Friday

Horse Family Values: Why Should a Child Have a Horse?


Horse Family Values: Why Should a Child Have a Horse?

What Horse Care Can Teach Kids

Religion needs a baptism of horse sense.
Billy Sunday
(1862 – 1935)

What makes friendship with a horse such a wonderful part of a child’s healthy development?

After all, horses can be costly. Actually, the purchase price of the horse is not the issue. The upkeep is what adds up. Boarding, training, vetting and other expenses can mount up quickly.

Still, if children carry a passion for horses, families can find creative ways to expose them to equines. Some stables will allow young people to pitch in (quite literally) as a means of earning credits towards riding lessons. As kids grow more adept with horses, they may even enjoy opportunities to ride and care for others’ horses on occasion, as when owners go away on vacation or business trips.

Parents can support their horse-loving children in many creative ways, and it can certainly be worth the effort and expense. Why are horses a great way to invest in a child’s development and future?

Our Horsey Story

Our story may hold no universal truths, but it’s certainly true for us.

At age seven, my own daughter developed a consuming passion for horses. By the time she turned twelve, after she had completed five years of equestrian lessons, we bought her a horse of her own. Owning a horse has taught her many things, besides the athleticism and exercise of her time in the saddle.

Here are the top ten personal benefits we have realized together from our home-grown horsemanship:

Self Confidence

By practicing and competing with her horse, my daughter has discovered that she really is good at something. In addition, she has won ribbons and prizes and the admiration of her friends. What a wonderful confidence booster for a child, particularly during those challenging preteen years!

A Solid Work Ethic

Caring for a horse has taught my daughter to work hard – and enjoy it. From picking out hooves to mucking out stalls, horse ownership has given her an irreplaceable opportunity to put her hands to a task and complete it.

Increased Immunities

Hanging out with horses is a healthy exercise. Stepping out of sterile environments can actually build immunities, particularly to snobbery. Spending days at the stables, my daughter has learned that getting really dirty can sometimes be a good thing.

Improved Self Control

By training a horse and being trained by him, my child has practiced self control and discipline. After all, horses require consistency, attention, and exercise regularly, not just when the weather is ideal.

Patience

Training takes time, particularly with animals. Partnering with a large animal and lovingly bending his will to her own, she discovered how to wait and capture teachable moments as they arose. I firmly believe horse ownership will make my daughter a more patient and caring parent someday.

Unconditional Acceptance

This quiet thoroughbred gelding has offered my child unswerving loyalty and kindness, while becoming a trusted friend and confidante.

Altruism

Over the years, as she has cared for this special equine friend, my daughter has been transformed from a dependent youngster into a responsible caretaker. She has learned to observe and meet the needs of another, even a horse. How can these skills not transfer to caring for others?

Fine Friendships

Horse lovers know no age boundaries. As a barn girl, my child has enjoyed quality friendships with other equine enthusiasts of all ages, exposing her to the full range of horse breeds (from Arabians to Paints) and riding disciplines.

Risk-Free Affection

How wonderful it is for a growing girl to discover that someone warm and furry loves her – no matter what. Clearly, her horse is infinitely more deserving of her devoted affections than an immature teen boy with unclear motives. She can tug and hug on his mane and neck without any expectations for which she is not ready.

Bonding With Mom

Because Mom got a horse too, my daughter has discovered that being at the barn together is way cooler than hanging out at the mall (or online) with friends. From a parent’s viewpoint, this is an immeasurable lifelong benefit.


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Tuesday

Have You Herd?


Have You Herd?
A Rhyme Past-Due
for My Favorite Crew


Of what shall a man be proud,
if he is not proud of his friends?

Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850 – 1894)

Have you heard about the herd?
It’s my very favorite word.
Although you may think it absurd,
It’s where I am most self-assured.

The herd admits without password.
There, pure acceptance is conferred.
Equine affection may be stirred,
And no one must be massacred.

In other crowds, where I’ve transferred,
It seems another is preferred.
Perhaps their vision may be blurred,
And they may realize afterward.

I tried to sing once, like a bird;
Instead of crooning, I just slurred.
So I departed, thus deterred,
To reconnect where best inferred.

And now I huddle with the herd,
By far, the best four-letter word.



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Sunday

Horses and Ponies - What's the Difference?


Horses and Ponies - What's the Difference?

“I heard a neigh.
Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was!
My very heart leaped with delight at the sound.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Size matters.


What is the difference between a horse and a pony?


Many people assume that a pony is simply a baby horse, or even a little horse. This is absolutely not true. Ponies and horses, though related, are not exactly the same creatures.


Certainly, both ponies and horses are considered equines.


How can you tell a pony from a horse?


The main difference is this: a pony stands 14.2 hands high (58 in. or 147 cm.) or less at the withers, and a horse is 14.2 hands or taller.

Actually, there is more to it than that. Exceptions to the rule include larger ponies, such as the Pony of the America or the high-stepping Welsh Cob, who can exceed 14.2 hands in stature at maturity. In addition, certain horses may mature to shorter heights than their breed standards – but that does not make them ponies.

In fact, Falabellas, Caspians, and other miniature equine breeds are actually classified as horses, although they may be considerably smaller than most ponies. And Arabian horses may occasionally be shorter than 14.2 hands, but they are still horses.


Do ponies look different from horses?

Are ponies more suitable for children than horses?

Ask any equestrian about ponies and horses.



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Friday

Home-Grown Fertilizer


How My Best Intentions Destroyed My Pretensions



As a budding gardener, I read somewhere that organic fertilizer is excellent for garden beds and patio pots. In fact, for several years, we had actually purchased manure to compost and enrich our landscape plantings.

We live in horse country. We even have our own horses. We love them passionately, but they can be expensive.

One spring, I decided it was about time for the horses to begin to earn their keep.

A week before Mother’s Day (the popular benchmark for safely planting annuals in the northern half of the US), I approached our barn manager.

“Do you suppose I might dig up some of the rich, dark loamy soil in one of the back pastures?” I asked. “I think it would be great for my summer garden.”

“Knock yerself out,” he offered, as he mucked out a stallion’s stall. “Have at it! Take as much as you want.”

I stuffed my feet into my oversized Wellies, tossed a muck bucket and a shovel into the back of my old Ford pickup, and headed out to collect this most valuable natural resource for my home garden. What a deal! I thought.

Within minutes, I was up to my knees in muddy horse manure. Devoted to the cause, I persisted in piling this pungent planting supply into the bucket. Soon I had a full load, but it was more than I could lift on my own.

Looking up from my task, I noticed that I had gained a small audience. A group of barn hands had ceased their farm tasks and were watching me with great interest. I was not quite sure how to explain my purpose to my curious onlookers.

“Es para mi guardián,” I offered. (“For my garden?”) At least that’s what I meant to say. 



Maybe something was lost in translation. Perhaps I said something risqué by mistake. For whatever reason, they looked at each other and whooped in laughter.

(Later, I discovered that I had actually said, “It’s for my guardian.” No wonder they hooted and chuckled! What grown woman has a guardian?)

However, gentlemen that they were, the men helped me load my overflowing bounty into the back of my truck. As they did, I asked myself: What sort of a gratuity does one offer for assistance in loading animal excrement into the back of a car?

My shame subsided, however, as I headed home. I could already sense my neighbors’ envy. What would they think, when my floral fantasies came true? With such hearty home-grown natural nutrients, I just knew my plantings would surely produce the most spectacular display of color ever seen in the tri-county area.

I carted the stuff home with high hopes.
 
With passion and purpose, I planted a dozen trays of annuals in my flower beds. Artistically arranging about fifteen multi-hued floral plantings in large terra-cotta patio pots, I hummed a victory song. I could hardly wait to see the results, which could be nothing short of spectacular.

Won’t my neighbors be jealous, when they see my vibrant flowers this year? I said to myself.

Watering with a religious fervor, I waited patiently for the much-anticipated results. Within a couple of weeks, my flowers were filling the clay pots and beginning to bloom. The bright leaves and abundant foliage spilled out over the edges. What a wonder!

However, as a bonus, something else was growing rapidly in my colorful containers.

That year, my colorful and robust garden displays boasted something no one else in my entire neighborhood had:  cornstalks from recycled kernels!

Monday

What's Your Name?

Just for fun today, "The Mane Point Is ..." posting a poem I wrote to help children (and the rest of us) remember the correct names for various baby animals.

What's Your Name?

Those baby animals are sweet;
Look at their tiny eyes and feet.
What can you call a girl or boy,
The parent creature’s pride and joy?

A pony’s not a little horse,
A colt or filly is, of course.
But both are known as equine foals,
Right from their tails up to their polls.

A newborn cow is called a calf,
Born from the bull’s own better half.
And gators have both bulls and cows,
Though odd, it’s just what truth allows.

An antelope babe, buck or doe,
May outrun the big buffalo,
Whose bull or cow may rise to eat,
While ram or ewe lambs loudly bleat.

Still, bucks and does may include squirrels,
As with all rodent boys and girls.
Though mallards may have drakes and ducks,
Most flying birds have hens and cocks.

Hogs and hedgehogs, out of doors,
Give birth to tiny sows and boars.
And cats produce tomcats and queens,
Depending on their gender genes.

So nature needs an answer key,
To name its own, both he and she.
As creatures young, on sea and land
Arrive together, babies grand.


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