barbed wire fence? If a wild cat were to get into your horse pasture, you can be certain that you are looking at a dead horse or at best a very expensive vet bill. The fact is, if a horse can even think about hurting itself on something it will. It's just a matter when, not if.

Getting back to the topic, I've also seen people miss use stud chains. In my opinion, one major difference between the use of a stud chain vs. a rope halter is that a stud chain can be removed from a flat halter eliminating the added pressure entirely and easily, whereas the small diameter pressure aspect of a nylon rope halter with it's various knots and sometimes metal pieces cannot. The only way to remove that pressure entirely is to swap halters, as one should once a training session is over just as one would remove a stud chain. As I see it, a lot of people get lazy and don't want to swap out their rope halter for a flat halter after their training session is over, and soon enough the only halter they ever use is a rope halter. Not that everyone who uses rope halters is lazy, but I think a lot of people lack an education on the subject and quite frankly don't know any better. No one ever told them to not tie a horse in a rope halter. Sadly, like many things equestrian, it is an education that many people only gain the hard way as a result of unfortunate accidents.

Why I steer clear of rope halters:
Rose's rope halter, always at the ready to
perform it's sole task...emergency haltering
Clearly, I have a sense of when, how, and why to use a rope halter. However, in my experience a rope halter just doesn't give you the leverage you need in a panic situation or with a "hot" horse like a stud chain does. In addition, every time you use it, a rope halter puts a lot of pressure on the delicate pole of the horse. A lot. Don't believe me? Go grab a rope halter and a flat halter. One at a time put them behind your neck and pull. Which puts more pressure on your neck? Which would you rather have to wear on a daily basis? No wonder why so many people around here feel that they need to get their horses massaged and adjusted. Surprisingly far more than I ever saw in fancy barns on the East Coast. Trust me, a nice leather halter is far less expensive than massages and chiropractic work.

September 2011, 4yr-4mo old Rose
sans-stud chain
For these reasons, with the exception of specific ground work training purposes or leading a horse in from a pasture, I don't use rope halters. However, Rose does have a rope halter (thanks to our previous barn) and it hangs on her pasture gate in case someone needs to halter her in an emergency situation. For daily use though, I keep her leather halter inside with my tack and always use that when I work with her. These days Rose's stud chain is a thing of the past, and it's only rarely used when someone needs to borrow it or I need something to hang a random water bucket with. In fact I went to look for it the other day and couldn't find it.

To summarize my position, if my 4-year old 16.2h warmblood can be safely handled in a leather halter, I imagine most people's 15.0h quarter horses around here could be too. If they can't be, then that's a training issue that needs to be addressed, and the non-stop use of a rope halter is just a band-aid for the symptom and not a solution to the problem. I think if most people thought about what they were doing with those rope halters they might just change their ways. Just a little, just maybe? Probably not.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 16, 2012

How and Why to Use a Stud Chain

2yr 11mo old Rose - McIver State Park, Oregon
First off-barn outing (April 2010)

How I use a stud chain with a halter:
  1. Standing on the left side of the horse, run the chain clasp up through the attachment ring (the one you attach the lead line to) on the bottom of the halter.
  2. Run the clasp up the left side and out through the ring (or square) located between the nose band and cheek piece.
  3. Drape the chain over the horses nose crossing over the top of the halter's nose band.

2yr 11mo old Rose - McIver State Park, Oregon
First off-barn outing (April 2010)
  1. Run the clasp through and out the ring on the far side of the halter.
  2. Run the clasp up the far side of the head and clasp it onto the ring located located between the cheek piece and the crown piece. 
  3. If the chain is too short to reach the cheek piece ring, run it down the far side and clip to the attachment ring instead.

*Never tie or cross tie a horse with a stud chain attached!

Why use one?
Stud chains are useful when working with young horses to respect the halter pressure, "hot horses" that you need more leverage with like stallions or proud cut geldings, and sometimes when your horse is in a new and unfamiliar setting causing it to be more reactive and less respectful than normal.They are also helpful to have around for hanging temporary water buckets or keeping a broken gate closed while waiting to repair it's latch.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 15, 2012

Hoof Pictures

I finally managed to take hoof photos this past Friday. Rose is due for a trim this coming week, so I might do a side comparison post next week. However, they still look pretty darn good for needing a trim! Her hoof flare is finally under control at long last, and that just makes me at warm and fuzzy. Her frogs and heels look terrific, and she remains completely sound. Plus, now that her hooves are so clean from the snow it donned on me that never noticed before that three of her feet all have white soles. Usually they all look black on the bottom from dirt!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 10, 2012

Ground Work Video

I really shouldn't get too giddy about the people door being a non-issue, but I do regardless. Anyway, now that we are seemingly past that annoying issue I take pleasure in every time Rose willingly follows me through the door. I think soon we can start attempting to go through it with tack again...but I'm still debating if I really want to go there or not. The big risk is having a set back if she hits the door jam with the saddle again.

Today we did a bit of longeline-free longeing. We had the arena to ourselves and about halfway through it occurred to me that I had my phone in my pocket and could attempt video. For a phone, the video turned out pretty good!

We also worked on touching the target some more, squaring-up, and standing or ground tying. Here's a clip of our "standing".

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 6, 2012

A New First

In the world of colt starting, once all the initial hard work is accomplished with ground work and under saddle work the accomplishments seem to dwindle. Life is more about refining training these days than learning new things. As such, I get really excited when I realize that Rose just did something for the first time, no matter what a simple little thing it might be.

Today, Rose let me pick her feet out with me standing entirely on one side! This happened entirely by accident amid my morning plans at the barn turning into a big fail. As I sauntered into our tack room and opened the lid to my steamer trunk, I exclaimed rather loudly "oh damn" as I gazed upon the rectangular hole in my trunk. I'd left my brush box at home. Fail #1. Luckily the barn was empty, so there was no one around to witness my profanity. Hubs had me bring it home the other night to make sure the divider in my new tack trunk was in the correct location before making it permanent.

Short on time and not wanting to spend 20 extra minutes running home for a brush box, I decided that Rose would just do without a grooming session today. I pulled her from the pasture and then remembered that I wanted to take hoof pictures. I stood her up nice and square and then reached into my pocket to pull out my camera. Upon pushing the power button it became clear that the battery was flat. Fail #2. That also meant that the video session of our ground work that I had planned wasn't going to happen either. Fail #3.

With a sigh, I looked down on the pavement and noticed a couple small crushed rocks the size of a quarter. I figured that would do for picking her feet. I reached down and cleaned out her near front foot, and then without thinking reached under her belly and asked her to pick up her far front. Then I realized what I just did. Hum...I thought. Better try that with the back feet too. Rose completely obliged. "Yea" I thought to myself "a new first. It's been a while since we had one of those".

Now about the whole picking feet out from one side:
In general I do believe it is not a good/safe practice, and I never let my students do it. However,  sometimes it is necessary to be able to pick feet this way and it's good to know that your horse is willing/able to do it. I've tried in the past to get Rose to do this, but she never obliged, so I never pushed it. I think it just took her growing up more to have the balance to be able to do it.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 5, 2012

Thinking about Ground Work

Rose's vacation seems to be agreeing with her. She was in a delightfully sweet mood yesterday. Also, her feet...

Her feet look amazing!

She's nearly grown a full hoof since we moved from Oregon (you can clearly see the event line on all of her feet). The new hoof is much harder, straighter, smoother, shinier, and the sole is beautifully concave with happy frogs and nice heels. Bonus, all the snow keeps them extremely clean and the sole polished. I rarely find anything in them that I can pick out. I am certainly loving winter in snow country for hoof care. Although the summer brings dry ground and no mud, her feet are never this clean in the summer. I'll try and remember to get photos of them next time.

Back to Work
We had no issues with the people door, which left us plenty of time for other groundwork activities. The day's roster included a good longe, playing chase the tiger, and working on standing and "squaring up". Afterward, back in the barn, I decided to tackle her rather out of control mane. She was still quite wiggly in the cross ties. By wiggly, what I mean is that she will stand with her bum against one wall of the cross ties, and then swing it all the way to the other wall (see the photo below). This is exceptionally annoying, and something she started doing in November. So I worked on her a bit with "whoa" and "stand" every time she'd swing her butt from side to side. Anytime she swung her butt in my direction she got a good smack with my jumping bat that I had tucked under my arm. Swinging her butt at me is simply unacceptable in my book. That made pulling her mane take a lot longer than usual. Unfortunately, I only got about half way done before I had to leave for the day. I plan on tackling the rest on my next visit.

Rose standing wonky in the cross ties

For now I'm trying to get back to basics and see where we have ground work "holes" that can be worked on for the next few months. So, I'm trying to think back to the winter of '09-'10, and see what we never got around to mastering before her under saddle work started. We certainly can work on standing quiet in the cross ties, tying, and teaching her to stand in the trailer divider. Unfortunately to work on trailering I need an extra hand. I certainly don't want to distract Hubs from finishing my tack trunk, so the trailer work will have to wait! Anyone have any suggestions of fun or valuable ground work projects?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!

After two weeks away over the Christmas holiday, it was nice to stay put for the weekend and we had a lovely New Years Eve at home. As usual we hosted our annual party filled with friends, home made desserts, cocktails (for the non-prego's), and glittery dresses. I can't say that 2011 was a bad year, but I'm certainly looking forward to 2012 being vast improvement.

On New Years Day we slept in, did a bit of lounging, and enjoyed some beautiful weather. It had snowed a couple inches over the weekend, so we were blessed with sunny weather sparkling off the snow. It's always enjoyable to stand at our glass french doors sipping (decaf) espresso and watching cross country skiers elegantly glide past our house along the golf course. Personally, I require more than two inches of snow to put on my skis. Such is the luxury of taking for granted living in snow country and on a golf course. Anyway, after a leisurely morning it was time to spoil our animals a bit. Hubs and I headed out to the barn to visit miss Rose, drop off her feed, and take a few New Years photos. I know that some of you have been wanting to see prego photos, so without much adieu here they are (FYI I'm at 24 weeks, 6th month now).

With my pretty girl.

The full body shot.

Rose is certain that I'm smuggling treats under my sweater...not a baby!

Hubs and the girls. Roxy was in love at first sniff.

Sharing a bite with Rose. Hubs is such a goof!
After visiting Rose we took our dog Bourke for a good hike around snowfill dog park (about 40 hilly acres of dog heaven). He had a blast playing with all his canine buddies, and my non-riding prego body loved the workout. Once we were energized from our hike, the hubby got back to work on my tack trunk and I took a nap worked on the nursery for a while.

Hubs working away and adding the trim work to my tack trunk.
Tack trunk, all trimmed up. Next up: finishing & staining, then findings.
I hope you all had enjoyable celebrations and wish you and your equines all the best in the New Year.

Happy trails and swooshing tails in 2012!
• DS •


Related Posts with Thumbnails