The Caisson Horses of The Old Guard

Today in the USA we mark Memorial Day, an annual day of remembrance for all who died while serving in the U.S. military.

The day reminds me of my Grandfather’s funeral and the military horses who played a part in it. A Colonel in the US Army and veteran of two wars, my Grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

During my Grandfather’s funeral, his casket was drawn to his grave site by a team of horses, The Caisson Horses of The Old Guard. The photograph above is of the flag that drapped his casket. The flag was folded and officially presented to us, his family, at the graveside before burial. The flag is now displayed prominently in my home. I remember watching the riderless horse being led as part of his funeral procession. Beautiful tall boots placed backwards in the stirrups, symbolizing a fallen warrior who will fight no more.

Horses still are an integral part of the Military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. If you ever have the opportunity to visit The Washington DC area, you might find it interesting and meaningful to visit Fort Myers in Arlington where the Caisson horses live.

The Caisson Platoon is steeped in a rich history and tradition. I’ve included a few links to information about the platoon and their horses. Makes for relevant and informative horse-related reading on this Memorial Day 2021. On the Oldguard website, you can even read about the possibility of adopting a Caisson horse upon the horse’s retirement. What an honor that would be.

https://oldguard.mdw.army.mil/specialty-platoons/caisson

https://oldguard.mdw.army.mil/specialty-platoons/caisson/adoption


Watch Horse Cook His Hay

Ever seen a horse who “cooks” his food? I have met other horses who display this behavior, but Shiloh is the first horse in my backyard to do so.

Most commonly known as “hay dunking”, it is a deliberate behavior. Shiloh gathers a big chunk of hay in his mouth. Then he places it carefully and directly into his water trough.

I must say that Shiloh looks so happy when he is cooking and eating his hay this way. He drinks, chews and slurps with abandon.

But it does create a mess in and around the water bins, making the water dirty and reducing the amount of water available. And while hay dunking is a great way for Shiloh to stay well-hydrated, it could leave my other horse Bear in a lurch.

Of course, Bear has his own way of personalizing the water bins. He likes to cool himself off in the summer by standing in them and splashing himself with water. If he leaves behind any water at all, it is muddy and dirty from his hooves. Sometimes oily from the fly spray coming off his legs. Ick.

Shiloh only dunks hay when provided with loose hay flakes close to a water source. I have not seem him hay dunk using bites of hay from a hay bag. He also doesn’t seem interested in picking up hay and carrying it more than maybe 20 feet or so. These facts allow me to somewhat control the behavior, but he enjoys dunking his hay so much that I don’t really mind it.

It takes extra effort to try to accommodate everyone’s preferences and still keep clean water available 24-7. Through the warmer months, I routinely put out two water bins (15/20 gallon size).

This all begs the question of why. What causes horses to do this? What benefit do they derive from it?

Shiloh’s veterinarian suggested that there are lots of hypothesis, but no one really knows. I asked about the potential relationship between Shiloh’s hay dunking and the injuries sustained to his jaw and teeth as a foal. His veterinarian noted that horses without any identifiable injury/pain also hay dunk so it might be related to the injury history but not necessarily.

In combing the internet, the link to my favorite article on the subject can be found below. It is from the well-respected website thehorse.com. It reflects my veterinarian’s thoughts as well as my experience with having a hay dunker in my backyard.

https://thehorse.com/198555/why-does-my-horse-dunk-his-hay/

Have you ever met a horse who cooks his food like Shiloh does?

Lamenting Lameness

The week before last, Shiloh came up lame during a ride.

I noticed his rhythm change when we moved from sections of softer to harder ground between our round pen and the barn area. It wasn’t anything dramatic, but it definitely caught my attention.

When I got off to lunge him, Shiloh looked sound to the right but he showed a head bob at the trot to the left. My own physical exam provided no answers. You know, no nail in the hoof or obvious leg swelling. He seemed otherwise to look and act normal. Seemed comfortable moving freely around his paddock.

This issue came up just a few days before our annual Spring vet appointment that I wrote about in my previous post. I opted not to ride Shiloh until then. I requested a basic lameness exam during the appointment.

Long story short, the hoof testers revealed some mild tenderness near a front toe but nothing else of concern. Of all the further diagnostics offered, I chose the “let em rest and wait and see” approach.

I didn’t ride Shiloh again until exactly a week from the ride when he appeared lame. For that ride, I took him out into my largest pasture with the thickest grass cover. It was lovely. I kept him mostly to a meandering walk, but picked a few of the smoothest sections to open him up to gait and trot. He felt sound to me and seemed comfortable with what I was asking him to do.

A second short ride two days later in the same pasture also went well. Hopefully the lameness that presented was just something temporary.

I want my horses to be as pain free as possible of course for their own benefit. Have you ever noticed that equestrians have a funny way of making our horses’ problems all about us? This was one of those times for me.

I admit the lameness bothered me more than I was prepared for. I might have felt a bit distracted and tired and grumpy all week because of it. I’ve retired enough horses at this point to know how disappointing it can be to realize you’ve taken your last ride with this particular partner. It is something that I personally find very sad. I still mourn not being able to ride Bear.

Seeing Shiloh lame understandably brought up all those feelings right to the surface. Front and center. Then I ran away with them. I spent a little too much time thinking up plenty of upsetting what-if scenarios.

I know I am not alone in this type of situation. Both in person and on the internet, I know horse folks who have experienced something similar. I even recently came across this essay published on Horse Nation called ” On Horses and Hope” at https://www.horsenation.com/2021/05/14/best-of-jn-on-horses-and-hope/. It’s an equestrian’s call to her fellow riders to cling to hope, even when you face disappointment and heartbreak in your horse life.

Shiloh is 18 now. A chronic issue could certainly be brewing beneath the surface. He could need more support to maintain his same level of activity as he gets older. I know that as I am aging I need more lotions, potions and supportive gear than I used to in order to keep me moving. Older horses don’t seem much different in that regard. I’ll be keeping an eye on him. I’ll be making adjustments as needed and/or pursuing more diagnostics if the issue presents again.

And of course, there is still the hard reality. One day, I will experience my final ride on Shiloh. No matter how much I do not want it to be so. In the mean time, we’ll see if I can put some more distance between today and that eventual date.

All the more reason to appreciate, to relish each and every ride.

Thoroughly Vetted

Last week, my horses had their annual Spring vet appointment. Like last year, we trailered over to the clinic. Unlike last year, I was able to actually enter the clinic barn with them.

In 2020, COVID restrictions required that I hand my horses off to the clinic staff and wait outside alone while the horses underwent their various exams and procedures. While the restrictions were understandable, I find the entire exam process very interesting. I was glad to be able to be an observer once again.

Here are Bear and Shiloh awaiting the start of their exams.

Bear was the first to go on the scale, weighing in at 932 pounds.

Then Shiloh was up. He weighed in at 1076 pounds.

Next we have a photo of Bear while he stands in the stocks to have his teeth floated. At 26 years old, he is starting to have a few dental issues I will need to keep an eye on, but overall his teeth seem to be in good shape for a senior horse.

Then it was on to address the area of skin cancer under his tail that had returned since being removed about four years ago. I opted to have the area treated with cryotherapy, basically a concentrated spray of very cold air to hopefully kill the cancer cells. The metal can used containing that air reminds me of the Tin Man’s oil can in the Wizard of Oz.

Caution graphic added for a touch of privacy. In all seriousness though, if you have a horse with pink skin, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for skin changes around their nether regions.

Bear’s squamous cell carcinoma seems to present on his bottom, under his tail as a red, raised mole-looking spot that never heals over. Apparently horses with pink skin are more susceptible to this type of cancer than their darker skin counterparts. If you’d like to read more about this subject, here is a link to an article written by two veterinarians that appeared in Practical Horseman magazine https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/health-archive/equine_squamous_cell_carcinoma_020910-11482.

By the time Bear was returned to his stall to wake up from his sedation, he had a visitor in the stall next to him named Apollo. Bear trail rode with this horse back in the day. It so happened that some horse friends of mine had scheduled their horses’ exams for right after mine. We got to chat and catch up for a minute between exams.

So the horses are all inspected, vaccinated and have updated negative coggins results. I am awaiting the results of Bear’s ACTH/Insulin/Glucose levels. The numbers will determine if Bear could benefit from an adjustment in his PPID medication dosage or his diet.

While we are on the subject, I would like to give a shout out to the veterinarians and vet techs who help care for horses from birth to death. And let’s not forget the administrative employees who keep clinics organized and running smoothly.

All their interactions with clients run the gamut from the horse owner’s happiest moments to their most stressful and gut-wrenching. I imagine lots of highs and lows. All on the same day. Every day. Surely it is rewarding work. Yet it can’t be easy.

Having a positive, productive, long-term relationship with a local veterinarian and supporting staff is a real boon to the horse owner. One that is much appreciated by this equestrian. Though I sometimes forget to say it, many thanks to all those equine health professionals who work diligently to help the horses in their communities.

Equine Inspired Poetry- The Beauty of A Spring Ride

Scent of Spring blossoms enveloping the air
Tiny white petals floating all around
Sound of hoofbeats reverberating off the ground

Taste of salt on my lips
Streams of air making mane and tail flow
Spring warmth awakening my soul

Sensing a lifting of the back or a swinging of the hips
Feeling the shift of weight
Listening to the exchange of breath

We read each other’s intensions
Horse and rider communicating through time and space
Communing not by magic but through resonance and grace

I am taking it all in
I am not wanting it to end
The horse bringing me back here time and time again

Book Review- Sacred Spaces: Communing with the horse through science and spirit

Sacred Spaces: Communing with the horse through science and spirit by Susan D. Fay, PhD has got to be the most fascinating book I have read in a long while. You can tell I really find a book valuable when you see a photo of it with thirty stick-note tabs.

The author, a Morgan breeder/trainer for twenty years, holds a Master’s in Environmental Science and a PhD in Psychology. In her book, Dr. Fay combines her horse skills with her scientific background to allow the reader to understand concepts that are not typically applied to horsemanship.

While the book’s title may lead the reader to think this is a book about animal communication, Sacred Spaces is something different. At its core, the book’s information is about using your internal qualities to guide and inform your external horsemanship techniques.

Dr. Fay notes that while someone who communes at a high level with horses makes everything look magical, what they do is actually rooted in scientific principles. These same principles can also be used to explain difficulties in horse-human communication.

“It is vital to remember that horses pick up images we make in our minds, and the changes in our physiology that go along with them. If you’re thinking “I don’t want him to bolt out the gate- he always tries to do that,” be aware that the picture you just made in your mind looks like your horse bolting out of the gate. And you probably attached a negative emotion like fear or anger to the picture. And your muscles got tense and your breathing changed. The horse interpreted your physiology and pictures as, “She wants me to try to bold out that gate . . .”

Throughout the book, the author discusses how our thoughts, attitudes, presence and energy affect our horses. She gives specific instructions about how we can become aware of and then mold these things to create positive outcomes. We can create, in essence, a “sacred space” around us that encourages our horse to want to become our partners.

As the book titles hints, it is not full of only scientific explanations. The author writes about how not all of what happens between people and horses is easily quantified. She readily admits that there is a spiritual quality to interacting with animals that falls outside of science, hence her inclusion of the words “science and spirit” in the book title. I think this book strikes a nice balance in combining what both concepts can bring to the table to help us connect with our horses.

As someone with a diverse equestrian background, I also appreciate that the author’s ideas apply to any equestrian, no matter the breed or saddle style of choice. As she notes, “Don’t worry- you won’t have to throw out any of your current horse training methods or change your riding style. The concepts in this book are about making a shift in you.”

Although the theories and stories presented make for an interesting read in and of themselves, Sacred Spaces is chock full of practical ideas and exercises for the reader to employ. The author walks the equestrian through how to communicate with horses in a clear, positive, non-emotional manner. Although many of us would like to think this is what we already do, sometimes our horse’s behavior shows us differently.

“We all connect to and communicate with the entire energy field, whether we are aware of it or not. The goal is to become fully aware, and to learn to direct the energy and create a response that you consciously prefer, instead of by unconscious default. . . After all, according to the first law of thermodynamics (i.e., the law of conservation of energy), energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change form.”

The author explains how to better manage the stress, worry and negative emotion that many of us carry around when we ride and interact with our horses. One of my favorite phrases from the book is “Ride with intension not tension.” She also explains the importance of learning to recognize and receive feedback from the horse. After all, communing involves give and take.

On the whole, the book is an interesting, thoughtful read. Equestrians need to learn physical techniques, but the way those techniques are presented and delivered to the horse can be corrupted or enhanced by the internal qualities of the messenger. This book shows the reader how. In this sense, Sacred Spaces is every bit as important as your more typical horsemanship manual. It is going on my equestrian shelf right beside them.

Riding in the Rain

Last week, after experiencing a blustery ride, I compiled quotes about horses and wind for my “Riding in the Wind” post.

That got me to thinking about riding during other types of eventful weather. So we arrive at the next topic. Riding in the rain.

It is actually something I usually avoid on purpose. But sometimes, like most equestrians, I have found myself finishing a ride in the rain. Both on the trail and at home. Including the pouring rain. Sometimes the heavens just open up unexpectedly.

I’ll pause my train of thought here to declare a word to the wise; leather reins get VERY slippery when wet. This might make riding a freaked out bay and white gelding named Bear a little challenging on the trail while rain is coming down in buckets. If you suspect inclement weather, take a page out of the endurance-rider playbook and use biothane reins. Just saying.

That above-referenced ride on Bear certainly stands out in my mind. But I actually have photos to share here of another memorable rainy day ride. In 2014 I met my friend Vicki for a final trail ride before I made a temporary move to Colorado. My mount for that ride was my now deceased and still-very-much-missed pony, Pumpkin Spice. Vicki rode her experienced Appaloosa trail mount named Warsong. Gotta love those spots!

We knew the forecast called for rain, but we were hoping for a light mist. Instead, we ended up in a downpour. Fortunately, the entire trail was like six miles in a flat loop. Not super challenging terrain. Still, it was definitely more of an experience than I bargained for. But Vicki, the horses and I stayed safe, had fun and have an interesting experience under our belts. I recall that the car overpass that crosses a small section on the trail looked like a waterfall as the rain cascaded down its sides and onto the trail below. Talk about a cowboy curtain!

While I was doing my internet research to find related quotes, I came across two information-type articles about horses and rain. I found them both interesting so I am sharing their links. One is specifically about rain riding and the other is about horse/farm management during storms.

https://www.thesprucepets.com/riding-in-rain-and-storms-1887299

https://www.proequinegrooms.com/tips/barn-management/what-to-do-with-the-horses-during-a-lightning-storm

And now we come to the topical quotes section. Read my favorite selections below. If you have any of your own rainy riding quotes or a rainy ride memory to share, let me know in the comments section.

“I think i better ride before it rains
Think i better saddle up my fastest pony
Somethin’ about these winds of change
Is tellin’ me i best get goin’
I can feel a storm movin’ this way
Yeah i think i better ride before it rains”
~Templeton Thompson song “Ride Before It Rains”

“Where is the horse and the rider?
Where is the horn that was blowing?
They have passed like rain on the mountains,
like wind in the meadow.
The days have gone down in the West,
behind the hills… into Shadow.”
~The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers(2002)

“Thunder is the sound of hoofbeats in heaven.”~ Author Unknown

“To see the wind’s power, the rain’s cleansing and the sun’s radiant life, one need only to look at the horse.” ~ Author Unknown

“Let us write of olden, golden days and hunters of the Holy Grail and men called “knights” riding horses in the rain, in the cold frozen rain for ladies they loved . . . Let us nudge the steam radiator with our wool slippers and write poems of Launcelot, the hero, and Roland, the hero, and all the olden golden men who rode horses in the rain.”
~Carl Sandburg from Horses and Men in Rain

“What’s the best thing you’ve learned about storms?” “That they end,” said the horse.”
~The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse, by Charlie Mackesy

Musings: All Roads Lead to Horses

They say that you attract whatever you think about. I’m not sure this is entirely true. As an equestrian, I think about horses all the time. And yet I wake up everyday with the same two horses in my backyard instead of a pasture full of ponies.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my horses, Bear and Shiloh. I’m just saying that thinking in and of itself doesn’t necessarily make something so. Results generally necessitate action of some kind. Thinking about a horse doesn’t make it appear.

While I may not have a sea of horses in my possession, I do seem to find the mention of horses in lots of unexpected places. In that sense, I guess I do end up attracting what I think about.

The most recent occurrence of the phenomenon happened while perusing an issue of Poets and Writers magazine. This isn’t a place I would expect to find an article related to horses. And yet, there it was.

The horse article I came a cross is titled “Saddle Up and Read.” It features equestrian Caitlin Gooch and her non-profit organization that pairs reading and horses. Last year, I mentioned Saddle Up and Read in my post about Giving Tuesday. If you’d like to learn more about Saddle Up and Read, please visit https://www.saddleupandread.org/.

I was delighted to see the organization featured in a literary magazine. Hopefully it will be good exposure to a wider audience outside the horse world. Although I must say that Caitlin has had no trouble attracting positive attention. I saw her featured on a national morning news segment. Oprah knows her name too. That is pretty good advertising, if you ask me.

My hunch is that I will keep thinking about horses until I die. Even if I develop a cognitive disorder as I age, I bet that horses will still figure prominently in my mind somewhere. I would venture to guess that the mention, sight, sound or scent of a horse will still evoke a visceral response in me. I will keep seeing horses everywhere.

In the mean time, I will keep finding horses in unexpected places. After all, for those of us afflicted by the horse bug, the roads we travel have a tendency to lead us to horses. The horse right in front of us or the horse we dream about. Real roads or imagined roads. I can’t think of any more scenic highways to drive.

Curious about your horse’s nutrition? Check Out The Online Horse Nutrition Calculator from FeedXL

Are you curious or concerned about your horse’s nutrition? Want ideas about how you can optimize what you feed your horse? If so, take a look at Feed XL.

“Simply tell FeedXL about your horse and what he is being fed and FeedXL will clearly show you if any nutrients are above or below the amount he needs to stay healthy.”

-From the FeedXL website

I will say upfront that I am not a current FeedXL member, but I have used the program in the past about seven years ago. I recently came across a piece of literature from them. It reminded me of their website. I then wondered how many other horse people are aware of their service. Thought it would be worth passing along to The Backyard Horse Blog readers.

FeedXL calculators allow you to input specific criteria about your horse (including specific medical conditions very much affected by nutrition like EMS and PSSM) to help analyze your current feed program and suggest the most appropriate diet.

This chart is from the FEEDXL website. It is a sample of the detailed information you will get with their calculator. The green bars show where this horse’s nutrition is sufficient, lacking and in excess.

There are other very handy calculators included such as a supplement finder and a comparative feed-cost calculator. FeedXL can do this because it keeps nutritional and price information from most USA feed and supplement manufacturers. For hay values, you can use their general calculations or input specific numbers from any hay analysis you might have performed on the hay you are currently feeding.

One of its best features is that it is independent of any feed company. It is refreshing to see information that is not tied specifically to wanting to sell you a particular product.

“FeedXL is totally, 100% independent from ALL feed and supplement companies. This means we don’t have any sort of vested interest in what you feed. All we care about is that your horse is getting everything he needs and that what you are feeding is truly what is best for him!”

– From the FeedXL website

FeedXl offers different pricing plans depending upon length of membership and number of horses. Plans start at $20 USD per month for one horse and increase from there. Not ready to plunk your money down yet for a membership? You can still access a ton of general horse nutrition information by signing up at the bottom of their website home page for their free enewsleter, browsing through their “Knowledge Hub” or downloading free ebooks on equine nutrition.

Please note that FeedXL plans are paid in US dollars. While you can sign up online and use their calculators from anywhere in the world, I am not sure how well the program would work for those based outside the US if you are feeding a product not manufactured in the USA or if you use a different metric system. If this is your situation, I would suggest contacting FeedXL directly for more information before signing up.

I am also aware that if you board your horse, you may not have control over what your horse is fed. Due to the issue of working with a volume of horses and owners, it is not always practical for a boarding barn to feed every horse in a highly individualized manner. If this is your situation, you’ll have to judge how much value you can get out of the program in relation to how much input you have over what your horse eats.

Fortunately, most horse people are able to feed their horses adequately throughout their lives without the help of a specialized calculator! But I remember finding it really interesting to play around with the calculator, inputting different types of hay and feed and supplements to see what combination seemed to provide the best nutrition for my horses. It also could help save you money if the calculator shows you are feeding multiple supplements that are unnecessary from a nutrition standpoint. And for some situations, like when you are feeding horses with certain health challenges, FeedXL could be especially helpful in formulating a safer feeding program along with your veterinarian’s input.

Go to https://feedxl.com/ to learn more.

***Please note this post was unsolicited and uncompensated by FeedXL.***

Riding in The Wind

Riding during Spring in my neck of the woods often means riding in the wind. I captured these mane-in-the-wind pictures on Shiloh recently.

On an otherwise warm and sunny day, I can cope with wind, but it doesn’t make for my favorite riding conditions.

It is also hard to work with obstacles in the wind, even if you are just doing groundwork with them.

Bear realizing all his toys are blowing away . . .

It got me to thinking about some “horses and wind” quotes that I have read. That led me to do a Google search on the topic.

My research found me taking a global time-travel trip. Apparently lots of folks over the centuries had plenty to say about horses and wind. Read below what I managed to unearth on the subject.

How about you? Do you have a favorite “horses and wind” quote you’d like to share?

“Through his mane and tail the high wind sings.” -Shakespeare

“When the Almighty put hoofs on the wind and a bridle on the lightening. He called it a horse.” -Unknown

“The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” -Bedouin Proverb

“God made the horse from the breath of the wind, the beauty of the earth and the soul of the angel…May they forever run with our hearts….”-Bonnie Piper

“Horses are the dolphins of the plains, the spirits of the wind; yet we sit astride them for the sake of being well-groomed . . .”
-Lauren Salerno

“When God wanted to create the horse, he said to the South Wind, “I want to make a creature of you. Condense.” And the Wind condensed.”-Abdelkader El Djezairi

“Horses have hooves to carry them over frost and snow; hair to protect them from wind and cold. They eat grass and drink water, and fling up their heels… Such is the real nature of the horse.” -Chang Tzu

“Sailing is in the same vein as horse riding. There’s a beauty to it; it’s an elegant sport. You have to employ your intelligence. It’s technical, but you also have to take into account the natural elements – the wind, the water, the weather.” -Pier Luigi Loro Piana

“Ah, steeds, steeds, what steeds! Has the whirlwind a home in your manes? Is there a sensitive ear, alert as a flame, in your every fiber? Hearing the familiar song from above, all in one accord you strain your bronze chests and, hooves barely touching the ground, turn into straight lines cleaving the air, and all inspired by God it rushes on!” -Nikolai V. Gogol

Fun Idea From A Fellow Equine Blogger

Okay, folks. Today is the last day of “reblog week.”

Making horse treats for your own horse(s) or as gifts for others is just plain fun. Here is last year’s treat post with some help from a fellow equine blogger at Horses of The Ozark Hills.

Stay tuned for all new content coming your way next week from The Backyard Horse Blog. As always, thank you for visiting and reading!

The Backyard Horse Blog

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…

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Ten Ideas For Staying In The Saddle If You Struggle With Riding Alone

In case you missed my Monday announcement, this week I am reblogging some of my favorite posts with some updates.

Today’s recycled post is “Ten Ideas For Staying In The Saddle If You Struggle With Riding Alone.” I also created a fresh Pinterest pin to accompany the post.

At home with my horses, I am in a situation where I mostly ride by myself. While I actually largely enjoy riding alone, it does come with its own set of challenges and safety concerns. It is not always ideal.

I figure I can’t be the only one in this situation so I wanted to share what I do to try to stay in the saddle as much as possible. Even without horsey family nearby. Even without a barn full of friends in my backyard. I want to keep riding as often as I can, for as long as I can, no matter my circumstances.

***If you are an email subscriber to this blog, you may note that these reblogged posts show up really wonky in your inbox. I have not figured out yet how to fix that. BUT, if you simply click on the post’s title, you will be transported to The Backyard Horse Blog website. There you can read a more organized version of the post.***

The Backyard Horse Blog

In mypreviouspost, I mentioned some challenges of staying in the saddle as a backyard horse owner. Definitely among them is the issue of riding alone. While some preferthe experience ofriding solo, I venture to guess that many more find it difficult. If you want to ride at home, think about how you can either avoid riding alone in the first place or increase your personal skills/focus when you do chose to ride alone. The following is a list of ideas for tackling this very real problem.Iemploymany of these ideas in an ever rotating combination.

1. Find a ridingbuddy

Are you open to keeping a friend’s horse at your home so you can ride together? Can a friend trailer his horse over to your place or you theirs? If you have a friend who is willing to ride your horse, can you ride “together” by takingturns-you ride your horse the first…

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Want to Improve Your Horse Care? Use Your Senses!

During this week, I am reblogging some of my favorite old posts with some updates.

The Backyard Horse Blog recently welcomed a handful of new readers so I thought it would be fun to do some archival digging.

Even if you starting reading the blog early last year when it first appeared on the internet, you might have missed these posts.

In either case, I hope you will tune in today, Wednesday and Friday (my typical publishing schedule) to check them out.

Prefer new content instead? I hope to be back next week with all fresh posts.

We start today’s journey down memory lane with the post “Want to Improve Your Horse Care? Use Your Senses!”

I had a lot of fun creating a new mini-infographic to go with the post and its corresponding Pinterest pin.

The Backyard Horse Blog

When most equestrians think of senses, I imagine that the sense of sight first comes to mind. What is more gorgeous to look at than a horse, right? But a person who is sighted often forgets that people can and do absorb information in other ways.

Years ago, I volunteered at a therapeutic riding center. I later became a NARHA certified instructor (NARHA has since changed its name to PATH International- Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship). I eventually worked at the center as a staff member. My experiences there gave me lots of exposure to folks with sensory differences. It made me think about the varied ways that many different kinds of people experience the world.

If you are sighted, you absorb a tremendous amount of information through your eyes. It is easy to forget that there are other senses that can give us “insight” into the world around us.

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