Sunday, June 26, 2011

An Independence Day Story

I ran into this story at a website I check daily- Neatorama. There's lots of interesting stories on it, and it's updated frequently.

I'm a big softie when it comes to working animals who go the extra mile just because they're good souls.
In honor of our upcoming Independence Day, I present to you, Sgt. Reckless!

Here's a link to an article about the following brave horse- Sgt. Reckless of the US Marines.

Read more about Sgt. Reckless, a brave mare- clicky clicky!

It really goes to show how much we really need animals in our lives, whether they're co-workers or friends.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Western States Horse Expo 2011

In 2010, I planned on heading to the Western States Horse Expo, held every year in Sacramento, at CalExpo. What is this, "Western States Horse Expo", you ask?

I'll tell you. It's a 3 day exposition, with lots of horse related products on display and for sale, from tack to barns, trailers to fencing, and anything in between. Also featured at the expo are horse clinicians, people who have spent years training horses who are willing to share their knowledge.

Last year, I had to work all three days, and ended up being able to go on the last day for around 3 hours. I made the mistake of bringing the husband along, and knowing how bored excited he is around horsie things, I felt rushed, therefore I didn't get any enjoyment out of my visit last year.

This year, I took a day off for the expo, and went alone. All by myself! At least until I ran into my friends and trainer from the barn, which was great because we were all there for the same reason: Horses!

I joined up with them just in time to watch my first clinician ever, Richard Winters. He spoke on "Riding like a horsemen", meaning making a connection with your horse, instead of just riding them.
I only saw the last bit of his talk, but he explained things so easily that I would definitely seek out a clinic of his in the future.

Following his talk, we headed over to Johnathan Field's talk, "Restart your Relationship: Ground Skills to Cause a Big Change." He spoke of teaching your horse respect on the ground, and finding the respect from a horse by using groundwork. Some of his stuff was confusing, though he seemed to be doing fine, the heat and bright sun had me just wishing for shade and a tall glass of water. Here he is putting a horse between two targets to reinforce the respect idea.
After Johnathan Field, we headed over to grab some food, then one of the other boarders and I decided to break off to head to the halls- where all of the shopping was!
She was looking for a blanket, and I was looking for shorter reins, so we started making the rounds. We headed to every booth, and when we got to Clinton Anderson's booth, she spied an entry box and empty ballots. She handed me an entry form and said, "Here, fill this out!" She started in on her entry form, and I figured, why not? I never win these things, and I'll probably end up on every mailing list known to man for giving out my information, but I'm already on Clinton's mailing list anyway. I filled it out and she dropped it into the box. I didn't even look to see what the prize was.
We gaped at purdy saddles and squished and squeezed all of the saddle pads we could. She bought a new helmet and I made a mental note of all of things on my wish list.
I ran to pick up husband so we could come back for that evening's entertainment- the Magnificent 7. It's a reining competition that tests a horse and rider in many events that would be used in the cattle ranchin world...cutting cattle, roping them, and keeping excellent control of your horse. I was very impressed that such control could be's sort of like "Cowboy Dressage". Pretty neat stuff, and if you ever get to see a reining competition, it's great fun. Even my husband's interest was kept.
So that was Friday....Sunday, I came back!!
I met up with HorseFriend, and we started out by shopping! Oh...and I had a teeny tiny little thing to pick up...I won I won I won!!! I won a Clinton Anderson Fundamentals Kit!!!!
It's a very expensive DVD kit, explaining the very basic ideals of groundwork and riding. Perfect for big green girls everywhere!

The box is even green....haha! I'll keep you updated on my progress with my new set of DVD's and booklets.
We then went to watch John Lyons, with "Dealing with our fear, How to make a great performance horse".

He showed that by keeping a horse's focus on his work, and yielding to his rider, fear in a horse can be overcome. I would have like to have seen it in action, like maybe someone trying to spook the horse as he worked it, but he explained that the horse he was working with was green, and he had only been working with her for 2 days, so I can see how that would be a potentially unsafe situation.
*Happy Update!* I was told in the comments below that the horse's name is Bella, and she and her rider are doing wonderful thanks to John's wisdom!
After John Lyons, we headed over to watch Charles Wilhelm, with "How Trick Training Builds a Relationship and Confidence in Horse and Rider". He explained simple ways to begin teaching your horse how to "Park", where his back feet stretch back like a show horse's, and how to begin to teach the bow. It was getting incredibly hot and his microphone started cutting out, but I was enjoying his presentation.
He had an easy way of working with his horse that I liked, and if I see any clinics with him around my area, I'd make it a point to go.

We headed back to pick up some "We're closing and don't want to haul this stuff home" sales, where I found a trail bag that hooks onto your saddle horn. I also tested out a Black Forest Treeless Saddle, and I must say, it was way comfy!!
It was more comfy than anything I've ever sat in, so I'm going to do a little more research on them.

Well, tired, sunburned, and a little sweaty, but all in all, a great horse experience!! A must see for any horse lover!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ok, so let me preface this by saying: I know that horses need certain nutrition, and that some foods are not good to feed to horses on a regular basis. You may not agree with this blog post, but it's all about learning, and this was something offered to my horse with the utmost discretion. I normally do not make a habit of feeding my horse anything except apples, carrots, oranges, and the occasional banana. Now, on with the story!

Cheetos, YuckyLip, and You.

I planned on heading to the barn straight after work. I had brought my "barn clothes" with me- jeans, a scrubby (and probably permanently stained) shirt, my Ariat boots, and thick comfy socks. I waited until it was time for my work day to end, and then changed into my horsie attire. Then I realized the horror. The horror of ALL horrors.

I had brought NO offering for the horse.

See, I usually bring a piece of fruit for him to enjoy at the end of our time together. It's usually an apple or an orange, sometimes other offerings, but always in the scope of what is "acceptable fare" for horses. I searched frantically through my purse, my backpack, the break room at work....I had brought no such treat.

Now, let's be serious. Would Altivo really care if he didn't get a treat after our ride? Would he hold it against me the next day, angry that I had not brought him something to nibble on? Probably not. He would probably just dig into his hay and move treats is as much a psychological gift to me as it is a gastronomical joy for him.
Regardless, I lamented my oversight out loud to a co-worker. I told her in whining tones how horrible of a horse owner I was. I wailed that I was ashamed to show my face to my horse, of having to explain to him my drastic oversight. Taking pity on me, she searched her desk, and came up with this:

Yes, a single serving bag of Cheetos. (Please note, I have yet to be paid or compensated for any endorsements on my blog, so this is entirely non-biased. I haven't eaten Cheetos in years, and this tiny snack bag was more Cheeto-ness than I had taken possession of in a long time.)

I immediately exclaimed, "Horses can't eat Cheetos!!!" She shrugged, and dropped the snack size bag onto my desk. "Well, they're yours now, so take 'em!"

I looked down at the orange bag, and did what anyone needing validation would do. I googled it.

This is what I googled: "Can horses eat Cheetos?"

I didn't see any immediate danger signs pop up, and I figured, well, they were corn at one I jammed the bag into my purse and headed for the barn. It rained earlier in the day, so I had a muddy horse. Rather than rinse him off for a ride, I figured today would be a good day for ground work. Then I remembered the bag. The tiny little orange bag in my purse....the crinkly foil bag.
I crosstied him and groomed him as usual, then I couldn't wait to give him this new, exotic treat.

I showed him the cheery bag with the flashy print:
When he knows I have a treat for him, he arches his neck, perks his ears up , and gives you the sweetest look on earth. It just screams, "You WANT, nay, NEED, to give me a treat!"
 It's very I offered a single cheeto.
 He chewed it eagerly, then slowed. The look of excited anticipation faded from him, turning into one of concentration and confusion. This was not a familiar food was crunchy and salty. He lifted his lip, trying to process the taste and smell.
I have named this look, "YuckyLip".
I offered one more Cheeto, which he took slowly, chewing slower now. He thought for a moment, then it happened.
He gave me a solid YuckyLip.

Poor Altivo!
Not at all what he expected, and certainly not at all tasty!
I offered a third Cheeto, and he clamped his lips shut, dropped his head, and looked defeated.
It's not a bad thing, really. Horses shouldn't be eating junk food, and since there's no mini-mart near his stall, I'd be the culprit supplying him with Cheetos. I'll stick to fruit and veggies, and leave the Cheetos for me.

And don't worry, I took him out to eat a few mouthfuls of grass to cleanse his palate after the horrible episode, now known as Cheeto-gate. An apple followed the day after, and he seems to forgotten about the whole incident....for now.