Hope you enjoyed last week’s recap of 2021 with each of my horses, Bear, Shiloh and Piper.
I’m going to close out the month of January, and my look back at 2021, with a “Top 10” list of The Backyard Horse Blog’s posts that received the highest number of views last year.
Most of these posts were actually written in 2021, but my second most viewed post was written in 2020. It’s fun for me to see an older post continue to resonate with fellow horse folks.
Curious about which post took the number one spot? Here is the most viewed post of 2021:
Today’s post will be my only one for this week. Going forward, I’ve decided to change things up a bit by trying a 2x a week posting schedule for 2022 with posts going out on Mondays and Friday (starting next week).
In the meantime, please check out this list below. See if there’s something you’d like to read for the first time or re-read. Just click on each individual post’s link.
By the way, do you have a favorite post? I’m not just looking for a good wither scratch here. I’d be interested to read what post(s) resonated the most so I can create similar content for you in 2022.
Was there a post that was particularly helpful, entertaining or thought provoking? Please give me feedback in the comments section or by emailing me at email@example.com.
Reading Time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds (plus a short video clip to watch)
Before we get too far into 2022, I want to summarize my horse life for 2021. I decided to do this by writing threeseparate posts, one regarding each of my horses. My horses Shiloh and Bear were featured previously. This final installment features the newest addition to my herd, a solid bay Racking Horse gelding named Piper.
Observant readers that you are, you will note that the title of this post installment is a little different from the previous two. That’s because “A Year In My Life With Piper” would not quite fit our reality. Piper joined my herd only four months ago. Here was his for-sale photo that first caught my eye.
Since Piper is a rather recent arrival, I didn’t have much opportunity to work with him before Winter weather arrived. We only have 15 rides under our belts. I rode him at home in our round pen, out in the open pasture, and at both the indoor arena and outdoor track at the local boarding barn. I also trailered him a total of three times between his previous home, the local boarding barn, and my backyard. Here’s a little video clip of us gaiting in the pasture.
Other than difficulties with Piper accepting the mounting block, Piper’s behavior has been quite solid through it all. He’s always been easy to catch, stands well for the farrier, and doesn’t seem inclined to overact to new situations or unexpected surprises.
While there’s certainly lots to appreciate about his confidence level, his bold personality combined with a naturally high energy takes some getting used to for me. I’m not always quite sure what to make of his behavior or how to communicate what I want. We are still so new to each other.
My biggest disappointment in bringing him home was seeing how he interacted with Bear and Shiloh. He came in extremely strong, guarding every resource whether a flake of hay, a patch of Summer shade or the entire run-in shed during a cold rain. Bear and Shiloh got extra exercise as they constantly had to clear way.
I ended up separating the horses and putting them together multiple times, dividing up access to the run-in shed with a variety of electric tape and traffic cone creations. It seemed to help. Piper is still top dog of the herd, moving everyone around at feeding time so he can get the best cuts of hay. That’s not likely to change, but I see them all more comfortable with sharing space together now.
One really surprising change is seeing Shiloh and Piper play together, with Shiloh actually initiating. It’s a nice change from watching Piper charge at him and Shiloh run away in terror.
They do what is sometimes called “the nip and shove.” For those not familiar, it is where horses stand facing each other but slightly offset so their faces are right to left or left to right. Then they nip back and forth at each other’s cheeks while pushing into each other. Usually, they also rear up and/or spin around. Then they trot in a circle for a minute. All before returning to face each other and repeating the same play pattern.
This is what I sometimes see from my living room window. The photo is out of focus, but I wanted to show you an example of Piper and Shiloh, well, horsing around. 🙂 Never goes on for long. Just a few minutes. But it sure is entertaining to watch.
I am looking forward to the rest of 2022 with Piper. Ideally by then, we will have more positive changes, including some fun riding experiences, to report!
Before we get too far into 2022, I want to summarize my horse life for 2021. I decided to do this by writing three separate posts, one regarding each of my horses. The posts will come in three installments, each titled “a year in a life with . . .”. The last installment featured my horse, Shiloh. Today’s features Bear, my bay and white Racking Horse gelding.
In 2021, Bear marked his 26th birthday and our 16th anniversary.
I’ve spent more time with him than any other horse I have had the pleasure of keeping in my backyard. Bear is also the horse who has spent more time in retirement with me than any of my previous horses.
As he entered his second decade, Bear’s issues with arthritis and laminitis eventually led to my assessment that he was no longer comfortable working under saddle. After over ten fun riding years together, I sadly retired him in 2017.
For a retired horse, though, Bear’s been pretty active. In 2021, he went with Shiloh on eight trailer trips. We went to the vet’s office, a clinic, a friend’s property, and a local boarding barn. I didn’t want to leave him alone at home.
Now that I added a third horse to the herd a few months ago, Bear will have some company if I take someone else out to ride. We’ll have to experiment with that in 2022.
While Bear seems mostly happy being left to his own devices, I do still like to include him in at-home activities from time to time.
In 2021, I tried ponying him off of Shiloh for the first time. We ended up doing a handful of sessions. Here’s a little video clip of us practicing changing directions and stopping.
Bear was always a fan of playing around with obstacles during our riding days. So throughout the year, I periodically took out obstacles and let him play around with them on the ground.
And sometimes I just took him out for little walks around the property. I also took him into the round pen, let him loose, and took out a bunch of grooming tools to see what he picked out for a little massage. It is a good excuse to practice taking him away from the other horses, who sometimes react to the fact that Bear is leaving the paddock without them.
Mostly though, Bear enjoys running around, just being a horse.
Even running around and kicking up his heels sometimes.
With Bear turning 27 this Spring, I know the clock is ticking on our time together. His Cushing’s Disease, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, and arthritis make it challenging to manage his health. But my goal is to make his life as healthy and happy as I can, maintaining a good quality of existence for him as long as possible.
Reading Time: 5 minutes, 13 seconds (plus a couple of short videos to watch)
Before we get too far into 2022, I want to summarize my horse life for 2021. I am doing this by writing three separate posts, one regarding each of my horses. The posts will come in three installments, each titled “a year in a life with. . .”. Today I begin by writing about Shiloh, my Missouri Fox Trotter gelding. In addition to describing some of what we did together in 2021, I throw in background information for those of you not familiar with his story.
What can I say about this sweet horse wrapped up in a flashy package? Mostly that I am enjoying Shiloh in a way I did not expect when I purchased him in the Fall of 2018. At that time, he had spent the previous five years mostly at pasture. He enjoyed his days as a companion to his previous owner’s other horses. But when the last one passed away, Shiloh was put up for sale. I brought him home as a companion to my senior horse, Bear, who was at that point also an only horse.
As two lonely horses coming together, they immediately got along well. In addition to having Shiloh as a trusty companion for Bear, I hoped to enjoy Shiloh as a riding horse. But I had my doubts. Five years is a long time to be out of commission. And I am no professional horse trainer.
We started a little rocky. Shiloh was dull, tuned out, unenthusiastic. He paced (instead of gaiting as his breed would ideally dictate). He tripped. He seemed exhausted after 10 whole minutes of riding at the walk.
I had trouble doing seemingly simple things with him. Like bringing him to a halt from a walk under saddle! I suppose technically he was running away with me, but luckily I rode well enough to stay with him at his slow shuffle.
I constantly questioned myself, struggling to figure out the best way to communicate with him. I was all the while nervous about working with this “new to me” horse.
In the back of my mind loomed the incident that resulted in his spending the previous five years at pasture. His owner lost confidence in him after a riding accident. An accident that led to an ER visit and a hospital stay. A freak accident, just one of those things that could likely happen to any rider. But because it happened with this particular horse, I unhelpfully thought about it almost every time I rode him.
Somehow, out of all of that, we started building a positive foundation together. He stopped tripping. Stopped pacing. Started holding himself under saddle in a much healthier posture than the inverted and strung-out way in which he started.
I also get the sense Shiloh likes me now. He sometimes comes up to me in the pasture when I’m doing chores just to hang out, relaxing in my company. And he’s almost always up for a good scratch.
Much to my delight, he appears more enthusiastic about our work together. In 2021, I first noticed that he was offering more to me without my asking. Sure, I need to ride each step to support him, but I don’t constantly have to hold him together. And while he will never be a speed demon, he is much more forward than he used to be.
His tendency to be slow used to drive me bonkers. Every step, it felt like he was pulling his legs out of a vat of gooey molasses. But his lack of speed gave me a gift. I realized this year that I can feel things on him that I can’t seem to feel on other horses. I can better process what he’s doing with his body because he is not so quick. I can sense his responses to my aids in a way I have not with other horses.
Due to this better sense of feel, I’ve had more success in influencing his way of going this year. Certainly more so than with any other horse from my past. It gives me a refreshing insight into riding that is exciting.
In reviewing my 2021 calendar, I see that we completed 68 rides and eight trailer trips together. Not bad, but I sure would like to get out and do more with him.
I had imagined by this time having a few clinics, trail rides and a couple of local horse shows under our belts.
But our only successful field trips were to the nearby boarding barn. We rode multiple times around both their indoor arena and outdoor track since 2019. But my attempt at attending a clinic earlier this year did not go well. Nor did my two attempts at taking him trail riding with a friend.
For all our field trips, I brought along my now-retired horse Bear. I didn’t want to leave him home alone. At the boarding barn, Bear has rarely been fussy, but at the clinic and my friend’s property, Bear was a nervous mess. Bear fretted and hollered. Bounced around the stalls.
Bear’s energy upset Shiloh to the point where he also fretted, hollered, and bounced while I tried to do groundwork and ride. We were all miserable.
The situation is disappointing, of course, but I can’t blame the horses. It’s a horsemanship issue on my part. Keeping a horse’s focus and attention, when the chips are down, is a long-standing struggle for me. When a lot is going on, I can get nervous, lose my confidence, and then can’t do what I need to do to get the horse back on track.
With the addition of a third horse to my herd last Fall, I was hoping to start taking Shiloh on trips without Bear. But a very rainy and then cold Fall season squashed those plans. I am hopeful we can give it a go in 2022.
I’ll wrap things up by sharing a couple of Shiloh videos with you.
The first is of us crossing a series of four ground poles together. While to some this may not seem impressive, I am positively thrilled. I remember the first time I asked him to cross one ground pole a few years ago. I’m pretty sure he ticked it with all four hooves. He ended up tripping over it so badly that it frightened me. I didn’t try crossing another ground pole for months after. So Shiloh being able to cross four ground poles in a row without hitting any of them? That’s miracle territory right there. And I have it on tape.
The next video is of us working on tipping a cone over with a front hoof. Since taking that video, we’ve graduated to tipping it over AND back up. That happened on our last ride of the year on an unusually warm December 31st day. It is a bummer that no one was with me to capture that event. But for this video taken earlier this Summer, my husband was taping the ride. Cracks me up how both of us are verbally cheering Shiloh on like he’s a baby taking his first steps. That kind of verbal tone can grate on the nerves (for both people and horses), but for Shiloh, I think he prefers it. Good boy, Shiloh!
Here’s an opportunity to watch horsemanship videos for FREE!
This online horse fair, brought to you by the Art of The Horseman, will feature over 130 online presentations all about horses and horsemanship. That’s 60+ hours of video content.
You can view the videos for FREE on January 24th and 25th, 2022. Anyone with internet access worldwide can view this large selection of videos from an international lineup of horse professionals in a variety of disciplines. Past those dates, you have to pay to view the videos.
Back in 2020, I posted about a previous Art of The Horseman fair. I have to say I really enjoyed the presentations I viewed at that time. Unfortunately, some of my favorite presenters from 2020 are not in the 2022 lineup. But one presenter is, Noah Tillman-Young.
Noah Tillman-Young operates his training business out of Grace Ranch in Texas (USA). I previously watched a great video of his about trailer loading. It’s an issue I have had plenty of problems with over the years. I really liked how calm and methodical he was about helping a reluctant horse load.
Lots of the Art of The Horseman Fair videos are about riding, but many touch on other issues like this trailer loading one I saw and more. The videos are grouped into three sections:
Human mindset, riding, health
Horse mind, body, spirit
I had to laugh when I saw that one of the 2022 video presentations will be “16 Steps to Solving Separation Anxiety Undersaddle” by Warwick Schiller. Like trailer loading, that’s another horsemanship issue I’ve struggled with. Seems like every time this horsemanship fair comes around that there’s always something that touches a nerve.
To receive your free ticket to the fair, go to https://www.becauseofthehorse.net and click on the picture that says “free ticket click here.” On the becauseofthehorse website, you can see the list of presenters and presentations schedule.
Once you get your ticket, you will receive more information about the fair via email (as well as info about how you can buy a membership to view the videos past the two free dates). On the day of the fair opening, you will receive an email reminder about the timing of the free video access so you will know when it goes live.
Mark your calendars for this FREE online learning opportunity!
Bet you noticed the rise in consumer prices lately. You also likely entered a store (or website) recently and left without the product you were seeking. It was not in stock.
In the last year, I similarly noticed prices rising both for horse services and horse products. But unlike a recent trip to the grocery store where iceberg lettuce was nowhere to be found, obtaining horse products has not been difficult for me.
That all changed when I went last week to refill an Equioxx prescription for my horse, Bear.
Equioxx is an NSAID for horses to control inflammation and pain. Bear was first prescribed Equioxx in the Fall of 2017 to address signs of arthritis.
Back then, Bear started struggling to get his hind legs to flex and move after laying down for a nap. He appeared to rise well. But then be initially stiff-legged and limp until he loosed up.
Fortunately, Equioxx quickly addressed this issue. It eliminated the limp. Over four years later, I am still pleased with how it helps him.
When I tried to refill Bear’s Equioxx this month, I saw that the product was out of stock at the online pharmacy where I usually buy his prescriptions. No problem, I thought. I have a list of about seven online alternative pharmacies. Wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t find it anywhere.
That’s when I panicked. I wondered how long Bear could go without Equioxx before he’d struggle to rise and walk. And how quickly I’d need to make the choice for euthanasia to avoid further suffering. I became so distraught that I started crying. Like big huge tears streaming down my soon red, puffy face.
Dramatic? Maybe. But both price fluctuations and access to products sometimes do have real life, negative consequences.
And in my defense, with the way I am apparently wired, I tend to immediately imagine disaster scenarios at the first signs of trouble. Did I mention I was especially tired that morning too?
As my computer screen went completely blurry, I whipped out a Kleenex tissue. I took a minute to pray, breath and drink some water. These actions helped center myself back into the present moment.
It’s funny how often I have to remind myself to stay in the here and now. Possibility awareness and preparation has its place. But becoming emotionally reactive about something that has not happened yet to the point where I become super distressed is an old, unhelpful habit that I have yet to break.
So, while wondering if Kleenex would be the next thing I’d find out of stock, I dried my tears. I could then see the computer screen and the situation more clearly.
It occurred to me that this supply chain issue was likely temporary. I might be able to wait this out?
With that thought, I decided to count Bear’s remaining pills. I discovered almost a month’s worth left. I also made a plan to contact my veterinarian once their office opened later that morning to get a list of potential alternative treatments. I could then make a plan before Bear’s pills ran out.
I recalled the equivalent medication for dogs used to be prescribed for horses before Equioxx became available. I also remembered that symptoms of arthritis can sometimes be controlled by topical products, injectables and even supplements in certain situations. I felt some relief thinking that there might actually be a doable solution less drastic than euthanasia.
True, I’ll likely have to make that final appointment for Bear someday. “But today would not be the day,” I told myself.
As it turned out, while my veterinarian’s online pharmacy was in fact out of Equioxx, their office had some bottles for sale at the desk. Crisis averted!
I recount my story to hopefully save readers from a similar panic. I can’t promise your vet will have a stash of otherwise unavailable medication. But I do think it is helpful to remember that most supply-chain issues are in fact temporary. Ditto for realizing that many conditions can respond to a variety of treatments.
Be proactive in getting your animals what they need? Sure. Call your veterinarian to discuss the situation and solutions? Definitely. Please don’t come apart at the seams.
Speaking of product availability . . . Do you know one thing that is NOT in short supply? My printable products on my new Etsy store, TheBackYardHorseShop. How is that for a segue!
For those of you unaware, I opened TheBackYardHorseShop on Etsy at the very end of December 2021. The shop offers all printable products for instant, digital download.
Listings include my 2022 horsemanship-goal worksheets, horse bookmarks and my first ebooklet “What To Do When You Can’t Ride? Ten horse-related activities for when life keeps you out of the saddle.” See the little photo- slideshow below.
I want to give a special shout out to The Backyard Horse Blog reader who made my first sale. I won’t reveal your name here, but you know who you are! What you don’t know is how excited I was about it. So thank you!
What about you? Did you visit the shop but didn’t find anything you wanted to buy? Don’t do printables? Fair enough.
Instead, would you please consider passing on awareness of the shop to horse family/barn buddies/your equestrian social media followers? If you know anyone who you think might enjoy the ebooklet or the other printable products, please send them the link to the shop at
Are you dealing with alternating muddy to frozen footing in your horse paddocks? You know, muddy footing that then forms into an uneven surface. A surface with lots of divots and sharp edges when the ground freezes. A surface that is difficult and even painful for you and your horses to traverse.
If you are looking for a quick, cost-effective solution to a similar footing issue that doesn’t involved major construction, you might want to consider pea gravel. Pea gravel is a smooth, rounded stone that is naturally formed from river rock. Each piece is roughly 3/8″ or the size of a pea. Hence the name.
Using pea gravel has its pluses and minuses. It is not suitable for all situations. Please keep that in mind as you consider the uniqueness of your own set up. Also, it may not be available or cost effective in your area like it is in mine. I am sharing my experience simply as an example, not as a definitive “how to” guide.
Ideally, we’d all have tons of acreage for our horses to roam so they wouldn’t always be in a limited spot, wearing the ground out quickly. When we would need to keep them close to the barn, we’d also have paddocks that were carefully designed and constructed with horses in mind.
But I’m guessing most backyard horse-owners don’t. A lot of us make do with old cow pastures or fenced in farm land where hay used to be grown. We often have to come up with less than ideal answers to problems. All on the fly. All in the quest to keep our horses as happy, healthy and comfortable as we can.
In my area, a wet and muddy Fall season led to a Winter that so far has lots of see-sawing temperatures. We’ve had plenty of rain followed by some wind-chill temperatures below zero.
It’s all left my horse’s main paddock in a sad state. I say main paddock because that’s where they live almost 24-7 save for a short time on pasture each day.
The area around my horses’ run in shed is a flat, ag lime footing pad. It gives them a firmer and drier place to stand than the mud or frozen ground in the rest of the paddock.
But if they want to access their water trough or make the trek out to the grass pasture for a few hours of daily grazing? They have to walk across the rest of the paddock without any special footing.
Most of the year, this works out just fine. With too much rain though, the horses are then walking through thick mud. With regular below 32 degree temperatures, they are walking on uneven frozen ground.
This issue isn’t new. I deal with it every year. However, it seems especially pronounced this Winter.
Likely my adding a third horse (Piper) to the herd and then having an unusually wet Fall season both contributed to the deteriorating conditions.
The uneven frozen footing is especially hard on Bear, my 26 year old gelding. On the coldest days when the footing is at its sharpest, he won’t leave the run-in shed area to access the water trough.
I’ve become accustomed during the coldest days to bring a bucket of water out to Bear with his morning breakfast. I realized many years ago that he will avoid walking on that type of cut up ground, even if he is very thirsty.
If he sees me coming with the water bucket and has not left the shed all night, he will look at me with perked ears, nicker, lick his lips, and toss his head up and down. And then drink an entire 8 quart bucket as soon as he puts his nose in it.
Bear has not yet ever had an episode of colic. BUT reduced water consumption in Winter is notorious for leading to impaction colic. It’s something I worry about every Winter. To read more about this issue, check out this magazine article from Equus at
Unfortunately, my placement of the necessary water bucket heater is limited by the fact that I can’t string extension cords across a horse pasture in order to give them heated water in the run-in shed.
Our Winter night time temperatures are largely below freezing so I’ve found a water tank heater to be a necessity from December through the end of March/early April.
Anticipating that this Winter might be a hard one, I had been waiting for the weather to even out long enough to allow me to schedule a dump truck delivery of pea gravel.
I wanted to get this accomplished by November, but the extra rainy Fall season would not allow it. A dump truck on soft ground will leave huge ruts. I would have to wait until the ground froze solid.
Finally, the ground seemed solid enough to bring in a dump truck and get pea gravel delivered earlier this month.
I got a 6 ton load delivered and dumped on an edge of the horses’ paddock to make a walkway.
The area extends from the edge of the ag lime footing pad out to their water trough and then the gate leading to their grazing pasture.
Pea gravel is not a perfect or permanent solution, but it definitely gives the horses a more comfortable and safer surface to travel on than uneven frozen ground.
The horses liked it immediately and were happy to investigate and walk all over it.
The difference between how they cross the pea gravel and how they cross the frozen, pocketed ground is like night and day. They can walk normally rather than mincing and stumbling across the ground in fits and starts, especially Bear.
Best of all, Bear will now leave his run-in shed to go drink water after he finishes his evening hay meal. He’s no longer anxious for me to bring a water bucket to him with his breakfast.
These photos were taken not long after the gravel arrival. The 6 tons were dumped in two piles. I spread the pea gravel by hand using a rake and shovel. Currently it looks more like a typical, flat walkway and less like the motocross course you see in these photos.
Spreading 6 tons of pea gravel is a lot to tackle all at once so I’ve been doing a little bit at a time. The horses do their part by walking back and forth on it (and sometimes pawing at it) too.
In this photo below, you can see the length of the walkway as I stand on the ag lime pad looking out towards their grass pasture. The right-hand side of the photo shows how cut up that formerly-muddy-now-frozen ground really is.
Ideally, I would have liked to have ordered 12 tons of the pea gravel to make a wider walkway, but both my budget and my back strength are limited.
Side note here- I don’t normally leave halters on my horses when they are loose in the pasture, especially not rope halters that have no break-away mechanism. In this case, I had been leading the horses from one area of the property to another to accommodate the movement of the dump truck. Piper, the bay gelding, was the last to be moved so I left the halter on him while I opened and closed gates for the driver as he came and went.
Eventually, the pea gravel will roll away and get stomped into the ground, and I will need a refill. That’s one of the downsides to pea gravel.
But I’ve had good experience adding pea gravel to other areas in the past. I am hopeful this walkway might last through at least a couple more Winters before needing a top off.
Overall, pea gravel has more positives for me than negatives. I really appreciate that pea gravel is a fairly budget-friendly option in my area. This 6 ton load cost me $300 delivered.
Pea gravel is also an easy surface to remove poop from. And it will dissipate pools of urine so we don’t have a lot of pee-ice-rinks settling on top of the footing.
Pea gravel is usually quite loose but can form some irregular clumps during the wet-freeze cycles. They break apart pretty easily though. I have not noticed the horses acting “ouchy” over them.
Speaking of ouchy, I have read more than one expert write that pea gravel (and sand too) is an excellent footing choice for horses with soundness issues. The smooth roundness of the pea gravel pieces and the movement of the pieces give the horses a softer surface to pack into the hoof than gravel with sharp edges.
Like anything with horses, though, I have also read counter arguments. Like some people observing their horses’ hooves wear out faster (resulting in sole soreness) than when housed on a different surface. While this has not been my experience, it is definitely a potential issue worth noting if you are considering trying pea gravel.
If I couldn’t have ordered pea gravel (you never know with supply chain issues these days), sand would have been my second choice. It is even cheaper, but because I get so much rain and have a pretty flat paddock, I don’t consider it the best option for walkways in my area. I lack good paddock slope and drainage. Sand turns into a soupy mess for me.
I have had sand delivered to a section of the pasture specifically for a “lay-down and roll” area, but I notice the horses use it much more in the Summer than the Winter. The sand gets soggy and hard in the wet/freezing weather.
I will also point out that I rarely see my horses chose to roll or lay down on the pea gravel. Maybe because pea gravel moves and gives them less of a solid feel when they have to push off it to get up? I also sometimes wonder if the rocks can feel too hot for them to lay on in the Summer sun? Nevertheless, I have read from other folks on horse forums that their horses do in fact roll/lay down on their pea gravel.
In any case, since I don’t observe my horses choosing to lay down on it much at all, I don’t think I’d want to have my horses exclusively on pea gravel. In fact, most recent expert literature that I’ve read about paddock design recommend allowing horses access to a variety of surfaces to accommodate those types of preferences.
Long story short, here’s my personal list of pea gravel pros and cons:
PEA GRAVEL PROS LIST:
Helps cover and reduce the spread of mud
Helps cover uneven, jagged frozen-ground edges
Readily available (in my area of the Mid-West)
Budget friendly (in my area of the Mid-West)
Easy to remove manure
Keeps urine from pooling and freezing on the surface
Possibly a good choice of footing for horses with soundness issues although there is debate on this
PEA GRAVEL CONS LIST:
My own horses don’t generally seem to lay down or roll on it
Pea gravel spreads out overtime, necessitating periodic “refills”
Pea gravel is not something I can transport myself in large quantities. I need it delivered in a large dump truck. You must have wide enough gates to accommodate the trucks and ground solid enough to not create huge ruts. This issue of course isn’t exclusive to pea gravel. I could say the same of most landscape stone.
In conclusion, remember what works in one backyard paddock may not work in another. Or for one horse verses another. Paddock location and geography, weather conditions and patterns, the soil type, the number of horses, the size of the paddock and your budget can all influence “what works best where.”
Want more paddock footing ideas? I suggest reading these three articles from three different resources:
Need to clean out your tack room/closet? Do you have items in great condition but that you just don’t want or use? If you are US based, consider partnering with http://www.everythinghorses.com to sell your items via consignment online!
I know that the notion of Spring cleaning gets all the attention, but I also find Winter to be a great time to do some sorting and organizing.
While you can always choose to donate your unwanted items to a horse rescue or therapeutic riding center, there may be things you’d prefer to sell for cash. Everythinghorses is one place you can do just that.
Note that their focus is on English Huntseat-type tack and clothing, so if you lean Western, this isn’t the place to sell your cowboy boots. BUT, remember that stable supplies are pretty universal. Many of us use the same horse blankets and halters, no matter our chosen riding discipline.
After recently receiving a pair of English riding boots that did not fit me and that I could not return, I contacted Everythinghorses for a “clean out kit”.
In the mail I received a 19×24 bag, free shipping label and a grooming cloth with their logo on it. I don’t know if they send something like that to every customer, but I have to say that I love it when I get a little bit of lagniappe when I shop.
I managed to get a “clean out kit” near the start of the website’s launch and the kits were offered completely free with no upfront money required at all.
I see now on their website that their pricing structure for the kit has changed. They currently list two choices for a basic clean out kit (saddle clean out kits are pricier due to the cost of shipping a large item):
$10 CLEAN OUT KIT- You can a “free” clean out kit and a $10 “automatic coupon applied at checkout” towards the purchase of a consignment shop item.
$15 CLEAN OUT KIT- This kit comes with “Return Assurance” that you will be mailed the item back if it doesn’t sell.
I filled out their consignment form, stuck the shipping label on the bag and mailed off my pair of boots to their store. I now see that the boots are in fact listed for sale on their website. If the boots sell, I will get my choice of 40% of the sale in store credit or 50% of the sale in cash via PayPal.
I will stick a note of caution in here- If they chose not to accept an item or if the item doesn’t sell within a designated time period, you don’t get any money and your item is not returned to you (if you don’t purchase the “Return Assurance” mentioned above). The good news is that they will instead donate the item to one of their horse non-profit partners.
I DO like that donation aspect of their business plan, but if you have your heart set on getting money for your item or if you want the item back if it doesn’t sell, this might not be the right store for you.
If you want to give them a try, I highly suggesting carefully reading the information on their website about what they do and do not accept. This will increase your chances that Everythinghorses will accept your item in the first place and not being immediately rejected.
By the way, whether you use Everythinghorses or not, clearing out unused horse stuff is kind of a perfect activity for those of us who are finding their riding time cut short during brutal Winter weather. That’s me right now!
Speaking of lack of riding time, I will use this opportunity to make a plug for my new e-booklet “What To Do When You Can’t Ride? Ten horse-related activities for when life keeps you out of the saddle.” It is now for sale on TheBackYardHorseShop.
The proverbial wisdom is to “write what you know.” I have a lot of experience with not being able to ride as often as I would like so the subject seemed a good fit for my first booklet. I am hoping it could help fellow equestrians as they try to cope with this common problem.
“What To Do When You Can’t Ride? Ten horse-related activities for when life keeps you out of the saddle” is suitable for all horse-lovers, whether you have your own horse or not. No actual horse is required for any of the suggested activities. The 12 page e-booklet is sold in the form of a digital download PDF that you can either read right on your computer or print out.
Stay tuned for a “part II” edition that I am currently designing. It will contain ten more non-riding activity ideas!
Welcome to you and 2022! It’s been a busy start to the new year over here at The Backyard Horse Blog.
First off, I hope readers caught my January 1st post where I reviewed my Aunt’s new horse book, “A Good Seat: Three months at the Reitinstitut von Neindorff” with a foreword written by none other than the famed horseman, Walter Zettl. If you have any interest in the areas of memoir, European travel, dressage or even daily life before Smartphones, I think you would really enjoy the book.
But backing up in time just a bit, besides taking a recent blogger’s break to celebrate Christmas, I got going behind the blog scenes before the start of the new year.
I changed several items on the blog website, reorganized the blog Pinterest account and opened an online Etsy store called TheBackYardHorseShop. For those of you not yet familiar with Etsy, it is a global online marketplace for creative types to sell their wares.
And last but not least, while crafting a logo for the shop, I also created a matching logo for the blog as I very much consider the shop its extension.
TheBackYardHorseShop on Etsy offers printable products to compliment your horse life. Everything sold on the shop is a printable product, otherwise known as a digital download.
This means that the shop has no physical products for sale. Instead, when you purchase a product, you buy the right to download the selected template to your computer for you to print out at home (or through some kind of printing service, if you so choose).
Currently, TheBackYardHorseShop has a grand total of eight listings. Six individual products and two bundles.
For example, dovetailing off a previous post “Setting Horsemanship Goals and Themes,” I designed some related printable worksheets. You can purchase each of the three worksheets individually or buy all three for a discounted price.
And because I think one can never have too many bookmarks, I designed three printable bookmarks, all with a horsey theme, of course. Buy one or two separately or all three in a bundle. Blog readers will notice that my horse, Shiloh, is the featured model for this particular bookmark bundle.
If you’d like to check out the shop, please go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBackYardHorseShop or click on the TheBackYardHorseShop logo near the top of this post or on either of the photos above to be whisked right over to the shop.
As of this writing, I’m still awaiting my first sale. I also have several more printable product ideas in the works. Including an e-booklet or two to give the product line-up some printable educational offerings.
But all this creating is taking me longer than I anticipated.
So for the month of January, instead of resuming my usual “3 posts per week” schedule, I will plan on publishing one post per week, likely on or near the start of each week (with perhaps a bonus post thrown in periodically if I come across something that I think readers could benefit from immediately).
My tentative plan is to resume the “3 posts per week” schedule come February, if I can manage to get the hang of juggling The Backyard Horse Blog AND TheBackYardHorseShop.
For me, it’s kind of like trying to lead two horses at once. You know how everything goes along swimmingly until one horse dives for grass while the other spooks and runs right past you? Then you’ve got to pivot and figure out how to untangle yourself, assuming you still even have hold of one or both lead ropes. It’s a little disorienting at times! 🙂
***If you’ve been with me since the start of this blog in January 2020, you may recall reading that when I was the tender age of five, my Aunt introduced me to horses. It seems fitting that a review of my Aunt’s new book be featured as the first post of January 2022, the blog’s two-year anniversary month.***
“A Good Seat: Three Months at the Reitinstitut von Neindorff” is in equal measure memoir, travel diary and dressage handbook. Set in Germany in the early 2000’s, it is based on the American author’s journaling of her experience as a riding student at the Reitinstitut von Neindorff. Many dressage riders dream of studying in Europe. Few get to realize their ambitions as did the author.
“It was not without trepidation that I packed my bags for Karlsruhe. Herr von Neindorff’s reputation as a stickler and a perfectionist was well known to me. However, it was precisely that unwavering insistence on correctness in the rider and consideration for the horse’s nature that drew me there. And those qualities were certainly abundantly in evidence during my stay, although there were some big surprises along the way . . . as you will see.”
– Lynne Sprinsky Echols
All events take place before the rise of the Smartphone, Facebook or Instagram. The writer details the charm of living in a German town, and studying riding, while using the devices of the time to keep in touch with family and friends back home. In this way, the book acts as an interesting time capsule.
While technology has changed in the last twenty years, the principals of effective riding have not. Readers will ride along with the author as she tries to master her then fifty-something body during her improvement quest.
Modern day riders will find nuggets of equestrian wisdom weaved throughout the tales of daily living in Europe. “A Good Seat” emphasizes how important a rider’s own self-carriage is to the horse’s way of going.
“Remember, we want a steady “zzzzzzzzzt” connection, as though our seat bones were the metal prongs of an electric plug and we were plugged into the saddle. This is achieved by slightly toning the abdominal muscles. If the pelvis were a bowl full of water, water would trickle out the back. This is not an extreme tucking-under of the pelvis, which constitutes a forceful driving aid. Instead, it is so subtle that it is almost more of an “attitude” than a physical manifestation.”
– Lynne Sprinsky Echols
Ideas from the book such as how to rotate one’s hips for better leg alignment, how to stabilize the pelvis and how to use the shoulders as part of the seat aid can all be put to immediate use during the reader’s next ride.
Through absorbing the writer’s journey, “A Good Seat” readers will find inspiration to better their skills in the saddle and pursue their own riding dreams.
If you’d like to purchase your own copy, please contact the author, Lynne Sprinsky Echols, directly. Use email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR Private message via her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RiderSeatMD/. Email or PM her on Facebook with (1) the email address you use for PayPal and (2) your mailing address. She can then send you an invoice via PayPal where you can purchase the book with one click. The book is $27.95 plus shipping via Media Mail (USA only).
On a personal note, I want to say congratulations to my Auntie Lynne for publishing “A Good Seat”! It’s been a long road for her, and I admire her tenacity in “gettin’ ‘er done.” Just as I followed my Aunt into the saddle so many years ago, I hope one day to follow her into the self-publishing world too. Cheers to mastering a good seat and crafting a good book!
***Please note that following today’s post, I am taking a short blogger’s break. After celebrating the reason for the Christmas season, I plan to resume posting new content for The Backyard Horse Blog during the first week of January 2022! In the mean time, I expect to update the blog’s tagline, welcome & disclosure pages and add a new logo for a little fun. ***
Looking for a 2022 horse calendar? Even better, how about a calendar that doubles as a horsemanship manual?!
If so, you’ve got to check out this beautiful, functional and informative calendar with illustrations by graphic designer, Michelle Guillot.
Don’t ride dressage? Don’t let that stop you from exploring this calendar.
After all, basic dressage concepts are simply sound riding principals that can be applied to any riding discipline even if you have no interest in the sport of dressage itself.
Guillot’s illustrations make those basic riding concepts come to life with visually engaging pictures combined with straight forward, “to the point” text.
Each calendar month displays different ideas or concrete exercises that you can incorporate into your riding.
At that end of the year, I see myself separating the calendar pages and laminating my favorite pictures to incorporate into my riding binder where I keep horsemanship articles and journal-type notes about my horses.
I am so excited about receiving this calendar. The information it contains is seriously useful!
To purchase the calendar, go to the North American Western Dressage(NAWD)Store at
News about innovative programs that help horses find new homes catch my eye. This, despite the fact, that I have so far kept all of the horses I have owned until death.
I also know that life can throw curve balls. All of us can get knocked off-course from our intended path with a one-two punch by a health concern, financial downturn, family issue, etc . . .
For these reasons, I think it important to keep my eye out for rehoming options in case I am not able to keep my horses in the future.
Safe Landings, hosted by the EQUUS Foundation, is one such rehoming platform. It acts as an information hub and connection point for folks looking to rehome their horses outside of the typical sale or auction situation. In fact, Safe Landings focuses on horse donation, something that isn’t widely talked about within many equestrian circles.
Horse folks may not realize that there are colleges, universities, camps, police units, equine assisted learning programs and therapeutic riding centers in need of horses to fulfill their program requirements.
Beyond the issue of awareness is the fact that finding the right match among the donating owner, the horse in question and the receiving organization is not always simple. Safe Landings seeks to make the process easier.
“Safe Landings is a new online platform featuring organizations that are looking for program horses to provide opportunities for horse owners, rescues, and transition centers to find homes for their equines in need of a next chapter.
For horses to remain an important part of American life and have a viable future, it’s imperative that we increase opportunities for horses to naturally transition from one career to the next without risk of abuse, neglect, and the threat of slaughter, and provide the means to retrain horses in transition to prepare them for these opportunities,” says Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President.
Safe Landings offers resources for horse owners who are unable to retain ownership of their horses with viable options other than sending horses to auction where they are likely to be purchased by “meat brokers” and sent to slaughter across our borders.”
-From the North West Horse Source Magazine November 2021 Issue
Safe Landings is hosted by the EQUUS Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote horse welfare and the horse-human bond.
According to a recent email I received from the EQUUS Foundation, their goals include “minimizing the conditions that lead to abuse and neglect, and the threat of slaughter by finding homes for at-risk horses and horses in transition, providing a safety net for owners enduring hardship to keep their horses, ensuring a safe haven for aged horses, and increasing opportunities for more horses to engage and partner with people in new and innovative ways.”
Designing the Safe Landings program is one way they are meeting their mission. Their website also contains many articles on what to consider when rehoming a horse. Things like asking questions about how horses are incorporated into a center’s program and what the center does when the donated horse no longer fits their program needs.
To learn more about the Safe Landings program and to see the list of collages, universities and other organizations currently looking for horse donations, go to
“Riding is a completed joy, so full of promises fulfilled. There is never a totally ‘bad ride’. There are days when you ride badly, or the horse doesn’t go so well, but there is always something to find out. Nothing stands still. You never know it all. You learn something each time, even if it’s only that you are not as good as you thought you were. The truth about riding is always there for you to discover all over again . . .”
From Talking of Horses (1973) by Monica Enid Dickens
I’d like to thank my riding instructor, Caroline, for loaning me her copy of the book Talking of Horses by Monica Dickens. I previously used a quote from the book for my most recent “Equine Illustrated Inspiration” blog-post edition. I did so without realizing that my riding instructor knew the author personally.
After Caroline saw my blog post, she asked if I would like to borrow her copy of the book. Turns out that many years ago, Caroline lived across the street from Monica Dickens. She would take her pony over to Ms. Dickens property to compete in gymkhana events that Dickens hosted. A small world moment!
I had read various quotes from the book but never the book in its entirety. As an avid reader, it is an exciting opportunity to be set up with a great read. Even more so to have the opportunity to turn that read into another blog post. 🙂
Talking of Horses was published in 1973. Due to its age, many readers may not be familiar with the book (or may not have even been born when it first launched).
All the same, if you enjoy reading older literature about horses, you may find this book quite interesting. Advice and opinions given in the book very much reflect the common equestrian thinking of the time, allowing the text to be a time capsule of sorts.
Some aspects of that thinking would be judged as inappropriate by today’s standards, but on the whole, I found the book relatable as a modern day horse-person.
For example, take the case of someone having trouble trailer-loading a horse. Suddenly, an entire crowd of people appear to “help” the stranded equestrian. This has happened to me and to some of my horse-friends. I smiled and nodded knowingly when Dickens described this experience happening to her more than fifty years ago!
My biggest reflection about the book is the level of joy and enthusiasm that the author communicates about horses. Feelings that resonate with most equestrians.
It is a timeless joy, this horse life. Lived by so many who came before us and hopefully lived by others when we ourselves are long gone. Definitely an experience not to be taken for granted or squandered by those who truly understand the wonder of horses.
Based on the many horse adventures described in the book, it is clear to me that Dickens lived her horse-life for all it was worth.
A huge line of powerful storms recently rolled through middle America, spawning tornadoes across six states.
Whenever I hear of disaster affected areas, I think of all the folks with animals. I hear of the struggles in coping with losses and providing continued daily care when their own health, safety and resources are at risk. Maybe no water, no power, no cell phone service. Barns, shelters, fences torn down. Hay, feed, equipment blown away or rained on. All while the pandemic continues.
In scouring the internet, I came across several resources for folks who are looking for horse-care assistance such as temporary housing, transportation out of an area or hay/feed.
If you are aware of other organizations or individuals that are offering assistance to horse owners, please add them in the comments section. As cell phone/internet service is restored, you never know who will stumble on this page in the quest to access resources. The more ideas the better.
Fleet of Angels Fleet of Angles is most well-known for providing emergency transportation services for horse owners nationwide, but they also distribute money to those affected by disasters. Horse owners affected by the recent tornados can apply for emergency micro-grants to assist with horse care (like hay, repair materials, vet bills) at https://www.fleetofangels.org/.
Kentucky Equine Humane Society Per a recent Facebook post on their page: “DO YOU NEED HELP FOR YOUR HORSES AFTER RECENT WEATHER DISASTER? If your pasture fencing has been destroyed or you need a temporary safe space for your horses after recent tornadoes that have swept across our state please contact Kentucky Humane Society about temporary sheltering options or a safe place for your horses. Our hearts go out to all those who have experienced loss or damage due to the recent storms and we would like to help horses in need if we can.” Contact: Call our Horse Helpline: 502-272-1068 or email Horses@kyhumane.org
Rarely ridden horse. When I saw that description in the title of an online training article, I knew this was one piece I had to read! Especially as I head into yet another long, cold, wet Winter season.
While during six months of most years I am generally able to ride my at-home horses at least twice a week, the other six months I either don’t ride at all or inconsistently at best. Winter weather and the resulting footing conditions make it painful and/or downright dangerous for me to ride.
For a basically half of every year, my horses match the description of the “rarely ridden horse.” I hate that it is so, but it is a reality for me as it is for many others.
Your circumstances may be a bit different than mine. Maybe your work or school schedule keeps you out of the saddle. Health issues, family commitments and financial issues can all interfere too.
And let’s not forget the horses themselves. Sometimes due to age or certain physical conditions, it is not advisable to have our horses on a more traditional riding schedule.
Long story short, for whatever reason, we don’t give our horses the consistent riding that we would otherwise like.
The full title of the training article that caught my eye is “The Rarely Ridden Horse: Use these five strategies from our experts to keep your seldom-ridden horse tuned-up and connected with you”. It appears online at the Horse and Rider magazine website.
Whether or not you personally employ the particular training techniques/philosophies noted in the article sidebars, the ideas in the main text are flexible enough to allow riders to relate the spirit of the text to their own style of horsemanship.
Riders can utilize the article as a game plan to better structure and organize the precious few times they are in fact able to ride or do groundwork.
I also have to say that I just really like seeing this topic addressed. I don’t see it written about very often.
Most training articles come from the perspective of a rider/trainer who lives in an area with mild year-around weather or who has easy access to facilities that mitigate weather conditions like indoor arenas or outdoor areas with good footing. I think they forget that not everyone has these advantages that allow for a consistent riding schedule.
I also venture to guess that most are written with the assumption that the rider is working a younger horse who is sound/healthy. And yet, how many of us have horses who are older with at least some physical limitations? I have three of those right in my own backyard.
Sometimes I even think what I am reading in the articles would be damaging to my horses, considering their age/physical issues. I worry about folks, particularly those newer to the horse industry, being encouraged to push their horses past their limitations when they don’t realize the article wasn’t written with their twenty-two year old mount in mind.
Long story short, so many training articles just don’t address with any scale the realities of horse folks like me.
Nonetheless, I am still out there with my horses. I want to learn, grown and stay active with them, even with and within my personal limits and situational limitations. Even if it is not as often as or to the extent that I would like.
The article gives positive, realistic suggestions on how to do just that! So refreshing!
Do you too have a “rarely ridden horse?” If so, you can read the article for yourself here:
Whoosh! Does my horse, Shiloh, know the end of the year is quickly approaching? He looks about as startled as I feel about how fast this year went. Did it seem to come around quickly for you too?
Seems strange that I am back here again, already reviewing this past year and thinking about the next.
During this yearly season, I reflect on what I’ve done in my horse life during the previous eleven months. I also start to think about what I would like to accomplish the next year.
I generally couch those thoughts in terms of goals.
I may not reach those goals. In fact, I often unfortunately don’t.
So why bother to set them, you might ask? Well, bottom line, I feel like I get further in my horse life when I set goals than when I do not.
With a destination in mind, my goals help orient me in my day to day work with horses, even if I rarely get as far as I want to.
I feel like if I don’t know what my overarching reason is for working with a particular horse that I just kind of flounder. Especially considering I mostly ride at home by myself.
It can be easy to get rather lost while riding and not be sure of what I am doing if I don’t make my motivations clear to myself.
The absence of the why of an activity, even an activity you enjoy, can lead to a lack of activity. A stagnation. I suspect this can lead to a loss of enjoyment and even a turning away from horses/riding.
So for me, I am a big fan of formulating specific goals. Whether riding my own horses in my backyard or while riding lesson horses at a nearby barn, I like to have an idea of what I am shooting for.
All my recent personal reflection will likely make it into some of my upcoming blog posts as the year wraps up and next year begins.
Today, though, I wanted to let readers know about a concept I recently learned about. I am sharing it in case it might be helpful as you do your own reflection and planning.
While recently looking through my email inbox, a subject title jumped out at me: “Yearly theme instead of goal?”.
It was the title to an email from trainer and clinician Stacy Westfall. You may remember the viral video of her riding bareback and bridleless during a freestyle reining class at the AQHA Congress in 2011.
The email included a link to Westfall’s recent podcast episode where she talks about setting themes for the year instead of goals.
I had never thought about that option so I was immediately intrigued.
Westfall goes on to talk about the reasons one might want to select a theme(s) and how to do so. She also gives several examples of themes and how to implement them. Themes like “the year of focus.” “The year of relationship.” “The year of less.” How interesting!
If you’d like to listen to the nineteen minute podcast, go to
While I expect to stick to formulating some measureable goals each year, I really like the idea of adding in a theme(s). I will definitley be giving it some thought.
How about you? Do you set horsemanship goals each year? Or if you like the idea of themes, what theme do you think would set a positive tone for your horsemanship next year?
I wrote in the post that I was saving the block to put out during Winter time. Well, Winter in my area is here so I put out the first block last week inside an extra salt block holder that I had available.
This photo shows the block after about four days of use from the three horses. Looks messy, I know, but as the horses lick and nibble on the block, it becomes crumbly.
Anyone who has seen horses eat knows that the bits and pieces that fall from their mouths tend to go everywhere. On the ground. On a nearby wall. Mushed into their whiskers. All over you when they eat and sneeze at the same time.
Anywho, the first day I put the block out for my herd, I saw each of the horses spend about 5 to 10 minutes licking it within the first hour. I first thought I might have to take the block away due to their eagerness. Tribute Equine’s website info about the product does suggest that you should watch for over-consumption. It states that the target consumption rate per horse is 12 ounces per day.
After the first day, the horses’ interest seemed to level to a more reasonable amount. The block was completely consumed within a week. I came out one morning to see the salt block holder was empty and licked clean.
Now, I have to say that I don’t consider any of my horses to be picky-eaters. So maybe all this post tells you is that my three horses with healthy appetites like the block. Just to garner a little more “palatability review cred,” I will point out that all my horses are eighteen and older, including Bear who at twenty-six has become a bit more finicky with age.
Now, does all that mean YOUR horses will like the block? And does it mean that the horses (yours or mine) will get the gut-health benefits from the block that it purports? I don’t know.
I will say though that with a price of $10 each (or $5 each if you can still find the BOGO offer I described in my other Constant Comfort Block post), it seems like a reasonable product to try. Especially if your horse does suffer from known gut-health issues, I would think it worth asking your veterinarian if the block might have a part to play in your overall strategy to keep your horse feeling better.
Oh, and don’t forget about the Constant Comfort Sweepstakes that runs through December 31st, 2021. You can win a year’s supply of Constant Comfort feed and blocks! Read my post about it below at
If you enjoy learning from Buck Brannaman, you might find the upcoming The Buck Channel of interest!
Brannaman is a famous horse trainer and clinician, promoting the California vaquero style of horsemanship. His own horsemanship mentors include the also famous Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.
No surprise that I have not ridden in one of his clinics, but I read his book The Faraway Horses and have seen his articles in Eclectic Horseman Magazine. I have also viewed the Seven Clinics with Buck Brannaman DVD set.
In a recent Eclectic Horseman Magazine article (that I underlined and highlighted as seen in the above photo), the author quotes Brannaman about the impetus for creating the channel.
“I’ve always been bit of a dinosaur about technology and social media,” says Buck, “but after last year, when I couldn’t do what I’ve been doing for 40 years, I thought it’s possible that my life working as I know it is over. And then I thought, if that was the case, what did I leave behind.” —-From article appearing in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Eclectic Horseman “A New Way to Learn From Buck” by Emily Kitching
Video content will reflect a continuum of rider levels from rank beginner to advanced, long time riders. As the article continues, Brannman describes the channel format.
“Rather than filming full-length videos, which do have their place, with this you might be sitting on your horse, thinking ‘How do I back a circle?’ I’m missing something here.’ Well, then you can go to The Buck Channel, scroll down the list of videos, find backing circles. Watch it for 5 minutes while you’re sitting on your horse, put your phone in your pocket and say “Thanks Buck” and then you have your answer.”
The channel is not up and running as of this writing, although hopefully it will be soon. There is no information yet regarding pricing. The channel website currently states that interested horseman can email the channel to ask Buck a question that he might choose to later answer through the video topics. I like the idea of being able to potentially help shape future content!
In my neck of the woods, I am at the start of an annual Winter season that holds mostly cold, clouds, rain, ice and snow. Lots of swings between frozen ground and mud too. All this takes place over a long five months.
Winter holds plenty of horse care and riding challenges for me. Challenges that result in my riding far less often than I would like. Challenges where I find myself constantly battling the elements while feeling stiff, sore and exhausted. With painfully frozen fingers too.
Fortunately, Winter also holds moments of beauty and delight too. Like the sight of my horses’ warm breath blowing into the cold air. Or the feel of their thick, wooly coats (at least when I can stand the cold enough to take off my gloves). And then there’s the fun of riding bareback through freshly fallen snow.
For those of you who experience a similar season, I have compiled a “Winter Roundup” of a few previous Winter posts with corresponding Pinterest pins. Hopefully you can find a useful tip or hint among them to apply to your own cold weather situation.
While I know that readers on the other side of the world from me are experiencing warm weather, there are some right here in my own country who are still dealing with flies too. So here is something you might find more applicable. An Absorbine fly spray rebate!
The offer is for Absorbine’s Ultra Shield Ex, Green, Red and Sport (gallon size bottles only). It is a $10 rebate offer for every gallon you purchase. Up to 10 gallons.
I received several of these rebates earlier this year so I know that the offer is legitimate. The trick is that you have to find gallons to purchase that already come with the little rebate tag attached.
This year, I purchased gallons from two different retailers and received the tags on both. I have also seen the gallons with the rebate tags at my local Tractor Supply Company store. But if you are purchasing your gallons online, I suggest checking with the seller to ask if they have those rebate tags on their gallons. If you want to see a sample of what the rebate tags look like (I already mailed all of mine in so I don’t have one to show you), here is an image of it that I found on http://www.pbsanimalhealth.com under their rebates and promotions section (please note their “click for details button” does not work here on The Back Yard Horse Blog):
It does take quite awhile to receive the rebate once you mail it in. I think mine each took like two to three months. If you want to save money on postage, wait until you purchase all your fly spray gallons for the year and mail them in all at once. The $10 rebate is issued on a debit card like this one below:
The Absorbine rebate offer runs through 12/31/22 with a limit of 10 rebates per household (you may note that the image taken from the PBS Animal Health website leads with the offer ending 12/21/21, but if you read the actual details on the image, it states that the offer runs through 12/31/22). That means for those of us who won’t be purchasing more fly spray until next April/May, there’s still time to take advantage.
I have made a note on my 2022 calendar to look for those gallons with the rebate tags again when I am ready to buy in the Spring. What does that say about me that I am actually looking forward to having to purchase fly spray again?
“Perfectionism is the biggest factor that holds my students back from making progress with their horses . . . People really care about their horses and are very detail-oriented in their desire to improve themselves and help their horses. In this effort, they can become paralyzed by perfectionism. They don’t want to take “messy action,” as I like to call it, and that causes sneaky patterns to appear.”- Madison Shambaugh
It doesn’t matter who you are. Sure, it looks and feel different to each of us. But whatever wording you want to use. Whatever it looks like for you. Whatever value and meaning you place on it. I venture to guess that all of us horse people have failed, messed up, or underperformed in some way.
For that reason, maybe this quote jumped out at you the same way it did to me? I have really enjoyed following the quote’s author, Madison Shambaugh, over the years. Her natural horse skill is admirable. Likewise her quest to bring attention to the many issues involving mustangs. Hence her moniker “Mustang Maddy.”
What is especially interesting to me is her quest for continual self-improvement, even as a highly skilled equestrian. I wrote about that issue in a post last year at
Today, I wanted to share a link to a more recent Mustang Maddy interview that writer Jennifer Paulson published with Horse and Rider. It is where I found the above quote. You would think that with Madison’s level of success and interest in learning that she would be a perfectionist. But this article shows that Madison has an interesting perspective on the subject.
Some of the phrasing in the article really jumped out at me. Concepts like “taking messy action” and the word “fail” standing for a “faithful attempt in learning” are encouraging to those of us who have ever felt “less than” in our horsemanship or riding skills. Reached for a goal and fallen short.
If you’d like to read the article for yourself, head over to the following link at Horse and Rider magazine at
While changing our perspectives on the issue of perfectionism or fear of failure doesn’t make it any less likely that we will fail in our horse goals, I think it can help us cope with the mental fall out.
I know it’s easy to look around you (or down at that little device you are holding in your hand) and feel like everyone else is a conqueror on horseback while you are struggling to just put a halter on your hard-to-catch-horse in the pasture.
Those uber-awesome horsemen certainly do exist. If we can put aside any feelings of intimidation or jealousy, there’s certainly lots to be learned from them. But I also know it can be hard for many of us to relate to their level of skill when that question in our minds linger. That question something to the effect of “why her and not me?”
Why is she getting her own horse, winning the accolades, heading down the trail or progressing through the levels, but I am not?
I know I have often felt something akin to grief over not being the highly skilled horseperson I would otherwise like to be. Watching other folks be the rider I once hoped to become, while I am in the saddle year after year still trying to master the basics in my middle age? Well, let’s just say it can get discouraging.
Despite my own understanding of falling short, I feel sad when I hear of folks leaving the horse industry because they have not gotten as far as originally planned. Some might argue that their decision is due to disappointment, not perfectionism or fear of failure. Yet I wonder if all those emotions are not just different parts of the same puzzle that lead to the same result?
Do we sometimes need to adjust our goals? Take a bit of a different path than we originally planned? Scale back? Get some help? BE WILLING to fail? Sure. But if you decide that including horses in your life is really what you want to do, please don’t let the fear of failure stop you from at least trying to continue.
Yes, there is the real risk that you may not ever get as far as you want to. But you won’t know how far you can go if you don’t give it a shot.
Don’t just take it from me. Take it from Mustang Maddy.
Both as a Christian believer and an animal enthusiast, I am drawn to the numerous mentions of donkeys in the Bible. Whenever I hear the words “working donkey,” the story of Balaam’s donkey often pops into my head.
The passages including Balaam’s donkey are found in the book of Numbers. Numbers is the fourth of the five books of the Jewish Torah and recognized by Christians as part of the Old Testament. Even if you are not of the Jewish or Christian faiths, you might still find the passage as intriguing as I do.
On a related note, I want to take a moment to say that I hope for a Hanukkah filled with peace and light for my Jewish readers celebrating this week. Happy Hanukkah!
As with most texts, religious or secular, there are numerous varied interpretations. There is also a lot of context involved. Balaam’s history of his involvement with the Jewish people, specifically his attempt to curse the Israelites, goes far beyond this one narrative. It definitely surpasses the scope of this post.
But my personal take away from this passage is that God worked through an animal to surprise, humble and redirect Balaam. And I find that idea fascinating.
I know in my own life that I continually learn about myself and absorb life lessons through and in relationship to animals. Sometimes I like what I see and learn about my myself. Sometimes I don’t.
I also see that Balaam’s reaction to his donkey’s behavior revealed this man’s flawed heart. Perhaps in a way that only an animal could. Balaam lost his temper and took out his frustration on his donkey.
While I have not had an angel of The Lord stand in my path (as far as I know), I have often heard that still small inner voice. It tells me when I am not reacting well to a particular situation with one of my animals and that I need to change course. I’ve also wondered how many times I misinterpreted an animal’s actions, just as Balaam did.
Whatever you may make of this narrative, Balaam’s donkey fits the description of a working donkey. But the text describing this pair may likely be less familiar to most people than all the working donkey images appearing around Christmas. Donkeys being ridden, packed and driven.
Interestingly, there is no mention of a donkey in the Bible passages involving the birth of Jesus. Some of our Christmas imagery and traditions are not technically scriptural. But considering all the working donkeys of that age, it is not much of a stretch to think there was a donkey hanging out nearby during the time of Christ’s birth.
In any case, all that leads me to the current Christian season of Advent, with Christmas being the most famous day therein. When I found out that the organization the Brooke was offering an interesting way to bring attention to donkeys during this season, I couldn’t help but smile.
Readers may have noticed that I mentioned Brooke USA as part of my Giving Tuesday post. The Brooke in the UK and Brooke USA work to support the millions of working animals worldwide and the families that rely on them for their very survival. If there is a prominent face of working animals, both in current and Biblical times, the donkey must be at or near the top of the list.
The Brooke is currently offering a free, 32 page download of donkey crafts. The download includes a list of needed materials, instructions and pictures. The crafts range from simple to more complex. They look like so much fun!
The Brooke is hoping that as folks makes these crafts that they will share the story of working donkeys in an effort to raise awareness of issues surrounding working animals and their people. What a neat idea!
You will notice that while the download is free, The Brooke asks that you consider making a donation. Because The Brooke is UK based, it asks for donations in British Pounds. I wasn’t sure about credit card charges for currency exchange and the like so I declined to donate (and still got my free download).
Instead, I headed over to Brooke USA website and made a donation to them. In the notes section of their donation page, I told them that I was making this donation because I received the free download from their mother organization. Just suggesting this as a possible option for readers who would also like to donate, but to donate in US dollars, not British pounds. Go to
If you do end up making a donkey craft, The Brooke hopes you will share your creations on social media with links to the Brooke so more people can learn about working animals and their families. A creative way to help donkeys get their due. I’d like to think that Balaam’s donkey would approve.
Yes, today is Cyber Monday. But I want to give a shout out to tomorrow’s 2021 Giving Tuesday.
Created in 2012, #Givingtuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. Wikipedia defines it as “a global movement that unleashes the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” Giving Tuesday reminds us to look beyond our own backyards.
While giving to a cause can certainly be about donating your time through volunteering, donating money is what usually comes to mind on Giving Tuesday.
Not sure where to donate? Read on for several horse-related suggestions.
And in case you wonder about why I’ve selected these particular listings out of thousands of worthy organizations, I include links to previous posts I’ve written that relate to each one in an effort to add a personal touch.
YOUR LOCAL HORSE RESCUE OR SANCTUARY Every dollar counts in a big way when running a horse rescue or sanctuary. There are so many organizations, large and small, doing the ongoing work of helping horses in need. If you don’t know of any local horse rescues off the top of your head, a quick Google search should give you some ideas. In addition to cash, many need donations of items like hay, feed and horse-care products. Giving Tuesday is a great time to get in contact with your local rescue. If you aren’t already aware, you might be surprised to learn about the equine rescue-work that goes on in your own community.
WILD HORSE EDUCATION https://wildhorseeducation.org/ Wild Horse Education(WHE) continues to be my favorite mustang advocacy organization. WHE works to film and document horses on the range as well as those controversial government round ups. As part of their ongoing public education efforts, WHE explains to the public why it is important to keep wild horses and burros on the range instead of removing them. WHE also advocates for wild horses and burros on a national level working with government law makers to try to improve protections for these animals. Right now, a generous donor is matching all donations up to a particular amount so your donation dollars can go farther!
SADDLE UP AND READ https://www.saddleupandread.org/ Have you heard the podcast Young Black Equestrians? One of the YBE co-hosts, Caitlin Gooch, is also the founder of Saddle Up And Read, a literacy program that combines the wonderful worlds of reading and horses. From the Saddle Up and Read website, “Saddle Up and Read is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based out of Wendell, NC. Saddle Up And Read is on a mission to encourage youth to achieve literary excellence through equine activities.” I personally love to read and would have been excited about a program like this as a child. I’ve posted about Saddle Up and Read more than once on this blog. See the most recent mention at https://thebackyardhorseblog.com/2021/05/14/musings-all-roads-lead-to-horses/.
HORSE AND MAN BLOG’s THE BUCKET FUND https://www.horseandman.com/the-drop-in-the-bucket-fund/ The Bucket Fund is proof that one blogger can make a difference for horses in need. I know that The Bucket Fund works because my local horse rescue once received much appreciated help from the fund!
“Each Month, HORSE AND MAN has a Drop in the Bucket Fund for a specific equine charity. My theory is that sometimes it is easier to give anonymously in a very small amount than not give at all because one feels embarrassed to give just a little. Well, many of us feel that way. But, if we put all the drops in one bucket, it makes a difference in some horse’s life. So, that is what this page is about. If you feel moved by our monthly Bucket Fund story but only have a few dollars to spare, we are happy to help it grow bigger.” – From the Horse and Man website
In addition to running The Bucket Fund, Horse and Man has recently added a separate fun called the “Keep them off the truck” donation fund. This fund is being built to raise money for horse rescues to purchase horses, donkeys and mules when they are in danger of going to slaughter via auction. You can find more information on the Horse and Man website.
THE BROOKE USA: Empowering Equines, Empowering People http://www.BrookeUSA.org/givingtuesday Did you know that 600 million of the world’s financially poorest people use 100 Million horses, donkeys and mules to make money and otherwise survive? The Brooke USA (and the long-standing UK based The Brooke) seek to support these folks by helping them help their working animals. This Giving Tuesday, your donations will go farther due to a current matching-donation program. From their website, “Giving Tuesday is a great time to show your passion for equines and people, so do not forget to #BrookeUSA #Women4Donkeys #GivingTuesday #DonkeyHideCrisis.”
What a weekend! We have Black Friday and Small Business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. Get your wallets ready.
After posting a “pre-Black Friday shopping” post recently, I am posting a list of discount offers that I came across since (and even a couple of rumors of offers that I wasn’t able to confirm but thought were worth noting).
Please note that offer details may vary. If you see something that peaks your interest, I highly suggest popping over to the corresponding website immediately to read the exact offer and all the fine print. Sometimes time limits, quantities, etc . . . are very specific.
If the details I list below are different than what you see on the company’s website, take the website’s word for it. Make sure the discount actually shows up in your shopping cart total before you press “buy”. If not, you can call the company and try to recoup your money, but that’s not always possible. Shop with caution.
Alright, let’s get started . . .
Big D’s Tack and Vet Supply https://www.bigdweb.com/ 10% Off sitewide on Black Friday with some notable exceptions such as feed, shaving, vet wrap, vaccines and dewormers. In addition, check out their Black Friday Doorbusters on their website.
Chewy https://www.chewy.com/b/horse-2971 Chewy has listed quite a few horse-related Black Friday deals. I saw A LOT of “buy two-get one free” offers on everything from liniment to horse feed! Click on the Chewy link above to see the offers.
Remember, too, that Chewy has a donation program where you can place a Chewy order and have the items mailed directly to a rescue of your choice. A wonderful Black Friday gift for the lucky animal rescue you select! Find more info at https://www.chewy.com/g/animal-shelters-and-rescues.
Dover Saddlery http://www.doversaddlery.com BOGO 50% OFF Dover Saddlery & Noble Shirts, Breeches & Tights with promo code: CMXBOGOBF. Offer expires 11/28/21 at 11:59pm EST. As quoted from their website: “Excludes outerwear and sweaters. Purchase an item from the BOGO 50% Off Dover Saddlery & Noble Equestrian Shirts, Breeches & Tights promotion, and get another item from the BOGO 50% Off Dover Saddlery & Noble Equestrian Shirts, Breeches & Tights promotion, 50% off its list price.” Also, Dover is offering numerous additional discounts on specific equestrian brands, all advertised on their home page now.
Horse Class https://www.horseclass.com/ Horse Class announced that it will be offering a large discount on one or more online-learning courses, but I am not privy to exactly what it is. I am guessing it will be announced on their website sometime today.
Ivy’s Glide Gait https://www.ivyshorses.com Special offer on Ivy’s “Train A Smooth Gait- Complete Guide DVD Set”. From Ivy’s website, “Train a smooth gait, whether you have a trotty gaited horse or a pacey horse. Learn the most important exercise to get your horse calm. Watch multiple horses learn to gait using these techniques. Over 9 hours of footage.” Black Friday deal is 50% off the normal price of this set so was $199 and is now $99. Personal note here- I have not seen this particular training set, but I enjoy watching and have benefited from Ivy’s Youtube training videos that feature horse-friendly riding and training techniques.
Kong Equine (horse toys!) https://kongequine.com/ Offering $50 off a Kong Equine through 11/29. Go to the website, wait for the pop up square and enter your email address. Kong will then send you a coupon code to get the $50 off.
Majesty’s Animal Nutrition https://majestys.com/ 30% off on Black Friday, November 26, 2021 only using code: BLACKFRIDAY30. Remember that if you happen to miss shopping with them on Black Friday, you can still get 25% off on orders through December 31st, 2021 using coupon code HOLIDAY2021.
Redmone Equine https://redmondequine.com/ Buy two products get one for free. Mix and match. Free item will be least expensive one. Offer is for now through December 1st, 2021. Here’s my personal note- Be aware that you must add three items to your cart and then have to go all the way through to the last page of the checkout process before you will see the discounted price of the free item show up.
Riding Warehouse at https://www.ridingwarehouse.com Generally, Riding Warehouse features a certain percentage off your shopping cart on Black Friday, but I didn’t see an offer pre-advertised yet for this year. I DO see a 20% off discount on Kerrits, Horze and BVeritgo apparel right now on their website.
If you’d like to have a portion of your Riding Warehouse purchases go towards helping horses in need, please goto the blog http://www.horseandman.com and click on their affiliate link with Riding Warehouse. You can do this all year round, not just Black Friday. A portion of your sales will then go to help horses in need through the Horse and Man Bucket Fund!
Smart Pak Equine https://www.smartpakequine.com/ Save 15% on your order through 11/29/21. Use coupon code BF2021. Plus, for folks placing larger orders (like $200 worth), they are offering a free gift with purchase that changes each day, but they are not announcing ahead of time what those free gifts are (last year, they ranged from a free hay net to a free pair of paddock boots). You will have to look at their website each day to see each day’s offer.
Trafalgar Square Books https://www.horseandriderbooks.comOR you can click on the affiliate link on The Backyard Horse Blog website where you see the photo of a woman reading a book to a horse. The blog will then receive a much appreciated portion of your sales without it costing you anything extra. 20% off sitewide now through Cyber Monday.
Vintage Western Wear https://www.vintagewesternwear.com/ Save 15% at checkout. Use coupon code: BLACK FRIDAY. Discount is site wide on non-sale items over $50. Expires 12/1/21.
Not enough discounts and offers listed here for your tastes? Amanda at the Breed Ride Event blog posts a huge annual list of equestrian Black Friday discounts. Find this year’s list at https://breedrideevent.com/.
Finally, don’t forget to set aside some money for Giving Tuesday! I’ll have more to say about that on Monday’s blog. I also plan to post a list of horse-related non-profits that could benefit from your support!
The phrase and rhyme from which it comes definitely have a wistful quality. When it comes to horses, “wistful” could have been my middle name as a child. As a young girl with no horse of my own, I always envisioned myself with a stable full of steeds one day.
Reality has been decidedly different. Not too bad, mind you. But definitely different. As an adult, I have yet to keep more than four horses at a time. I never did get that stable with the indoor arena. While in theory I would still love to have a bigger herd, I have my hands full at the moment with my current set of three geldings.
But if wishes were saddles? Well then. Let me wish away.
I am especially interested in acquiring a couple of western dressage saddles. I’ve written previous posts about my interest in using basic dressage principals as I ride my gaited horses in western tack. I would like one saddle to fit my horse, Shiloh. The other to fit my horse, Piper. Bear, as you may recall, is retired. But if we are dreaming here, can we make Bear young and sound again?
While most plain old saddles work fine for my level of pursuit, Western dressage saddles tend to put the rider in a more classic dressage position, rather than more of a chair seat as happens with many western saddle varieties. They also allow the rider to feel their horse’s back, something that can be difficult to do through the bulk of many regular western saddles. The goal with the western dressage saddle is to help the rider help their horse find a more balanced way of going in keeping with the tenants of dressage.
But . . . quality western dressage saddles are few and far between. And quite expensive. And almost impossible for me to find on the used market. There is also the issue of fantasy meeting reality. A fancy saddle won’t magically make you a better rider. Even worse, sometimes that fantasy saddle does not end up fitting your horse.
How often do we make the mistake of thinking that some shiny new thing is going to dramatically improve our lives? Over the years, I have sat is some very expensive saddles across several disciplines. Usually when taking lessons or test-riding a horse for sale. I can’t say I instantly rode better because of those saddles. The feedback I received during some of those lessons definitely reflected that reality unfortunately.
At the same time, I do believe a quality saddle has the potential to help a rider get farther faster in their horsemanship. It is hard enough to “ride well” in any kind of saddle. But when we are constantly fighting to reposition ourselves due to some fault of the saddle design? Or struggle to feel what our horse is doing underneath us? It makes riding ten times more difficult.
So I keep having this saddle fantasy. I dream of wonderful quality saddles. That fit each of my horses like a glove. That look handsome with a beautiful finish and intricate tooling. That allows me to happily gait my horses off into the sunset. With my horses reflecting a deep comfort as they glide over the ground. Relaxed. Engaged. Forward.
What is my fantasy saddle of the moment? It is a DP Saddlery Quantum Short and Light Western saddle with a Dressage Seat #5028, sold through the company Lilly Tay for about $4,000. I have never sat in one, but I would sure would like to give it a try and see if reality matches my fantasy.
“This saddle is a true hybrid built on an English tree, it works for those difficult to fit horses with short backs, wide, and round horses and has wool flocked panels for extra comfort for horse and rider and is fabulous for those seeking comfort for their horse and themselves.
It also features DP Saddlery’s famous adjustable gullet so that you can change the gullet from narrow to extra wide, providing superior spine clearance for the horse.
As if it couldn’t get any better, with the added Western Dressage seat and fender style, the rider is automatically placed in a correctly balanced seat. And the stirrup bars are set back to encourage a proper leg position and discourage a chair seat.
With a softly padded seat, this saddle is ideal for long trail rides, gaited horses, and endurance riders.”
How about you, dear reader? Do you have a fantasy saddle? If so, let me know in the comments section. And by the way! Do you plan to do any shopping, saddle or otherwise, this weekend? If so, please stop by The Backyard Horse Blog on Friday morning. Assuming my computer is firing on all cylinders, I expect to have a list of horse-related shopping discounts for you to hopefully make all those Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases more affordable.
What season is it in your part of the world? I am technically in the later part of Fall. But it sure is feeling like Winter. Cold, wet, windy. Pretty soon, my backyard will look like the photo above, taken on the last day of December in 2017.
It may not be official yet on the calendar, but when my horse-water tubs start to freeze at night, I know the coldest, darkest days are just around the corner. I spent last week and weekend doing Winter preparation.
To start things off on the right hoof, I got in an enjoyable and productive ride on both Shiloh and Piper. It was a cold but mercifully sunny day. We had something new to look at during our rides as the harvest was in full swing with all the combines/trucks out and about.
I am happy to report that neither Shiloh nor Piper seemed upset by the commotion. I recall that Bear used to be very difficult to ride during harvest time as he was afraid of the large vehicles and all the related noise. Those repeated previous experiences now leave me wondering how any horse that I ride will handle those situations.
While it may not be my final at-home-ride day of the year, it was likely one of the last. The combination of cold-wind-clouds-frozen/muddy ground in my area typically makes regular riding outside painfully uncomfortable for me. I usually am not able to ride at home again with any consistency until almost May.
Since the rest of the week didn’t look promising for backyard riding, I then tackled other items on my Winter prep list:
Item #1 Move horse trailer to its Winter storage position
I don’t think I’ve ever hauled a horse between December and February. In an emergency, though, I might decide to take the horse(s) to the vet clinic rather than wait for a vet to arrive to my property. I want the trailer easy to access but somewhat protected from weather and out of the way for visitors. In good weather, it’s easy to run outside and move the horse trailer at the last minute so the farrier can easily park his truck. In bad weather, when I have to wade through snow drifts to get to the trailer, moving it becomes a major chore. Better to move it out of the way now. And lookie here, I got the ball lined up just right on the first try! Why doesn’t that happen on a warm Summer day when I am excited to hook up the trailer and go for a ride?
Item #2 Take all liquid barn products into the house
Those of you with a more traditional barn may not have this issue. But I have to bring all those bottles of liquid into my house so they don’t freeze in my open air barn. Tack cleaner, fly sprays, mane detangler and shampoo can all freeze and bust out of their containers. It creates a wasteful mess that I learned to avoid by organizing an annual migration for all my barn potions and lotions.
Item #3 Organize Barn Area and Count Supplies
The end of my at-home-riding season is a great time to dig through my tack and equipment bins. It reminds me of items I previously set aside to be repaired or replaced. It allows me to count what I still have left over. And to realize what I need to restock. I take special note of items that I use more often during Winter, trying to make sure I have enough on hand to last through a Winter weather storm. Sometimes getting to my local feed store or Tractor Supply Store is difficult or downright dangerous during those times. Having enough hay on hand is an absolute must. Also things like bedding and stall deodorizer for my run-in-shed. In good weather, the horses tend to do their business away from the run-in shed. But in cold, snowy, windy weather, I am regularly cleaning up big messes in and around the shed as they spend more time around the shelter.
Item #4 Set up water tank with heater
Without a way to heat my water tanks, my horses’ water consumption would plummet. Unheated water tanks will freeze over in December and not thaw out until March in my area. Read almost any literature about colic in horses during Winter, and it will inevitably mention lack of water as a major contributing factor.
The one situation that I have not been able to resolve to my satisfaction yet? My on-again-off-again quest to buy a second run-in-shed before Winter. I’ve been fortunate that after almost twenty years, I’ve had up to four horses all be able to use the one run-in-shed equitably. But my newest horse, Piper, is not as apt to share. I’ve been waffling about whether or not to get a second shed. Piper’s resource guarding behavior has waxed and waned since he arrived, leading me to wonder if a second shed is actually necessary or not. Another complicating factor is that all the recent wet weather is not conducive to bringing in large equipment to prep a site and bring in a heavy shed. Way too much soft ground and mud. So my plans are still in limbo and may realistically need to wait until next year.
What about you? Do you live in an area with formidable Winters? Are you ready? Preparation doesn’t help us avoid all disasters. All the same, doing as much as you can ahead of time will give you the peace of having some resources in place and at the ready for what can be a long and harsh season around the barn.
I know I am not the only one who enjoys entering horse-related contests, right? Well, here’s another one for interested readers to enter.
I found out about the sweepstakes after signing up to receive emails from Tribute Equine. Readers may recall my post about taking advantage of a BOGO free offer of Tribute Equine’s Constant Comfort blocks.
I used the photo you see above for that post too (in case you are wondering why the picture looks familiar). If you missed the post, you may read it at
This particular sweepstakes is giving away a bunch of useful stuff for some lucky human and their horse(s). I noticed that one of the prizes is a Constant Comfort block holder. I didn’t even realize they made block holders especially for the Constant Comfort blocks!
“We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Constant Comfort Sweepstakes event! Sign up before December 31st for a chance to win a prize valued at $1,000. A random winner will be drawn January 3rd, 2022. Winner will win 1 men’s or women’s Tribute Cinch jacket, a Dover Saddlery custom leather halter, a Constant Comfort block holder, and a 1 year supply of Constant Comfort Plus (12 bags) and Constant Comfort blocks (24 blocks), shipped on a monthly basis.”
– From a Tribute Equine sweepstakes email announcement
The sweepstakes is open to residents 18 and older in most of the USA (Alaska and Hawaii excluded, probably because of the monthly shipping compenent of the contest prize).
If you’d like to enter the contest, click on the link below and let me know later if you win!
“When I can’t ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble around with a bucket and a wheelbarrow. When I can’t hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out to the fence of the field where my horses graze and watch them. Whether by wheelbarrow or wheelchair, I will do likewise to keep alive-as long as I can do as best I can-my connection with horses.” ― Monica Enid Dickens, Talking of Horses (1973)
I love this quote from Monica Enid Dickens. This great-granddaughter of famous British author Charles Dickens was clearly acquainted with horses. She spoke to that longing that so many of us have, to maintain some involvement with horses no matter our circumstances. Such is this magnificent creature’s hold on our hearts.
Pairinginspiring quotes and horse pictures, EquineIllustrated Inspiration is a periodic feature on The Backyard Horse Blog.Sending out thanks to my horse, Shiloh, for posing to let me take this nifty shadow shot from the saddle.
No one is going to mistake me for a professional horse trainer, but I definitely subscribe to the idea that anyone who interacts with a horse is stepping into the role of an educator. We teach our horses how to behave around us, in part, by the behaviors we reinforce. The following quote jumped out at me in that regard.
“The overall goal in educating a horse is not only to teach him what we expect him to do, but to cause him to want to do it- with enthusiasm, enjoyment, and even a kind of commitment, as if he felt himself to be a partner in important work.” – Dr. Deb Bennett
If you are wondering that in the world that has to do with the title of this blog post, please stay with me here while I explain.
The “important work” of my horses, as I see it for my situation, is keeping me safe. Whether I am on the ground or sitting on their backs. Safety is always on my mind.
I can’t avoid all disasters, but I can try to help my horses help keep me safe. One way I can do this is by finding tack suited and comfortable to each horse.
After all, how can I expect my horses to consistently do things “with enthusiasm, enjoyment and a kind of commitment” if they are constantly distracted-constricted-hurting in some way by what they are wearing?
All this has been on my mind as I get to know my newest horse, Piper. My tack options are limited by price and access, but my goal is still Piper’s comfort.
In his former home, Piper was ridden in a Western trail-type saddle and curb bit. So I started off riding him in my own Western trail-type saddle and a Myler curb bit I had in my tack bin.
Unfortunately, my Western saddle seems too wide for Piper. It slopes down somewhat towards his withers rather than sitting level on his back. With the curb bit, he seemed to carry it comfortably in his mouth, but any rein pressure accentuated his tendency to get behind the vertical.
Then I bought a quality Circle Y Western saddle on sale. But Piper flinched when I mounted as though the saddle dug in and pinched him. And while the saddle was couch-comfortable underneath me, as soon as Piper started gaiting, I was in a chair seat. I struggled constantly to put my feet back underneath me with every stride.
After returning the Circle Y, I borrowed a saddle-seat saddle from my riding instructor. This saddle seemed to fit Piper well. But the slick, flat seat didn’t give me the most secure feeling. Especially when riding a horse that I am just getting to know.
So when I saw an Australian-looking-type saddle for sale at a second-hand tack sale, I decided to give it a go. I say “looking-type” because it doesn’t sport all of the details that I normally associate with Australian saddles. My uneducated identification may very well be inaccurate. Maybe some of the blog’s Australian readers could set me straight on that?
In any case, what I like most about this saddle is that the saddle tree is similar to the saddle-seat saddle that seemed to fit Piper well. I really appreciated being able to borrow the saddle-seat saddle, because I don’t think I would have thought about trying a saddle with an English tree without that experience of seeing how Piper seemed to like the saddle-seat saddle. He just seemed to feel more relaxed in it than the two Western saddles that I tried.
I also sampled several saddle pads and girth styles. I got the impression Piper preferred my five star saddle pad paired with a traditional English girth. He consistently flinched when girthed up with the wider Total Saddle Fit girths that my other horses seem to like and that I happily gave a positive review to on this blog.
After riding Piper in both a curb bit and a snaffle bit, I have recently settled on a Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle for the moment. Piper’s tendency to over flex is more pronounced in the curb bit than the eggbutt snaffle, but I feel like he relaxes and stretches out even more with the bitless bridle. I may switch back and forth for awhile between the snaffle and the bitless bridle until I get a better feel of him.
So long story short, we’ve got a bit of an eclectic tack situation going on. The Australian-looking-type saddle, the Western saddle pad, the English girth and the bitless bridle (with the eggbutt snaffle a close second). Winter (the end of my backyard-riding season) is fast approaching so this is likely how we will finish the year.
I know I am not the only one who has struggled with finding the right tack combo. How about you? What is the most unusual tack combination you’ve ever tried? Let me know in the comments section.
Last year, I wrote a post about pre-planning for Black Friday/Cyber Monday horse-related shopping. Taking advantage of discounts and BOGO offers features prominently in my ability to better afford my horses and the entire horse lifestyle. You can read the post here at
As the world continues to cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic and the resulting supply chain issues, I notice that many retailers are starting to advertise deals earlier than usual. Equestrian retailers included.
Here are a few of the horse-related early deals that I found online. Please be aware that offer details are sometimes quite specific and can change. I suggest visiting the corresponding websites and reading the terms/conditions of offers thoroughly.
SmartPak Equine 12 Days of Deals http://www.smartpakequine.com SmartPak, best known for their supplements, carries a huge line of tack, gear and clothing for the horse and rider. Each day’s deals ends at Midnight. Check back daily through November 19th, 2021.
Majesty’s Animal Nutrition 25% OFF Holiday Shopping http://www.majestys.com Majesty’s Animal Nutrition carries a line of tasty treats/supplements for horses and dogs. Use the code HOLIDAY2021 now through December 31st, 2021 to get 25% off your order.
Trafalgar Square Books 25% OFF Trafalgar Square Books carries a wonderful line of horse books (both hardcopy and digital) and DVD’s for a range of equestrian interests and disciplines. The Backyard Horse Blog likes Trafalgar Square Books so much that it became an affiliate. The blog can earn a much appreciated portion of your book sales when you shop through the affiliate link on The Backyard Horse Blog website (look for the photo of the woman reading a book to a horse).Using the affiliate link doesn’t cost you anything extra, but if you don’t want to use it, you can also access TSB directly through their website at http://www.horseandriderbooks.com. Either way, use code TSBFAN for 25% off during the month of November 2021.
Dover Saddlery BOGO 50% off select clothing http://www.doversaddlery.com Dover Saddlery, catering to the English rider, carries a full line of equestrian products. Currently, for a limited time (through 11/14/21 11:59pm EST), they offer a BOGO 50% off Dover Saddlery and Noble shirts, breeches and tights with code CMXGET2.
What if you live outside the USA and it’s not practical to shop these US based stores? Or what about if you prefer home-made gifts for yourself, your horses or barn friends? Try out a horse-treat recipe from fellow horse-blogger, Reese, at Horses of The Ozark Hills! Made with pumpkin puree, these make a terrific fall/holiday treat to gift to your own horses, friends’ horses, lesson horses or for all those upcoming holiday-themed barn parties. See her recipe at
Hopefully as Black Friday/Cyber Monday approaches, I can offer up one more post listing even more options. All depends on what I come across as I surf the web. If you are aware of a horse-related discount that you’d like to share, help your fellow readers out by including it in the comments section below!
Congratulations to Tracie N., our latest winner of a contest hosted by The Backyard Horse Blog!
The contest was announced in last Friday’s post. Powered by the platform Rafflecopter, the winner was randomly selected. Thank you to Rafflecopter for the assistance in running the contest and to Great British Equinery for providing the goods! Thank you also to everyone who took the time to participate in the contest!
Remember, even if you didn’t win, readers can still use the special coupon code BYHB to receive 10% off at Great British Equinery!
Speaking of shopping, I notice that more than one equestrian retailer is offering some early holiday deals ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I wrote previously about how I usually save up money all year so I can take advantage of the many discounts and free offers. See the post at
It’s definitley part of my budgeting strategy to better afford the things that I want but yet are normally out of my price range. I notice this year that some of the deals are starting early so between now and Cyber Monday 2021, I plan to do a couple of posts listing the horse-related shopping deals that I am coming across as I comb the internet. Stay tuned . . .
In a post last week, I wrote about a very rainy October interfering with my riding plans. Then my horse, Bear, developing a painful abscess.
Bear is on the mend. He was still somewhat gimpy a week after his vet visit, often wearing his Soft Ride boots for added comfort. He’s been about a day and half without his boots now. Looking good. Bear’s farrier comes out this week so it will be interesting to get his input too.
I have also been somewhat gimpy. Also pretty exhausted from all the extra work of keeping Bear separated from the other horses during his treatment and recuperation. All this coming on the edge of adding a third horse, Piper, to my backyard herd.
Even before Bear’s abscess, my body acknowledged the increased work load in distributing all that extra hay and shoveling all that resulting extra manure. My mind acknowledged the increased band-width it takes to make room for this new creature. All the plans, hopes, concerns. Expected and unexpected.
My body was hurting. My mind was busy. And then I thought I saw the first signs of Bear becoming foot sore. I wondered if the addition of Piper, who is now top of the pecking order, was still causing Bear to move around more than his old hooves could accommodate.
Their interactions seemed much more cordial to me than when Piper first arrived, but I couldn’t deny that Bear was now looking uncomfortable.
So I split the run-in shed and the rest of their paddock down the middle using plastic step-in posts and electric tape. Piper on one side. Bear and Shiloh on the other. I breathed a sigh of relief. I told myself this set-up would give Bear time to heal.
And then Bear quickly went three-legged lame, holding out his left front hoof like it was on fire. I called the veterinarian and reconfigured the paddock set up again. Now using an ever evolving configuration of the electric-fencing tape, depending upon how much space I feel is appropriate for the level of activity I want to discourage or encourage in Bear through the healing process. Bear in a small pen. Shiloh and Piper in the rest of paddock.
Since I don’t have actual stalls, I turned half of the run-in-shed into something resembling a bedded stall with shavings for a soft place for Bear to stand and lay down. Good for Bear. More work for me to keep it clean and fluffy.
Through all this, I kept up with my lesson-horse riding lessons. But due to my exhaustion level, Shiloh and Piper likely thought that their upcoming Winter riding break had started early. Finally after not riding either horse for two weeks, I got in a ride with each of them yesterday. Then promptly took a nap. I loved looking down at those now fuzzy-wuzzy ears, all prepped for a long and cold Winter.
By the way, if you have a horse with lameness issues of any kind, I highly recommend talking with your veterinarian and/or farrier about whether the Soft Ride boots would be appropriate for your horse.
They have been instrumental in Bear recovering from previous episodes of laminitis and abscesses (also in emptying my bank account- the boots are pricey as is expedited shipping if you need them overnighted for emergency lameness- just a warning).
So long story short, I’m still feeling run-down. But here’s something more fun to share with you as I wrap up my tired tale. While laying on the floor trying to keep my aching back from seizing up, I did some web surfing about various lameness issues. I came across the following interactive quizzes. Two are specifically regarding horse hooves. The other regarding general horse anatomy.
Today marks my 300th post at The Backyard Horse Blog. Thank you to each person out there for your reads, likes and comments!
The occasion seems like a good time to announce another contest. Thank you to Great British Equinery for making this blog’s third contest possible!
Why Great British Equinery? My first review on The Backyard Horse Blog was of a set of fly masks I bought from Great British Equinery of Indiana. Since that time, Great British Equinery has periodically sent me products to test and review on this blog. While Great British Equinery caters to the English rider, there are plenty of products for all equestrians to use and enjoy. Just because you don’t ride in an English saddle, don’t let that stop you from checking them out. For a recap of those blog reviews, use this link at
But back to the contest! I decided to try my hand at using the platform Rafflecopter to run this particular contest for a $50 E-Gift Certificate to Great British Equinery. Due to the selected Rafflecopter contest parameters, this contest is open only to USA residents who are thirteen years of age or older. My apologies to my valued readers who live elsewhere in this wonderful world of ours.
Since this is my first experience with Rafflecopter, there may be bugs to work out. If you have trouble entering, please contact me via email at email@example.com so I can try to resolve the issue for you.
Hurry! Contest ends soon on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST!
Remember too that the Backyard Horse Blog readers (if you are reading this, that’s you!) can now get a 10% discount when you shop at Great British Equinery with a special coupon code! Even on sale items! Go to https://greatbritishequinery.com/. Shop and then enter this coupon code at checkout: BYHB
Did you know that Horse Illustrated has a sister magazine called Young Rider?
“For over 20 years, it has delivered a fun-filled mixture of English and Western riding instruction, horse care tips, contests, beautiful color posters and stories about real kids. Young Rider continues to encourage and inspire kids to pursue their passion for better riding and horsemanship.”
You have to pay to subscribe to the main Young Rider magazine, but they also offer a FREE digital-only extra publication named YR MINI! Who doesn’t love free?
Go to https://www.horseillustrated.com/mini-digital-library to see all the issues available to read for free online. Enter your email address (with permission from your parents/guardian, please, if you are under 13) and then a link to the issue will be sent to your inbox.
I have not read all the issues cover to cover, but I enjoy scrolling through them. Coloring pages, word searches, quizzes, horse care and riding articles. Fun and informative stuff.
While the issues are geared to readers age eight to fifteen, I actually think the magazine would be of interest to horse lovers of any age due to the engaging content and layout. Sharing the issues would also be a fun way to connect with the horse-loving youth in your family. I know there are a few horse-owning grandmothers out there looking at this right now, right?
*Please note this post was unsolicited and uncompensated by Young Rider or Horse Illustrated magazine.
Yikes! The rain just kept coming down in my area for most of October. In unusual amounts. With surprising frequency.
Before I continue my grousing, I want to declare that I actually like rainy weather. The cool feel to the air. The cloud cover. The sense of cleansing and renewal. The way rain makes me appreciate the sun’s rays when they reappear. Rain has life-giving power both to the body and the spirit.
But just like anything else out of balance, too much rain can cause problems. The weather in my area during this recent period was definitely unbalanced.
Without an indoor arena in my backyard, I lose precious riding days during these seasons. Even after the rain stops, I often have to get creative to work around soggy footing conditions. Here I am getting a quick ride in with Piper between storms.
My creative riding helps me accumulate more saddle time than I would otherwise. But at a certain point, I usually have to cry uncle and post-pone all riding plans. This happened to me last week.
Even just general horse-keeping is complicated by the rain and all the ensuing mud. My run-in-shed is surrounded by an ag-lime footing base, but the rest of the paddock is not.
Despite the benefits of having a small area of solid footing, I still end up schlepping through a certain amount of mud to do horse chores. Worse still, the horses drag and squash the mud into the ag-lime footing and use the area as a restroom when they don’t feel like trudging through the mud to reach their usual lavatory locations.
It all creates a huge mess. Everything takes longer to clean. The footing gets worn down. My entire body hurts. It is me, my muck bucket and pitch fork against the world.
But could it be worse, you ask? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. What is more serious than my riding plans being derailed? Then all the extra chore- work? The increased likelihood of a horse developing a hoof abscess during periods of wet, muddy weather. Especially for a horse with a history of hoof problems.
This sadly was my horse, Bear, at the end of last week. Hoof abscesses (while generally not life threatening) are incredibly painful. It is very stressful to see your horse, particularly an older horse with multiple health issues, in so much discomfort.
With the support of his veterinarian (who did that beautiful leg wrap to address leg swelling above the affected hoof), I am in the middle of trying to nurse Bear through this episode. Hopefully I will be able to write an update in the near future. Even better would be a positive update.
Curious to learn more about hoof abscesses? I found the following resources, written by veterinarians, to be helpful:
If you are a USA resident, here is a contest for you to enter. Sponsored by Purina, the contest brings attention to the program A Home For Every Horse.
“A Home for Every Horse was created in 2011 in result to a partnership between the Equine Network, the nation’s leading publisher of equine-related content, and The American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition. The program provides a resource for 501(c)(3) horse rescue organizations.
The A Home for Every Horse program helps connect rescue horses in need of homes, in over 600 rescues across the United States, with people looking for horses. To make the connection between rescue horses and homes, rescue organizations can list their horses for free on Equine.com, the world’s largest horse marketplace, where they can be seen by 300,000 visitors each month.”
*UPDATE: Please note these normal vital sign numbers are for the ADULT horse.I have only ever kept adult horses at home so that is my orientation. A comment from a reader made me remember that vital sign numbers are different for foals verses adults. Here is a link that includes a great infographic that shows both adult AND foal vital sign numbers for those who might benefit from that info: https://chimacumtack.com/blog/2020/04/07/tuesday-tip-your-horses-vitals/.
Even after almost twenty years of horse-keeping, I struggle to recall the numbers associated with normal horse vital signs. And I can guarantee that during an emergency, my recall will not get any better.
While I don’t take my horses’ vitals that often, I have found it useful to do so during instances where I am trying to decide whether or not to call the veterinarian. If my horse seems a little off, but their vital signs are within normal ranges, I might take a wait and see approach. But if I am able to identify an increased temperature or heart rate, for example, I am more apt to call the vet immediately.
My relaying abnormal vital-sign numbers to the veterinarian may give a better picture of my horse’s condition than my own vague “he just doesn’t seem like himself” description.
Since I have trouble keeping all the relevant vital sign numbers in my head, I like to store a print-out in my first aid kit. I’ve seen various versions over the years, but I have to say that I really like this one from feed manufacturer, Standlee, that is shown in the photo at the top of this post (photo taken from the Standlee website).
If you’d like your own copy, the chart is free to download at
On my list of books to read is Horse Brain Human Brain by Janet L. Jones, PhD. In the mean time, I’ve enjoyed reading some online articles by the author.
Dr. Jones does some writing for the magazine Psychology Today. She wrote a piece about the incident this Summer at the Tokyo equestrian Olympics regarding a particular jump design. Specifically, a giant Sumo wrestler statue positioned next to one of the stadium jumps.
Show jumps can be works of art. It is amazing to see the creativity of jump designers. I enjoyed seeing many of the Olympic jumps clearly reflecting the cultural and environmental beauty of Japan.
Horses at the Olympic level are in fact used to jumping some pretty interesting designs. Unfortunately, a number of horses at the Tokyo Olympics had trouble with the jump accompanied by the Sumo wrestler.
If you have not yet seen photos of the wrestler, you can do a Google search for it. Multiple online news outlets reported on the disruption it caused. Some of the news reporting gave me a chuckle in how they recounted the story. But I remember seeing the statue on TV while watching the Olympics. I was not amused. The jump made my heart race while I was just sitting on the couch. It was quite intimidating.
If you are a horse person, you have likely read explanations of how horses perceive new objects differently than humans do. Still, I like the way Dr. Jones explained it. Straight forward enough for a non-equestrian to comprehend and yet interesting enough to add to even the experienced rider’s equine knowledge base.
The article particularly caught my attention as I read it right after I had returned from a riding lesson involving a new object in the arena.
Side note here- Those of you who regularly read The Backyard Horse Blog may know that in addition to riding my own horses at home, I frequently take riding lessons at a nearby barn on their lesson horses. If you keep your horses at home like me, I highly recommend takingoutside lessons. Without them, I doubt I would have the skill practice and confidence to ride my horses on my own at home.
That particular week of my lesson, the indoor arena where I rode had a board replaced along one of the gates. The board had not yet been painted over to match the old wood so the new board clearly stood out against the other painted white boards.
Homer, the lesson horse that I was riding, immediately noticed this difference. He was anxious about heading towards it and passing by it for much of the lesson. For example, our attempt at cantering calmly next to it, past the corner onto the straightaway, turned into something that felt more like riding a skittering spider.
The poor guy was clearly creeped out by this out-of-place item that was absent the hundreds of other times he had entered the arena.
I have long struggled to keep a horse’s attention during moments of tension. This time was no different. Good practice, you say, in trying to keep my own composure and give the horse something else to think about besides the scary object? Sure. But it ain’t easy for me.
I suppose I should be grateful that nobody has propped up a sumo wrestler statue in the corner yet!
If you would like to see Dr. Jones article to read her explanation about why horses shy at unusual objects, go to
If you would like to purchase a copy of Horse Brain Human Brain by Dr. Jones, you can buy it through Trafalgar Square Books. The Backyard Horse Blog has an affiliate link with them. If you purchase any books through the affiliate link (click on the photo of the woman reading a book to a horse featured on the blog website), I will receive a much appreciated portion of your purchase. Many of Trafalgar Square Books materials can also be bought as downloads if you prefer reading on your computer.
When it rains in pours. That’s how the weather in my area seems this October. The sloppy footing conditions around my property limit most of my rides to the round pen. Despite a thick grass cover, my open pastures and barn area are much too soggy.
While I very much appreciate having my round pen with its aglime footing, I get the sense that Shiloh finds the round pen monotonous. I work to make the rides as interesting as I can, changing the obstacles and whatnot, but I also value being able to vary where I ride.
For a change of pace, I decided to break up a round pen session with some work in my barn driveway. Rather than asphalt, my barn driveway is packed with the same aglime footing as my round pen.
I mounted in the roundpen and then rode Shiloh onto the driveway, trying to spend as little time as possible on the squishy grass between the two. At the end of each part of the driveway, I began by doing little half circles to reverse directions, going briefly onto the grass sides in each direction.
After a couple of rounds, I advanced to changing directions at each driveway end by doing either a turn on the forehand or a turn on the hindquarters. Varying the direction of the turns each time. Meanwhile, Bear and Piper chose to use Shiloh’s work session to take a nap. If you look closely, you can see Bear lying down in the photo backgrounds. Piper was resting behind him just out of view.
In between the turns, I switched between walking and foxtrotting. Sometimes asking Shiloh to foxtrot right from the halt just after completing the turn on the forehand/hindquarters. It’s good practice for us both. He’s kind of a slow horse. I’m kind of a slow rider. Snappy really isn’t our style.
But the short, narrow driveway prompted us to try to be a little more active and crisp in our movements than usual. Unfortunately, we loose some relaxation in the process. I then have trouble encouraging Shiloh to reach towards the contact. Especially when his adrenaline level shoots up early in our ride as seen in the photo below. But where’s the fun in life without some challenges.
In reviewing the photos of our work (kindly taken by my husband), I noticed that we were able to keep to the same line of travel. Just like riding in a newly dragged sand arena (or through freshly packed snow), the hoofprints tell the tale.
It’s a simple thing to ride a straight line. Yet weirdly difficult. I remember when Shiloh and I first started riding together that I couldn’t get him to go down a straightaway for more than a few strides. We’d bob and weave all over the place.
Shiloh naturally doesn’t move very straight. I can see it when he moves in the pasture. The way he places and turns/twists his hooves/legs as he moves through space is odd. It makes efficient forward movement challenging. All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised that we could keep to the middle as well as we did.
Driveway as rideway? It’s funny how when you are an equestrian that you see so many things in terms of horses. When I am traveling around and see a long driveway, my mind usually travels to thinking about how much fun it would be to ride on it. I know in the past when looking at properties for sale, I would consider where I could potentially ride in the absence of a designated arena. A smooth dirt or gently graveled driveway was definitely on my wish list.
How about you? Have you ever used a driveway as a training space for you and your horse?
Piper continues his process of settling into his new life. But no mistaking it. Transitions are difficult. It really is a tall ask to take a horse from all he has known and expect him to function well in a totally new environment.
I couldn’t miss the initial signs of anxiety in Piper. Constant pacing along the paddock fence line. Aggression towards the other horses at feeding time. Tension about being handled and ridden.
Now that a month has gone by, I am seeing signs that Piper’s tension is dissipating, although not completely gone. Despite that, he hasn’t done anything terrible through all we’ve done together- groundwork, riding, trailering three times and two farrier visits (I had his hind shoes removed before I put him in with Bear and Shiloh and then his front shoes removed more recently).
We completed ten rides to date. Mostly in my home round pen, but also in my open pasture as well as in the indoor arena and on the outdoor track at a nearby barn. Short rides practicing basic transitions, turns and crossing ground poles. Just trying to get the feel of each other.
He may be twenty-years-old with plenty of training, but we do have some things to work out between us. I am quite different from his long-time former owner in almost every way. A person that Piper really seemed to like. It’s actually one of the reasons I did not go through with Piper’s sale the first time. I had my doubts about how Piper, a bold- energetic- forward horse (even at age twenty), would adjust to my own skill level, confidence and demeanor.
But maybe I wasn’t extending Piper enough credit. I’m already seeing improvement in some of the areas that proved initially challenging. For example, he is now moving out of my space when I enter the paddock with hay or the ration balancer pellets as opposed to running at me when he sees me coming.
Piper is also improving at standing and growing roots at the mounting block, but we still have a ways to go. His former person was much taller and mounted easily from the ground. I remember when I test-drove Piper that I had to use an overturned bucket as his owner did not have a mounting block on hand. All that to say, Piper may not have had much previous exposure to mounting blocks.
He is showing more relaxation at the block than he used to, but I’m still having to channel my inner gymnast to get in the saddle more frequently than I’d like. This video clip shows one of those moments.
As far as Bear and Shiloh go, Piper quickly established himself as herd leader. That hasn’t changed. But I see much less of the resource guarding behavior that I imagine was related to his anxiety about being in a new place.
At first, Piper seemed bound and determined to guard every hay pile, even when I spread them out across the pasture. He completely blocked Bear and Shiloh’s use of the run in shed. During nap time, Piper would run them off the good patches of shade that appear in the pasture at different times of the day. Bear and Shiloh got a lot of exercise. Shiloh even ended up with three small bite marks on his rear end, likely when he didn’t move fast enough out of Piper’s way.
I contemplated separating the horses permanently with electric tape as I had when Piper first arrived, dividing the run in shed down the middle or buying a second run in shed. The herd dynamics have fortunately now improved enough for me to put that idea aside for the time being.
Moving forward with Piper, I am trying to find the right tack for us. You may notice several wardrobe changes in this post’s photos. Piper is croup high, with some muscle wasting behind his shoulders and well-sprung ribs. Saddle fitting is proving challenging (I’ve tried four saddles so far- some fit better than others- but I’m still looking for other options). He is also quite sensitive to rein contact so I’ve been changing out bits and reins to try to find the best combo.
I also suspect that conformationally croup high combined with some mental tension and his sensitivity level to rein contact leads to moments where I inspire him to end up leaving hind legs out behind him, curling behind the bit and dropping way onto the forehand as opposed to keeping a more level balance (you can see the contrast in the two photos below). Using my rudimentary dressage understanding, I hope to improve on these areas as we find some mental relaxation and a healthier physical balancing point between us. I am interested to see where Piper and I can go from here.
As I look out over the paddock fence line in my backyard, I am greeted by the site of my horses. All seniors. Currently 18, 20 and 26 years old.
So while reading the latest issue of Horse Illustrated (Nov/Dec 2021), the article by Pat Raia “Reversing Time: Older horses can be harder to place, but they are finding fantastic adoptive homes among senior people” resonated with me.
“Since 2010, surveys conducted by American Horse Publications (AHP) that were prepared by Jill Stowe, Ph.D., of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky, have revealed that women 45 to 65 years of age and older represent the fastest growing segment of those most likely to own horses.” – Pat Raia
I did not adopt any of my current herd, but I am female, fall into the age demographic noted and have three senior horses. Many of the reasons the article listed for older women selecting older horses ring true to me.
Some of the issues mentioned were
Concerns about their own lifespan in relation to their horses (for example, I feel I have a better chance of outliving a twenty-year-old horse than a two-year-old)
Welfare concerns about how senior horses may fair in the current equine industry as in the idea that if I don’t provide a home for this horse, who will (this definitely entered into my decision to bring home the most recent addition to my herd)
Awareness of their own physical limitations in relation to the endurance and athleticism needed to train and ride young horses (that’s me to a T)
Being able to relate to age-related physical changes they see in their horses (as someone diagnosed with arthritis who often experiences pain through movement, I am open to the idea that many horse behaviors may have a physical competent. I no longer dismiss all unwanted behavior as the horse simply needing an attitude adjustment)
Having said all that, I don’t want to imply that all older folks should only keep/ride older horses. I know plenty of people my age and older who have younger horses. I have seen riders in their seventies and eighties who are more skilled at riding young horses than many of their more youthful human counterparts. Aging is after all a very individual experience.
But as for me? I am starting to appreciate senior horses in a way I did not when I was younger. Senior horses often (although not always) emit this calm, even-keeled energy that I find very inviting. They seem a good match for my skills and abilities. Maybe that is why the article struck a cord with me.
Even so, I know that being around older horses still involves risk. After all, a senior horse is still a horse. Still bigger than me. Still stronger than me. Still faster than me. While in general someone might have a better chance of staying safe around a senior verses a youngster, it takes guts to share our lives with horses of any age.
We all get older. Our horses too. Let’s not let that fact of life stop us from pursuing our passions in one form or another. No matter if we have to make some accommodations for age-related changes or illness. The article echoed that sentiment for me. That there is so much yet to enjoy. Let’s keep going!
Please note, this post was unsolicited and uncompensated by Tribute Equine Nutrition.
I picked up this “buy one- get one” offer at my local feedstore recently. I also received an email regarding this Nationwide (in the USA) offer from Tribute Equine Nutrition.
For the price of one ($9.99 in my case), you get two Constant Comfort Blocks. These are 15 pound solid mineral blocks that are designed to “soothe and support” your horse’s gut health system.
They function like a salt block in the sense that the horse ingests the ingredients by licking the block.
“The very first gut health system to help soothe and support your horse 24/7! Allow free-choice access to the Constant Comfort™ block and add the Constant Comfort™ Plus topdress to your horse’s regular feedings and before times of stress.
Product Details: Formulated with Seaweed Derived Calcium to help maintain proper stomach pH. Contains Aloe Vera, Glutamine and Lecithin, which can help soothe the stomach. Added Equi-Ferm XL®, a pre- & probiotic, supports hindgut health. When used together, the Constant Comfort™ gut health system offers your horse 24/7 support.
From the Tribute Equine Nutrition Website”
My guess, based on looking at the ingredients, is that this product was made in mind mostly for those equestrians concerned about their horse’s potential to develop ulcers, even though I don’t see that explicitly stated on the block.
As for me, I have not yet had a horse that I knew to have gastric ulcers. The symptoms themselves can be vague. The only way to know if your horse actually has ulcers is to have them scoped (gastroscopy) by a veterinarian. I have never had that done before so I can’t confirm or deny the presence of ulcers in any of my horses from that standpoint.
If you are unfamiliar and would like to read about gastric-ulcers in horses, I recommend this piece, written in 2016 by a veterinarian, from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
In looking at all the horse risk-factors for ulcers, probably my horse, Bear, would have the highest overall risk. He has been on the equine pain medication Equioxx for several years now to help with symptoms of arthritis. One of the know side-effects of long-term NSAID use is ulcers. Hence my own interest in using a product that may speak to a horse’s gut health.
While there is only one FDA approved medication for treating ulcers, there are dietary and lifestyle changes that can lesson the chances that a horse will develop gastric ulcers in the first place or lower the likelihood of recurrence.
Now, will the Constant Comfort Block (along with the recommended Constant Comfort pellets which I did not purchase) actually make my horses’ guts feel better and thus be part of a larger plan to help prevent gastric ulcers in my horses?
How would I measure if the product actually works for my horses?
Am I wasting my money?
These are all questions that I have about the Constant Comfort Block. Really about any nutritional product that we feed to our horses. There is a lot of heavy marketing involved (and apparently a lot of money to be made for the manufacturers) in the recent proliferation of types of horse feeds.
I personally picked up the blocks out of curiosity. I am saving them to put out later this Winter. I will likely put out one block and see if any of my horses will even lick it.
I suppose I remain skeptical about the value of the block, but I am always up for trying a new product, especially when it involves a BOGO offer.
This research study link is free to view until October 29, 2021. There’s quite a treasure trove of donkey information contained therein. If you are at all interested in donkeys, I would highly suggest your taking advantage before the deadline.
The same day that I read The Hooftbeat article, I attended the annual tack sale at the Indiana Horse Rescue. They have an influx of donkeys this year and have something like seven donkeys available for adoption. All the photos you see in this post were taken at the Indiana Horse Rescue.
If anybody reading this is interested in adopting donkeys, please contact the Indiana Horse Rescue at (765) 605-5790 or INHorseRescue@gmail.com. If you don’t live in Indiana, they do adopt to approved out-of-State homes. You can also see some information on several of the donkeys available for adoption on the Indiana Horse Rescue website at http://www.indianahorserescue.org.
How fun it would be to see this blog be involved in a deserving donkey findings its new temporary foster or permanent adoptive home!
If you live in the USA and buy pet products, you have likely heard of Chewy. Did you know that they sell many horse products too? Tack, supplies and feed can all be ordered and delivered to your doorstep.
I published a post early last year about my experience as a Chewy customer at
Since that post, I notice that Chewy has expanded its horse- product line considerably. You can even buy saddles through Chewy now.
And did you know that Chewy supports a charity program? Animal rescues can post animals for adoption as well as a wish list of items. Donors can then purchase those wish list items as a donation and have the products shipped directly to the rescue.
I previously fostered nine horses from the Indiana Horse Rescue. They have signed up with this program and now have their own Chewy wishlist.
As a donor to the Indiana Horse Rescue through this program, I can confirm that the program works!
You order the items and the rescue receives them. You even get an email confirmation upon placing the order donation and when the donated items are delivered.
This week I was thrilled to find in my mailbox the Fall 2021 issue of Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, a production of the Retired Racehorse Project.
I really can’t say enough good things about Off-Track. Even if like me you don’t have a Thoroughbred of your own, many of the articles are applicable to working with any breed. This season’s issue covers topics like how to have a positive ride, coping with a cold-backed horse and groundwork exercises to teach your horse to better yield to pressure.
The issue reaches me right before the start of the Thoroughbred Makeover, October 12-17, 2021 at the Kentucky Horse Park. I love what the Retired Racehorse Project is doing through this event.
“The Retired Racehorse Project, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, created the Thoroughbred Makeover to showcase the trainability and talent of off-track Thoroughbreds. The competition is intended to inspire good trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, and the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in the care, training, and sale of these horses to responsible owners.”
From the Thoroughbred Makeover website
If you’d never heard of the Thoroughbred Makeover, please visit their website at