Is your trailer ready for the Spring Season?

Always pull out your mats to check the integrity of the floor boards.

Each spring when I pull out my trailer it gets a complete “going over” before a horse steps foot in it. We check the electrical system — one year mice feasted on the wiring which left me with no brakes or turn signals — pull the mats out, check the integrity of the floor and the ramp, and, of course check the tire pressures.

Under inflated tires are one of the easiest things to check and fix,  yet contribute to a huge number of accidents. According to the Department of Transportation’s national Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than a quarter of automobiles and about a third of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks) on the roadways of the United States have one or more tires underinflated 8 pounds per square inch (psi) or more below the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

In 2003 the NHTSA estimated that there were 414 fatalities, 10,275 injuries and 78,392 crashes annually due to flat tires or blow outs. It also reported that of all SUVs experiencing tire problems in the pre-crash, 45% rolled over.

If you need just one more reason to check your tires, consider this: tires that are not inflated to the appropriate pressure result in a slight decline in fuel economy and when you are pulling a trailer, your miles per gallon is bad enough!

To get an accurate reading,  check tire pressures when the tires are “cold” — at least three hours after they’ve been driven on. When you drive, your tires get warmer, causing the air pressure within them to increase.

What do you do to keep your trailer running smoothly and safely? Any tips?


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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.

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.

Welcome to the April 2014 Blog Carnival of Horses

Blog Carnival of HorsesWell, the Blog Carnival page has been down — starting 15 minutes after I posted the request for submissions, so if you article is stuck in the limbo of that platform, I apologize for not posting it in this issue. I hope that sooner, rather than later, they will get their act together and keep the site up for 30 or 31 continuous days.

In the meantime, please enjoy these hand-collected posts!

Susan presents House Hunter for Horses, posted at Saddle Seeks Horse.

Lauren presents WEF – The “10″ Hunter posted at She Moved to Texas.

Lauren presents WEF – The Finer Things posted at She Moved to Texas.

Jane presents I am a Hero. Obviously posted at The Literary Horse.

Suzanne presents Parenting Just Got Real posted at Confessions of an AA Event Rider and Convicted Overthinker.

Suzanne presents Dirty Girl . . . posted at Confessions of an AA Event Rider and Convicted Overthinker.

Bad Eventer presents How Bad Eventer Missed her Foxhunt posted at Tales from a Bad Eventer.

Amy presents To Lesson or Not to Lesson posted at A Work in Progress.

Fenway Bartholomule presents New Year, Spa Day posted at Brays of our Lives.

Fran presents Dubai Hoofcare: What–and Who– was Underneath the Horses in the World’s Richest Race? posted at Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog.

Hillary presents Faces of Houston posted at Equestrian at Hart.

Corinna presents How to Avoid a Horse Blogger Giveaway that Breaks the Law posted at Ribbons and Red Tape.

Debra presents Mission Accomplished: We Slung a Horse posted at the Daily Bray.

L. Williams presents Like Tears in Rain posted at Viva Carlos.

Genny presents Picky Picky posted at The Gift Horse.

Anna Blake presents Dressage on a Rescue: Doing More with Less posted at Anna Blake Blog.

Amanda presents Mud Season Hack posted at An Eventful Life.

Whiskey Ranch-Horse presents A Heart for Helpin Horses: New York City and Beyond posted at County Island.

That’s all for now, folks. I’m not sure that I’ll keep using the Blog Carnival Platform; it may be better just to keep sending submissions to me at lizgo at and I’ll continue to note down blog posts that I like and put them here too.

Hope you enjoyed this month’s carnival!