Friday, July 31, 2009

Who can relate?

Most of us have known a pony or two like this. When I saw this clip, I laughed so hard I cried. For me, it brought back memories of my little Shetland. She did those same antics, but add "rolling" and "farting" as she trotted around the ring. Oh the embarrassment! How did I ever manage to face my fellow 4-Hers every year on that same little sorrel terror? I loved that pony, she was a great teacher. Just as this naughty little one is. This girl is a champ, getting back on and toughing it out. Unfortunately the comments on the YouTube site get a little snarky, complaining about her riding. Frankly, I didn't pay any attention to equitation. This is a clip about perseverance and determination and should remind us all, even in tough times, we can ride through. This little girl could have left the course in tears. Many girls would, but she rode it out. In my book, Sorrel, gets the blue ribbon. Below is a picture of Topper and I in a parade. She was my best equine educator and master of the "duck for grass" maneuver.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wish me Luck!

I am here in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. What a cool little town! It is a lot like Sisters, Oregon, but a bit more trendy. I checked everything out, drank a gigantic hot fudge malt, and went back to my hotel to start focusing on my meeting tomorrow. I am scheduled to meet with Linda and Pat Parelli at their headquarters. I feel a bit nervous, very excited, a little scared, somewhat confident, and very optimistic. Tonight, I am busy working on the confident part. It is slated as a "brainstorming" session so the brain better go get some sleep. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trailer Accident

You see the dents? Those are from me. My trailer is aptly named the "Adventure" for good reason. I had an accident on Sunday while trailering out to McIver Park with some girlfriends. We took three trailers, four horses. I was so excited to get to use my new trailer for the first time. I loaded Maddy, she went in fine. She stomped a little bit on the ride over. I went to unload her once we arrived and as I opened her divider, she pulled back on her breakaway tie. I figured she would feel the stretch in the bungee and relax, but she started to pull harder. Silly me thought a "breakaway" tie would just break. Wrong. I was at her shoulder when she went into fight or flight mode and crashed sideways into me. She slammed me twice and the third time, she knocked me flat on my back. I remember lying there seeing a flurry of hooves. I was thinking "this is how people get trampled." I braced for impact, then I heard a the breakaway clip hit the ground and Maddy running on the gravel. I was slow to get up, a bit in shock, worried about my mare. I hobbled out, and my friends were holding Maddy, she had slipped out of her halter. She was dripping in sweat and had two large gashes on her left side from the divider hitting her. Man, I was shaken. Wow...nothing like a come to Jesus moment.

My mistakes:

The Wrong Tack: I have a breakaway halter I ALWAYS use. I am very safety-conscious when I trailer. Maddy looks like a special needs horse with her helmet and shipping boots. I lost the break-away strap on our beach trip a month ago and I hadn't replaced it. This time I used a nylon halter that is a little big. Thank god, otherwise I fear she may have broken her neck. I just ordered another breakaway halter as a back up, along with 5 replacement leathers just in case.

Breakaway ties: I thought they just snapped open with pressure. I found out they snap open when YOU pull on them, not the horse. I should have tested them just to make sure I understood how they worked.

Prior Preparation: I took for granted that Maddy would see this trailer as the same as all the others she has ridden in. I didn't practice with her before hand and get her comfortable with MY trailer. We hadn't trailered out in over a month, I should have taken the time it takes to make sure she was ready to be in my trailer.

I have been out to the barn every day to check her cuts. I am posting the pics not as a way to gross anyone out, to be vigilant about safety even when the trip seems mundane. She is healing nicely. I am on the mend too. I think about what happened and how much worse it could have been for both of us. She never stepped on me. I think that was a miracle. My friends said all they saw was my head on the floor of the trailer and her blowing up around me. I know she kept it together enough to try to keep me safe. Still, I am saddened that I had a horse that was pretty confident in trailers, and I have given her a reason not to be. We have lots of work to do, but I am determined to make my wrong a right. I want her rock solid before I ask her to do that again. I know she was terrified to load back up and get home, but she got in again for me. Isn't it amazing what they do for us? Did I mention I love this horse?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Horse Slaughter May Oregon

Groups lobbying in Congress, Oregon ranchers, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are pushing to lift the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. You can read the article here. We all know the current state of the horse industry was created by a perfect storm; a bad economy, back yard breeders, rising cost of ownership, and skyrocketing hay and grain prices. Even before the ban on horse slaughter, the number of unwanted horses in the U.S. was estimated at 100,000 a year. The country has been "over-horsed" for some time, but it was our dirty little secret to have three U.S. plants that quietly shipped the meat to Canada, Europe, and Mexico. When the plants closed, instead of getting $600 per unwanted horse, now people had to pay $800 to euthanize. We all know that horses are still going to slaughter, they just have to be shipped to Mexico or Canada. The immediate solution for a desperate owner; drop them places, turn them loose, starve them and hope they die, or just shoot them. Every rescue agency reports cases of neglect are on the rise and the state of these horses are the worse they have ever seen. So what do we do?

My suggestions have always been two-fold. The first is a request to all horse owners to limit breeding. I drive to my barn and pass farm after farm with a couple horses. Every spring, each one has new little foals, but do you think these people do anything with their horses? Why are these people breeding their horses? All you have to do is click over to Fugly Horse of the Day to see some of the stock these people are producing. The root of this whole problem stems from unwanted horses. People are breeding horses we just don't want. There is supply, but there is no demand. Now, how do we limit? Is it a permit, is it a tax, is it a limited number of registrations? I am actually willing to pay a license fee per year for my horse, just to curb the number of horses that people breed. People need to get responsible for the number of animals they bring into this world. I am asking people to stop and think before they pay $200 to cover their mare.

My second suggestions, if we inevitably return to horse slaughter, can we at least do it humanely and with dignity? In a perfect world, I would love to see every horse live out its days in a green pasture, still loved by the ones who owned it. We need to get realistic, we have unwanted, old, or unusable horses. Where do they go? We can choose to humanely euthanize and use their by products for whatever the market demands or we can turn a blind eye and continue to have them shipped across borders to a horrific end. The bottom line, if a slaughter plant returns to the U.S., we need to demand that they put horses down humanely...don't we owe our horses that? We can't keep wishing for horse Utopia, we need to work for it. When the supply meets the demands, the doors on that proposed plant will close.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paid to blog...sign me up!

A job prospect popped up this week for me. I can't keep anything secret, but I can hold the information close to my chest. So here are a few tidbits. The job revolves around Social Media, like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube. The job also involves horses. Now I piqued your interest:-). Years ago when I started blogging, I had no idea it could someday lead to a new career. Keep your fingers crossed y'all. This would be an awesome opportunity. I will keep you all posted.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Little Owen

My dear friend Kelly had a little boy a couple months ago, little Owen. I am already trying to turn him into a cowboy:-). I made him the little stuffed Maddy you see him pictured with. Sweetest little guy...I am going to enjoy watching him grow up. With any luck, my stuffed toy will inspire him to love and care for animals as much as his "Auntie Julie."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Molalla Buckeroo

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. I went to the Molalla Buckeroo on the Fourth of July. In Oregon, they call the "Fourth," "Cowboy Christmas." There are lots of rodeos that weekend and it leads into the Nationals. For me, rodeos are a curiosity. I watched the girls tear around the ring at top speed on their horses, carrying the various sponsor flags. Every rider had a death-grip on the reins, holding so tight, but still spurring their mount to go faster. You can almost see the girls exhale as they come to a stop. The broncs were beautiful, big boned steeds from the Flying 5. Some could go completely vertical on all fours. When the fireworks went off later that evening, they circled in their corral a few times and then went back to figuring out their "pecking" order. The bulls were blowing snot everywhere, and their rage seemed so intense. At last, the cowboys...relics from another time, yet fresh faced 20 somethings. Gladiators grappling with calves and slapping their thighs before a bull ride. Sherry Cervi was there to run barrels. Darcy LaPier saddled up and did barrels as well. She is a local girl that married the Hawaiian Tropic founder (when he died, she got millions) and she later married and divorced Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was a fun place to be on the fourth, talking horses and sipping beer with my friend Nicole.