Spring fever

Exploding soda

Freedom feels like a can of soda that’s been shaken — and is just waiting to explode!

Tomorrow is the first day of the Spring cubbing season and I have a dilemma. The long winter has left me with two horses that aren’t really ready to hunt.

Icy conditions followed by shoe sucking mud have limited trail rides to walks. I’m all for walking as it’s a great way to build a base of fitness without pounding a horse’s legs. BUT, and it’s a big but, tomorrow we’re supposed to go gallop behind hounds.

Let’s see. I could take the naughty mare. She’s a much happier horse when she has a place to run and buck, but I’d rather it wasn’t in the hunt field. Our pastures have been too wet to allow Zelda her play time so she’s been doing it under saddle. Not a good idea.


Freedom is ready to go do something fun. I just need to coat my saddle with super glue.

Then, there’s Freedom. He feels like a can of soda that’s been shaken. I’m afraid to open the can because he’s just so full of energy, he can barely contain himself. I have taken him out for a few short gallops and even popped him over a cross rail or two. Those rides have been, shall we say, interesting.

While he’s fine if I take him for walks, once the excitement level ratchets up, he starts leaping, bounding and bouncing. Sigh. I’m not sure what he’ll do when he realizes we’re going to hunt, because even at the best of times his response to the first cast bears a distinct resemblance to the departure from a starting gate.

Adding to my concerns is the wind. We had amazing wind today and the hunt tomorrow starts in a big open flood plain. Wind plus hounds plus amped up OTTB? Yeah, sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It does . . . and it doesn’t.

Still, of the two, I think Freedom is my best choice. At least he doesn’t buck. And maybe I should bring a flask. I’m the one who needs to calm down.

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Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Horse Slaughter…

Liz Goldsmith:

This article was linked to in one of the comments on Equine Ink, but I think it covers such an important topic that I’m reblogging it here. I had no idea that 70% of the horses who end up at slaughter houses are Quarter Horses. Certainly, I’m aware of the risks run by Thoroughbreds who are no longer racing, and the sad prospects of horses who are given away for free or short money on places like Craig’s List.
Sadly, the horses who are at the most risk are the ones who are healthy, young and unmanageable. The slaughter houses don’t want horses that are old, sick or very thin. Those are the horses that the pseudo rescues use to raise money, telling readers that their dollars are saving them from slaughter, when in fact, they are just opening up slots for other horses to get shipped in their place.

Originally posted on sara annon:

  • “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers,
  • particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.
  • It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.
  • from wikipedia

I added a few more links and updated this blog March 2014 because

  • “It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
  • – Noël Coward

I have gotten engaged in talking about horse slaughter  because while anti-slaughter activists are portrayed as ignorant, irrational, sentimentalists that refuse to face facts, it turns out that it is actually the pro-slaughter advocates who have felt quite free to twist the facts to suit their purposes. Read the following link to find out how the AP responded when a reporter that has been published in Forbes Magazine, Newsweek, and the Huffington Post asked them to correct the…

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Put another quarter in


During the last of the snow, Zelda demonstrated her opinion of my request to cross a stream covered with ice. To her credit, she kept breaking through when she took a step forward.

Zelda and I often disagree on how long our rides should last. She has an inner time clock and when she decides she’s had enough, she’s had enough. Imagine a 1500 pound paperweight. A grumpy one. Or a mechanical horse — you now the kind? Like the ones outside the grocery store where you put in a quarter? When her time is up, she runs out of steam. She plants her feet and when asked to move forward, she expresses her dissatisfaction with being asked to take even one step more, by kicking out or bucking.

I try to avoid getting in a flat out fight with her, but to convince her to move forward requires some strategy and tact. Two things that work are 1) asking her to spin in a small circle until she decides that going forward is less work, and 2) backing up down the trail in the direction that I want to go. Oh yes, and then there’s 3) spurs. They help, too.

Of course, I could also just put in another quarter.


Pedicure Day

For Zelda, my farrier uses hot shoeing which allows the

Zelda’s shoes being “hot set”. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt the horse (at least if it’s done right). It helps improve the fit of the shoe.

Today was the day that my horses got shod for the spring hunt season. That means shoes all around for Freedom and front shoes for Zelda. I’d pulled their shoes after the first snow and going barefoot for the winter was good for them. Both horses are coming into the spring with great looking feet.

In particular, Zelda was able to grow out the divot in her front right hoof — something that had plagued her since she’d arrived in June of last year.

For Zelda, my farrier heats the shoes in her forge and then shapes them to her foot. Working with hot metal allows the farrier to make subtle adjustments to the shoe, which (if done correctly) achieve a better fit. It is considered to be “hot shoeing” even if you don’t set the shoe hot.

Setting the shoe while it’s hot (not red hot) cauterizes and seals the hoof but it also can help set the shoe more precisely, enabling a tighter, more stable fit. This is especially true when you’re using clips.


The shoe is heated up in the forge so it can be shaped.

Is hot shoeing “better” than cold shoeing? I hope my friend Fran Jurga will pipe up here, as she knows a lot more than I do about this subject! My feeling is that if the farrier is skilled, they can achieve a good fit with either method, but that some farriers go with a cold shoeing method because it’s more economical (and faster) to tap on a shoe that’s a good fit and then rasp the hoof to shape it.

We had never hot set the shoes to Zelda before and that first time is always a bit of a gamble. Some horses don’t like it. But Zelda? She couldn’t have cared less.

Hot shoeing is not as common as it once was. Now farriers can purchase a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so custom fabricating or modifications are often not as necessary. When shoeing large, heavy horses, it is more frequently employed because the shoes they wear are larger and heavier.

How do your farriers shoe?


2014 Grand National

Here’s the good news: It’s safe to watch the video. All 40 horses that started in last Saturday’s Grand National came home okay. Changes to the race course over the past few years seem to be working and while their were falls and general mayhem, there were no serious injuries. 18 of the starters finished the race, which is kind of par for the course.

Pineau de Re, ridden by Leighton Aspell, on his way to winning the Grand National (center)

Pineau de Re, ridden by Leighton Aspell, on his way to winning the Grand National (center)

The riskiness of the race is one reason why I have no interest in watching it live. I always wait until I can read about the results before watching the replay.

This year the Grand National proved again that just being the fastest or the best jumper isn’t enough. You also have to stay out of the way of the loose horses. Right from the beginning there was trouble when a false start, caused by Battle Group, sent the horses back for another try. Then when the tape went up for real, Battle Group refused to run. I’ve never seen a horse that didn’t want to be part of a herd of 40 horses that gallop off like that, but he planted his feet and would have none of it.

Plenty of horses fell this year and several were pulled up because of fatigue. Jockeys were told by racing officials to pull up their horses if they showed fatigue and were not going to finish in the money (10th) place. To underscore their commitment to safety, stewards issued a 12-day riding ban to Jack Doyle whom they judged should have pulled up when tailed off as his mount, Wayward Prince, appeared in an exhausted state before falling at the third-last fence.

The real spoiler of the race came when the leader, Across the Bay, literally pushed across the track by the loose Tidal Bay, losing 40-odd lengths to the field.

The winner, Pineau de Re, an 11-year old French bred bay gelding, finished strongly having recovered from an early bobble where he almost lost jockey, Leighton Aspell. Pineau de Re is trained by Dr. Richard Newland, who has retired from his work as a physician and has about a dozen horses in training. He has a reputation for “refreshing” older horses. This was his first Grand National entry.

This is how you look when your first entry to the Grand National wins! Dr. Richard Newland with Pineau de Re.

This is how you look when your first entry to the Grand National wins! Dr. Richard Newland with Pineau de Re.

Trainer Dr. Richard Newland is a registered physician with around a dozen horses in training. He has quickly established a reputation as a trainer skilled at refreshing older horses, such as the 11-year-old Pineau De Re.

Pineau De Re is expected to have the rest of the season off — in fact most of the Grand National horses will have months of recovery after such a grueling race.