Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amberson Art - Stop and take a look!

The artwork here is NOT mine.  Craig and Tanya Amberson are artists that I just stumbled upon and they have a  blog, "Amberson Art".   I took the liberty of copying and pasting the above painting here and I have left a message and asked approval and will take it down if they want me to.   If you click on the link to their blog, they paint a variety of breeds of dogs, cats, and horses.  Originals, prints and greeting cards are available... but not for the one above, I believe.  I would love a print of this or card... we will see.

Click HERE to see her horse art showcased on her blog as of November 30.  Much of it has sold and some are available as prints, but they do commission work as well.   

Am I Impressive?

Sebastian sees "her" ... and tries to impress!  It is as if he is saying, I'm not just a horse...

I'm a Friesian!

 Click "Just Like a Woman" to see the "rest of the story" or scroll down to the post below.

This is my "baby".  Sebastian is not yet four and he is in training with James Cooler for about the next six months.  In the photo above he is being asked to back up and that is why his stance is a bit funny.  But I always think he looks gorgeous... even if his head should be lowered quite a bit here.  But he is learning.  

I'm linking the above up with "Creative Exchange" because I love the freedom and energy of my big black horse in this photo!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Like a Woman....

They finally meet.  (Sebastian on the left, Cleopatra on the right)

Cleo flirts

She pretends disinterest

All the while, Sebastian plays it "cool" (which means he is not sure what is going on, right? :)

And she sticks her nose in the air...  Now, is that not just like a woman who IS interested?

Cleopatra is Kate Cooler's 1/2 Friesian, 1/2 Arabian mare.  Sebastian is my horse, 1/2 Friesian, 1/2 Quarter Horse.  He is in his second month of training with James Cooler

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Friesians - The Movie

Now that Thanksgiving day is almost over, does that mean our Christmas list can be brought out?   I would love to find this documentary under my tree about the Friesian horse.... (click on link).  If anyone has seen this movie, please let me know what you thought of it.

I hope you all my American blog friends have had a blessed Thanksgiving!  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Colt Starting Competition 2011

James Cooler is the trainer of my 3-1/2 year old Friesian sport horse gelding and the manager at the barn where I keep both my horses.  I am also taking lessons from him in ground work and riding my Quarter Horse gelding.

Last weekend I attended the Colt Starting competition at Chatham Hill in Virginia.    James Cooler was one of three natural horsemanship trainers to be selected to participate in this year's competion.

Mary of "Galloping Mind" documented the event quite well, I thought, so for Part I &  for Part II click on the links.  Tom Seay of "America on Horseback" was host and Ken McNabb of RFD-TV show "Discovering the Horseman Within" was lead judge.

And a "just because" photo of Sebastian about a month ago...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday's Fences #8

The photo above I selected to link to "Friday's Fences".  I know you "horsey" people see fences everyday, so go find yourself a fence and join in!

Monday, November 14, 2011

To Treat or Not to Treat? That is the Question

Oberon LOVES his treats.  He takes them from our hands gingerly (they don't usually fall on the dirt like above).  My daughters and I love the cute look he gets in his eye and he obviously enjoys the apples and carrots we bring him.  I mix it up as to when we give them to him.  It might be when we get him from the field or dry-paddock, or after a great effort during ground work, and maybe after a day's ride.  But I have wondered lately, if he is approaching us from the field BECAUSE he is hoping for a treat.  I noticed he is sniffing and looking and once my daughters said they felt a slight nip at their pockets.  Hmm.. I don't like that.

It's not as if they don't often nibble on good grass all day and when they don't, they get grain and plenty of hay. I would say they are plenty filled out for the winter ahead.

I have read extensively on this topic and realize people's approaches are across the board and obviously depends upon their horse.  But let's say we have "average" horses.  What is the best way to approach this.  These are my thoughts:

1)  Don't feed the treat by hand anymore.  Put it into a feeding dish or bucket.

2)  Rewarding a horse with food during training sets up the head and body rubs and "good boy!" to be a bit disappointing.  It also distracts them every time I approach as they can smell the food on me.  I don't want a pocket robber and a nipper... or worse, a biter.

3)  Give the treats to them after the day's ride.  What I'm trying to decide is should I do it every time?  I notice my horse looks toward the tack room door after every ride (the treats are kept in the refrigerator). Are we not ending the day on a "bad" note if we leave in our horses mind that he didn't get his "snack"?

When I see my horse approaching me from afar, I want to KNOW it isn't primarily for an immediate snack, but to see me.  And that takes bonding and time, I know.  Sebastian, above, was approaching me quickly as he saw me giving an apple to Oberon, and this is not what I'm after.

* * * * *

Ever wondered how to figure out if your horse is fat?  Or too skinny?  I found this helpful video link at  the blog:  "New Horse Owners".  If you watch it, did you find it helpful?

The Horse | What's Your Horse's Body Condition Score? (video)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Pony, Velvet, when I was a child in the 1970's

Velvet, Our Pony
Softness of heart, Velvet, her name;
of shaggy coat and gentle gaze.
Her short legs worked overtime
to stay in front of the pack
as the lead she liked to maintain.
One blue eye, one brown, always cautious.
Watchful babysitter, she, on many a rambunctious day.
Summer mornings, warm and promising, off we went
field eagerly crossed, sister and I securely upon her back.
Traversing up and down the quarry 
through tall cornfield and railroad tracks,
wading along river bank, and forest trail.
Aware of the way home, she always led us back.
Until the day our feet 
nearly dragged upon the ground. 
We knew our journeys had come to an end.  
With joy, I must admit, we welcomed a bigger horse,
one eager to explore and take us away, fast.
Behind the fence we heard her whinny,
her indignant cry of being, finally, left behind.
Never again did she join the pack, 
no leader she.  Resigned to wait 
until we returned, greeting us eagerly.
She cared for us when we were small
and watched us outgrow her.  We brushed and petted
and walked her by lead.  The big horse moved on 
when we finally grew up, but she was family, 
beloved and cherished, she remained.

by Margaret Bednar

* * * * *

The top is a photo of my sister and me with our pony, Velvet.  I am standing and my sister has our dog, Sugar, in her lap.  Looking at this picture it both seems so long ago AND like it was yesterday... how can that be?

Well, as I fight the lump in my throat, I can look back and say how lucky we were to grow up in an "innocent" time when we kids didn't worry about being out ALL day, wandering around the countryside, only coming home when we were either hungry or it was starting to get dark.  And our pony was usually with us!  My horse was beloved too.  But when we moved out of the house and got our own apartments, he was sold.  My mom refused to part with Velvet - she said a better caretaker of her children she could never have found!  

This is me in my "beloved" (not really) polyester green 4-H outfit.  Velvet was a great little pony, always well liked by the judges.  She brought home the blue ribbon for both of us this day.  She knew her leads and trotted along so slowly.  Tucked her head in nicely when asked to back up.  Horse shows were not my "thing", though.  My sister, to this day does raise horses and shows them professionally (give me trail riding any day!).

Maybe I would have felt differently if I had been given a better outfit...  :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Enjoying the Pasture!

I chose the photo, below, of Sonder for my "Creative Exchange" link this week.  I love the lighting, but more than that, I think I caught her curious nature.  All the other horses were too busy grazing to give me more than a "one eyeball" glance, but Saunders always gets so close it is difficult at times to take photos of her.

unless an "up close and personal" shot is desired!:

Looks like Sebastian also enjoyed rolling in the mud a bit...
Funny time of year.  One day it is cold (ha... is 40 degrees REALLY cold?) and then we enjoy warmer days in the 60's.  I did pull Oberon from grazing to workout in the arena ... but four above didn't even look up from enjoying the pasture to say goodbye to their buddy.

Poor Oberon...

And below is a charming video of a young Friesian stallian, Evan (son of Mintse) doing "tricks".  He is NOT related to my Sebastian, but he does belong to the same Friesian breeding farm where Sebastian's father, Raven lives.   Click HERE to go to the website.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rope Halters vs. "Normal" halters - I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!


I do love my rope halter.  It is used with a heavy rope lead that is "wiggled" a bit,  and "grabs" the face to communicate with my horse.  This communication graduates to a very light touch on the rope and the horse responds.  A stick and string is a tool used with this halter - it is an extension of the arm and communicates to the horse to speed up, turn, etc.  Again, less "big" movement is needed as the horse learns the cues.  When these halters are not being used to train, they wear like any "normal" halter and there is no pressure.  Training with rope halters actually means that a lighter hand can be used (it isn't the halter that his harsh, it's the hands controlling it).  I also think it is an awesome tool to use for "first rides".

Many people agree with the above.  BUT what I find the "issue" to be is tying them up with one.  It is almost impossible for the horse to break a rope halter and they can get hurt if they fight the pressure.  A horse might fight until it is severely hurt or dead.

I might understand a leather halter if you are turning them out in really cold weather and you have heavy gloves on and the rope tie is hard to manage and the buckles or snaps are a bit easier to open and shut in the cold. (and I am of the mind that all halters come off when the horse is loose - I NEVER would put a horse "out" even in a break-a-way).  ...

I understand the seriousness of injury to a horse that pulls back and won't stop fighting the pressure.  But if a leather halter or break-a-way halter breaks due to a horse pulling back, hasn't possibly a bigger and more dangerous problem just been created for "down the road".  A scared, loose horse can be very dangerous ... as is one who KNOWS he can get loose by pulling back.

The trainer I use, James Cooler, uses his rope halters even in the trailers.  He says a horse must be properly trained, though, and many are NOT.

My sister actually ties twine between the leadrope and metal tie piece so if her horse pulls back in the trailer, it will get away... She does NOT use a rope halter... but I think this could work with both if this was a concern.

If a horse gets hung up in a trailer (or anywhere) I suggest a rope halter is much easier to cut through than a leather one (not ALL leather & hardwear breaks).  And as for break-a-ways... do we REALLY want to make it that easy for a horse to get away?

Now I KNOW some people vehemently disagree with this practice, but others wholeheartedly agree.  I really am on the fence, but I guess I am leaning towards ropes 100% of the time.

One last thought.  I read somewhere that an interesting "test" to compare both types of halters is this:  I call it the "grass test" now.  Can you get your horses head off the grass with one hand?  Try it in a flat halter.  Then try it with a rope halter.  I suggest the results with a rope halter will be quite rewarding and you might actually be "skiing" (I think that was the term) with a leather or flat halter.

I would LOVE to hear feedback and why you use what you use.  Is it out of "habit" or because you have researched it?  Have you had an experience with either or both halters that has made you change what you do or reaffirmed why you use the halter you do?

My favorite, though, is NO halters, because they always ruin the photo!  :)

If you want to read further:

BELOW is an excerpt I copied and pasted from BossLady.  I linked her to give her credit for her following words.  I thought it was a good example of the pros and cons of rope halters:

My mare used to be a chronic rearer when tied. like, I was buying snaps and new halters every week. It was very dangerous and very expensive. She never reared under saddle or when lead around, ONLY when she was tied and got spooked. Other than that this mare was winning WP and Trail class shows with EASE, as if nothing in the world bothered this horse. well except trailers and being tied LOL. Anyway I won a local competition and received a rope halter as the prize on her so I started using it... man oh man, my mare met her match on this one. She would pull back and pull, pull, pull, thrash around, you name it. That lead didnt break. She finally landed and braced against it just letting it sink in. Then shortly after she softened up, gave it some slack, and stood there. I was amazed.

We've had a handful of incidences since then and we now have a system since she ground ties I rarely tie her anymore, but the rope halter was a huge help. No more flying metal peices, no more worrying about anything breaking, its been great. The last incidence was a couple years ago at a trail ride where I accidently clipped the lead rope while ducking under her neck and it set her off... she flipped and thrashed and braced up on her back legs. She passed out from the halter blocking her nasal passages... I just knew she had died. She came to shortly after hitting the ground and I untied her from the trailer and walked her around to make sure she was ok. within half an hour she couldnt walk. apparently she had paralyzed her shoulder and therfor the rest of her leg by hitting a nerve on the outside of the shoulder blade. scary stuff but she was fine within a week.