Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Long Thanksgiving Weekend

It sure has felt like a long weekend, and I really didn’t do anything strenuous or time consuming to make it feel long. I didn’t even ride, as there was just something going on every day and the time just flew by. I’m glad we are having a quiet day today. Well, almost quiet…

Thanksgiving Eve day: I worked the store. I had a little bit of business, which surprised me because I thought it would be a slow day with no business. But kids were out of school and a few customers did come in. I came home and finished chores with Tom. Tom had finished blading lots all day.

After supper, we got the turkey ready to put into the oven in the morning - got the roaster out, rinsed out the turkey, broke up bread into small pieces for the stuffing, cut up onion and celery for stuffing, put bread in the roaster lid and placed in oven to dry out a little, and put everything else in the frig to mix together in the morning.

Thanksgiving Day: I slept in a little and didn’t get the turkey in the oven until 8. Tom and I did all the chores in the morning, so all we had to do was to feed dogs and cats at night. I watched the parades, going back and forth between Macy’s and the Hawaii (I think) parades. The turkey was ready to eat at 1. Since it was only hubby and I, we only had turkey, stuffing, gravy and green bean casserole. And a glass of the Moscato wine, which was really good. It was spicy and tangy like a Piesporter, but a little bubbly too. We ate and hubby took the meat off the turkey bones while I cleaned up dishes and put leftover away. We went to the movies and saw Russell Crowe’s Last 3 Days. I always get buttered popcorn, but I think that will be the last time. $10.50 for a small popcorn, and large pop that Tom and I split, is just way too much! Geez, no wonder we don’t go to the movies very often. If they didn’t charge so much, we would go more often, and they would make more money off of us! Pure economics (which usually I distaste talking about). We came home to do chores, which, by after 6, was in the dark. I finished the night watching Trump’s Apprentice while Tom watched football.

Joe Paterno's statue at PSU, State College, PA

Black Friday: Tom and I opened the store from 9-2 and had a few customers. Hubby went to Orscheln’s feed store for dog food and salt for the horses. Jacob, Amber and Caden picked up Tom a little after 1 to bring him home while I closed the store.

Tom watching football while Caden and Amber look at a book
We were going to watch the Penn State game (since we are from PA and are big fans!). Don’t you know it, I locked the keys in the truck when someone pulled up, asking about feed which I don’t sell anymore. I was distracted, and out of habit, just shut the door, AFTER hitting the lock. That would have been fine, but the keys in my hands were the store keys, not truck keys. After a phone call, Amber was kind enough to bring me the other set of keys, without the 3rd degree that I got from Jacob and Tom. Guys! Wait until they do something the next time - I will not leave them off the hook!

Tom, Amber, and Jacob watching the game while Caden plays.
After watching the rest of the ball game with them, we had our Thanksgiving Dinner. This time, I made fresh mashed potatoes as well as having the turkey, stuffing and gravy. Amber brought the green bean casserole as it seems to be a favorite in our family. She also made a delicious fruit salad, except I don’t like the marshmallows, and a great looking apple pie. Caden played a while longer, but everyone was too full to have pie. Jacob wanted to take the pie home, since we had an apple pie that I had bought and baked also. But Amber’s apple pie was homemade and she dished us up 2 pieces So they went home and we saved the pie for the next day. Our pie went into the freezer for another day.

"Oh, no" Caden says.

Saturday: Tom and I opened the store at 9 again. I only had to work until noon, then met Tom over at Jacob’s to watch the NE game, even though we aren’t NE fans. Jacob picked his dad up at 10 to go over to Menards to pick up drywall with the truck. After the game, since it was already late afternoon, we headed home to do chores. We had turkey leftovers for supper - hot turkey and gravy sandwiches. I‘m sure that we‘ll have turkey leftovers for a few nights. Then, same as every night, I just existed on the couch. Once again, stuffed!

Sunday Stills "Self Picture" with cap on, getting ready to feed horses.

Sunday: We always sleep in if we can. Hubby had me awake at 6am, then 7am, tossing and turning. So I got up and left him sleep. I fed dogs, cats and 1 lot of horses. Then I took self portraits of myself for Sunday Stills. I wanted some of the horses in the pictures with me!




Once hubby got up, he made me an omelet, which we does almost every Sunday morning. Delicious!

We had sold some old equipment that was just lying around, getting rustier. This morning at 10, Shari’s husband was getting the tires off the elevator. He came and took off the tires so he could take them and put new tires on the rims. He had to haul it 30 miles on another day. He would have had to haul it another day since it’s too windy to move today. Another person came to put a battery on the old pickup that he had bought and drive it home. But then they realized that a hose was leaking so they went home and got their flat bed truck to haul it home. In the meantime, Traci and the kids came to ride their 3 horses. I wished I had gone outside and had taken pictures. Young, 6 year old Mary was walk trotting Bob by herself and had a great time. Her younger brother, Will, took his turn while big sister Katie loped down Bubba and Doc. Then Sheri came to groom and give her horses their treats, but she realized that is was way too windy to try to ride the fields!

This afternoon, it is so windy outside, about 50 mph winds, that even though it is 57 degrees out, it’s better to stay inside. I had wanted to ride, but not in this wind. So I’m thinking of my Thanksgiving weekend and watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I love the current one that is on, The Ultimate Gift, about life’s lessons. The young man meets and befriends a terminally ill young girl, teaching him another very important lesson. Sad, but so heartwarming!

I wanted to go out and water the arena today, too. I want to have it worked up one more time before winter really comes. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, and Tom can take the time to really get it worked up. With luck, I’ll be able to work it up all winter if we are riding inside.

Sunday night: On the couch, relaxing! I like to watch the Amazing Race, and even had a dream last week that I was in the race! Lol After that show, I hope to be watching a movie with my hubby, drinking a glass of wine! Maybe I’ll even start reading that book that I’ve been wanting to start reading for the last month!

Can’t get better than this! Family, friends, horses, good times, and loving life.

“Embrace the Journey!”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and to your horses and other pets, too! I woke to a cold, 15 degree day, but one full of sun! The 17# turkey went in the oven a little late, as I slept in and got up an hour later than planned. I wake too many times during the night. And for some reason, early morning is finally a good time to go back into a deep sleep.

Tom and I heading outside to do chores. He wanted to fork hay back into the feeders, so the horses didn't trample it, poop in it, and wouldn't eat it. I wanted him to do dog chores (by himself so I wouldn't have to go out) and come in quicker. oh well, I went out to help.

We found Bubba, Bob and Dixie lot and the 2 draft horses together. The gate that separates them was off the hinge and open, ok, who rubbed it off the hinge? Everyone looked at me innocently. They all seemed fine, standing quietly, and no one had a bite or kick mark. Tom haltered Bubba and Dixie and Bob followed him away from the gate, while I shooed Moonshine back into the pen where she belongs. Babe was contently eating from her round bale.

While Tom forked hay, I fed dogs and cats. The cat’s water heater was plugged in, as well as Lady, my Springer’s, heater. Posie, the Aussie, and the 3 beagle’s waterers were slightly frozen, so we plugged them in. I fed the cat the turkey neck bone and liver and gizzard, which they growled over. I normally cook them for more broth, but without a large family here this year, I figured the turkey would have enough broth to make gravy, and have some extra to make noodles with in 2 days. You know, the never ending turkey leftovers.

While Tom was forking hay, I figured I might as well get the once a day graining done. The large lot is still just on mineral, but Bubba’s lot get a mixture of Strategy and Senior feed with the mineral, and a bale of alfalfa hay morning and night. Duke, my stud, is now getting Strategy and mineral. We wire tied a feeder to the fence so he can’t dump it! He loves to bang his feeders around, kicking at them with his front feet until the feed is on the ground. He is a stud with stud behaviors!

I went for the hose. I had it inside a heated room so even though I drain it, twice, it is so much more pliable warm than as frozen plastic. I filled one of the lot’s water tanks, and all the others will be full enough until tomorrow afternoon. I was happy to see that all of the water heaters, that got plugged in for the first time last night, had kept all the water thawed! I drained the hose, twice, and left it lay. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon will be slightly warmer than this morning, and the hose will be fine laying outside for a day.

Now, I'm watching the parades. I've always loved doing that. The paper is hereto look through. Even though I don't do the Black Friday shopping, I still like to look at the ads and specials. We may stop at Orscheln’s Farm Store for salt tomorrow. Lol and buy a winter Carhart for our youngest son. Shhhh, Christmas present!

Tom and I will be eating that 17# turkey by ourselves. LOL We are having Thanksgiving tomorrow with Jacob, Amber and Caden, but today will just be us. I asked him if we really need to have potatoes since we are having stuffing and gravy, and green bean casserole. You know…so much starch that will only stick to our ribs. He was fine with just stuffing. We’ll have mashed potatoes tomorrow though. But we won’t have our pickle tray that my youngest son always made. He is visiting his girlfriend in Texas! Long drive from Nebraska! Drive safe, buddy. And we aren’t having our homemade noodles, since my mom and dad aren’t visiting this year. I would have cooked egg noodles in some broth if Sara, Jake and Makenzie were home, as I know Sara loves those homemade noodles.

And we are bringing back a family tradition that we started years ago when the kids were younger. We don't have family in NE, so after turkey meal, we will go to the movies. I wanted to see Secretariat and it's not playing here! Bummer! That didn't stay in the theater long! Maybe I'll get the movie from Santa! Tom gave me a choice of 3 movies, and I think we’ll see the Russell Crowe movie - I like him as an actor.

Today is a day to enjoy quietly with my husband and be thankful of the life that we have together. I am thankful for his love, and almost 30 years of marriage. I am thankful for my family, and the grandbabies, and the new grandbaby to come in April. I am thankful for the fairly good health of Tom’s 90 year old mother and my 83 year old parents.

I am thankful to have the horses that I have in my life. I am thankful for the direction that horses are taken me. I am thankful for Centered Riding and the peace that comes with that. For without that peace, I’m not sure how happy this year would have been for me without Finny.

I am thankful for the desires that I have inside me to help people with horses. I have an overwhelming desire to share what I know, even if it is limited in some areas. I want people to develop the bond with horses that we are capable of. I need to show and teach all that horses can be to us. And I need to get back to doing more, not just riding like I’ve done this past year. I am thankful that my spirit has awaken and I’m starting to follow a path that is opening up in front of me. I am thankful for the love of horses.

Most important of all, be thankful for all, as God has a special plan for all of us. Follow his direction, be happy and content with what life gives you, and follow your dream. I believe that God puts that dream within us for a reason. Follow your heart, knowing that he is guiding your feet.

Thanks for following my blog. I am thankful that you are here, reading, commenting, and understanding me.

That's what we are going to do today. Chores, blog and watch parades, eat turkey, movie, chores, and relax with a movie and glass of wine. Hy Vee grocery store had some wine on sale, and I am going to try a type that I have never had before, a Moscato.

What are your plans for the day? What are you most thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and “Embrace the Journey”.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cleaning Lots

I put out a reminder on my Chat Group about worming. You should worm after a killing frost. Ivermectin should be used in spring and fall, alternating with other types of wormers during the other times.
I just got my worming done. Some of the horses I didn’t even have to halter. Then there are always those few that said, “you aren’t catching me to stick that thing into my mouth.” So I walked off, did something else, and walked up to one of the young horses with a hand full of grass that I found. I think she forgot that I was after her earlier, and she left me halter her easily while she eagerly ate that grass that no one else was getting. She wormed easily, and after I took the halter off, she searched the ground for more grass. She wouldn’t find any there!

We had the horse's teeth checked last week for sharp edges, A few of the horses have been floated. Hopefully, that helps to keep the weight on some hard keepers.

Lots are being cleaned as I type, so they are not so messy next spring. These pictures make them seem really wet and slimy now, but they weren’t too bad to scrape. At least I didn’t fall on the slime! Tom liked running the bobcat. Must be a guy’s toy.
Then he gives me, “what do you want” look. LOL

My 2 helpers were helping me. Posie, the Aussie, and Lady, the Springer Spaniel.
Then I think Posie went to sleep for awhile. Lady is always on the go. You would never find her sleeping.

Water Heaters are going into the tanks. We put the extension cords of the heaters through PVC pipe and tie the pipes to the fencing.
Then those pesky horses can’t play with the heaters and destroy them. I just need to find 1 or 2 extension cords. We'll plug them in tomorrow night, as we are suppose to be getting nights with temps down in the teens. Horses don't like to drink really cold water, and will limit their intake if the water is freezing.
It is important to keep the water source from freezing. I like to put 5 gallon buckets over the hydrant handles to keep them from freezing shut. Oops, didn’t get a pic of that, but I think you can imagine what a bucket looks like over a hydrant.

I need to replace salt blocks. I still want them licking salt, and that will help with water consumption. I have 4 lots of horses, but we usually buy a couple of large blocks and I have hubby break them into quarters.

Hay is ready. I feed brome round bales, but one lot of hard keepers will get alfalfa squares for a few months. I realized today why my shoulders are achy and waking me up during the night. I thought it was from moving boxes of tack to the store 3 weeks ago. But today, I was forking hay back into the hay feeders, trying to keep the lots clean from the hay getting mucky. I could feel the strain. I have been forking hay over to a horse that was in it’s own lot for a month and a half. That was a lot of torquing on my shoulders. I wasn’t feeling the soreness until the last 2 weeks. I don’t think I’ll be pitching hay any more. I’ll give that job to hubby!

Grain is ready. I'll start graining soon. I'm graining Purina Strategy to supply the nutrient level for 2 broodmares that are having foals next spring, 3 young horses, and 2 pleasure horses that can use the extra energy over the winter. I’ll feed Senior feed to the lot of older teenage horses that are my hard keepers.

Horses have had trims, and may need 1 more trimming late December. Then I find over the winter that I can go 2-2 1/2 months before the next trim if I'm not riding the horses. I don't mind them a little long, just not breaking off. All of their feed goes to keep themselves warm, and their hooves don't tend to grow so long. I just keep hay in front of them so they aren’t shivering as much when the weather gets damp. Chewing on hay keeps internal temp up.

We also got a load of clay dirt, to spread in the low places. (Sounds like a song) (Who can name it?) We spread a couple bobcat buckets under the lean to where the water runs off. Hubby needs to spread it over in the horse lot where the summer rains washed out dirt and made a ditch. And we will spread the rest of the dirt where we drive into the lot. There is always a low spot there.

What else? I think I'm ready for winter. Except for the snow. I better put the shovel at the back door! Maybe if I’m ready for snow, it won’t snow as much as last year!

Oh, and I better get my turtlenecks and overalls ready, and insulated boots and gloves. I was freezing yesterday, but today I wore my fleeced lined jeans, a long sleeve T with a sweatshirt, and a hoody with a winter jacket. And gloves. I was much warmer in this 30 degree damp weather.

I better go check on hubby. He should be about done playing in the horse lot. I need him to get a bucket of sand to put under the big lot’s large round water tank. We keep it a little higher so the horses aren’t constantly kicking the bottom of the tanks, which causes them to leak. The level tool is ready so we can make sure the water tank is laying even.

I went outside and waited on Tom to finish blading the section of the lot that he was working on.

The horses were at the round bale. Shaggy walked up to me. He dropped his head for me to rub it. He actually turned sideways and seemed to want me to rub his neck and back, which I did. Honey walked up and wanted to be petted also. Shaggy pinned his ears slightly, but he is so gentle, I was surprised by his actions, as that certainly is the most I’ve ever seen him do. After rubbing Honey, I walked to Shaggy’s other side, and when he was done wanting to be rubbed, he walked back to the round bale. Then Savannah walked over, wanting me to rub her forehead. When I went to walk away, she followed me.
I wonder if my horses have missed me, as I haven’t done much riding the last 2 weeks. It was nice to walk out into their lot, and have them walk up to me. Tom caught me rubbing them, and asked when he was going to get his back rubbed? LOL

Friday, November 19, 2010


I have just signed up with Skype. This program lets you make internet video calls for free, if the other person is signed up also. If you both have a webcam on your computers, you can see the other person while you talk. Free video calling! YEA!

Hubby and I just got off the “computer” with our daughter, Sara, and granddaughter, Makenzie. We haven’t seen them for 2 ½ months, and it will be a few more weeks before we go see them for Makenzie’s 2nd birthday. Tonight, we got to visit live!

How much fun was it to see Makenzie giggle and blow kisses. Her mommy had to interpret for us a few times. She was starting to babble a lot! We could understand a few words, especially “Pody” for pony.

She was amazed that she could see us on the computer. And she could see herself and her mommy. It was funny to see her get real close to the computer screen to see herself, and touch her hair, and ears and mouth! Lol She would blow us kisses. Cute!

Skype says that “free video calling makes it easy to be together, even when you're not. Now, Skype has group video.” We’ll have fun in the future seeing everyone at the same time! Cousins can visit, even when they are miles and states apart.

All I know is that I think Grandma and Pop are going to be calling Colorado a lot! LOL And if they aren’t home to answer, than the Messenger Live program allows us to video ourselves and send them a video through email.

Technology is wonderful. Especially when you are miles apart!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Changes are Happening

November16, 2010

What can I say? Changes always happen. We look forward to some. We don’t look forward to others.

When changes come, we need to learn to accept what life gives us. We may like what is happening or we may not. But there is no use in being sad, or mad, or upset, or whining about it. We just have to make the most out of the changes and move on.

A saying that I like is “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I truly believe that. We may not understand the why’s, but we can follow His direction. He will guide us down the path that He has chosen for us. Our creator knows us best.

Sometimes, changes are about not knowing what the future holds. The unknown is a biggie. That can be scary, but it can be exciting. I guess one just needs to think about what they want out of life and follow that path.

I do know that you need to do what makes you happy. Do what is healthy, not only for your body, but for your family relationships. Make the right choices for you, and with your spouse or the other important people in your life.

Isn’t it a great feeling to wake up, anticipating the day? Wouldn’t it always be great to have the feeling of “I can’t wait to start my day” or “I wonder what I can do today that is fun or that I’ll enjoy?” Sometimes, we get so much into a rut that we forget that we could feel that way.

Changes really do make you think. Where do I want to go in life? What do I want to accomplish? What would I change? How should I go about completing what I hope to complete? What does my life hold for me?

I’m content with the changes in my life. A new path is developing. I have a new focus that concerns my family, my husband, my children, and my grandkids. Our life has taken a change for the better, and I pray that the family feels the peace that will come with that change.

But with changes comes the sadness of all that we leave behind. Lots of memories that now we won’t be adding any more new memories to that time of our lives. But we take what we’ve done and what we’ve learned and move on. We take our knowledge to make a better decision of what we want to do now.

We make new memories. As my hubby and I change as we grow older, we will look forward to this enjoyable time in our lives. A time with grown children and our young grandchildren. It’s time for us to find that path in our lives that we both desire.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Grain Source to Feed

Today, I'm picking up horse feed for the winter. One hot topic with horse owners is the discussion about horse feed/grain/nutrition! So I thought I would raise this question on my chat group, Horses Are Our Lives chat. Come by to check it out! (click on the title to visit or join)

I ask readers to answer these questions: What works for you and what doesn't work for you. I think we can all learn from each other, rather than debate it. Let's keep it simple: state what you feed, pros, cons. that's it. Then when you have a question about someone else choice/s, ask a nice question.

I also want people to know that what may work for someone may not work for someone else. You need to take into consideration the age and work load of the horse, money that the owner has available to spend on hay and grain, health of the horse, and overall attitude of the horse - they may just be a hard keeper!

What works for me, with a variety of ages of my horses, from 2 year olds to teenagers, workload, and broodmares. I feed a pelleted feed that has high levels of vitamins and minerals, like Nutrena Compete or Safe Choice or Purina Strategy. When I need to put extra weight on the horse, I add Nutrena Empower or Purina Amplify. My horses are all on round bales. This year, we are throwing the hard keepers a couple of flakes of alfalfa.

Pros: High levels of nutrients, with the trace nutrients that aren't in a oat/corn mix. This feed is highly digestible and the horse utilizes everything that it eats. This works for my young growing horses, working horses, and brood mares - all with higher nutrient requirements. The horses look better, with a shine, and they put on weight faster and keep it on.

Cons: maybe a little more expensive, BUT you feed less of these grains, so when you compare # and $, you are almost even. I can’t find a con of feeding a feed high in nutrients, and formulated for the working horse.

I had Dionne ask about her horses. Here is what she said about them, and I’ll put some thoughts down as I’m reading her info again.

“I have two Percheron mares, and an Appaloosa we just acquired for Daphne for 4-H. As I’m re-reading Dionne’s info about her horses, first, I am not knowledgeable on the draft breeds and their special requirements.

Out of my mares -
Dakota is a hefty 1950 lbs, easy keeper, very piggy on the food.
Abby is a dainty 1800, not as easy to keep and would rather be loved on than eat.
Pete automatically gets pushed around, probably because he's a boy, and he's new and much smaller than they are. I think, just guessing, that he's around 14.3h and maybe 900 lbs. He has a very low body condition score (I'd say between 3 and 4) and needs to gain some serious weight. He has the foundations for nice muscle, but topline is very thin, all the way to the tail, and I can see/feel ribs.

Me: I asked her about the worming and teeth floating history. Her reply:

“They are all wormed regularly - everyone got Ivermectin after our first hard frost, the first week in Nov. Teeth, well, not sure any of them have every had anything done. I have not felt any sharp edges, hooks or gaps in the girls' mouths, no dropping feed, balling feed or head shaking while bridled-type behaviors that would make me think they might have a problem. They are always fed on the ground (or at least lower than level, for them) so they should be grinding evenly. Pete - I'm not sure, I'll have to ask about his teeth - but same goes for him, nothing that obviously suggests tooth issues.”

Me: Even though you can't feel sharp edges, we can't reach back far enough without a mouth speculum in, to feel the edges of the back molars. I'm thinking you may have some sharp edges way back, and it usually doesn't cost anything for a vet to check, unless he is making a trip and you have to pay a trip charge. He might charge a fee to check, and I would ask what his fees are before he comes out.

Out of all that - I've done a bunch of research for feeding drafts grain. What is recommended for putting weight on them is just oats and 2 cups oil per day.

Me: With my experience with Quarter Horses, oats alone does not meet their nutrient level, even fed with Alfalfa hay. 2 cups of oil is a lot, and I would watch that they don’t get the runs. If it is too oily, they may not eat their feed.

Sounds simple. So - each evening I've been giving Abby two of those big, red scoops (one full scoop will fill one of those big coffee cans - like Folgers or Maxwell house - the 2.5 lb plastic ones with the grips) of oats with (and I worked up to this over a couple weeks) 2 cups of veg oil. The "old-timers" say they feed their drafts a half a (5-gallon) pail of oats per horse per day.

Me: Weigh your feed. Know what you’re feeding. Oats is lighter than grain, so the coffee cans
would probably be 3# of a grain mix, but may only be 1# of oats. I will go from 0 # of grain to 2# in a week. I usually feed ½ # for 2 days, then add ½ # every 2 days until I get to the amount that I want to feed.

Dakota gets maybe 3/4 scoop of plain oats so she doesn't feel left out and will stand quietly while the others eat.

Me: if a horse doesn’t need something, don’t feed it. Dakota is heavy and an easy keeper. Let her paw or walk the fence line because she’s not getting fed. She’ll lose some weight this way. Don’t feed a heavy horse extra grain.

The oil has definitely taken some of the dryness out of her coat, and may be adding a little bit of weight, but not like I thought it would. Drafts are prone to EPSM, so I'm not taking any chances and feeding high carb/sugar/starch stuff like sweet feed. Leading draft vets say that oil is the best way to add weight.... I'm just not seeing it.

Me: Now there are very good pelleted feed that are low in carbs. That is what I would recommend that you research to see if you can feed it to your drafts.

Pete, well he's a challenge. I talked to the guys at the Coop, looked at the difference between the Omelene and Strategy and Senior - and picked up some Strategy for him, since it's highest in fats. He has some weird feet, so I didn't want to founder him and have been nervous feeding grain. Worked him up to one whole scoop of Strategy in the evening.

Me: Once again, I need to know POUNDS. To gain weight, he could be fed 4-5# twice a day, and feed a high fat supplement. The fat helps them to utilize their feed. One scoop is probably only 2 - 2 1/2 #, which is maintenance level. You need to feed a lot more to have him gain weight.

Did that for 2 weeks and didn't see much improvement - so I added in a morning feeding for him, and worked him up to a whole scoop in the morning, too, and increased his evening ration to 1 1/2 - 2 scoops. We've been feeding this way for a month now. How much is too much? I think I'm feeding him at max recommended serving size for the performance horse - which he is not, right now, but needs to gain.

Me: I think he is getting 2# in the morning, and 4# in the evening now. I think he needs 4# in the morning, with ½-1 # of a fat supplement, building that up slowly too. Or maybe just the oil on his grain would be fine. Pete is not a draft and may not utilize the oil the way that the draft horses do. I would feed a high fat supplement instead, as it would be a more highly digestible form.

I've read some comments/posts about Amplify, chelated minerals, bran, beet pulp..... so many varying opinions.

Me: lots of choices, and you are doing the right thing - reading about everything, asking questions, and trying to make the decision that works for you and your horses. Chelated minerals, or Nutrena’s minerals are formulated differently, as they are one-on-one with an amino acid, are more highly digestible, and are absorbed in the intestinal tract where they need to be to benefit the horse. Bran and Beet Pulp would add fiber, not necessarily the nutrients that he needs to gain weight.

So - I switched Abby (mixed with oats for now to use up the oats) to Strategy, too, giving her equivalent of 1 1/2 scoop Strategy once a day and kept the oil in. Dakota gets 1/2 scoop.

Me: Take away Dakota’s feed, as she is fat. Abby is getting 3# plus the oil, with oats right now, so unless she needs to gain weight, that should be fine. Remember, you have drafts, so she may need more than that. I feed my QH’s 2-3 #/day. Your draft may need 4-6# for maintenance.

Hay - well, I peel round bales of grass hay and hand feed them twice a day (gives me exercise and helps cut down on their wastefulness). Since Dakota is so bossy, I make 3 piles to be sure that Pete will always have his own place to eat. I fill a 2x2x6 ft tank heaped high (where the girls usually stand and eat), then the other two piles of half that, each - so I put out approximately 100 - 140 lbs, twice a day, more if it's really cold or the quality is not as good.

Me: I think it’s hard to determine how much hay they get when it’s fork off the round. I am doing that to one of my horses right now, and so I just feed enough that there is some hay in his
feeder all the time. I don’t like the horses to run out of hay.

Water - they have a 100 gallon tank that I keep clean and full. The three of them will completely drain it in 2 1/2 days. Haven't had to use a heater yet!

Me: remember, as the weather gets colder, they will probably drink less, so the salt you’re feeding is important to keep them drinking more water.

Salt/minerals - they have free-choice salt blocks - one salt, one sulfur (I use that in the summer - helps with the flys) and one brown mineral one.

Me: I’m not sure about the sulfur block. I don’t know if that is too much sulfur for horses. Remember, mineral blocks are mostly salt, so they really aren’t getting the minerals they need from a mineral salt block. With feeding Strategy or Purina Senior, they shouldn’t need the extra minerals, just a white salt block.

So - given all my info and what I do.... I'm seriously open to suggestions, as I'm totally baffled. I've never had to put weight on horses, and have never really fed grain. I've always been good with just good grass hay, giving a little oats when it gets below zero and I'm working them hard. But, for some reason this year - I have two very different horses that I would like to see with a bit more weight before it gets cold.

Pros - I can get some exercise every day feeding hay the way I do. I get to give the horses a good "once-over" twice a day. We get some bonding time and they learn manners and routine. Oats/oil = Strategy in cost.

Cons - I'm not sure what to do with the grain!!! I guess I was expecting a magic bullet with the Strategy and haven't seen it. Thanks a bunch!

Me: Right now this is what I'm thinking - that when you feed for gain, you need to feed more than you normally would. So if 4# would be enough feed to maintain, I would increase slowly until I'm feeding 8# until I get the weight I want. I would feed a high Fat supplement, as fat helps in utilizing the nutrients. I would also feed a flake or 2 of alfalfa, for the extra forage quality. I would get their teeth checked, and possibly have Abby and Pete floated. I would separate to grain, and give Abby more if she needs to gain weight, and increase Pete’s feed slowly. Keep putting the oil on the feed, maybe not as much on Pete’s feed.

I don’t think you have seen the change that you thought you would because you still need to feed more for the weight gain. I think you are feeding for maintenance, but once again, weigh your scoops of feed and then we’ll know how much you are feeding!

We had a little 14 hand reiner, who got 4# twice a day plus 1# of a high fat supplement to keep weight on during show time. That’s a lot of feed, but she needed it. And I kept hay in front of them all the time!

Try increasing your feed some more, and see if you can see the difference in another week. Maybe you should weight tape Pete so you can see if he is gaining weight!

Good discussion, Dionne! Let me know your thoughts on this!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Snow

This morning, we were lucky. We just had a dusting of snow. Other areas north of us had 3-6” of snow.

And, of course, I procrastinated. Hoses aren’t drained. Water heaters aren’t in the water tanks. And my stud needs moved closer to the barn.

Next weekend is a better weekend to do all of this. I’ll have extra helpers! Micah will have time to help me set up water heaters, for both the dogs and the horses. Jacob can help move the round pen. Hopefully, Tom can be home to help.

I am not looking forward to winter.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bleak Fall Day and Thinking Ahead to Spring

Yes, Fall is here and Winter is coming. I can see it getting closer today. The skies are gray. It‘s trying to rain, and we had a mist all morning. There is that feel in the air. There is a dampness.

Most of the leaves are off the trees. There is a lot of brown in the fields. When the wind blows, it is cool. When the sun goes down, it is cool. It is cooler doing morning chores. I need gloves some mornings, but no all of them. So far, I’ve only seen frost 1 time on the grass. And none of the water hoses, that are still laying out on the ground, are frozen when I want to use them.

We had 70 degrees on Sunday and Monday. Unseasonable warm. Unbelievable for November. I took full advantage of one of the warm days, laying on the lounge chair, enjoying the afternoon. I even mowed a small patch of grass that looked high. I have never done that in November! I made a jug on ice tea again.

This weather makes me want to get inside as soon as I can and curl up on the couch. I just told someone yesterday that I really start to hibernate as the days get shorter. And when they get cooler, I’m in sweats. When the wind starts to blow and howl, you’ll know where to find me.

Now is the time to get ready for winter. We have turned on the heaters in the barn. We have the tank water heaters ready to install. I better work on that this weekend. I better drain water hoses too. I hate trying to coil frozen hoses. For those who never had the opportunity to do that, it doesn’t work! I better close the big barn doors, too, before the north wind blows so hard that I can’t budge the doors by myself!

But now is also the time to start thinking and preparing for Spring riding too! I just talked to someone about who in my area gives dressage lessons, and she thought this person may come to my barn! That would save hauling, and I would actually stay committed! If I want to further improve my Centered Riding, I need dressage lessons to give me a better understanding of Sally Swift’s philosophies. I love the idea of knowing exactly how to move with the horse when the horse moves a certain way. My goal is to become one with my horse, whichever horse I happen to be riding. I’m sure that goal is going to take longer with some of my horses!

I’m almost done reading the Centered Riding Book 2. My winter time will be dedicated to making a curriculum that I will follow for my lesson times. I have outlined book 1, and will soon be done with book 2. Now I want to put my outline into the computer. During a lesson, I’ll have all the exercises listed. When a rider wants to work on a certain area of Centered Riding, I can go to my outline for guidance. And I’ll have a handout ready to give the rider as a summary of the day’s lesson. I’ll have a summary of exercises to share after my horsemanship clinics, where I’ll teach the Centered Riding exercises.

I want to give more Horsemanship clinics next year. I want to help as many people as I can. I want to teach about the relationship and the experiences that you can have with your horse.

It’s time to start promoting what I have to offer. I’ll start with outlining the Centered Riding books and exercises on the computer. That is what I’m going to be working on this winter. That, and trying to exercise a little. Maybe I’ll have a woman’s exercise group meet once a month!

How about you? What will you do to get ready for winter and ready for next spring?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Quiet Fall Day

Today, I did something that I have been wanting to do for awhile. We were having a wonderful 70 degree day, even though a little breezy. I sat and enjoyed the fall day. I took my computer and a book, and went outside and laid on the lounge chair.

There were a few people trail riding today, but I just didn’t feel like hauling. I wanted to enjoy this day in a different way. I know I’m counting the days before winter really hits, and maybe I’ll still get on a horse today, but I doubt it. I’m too relaxed right now.

Except for the distant whine of a chain saw, it was great to sit outside and do perfectly nothing! I’ll have horse chores to do later, and a round bale to put out in one of the lots, and dogs and cats to feed. I’ll have to rinse the legs of 2 of the horses, as a new horse decided to try to kick everyone. He had been across the fence for a week, and he needed to go into the larger lot. He wasn’t letting his lot mates eat their grain. I figured Starlet would put him in his place.

Oh, yeah, she did, but in the process, got her back leg kicked. It actually looks worse than it is. I rinsed it last night, as the new horse left about an 8 inch mark down her leg. No swelling or heat today. She sure does lay back her ears and goes after him though. He is just bully enough to stand his ground. I wonder how long it will take him to know that she is boss.

Then the new horse must have gotten Shaggy later. Shaggy wants to be a friend to everyone. They were sniffing at each other like dogs yesterday and I thought those 2 wouldn’t fight. But today, Shaggy has 2 marks up high on his back leg. No cut, just some scuffs and missing hair, but enough to know that it came from a kick and not a bite.

That’s the chances I have to take to put a dominant acting horse in his place. He needs to back down and give up. I’ll give that job to Starlet, with Chick’s help.

Daylight Savings Time was last night, and we took advantage of the extra hour by sleeping in. It sure felt strange today, as even by 10 this morning, it felt later. It’s almost 4 now, and I can feel the air already getting cooler. I better not wait much longer to start chores. Rinsing legs, filling a water tank, feeding dogs and cats, checking the other boarding horse’s water, giving one lot a round bale, and be in before dark.

That’s one nice thing about shorter days. I can lounge on the couch longer in the evenings. I think I’m starting to hibernate.

We are on a Journey

I am reminded that we are all on a Journey. The Journey is ever revolving into a life that we could never have imagined, but we can imagine it now, if we let it be. I have made changes in my life with horses, from how I act around them to how I teach. I am continually making changes to be the best person that I can be.

My Journey into Centered Riding has changed my whole life, from how I think, to how I feel, and to how I respond. I’m searching for that place in the universe where I am meant to be. I’m searching for something inside me that brings out the best in me. I’m searching for the gifts of knowledge and patience and empathy. I’m searching for the power to teach in an understanding way and to give the rider and the horse exactly what they need. I’m searching for the “how.”

I’m searching for what is the best for me. But I’m also searching for what is best for me, AND my best buddy, Tom. I want what is best for the two of us. I want what is best for my children, and now my grandchildren. I want a life, rooted by the Centered Riding philosophies. Centering can be part of your life, bringing out the how and the who, by bringing out the best in you.

I feel an overwhelming need to get this right. And to pass it along. I want others to have this centering and this feeling, and to develop this bond, not only with their horses, but within their life. I want them to find that feeling, deep down in their core, where they are right with the world.

I’m starting to feel that the person needs to find what they need, and to work on that. When the rider has discovered what is the most important parts of their life or of their riding to work on, then they find that special peace. We may always be working on that area of our life or our riding, but pinpointing what it is, understanding it, and knowing that we are working on developing it, brings a sense of relief, and a sense of peace. Maybe that’s where to start… think about what you need and start there. Fulfill that need first, to be able to move on. Care for yourself before you can care for others. Understand what you need in your own riding. Give yourself time to develop into what you need, both from yourself and from your horse.

I feel very spiritual today. I feel that God is not only in my life, but within and wrapped around me. I need Him to show me the way that is best for me. For my family. For and with horses. If I follow God’s plan, then that is what is meant for my life. His way has to be the best for me. He will show me how to respond to horses. He will show me how to teach to each individual. He will guide me in my Journey.

What Journey are you on and how has your journey changed your life? Maybe you haven’t thought about this before, and maybe you can be aware of where your journey is heading.

A special prayer goes out to a very special person, who needs to find that special place within her that she is searching for. With all my heart and soul, I prayer that God grants her that special feeling that only she can know and understand. I prayer that she has a overwhelming sense of fulfillment and peace. Hugs.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Balancing the Body: Neutral Pelvis

I don't think we can balance the lower part of our body if we aren't sitting correctly. We need to find our Neutral Pelvis, and sit on our seat bones.

The easiest way to do this is to lift one leg up and bring it up to the pommel. Slowly drop it and pick up the stirrup/iron. Repeat with the other leg.

IF your horse is very calm, or if you have someone holding the horse, you can do both legs at one time, first putting one leg on the pommel, then the other. Slowly drop each leg and pick up stirrups/irons.

Another way to find your neutral pelvis is to rock your pelvis forward and backward, each time rocking a little less and find that neutral area. I like todo this first, then lift my leg up and down, on and off the pommel.

Once you can do this, and walk your horse, remaining comfortable in this position, than we can balance your legs and feet. If it gets uncomfortable sitting on your seat bones, rock a little way, back or forward, and don't sit where your seat bones are sore. You have a 1/4-1/2" area where your seat bones can be. It doesn't seem like much, but it is.

As your sitting on your chair, trying these 2 exercises now. Be comfortable with how to find your Neutral Pelvis before you're on your horse!

Let me know how this feels for you!

Balancing the Body: Legs and Arms

After you Stretch out the legs joints - ankle, knee and hip - from the previous post, are your legs even?

Day 4

First, you have to move your legs back... from the hip joint. Let's exercise the leg joints first.

There are a few leg exercises. First, start with the ankle. Move it up anddown. Move it in circles. Stretch it down. Stretch it up. Each stretch should be done slowly.

Next, stretch the knee. Move the lower leg. Swinging it slowly.

Than, move the hip joint. March in place. First with one leg, than the otherleg. With the leg straight, swing the leg back and forth. Slowly.

Finally, move the hip back. Grab the back of your breeches or jeans, and pullthe leg back, slowly. Once the legs are balanced, you will stay balanced.

Day 5

Do you have even weight on each stirrup? Are you sitting square where you have the same length of leg on each side of the horse?

Try leaning a little heavy on one side, putting more weight into that stirrup. Then lean the other way, putting more weight into the other stirrup.

Now, don't lean with the body. Sit square and straight. If you have to balance the upper body, do this know. First lean forward, with your back straight, than backward, leaning a little less each time until you rock into neutral position. Then lean a little sideways, each direction, until you rock your body into neutral position from the side.

Now sit square and balanced, and with only putting more weight into your legs, push down into the stirrup a little with one leg, than the other. Push down a little less each time, until you find that neutral area where you are holding equal weight with each foot in the stirrups. You shouldn't be pushing down with either leg.

Day 6

Now your arms need balanced the same way. Lift them over your head than out to the side. Slowly drop your arms down to your side, with your palms down.

Lift your arms straight out in front of you, than straight over head again. Stretch up slightly with one arm, than the other. Stretch until both arms seem even. Turn your palms out, and slowly drop your arms down to your side.

Now your body is balanced? How do you feel?

Try it now, sitting in a chair. Are you sitting taller? Do you feel even?

If you ride this weekend, try these exercises on your horse and let me know how you feel. Try to keep the feeling of balanced body parts. If you feel a body part isn't even, stop and rebalance.

You may just want to stretch and ride balanced for 15 minutes. Add time slowly each day so
that you aren't sore the next day. Build your time up slowly until you can ride balanced during your whole ride.

Let me know how your riding is going! I'm anxious to hear from you!


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