Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Let's Get to It

I'm neglecting you again.

Can I make it worse?

I have about 10 half finished stories hidden back here.

I've been mulling things over and getting stuck. Sometimes, a story pops up, just like the old days, and I start writing and the whole thing eventually just fades off. I haven't been able to get ahead of it.

This isn't unusual for me. I will begin a project, a new tack room, a book outline, a rock wall, mulching my pasture, and suddenly stop. I wander off to another unfinished project and stare at it, wondering why it's still not done. Eventually, I see a problem I hadn't before, something crooked, or awkward, and I know how to fix it. So I'm back at it again.
I'm not sure whether this is me not wanting to admit there's a problem, or knowing instinctively, but not logically, that something is wrong.

Logic finally meanders on in and I untie the knots.

I do believe I've at least loosened some of my blog knots.

I need you to meet who I am now. Not growly, tired, frustrated Mugs, well, OK, that's still the same, but I've been doing a lot of thinking. Faced facts I wouldn't before, sorted out what needed sorting and realized, I can't write anything but how I see it. For reals.

I want to start out with a list. Remember how you guys used to get all mad at me for oh, hating blankets or drop nose-bands? Then I'd go through all the angry responses and either flat out tell you why or write a related story?

I'm hoping my list will remind some of you and kickstart others.

I hate box stalls, but I think every horse needs to learn to live in them.
Horses need to learn to stand tied.
I hate nosebands and tie-downs.
I use spurs.
I like spade bits on bridle horses.
I don't clip and rarely brush.
My horses have been barefoot for years, but it's only because I'm cheap, I absolutely do not ride the barefoot wagon.
The majority of horse whispery clinicians have turned a colt's first 30 days of training into a life-long project for their customers and a career for themselves.
People who dance with their horses at liberty with Enya blasting through the speakers are generally full of crap.
Horse communicators are lying to you.
Not all Mexican dancing horses are brutalized untalented messes.

There's a start. Let's see what happens.


  1. I agree. Nothing better than a good bridle horse

    I also know that not all racehorses are abused.

    Blankets may be a necessity.

    Vaccinces are needed if titers are low.

    No corn is needed for warmth, just good hay and forage.

  2. Love it..
    I use blankets only because I have a 35 year old and it helps with keeping weight on. Otherwise they go without.
    Have also felt horses that are stalled 24/7 are abused since I started riding. My 35 year old was stalled 24/7 (I only learned his history after I got him) Hates enclosed stalls and horse trailers to this day.
    Also to cheap to shoe but I usually ride on beaches.
    vaccines are also over used
    I also rarely brush. And my mantra has been All horse people are crazy. I guess that means me also. And giving advise to someone with a horse issue is rarely followed.

  3. Mostly I want to know about why you don't brush and how you get away with that?
    I mostly only brush for saddling... you don't? What about dirt and burrs under the saddle?

    And since I have PArkinson's now for several years (7 diagnosed and on meds) I wonder off, too. If you do then I don't feel so bad. Maybe I am a genius like you.

  4. I love your stories, but the best part is the practical, no nonsense , thinking horsemanship woven through them.

  5. Several years ago, I had a bodyworks guy come out for my super stiff gelding, Bogie. While he was working, he said that Bogie was telling him a story. Bogie said something about having so much fun going out in the neighborhood, and Bogie was quite amused by the whole thing. I was totally baffled - what did he mean? When we were out riding? So I just said OK, cute.
    Months later, I was cleaning stalls and corrals, and Bogie squirted out the stall door and went around the barn and onto the street with me chasing behind him with a bucket of cookies and a halter. I caught him right away, and took him back, but then remembered the many months before when a friend came to the door and asked if Bogie was supposed to be out eating grass with his halter and lead rope on at 7am. Oops! No. I had been in such a hurry to put him away the night before that I just put him in his clean stall with his dinner, didn’t take off his halter and lead rope and didn’t close the stall door all the way. He’s a very busy guy and checks his door regularly. He went into the center aisle of the barn and trashed everything that he could put his nose and feet on. There were pellets that he shared with the two other horses, hay everywhere and shelves cleared. Then he opened the aisle door and went outside. The aisle sliding doors are on a bit of a slope and they closed behind him. So that’s when he went on a walkabout in the middle of the night, over to the neighbors mares (who suddenly came running to the fence when they saw us ride by thereafter, big studmuffin!) and who knows where else. And that is what his story to the bodyworks guy was about. It took me those months after to figure out that Bogie’s amusing story was true - I had no idea, so I didn’t ESP the bodyworks guy or anything else.
    Anyway, it was a fun story and I believe the bodyworks guy has a special skill, but I wish Bogie would have mentioned something about where his stiffness or pain was coming from.

  6. Can’t say that I disagree with anything on your list. I do clip bridle path, but nothing else, and do a minimum of grooming, except for competition settings (where it aids the “first impression”). I don’t wear spurs, but mostly cause I’m not very well schooled in their use, and I tend to overuse them. Don’t know that I’ll ever be skilled enough for a true bridle horse, but respect someone who is. (Kate and I moved up to a mild curb a year or so ago, and it’s made a huge difference in her way of going, after years of me saying I could do everything I wanted in a plain snaffle.) Lost a sale once, because the first night, my big B&W mare got kinda wound up being confined to the box stall (I TOLD them to give her lots of hay, and maybe a jolly ball.) Barefoot=cheap! A couple of the retirees get blankets through the worst of the winter, and I’ll throw them on everybody if it’s 30* and rain/snowing that miserable wet, soak to the skin mush. HATE colt starting contests with a passion! Used to use a figure eight noseband if a cold was too “mouthy”, to try to create a quieter habit, but realized if a horse is busy with the bit, she might be trying to tell me something.

    My pet peeve is the “costume” that is expected in various disciplines. In mountain trail, it tends towards the vaquero tradition: flat topped, broad brimmed hat, wild rags, chinks (rather than chaps), wade saddles and pulling breast collars. While I know the logical use/needs for all those items, it just has always seemed pretty contrived. (Don’t get me started on WP savorsky crystals or pole bending’s painted, fringed tack!)

    Good to hear you’re percolating some more stories!

  7. Don't have much time, but thought I'd shoot this out there:

    I hate box stalls, but I think every horse needs to learn to live in them.

    - Agreed. But I discovered I hate them much after I moved to a barn with "proper" turnout into group paddocks. Especially when you are dealing with horses that are not "bred" for the pasture. 24 hour turnout would kill a great many warmbloods/thoroughbreds I know that are too many pounds on too small feet, and often too much athleticism bred into too fragile a body.

    Horses need to learn to stand tied.

    Yup. But you know; it's also not worth killing yourself or themselves over either. Hauling in a "problem horse" and teaching to to tie is a surefire way to break yourself and/or the horse. Get it to a professional, and shockingly, most won't tackle the tying first. A horse that's willing to brain itself if necessary has other issues, and if those can be managed or soothed to produce a willing/workable horse, I dunno if I'd be too fussy on the tying.

  8. To everyone who said blankets are a necessity: Are your horses bald? If you make me dig out my facts,
    I will, but I don't want to. Horses stay warm by trapping layers of air between the long, coarse top coat, the thicker, shorter middle coat and the very dense short undercoat. Blankets flatten the coat. No warm air. It can be colder in a blanket than without.
    A soaking wet horse turned out in the wind will begin to shiver. If the soaking is man-made from a hose, or clipped or nekked from living under lights, then it can't recover and will need man-made interventions.If the horse is wet and shivering from natural causes, rain, snow etc. they will shiver until the hair begins to stand up and trap some air.Then it will stop. Shivering is not a bad thing. Free fed hay helps warm them. Standing together is also an excellent strategy.
    A 35 year old horse that drops pounds can keep them on with wet mashes instead of hay. Blankets help hide ribs though.

  9. Did I say I don't vaccinate? Of course I vaccinate. Everything, horses, dogs, kids, goats...but I titer after the second year. Well, not my kids.

  10. On brushing - I dust off their back with my hand, scrape mud off with fingernail, occasionally resort to a curry if it's more than I can pick off. So there is never a concern over things stuck in their coats.
    I also curry a wet horse in the winter and fluff up their hair. In the summer I hose them off - water only.

  11. Horses that don't tie: as far as I'm concerned, a horse that won't tie is more dangerous than teaching them the facts of life. I can fix it, even in my dotage, and there are many how to's in the back pages of this blog...

  12. EvenSong - you call them costumes, I call them "outfits." I stuck to my straw in summer felt in winter, like a shorter crown and a wider brim, and shotgun chaps. Only problem is, I'm old enough to be considered a character now, so I'm probably making some sort of statement in spite of myself.

  13. I was anti-blanketing for a lot of years for the reasons you mention in your comment. But I will say my thoroughbred is much happier now that he’s blanketed in the winter. Despite growing up in the northernmost parts of North Dakota and living in Minnesota his whole life, he’s never grown much coat. I am surprised to say my mule also prefers being blanketed even though he grows a nice thick coat. He’s a different animal when he’s blanketed vs not. Without, on the colder days he’s irritable and cantankerous. I will say though, this is Minnesota so we have winters where there a weeks of below zero temps

    Mugs, I can’t remember if you’ve ever written about horses that were “imprinted” as foals? Feel like I remember you writing something about it. The statement about horses learning to tie tickled my brain. That thin coated TB of mine was imprinted as a baby and I honestly think it did something to his brain wiring. He’s the first horse I’ve been around that truly knows he’s bigger and stronger than the humans. He’s also real goofy about pressure compared to other horses I’ve worked with. I remember years ago he was tied to a hitching post and something spooked him. He pulled back so hard he snapped a brand new lead rope (he’s a large horse...17 hands and heavy boned). I was a little stunned and it took me a lot of years before I was willing to work on tying with him. Anyway, I’m really digressing. So glad to see you posting again.

  14. Hee hee hee. Love you mugs! Glad you are back

  15. I only just found your blog today,and I just had to comment on this one because everything you said I almost 100% agree with...:

    I hate box stalls, but I think every horse needs to learn to live in them:
    So true. I think that learning to live in a stall makes a horse's life much easier (especially when you have to keep them in a stall due to injuries, etc.)

    Horses need to learn to stand tied:
    As a Western girl, I can't imagine having a horse that you can't hitch to your trailer and walk away from to do something. Standing ground tied is another nice trait to have...

    I hate nosebands and tie-downs.

    I use spurs:
    Never had experience with spurs, but I can see the use for them.

    I like spade bits on bridle horses:
    If a horse (and the rider) is trained properly, spade bits are the only way to go.

    I don't clip and rarely brush:
    The idea of clipping a horse drives me crazy, but I can see brushing once a week or something just to see that the horse is relatively clean.

    My horses have been barefoot for years, but it's only because I'm cheap, I absolutely do not ride the barefoot wagon:
    As a girl who has been to the wild mustang range multiple times, I don't see shoeing a horse as a necessity. I think horses are probably happier barefoot (except for maybe the fancy bred horses).

    Horse communicators are lying to you:
    Never had experience with this. Most people out here have their horses for practical use (4-H, Packing, Herding cattle and sheep, etc.), so I don't think they go for much of that sort of thing. This leads me to the point of... what do you use a horse communicator for, exactly?

    Not all Mexican dancing horses are brutalized untalented messes:
    Which also goes for racehorses, reiners, cow ponies, and on, and on, and on...