Sunday

Broken ribs are hard to tickle, but …


Have you ever broken a rib or two in a tumble from the back of a horse?

I broke four ribs (in four places) several months ago. For weeks, the fractures hurt like nobody’s business.

Don’t even think about coughing, sneezing, or even breathing with broken ribs.

Where was this guy, when I needed him?


How many know the feeling?

If you’ve ever been there, go ahead and laugh. If you have a cracked rib now, you’d better not.

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Saturday

Stepping up down-under with Chrissy, the line-dancing horse


Have you spotted Chrissy, the line-dancing horse? No, she’s not a big, fancy Warmblood dressage horse, trained in classical exercises. But she’s no brumby, either.

This fancy-stepping mare is all about country music. She's won awards for her fancy footwork, and she’s gone positively viral. If you haven’t seen Chrissy, the line-dancing horse, they you ought to catch a glance.

Chrissy is owned by the Marshall family of Australia, where she often wows crowds with her rhythm.


The chestnut mare trips the light fantastic on the dance floor.

The Marshall’s Chrissy has even caught the eye of Bill Bader, the famous Canadian line-dancing choreographer and instructor. Bader is perhaps best known for creating the “Boot-Scootin’ Boogie,” founding the Professional Association of Line Dancers, and orchestrating several Guinness World Record attempts and successes in line dancing.

Lest you suspect we’re a bit around the twist, take a look for yourself at Chrissy, the line-dancing horse.

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Who’s got some tickle in their shoes now, after seeing such a sight?

OK, so Chrissy may not know how to half-pass, but we’d bet she’s not half-bad at the Texas Two-Step. What other horse knows line dancing?

Note to Jerry and Ann Moss, racing trainer John Shirreffs, and Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs: Maybe Zenyatta could try this, once the prancing princess of the paddock has weaned her little prince.  Of course, the Zen-girl's soundtrack would be considerably different. (Paging Sting, stat!)

 Image/s:  
Chrissy, the line-dancing mare of Australia
Video Screenshot/Fair Use Photo

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Sunday

Don't delay on replacing horse stall fans


Whew! Hot weather is here! Have you put a box fan on your horse’s stall yet?

Our fans are up, and our horses sure know it. Strolling in from the summer pastures or schooling, they plant themselves in front of their fans and zone out to the peaceful drone and soothing air circulation.

But fans can be dangerous in the horse barn, unless humans take a few simple precautions. Each year, improperly used fans lead to disastrous consequences in far too many horse stables.

Try these six tips for stall fan safety.

1. Buying a new fan each year is a worthy investment.

Basic box fans are budget-friendly. A horse owner can pick up a standard three-speed box fan for $12 to $25, depending on bargains and brands. Most equestrians skip the pricey high-velocity fans, simply because they plan to replace their fans annually.
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Last year’s fan is likely filled with lint, dust, stall shavings and other debris. The motor may be ready to short-circuit. The cord may be frayed, even in miniscule ways that cannot be seen, but can surely be hazardous.

Barn fires are devastation. The horse world has seen far too many. Is it really worth the risk to save a $12 or even $25?

2. Manufacturers periodically issue factory recalls on box fans.

The latest fan recall occurred about a year ago. In May 2011, 4.8 million box fans were recalled for defects that resulted in fire hazards. Stores were supposed to remove the affected merchandise, but such fans occasionally turn up anyway.

3. Resale fans are no bargain.

Once in a while, folks find fans in yard sales or thrift shops. Again, is it worth the fire safety risk to purchase a cheap fan?

Boarders may leave fans behind when they move their horses. A free used fan is never a good deal, either.

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4. Coiled extension cords can start fires.

Although some stables feature electrical outlets by every horse stall, others may not.

Heavy-duty, outdoor-quality, grounded extension cords are fine for stall fans. However, fire safety experts and electrical engineers warn against looping these wires together. Winding around beams may be OK, but wire-on-wire coils can create sparks.

Smart horse owners measure first and try to find extension cords that best fit the distance from their horses’ stalls to the nearest outlet, devoting those cords exclusively to fan use.
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5. Bungee cords should be stretchy and secure.

Bungees are cheap, but they don’t last forever. If these hooked bands have lost their elasticity, they have to go. A snapped bungee can hurt a horse or human, or topple a fan.

The bungee hooks should be strong and still curved to fasten securely, so horses cannot catch any anatomical features on them.

Usually, a pair of 30” to 32” heavy-duty bungee cords works best to hang standard square stall fans. Adjustable bungees may be found as well.

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One bungee cord goes vertically, and the other goes horizontally, forming a “+” across the motor of the fan. The fan, of course, is supposed to circulate fresh air into the horse’s stall, rather than the other way around. (Don’t ask. It’s been done.)

Baling twine, wire, or string is not safe for fastening box fans to horse stalls. And fans should not dangle or wiggle, once installed (see photo).
6. Stall fans may be best placed upside-down.

A box fan may offer comfort to a hot horse and peace of mind to a caring horse owner on a hot summer day. But the fan cannot run around-the-clock, as it may burn out or short out.

Why not make it easy for barn staff or fellow boarders to switch off fans by inverting them on installation? If the on/off dial is placed within easy reach, folks won’t be tempted to yank on the fan cord daily, causing fraying and a possible fire hazard.

Also, the flimsy little plastic feet should be removed from a brand-new box fan and discarded, as these are only appropriate for floor use.

Stay safe when using stall fans.

Fan safety is a critical feature of barn safety, all summer long. Grab those bungees! It’s time to cool the barn. But be careful.

Image/s:  
Box fan by ArbitrarilyO
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos
    

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Thursday

Hijinks and the Perfect Sale Horse


My friend is looking for a horse. Naturally, as a horse-lover, I offered to tag along when she went to see a potential purchase.

“I’m so excited!” Polly exclaimed, as we jumped in the car. “P.T. is perfect for me. He’s tall, dark, handsome and a super jumper.”

Polly found P.T. online and spent two weeks revisiting his ad. She pored over the pictures of the sleek Thoroughbred, leaping athletically over sparkling white fences with colorful silk floral bouquets arranged artfully beneath him. She memorized his pedigree.
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Stop me, if you’ve heard this one.

Grinning like a kid about to open a Christmas stocking, Polly steered the car through the entrance of the stables. I glanced at the hand-carved sign, which sported this tag-line:

“Where humans and horses learn to fly together.”

At that moment, I had no idea how true that slogan really was.

My eager equestrian friend parked by the barn aisle entry, and we stepped out into the sun. Peeking into the barn, we spotted a tall young lady, wearing a sleeveless polo shirt over tan knee-patch breeches.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

We introduced ourselves, and the girl said she was the assistant trainer. (Let’s call her Alex, although that’s not her real name.) Polly explained that we wanted to see P.T.

Alex guided us to his stall, where she haltered the 16-hand horse.

“He’s a retired racehorse,” she recounted, as she led him into the aisle. “He belongs to the barn owner, but I can longe him for you. You can watch, but I can’t let you ride him.”

As Alex curried P.T. and picked out his hooves, I asked her why the horse was for sale.

“He’s a great horse,” Alex said. “But he’s bucked off everyone in the barn. We cannot use him for lessons. And the one time we took him to a show, he tried to climb the trailer. We tied him outside of it to groom him, and he nearly tipped the whole rig over.”

“Isn’t he gorgeous?” Polly gushed, elbowing me.

“He’s a really nice horse,” Alex said.

“What’s the owner asking for this horse, again?” I asked.

“Just $3,500,” the young equestrian replied.

Alex bent down to strap splint boots on P.T.’s front legs.

“How did he get that nasty scar on his right front?” I queried.

“We dunno,” she confessed. “He sort of came that way.”

Gee, where do we sign? I said to myself.

Did I mention my friend Polly is still looking for a horse?
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Image/s:  
Thoroughbred Horse by Linda Ann Nickerson/Nickers and Ink
  

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Wednesday

Stephen Colbert lampoons Romney's horse Rafalca and dressage


Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, is an avid equestrian. The Romneys are horse lovers, and they particularly love Grand Prix Dressage.

Now it seems their dressage trainer (and co-owner of Rafalca) Jan Ebeling may take their 1997 Oldenberg to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

Ebeling showed Rafalca in the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Dressage Championships this past weekend in Gladstone, New Jersey. The event is recognized as a qualifying event for the US Dressage Team for the London 2012 competition.

Rafalca (Argentinus x Ratine by Rubenstein I) placed third in the USEF National Dressage Championships.

Stephen Colbert chimed in on the news. What would Joe Sixpack say about the Romneys’ dressage feat?
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Take a look at The Colbert Report’s look at Rafalca and dressage:
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What do you think, horse lovers?

Does the Romney’s interest in dressage affect your political position on the upcoming American Presidential election? Would you vote yea or nay (er, neigh) on a Presidential candidate that dabbled in dressage? How do you feel about a First Lady with equestrian pursuits – and a closet-full of full-seat breeches?

Would Olympic equestrian pursuits take the Romneys off the campaign trail for a week or two this summer, just one month before the Republican National Convention?  Or might they include London's Greenwich Park in a whistle-stop tour? Maybe they could work in a hop over the Big Pond, on their way to Tampa Bay for the late-August RNC.

Regardless of politics, Colbert’s take on dressage offers an unusual angle on this equestrian discipline. And why not?

Ann Romney rides on.

Hey, the lady has multiple sclerosis (MS) and still follows her horsey dreams. Can’t fault her for that.
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Get off your high horse, Colbert.

But not before you crack us all up.

Image/s:  
Romney's Rafalca and Jan Ebeling
Video Screen Shot - Fair Use
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Friday

Have you seen ‘The Ten Commandments for Horses’?


No one seems to know who first penned “The Ten Commandments for Horses,” these pithy lines about horse care. Still, these words warrant sharing.

NOTE TO READERS: Please indicate in a comment (below), if you know the original author, so he or she may be properly credited.

Personally, I’ve seen these equine personification principles quoted on multiple horse lover sites, with each claiming they came from unknown origins.
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Ten Commandments for Horses

  1. My life is likely to last 20 or more years. Any separation from you will be painful for me.  Remember that before you take me home.
  2. Give me time to understand what you want from me.
  3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial to my well being.
  4. Don't be angry with me for long. Don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your entertainment and your friends. I have only you.
  5. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when it is speaking to me.
  6. Be aware that however you treat me, I'll never forget it.
  7. Remember before you hit me that I am powerful enough to hurt you, but choose not to.
  8. Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I have a problem that you are not yet aware of.
  9. Take care of me when I am old. You too will be old one day.
  10. Go with me on the last journey. Never say, "I can't bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence." Everything is easier for me if you are there.
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Anyone have any horse commandments to add?


Don't be shy. Leave a comment, and share your horsey wisdom.

Image/s:  
Horse Lover
By Haras National Suisse HNS
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos

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