Gotta Love Those OTTB’s

With my pinto-colored gaited horses in my backyard, you may be surprised to know that I am a Thoroughbred fan.

As a child/pre-teen, I rode my fair share of Half-Thoroughbreds in huntseat and jumping lessons at various barns and camps. My aunt also bred her Appaloosa mare to a Thoroughbred stallion. The resulting foal went on to place at the World Appaloosa Show in Green Working Hunters under professional tutelage.

My most recent experience with a Thoroughbred took place when I fostered several years ago an aged TB gelding named Henry for the Indiana Horse Rescue. He had a lip tattoo that was unreadable at that point, but it certainly indicated he had a racing history of some sort. Tall (about 17 hands) and lanky, Henry presented as a gentle giant. I really enjoyed getting to know him for a brief time before he was adopted.

Here was OTTB foster horse, Henry, and my horse, Bear. You can see a bit of a height differential, yes?

I myself am short in stature, put together with short arms and short legs. While I am happy to ride pretty much any kind of horse (or mule or donkey!), I unfortunately don’t see myself buying/adopting a thoroughbred even though I admire them. Over the years, I discovered that I just feel a lot more comfortable and confident when mounted on a short, compact horse. Short and compact doesn’t describe most TB’s.

Even so, I enjoy reading information about various Thoroughbred makeover events and about the non-for-profit organizations like CANTER (https://www.canterusa.org/) and Friends of Ferdinand (https://friendsofferdinand.com/) that work in finding new homes for OTTB’s (off-the-track-thoroughbreds).

Eariler this Summer, I received a free copy of the Summer 2020 issue of Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine and was thrilled to read it. It was very informative, well-laid out with really interesting articles.

If there are any OTTB fans out there who haven’t seen this magazine, it is definitely worth a look. Find out more about the magazine or sign up to subscribe at https://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/join-ottb-magazine.

Ending August with More Products From The Great British Equinery

As we come towards the last days of August, I thought a final “Summer” themed post would be apt. Fall is my favorite time of year, and while a change of calendar does not necessarily correspond with cooler weather, the arrival of September gives me hope.

Where I live, this past week has been a bit of a scorcher with high temps and humidity. You can bet that I have been riding at dawn again.

Imagine my excitement to receive some more items from the Great British Equinery of Indiana to take my mind off of the heat. I noticed they were hosting a sale, so I decided to purchase another fly mask. I often buy seasonal items at the end of a season with a discount. My goal is usually to keep the items set aside until next year’s season. It is one way for me to keep a few new items on hand at prices more in keeping with my budget.

Along with the fly mask I ordered, Debbie with the Great British Equinery added a bag of the Hilton Herbs Herball treats for Bear and Shiloh to enjoy. See my horse’s review of the Hilton Herbs Herball treats here at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/bear-and-shiloh-give-the-hilton-herbs-herballs-a-five-star-rating/.

Also in the package was a product that I had not yet tried, Muscle Magic by Hilton Herbs.

Muscle Magic is a massage lotion of sorts with Aloe vera gel and Arnica among other ingredients. The description notes it is a warming gel, but I found it to be a neutral temperature product, leading me to think it would work equally well for hotter and colder climates. Debbie clued me in that I could add some to a bucket of water to make a rinse for the horses. She also noted that she likes to use it on herself to sooth body soreness hence her note implying that the Muscle Magic could be a gift to me as well as the horses. Fun!

Due to the heat of the week, the horses were ready for a bath. I began by giving them their regular “at liberty” shower. Then I brought out a small bucket of water with an added couple of ounces or so of the Muscle Magic. I then sponged each horse down with the solution. Both horses curiously sniffed the bucket and stood quietly while I applied it to their shoulders, back and legs. They tend to exit the scene if they don’t care for something. So I figure their sticking around is the horses’ version of a five-star Muscle Magic review!

+Here Bear and Shiloh are sporting their 2019 Harrison Howard fly masks sold by Great British Equinery. The masks are still in great condition!

In fact, Bear apparently liked the Muscle Magic rinse so much that he tried to drink it after I put down the bucket. I had slipped under the fence to shut off the water spigot, only to see Bear’s nose sinking into the bucket! Now picture middle-aged me moving like Usain Bolt during an Olympic run to interrupt Bear’s slurping. Note to Bear: The Hilton Herbs Herballs are to ingest, NOT the Hilton Herbs Muscle Magic.

Later, after taking care of my steeds, I slathered my feet, legs, back, shoulders and neck down with the Muscle Magic. I like the smell of Arnica. I also like the feeling that it is a less intense product than say menthol which is an ingredient often found in muscle soreness solutions both for man and beast. I do like the menthol products, but I also like having the option of using a different ingredient to accomplish a similar end without the punch of the menthol.

***Please keep in mind that Muscle Magic is not specifically designed for human use. But since the lotion is, I assume, applied to the horse with human hands, I figure there is a reasonable chance that I could successfully use the product. Just wanted to be clear that I am choosing to use this product on myself at my own risk.***

Thank you so very much to Debbie with the Great British Equinery for providing The Backyard Horse Blog with products to test, review and enjoy! Bear and Shiloh would also send their thanks, but their mouths are stuffed full of the Hilton Herbs Herballs at the moment so they can’t speak. 🙂

Remember that Great British Equinery provides friendly service, fast shipping and great products. Check out their offerings at https://greatbritishequinery.com/. Right now on their website, it notes that first responders, military and veterans get a 10% discount. You can also find Great British Equinery on Facebook where their other sales are periodically announced.

Let’s Play Bingo

I call bingo with the line:

Swam with a horse- Competed at a show- Took a selfie with a horse- Have shared secrets with your horse- Have canceled plans to ride your horse instead.

How about you? With what line can YOU call bingo?

Sidenote here- I couldn’t find a named credit for the creator of this bingo card, but I know the card appeared on A Horse Box Facebook page at one point.

Barn Hack: Using Bed Sheet Cases to Organize

I am often taking stuff from my house to my barn for re-use. Kind of easy to do if your horses are in your backyard. But even if you board your horse(s) elsewhere, most household items can still be a simple car ride away from the barn.

One of my favorite items to bring to the barn is the zippered plastic cases that contain most brand-new bed sheet sets. These cases are just the right size to hold so many smaller barn items. They are perfect for organizing your tools and accessories and even larger items like halter and leap rope sets. The clear plastic makes it easy to see what you have put inside of it. The zipper is great for keeping out hay, dirt, dust. I can fit a surprising amount of stuff in these cases. And don’t forget organizing items for your horse trailer. If you have a teeny trailer like I do, you will appreciate the benefits of having your stuff separated, organized, easily accessible and protected. These bed sheet cases can help you with that.

Seriously, I like these cases so much, I think it is almost worth it to buy an entire new set of sheets just to get the case.

Here in this case pictured below, I have two bits, a curb strap, a set of bell boots, a clip chain, a set of leather lacing in brown and another in black plus two fold up emergency rain coats. The case isn’t even full yet!

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite household item that always seems to end up at the barn? Let me know in the comments section.

The Backyard Horse Blog Summer 2020 Contest Winner Announced

The first The Backyard Horse Blog contest for Summer 2020 has come to a close.

I drew the winning email last night. Congratulations to the winner J.H.!!!

As it turns out, J.H is international. Per the contest parameters, J.H asked that the prize box be awarded to the USA horse rescue Forever Morgans. This is a rescue with whom J.H has a personal connection. How cool is that, right?

I had not heard of Forever Morgans and am excited to learn about them. Instead of being a rescue with a central location, Forever Morgans works as a virtual network. Here is their description taken from their website, “Forever Morgans is a breed rescue made up of a virtual network of volunteers that helps Morgans in dire straits find new homes. We are a “virtual barn” with no facility. Our horse are in foster care all over the country. Forever Morgans works with other rescues, brokers, and individuals to identify horses in need or at risk, and then helps those horses find forever homes. Forever Morgans is committed to each horse they rescue for his or her lifetime. Forever Morgans Rescue is a 501(c)3 organization recognized by the IRS. Our non-profit federal tax identification number (EIN) is 45-4935830. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.” Check them out at http://www.forevermorgans.org/.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you may have picked up on the fact that I am a horse-rescue fan. It seems fitting to me that the contest winner end up being an organization that helps horses in need.

Finally, I want to say a big “THANK YOU VERY MUCH” to each and every person who subscribes to The Backyard Horse Blog. I appreciate your welcoming me into your email inbox and sharing some time with me and the backyard ponies. I will leave you with a video link to start the weekend at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/780741285392865505/. Banixx Horse and Pet Care posted a hysterical one minute video entitled “What happens when you give a horse a squeaky chicken?” Puts a smile on my face every time I watch.

A Foxtrotter Fox Trotting

August 13th marked my two-year anniversary with Shiloh. I was able to do a field-trip over to the local training/boarding/lesson barn to mark the occasion. The weather was a little on the hot and sunny side so I opted to ride in the indoor this visit.

Got some video footage and was pleasantly surprised to see that Shiloh does in fact fox trot. He is afterall a registered Missouri Foxtrotter, bred and born in Missouri. But horses don’t read their registration papers. Sometimes you get a Foxtrotter who can’t do a lick of fox trot. So breed or papers is no guarantee.

This was the first year that I suspected I was finally getting some fox trot from him rather than a pace or stepping pace. But without seeing footage, I wasn’t’ completely sure. In a previous post, I talked about how I would like to encourage him to use his body in a more balanced manner.

With the pace and stepping pace, he tends to move stiffly with his shoulders tamped down. He’s actually pretty comfortable to ride that way, pacing along smoothly, but I worry that will lead to unsoundness issues.

A gaited horse who is consistent in their gait is usually pretty easy to mark as doing a particular gait. But with those that aren’t as consistent, it becomes more difficult to determine. It was feeling to me like he was coming in and out of different gaits, including the fox trot, and now I have video proof thereof.

For those of you not familiar with the fox trtt, it is a “broken up” trot. From the Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) website, “The fox trot is a broken diagonal gait with a distinctive rhythm that is created by the horse moving its front foot a split second before its opposite rear foot.”

If that explanation is as clear as mud, here is another one from Lee Ziegler who wrote a fantastic book about gaited horses. Published back in 2005, “Easy-Gaited Horses: Gentle, Humane Methods for Training and Riding Gaited Pleasure Horses” is a book I highly recommend for any gaited-horse rider. These gait definitions are from Ziegler’s website at https://www.mofoxtrot.com/working-with-foxtrotters.html:

“The fox trot: In this diagonal easy gait, the diagonal pairs of hooves lift off and move forward together, but the front will hit noticeably before the hind of the pair. To see this, focus again on the front foot, then include the diagonal hind in your field of vision. As the legs move forward together they will be just slightly out of time with one another and the front hoof will set down just before the hind slides into place. If you look at the hooves on the side of the horse toward you, they will lift off and set down separately. The sound will be an uneven, 1-2–34, with the beats closest together coming from the set down of the diagonal hooves. You may hear it as ka-chunck, ka-chunck sound.”

Ziegler goes on to add that “In the fox trot the horse nods his head and neck up and down in time with the motion of his shoulders and the reach of his hind legs. His hind quarters will bob up and down in rhythm with his gait. He will seem to take a long, reaching step in front and a quicker, higher step in back, “breaking” (bending sharply) at the hock as his hind hoof hesitates before following the diagonal front to the ground. The horse may “cap” or disfigure his front track with his hind in this gait.”

Here is a final tid bit from Lee Ziegler, “This gait moves the rider front to back in the saddle with a definite “push-pull” motion. The hind quarters feel active, moving up and down in a kind of “stutter step”, and in some horses you can feel a pull from the shoulders in a rolling motion. There is never a sensation of a side to side sway in this gait.”

For contrast, here is Lee Ziegler’s explanation of the stepping pace, “In a stepping or broken pace the lateral hooves no longer set down at the same time, although they do appear to lift off the ground simultaneously. In this gait, the hind hoof hits just before the front on the same side. To see this, look at the hind hoof on the side toward you, then broaden your field of vision to include the front hoof on the same side. They will lift off together, but the hind will set down before the front. The sound will be an uneven 1-2–3-4, similar in beat to the fox trot, but this time the beats closest together will come from the set down of the lateral hooves . . . A horse in a stepping pace will usually swing his head from side to side with no bobbing motion of the croup. His body will stay relatively stable, with none of the up and down movement of the pace or trot. Again, a horse will usually overstep his front track by some distance in the stepping pace.

Below are some compare and contrast photos of Shiloh fox troting verses doing the stepping pace. My computer helped me to view the footage in slow mow and save still shots at various points in the action so I could really see how his legs were moving. It occurred to me that those bright red John Whitaker Training Bandages that I recently reviewed might have come in handy here. I could have put one on a front leg and another on an opposite hind leg to make a diagonal pair really stand out.

Below is a photo of the MFTHBA logo. You know how every breed/discipline has a certain “look” that they like to display in photos? This is it for the Foxtrotter. The illustration captures the moment of the fox trot that is particularly distinctive from other gaits. Check the photos of Shiloh underneath the logo to see if you can see a resemblance.

Now here below are some shots of Shiloh’s stepping pace caught in a moment where I have lost his focus on what we are doing. Can you see that his legs are now moving on the same side of his body, no longer in diagonal pairs and his shoulders are slung down with the head up and nose out?

We also got one 1/8th of a turn on the hindquarters on video clip. Here are a series of still shots from that event.

So that is how Shiloh and I spent our anniversary. His favorite part was after we got back home. He and Bear, both sweaty by that point, got a bath. Then they dried off while enjoying a hay snack.

Thank you to Shiloh for sticking it out with me these last couple of years. I hope we have more time to learn, grow and enjoy together.

Check out This HAY PILLOW Contest!

Photo taken from the HAY PILLOW website

Makers of the HAY PILLOW and Dr. Getty have teamed up to offer a contest for a free HAY PILLOW and a free book.

Enter the contest here at https://www.thehaypillow.com/blog/august-2020-hay-pillow-giveaway-enter-to-win by August 31st, 2020.

I have never used a HAY PILLOW, but I am a big fan of the Nibblenet hay bags that I have used for ten plus years. I would love to try a HAY PILLOW and see how it compares.
For a review of the Nibblenets, you can read my previous post at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/got-hay-bags/.

The free book that is being offered is a choice of a book written by Dr. Getty. I mentioned that I have used Dr. Getty’s information gleaned from a website article in making nutrition decisions about feeding my horses treats. You can read that previous post at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/what-do-you-share-with-your-horses/. I would love to get my hands on one of Dr. Getty’s books too.

On a related note, don’t forget about The Backyard Horse Blog’s Summer 2020 Contest for a box filled with horse-related items. Go to this post here at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/special-announcement-the-backyard-horse-blog-summer-2020-contest/ to read about how current email subscribers can earn additional entries into the contest by advertising it on their own blogs/social media sites. Hurry! The Backyard Horse Blog Summer 2020 Contest ends this Thursday, August 20th!

Equine Inspired Poetry- Horse Play on An August Morning

HORSE PLAY ON AN AUGUST MORNING

Crisp morning air revealing hints of Autumn before heat of late Summer day

Pastured horses energized by the coolth

From a complete standstill, one charges off into a section of tall grass

The first laying down a path for his herdmates to follow

Hooves and hearts pounding, but I can only hear the hooves

A frenzy of movement as they glide over the ground

The first in line cannot contain himself

He bellows out a squeal, jumps up and forward through the air

Just as the two forelimbs reconnect with the earth, two hind limbs kick up and outward

I ponder how that must feel

What strength to leap your 1000 pound heft off the ground with the grace of a tiny ballerina!

The games continue like this until collective energy is spent and the quiet grazing resumes

Quiet grazing that will provide the fuel for the next romp through the tall grass

Win A Cowboy Magic Prize Pack via Horse and Rider Magazine

I found another contest to enter so thought I’d spread the word here. This contest is for a year’s supply of various Cowboy Magic products with three winners selected! What fun! Go to https://horseandrider.com/page/cowgirl-magic-giveaway. Last day to enter contest is August 31st, 2020.

I have used Cowboy Magic products off and on throughout my horse-keeping years. My favorite is the Cowboy Magic Concentrated Detangler and Shine in the 4 ounce size. I am currently working on the third year of use for the last 4 ounce size I purchased.

I don’t find the need to use it all that often, but when my horses do come up with tangles in their manes or sticks caught in their tails, I find that using this product helps smooth everything out without pulling out a bunch of hairs unnecessarily. Cowboy Magic has a really pleasant fragrance too. I also like that the product is marked as not tested on lab animals. Word to the wise, Chewy sells the 4 ounce detangler and shine. If you missed my previous post about how this online pet product company also sells horse stuff, go to https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/did-you-know-chewy-sells-horse-stuff/.

And speaking of contests, don’t forget about The Backyard Horse Blog’s Summer 2020 contest for a horse-related prize box! Remember that the blog’s email subscribers can earn additional entries into the contest by advertising the contest via their own blogs/social media sites. Refer to this link here for all the contest details at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/special-announcement-the-backyard-horse-blog-summer-2020-contest/! Remember, contest ends soon on 8/20/20.

The 100th Ride

Phew! It finally cooled off enough this week for some post-dawn rides. I kind of missed watching the sunrise from horseback during a scortching July, but what is life without a little variety, right?

For our second ride of the week, I decided to ditch the roundpen and spend most of our ride wandering around the barn area and out into the adjacent pasture. It is nice to do something other than go in circles sometimes. I am pretty sure Shiloh agrees.

This month marks two years since Shiloh came to live with Bear and me, and we just reached our 100th ride together. This 100th ride occurred on the exact calendar day I first met him and test-rode him back in 2018. Seems like we should be further along than that in the “number of rides” category, but it is what it is. Putting my self-criticism aside for a moment, I am very happy to have that number under our belt.

After Shiloh and I were done with one of our rides this week, Bear wandered up and apparently decided he’d like a little attention. For the most part, I think Bear is happy to be retired. Periodically though I get the sense that he misses the interaction encompassed by being a “working” horse. Not necessarily the riding exactly, but just the enjoyment of doing something together. I always thought he had fun with most of the obstacles I brought out, and he especially liked pushing around the big green horse-ball. Shiloh, for his part, is completely unimpressed with the ball. He shows no inclination whatsoever to mess with it. He is not afraid of it at all, but he completely lacks that draw towards the ball that Bear displayed.

Bear and I in 2015 as we gaited down the barn driveway while herding the horse ball. Looks like we bull-dozed over the tarp first . . . Weeeee. . . .
In contrast, Shiloh is like “meh” with the big green ball.

This time, Bear and I did a little freestyle play around the tire pedestal that is inside the horses’ paddock. Bear can still lift his legs for a “salute” and do a partial “bow” so he played around with doing that. At this stage in the game, I let him decide how long he wants to play, and he can wander off whenever he’d like to end the interaction.

These little sessions he requests never last very long, maybe 10 minutes or so, but I am always charmed when he asks me to play. He doesn’t do it very often either, maybe once every few months or so, but that makes it extra special. I must say I miss terribly riding him.

Hopefully if the weather stays more or less cool, I can start planning some more horse field- trips off the property before Winter hits. For some reason, it seems to me that this year is really zipping along, and I better get to it before it is over.

Northwest Horse Source Magazine- Now with Monthly Training Column by Anna Blake

I love to read magazines. If it is about horses, so much the better. In the last ten years, many magazines changed from a monthly to a quarterly format, went completely online or disappeared altogether. I used to subscribe to 12 different horse magazines, most of them arriving in my mail box monthly. Now, I have six subscriptions with only two of them arriving monthly. While I mourn the loss of those magazines (especially the ones no longer around like the Horse Journal and The Gaited Horse Magazine), I am thankful that they have not all disappeared completely.

One magazine that anyone can access for free online is the Northwest Horse Source Magazine. Based out of the State of Washington, it caters to equestrians who live in the Pacific Northwest, but its plethora of magazine articles are relevant to horse owners and riders no matter where they live.

I was pleased to see that starting in their July 2020 issue, they began having Anna Blake write their monthly training column. You may recall hearing her name in some of my previous posts including at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/knowledge/ where I mentioned her blog “Relaxed and Forward” and her book Relaxed and Forward: Relationship Advice From Your Horse. I really enjoy learning from Anna Blake’s writings and look forward to having another source that features her material.

If you would like to check out the magazine with Anna Blake’s first column, you can view it for free through the link https://magazine.nwhorsesource.com/july-2020/#more-1360. You can read current and past issues online or download them to your computer to save for later. You can also check them out on Facebook or sign up via email to be notified when the next issue is released (usually the first of every month). Happy reading!

Shiloh is all wrapped up with the John Whitaker Training Bandages

After the Great British Equinery of Indiana kindly sent Bear and Shiloh a care package last month, I gave positive reviews to the 2020 Harrison Howard Fly Masks and the Hilton Herbs Herballs treats. The final item from the package to review is the John Whitaker Training Bandages!

I must say that these wraps feel great to the touch, look very smart and stay on nicely. I absolutely love the red color, but they also come in black, navy and white to suit a range of tastes. The inner padding is a comfy fleece, and the elasticized part of the wrap feels just right- not too tight or too loose. The training bandages are machine washable and come with a handled storage case so you can keep them together in one place. I am really impressed with these bandages and am pleased to now have them in my tack collection.

I will say that I don’t typically use any kind of bandages/wraps/boots with my horses in my riding. Why then, did I want to review these training bandages? Because even if I don’t use something regularly, I find it useful to keep a few things on hand like bell boots, brush boots, etc . . . that I can have for when the need arises due to injury, skin issues and the like.

Sending out many thanks to the Great British Equinery of Indiana for allowing me to sample these John Whitaker Training Bandages. The Great British Equinery sells the Harrison Howard fly masks, the Hilton Herbs Herballs treats and a whole host of other products. Please check them out at https://greatbritishequinery.com/!