Monday, August 30, 2010

New technology for rider safety

I found this interesting article about using an 'air bag' vest when riding cross country. Looks like it would work very well, in the case of a fall or impact.

Added Safety in the Saddle

Spectators gasped and expected the worst when the horse ridden by Karim Florent Laghouag somersaulted over a fence and fell on top of him at a prestigious equestrian competition last September in France.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Doug Payne demonstrated how an air bag would work for eventing riders.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Despite their relatively high cost — $400 to $700 — the vests have sold well.

Laghouag had taken a so-called rotational fall, a dreaded spill in the Olympic sport of eventing. At least 13 riders in the past four years were killed and several others were seriously injured in such tumbles.

But soon after his horse jumped to its feet, Laghouag stood up too. He had a dislocated elbow but no broken bones. He attributed his good fortune to an air bag vest, a simple safety innovation that was virtually unheard of in the equestrian world until last year and now is standard issue for the world’s top riders.

“Today, I wear it all the time — even when I’m training,” Laghouag, 35, said in French during a recent telephone interview.

Leaders in eventing — a three-phase competition involving dressage, show jumping and a cross-country obstacle course — have long expressed frustration over attempts to make the cross-country portion safer. They have tried imposing stricter rules on riders and building fences designed to break apart more easily on impact.

But the arrival of the air bag vests has generated the most excitement, even though some caution that the technology is too new to be wholly embraced.

Link to full article.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Teenagers and seizing the moment

There is a moment in every horses life, where they take the step from cute adorable and sweet baby, into entitled, pushy teenager. They all go through it, they all try to see if they can take over the situation.

The problem is, up to now they have been sweet, agreeable, and wonderful to work with. They live in a world of new interesting experiences, cookies and scratches. Then one day they decide they deserve to eat now, out of the bucket in your hand instead of waiting politely in their stall.

Then when you say no, and tell them to back up, the ugly teenager surfaces and you get a temper tantrum with a butt turn and kick in the direction of authority. At that moment, you, as the senior partner in this relationship have 2 choices. You can say "No, no." then go ahead and feed the nasty critter, just like she wants. Or you can assert your Alpha mare status, and have what we used to like to call a "come to Jesus" moment with your errant teenager.

This involves immediately yelling, flinging buckets, and chasing the horse out of the barn and away. This should go on for several minutes, convincing the snorting and scrambling teenager that the fire of heaven is about to rain down on them and the ground swallow them up for sassing the boss mare.

Then invite the teenager to be mannerly, walk into her stall, back into the corner and wait for the grain to be poured. If she does it fine, if she argues, back out of the barn she goes. And those ears better be up and perky.

It usually only takes one time, and my teenager followed me to the gate later that night for a goodbye neck scratch (at a careful respectful distance and with ears at attention).

I think I will get one more try from her, she is at the bottom of the pecking order and desperately wants to boss SOMEONE. But all I have to do is enforce that I am Alpha, and we won't have any more rude behavior.

Hopefully next time I won't break a finger though.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Moving on...

Change is tough sometimes. It's hard to let go of what is familiar, even when it wasn't a good match for what you wanted to do. It's hard to let go even when you know you had no choice, so when there is a decision to be made there is a tendency to second guess yourself.

This past spring 3 riders have had to say good bye to the horses they were riding, each for very good reasons. The first was not so hard. My daughter is off to college this fall, and her horse has been sitting in the pasture for the last year as senior activities and college prep have taken over her rider's life. The times she did get to ride, she also realized her ambitions had grown beyond what her sweet, sturdy packer could do. Meanwhile a dear friend had been borrowing the horse for trail rides, and gradually falling in love with her personality, and eh, whatever attitude to things on the trail. After some serious discussion, the desicion was made to let her horse go to the person who had time to ride her, and loved her for what she could do now.

The second decision was harder. My husband has been riding his MFT gelding for 3 years. He has always been a challenging horse. Green broke with bad habits, over the years my husband has worked with him, and turned him into a solid equine citizen, with impeccable manners. He is good fun to ride on the trails, and has lots of energy. But my husband has also had less time to ride, and our boarding situation has never been ideal for this horse. He was gelded late, and never lost some of his stallion behaviors. Specifically he gets possessive of mares he is pastured with, to the point he gets hysterical when he is separated. When we had geldings, we would pasture them together, and everything would be fine. He would play gelding games, and ignore the mares on rides. But when we got down to just mares and him, his behavior got worse.

It wasn't like he was happy being this way either. He preferred to be with geldings, but when he had mares with him, he felt it was his job to watch, herd, and guard them. This eventually got to the point to rearing and spinning on trail rides, when other horses got between him and the mares. If we rode every day, or we had a gelding field to put him in, we probably could have worked through this; but with our time and situation it just didn't seem fair to him or us. So now he is with a group of trail riders who ride gaited horses several times a week on trails, and only have geldings. Sad for us, we will miss his personality and impish sense of fun; but better for him because now he will not have all the stress our set up was putting on him.

The last one wasn't a decision we got to make, it was made for us. Years ago my horse Shadow fell through a bridge on a trail ride and injured her hip. She was out in pasture a year healing, and learned to compensate for the injury. A little weaker on that side, a little stiffer, but not very noticeable unless you asked for that lead at the canter. She has had good years and bad years, I have known I would have to retire her eventually. I thought I would lose her last year when she got a very bad case of Lyme's, but then she rallied back to her old feisty self! We even competed in a show last fall. But, at the show, she refused a jump, and suddenly felt wobbly. Then with holidays, etc. I didn't ride until the next spring. When I rode her again, she was dropping her hip and limping. I realized both her past injuries, and trying to walk in the deep snow of the past winter had done it's damage. The vet confirmed she had torn the tendon in her back leg beyond any repair. She can hobble around, do a little walking, but that is it.

So we have gone from all of us riding together, to no one riding. I personally have discovered I don't have the same drive to ride I used to. I used to always want to ride, any horse, any where, but now after so many years with Shadow, where it was a close partnership, it's just not as much fun with another horse. I have a young horse to work with, a green horse to train, and hopefully a gelding for my husband to ride. Right now our lives are a bit full, but hopefully the trails will call us back.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Howard County Fair 2

More photos!

Gale Monahan on Montana's Little Joe

Karen Maier

Karen Maier

Water glass class!

Measuring the water...

Tracy Grinestaff on Kentucky Joe

Tracy Grinestaff on Kentucky Joe

Karen Maier

Tracy Grinestaff on Kentucky Joe

Denise Parsons on Heart's Ali Baba

Egg and spoon.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Howard County Fair

The Howard County fair Gaited Classic show was Monday, August 8.

Despite the heat, many people came out with their horses to show.

Denise Parsons on I'm Royal Flash

Betty Abbott on Outkast and Denise Parsons on I'm Royal Flash (Tennessee Walking Horses)

Kentucky Mountain Horses

Richard Lucas on Lucy and Judge Diane Sept-Sutton.

Maggie McAllister

Maggie McAllister

Icelandic Horse

Youth class! Valerie Taylor on Amanda.

Valerie Taylor on Amanda

Valerie Taylor on Amanda

Cindy Fulton on Handsome.

Barb Manchester on Jazz's War Boy

Rhonda McAvoy on The Rainbow Warrior

Barb Manchester on Jazz's War Boy

Denise Parsons on Hearts Ali Baba

More photos tomorrow!

If anyone has names of horses and riders, send them to me and I will caption these photos!

Sunday, August 1, 2010