Monday, September 30, 2013

Mouthy Monday

Hey guys - Mouthy Monday returns!
This is a great story to get back on track with too.

Blake's Story
They say you get one horse per lifetime, and I just sincerely hope that that isn't true. Because if it is true, then that means I've lost that one, and what's the point in having other horses? Deep down, I don't want to believe that saying, and I think that you can have that same connection (but maybe in a different way) with multiple horses. You have to be able to, otherwise, why even try?

If there is only one horse per lifetime, Blake was mine. Strong, beautiful, 15'2 1100 lb bay quarter horse, HYPP N/H (you can guess how this story ends). He was mine, and I was his. He was my whole world.

Blake and I met the summer of 2003, when we were both newbies to our jobs at the local riding stable in the town where I grew up. I was 15 years old, and he was 5. I, being a suburbia-raised horse-crazy kid with little horse exposure besides horse camp and a few lessons here and there, was enthralled to get the job. Working there had been a dream of mine since forever. I was much younger than the other girls, but I caught on fast. I was willing to do all the undesirable job tasks, from poop-scooping the whole corral to giving 10 pony rides in a row. And when no one wanted to ride the gangly, awkward bay horse who occasionally kick at other horses and sometimes people out of frustration, that job fell to me. Really, no one liked him. We put the ugliest pad and ugliest halter on him (both urine-yellow colored), to save the prettier ones for the horses that were more well-liked.

I specifically recall a memory in which I saw Blake standing tied at one end of the corral, and my boss telling me to take the out the next ride, and when I asked which horse to take, I thought to myself, "please not Blake, please not Blake." And my boss said, "take Blake." And so I did. And after that I was assigned to ride him the next day, and the next day, and so on. And he grew on me. And I rode him when I came in on my days off (I think I spent most of my days off actually at work). And I exercised him through the winter. And I bought him a nice green saddle blanket and matching halter, to spice up his look a little. And he got nicer; he got more pleasant to be around. It's crazy what a little love can do to a horse. He also grew into himself a little more, though that had more to do with actual growing.

     Blake in 2003 with his spiffy matching blanket and halter

When I was sixteen at the end of my second year, I tried to buy Blake from my boss. By that time Blake had grown more and become a reliable trail horse, well-behaved enough to pack around kids and strong enough to carry large adults. He was too valuable to my boss, and I was out of luck. At the end of my 3rd year, when I was 17 and a senior in high school, I tried again, and this time I had saved up money specifically to make my boss a really good offer. On October 29th, 2005, I offered my boss $2,500 to take the big bay off his hands. He accepted, and at the end of the working season, Blake was mine.

After that, Blake no longer had to tolerate the riding stable customers on his back. He was a spoiled, privately owned horse.

When I left for college in the fall of 2006, I kept Blake (and Bailey, my other horse, who I bought shortly after Blake...whole other story, sort of a spur-of-the-moment buy to keep him from the auction) back home so I could come back and use him when I worked on the weekends. My first week of college, I got a phone call- something was wrong with my horse. He was having weird muscle twitches, breathing funny, and sweating. I said call the vet. The vet came, checked him out, and took some blood/hair samples to run some tests. Blake was okay that day, but I got test results back that my horse was HYPP positive, and I learned a thing or two about emergency vet bills.

I tried to learn as much as possible about HYPP- my vet gave me a pamphlet on it, and what to do if he had another attack. But Blake was fine. At the end of that November, I took Blake to college with me, and we together we spent 4 amazing years together. I'd drive up, he'd canter up to the gate and whinny at me, and we'd either go for a ride, hang out in the grassy roundpen and eat grass (him, not me), or we'd play tag in the indoor arena. I called him my soul mate, and every boy I dated knew that he'd had my heart first. And he didn't have another attack.

 Keeping warm in the winter of 2007


Enjoying the grassy roundpen in the summer of 2010

When I graduated college in 2010, I packed up my life (and my horses), and moved across the country for graduate school. Though I had been a horse owner for nearly 5 years by that point, I have to admit that my training had been pretty informal. But I knew about colic, and I tried to keep their diet the same. I didn't know if anything would provoke Blake's HYPP, but I wasn't too worried. 5 years, no episodes. I figured if something needed to be changed, he'd maybe have a small attack like last time, and I'd change things (diet, turnout, whatever) from there. And for a while, my horse was fine.

On Saturday, November 6th, 2010, I woke up to a call from my barn owner. Blake was dead.

I can't even describe how the drive to the stable went. I don't want to, I don't want to remember. There was my soul mate, huge, strong, powerful, and lifeless. I bawled into his neck and held onto my other horse, telling him (telling myself) it would be okay. I don't want to think about how he died. I know more about HYPP now, and I know how horrible it can be. I'll never stop thinking about the "what ifs": what if his diet caused it, what if he'd had more turnout, what if he'd been boarded somewhere else. What if it was my fault.

Two weeks later, I moved Bailey to a new barn so he could be closer to me. I loved Bailey (I still have him and I still love him), but he's not "that one horse." He's a cute, spunky, crotchety old man and I won't ever sell him, but the connection isn't there.

In January of 2011 I decided I needed a rideable horse (Bailey's pushing 27, and for the past few years has been sound on-and-off). I adopted a 10-year-old thoroughbred from a nearby horse rescue, and she's wonderful. She's taught me so much: mostly, that she's a project, and that I have a LOT to learn. Piper perks up when she sees me, enjoys the work we do, and is constantly teaching me things. I found her when I needed her most, and she got me back in the saddle after a painful two-month dry spell. We have a lot of fun, and we're learning together. I've had Piper for a year and a half now; she's not Blake, and though I sort of bought her to replace him, she never will. But maybe Blake doesn't have to be my only "one horse." Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll be allowed to have a second soul mate.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stupid is Legal

I am working on a Tally story (for reals) it's almost done.

I have notes jotted down about riding my horses even though I don't ride like I used to.

I have some potentially horrible thoughts on horse training, what works and what doesn't.

But here's what keeps rattling around in my head.

Maybe if I give in, share my thoughts and have a little discussion, these thoughts will leave me alone and let me get back to writing.

I'm thinking about breed -specific legislation. Yep, I live next door to Denver, where Pit Bulls and Pit crosses are banned and have been since 1989. Since then, many other Colorado cities have jumped on the band wagon and banned not only Pit Bulls, but  "American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog (Old Country Bulldog),Dogo Argentino, Canary Dog (Canary Island Dog, Presa Canario, Perro de Presa Canario), Presa Mallorquin (Pero de Presa Mallorquin, Ca de Bou), Tosa Inu (Tosa Fighting Dog, Japanese Fighting Dog, Japanese Mastiff), Cane Corso (Cane di Macellaio, Sicilian Branchero), Fila Brasilairo, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds."

The list is getting long because people keep finding new, scary looking, inappropriate breeds to own. I mean what the hell is a Perro de Presa Mallorquin? Thank goodness for the Internet. 

Any of you who read my dog breed posts know how strongly I feel about understanding the breed of dog you choose and learning how to train it. 

A representative from our local animal shelter has shared with me that although pit bulls and chihuahuas are the two primary breeds they see, the MAJORITY of dogs being turned in are large breed, teen-age, male dogs. Which simply reinforces what I've been saying,  people keep adopting dogs they have no business owning and dogs are paying the price. When those cute little puppies turn into hormone charged maniacs, their owners can't cope.

Brockle, my very tall, crazy motivated, non-stop action, bungee cord of a dog, was a twice returned, teen-age, male dog. He ate couches and never met a person he didn't want to hump, two habits that didn't get him voted into the "I love my _____" club (fill in the blank) of any breed.

I fell for his intensity, his intelligence and his looks. He is very much a herding dog mix of some kind, which are breeds I'm familiar and comfortable with. He needs a lot of exercise and so do I. 

What really captured me was the way he looked at me. Within five minutes of meeting he was looking straight into my eyes. Deep, direct and a little unsettling. 

"C'mon, let's get out of here," he seemed to say. "We've got stuff to do." 

So we did and we do. 

I wasn't stupid about it though. I didn't write Brockle off, become angry or go to extremes when he lunged at other dogs, and sometimes people, when we went out. I didn't decide he was vicious when he would go so crazy on the end of his leash I would have to sit down to stop him from yanking me off my feet. There's more, but you get my drift. There were reasons he was at the pound for the second time. I didn't angrily protest that it wasn't his fault, there are no bad dogs, only bad people, or demand my rights to let my maniac dog loose at the dog park. 

This is how I saw it. Brockle was an asshole. 

But he was my asshole. 

So I went out and got us some training, from a professional. I picked a trainer who used methods I respected. Then I listened. I listened hard, because those damn lessons were really expensive. I needed them to be an investment. And guess what? They were. 

Thanks to Cool K9's Jim and Bianca Beinlich,, Brockle is now a respectable member of society. He made it through a 1/4 mile of off leash dogs this week. He was at heel, eyes on me, and off leash himself. He even handled a shoulder bang from a well-intentioned Golden Retriever. He didn't break, not once, and the only reward was a bounce of his tennis ball.

We did this in eight private lessons and with lots of practice. There were no shock collars, muzzles or beatings. Yeah, I'm bragging some, and yeah, I'm shamelessly plugging Jim and Bianca. You know why? Because my dog, who BTW is still a maniac, will never end up labeled as a bad dog. He won't be a three-time return to the pound either. He's awesome.

So, to sum up and quit bragging on Brockle and the Cool K9 team -- although my dog isn't a pit bull, he fit the criteria for a potentially dangerous dog. Should he be banned? Not now, not anymore. If I had been too stupid to get help, trust me, Brockle's life wouldn't have ended well and it would have been my fault. Not his previous owners, not breed legislation, just me. Because I took him on. 

Which brings me to my point. Breeds are being banned all over the world. The country of Denmark has banned 20 of them. They tend to be molosser breeds, the guardians and protectors. Why?


Being stupid is not a crime. Stupid people are attracted to dogs they shouldn't own because they are "so cute!" Because they want people to admire them or be afraid of them. Because they get caught up in a movement or cause based on nothing more than good ad campaigns. Because their penis is small. Because they need to feel they have control. Because they are too stupid to own a dog for reasons that actually benefit the dog.

Stupid people are attracted to dogs that get them in trouble. 

If there was a way to legally declare, "You can't have a _____dog (fill in the blank), because you are too stupid to own one," then breed bans wouldn't be an issue.

But we can't. Stupid is legal. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


Yes, I'm still here.
We've been flooding.
Then there's been a writing direction crisis.
Lots of family and health stuff.
Have to admit, just a touch of hand wringing and maybe a small pity party.
Am soooooo over it.

So, I figure, I'll make fun of somebody else and vent my irritation on their stupidity. Guess I'm missing FHOTD. She always got my irate-o-meter ticking.

Western Riding Lessons Available (South Colorado Springs )

Have you always wanted to learn to ride but dont have a horse or space then give me a call and I'll be Glad to teach you. Western riding lessons available for anyone that can sit on their own and follow directions. I live outside Colorado Springs area in Hanover. I have a kid broke horse that my 1yr old and 5 year old can sit on and ride with no problems. She can handle adults as well. If you have a horse that's fine too. We have pasture boarding available. I start with the basics of care and then work into riding. I firmly believe no one should just start riding until you know how to take care of your horse first. I have time for a couple of trainees. If you would like to learn give me a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx or text xxx-xxx-xxxx. Rates are $25hr per person. All lessons are individual.

OK. Here I go.
As you all know, I don't care about all the petty crap, like poor sentence structure, bad spelling, or tattoos.
I'm more interested in the stuff that is bad for horses and the people involved with them.

I also like to start with finding a few good things.

The little girl seems very happy. She's a brave little mite, facing her imminent doom with such pluck.

These are a couple of great horses, soft eyed, clean and apparently well fed..They have not only tolerated, but encouraged the boob who owns them. So much so, she now has the confidence to call herself a riding instructor.

If at all possible, somebody with some sense needs to swoop in and buy both horses for themselves. They  are those rare gems that make searching the ads written by the under-educated worth while.
I completely understand she is not offering her horses for sale, but I'm guessing, pretty soon here, somebody will be suing her ass and she'll be needing the dough. The property looks nice too, so you might want to stop by and look it over too.

I like the fact she's got a well fitted snaffle bit on the horse I can see. The horse is undoubtedly grateful too.

Let's get the lack of helmets out of the way -- there's a given -- even with my own eternally stubborn and helmetless ways, I think kids should be kept helmeted until they are legally old enough to make their own bad decisions. I'm kind of fond of safe, reachable stirrups too, and footwear that won't leave my littleun's wearing said stirrups around their ankles.

 Personally, I'm not taking lessons from anybody who rides with their baby in front of them. Although, I could be wrong, since she states, "I have a kid broke horse that my 1yr old and 5 year old can sit on and ride with no problems." I have never succeeded in teaching a one-year-old to ride alone, so maybe I need to be listening and learning here, not judging. That baby might have learned to ride by himself just so he could quit getting mashed into the saddle horn. Self-preservation can be a strong teacher.

She's on the right track though. "I start with the basics of care and then work into riding. I firmly believe no one should just start riding until you know how to take care of your horse first." 

I agree 100% with her. It's just that I taught, and was taught, these things a little differently. When I covered saddle fit, I encouraged avoiding a cheap, poorly made saddle that mashed straight onto my horse's withers. I also considered it not only embarrassing, but hard on my horse's loins, when my butt hung 2 inches over my cantle. Of course, that's just me. 

Last but not least, for a riding instructor who has lead ropes attached to both horses, I'm a little confused when it comes to her purpose. The blue lead rope in the first photo appears to be tied to the fence. I have more than one story to tell about riders on horses that are tied to stationary objects. It's not pretty.

The white pony rope in the second photo is attached to the horse carrying the little girl. But nobody seems to be holding the other end...hmmmm.

Last, but not least, is the classy horn and cantle bag. OK, I got nothing, having done the same more than once. Again, these horses are saints and need to be finagled away from this crazy person. But, I stand by the fact that I NEVER advertised for business while using my Wal-mart bag horse gear. Never, if I was having my picture taken, I'd at least reach for a Target gift bag.

Here's the thing. I walk a fine line when I get all critical, because I did things during my years as an instructor and trainer that make me cringe today. I have a photo of the kidlet on a trail ride I just might share...
I also believe that as long as you know more than the person you're instructing, you can still be of help. But man, this woman needs lots more help before she's anything but dangerous. 

Help she could have gotten from:


or even:

Until she gets even the most rudimentary equine education, I'd say she might want to wait to start giving lessons. Maybe I should take her a copy.