All Things Horse

Forty-seven Years Of Horse Experience – At Your Service!

The Dancing Mare

This is the direction I would like to take Frilly in – Dressage! But it is a pipe dream, because Frilly is, without any effort from me, turning into a cow pony. C’est la Vie!

However, this is still one of the most beautiful activities that a horse and rider has. There is a complete unison in movements. Blue Horse Martine and Andreas make it look so easy to accomplish and Martine is only nine years old. I can watch Matine over and over again and then watch her again.

The WEG2006 Freestyle Dressage Final performance of ANDREAS HELGSTRAND on BLUE HORSE MATINE

December 26, 2008 Posted by | show event | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Migraines – I think I’m Insane

Chronic migraines to be exact – Tip#1

I was 42 years and 22 days old when I got my first migraine.  I had never had even a headache before that day.  I remember thinking about Lizzy and the head aches she got before she died and I thought as I laid in bed, “My God, I must have a brain tumor…, like Lizzy!”
Lizzy (Elizabeth) and I were born the same date, less then an hour apart.  When Lizzy turned 17 years, she was having severe headaches.  She was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and underwent surgery and treatment that must have included radiation and Chemo-therapy, because she lost her hair.  Her beautiful blond locks – gone.   That is a small price to pay for a cure…, except she wasn’t cured.  On our twenty-fourth birthday, Lizzy fell to the disease and was buried a few days later.
What do migraines have to do with horses!
Back track twenty-nine days.  On January 29th, I send my favorite and only horse, Copper, to PEI, only he never arrived.  My gentle pinto stayed in the barn of the man who was taking him, in Amherst.  After Copper left home in the horse box of a three-ton truck, a winter storm arose and the ferry, Lucy Maud Montgomery, failed to sail on time.  It had one round trip to sail, before being laid up for the winter but the weather was such that it couldn’t make a round trip and then return to the mainland for winter repairs for the next season.

So I spent the winter without a horse. No big deal or so I thought….

Fast forward to the year 2002, I finally sent Copper to PEI to the Giddy Up Pony Camp, to teach youngsters how to ride.  He was getting older and I was afraid the veterinarian bills would break me.  He was healthy but getting up there in years.  I think he was about twenty-two at the time.  The migraines got worse and I was under doctors care almost on a weekly basis.  I was taking every migraine medication available and a few that weren’t.  The migraine would last 72 hours or longer, but I was diagnosed with six different types of migraines and one would trigger the other.  So I ended up with migraines 24-7 for months…. I was a basket case and I really can understand why they call them suicide headaches.

Finally there was nothing to do but go through my past with a fine-toothed comb and see what triggered them.  What the doctor and I found was that I never seemed to have migraines when I’m around horses.

Gimme A Dream (The Real Deal)

Gimme A Dream (The Real Deal)

Some time after that I bought the horse, Gimme A Dream.  He arrived in December and since that month, whenever I feel a migraine coming on, instead of taking drugs, I go out and wrapped my arms around the big moose.  You know…, it worked!  So I bought the other horses and I don’t suffer from migraines too severely anymore.

Why am I insane?  I don’t think there is a medical or scientific theory to explain why being around horses helps me, but it does.  I still get migraines for sure….  We didn’t find the cause…, yet.  But when I get one I spend a lot more time with the horse and I feel a lot better for it.

The internet is great and the social networks have helped me to realize that I’m not the only one who uses horses to control certain maladies – arthritis, heart problems, emphysema, etc.  I heard a lot stories of other people keeping the big pets for a whole slew of reasons now.

Maybe I am insane but then again, maybe I’m not….

December 3, 2008 Posted by | health, tack | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Joe needed to board his horse for a couple of months while he went on the road, so he went to see Farmer Jones.

Jones said, “I charge $50 a week, and I keep the manure.”

Joe said that was too muctruck-and-hayh money, so Jones suggested he try Farmer Smith.

Smith said, “I charge $40 a week, and I keep the manure.”

Joe said that was still too much, so Smith told him to check with Farer Brown down the road.

Joe went to see Farmer Brown, who said he would keep him for $5 a week. Joe was understandably pleased with this price, so he offered, “I suppose you want to keep the manure.”

“Feller,” drawled Farmer Brown, “At $5 a week, there ain’t gonna be none.”

The moral of the story…, don’t cheapscape your horse. Remember he is your FRIEND!

December 3, 2008 Posted by | horsing around, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

To Bit Or Not To Bit…

The eternal question for all riders.

I remember when I was eight, my sister, Audrey and I would ride on two large farmers horses. We would take two pieces of rope each and head for the field. Old Murk and Big George were our destinations and the pieces of rope were tied on to their halters and used for reins. What a time we’d have…. Old Murk was a black work horse, a Percheron maybe…, hey I was only eight! She had feet larger then my head, but Lordy she was beautiful in my eyes. Big George was a big red (Chestnut) Standardbred gelding who tended to be a bit spirited, near as I can remember and he was on the thin side.  No bridle or saddle for us and no helmet either.  I don’t imagine anyone knew we were there and if they did, they would have smiled and thought that the horses were keeping us out of trouble…, babysitting us, so to speak.

Since then I have had the pleasure of owning or working with 20 or so horses and until Copper, I never used a saddle.  But I always used a bridle with a bit.  Sometimes I used a curb bit, depending on the horse, mostly I used a round ringed snaffle, thinking it was the softest on my horses mouth. I never thought too much about the bits…, never even thought about the pieces of rope attached to the halter.

This summer I was brought hard to attention on the value of bitless. I had a rude awakening. Early in the summer, while scouring the internet, I came across the idea of a bitless bridle. So I did some more searching and found a good picture of a horse wearing the bridle and a description and a name…, $250.00 US. Now I put a lot of money into my horses making sure they are well fed and looked after but I can’t justify that kind of money going out for a bridle. Particularly since I have made all my horse bridles since Copper and prefer them to the expensive English leather and before you ask, I do have the expensive leather bridles but I don’t use them longer then it takes to make a new horse a bridle. I macrame all my bridles.

After seeing this bitless bridle, I decided to make one for my young filly, Frilly. I adore her and anything I can do to make life easier for her I do.  Of course, I do that for all my “beasties” but I feel it is special for her. Anyway, I finished the bridle about mid August but not the reins and I wanted to try it out.  Where Frilly is green, I decided to try it on Willow with the western saddle, in case she caused trouble and two lead ropes with hooks on them.  Willow went forward like I expected, like a tank…. Willow Breeze is not an easy mare to ride at the worst timesWillow Breeze (Minority).  She is stubborn, balks, rears and is an all together pain in the butt.  She didn’t like the way it tightened on and around her head, that much was certain.  I’ve tried several different bits on her, to little success.  For almost a year, she has had a copper roller, stainless steel Tom Thumb bit.  Not my preferred mouth piece for any horse, but she wouldn’t work with a snaffle.  After about fifteen minutes, I guess, she decided she wasn’t getting away with anything, so she started to walk, trot, canter, to the left, to the right, change leads and was all out impressive.

A friend came to the field and asked if her daughter could get on Willow to get her picture taken.  I said sure, but explained that I had no bit in her mouth and I didn’t know the mare’s reaction to being ridden.  However, just sitting there would be fine.  So after a hundred or so pictures were taken, Amy asked if she could ride. “Try her,” I said and explained once again about the new bridle.  Well Willow was perfect.  Amy went forward, left, right, in a circle and returned after a bit.  I removed the tack and brushed Willow down, praising her to the hilt.

A couple days late, a group of young people wanted to ride all the horses in the field which was ok except not Frilly. I’m possessive of my Frilly, I afraid.  Each and every person who got on Willow expressed the same thing, “She won’t turn right!” After an afternoon of listening to frustrations, I got up on the mare…, and sure enough, I’d pull her head around until her mouth chewed my toes but she would not move. I got scared! Her teeth must be bad! I called the vet andWoodmere Frilifili (Frilly) down he came. He was a new vet, just temporary, but he knew his horses. He checked her teeth, her legs, her feet, her heart, lungs, ears eyes, nose, stools, urine and everything else.  He didn’t find anything wrong. We got to talking about Willow’s work habits when she started to act up. That was when the new bitless bridle came out. We tried it on her and lo and behold, she work like a charm. I would never have expected it. If there is going to be a horse that makes a fool out of me, it will be Willow.

By the first week in September, I had a bitless bridle made for Willow Breeze, to her specifications, trying her in between each new adjustment.  Willow’s was made of brown twisted nylon fishing twine. It is much easier to work with. The poll strap was wider then Frilly’s black bitless and longer, bringing the forelock strap lower on the head away from the ears. I think it is a bit low on her face so I will eventually make another slightly shorter poll strap, and incorporate a chin-strap. The brow band is also wider. The nose band was higher and softer and the under-cross straps slip loose a lot easier.  All in all, I have a happier, nicer Willow. She isn’t perfect and although she hasn’t had any stubborn spells while being ridden, I figure it is only a matter of time before she finds something else to disrupt the fun.

In the meantime, Frilly started using her bitless bridle.  This picture was taken the day Willow refused to turn right, in August. Since then, I’ve made a few adjustments to the bridle. The main adjustment is that I raised the nose band on this bridle. When she first used it while actually being ridden in September, her initial reaction was that of confusion but she tried very hard to understand what I tried to communicate to her. She is good with leg signals so teaching her the bitless bridle wasn’t all that difficult. The strange thing though is that she neck reins with it, and she does it very well. But I have never taught her to western neck rein. I wanted her to be my English pleasure riding horse.

December 3, 2008 Posted by | tack | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You know You’re A Horse Person When…

-You cluck to your car when you go up a hill.
-You refer to your car as “my portable tack room”.
-You have your vet’s number on speed dial but not your child’s pediatrician.
-Your spouse can track dirt into the house but heaven help him if he tracks mud into the tack room.
-Your house is a mess, but you barn is neat.
Any others out there?

December 2, 2008 Posted by | horsing around | , , , , | Leave a comment