“Would You Rather?” Equestrian Edition- Second Installment

Welcome to the second installment of “Would You Rather?” Equestrian Edition.

The questions below come courtesy of the website Horse Nation at https://www.horsenation.com/2015/05/05/equestrian-would-you-rather-spring-edition/.

I detailed my own answers to the first five questions in a previous post at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/would-you-rather-equestrian-edition-first-installment/. Here I am addressing the last five. Let’s get to it.

Question #6- Would you rather own a plain bay that’s low-maintenance to clean or an eye-catching gray that’s constantly filthy?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Dapple grey’s are SO striking, but I am a low-maintenance kind of gal (this coming from someone who currently has two pinto-colored horses with eight white legs between them- I did not set it up this way on purpose!). So I will go with the plain-jane bay. But you know what, bay is actually one of my favorite horse colors. I think bay is beautiful, not plain! Or maybe I think plain is beautiful? Whatever the case, bays are fabulous in my book.

Question #7- Would you rather only ever ride one discipline but be a champion within it or get the opportunity to dabble in many?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- I have already dabbled in a number of disciplines without any championships to my name. See my previous post at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/07/the-equestrian-world-a-wonderful-array-of-breeds-and-disciplines/. So it would be a fun change of pace to be a champion or high-point in one discipline. The sense of mastery would be so satisfying. Not that I know . . .

Question #8- Would you rather never see snow again or never see mud again?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Winter can be harsh, but snow is pretty. Mud is not pretty. You can ride in snow. Mud not so much. I would rather never see mud again.

Question #9- Would you rather shed out all of that hair manually or body clip?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- I can’t body clip to save my life so . . . manually.

Question #10- Would you rather lose halters or lose fly masks out in the pasture?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- I guess I would rather lose halters. I pick this answer because I don’t usually leave halters on my horses when they are unattended. I would rather not lose fly masks because my current horses do frequently wear them outside during buggy weather. Bear rarely wore fly masks when he was younger, but his eyes are more watery now that he is in his twenties and has an official PPID diagnosis. And Shiloh is suspected by the vet to have seasonal allergies. The fly mask seems to cut down on his rubbing his eyes (the rubbing led to an emergency vet visit last year when he injured an eye- not good for Shiloh and not good for my pocketbook).

See my previous post “Got Fly Mask” to view the masks I like to use at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/got-fly-mask/.

If you would care to share, let me know what your own answers are in the comments section!

Ten Ideas For Using Obstacles in Small Spaces

For those of you who like to incorporate obstacle work into your rides, you might find your creativity stymied by space.

Maybe you have your own backyard-horse property that would fit on a postage stamp. Maybe you have to always share an arena with other boarders. Whatever the case, you just don’t have the luxury of a sizable area in which to work and lay out a bunch of obstacles.

Even so, there are ways to practice a variety of skills with your horse over obstacles in a small space via layering. I refer to layering as adding one obstacle on top of or very close to the other to encompass a variety of “on the spot” movements or activities.

For example, over the Memorial Day weekend, I set up a 6 foot by 8 foot tarp and placed two PVC pipe poles across two tarp ends (with the edges of the poles inside four cones laid down on their sides to prevent the poles from rolling off). A few feet away from the tarp, I hooked a plastic flower basket filled with faux flowers to a fence. You could also hook the basket to the top of a tall cone, plastic barrel or jump standard.

With this little set up, I can practice doing ten different activities with my horse:

1) walk across the tarp width-wise between the poles
2) walk across the first pole, the tarp and the next pole by traversing the tarp length-wise
3) stop my horse on the tarp (four feet on the tarp or two feet on the tarp)
4) stop on the tarp and proceed forward
5) stop on the tarp and back off the tarp
6) stop in the middle and sidepass towards one pole on one side and then the other
7) traverse tarp length-wise while stopping your horse over the middle of the first pole (or the second)
8) sidling over to the flower basket, pick it up and proceed to ride (one-handed) over the tarp while holding the basket
9) do items #1 through #6 one-handed while holding the basket
10) sidle back over to the fence, barrel or jump standard and hang up basket

Don’t forget groundwork. Here Shiloh shows off his ground-tie know how.

Precisely because of working in a small space, you get a good sense of how much influence (or not!) you have over your horse with your aids. These types of activities will readily show you which movements you and your horse struggle to execute as well as where you both shine.

Do you have a way that you like to use obstacles in a small space?

*Keep in mind that if your horse is not accustomed to working individually with all elements of the obstacle, first practice with each obstacle separately so you don’t overface your horse.*

If you are a Pinterest user, here are two different pins that link to this post. Feel free to share them on your horse-related boards.

Book Review: Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses-Recognition and Application

Ever heard of calming signals in dogs? They are not exclusive to canines. According to the book’s author, Rachaël Draaisma, horses use them too. She notes that horses use these signals to calm themselves and those around them (including humans) to reduce stress, avoid conflict and maintain social relationships.

Calming signals are “. . . the (relationship managing) signals that horses give in response to stimuli in their environment that they want to calm or appease in order to avert conflict and maintain social relationships . . . Calming signals are also used when the horse wants to calm himself.”

From Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses by Rachael Draaisma

The author, a behavior consultant and trainer from The Netherlands, filled the book with excellent descriptions and lots of color photographs and charts. The book goes beyond basic body language that most equestrians are already familiar with and details all sorts of nuanced behavior. As the title suggests, the author weaves in many ideas for working with your horse in light of whatever communication signals they are displaying.

“. . . to give a complete picture of the many ways in which a horse communicates with and experiences the world, other communication signals were also added during the course of the research. These included calming signals, displacement activities, stress signals and distance increasing signals . . . Recognizing the communication signals of your horse better enables you to design and customize a socialization or training plan. It also improves your relationship with your horse, as well as maintain his mental and physical health.”

From Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses by Rachael Draaisma

Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses: Recognition and Application is an in-depth yet easy-to-read book that strangely has not gotten a lot of attention in the horse world. I have seen almost no press about it. Yet I think it is one of the most interesting and insightful horse books I have ever read. It opened my eyes to several horse behaviors that I previously misinterpreted. Or simply missed altogether.

The book also helped me name behaviors that I have observed but couldn’t identify exactly. For example, I started to notice a pattern with my horse, Bear, during the three year period where I fostered a series of nine horses for a local rescue. Every time I introduced a new horse into the pasture, I found that for the first day or so Bear would come in between me and the new horse whenever I was in the pasture. He did it very smoothly, very quietly, very politely. He was not being aggressive or pushy. He would simply block my approach by watching my every move and slipping his body sideways between me and the other horse before I got too close.

I got the distinct impression he was either trying to protect me from the new horse or protect the new horse from me. So eventually before approaching the new horse, I would stand with Bear and simply observe the new horse for awhile from a distance before leaving Bear’s side and approaching the other horse. This seemed to diminish Bear’s tendency to supervise my pasture activities and very quickly the behavior would completely disappear until I brought in the next foster horse. I thought it was the weirdest thing. It almost didn’t seem real. Was I imagining this?

When I read the book’s section about something the author calls “splitting”, I had a big “ah- ha” moment. The book notes that “Horses split when they want to prevent a possible conflict between two parties. When a horse splits, he changes position in order to literally form a barrier between two parties.” So I wasn’t imagining Bear’s behavior after all! This was in fact “a thing” that horses do sometimes.

Now interpreting the exact meaning of that behavior is another matter, but the author notes it does have a protective and/or resource guarding motivation. Did Bear want to protect me or the new horse from harm? Did Bear want to keep me “the food bearer” to himself? I have about a thousand theories on the subject of “why” and how the behavior may reflect on our relationship, both positive and negative, but that could make the subject of its very own post. I’ll have to save that analysis for some other time.

Whatever his exact motivation, I know that Bear is a very cautious horse by nature in any novel situation. It makes sense to me that he might be nervous about possible conflict. It also makes sense to me that by my taking the time to acknowledge his concern (by joining in with Bear in observing the horse before approaching) that it might have helped Bear to feel more secure and less like he had to protect/guard all parties involved.

The book is chock full of all sorts of fascinating tidbits and insights. It will most likely expand and challenge some of the information you have been told about horses. It definitely made me look at various horse behaviors and my interpretation of them in a different light.

I realize that not everyone who reads this book will agree with all the research and conclusions that the author has made, but I think this book has a real contribution to make to horsemanship. If this post has piqued your interest, I highly suggest you buy yourself a copy.

Special thank you to horse professional, Andrea Datz from the Restoration Ranch in Fruita, Colorado, for first making me aware of this book. You can visit Andrea’s website at https://www.andreadatz.com.

Another horse professional who incorporates awareness of calming signals in her work is Anna Blake. In fact, prior to my reading “Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses”, I first learned of calming signals from Anna Blake’s blog Relaxed and Forward at https://annablake.com/relaxed-forward-blog/.

In addition to her Relaxed and Forward blog, Anna has published a number of books. If you would be interested in reading a review of one of Anna Blake’s books, go to Anne Leueen’s blog Horse Addict at https://horseaddict.net/2019/10/12/book-review-going-steady-by-anna-blake/. Anne reviews Anna Blake’s book Going Steady: More Relationship Advice From Your Horse. Apparently I am not the only fan of Anna Blake’s work.

Happy reading!

“Would You Rather?” Equestrian Edition- First Installment

Photo taken from website Befunky

I like reading “This or That” and “Would You Rather” questions with an equestrian theme. I came across this previously posted “Would You Rather” edition on Horse Nation at https://www.horsenation.com/2015/05/05/equestrian-would-you-rather-spring-edition/.

The Horse Nation post consists of ten questions. For my purposes on The Backyard Horse Blog, I am dividing the ten questions into two posts.

I give my own answers to the first five questions here and then will tackle the final five questions next week.

If you would like to play along, I’d love to read your own answers to these questions. I think it would be fun to see readers’ different perspectives on the answers. Viva la différence!

Question #1- Would you rather show a world-class animal in your discipline of choice or take the world’s greatest trail horse out on the trails?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Oh, shoot. Right off the bat they start with a tough question. I can’t decide. Can I do both, please! I guess with my back to the wall, I’d pick the “greatest trail horse out on the trail” because combining horses and nature is about as good as it gets in my book. But still, I would LOVE that world-class horse opportunity too!

Question #2- Would you rather never see a case of thrush or never see rain rot ever again?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Hmmm, I pick never see thrush again. My thinking is that thrush can potentially lead to lameness. Lameness for a thousand pound animal who spends most of his time on his or feet is a real problem. So I am sticking with “never ever thrush”.

Question #3- Would you rather never run out of fly spray or never lose another horse shoe in the mud?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Never lose another horse shoe. None of my horses are currently shod, but both have been shod at various times in the past for different reasons. Like thrush, losing a shoe could lead to lameness. And I’m still with the whole “lameness for a thousand pound animal who spends most of his time on his feet is a real problem” spiel.

Question #4- Would you rather forget to turn OFF the electric fence when you were supposed to or forget to turn ON the electric fence when you were supposed to?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Well, I really hate to touch electric fencing when I have forgotten to turn it off. Ouch! But, when I am using electric fence strips, it is to keep a horse secured for their own safety so I would have to pick “would rather forget to turn OFF the electric fence”.

Question #5- Would you rather have lush, fertile pastures that you have to walk twenty minutes on foot to access or a so-so paddock close to the barn?

The Backyard Horse Blog Answer- Definitely a so-so paddock close to the barn. I have one horse, Bear, with PPID & EMS who has experienced bouts of laminitis due in part to the lush grass on my property. The other horse, Shiloh, is an easy keeper who, no doubt, is at risk of developing weight-related health problems. So while I wouldn’t mind walking horses out to a far pasture, a lush and fertile pasture isn’t the greatest thing for my particular horses.

Stayed tuned for my answers to the next five questions in a future post. Feel free to share your own answers in the comments section below!

Got Hay Bags?

Fellow horse blogger, Alli, from the Heart Horse and Hoof blog at https://hearthorseandhoof.com/ inquired about the hay bags I use. Funny that I was thinking about doing a post about these hay bags. Her inquiry prompted me to bring the idea to fruition!

While I do use various kinds of hay bags, I have to say that the Nibblenets from http://www.thinaircanvas.com are some of my favorites. I purchased my first set of Nibblenets about ten years ago. I still use some of those bags! And the bags that I have purchased more recently have been just as well made as the ones I bought many years ago. The quality remains consistent.

Nibblenets are tuff and sturdy! Really well made. I use my bags on a daily basis, hung outside around the run-in shed where they are exposed to horses teeth, rain, wind, sub-zero temperatures in the Winter and humid 100 degree days in the Summer.

They come in different sizes, colors and configurations. They are not cheap to purchase, but considering how long they last, you definitely get your money’s worth.

Nibblenets are also easy to clean. I periodically rinse with water and scrub with a plastic kitchen-type scrub brush. The webbing can absorb smells so I sometimes leave them out in the sun on a warm dry, day to try to kill those odors.

In addition to the bags themselves, I love the straps that come with them. The straps are really well made; I have not had one break on me yet. They are made with snaps on both ends that make them really versatile. I like being able to adjust the hanging height of the bags as I’ve always had horses of different sizes (I prefer to hang the bags as low as I feel I can safely do so without risking a horse potentially hooking a hoof over the straps if they should rear or kick).

Here is a flash-back photo from 2012 featuring my pony, Pumpkin Spice, and one of the smaller sized Nibblenets. In addition to using my Nibblenets at home, I find them wonderful for traveling. Easy to fill and easy to hang with the straps both inside & outside a trailer.

While I am sure my horses prefer to eat their hay without it being hidden behind netting, I like being able to slow down their rate of eating and keep the hay clean. I do typically feed one meal a day on the ground, but the other two meals are presented in hay bags. I wonder about how eating from a hay bag affects a horse’s body. Since they are designed to eat with the neck extended down and head on the ground, you have to wonder if there are any long term physical effects from eating in a different posture? I keep my eye out for any new research on this matter. I have not personally noted any negative effects, but just like with our own bodies, I am not sure we really realize the long-term effects of certain repetitive activities until many years down the road.

New hay bag users should note that there can be a learning curve with these bags. Of the six horses I have owned and the nine foster horses I have kept, all of them learned to use the nibblenets without issue. But when I first introduce hay bags, I always help the horse by pulling little tufts of hay out of the bag and leaving them there for the horse to find. Otherwise, learning to use the bag can be an exercise in frustration.

I remember the first time I used the Nibblenets with the three horses I had when I first purchased the bags. My horses Bear and Fate figured the bags out very quickly. But my horse, Blue, couldn’t get any hay out at first. I later found him just standing in front of the hay bag with his head hanging low. He looked miserable! So lesson learned- I pull out tufts for the first few days until I see that they have the hang of it. The size of the holes will make a difference too. The larger holes will make it easier for a horse to access the hay at first. You may find over time though that you need to move to a bag with smaller holes. Now that Bear has been eating from the hay bags for about ten years, he needs smaller holes than what he started off with to really slow down the rate of feeding. But even the larger size holes continue to provide a slower-feeding hay experience than he’d get from hay on the ground.

So thanks again to Alli from the Hear Horse and Hoof Blog at https://hearthorseandhoof.com/ for giving me impetus to complete this post.

If you are interested in the Nibblenets, go to http://www.thinaircanvas.com to learn more and place an order.

Got Fly Mask?

It has been an unusually cool Spring in my neck of the woods. I have only had the fly masks on the horses a handful of times so far this year. But the hot and humid weather that attracts bugs is likely just around the corner.

If you are searching for a new fly mask this year, check out the Greater British Equinery of Indiana at https://greatbritishequinery.com/. They sell fly masks made by the UK company, Harrison Howard.

What first attracted me to this brand is the sheer material. So many fly masks sport materials, colors or patterns that I suspect block a horse’s vision. These Harrison Howard masks, especially the lighter color ones, are wonderfully sheer while still claiming to block 60 percent of UV rays. Despite the high visibility factor, the material is strong. I have masks that are almost a year old and have no tears yet. The eye darts work to keep the material off the eyes and the padding around the ears and nose-band seems like a comfortable touch.

These fly masks stay on quite well even during a roll! My horses have only ditched their masks maybe once or twice in a year’s time. Here Shiloh sports a fly mask entering its second season of wear and still in great condition.

I also really like that the masks come in different sizes and in various configurations (with ears and without, short and long). My horse, Bear, is well-fitted in the Cob size, while Shiloh takes the Large horse size. I have often gotten the sense that Bear does not like his ears covered so I generally have him wear the mask without ears (and wipe or roll-on fly spray on the ears). Shiloh seems fine with his ears covered so he gets the full one.

The masks come in a vacuumed-type bag so the mask is stored flat in the package. I suggest letting the mask “fluff up” overnight by taking it out of the bag. Hang it up with the eye darts pushed out so that the mask will be in the proper form before you place it on the horse the next day. If you are having trouble getting the eye darts to stand up, you can try applying clothes pins to help set the form while the mask hangs overnight.

The masks are easy to clean either by hand or in the washer (in a mesh bag so it doesn’t get caught on the agitator).

Last year, I met Debbie of the Greater British Equinery of Indiana at a horse show. She was so friendly, and I really enjoyed talking with her. Her website is attractive and easy to use. My orders shipped out promptly.

Check out these fly masks and many more horse items sold through Great British Equinery of Indiana at https://greatbritishequinery.com/!

The Rehabilitation of Regal

Photo of Regal taken from Horse Nation website where his stories appear

If you have read my post about fostering horses for a local rescue, it will come as no surprise that animal rescue stories capture my attention. Reading about an animal leaving a bad situation and moving on to lead a normal life is refreshing and inspiring to me.

Of course, every journey does not have a happy ending. Sometimes in rescue, as in the rest of life, there are unfortunate occurrences. Some things can’t be fixed.

In those cases, I still marvel at what fortune the animal had to find good care towards the end. Even if that good care was not enough to sustain life, I ponder what relief the animal experienced in the midst of his or her suffering after rescue.

What must that be like to go from thirsty and starving to receiving adequate water and food? What must that be like to go from hurting to receiving pain relief? What must that be like to be forgotten and later have someone notice your needs? What must that be like to know indifference and later to experience healing intentions from your caretakers?

I have been reading on the website Horse Nation the ongoing story of the rehabilitation of a horse named Regal. So far, there are three installments posted about Regal’s story. This horse is far from out of the woods, but I am rooting for Regal and his caretakers.

Even if his story does not have a happy ending, I would still say this is a lucky horse. If you would like to read about Regal’s ongoing rehabilitation, please visit the following:

The Rehabilitation of Regal: The Beginning

The Rehabilitation of Regal: 21 Day Update

The Rehabilitation of Regal: Home Sweet Home

Page From The Horse Trailer Diaries- May 9th, 2020

Today I pulled my horse trailer out of the barn where it sat over Winter. I dusted it off, drove it around the country block, checked the tire air-pressure and looked the trailer over for damage. I also brought out Bear and Shiloh for a little test-load. I hadn’t trailed them anywhere since last Fall. I wanted to see if the horses acted as rusty as the trailer looked.

Speaking of the rust, my plan was to have the trailer painted last year, but I had a difficult time finding someone in my price range who could fit me into their schedule. Long story short, the trailer went into Winter storage sadly unpainted.

I make sure to get the trailer inspected and the wheel-bearings packed on a yearly basis in an effort to keep the trailer road worthy. I would also like to be able to look at the trailer without wincing, ya know?

I noramlly do the first load of the year on a day where I don’t plan to travel. Takes the pressure off. It allows me to make mistakes with less risk to the horses as I get used to the whole process again.

I ended up parking the trailer further up the driveway than I usually do and decided to lead both horses up to the trailer at the same time. Shiloh on my right and Bear on my left. As we strolled, I noticed that the truck was really shiny with the sun glinting off the chrome in a funny way.

About that time, I saw out of the side of my right eye that Shiloh looked a bit alarmed as we approached the truck. I decided to continue confidently walking while hoping that both horses would follow in lockstep. They kept up with me as we began to make the final turn towards the back of the trailer.

Somewhere through the turn, someone spooked. I was not stepped on or bumped in the process, but Bear ended up on the right side of Shiloh instead of the left side of me. Bear’s extra-long lead rope now draped over Shiloh’s back, and I surprisingly still had hold of both horses. The scene looked like we had played a round of double-Dutch jump rope. After rearranging the horses, I gave them a moment to breath, lick and chew, sniff noses and enjoy a couple of forehead rubs. Then I pointed towards the trailer and in they went. Bear first. Shiloh second.

I know from past experience that it is a pleasure to travel with your horses so frequently that you develop a well-timed routine. It takes the anxiety level way down for horse and human alike. So much easier than when you only travel every once in awhile. With a frequently executed routine, everyone knows their place. Everyone knows the order. Everyone knows the idea is to go as a little group and return as a little group. The process feels safe and familiar. Camaraderie builds. I imagine that is what it must feel like to travel in a herd.

I was pleased to see that both horses loaded up easily. So pleased, in fact, that I forgot to put up either butt bar. INSERT NOTE TO SELF. You don’t really want two horses deciding to back out at the same time. Think bumper-car potential. Fortunately in this case, Bear and Shiloh each backed out safely and separately.

So to sum up May 9th, 2020. . . Horses loaded easily. Horses unloaded easily. Horses safe and in one piece. It made for a good day; something I hope the horses and I have the opportunity to build on as the year continues.

The trailer is rusted. I am rusty with the trailer loading details (put up the butt bars!). But today Bear and Shiloh proved well-oiled.

New Documentary Film: Lady Long Rider

Photo taken from Bernice End’s website at http://www.endeofthetrail.com

Please note this update to the original post: I am sad to learn that Bernice Ende died on October 2nd, 2021 at her sister’s home in New Mexico. A post on Bernice’s blog, written by her family, thanked everyone for their kind thoughts and wishes regarding her passing. They noted that Bernice’s two Fjord horses will stay with the family and will continue to be ridden through the mountains as a way for the family to stay connected to Bernice. Her family also noted that the End of The Trail website will be shut down in the near future, per Bernice’s request. If the link to the website included in this post no longer works by the time you read this, you will know why. Bernice was quite the inspiration to so many. Even though Bernice may be gone, her story remains.

Many of you have probably already heard of Bernice End and/or the Long Rider’s Guild. But did you know that there is now a new documentary about Bernice? Entitled “Lady Long Rider- How far one woman went to find herself- The Story of Bernice Ende”, it is a film by Wren Winfield and W+ E1 Productions.

I have not yet seen the documentary, but I got chills when I read the description.

From Bernice Ende’s post about the documentary, “Approaching her 50th birthday, Bernice Ende picked up the reins and rode south on a borrowed horse. Her plan was to visit her sister, a 2000-mile ride from Montana to New Mexico. She never imagined that facing the challenges of life alone on the road, would take her so much further…. In Lady Long Rider, Bernice shares the miles of insight she gained on the horseback ride that ultimately became a 15-year 30,000-mile journey of self discovery.”

Bernice notes in her blog post that she was surprised at how well the hour-long film captures the essence of her journey. To read more about the documentary go to https://www.endeofthetrail.com/2020/05/03/documentary-film-release/.

To purchase the documentary through the filmmaker, Wren Winfield, at W+E1 Productions go to https://www.ladylongrider.com/.

If you have not read Bernice Ende’s book yet, I would suggest you pick up a copy of “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback”. You can find it in most places where books are sold including directly from her website at https://www.endeofthetrail.com. At her website, you can also sign up to follow her blog.

Photo taken from Bernice End’s website at http://www.endeofthetrail.com

Prepared to be inspired by the length, breadth and scope of Bernice Ende’s riding adventures!

Rolling Over

Do you like to watch horses roll? I find it amazing and amusing. Think how strong you have to be to be able to get up, get down and flip sides over your back when you are around 1,000 pounds. As I marvel as a horse’s physical prowess, I find the antics just plain fun to watch. All the wriggling, shaking, facial expressions, grunts and more.

In addition to the enjoyment factor, I like to watch my horses roll to help me assess their physical condition. For example, I was clued into Bear’s arthritis several years go when I saw him limping one time right after rising. Interestingly, when I first saw this behavior, I had not yet noticed a difference in his performance under saddle or elsewhere. I had no idea that he was struggling with the development of a hind-limb lameness until I saw him take those stilted steps after getting up. On a similar note, I had a pony named Pumpkin Spice who would roll, but not flip from side to side over his back. He would go down, wriggle around on one side, get up and then wriggle around on the other side. Turned out he had some back issues that improved with regular chiropractic work, and eventually allowed him to apparently roll over comfortably.

May 1st was a wonderful weather day where I live. Perfect for spending time with a horse. So I tacked up Shiloh and off we went for a little ride. I know that post-ride, Shiloh almost always likes to take a roll once he is untacked, rubbed down and released back to his own devices (with his fly mask on for bug protection). I had my phone handy so I could capture this rolling sequence shown below.

What do you like most about watching a horse roll?

Fun Idea From A Fellow Equine Blogger

I got the idea for this post from fellow equine blogger, Reese, and her Horses of the Ozark Hills blog at https://horsesoftheozarkhills.com.

Wouldn’t that be so cool to go trail riding in the Ozarks? I am jealous!

Reese recently designed a fun post about making horse & dog friendly treats at https://horsesoftheozarkhills.com/healthy-treats-for-horses-dogs/. She encouraged her readers to try the recipe out for themselves. So I did.

Here is the recipe ingredients as featured on the Horses of the Ozark Hills blog:
2 cups quick oats
1 cup flour
1 cup shredded carrots
¾ cup apple sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup coconut oil

Here is my own version of the recipe based on what I already had in my pantry:
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup cinnamon apple sauce
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I bet honey would be delicious too)

*Optional ingredient is ground cinnamon used as a light dusting over the treat balls after baking.

Mix all ingredients into balls, place on baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Dust with cinnamon right after coming out of the oven.
Let cool an hour before placing in air-tight container.

I had fun making these treats. While they baked in the oven, the treats filled the kitchen with a delicious, wholesome aroma. More importantly, my horses both gave them the seal of approval.

And bonus points: I discovered that my horse, Bear, liked them so much that they acted as good “pill pockets” for his medication. Bear generally takes his two daily pills mixed into his pelleted ration balancer. Sometimes, though, he goes through periods where he manages to eat every single pellet and leaves the pills. During these times, I have to hide the pills inside something otherwise forbidden to him like a fig newton. Eventually, Bear will start eating his pills in his ration balancer again . . . until the next time that he doesn’t. I would guess these treats made here are lower in calories, sugar and preservatives than the fig newtons. They are easy to use with the pills too. I had no trouble gently inserting the pills in a treat ball, and the pills did not make the balls fall apart. I am so pleased to find this fig newton alternative. Thank you to Reese and her Horses of the Ozark Hills blog for the inspiration!

Treat as “equine pill pocket”

Don’t forget to stop by Reese’s Horses of the Ozark Hills blog at https://horsesoftheozarkhills.com to check it out and follow along.

A final note here- If you would like to make treats as possible gifts to share with other horse owners, you could use a plastic food storage container with lid. Decorate it by taking a piece of horse themed wrapping paper or fabric, wrapping a ribbon around a rubber band and placing the paper/fabric over the top of the storage cup lid, securing it with the ribbon-wrapped paper band.