From ‘Straight From The Heart’-Happy Labor Day-Remembering the Pit Ponies

We hope you’re all relaxing and spending time with your loved ones on Labor Day. Source: PIT PONIES Excerpts: Since mine shafts were small and had a low ceiling, it made sense to put smaller ponies into play here. At the height of Pit Pony usage in 1913, there were 70,000 working in the […]

via Happy Labor Day! And remember the horses & burros that have labored for mankind… — Straight from the Horse’s Heart


Tying That Pony

halter barnNow I’ll be honest-as if you’d know if I weren’t-I have no use for a horse that won’t stand tied or a human that caters to one that won’t. “I’ll just have to hold her because she pulls back.” Well, sister (this is almost invariably a female) get your big girl panties on and teach that pony how to have some manners and stand hitched. It’s not that hard. Well, I take that back-it can be hard on both the horse, the equipment, and the owner, but the training sure as hell isn’t complicated.

BTW-Do NOT leave a halter hanging like that. It isn’t that it is bad for the halter, but you are just ASKING for some klutzy something-like me for example-to come along and stick a foot in that thing, and go flying, ending up with sprained wrists, dislocated shoulders, and god-only-knows what else. HANG YOUR STUFF UP.  For heaven’s sake, folks. All you have to do is hang it from the ring it is already attached to! 

Why do horses set back-pull back-can’t be tied-or whatever you want to call it?

Claustrophia and that sense of being trapped. Those two phobias will set them off and they cannot help themselves. They have to break free. They are open area prey animals and they have to have a certain degree of freedom or they’re not happy. (Which is why you will only find ulcers in stalled horses.) Let’s think like a horse-I’m being asked to put my head into something that restricts my freedom to move around (the halter). My head is what some predators will go for first in order to bring me down to eat me so this is a big deal for me. They’ll grab me by the nose and behind my ears. (Where does a halter put pressure? on the nose and behind the ears). Now you want me to be even more restricted with my head fastened in such a way that I can’t move it the way I’m accustomed to doing! (The horse can no longer turn its body 360 degrees to see all the way around itself.) My fear is building-I’ve got to leave-NOW! and they pull back violently.

Many, many people will tell you to tie horses solidly to a big post or tree with heavy ropes and heavy halters and just let them fight it out. You can do that. You run the risk of having a permanently injured horse or a dead one because they can break their own necks. I’ve heard of using something like inner tubes to have the give, too. That’s a little less dangerous, but not by much. I’m not crazy about either one. In fact, I’d call them abusive.

I’ve used a soft cotton rope tied in a bowline around the girth line and run through the front legs, through the halter, up and over a high tree limb, and over to a tree with a quick release knot for my pullers and I ain’t gonna stand tied. It has the advantage of the tree limb having the natural give in it, the bowline won’t slip but it is secure, and the tree won’t leave. The student can dance, protest, and generally raise the biggest stink in the horse world, but they will go no where at all and they can’t get hurt. I don’t-however-ever leave one like this. But they do learn that standing tied will not be the end of their world.

Two things that must be learned and learned well before you start: how to do a bowline that will not tighten, and how to do a proper quick release.

THE best quick releaseThis is the BEST Quick Release knot-there are others, but this one keeps ALL of your rope on ONE side after you pull the release. The only thing the diagram doesn’t show is the ‘lock’-which is to simply pull the tail through the loop.

underhand bowlineMake sure you learn how to do the bowline correctly. You do not want it to slip.




bowlineI included two diagrams to help learn how to correctly do the know. Please practice until it is habit.  All it takes is one slip and you’ll be reaching for a knife to cut loose a choking horse. I know because somebody did that at my barn-and swore they had tied a good bowline.



Another thing is to use the devices know as ‘Tie Blocker’ or ‘The Clip’, or some people even make their own out of old snaffle bits. The principle is the same as wrapping the tie rope several wraps around a good STURDY hitch rail. (Please don’t do this to a fence rail-you’ll be chasing a horse with a fence rail slapping him in the butt.) The idea is that they get enough slack when they pull back to satisfy the urge, but remain tied. With the devices, you can adjust the tension via a screw or just tie a knot in the end of the lead so the horse cannot pull out and just leave. With the hitch rail, you start with four or so wraps, and as the horse improves, you can reduce the number of wraps needed thereby reducing the amount of resistance. It takes patience, but it does work.

Please be respectful of the horse. Being tied is not natural to the species, but it is necessary to interact with humans and for their own safety. Kindness and patience gets to the goal faster that force and fear.

Follow me on my blog at The Sports Model Jackass on WordPress.  Comments are welcome.



Don’t Rush Your Horse

I’ve ridden, trained, bred, and competed in the horse world for over 50 years now. I learned the same thing that just about everyone does:

  • that you need the right bit to stop and control your horse.
  • you kick to make the horse go.
  • Spurs are to make them run faster (or spin harder or whatever)
  • Whips are for punishment.

Every bit of it is wrong. Yep, WRONG.

Took me a long time to learn that, but I finally did. Here’s the truth:

  • Your seat stops your horse–you don’t even need a bridle or reins.
  • Your weight and legs direct your horse-bits and reins really are superfluous.
  • Likewise, the way you  use your seat and legs can be the throttle that increases or decreases speed, increases or decreases relaxation or collection.
  • Spurs and whips should be used for signaling only. There are very few instances when punishment is warranted. Why? Because 99% of the time, YOU are the one who missed the signals the horse was giving and was trying to tell you something was off. YOU are the screw up. So if you just want to beat the crap out of somebody, go take yourself out behind the barn.

Now then–about that waiting on your horse stuff. 10790_592824257459405_128563812_n

Let the horse tell you when they are ready for the next step of doing anything. Break everything down into SMALL steps. For example, I have a trailer with a ramp. So to get one to load onto that trailer, I start with just asking one to pass by me and walk ACROSS THE RAMP. Then maybe I’ll feed them with the feed way up high on it so they have to reach for it-maybe even putting a foot on the ramp to get to it. No pressure-just if you want, go after it. Then maybe I’ll load a pasture mate and feed them inside.  Then I ask the newbie to just approach-they don’t have to load, just approach. I’ll let them stand-think about it-back up, then we’ll work for awhile. Repeat. After awhile, they start getting the idea “hey, if I approach the trailer, I get to stand and rest, but if I’m out here, I’m out running around”.

Usually takes about two hours to get one on for the first time. Let them eat, then back off and put them up. Let it soak. Don’t force it. Let the horse ask for another try at it. Let them get comfortable in there. Just grab a cold one and sit in the shade.

How do I know this works? I used this on my CTR horse. That horse would load any time any where-and what’s more, he’d stand in that trailer until I asked him to come off. One time I dropped both the ramp and the butt bar, but got called away before I unloaded him. He was still waiting for me 45 minutes later. He was not tied, but just waiting on me.

Don’t rush your horse.

When Is It Time To Wind Down?

First, I watched Brentina’s retirement ceremony. Then Secretariat’s last race and Valegro’s final Olympia freestyle. Who doesn’t need to watch Aldrich’s one-tempi victory lap one more time? This part is embarrassing. I searched for a ridiculously sappy scene from that old movie, The Electric Horseman, where Redford sets the stallion free. It’s a kind of retirement, too, […]

via Equine Retirement Planning. — Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

Sometimes this is hard to see-for all kinds of reasons, but mostly emotional ones. I did have one old gelding years ago that needed to be ridden very lightly every other day or he would refuse to eat-at all. We all need to be needed.

Along the same lines, here is another that is really good. Lots of things to think about for our partners who deserve our attention in their later years. Don’t let them down-and certainly don’t let them get into that slaughter pipeline.

Peace of Mind Planning



More Nastiness on the Big Lick Wars

Posted on PANAMA CITY BEACH (FL) – On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, the Panama City “Big Lick” Horse Show Manager Mr. Todd Fisher assaulted a CCABLAC (Citizens Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty) Welfare Advocate Clant M. Seay at the Frank Brown Park by telling him “You Are A Dead Man”. Mr. Seay is […]

via Panama City Beach “Big Lick” Horse Show Manager Tells CCABLAC (Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty) Animal Welfare Advocate “You Are A Dead Man” — Straight from the Horse’s Heart

big lick

For the record-I do not like weighted shoes, stacks, pads (unless the horse has thin soles or a medical problem that necessitates their use), chains, rattles, gag bits, elevator bits, chambons, gambons, bitting rigs, tail sets, artificial tails or extensions, bits with shanks AND jointed mouthpieces, any bit with a shank longer that 4 inches, bicycle chain mouth pieces and/or nose bands, cable nose bands and head setters, tight flash, figure 8, or crank nosebands, or any device that ‘enhances or alters a horse’s behavior or movement in an artificial manner”.  In short, if you can’t take the time to work with your horse to get the movement or behavior you have in mind-you need to go buy a dirt bike. I am serious. Nail this stuff to the barn wall and leave it there as a monument to man’s stupidity and ignorance (and sometimes just plain rotten meaness) in satisfying his own vanity and greed at the expense of these magnificient horses.

Did I hit a nerve? I hope so. I did some of these very things so don’t come jumping down my throat. Now that I know better-you bet I’ve turned into a Nazi about it. Join me-Protect the horses.

Tick Tick Tick — Everyone’s Favorite Summer Hate

Whether you have pets or not, live in the city, suburbs, or rural, if you step outside your door-or even if you don’t but someone else comes in, you may be exposed to these little varmits. Being of an existential mindset, I believe that God has a purpose for everything in creation, but I’m going to have to have a chat with somebody about a few things and one of the subjects will be ticks. I just despise them. For one thing, they are in the spider family (count the legs-there are eight of them which makes them a part of the Arachnids) and they want to drink my blood. That’s creepy.

The other thing is-the little things spread some really nasty diseases that I really don’t want for me, my loved ones, or my pets to get. Most of the time, you won’t even KNOW you’ve had a tick bite until you’re sick or a characteristic rash develops. Sneaky little bastards. But they are just being what they are. So with that in mind, here is some information to help you-hopefully-better protect yourself and those you love.

What Are You Looking For?

Size as well as which one can help when you tell the doctor you were bitten by a tick. Here are some photos to help you givTe the doc an idea of what you are talking about.

The really dangerous ones are the ones on the LEFT-and more than likely,  you’ll sizes of ticksscratch that itch and the tick will fall off without you even knowing it was there. The only indication you’ll have that you had a tick bite will be that intense itch that is much more than any mosquito bite. My personal thing is-if something really itches, check it out closely. It’s probably a tick.

The other thing is-different ticks are more or less prone to carrying different diseases. Just because you get bitten by a tick in, say Georgia, does not mean that you won’t get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It just means that you are more likely to get Lyme’s disease or Erlichiosis. But, like I say, these little guys can carry a whole bucket list of things, so sometimes the doctors are really throwing darts in the dark and hoping to hit something. Bear with them-the common ticksproblem is that wildlife of all kinds tote them around-birds, possums, coons, deer, coyotes, bear-you name it, ticks will hitch a ride. So if a bird picked up a tick in Maine and then migrated to Alabama, well, the tick and whatever it carried came along. Just the facts, ma’am. So let’s look at the types of ticks.

That photo is somewhat enlarged, by the way, to show identifying markings.

So what is that rash you’re talking about? 

Oh, that-it’s exactly what it sounds like. bulls eye rashIt doesn’t always happen, but if you see it, get thee to a doctor right away.  This is the ‘bull’s eye’ rash seen in most Lyme’s patients.

Removal of Ticks

The one thing to remember is-take your time.

You want to make certain to remove the jaws that are embedded into the skin-and I know some people just fainted on me right then. If you don’t remove that, the itch will continue and the risk of infection soars. So let’s do this right the first time.

People have come up with all kinds of ways of trying to remove ticks-some work, most don’t. Trying to smother a tick with oils or grease won’t faze a tick. The reason is simple-they are only there to get a blood meal and fall off anyway so they can lay their eggs. You really didn’t hasten anything along and you certainly didn’t kill it. They’re tough little hombres.

Some essential oils will repel ticks, but choose carefully. Some species of animals cannot take exposure to essential oils and will start vomiting (cats for example). People are frequently sensitive to them and have respiratory problems or may have skin allergy to them. Dogs may react as if you are burning them. Tick removal

People swear by spinning the tick to induce the tick to pull out. Sometimes it works, sometime it doesn’t. Maybe I don’t get the tick drunk enough?

There are various tick removal tools that you slide under the tick and either pry up or twirl. I’ve never tried one so can’t give a first person recommendation. If you don’t have tweezers, I suppose they’d be workable. Especially for those who hate the thought of actually touching a tick-which I’m not. I just wash my hands.

Good old-fashioned tweezers-can’t beat ’em if you can find where you last put them down. Just make sure to grab that bad boy as far down as you can-then twirl or yank straight up.

My recipe for keeping ticks off my horses

Regular fly spray with permethrin

1 capful of Avon Skin-So-Soft-original

2 TBSP of cold-pressed Neem oil

2 drops dishwashing liquid

mix thoroughly-the DW liquid just helps disperse the SSS and neem oil

Ticks, horse flies, and black face flies HATE the stuff. Won’t come near them. I should patent the recipe???