Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Merry Holidays

From Miles, Chamie, and me!

We're leaving for the UP soon, but I had all Christmas day free before we had a lovely dinner at my parents, so naturally the ponies got a visit. Everyone is doing well, and Chamie seems no worse for the wear after her spill in the mud...a couple days of bute and she seems good as new, which is a relief.

SPEAKING of mud, I know it's not cool to whine on Christmas (or shortly thereafter even), but it is SO bad right now you guys. Nothing has frozen yet, and the stuff will literally suck your boots off, no matter how tightly they're laced. Nevermind me-it's just an inconvenience. The thing I hate is that neither one of my horses want to go back to their pastures after I'm done working with them. Of course, the mud is the absolute worst near the gates, and thankfully both ponies have lots of pasture to get away from the mud if they want, but UGH, I HATE having to yell, pull, and beg them to walk up to the gate, let alone get in and turn around so I can take their halters off (this step is very necessary-soon I will write the post on how Chamie backed out of the gate when I got lazy and decided to take a jaunt right up to the highway. Almost killed me, not to mention her, dead). Anyway, kvetching over!

*mud you still suck ass freeze up already*

Chamie got a good grooming in, some yummy mash to eat, and got turned back out. Nothing exciting there, but she was a happy girl. I neglected to take pictures of her because I'm a neglectful parent. Still, she's looking great, and has shed a few (needed) pounds and put on some muscle-very nice to see!

I wish I had had more time today because I really wanted to ride Miles, but it was not to be. Still, he got in a good lunge in the outdoors, where he happily cantered and bucked before settling down into a cute springy trot. I'm loving that I can lunge him without a whip, and that he's moving so very well.

Miles, looking regal after his lunging shenanigans

Looking less regal and ready for treatings

Finally, Miles and Cody, necking to R. Kelly's "Ignition" in the background. Super cute.

Hope everyone had a lovely Holiday! Mwah from Miles and Chamie and the rest of our menagerie:) This year, especially the last few months, has not been easy. Still, I can't help but feel everything is just as it should be, and with some hard work things will fall into place just as they should. Kiss all your sweet ponies for me, everyone-even if I'm not reading or commenting like I used to, I'm so thankful for the equestrian community on the interwebs-have a fabulous New Year, every one of you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chamie Goes Boom And Miles Is A Pony

It's raining. It has been raining. It will keep raining. So awesome.

No, no it's not. The mud at the barn (which is not usually a muddy place in most areas) is approaching epic proportions this winter.
Today was especially fun because I got to feed all the horses in the evening. Even with everyone behaving themselves, I was wet and muddy and annoyed afterwards.

It wasn't always so! I got to the barn around 2 pm today in a pretty ok mood, considering I've just weathered the stomach flu and falling down the stairs and bruising my ass in places I never knew could be bruised. I hadn't been out since Sunday, and 2 days in a row of not seeing my ponies is kind of unheard of these days.

Miles was more than his adorable self, cantering through the mud to see me. He was head to hoof disgusting in places not covered by his blanket, and a leeetle pushy, wanting to punish ME because his head was one giant piece of dried mud and he thought I should stand still so he could take care of the situation on my coat.

Chamie was her normal cool, calm, colleted self, except when I went to pull her blanket off. One whole side was covered in mud...not like she had rolled but like she had fallen. Great. Still, she was moving ok and all legs were cool and normal-sized. I decided today was the day we Pony.

After figuring out how to get Chamie's leadrope from the saddle (we tried a couple variations, since I was NOT mounting with her attached to begin with), things went great. I learned that I never ride Miles one handed, since he had no flipping idea what I was doing with the reins at all. Thank god he was listening to my leg aids. I also learned Chamie was not going to be the grump in this situation (I totally thought she was going to revolt at some point being so close to Miles, particularly if he pulled his Hey Baby act). No, Miles was the one putting his ears back and snaking his head. WTF? I can't say he was a bad boy, because he never did anything more than that, but I was astounded that he objected to his lady friend next to him-especially because I know he is used to "being" ponied as a former racehorse. You just never know, do you?

Anyway, I was ultimately really proud of them both, mainly because no one did anything dumb and they more or less listened to me. Unfortunately, even though I had her walking maybe 15 minutes, I noticed Chamie was bobbing her head and limping. Awesome.

I got off, of course. I checked her all over and I *think* it's her left shoulder. It's definitely her left front something. Her leg still seemed cool and ok, but she flinched ever so slightly a couple of times when I ran my hand down that shoulder. Still, no heat anywhere. I gave her some bute and debated leaving her inside tonight, but she has always looked better with a little movement (no matter how little), so I'm hoping I don't get a call from the barn tomorrow morning saying she is 3 legged lame. Poor old girl. FU Mud!

Nope, no pictures, not even one. I just had to put up some kind of post...semi-frequent blogging is a sickness. Someone should really look into it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So Much For Keeping Them Humble

Well, looky-loo what pretty mare and handsome hunk got their very own story on Susan Salk's Off Track Thoroughbred blog?

Thank you Susan, for thinking our story is worthy of your great audience! I think Miles' head will now be too big for his bitless bridle, and Chamie may have an "I told you so" look in her eye when I see them later today.

Seriously, I love Susan's blog because she finds the story behind every horse (usually an OTTB, so it's a big deal for Chamie to infiltrate the ranks:). And every horse has a story. It is an honor to be featured!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Horse Slaughter...Here We Go

First, Blogger is my enemy and if you have seen 5 different versions of this poorly written post,'s out to get me today, apparently. My apologies.

Second, I want to thank Jessica at Spotty Horse News and Natalie at Retired Racehorse for helping me organize my feelings and thoughts around this very ugly and complex issue. Most of this post was written in my comments to their posts. Go read these ladies if you're not already.

Now, in regards to the issue, I am TIRED of hearing this was Obama's decision, and I am super disappointed in many rescue groups I follow on facebook that are laying this legislation in his lap. Whether you are a fan of our President or not, he isn't stupid, and to introduce "horse slaughter legislation" would be a very stupid move, especially because he has stated outright that he is against this practice. The provision was thrown in there by Congress in a HUGE Ag bill, and Obama signed the bill to keep the USDA functioning. Even if he had vetoed the bill (which would be a disaster on way more levels than I care to get into right now), his veto would have been (rightly) overturned. It was a very sneaky move by certain representatives to throw this thing in there on a holiday weekend. OK, there's my one soapbox:)

Politics aside, the other thing we need to look at are "breeding incentive" programs. I'll say it, the AQHA and other stock breed organizations are the worst offenders . There are SOOOO many crap Quarter Horses (and Paint Horses, and to a lesser extent Appaloosas...see a pattern?) being bred out there it's frigging ridiculous...these ranches that churn out hundreds of mediocre or worse foals every year, and then send their "culls" to auction as yearlings, barely handled with shit conformation, make me so angry. There is NO market for these horses...none.

The Thoroughbred industry also has some major soul searching to do. Thankfully, there are a ton of wonderful rescue organizations for OTTBs out there, and TBs as a general rule (though there are ALWAYS exceptions) are bred to win races, so they are athletic and often easy to transition into another riding discipline. Yes, I know this is not always the case, and there are many debates out there about how they are breeding horses with no hoof or whatever, but I've still found the majority of OTTBs as sound or sounder than other breeds, and they were bred to be ATHLETIC, so they can transition to almost any horse sport. Some of the mediocre stock horses being bred? I swear half of them look like they are going to fall on their face if you push them beyond a jog. Yes, I am fully aware my bias is showing right now.

I understand there is a program out there where jockeys can contribute something like one dollar of their individual race winnings to Thoroughbred retirement organizations. Hey, while were at it, why don't we ask grooms to do the same, and exercise riders! ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. How about the frigging OWNERS and big time breeders pony up some cash for these animals that make them boatloads of money?! It would go a long way to rehabilitating the industry's image, that's for sure. And yes, I know there are very successful jockeys...but these athletes deserve every dollar they get for risking their lives in every race. It's time for the people with Real Money to do their part. I know some do...but it needs to be an industry wide standard.

I don't know all the answers. If I really trusted this US to enforce humane methods to slaughter horses, I would say, ok, yes, it's MUCH preferable to forcing these horses to travel thousands of miles to Mexico or Canada to meet their (horrific) ends. However, I don't believe it's possible to slaughter horses humanely on a mass scale, or at least I haven't seen evidence of it. I wish we still had local rendering plants, that would come to your house, put a bullet in the horse's head while they are grazing, and haul the carcass away. Awful? Yes. Humane? YES. It is easy to get self-righteous and say anyone with a horse should have the resources to euthanize said horse humanely. The fact is, however, that horses are the ones that suffer regardless. Many people desperate for money will take old Dobbin to the auction with the hope of getting a couple hundred dollars for him, rather than PAY a vet to euthanize Dobbin for hundreds of dollars out of his pocket that he probably doesn't have. I'm not interested in judging Dobbin's owner...I'm interested in keeping Dobbin from suffering for days or weeks before he is ultimately killed. Perhaps free euthanasia services would give Dobbin's owner an out that is kind to this horse he is fond of or maybe even loves. We should support such efforts-though raising money to kill horses is a tough sell.

I know some organizations are running free or low cost gelding clinics, and I think that's a great start. We HAVE to stop some of these horses from existing in the first place.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to look at this from a consumer health standpoint. I believe this is the most convincing argument against slaughter of all...most horses are SO not safe for consumption because of the drugs in their system, particularly TBs who have raced...they are almost guaranteed to have bute and steroids and who knows what else in their system. The same with so many older, unsound horses. Are we going to serve up possibly carcinogenic meat to people, or even carnivorous animals like our dogs or zoo animals? With all these things taken together (and notice not one of my arguments involve flowery language about how horses are noble creatures who have no business being on a dinner plate), HOW can we justify horse slaughter?

Having said all that, this old girl is MY greatest argument against horse slaughter, in the US or anywhere.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Ride In The Snow

...and I hate that I didn't bring a camera.

Miles was game, but not altogether trusting of the snow that kept falling off the buildings and trees as we rode. Still, the fact is he was waaaay more relaxed about the snow falling off the roof of the indoor arena than I was, hence our outside excursion. He was my rock as always...until after we turned back for home after a brief trail ride and he threw his head up and danced for a moment...dang if he doesn't want to explore way more than I'm ready to (at least by ourselves). Lo, that was it for shenanigans. If I was feeling braver, I would have said the hell with it and given him his head to canter back home. I'm learning slowly...he's a patient teacher. The footing seemed ok, but I still don't trust it.

(For the record, I know horses should never be encouraged to run back to the barn. With any other horse I would agree, but Miles is always most forward moving away from the barn.)

Anyway, it was a lovely day in the snow with my boy. The cold months don't seem so bad at all right now.

Happy Winter everyone. Sigh, it's here. I can't be all that upset after rides like today though.

(PS-Chamie is doing great, adjusting to 24/7 turnout with no problems at all. Stay tuned for a special write up on my ponies from one of my favorite bloggers:)