Friday

Can a barn change boost the horse-human relationship?




Sometimes things really do work out for the best, even when they seem to start out a little rocky.

We just spent several super years in a wonderful equestrian community of horses and humans. The facility was beautiful and well-managed. The clientele was pleasant and fun. And the barn offered on-site horse shows and training clinics, in which we happily participated. We made lots of fine friends and merry memories.

Moving to a new barn means leaving the familiar herd.

It was all good.

Overnight, our horsey world turned upside-down. The barn owners sent an email to all of the boarders, announcing that the facility would be offered for sale immediately and that they would be closing their business within a few months.

With winter just over the horizon, dozens of horse owners began searching for stalls in other barns. We asked around in our horsey network of friends and contacts. We visited lots of equestrian facilities.

Stepping into new stables can be a horse-human adventure.
We packed up the ponies and moved.

Fairly quickly, we were able to find a suitable and reasonably affordable spot for our own herd. We acted promptly, as stables with indoor arenas tend to fill fairly fast in this region in the fall.

Heck, we had four horses to place.

Although we already miss many friends from the old barn, we are happy to report that our horses are settling in nicely in their new home. We are making lots of new horse-world friends and reuniting with some long-time pals as well.

We are even saving a few hundred dollars a month, while enjoying excellent horse care and fine facilities.

But here’s the best part.
LAN photo by L. Davis. Used by permission.

I am re-discovering the preciousness of the horse-human bond, which seems only to be enhanced by settling in together in unfamiliar surroundings.

As horse owners, we know that our equine companions look to us for their care and advocacy. When we move them to new, unknown spots, they depend on us more than ever for consistency and assurance.

My young sport horse mare and older Thoroughbred gelding (along with my daughter’s Morgan mare and Quarter Horse gelding) had to leave the herds they knew. They were loaded onto trailers, carted several miles away, and led off into strange stalls and pastures. Horses they’d never seen gaped at them.

I don’t want to personify my equines, but I could swear each of my horses gave me the same look, as if to ask:

Where are we?
Will I be fed and watered in this strange place?
Will you still spend time with me?
How will my life change?
Is everything gonna be OK?

Within a few days, after experiencing their new care, turnout, grooming, and schooling routines, our horses quickly grew accustomed to their new residence.

Here’s another intriguing development we have noticed.

Sometimes sharing a new spot brings familiar equines closer.
Although our horses were never pastured together at the former location, and they did not occupy adjacent stalls, they surely knew one another. Now, in their new home, they get along famously. We even placed my daughter’s mare with the two geldings for the first few days, until they settled in enough to assimilate into other turnout groups.

And my mare has grown very fond of a two-year-old Quarter Horse filly, pastured next to her. She even tosses hay over the fence to share with the youngster.

I’m not a barn-hopper, and I do not recommend relocating horses often.

But, when the need becomes pressing, it can turn out to be an opportunity to build an even deeper relationship between horse and human.

You don’t belong to the herd. 
You belong to me.
And that's for life.

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Sunday

12 steps for horse addicts: Are you codependent or resplendent?



“Hi. I’m _____, and I am a horse addict.”

OK, I admit it. I’ve been addicted to horses for longer than I can remember, from the very first muzzle nuzzle. This may be a hard habit to break. In fact, I’m not sure I want to.

Not to stir up trouble … but perhaps that’s the mane point.

Still, it seems somehow prudent to propose a 12-step program for horse addicts. After all, there seems to be a 12-step program for nearly every other sort of addiction.

So, with all due apologies to existing recovery programs (which honestly do a world of good for innumerable individuals), here are my 12 Steps for Horse Addicts.

Remember, you herd it here – at The Mane Point.

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12 Steps for Horse Addicts

Hold on tight. This may be a rough ride … or not.

1. The horse addict must admit that he or she has become powerless over the overpowering addiction to horses – and this his or her life has become unmanageable (or unstable).

After all, the first step is always to recognize that the addiction exists. In the case of a horse addiction, of course, the best course is simply to enjoy it with unbridled enthusiasm.

2. The horse addict must come to believe that a higher power (such as a precise piaffe, a clean round of show jumping, a flawless trail pattern, or a record-breaking rodeo ride) could restore him or her to sanity.

What greater pleasure might there be for a horse addict than to feel the power of a perfect ride (particularly if the horse show judge happens to be looking)?

3. The horse addict must make a decision to turn his or her entire financial assets over to the care and training of his or her horses.

Horse addicts understand the benefits of reining in horses, but equine-related expenses may be another matter altogether.

4. The horse addict must make a searching and fearless inventory of the contents of every saddle and tack shop within a 100-mile radius, as well as many online vendors.

This inventory, of course, is ongoing. To a horse addict, the hunt for tacky items is a good thing. With this in mind, many an equestrian has sought a sponsor to further the cause. Recovery or enablement? You be the judge.

5. The horse addict must admit to God, himself or herself, and everyone else that he or she would rather talk about horses than any other subject that may be suggested.

Let’s face it. No genuine horse addict wants to be corralled into conversing upon topics that run far afield of things equine.

6. The horse addict must be fully prepared to drop everything for any chance to saddle up – anytime and anywhere – at a moment’s notice.

Spontaneity is an essential component of horse addictions. In fact, most horse addicts actually consider saddles and bridles optional, giving themselves liberty to ride anytime and anywhere without warning.

7. The horse addict must humbly ask his or her horses for forgiveness for each day that he or she has failed to provide carrots, horse cookies, and other treats – or thorough grooming.

The good news is that horses tend to be forgiving creatures, eager to accept gifts and grooming from those who will humble themselves enough to curry favor by offering such amends.

8. The horse addict must make a list of all significant humans (family members and friends) with whom he or she has failed to spend quality time … and shred that list on the way to the barn.

It’s all about priorities, when it comes to horse addictions. True horse addicts care not about jockeying for social position. They often buck the system, because their real acceptance comes in the pasture.

9. The horse addict must make amends to significant humans he or she may have offended through lack of attention, except when to do so might detract from the attention required by his or her equine companions.

Again, proper priorities will spur horse addicts to make the appropriate choices here.

10. The horse addict must continually update personal inventories of riding apparel and equipment, supplementing these supplies with additional items whenever possible.

For a true horse addict, this step is a cinch.

Still, relationships may be breeched when significant others do not share the same passion for things equine. This is the point, in the 12-step process, for tough love. If a significant other does not come to a point of acceptance of the horse addiction, then perhaps it is time to give that individual the proverbial boot.

11. The horse addict must seek every opportunity to improve his or her contact with horses (as he or she understands horses), making every conceivable effort to learn more about horses and to gain experience and expertise in enjoying equines.

Well, duh. Even a numnah knows this step is a given for horse addicts.

12. The horse addict must admit to having had a spiritual awakening, recognizing that horses are essential to happy and healthy living and that the horse addiction is one well worth preserving. In addition, the horse addict will strive to carry this important message to other potential horse addicts.

"Horse poor, Heart rich. 
Ask me now. I'd never switch." 
This original design, available only from CafePress, may be found on tops, tees, tanks, and many fun gift items.

Ever herd of hippotherapy? Hey, horse addiction is therapeutic. Nearly everyone knows that a bit of horseback riding is good for one’s balance. Before anyone mounts a campaign against horse addiction, a key question must be addressed:

How many other addictions can actually improve balance?

C’mon. Pony up. Swing one leg over the saddle, and you’ll be hooked.


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Friday

Take the lead, please, not the halter!




Whoa, loose horse! Human down!

Yep, that just happened. I was visiting a friend in another barn and saw it. One of her fellow boarders tried to lead her sweet, quiet horse down the aisle, simply by looping her hand through his halter.

And the horse bolted. Hoofbeats clattered down the barn aisle, while the dumbfounded girl  picked herself up off the ground and rubbed her wrenched shoulder.

Thank God no horses were cross-tied in the barn aisle. And a barn staffer was able to grab the horse before he headed out into the great beyond.

This didn’t have to happen.

Please, grab a lead line before you lead that haltered horse. Choose one with a chain, if you need it.

While we’re at it, here’s another bit of horse sense, pertaining to halters. Just sayin’.

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Thursday

Dosing horse meds? Save Rx bottles!



Horse owners run through bundles of baggies, preparing and labeling equine medications and feed supplements. Why not save money (and the environment) by recycling containers we’re already using?

Suppose the large animal veterinarian prescribes once- or twice-daily doses of powdered or tableted methylsulfonyl-methane (MSM) or phenylbutazone (BUTE) for a horse, but the equine owner cannot be at the stables to administer all of the medication doses.

Empty prescription bottles make excellent receptacles for storing these doses in advance, so barn staffers can add the medicines to a horse’s grain at feeding times.

The pill bottles should be thoroughly washed and dried, and the original prescription labels need to be removed or covered. Ducttape works well for concealing the labels, if they are difficult to detach. And the bottles must be clearly marked with the horse’s name and dosage frequency (such as AM or PM).

The large-mouthed prescription bottles are easiest to use.

Traditional pill containers, often an opaque brown or blue, are simple to repurpose. Target’s new ClearRx bottles have tiny openings, so they are harder to manage. A funnel may be used, but many powders will tend to stick inside, making full dosing difficult.

What about larger medication and supplement doses?

Leftover lidded plastic containers, such as those in which lunch meats and deli salads are sold, make super serving-sized supplement storage options.

Essentially, any non-breakable plastic container with a tight-fitting top may be considered for this purpose, so long as it never contained anything potentially harmful to a horse and it has been completely cleaned before reuse.

Related Item/s:
45 smart ways to reuse prescription bottles

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Horse Head graphic –

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Target ClearRx prescription bottle
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