Wednesday

Grieving a Gelding


Grieving a Gelding - Recalling a Favorite Horse

My friend just lost her horse.

A gorgeous black-and-white American Paint Horse (APHA) gelding, Jireh was the envy of the pasture. He boasted perfect conformation and an affectionate disposition. Proudly, he stood 17 hands high, with his abundant mane ruffling in the wind.

Jireh belonged to Mindy, a fun-loving teen girl with 8,000 freckles and highlights in her dusty blonde hair.

For years, when Mindy arrived at the stables each day, she would leave her carrots by his stall and race to the pasture to find her pal. Without fail, Jireh would hear her footfalls in the dirt, look up from his busy grazing, throw his giant head in the air and blast for the gate. Inches from the fence, he would halt suddenly, tossing up his own private dust-storm.

Mindy would climb up on the gate to drape her arms around Jireh's neck. And all would be well. She would stand on the gate, swing one leg up on her giant horse, and ride him bareback to the barn, with just a lead rope tucked in his halter.

We never figured out how she did it, although we all swore Jireh bent down to help her up onto his back.

Perhaps he understood.

We knew the truth about Mindy, although we seldom spoke of it. Barns have no secrets, after all.

Want to read the rest of the story? Click here to read "Grieving a Gelding - Recalling a Favorite Horse."

Sunday

Equine Insurance: Do You Feel Lucky?


Equine Insurance: Do You Feel Lucky?

"You only need to insure your horse, if you couldn't afford to replace him."

That was practically a mantra for one of our first equestrian trainers. Actually, this has turned out to be pretty good advice.

We did carry insurance coverage on our first horses. However, as our herd grew, we opted out. It was simply too costly!

Do you need insurance for your horse? What sorts of coverage are offered, and how can you tell which to choose? What exclusions may apply?

What policy options are available?

Equine insurance has grown into a complex industry, as the horse business has matured.

Today, your horse may be insured against mortality (death by accident or illness), specified perils (fire, lightning or transportation damages), infertility and reproductive hazards, theft, and loss-of-use (disability).

What is loss-of-use? Basically, this is intended to cover your horse, if his show or athletic career comes to a sudden end. Suppose your Grand-Prix jumper becomes injured and can only do flat work under saddle, or your Prix St. George dressage mount develops a soft-tissue condition and can no longer piaffe. Can you collect? Loss-of-use is difficult to prove, and this coverage can be quite costly.

How much insurance does your horse need?

A rather sophisticated actuarial formula is used to calculate value and risks for equine insurance. In principle, it operates much like human life insurance underwriting.

Basically, an equine insurance premium is based on the value of a horse. Other factors include the horse's age and intended uses. Jumpers and eventers are costlier to insure than dressage horses. Racehorses, reiners and barrel racers usually demand higher-ticket policies than trail horses. Horses who travel to shows may have higher premiums as well. The location and stabling of your horse is also a factor.

If your horse is worth a lot of money (as in, more than $10,000), then you may decide it is worthwhile to purchase insurance to cover life or loss. If you paid $1,000 or less for your horse, then you may opt out of insurance. (This does not diminish the amount of love you have for your equine companion!)

If you have several horses, the insurance premiums can add up quite quickly. It's important to weigh the odds and determine whether the output is worth it.

Insuring a horse can be a complex proposition. Be sure to ask any questions upfront.

Can foals be covered?
Is equine medical insurance worth the high premiums?
What about exclusions?

If you belong to breed organizations (such as APHA, AQHA, IAHA) or equestrian disciplinary associations (such as ABRA, USDF, USEA or USA Equestrian), you may want to check your membership benefits. Many of these groups include varying levels of coverage, at least for competitions, with annual dues.

For answers to these questions and more, please click here to read the entire online article, "Equine Insurance: Do You Feel Lucky?"

Saturday

Respect Your Elders - Caring for Your Senior Horse





Your elderly equine carried you for many seasons. How can you care for him in his golden years?

Horses may survive and thrive well into their 20s, and ponies may live past 30. Essentially, a horse ages three years for every human year, so a five-year-old horse is equivalent to a 15-year-old human; a 15-year-old horse is considered middle-aged (as a 45-year-old human), and a 25-year-old horse approximates a 75-year-old senior citizen.

The late, great Little Giant, a senior Arabian horse

By the time your beloved equine companion reaches these golden years, he has served as your friend, confidante, and riding partner for a good long while. How can you return the favor and care for him in his final days?

Here are the top ten things you can do for your old friend:

1. Keep Him Moving.
2. Protect His Teeth.
3. Maintain His Feet.
4. Groom Him Daily.
5. Offer Enough Water.
6. Improve His Nutrition.
7. Monitor His Medications.
8. Give Him Fresh Air.
9. Protect Him in the Pasture.
10. Remember Your Ally.

Thursday

Horsey Products We Love - Mountain Horse Rimfrost Winter Paddock Boots

Horsey Products We Love -
Mountain Horse Rimfrost Winter Paddock Boots


Want warm feet in the stirrups, right in the middle of winter?

Mountain Horse Rimfrost Winter Paddock Boots are the best for keeping toes toasty in the barn or out on the trail. Our horsey family has tried nearly every winter riding boot available, and these are our best pick.

Click here for the full product review.

You can find Mountain Horse Rimfrost Winter Paddock Boots (for men, women and children) online at Adams Horse Supply, Celtic Equestrian, Derby House, Dover Saddlery, Equestrian Collections, Mounted Police Worldwide, Victory Canter, Virginia Tack and other equestrian merchants. Occasionally, these wonderful warm boots are also available on sale (in limited sizes) at Sierra Trading Post, particularly in the off season.

Click here to read the full article: "Product Review: Mountain Horse Rimfrost Winter Paddock Boots." Or click here for a free subscription to this author's online content, so you won't miss a single post!

Choosing a Horse For a Child


Choosing a Horse for a Child
First Horse, First Love

To a young horse lover, a first horse quickly becomes a first love. How can you select the ideal match?

"Pretty is as pretty does."

Looks aren't everything, especially when you are choosing a first horse for a youngster. Matching horse to rider means finding a horse that will care for a beginning equestrian, or picking one that may provide enough challenge for an experienced one.

For the most part, a first horse needs to be quiet, experienced, and forgiving. Sure, it's nice to have a pretty horse in the right color. A cute name is appealing, too. But the main thing is safety, particularly where younger riders are concerned.

How can you find this dream horse?

If your child has already qualified for the upper-level classes in the North American Young Riders competition, then a young, green (untrained and inexperienced) horse may be alright. In other cases, you may be better off selecting a seasoned and dependable older equine.

How can you select the best first horse for a child you love? Here are a few simple guidelines:

1. Green Plus Green Equals Black-and-Blue.
2. A Pony Is Not Just a Little Horse.
3. Discipline Matters.
4. Ask a Trainer.
5. Check Online.

Nearly nothing is more memorable than a first horse. Choose carefully, and you won't be disappointed.

Want to read more? Click here to read the entire online article, "Choosing a Horse for a Child."

Wednesday

Horsey Humor - Green Lessons


Green Lessons
A Poetic Reflection on Riding Correction

I used to think I knew a lot;
My horses nearly were self-taught.
We'd pirouette, right on the spot,
Until this sorrel colt, I bought.

I used to think myself quite smart.
My equitation, work of art.
Until this colt, he stole my heart
And upended my apple cart!

I never stood a single chance.
He looked at me, a single glance,
And my resolve turned happenstance,
As I embarked on new finance.

I used to think that I could ride;
My ribbons, I displayed with pride,
From horse show classes, far and wide,
Until he carried me, wide-eyed.

There's more! Click here to read "Green Lessons - a Poetic Reflection on Riding Correction."

A Soft Place to Land - Preparing for the Foal


A Soft Place to Land
Preparing for the Foal

The mare is restless. Her tail is sagging a bit, and her udder is swollen and leaking waxy drops. Eleven months after her breeding to the prized stallion, her time is finally here. She is nearly ready.

The foaling stall must be prepared as well. Basically, it is impossible to fully disinfect a horse's stall. Simply put, the area will be quickly sullied, when the mare makes the home her own. However, you can take several steps to prepare a suitable spot for her to have her foal. Six major factors come into play.

1) Give her some space.
2) Privacy is paramount.
3) Strip the stall.
4) Keep it soft.
5) Make it safe.
6) Be discrete.

For additional information, please click here to read "A Soft Place to Land - Preparing for the Foal." You can also subscribe (for free) to this author's content by clicking here.

Horsey Products We Love - Passier Lederbalsam


Horsey Products We Love - Passier Lederbalsam

Passier Lederbalsam is ideal for conditioning and restoring leather saddles, bridles, harnesses, and more.

Try it on your fine leather goods as well. Coach purses and handbags, Levinger briefcases and even custom cowhide Bible covers gain suppleness and shine from this compound.

As you condition your leather items, you will not believe how soft your hands will become!

Click here to read "Product Review: Passier Lederbalsam Leather Conditioner."

Great Gifts for Horse Lovers


Great Gifts for Horse Lovers
Tacky Actually Works, If You're Talking Tack!

Shopping for Valentine's Day, a birthday or another special occasion? If you love a horse-lover, you may already have the ideal gift in mind. If not, don't be saddled with guilt. Here's a bit of advice: Skip the bridal shop, and head for the bridle shop.

Equestrian-friendly gifts are available in every price range. The possibilities are vast. Try to rein in your enthusiasm, as you peruse this list, which may stir-up some ideas.

Gifts for Equine Enthusiasts:

Artistic horse figurines: Pick from Breyer Collectibles, Montana Silversmiths statues, Trail of Painted Ponies, Peter Stone Horses and many more offerings. Gee, even Webkinz (from Ganz) has horse models!

Apparel: Shop for horse-printed baseball caps, bandannas, jackets, neckties, pajamas, socks, tee shirts, sweatshirts and other fun items. Check out horse-themed items at Whale and Friends or your favorite tack store.

Calendars: Select from equine photography or cartoon calendars (Last year, I got five of these!) and day planners. If you are extra handy with your computer, why not try a bit of desktop publishing and create your own horsey photo calendar?

Child care: Offer to watch the horse-lover's children, so he or she can enjoy a few hours at the barn!

Gift cards: Order these from tack and feed stores, saddle shops or online equine catalogs. Most horse owners have an ever-growing list of equipment needs, as well as items requiring repair. A gift card might be just the ticket! Favorites may include Dover Saddlery and State Line Tack.

Gift certificates: Create a free pass for a free ride (on your horse), a riding lesson, trailering to a show or forest preserve trail system or a horse-grooming lesson.

Holiday items: Buy horsey tree ornaments, pony light strands, equine tree skirts, wreaths of horse treats and other festive treats.

Horse games and puzzles: Look for board and video games, such as Herd Your Horses and Horse Sense.

Horsey care package: Assemble a basket of horse grooming supplies. Include braiding bands, brushes and combs, fly spray, hoof pick, hoof polish, mane detangler, shower mitt and a sweat scraper.

Jewelry: Pick out equine-themed bracelets, cufflinks, earrings, hairpins, money-clips, pendants and rings.

Movies (DVDs) about horses: Choose from Hidalgo, The Horse Whisperer, Misty, National Velvet, Phar Lap, Racing Stripes, Seabiscuit, Spirit and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken.

Non-fiction books about horses: Dorling-Kindersley has a full array of informative picture books for children. For adults, you might find a discipline-specific book (dressage, jumping, barrel-racing, driving, etc.), a breed-specific work (thoroughbreds, appaloosas, warmbloods, Morgans and more), or a general how-to guide.

Novels about horses: Pick from dozens of titles, including Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, Misty of Chincoteague, and Wander.

Office supplies: Look at equine-themed desk sets, mouse pads, notepads, pencils and pens, playing cards, screen-savers and stationary sets.

Personal items: Shop for backpacks, belts, cell phone cases, key rings, tote bags, wallets, etc. (all with horsey themes). Wildhorsefeathers and Colors of Horses are great sites for starters.

Picture frames: Give horse-shaped or pony-printed frames, or basic frames containing a photo of a favorite horse (possibly with the recipient!).

Saddle pads or blankets: These are available in countless colors and patterns. You can often find excellent bargains at Chick's Discount Saddlery and local feed stores.

Splint boots or polo wraps for the recipient's horse. Why not match these to a brand-new saddle pad?

Tablewares: Choose from pony-printed beverage coasters, cereal bowls, coffee mugs, dessert plates, flatware, hi-ball glasses, placemats, etc. You can find a super selection at Back in the Saddle.

Tack: Unless you are an equine enthusiast as well, you may find it difficult to select tack and riding equipment for your recipient. However, a bit of investigating and a few strategic questions might put you on the right path here.

Treats: Horses love alfalfa cubes, apples, carrots, oat cookies, peppermints, stud-muffins, vitamin chunks, and more. At Christmas, we hang stockings on each horse's stall, and we fill them with tiny candy canes and starlight peppermints. Most of our horses prefer the red-and-white ones over the green-and-white spearmints. You might include horse-shaped cookies or chocolates for your human gift recipient too!

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