All Things Horse

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

Understanding The Horse Digestion


June 8, 2014 Posted by | anatomy | , | Leave a comment

Copper And The Christmas Tree

Copper is a prankster! He is my black and white Pinto/Walker gelding.  So I’m going to write about another of his pranks.Copperwithwhitebridle-2

It was just before Christmas and midnight mass was to be held at the church at 10:00pm on Christmas eve.  Velma, my cousin was chosen to decorate the interior of Saint Peter’s By-the-Sea for the event.  She didn’t have many ideas so I lent her my artificial Christmas tree and all its decorations.  The lights were the mini kind and all white.  The ornaments were crystal in the shape of musical instruments, various seasonal characters and they reflected light incredibly. There were beaded ropes, white and red, to represent cranberries and popcorn and there were numerous silver bells. The angel on the top was haloed in lights.  What a beautiful tree it was! And ohhhh…, how she received the compliments on it.

After the service was finished, the deal was that she would return the tree to me so that we could have a Christmas tree in the house.  It never dawned on me that she would bring the tree fully open and decorated down the woodsy driveway.  Actually, it was her boyfriend who walked the tree in, on this clear, beautiful, moonless evening that had only a whisper of draft.   I thought Velma would be driving the tree back, but noooo…, that isn’t what happened.

Without thinking, I had left Copper loose. He was always getting out of his paddock anyway and the night was the perfect Christmas Eve.  It was gently snowing with huge flakes floating softly to the ground.  Along came Dany, Christmas tree held upright, out in front of him and a little to the side, fully decorated. He was so careful not to drop a single ornament. Velma followed him at a distance, with the lights of the car shining on the road ahead.

As he walked, Dany hummed a Christmas melody that had been sung at the church. The car lights split to both sides of him, so that it was black in front of him.

Umfffffff! He stopped dead. It was soft and warm. “Neighhhhhhhh!” went the furry pillow that he ran into.  Copper turned and Dany saw the white on his back and chest.  Copper went straight at him, curious to all the reflections that were coming from the tree, which was twinkling in the headlight.

Now understand, Dany had never seen a horse before, let alone run into the arse end of one on a snowy night. He screamed, then Copper screamed. Dany turned and ran back down the driveway, screaming and cursing the whole way. Copper ran after him.  Decorations went helter-skelter into the woods along side the drive, into snowbanks and onto branches and finally into the graveyard.  But Dany never let go of the tree.

Velma sat in her car and laughed until she cried.  She could only make out the bobbing tree with silver tinsel and tinkling bells and screaming curses, as it quickly approached her car. She realized what had happened too late and Dany had to suffer.

Meanwhile, I heard the ruckus and screams from the house and came running.  Copper chased Dany only till the end of the woods and stopped. He knew he wasn’t allowed to go any further and he knew that there was no reason to go any further.  By this time, he knew the funny looking shiny tree didn’t have anything good to eat. The ground was snow-covered so there was no food out there.

By the time I reached Copper, Dany was behind the car and Velma was roaring with laughter. Dany was cursing what he called the f—ing cheval.  It took weeks to get the whole story out of Velma, she laughed harder each time she told the story about Dany running into the horse’s back-end. Each time she heard the grunt come first from Dany and then from Copper. Each time she described the tree bobbing up and down the full length of the driveway, she laughed harder. And every time she tried to describe the expressions of Dany and the horse, she’d double up laughing.

Now, every Christmas for the past dozen years or so, we have our own Christmas tale that never ceases to bring giggles and laughter to the audience who wants to listen.  I, on the other hand, picked up decorations off the driveway and out of the woods and graveyard for the next six months. And Copper continued to pull practical jokes on people whenever he was given the opportunity.

November 5, 2009 Posted by | horsing around, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Desire, With Wings Attached – Cancer Reasearch

Do Or Do Not – There Is No Try! ~ Yoda

This is something for Cancer Reasearch, (purposely spelled wrong – ask about it) that I wrote early in 2008.  My niece, Amanda Currie-Poirier of Giddy Up Pony Camp had won first in her division, the summer before. The division, “Dare To Wear Pink” was created and all the proceeds were sent to the cancer society for the purpose of research.

It is the hearts and the desires of all the world to find a cure for cancer. Slowly, ever so slowly, mankind is making progress. Through the generous donations and volunteer work, cancer is being slowly pushed back, hopefully into oblivion within my time.

Amands Currie Poirier with Caper's Haunting You

Amands Currie Poirier with Casper's Haunting You

The Wings of Desire were a part of the Provincial Old Home Week Equestrian Competitions of Prince Edward Island. The competition, “Dare To Wear Pink” category, is run on several different levels. All the proceeds, entry costs for both the competitor and spectator go to breast cancer research.

The western novice category last summer was won by my niece. She worked hard to find pink items to use and she wasn’t shy about wearing them either, even though she doesn’t like the color. Her horse, Casper’s Haunting You, is a grey, registered Quarterhorse and is not a stranger to the show ring, but my niece decided to enter him in the western pleasure, whereas he had always been shown in the English pleasure category. These are some pictures from the competition.

My mother, my niece’s grandmother, succumb to breast cancer turned lung cancer, on October 30th, 1982. This “Dare To Wear Pink” is for her memory. My dad died with liver cancer, on January 6th, 1991. Both were young people.


May 5, 2009 Posted by | Giddy Up Pony Camp | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can You Find The Seven Horses?

Perhaps we have all seen the amazing art of Jim Warren, even though we haven’t paid enough attention to the artist himself.  Warren has painted many of the stunning pictures that circulate the internet and this is but one of them. He has created a series of ‘find the hidden objects’ paintings with animal and marine life.

The inspiration for me to place this painting here, at this time, came from TrotonTV’s blog at blogspot, where he had placed an image of another seven horses.  He had created quite a stir.

Because of Jim Warren’s amazing abilities, I will be looking further into his work to see what other goodies he has painted. There are Seven Horses in this picture.  Not all of them are easy to see. Can you find them?



The artist, Jim Warren, had this to say about this painting”

“As a kid, I always enjoyed those drawings in activity books with the faces and animals hidden in it. But they were often too easy, even for your average half-witted 10 year old such as myself. So I painted “Seven Horses”, where each horse is a little harder than the next to find, until the seventh, which is almost impossible unless you’re Einstein, who is not alive. So if you find six, here is a hint for the seventh:  “


March 9, 2009 Posted by | horsing around | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Tip # 6

Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew….

Cute!!! I loved this scene from the Lord of the Rings – The Twin Towers! Of course, I loved the entire show, even though the Twin Towers deviated from Tolkien’s book.

Potatoes is my favorite cure-all treatment for horses!   I mean it!  If one of my horses is displaying any kind of imbalance or limp, I feed him/her potatoes – raw, cleaned, and as straight from the ground, as is possible.  But then, I feed all my horses one or two medium-size potatoes everyday as a preventative measure.

With potatoes, I’ve relieved the stress of arthritis, laminitis, post-legs, rheumatism, colic, pulled tendons and probably a number of maladies, that I didn’t even know they had.  I never wormed Copper the whole time I had him here on the islands (14 years) and he never had his teeth floated in his life (about thirty-one years now).  Different vets agreed that it wasn’t necessary with Copper because he kept his weight throughout the year. 

The Story of Copper:

Copper came to me because he was very sick and the veterinarian had given up all hope of saving the young horse’s life. He had laminitis/sunstroke/bummed up front knee/thrush/a touch of colic/ and probably a whole bunch of other things too.  He was off his feet, neither eating or drinking and lying out flat on the ground.   It was a hot day in July, but the vet didn’t put him down because the children were crying and totally upset and quite frankly wouldn’t let him.

After the vet left, his owner and more importantly, the crying children called me because they knew I had gone to university to study to become a veterinarian (I changed my major) and asked me to help.  I didn’t know about potatoes at that time.  I threw sheets that had been soaked in water, over the horse, head and all. That was to help get him through the day.  Late in the afternoon, he rose and drank some luke warm water.  In the evening, I walked him to my home, about 1500 yards away.  He walked on three legs and it took approximately two hours to go the distance, which was up hill.  When I got him home, I tethered him under the spruce, until I roped the trees off and he had his own small, branch-covered paddock. I had already trimmed the branches high enough up, so that he would not hurt himself.  He spent three years in that paddock, coming out only after the sun was low enough and going for an evening ride.  

It took a long time to bring Copper back, but it was worth it.  In those three years, I research and I learned everything I could about using natural healing products.  In that time, I wrote a book on medicinal plants and spoke with many elderly folk on what their parents did, when they weren’t feeling well.  

In one such conversation, an elderly lady was using raw potatoes to control her arthritis.  This made me very curious, because I knew that Copper was a candidate for arthritis.  I started giving him a potato every day.  After a day, I noticed he was more sprightly, feeling good in comparison to the weeks before.  After two days, his limp was noticable better.  After a week, he had no limp or swellings around his front knees or hocks.  

This was totally strange for me. I did more research, specifically on potatoes and found that they contained a natural, mild antibiotic. I had been giving him butezone, a steroid (from the vet who still swore he wouldn’t live two more months) which causes all kinds of stomach problems.  I stopped the bute treatements completely.  But even I never thought Copper would live a long life.  Personally, I gave him five years before having to put him down.  That was sixteen years ago.

Copper lived a very active life, after he got better.  He went on to learn how to jump and easily cleared four foot barrels with a rider.  I put him into a five foot boarded fence paddock, he made one turn around and jumped out.  All the children enjoyed his company and enjoyed their evening rides.  After a few years, his owner asked me to keep him or he would send him to Entry Island, where I had no contact with him. I kept him because Copper made me feel good.

A couple years later, I send him to the Giddy Up Pony Camp for one summer, to help teach youngsters how to ride.  A couple years later I send there for good. He was getting older and I had no facilities for him.  Eventually, he was retired to a farmer who’s mother wanted a horse to look after.  Copper has been there for years now. He is over 31 years old.

Since I learned about potatoes, I use them for preventative medicine because the horses love them.  It’s like giving candy to a child…, and it is cheaper than apples and carrots treats.  

Since I started using potatoes, I’ve told many people of the successes I’ve had and suggested they try them.  Everyone has said the same thing – that there is a notice improvement in their equine friends.

The Story of Topper:

But the most astonishing story I’ve heard of,  is the treatment of a thirty-year-old palomino gelding called Topper, who had broke his stifle a couple years previously and had diarrhea for months.  The owner was in a terrible state of mind.  She wasn’t ready to lose her friend.  I met her in the social networks and she explained the problem, the veternarian was coming on Monday to put him down.  It was Friday evening.  She was really stressed and it was coming over the computer loud and clear.

I suggested that she put the horse on a macrobiotic diet of plain oatmeal (porridge) and give him potatoes. Then I asked her how old the horse was…. She never told me. But she took two cut up raw potatoes out to her friend who to her surprise, gobbled them down. 

I met her the next day, on the net and asked how Topper was.  She said he seems to be standing straighter and his stools were thicker, but she still didn’t have much hope and was devastated.  She continued with the potatoes but not the macrobiotic diet.  I asked her again, how old her horse was and again she never answered.  

Sunday evening I spoke with her again and she was estatic.  She said Topper was walking around and then trotted and even cantered after his donkey companion. The diahhrea was gone and he had no limp. It was like the last five years never existed. Again I asked her how old Topper and for the third time she didn’t answer me.  The vet came on Monday and agreed there was an incredible change in the horse. He left after giving the horse a vitimin shot.

Like all good stories, this one has to come to an end.  This past fall, the lady decided it was time to put her horse to sleep.  The veterinarian came and administered the shots and the horse fell into a peaceful sleep.  I finally found out how old the horse was, 30 years.  I was stunned!!!  But the lady had six extra months to say good bye to her equine friend. That was six months to prepare for the inevitable.  Six months she wouldn’t have had without POTATOES!

Scientifically Speaking:

In a quick internet search, I found that medicinally speaking, it has been proven, scientifically that raw potatoes are good to relieve the stress of rheumatism. 

“To carry a raw potato in the pocket was an old-fashioned remedy against rheumatism that modern research has proved to have a scientific basis. Ladies in former times had special bags or pockets made in their dresses in which to carry one or more small raw potatoes for the purpose of avoiding rheumatism if predisposed thereto. Successful experiments in the treatment of rheumatism and gout have in the last few years been made with preparations of raw potato juice. In cases of gout, rheumatism and lumbago the acute pain is much relieved by fomentations of the prepared juice followed by an application of liniment and ointment. Sprains and bruises have also been successfully treated by the Potato-juice preparations, and in cases of synovitis rapid absorption of the fluid has resulted. Although it is not claimed that the treatment in acute gout will cure the constitutional symptoms, local treatment by its means relieves the pain more quickly than other treatment.”

Not all horses like potatoes at first  

Frilly for example, wouldn’t eat potatoes for the first few months I had her home here.  However, after seeing the other horses gobbling them away from her, she decided to try them.  Now she eats her share, but she is such a Princess and delicately nibbles at them, even still.  I wanted her eating them just in case I needed her to eat potatoes in the future for its medicinal qualities.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | health | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful…-

Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Plato.

Hot Water Bottles – Tip #2

Not so awful anymore since the really cold snap broke this morning. It was a sunny day and I removed all the blankets from the beasties. I think they appreciated it. A little vitamin D from the sun won’t hurt this time of the year. The record lows have taken me back almost a year, to that sad time my dear young Sammy died. I wrote about it in the first post, here on this weblog.

I guess it would be inevitable that I would think about that tragic time since Sammy died on the coldest day of 2008. It was on a cold morning, the last Friday in February, at 5am that she went down. She and the other horses were in the greenhouse and it wasn’t a bad day weather-wise. The other horses never liked Sammy and wouldn’t allow her to be a part of the herd. They accepted that the greenhouse was her area and they were visitors there but they didn’t much like her being around them. (More on this in another post later)

At 5 am, there was a holy ruckus in the greenhouse. I jumped out of bed and Cleigh jumped away from his computer and we both ran for the doors, me for the porch door and Cleigh for the living-room door. When I tried to open the door, the horses were scrambling, stampeding,  all three of them to get out of the greenhouse all at the same time through a 40 inch wide door opening. I couldn’t get out for them. In the meantime, Cleigh was having the time of his life getting the living room door open. The door was at the other end of the greenhouse and Sammy was laying down but squished up against the door that opened outwards.

The only thing possible was that she fell against the wall and door.  The other horses finally got out without tearing the wall off the greenhouse somehow and Cleigh and I were finally able to get out and inspect what had happened. Sammy was quiet but she was laying too close to the foundation and her head was turn up and in toward her body in an uncomfortable looking position, so Cleigh and I grabbed her by the halter and moved her around. Not an easy feat, I can tell you.

Sometime later in the day she went into a grand mal seizure.  I can’t say the exact time because I was upset.  After the seizure, I took her vitals and all was normal except her temperature was about two degrees too low.  I called the veterinarian and she told me I had to get the body temperature up.  She suggested I allow the horses in to help warm the air but they didn’t like Sammy and I couldn’t let them near her.  Their dislike was bad enough that I feared they would purposely trample her.

The temperature outside Sam's Pridewas dropping off fast and with it my filly’s temperature was going too. I had two small heating pads, one used microwave and the other hot water, but they just weren’t enough. We rigged two high powered workshop lamps close to Sammy that gave off a lot of heat and the greenhouse warmed up, but her temperature was still down in spite of two heavy winter horse blankets and lots of hay around her and the ground was warm.

I was at my wits end when it came to me.   Cleigh like his bottles of Coke Cola and I had about a dozen two-liter empty bottles.  I wasn’t long filling them with hot water from the tap.  I literally wrapped Sammy in hot water.  I wrapped each individual bottle with a towel and placed them around her body, under the winter blankets.

The reason why I’m writing this is that the hot water bottles worked and brought her temperature back to normal.  I guess it doesn’t matter that she died less then twenty-four hours later. The fact remains that the bottles did what I wanted them to do, and if anyone reading this finds that their horse or any living creature is cold, put a plastic bottle of hot water near them, making certain not to scald the skin.

January 18, 2009 Posted by | health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Anatomy : The Back

Horse Anatomy: The Back

The strength and structure of the back of a horse are critical for the usefulness of the animal. Since a horse is used for a variety of activities, it therefore is necessary for the user of the animal to understand the strengths and weaknesses that can occur with a particular horse. The back is a complex design of bone, muscle, tendons and ligaments that all work together to allow a horse to support the weight of a rider.

The shape of a horse’s back can vary from horse to horse, and it can change on an individual horse over the years, as the horse ages. The topline’ of the back is the upper curvature of the withers through the back and to the loin area, whereas the underline’ is the length of belly from the elbow to the flank. Both lines work together, to enable the horse to move flexibly. The abdominal muscles where the underline is, can provide tremendous support to the back when well conditioned. A long underline’ in relation to a shorter topline’ is ideal for riding activities.

The average horse can carry up to approximately 25% of its own body weight. This also depends on body structure or the conformation and the physical condition of the horse. In other words, a horse with well-developed abdominal and back muscles, will be able to carry more weight for a longer time, than one that is not in good shape.

A roach’ back and a sway’ back are two primary flaws in back conformation. A roach’ back or a straight back on a horse is when there is insufficient curvature of the spine and is not as common as a sway’ back or a normal back. The sway back is when there is too much curvature. Either conformation can be distressful to a horse, but can also be, if not overcome completely, than aided with proper attention.

A Study of a Horses Back

A Study of a Horses Back

The ideal length of a horse’s back is one third of the entire length of the body. A long backed horse is when the length from the peak of the withers to the point of the hip exceeds a third of the overall body length or from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock, excluding the head and neck. Whereas, a short back is less that one third of the body length.

An example of a long backed horse might be that of a gaited’ horse, such as an American Saddlebred or a Tennessee Walking Horse, though not all long backs are gaited’. The advantage of riding these types of horses is that the back is flexible, making the back flatter, quieter and an overall smoother ride. The disadvantage is that it is difficult for the horse to round his back up for tight, quick maneuvers. An example of a short back could be but not necessarily is Arabians, Morgans or the American Quarter Horse. The advantage to a short back is that the horse is quick, agile and strong, able to change direction with ease. However, a short back is usually less flexible and could lead to spinal arthritis.

In determining the conformation of the back of a horse, a rider can decide if a particular horse will be a suitable mount. It will tell the rider whether or not the horse in question will suffer from exposure to the work determined by that rider. If an animal is showing signs of back pain, a veterinarian experienced in large animal care or an experienced horse owner can palpate the back of a horse to pinpoint sources of pain and from there and assess the most likely cause of the pain, thereby following the proper course of treatment.

November 9, 2008 Posted by | anatomy, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Sam’s Pride

This is my first post and it is a sad one. Last year I bought four horses. Two of them were almost twin-looking, Standardbred fillies off the race track. One, the youngest was called Sam’s Pride. This is the story of the last couple of days of her life.

Horse Seizures

I lost a 2-year-old filly, Sam’s Pride in February 2008, to seizures. I’ve had horses for 45 years and I had never heard of a horse taking seizures before.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

I had asked the vet about the strange behaviors that this young filly was having and then the horse owners at the local race track, including her previous owner, if they could identify the actions. Mostly the men said “no”, gave me a weird look, like I was exaggerating and said it must be some form of colic. So I agreed with them. If nothing else I learned a lot about colic and I learned that my dear Sammy was never colicky.

We live on an island, in the middle of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.  At the end of January, the ice starts to form and fill the Gulf, stopping all ocean going traffic, leaving the islands in isolation for two months.  The ferry service resumes around the first of April.

The last week in February, at 5:00am, Sammy fell down in her favorite place, in the large greenhouse, next to the house and stayed down. We could hear the disturbance and we went running for the door. Sammy was lying on a very soft area of ground close to an electrical outlet, where I placed heat lamps and kept the temperature in the building warm.  I also kept hot water bottles around her, on the hay covered, soft ground and under the two winter horse blankets that she was covered with.  Her body temperature had dropped to a level that concerned me and at the suggestion of the veterinarian, I brought her body temperature back to normal levels.

Up until this point, I had been using the word ‘convulsion’ to describe some of her strange actions, which would explain severe colic in young horses.  When she fell, she had a ‘grand mal’ seizure, but since I had never seen this thrashing about before, I still used the word ‘convulsion’ when describing her strange actions.  But I also told people that she was thrashing about, even though it didn’t appear like she was trying to get up.   She didn’t seem to have any pain, however she seemed confused and very tired after the thrashing stopped. Thirty hours after she first went down, a group of horse men and I tried to lift her in a sling, set up with a block and tackle.  Mostly she refused to help and behaved like a kitten being moved about, in its mother mouth.  Still, it was obvious that she had strength and the ability for strong movement, in all four of her legs.

I had a second veterinarian in to see her, about an hour after we tried to sling her up and the lady couldn’t find anything to say the horse was even sick. Tests had already been done on her stools and blood. They came back normal earlier in the month. Her temperature was normal as was her heart, lungs, gums, ears, eyes and nose.  Her stools were clean and proper, her urine was fine.  She was eating, in fact like most horses, she rarely stopped eating, even while the vet examined her.  The lady couldn’t find anything wrong with her legs. There were no swellings or cuts on her body, to indicate that the herd had damaged her in any way.  I also know this was the case, since the filly stayed with me, because the herd didn’t want her around them.  She was a good weight for her age, not too heavy or too thin.

The veterinarian gave her a vitamin shot and antibiotics, explaining that they won’t hurt her, but she couldn’t find an infection.  She gave me more and explained how and when to give the shots.  The veterinarian said that if she didn’t get up on her own within forty-eight hours, then it would be best to put her down.  I had asked the veterinarian if she had ever seen anything like this before and she had said no, never in horses. To say she was perplexed would be an understatement.

My dear young filly, Sam’s Pride, “Sammy” died of natural causes twelve hours later. Having an autopsy preformed was impossible due to the lack of facilities on the islands and the costs of such a procedure.  Then, of course the worry came, that perhaps she had something contagious, something  that had been passed on to the other horses.  It was a week later, before I realized that she had been having increasingly severe seizures and eventually she went into one and never survived it. Calls to the equine hospital on Prince Edward Island, had finally determined that something had probably blocked the oxygenated blood from her lungs to her brain through the aortic arch.

I could never have saved Sammy, I know that now, even if I had been able to get sammyher to the equine hospital.  Living on an ice bound island at the end of February, made that impossible.  It was likely even with anti-convulsive medication, she would still be a risk around other animals and people.

Perhaps she had an operable tumor or a removable blood clot, that caused the seizures. I would have spent all my savings and everything else to save her, but in the end, no matter what, my Sammy had to die. My reasoning is that she could never be trusted, not to take other seizures and therefore had to be kept isolated. That would not have been fair to this young horse.

My dear little Sammy had lived a hard life, as an investment at the track and was just learning love and to show love, when she died.  She would try to mimic me when I gave her kisses on her neck and face by putting her lips to my cheek and make a sucking sound, much like sucking up water.  She also let me know when she needed a hug, something I gave her frequently. When I was near, she would come close, close enough to push me off my feet and wrap her neck and head around my neck and wait for me to wrap my arms around her neck and chest and hold her. She had just learned what love was….

I love my other horses, but the loss of Sammy broke my heart.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | health | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments