You and Your Cranium

I admit that I am hopelessly and totally biased here-three months after getting the Sports Model Jackass, someone offered me a ride on another horse and I took it. I was 12 years old, naive as all heck, and gung-ho to get on anything with a whinny. She was a palomino with power steering and the girl who owned her had just gotten an English saddle. I’d never ridden the mare or in that kind of saddle. Mare was gentle as could be, it was in her pasture, and we were just having fun. What could it hurt, right?

Tessa saw the stump in the high grass and side-stepped it. Today, I would just go along with her. But that day-on that slick saddle-with no experience, I didn’t. I went off head first onto that stump. It is a million wonders that I didn’t break my neck because we were at a canter and there should have been enough force to do it. As it was, I was out like a burnout light bulb.

I don’t remember much from that afternoon at all. I remember vaguely being picked up from the ground, then being in the car going down their driveway. The next memory is of being at the hospital with very vague memories of xrays and exams. They sent me home with instructions to watch me. I had a concussion. That was in January 1964.

As a result of that concussion, I suffered short term memory loss, trouble with cognitive thinking and learning, anger issues, inattentiveness, and blinding headaches that would last for weeks. Now they call this Closed Head Trauma or Brain Injury. Then, they just said-she’s faking or she’ll get over it. I didn’t.

Kept riding horses though-worried my mother no end. She looked for helmets for me, but back then, helmets were just those black velveteen covered things for the English set that usually didn’t even have a decent chin strap on them. Problem there was-not only were they little to no protection, they sat on top of my head like a beanie cap. No way one was going to fit my skull.

Fast forward about 25 years-the horse world changed and manufacturers have ‘seen the light’. Helmets with true safety products are not only being produced for kids, but also for adults! They’re ugly as a mud fence and hotter than a pawn shop pistol, but you take what you can find. You look like you’ve stuck your head into a white bucket and strapped it on. Ridicule and finger pointing becomes a thing-you’re either a hopeless wimp for wearing one or a helmet safety nazi. Either way-you’re shunned in many circles.

Slowly, but ever so slowly, this has been changing. Prominent riders of all disciplines have had devastating head injuries that could have been prevented had they been wearing safety helmets. Now they are showing up in dressage arenas, cutting pens, practice areas, schooling barns, trail rides, Pony Club shows, Wagon trains, and many other events. People are recognizing what people like me have known for years-horses are wonderful creatures, but being around there creates the opportunity for brain injury.

Unfortunately, brain injury is something you cannot put vetrap on, ice soak, or use liniment. It is cummulative-meaning each knock on the head adds to the previous damage. It doesn’t go away-it gets worse. Any NFL or NHL pro or amateur player can tell you this. Professional boxers are notoriously addled by the time they retire-from brain injuries.

Don’t like the way helmets look? I’m not that fashion conscious-I know I’m going to look pretty awful until I hit the shower anyway, so I don’t care. But if it really means something to you, try these ideas from the Facebook group, Karen’s Hellhat Posse. You can DIY or find somebody to do them for you. (Warning: using glue or paint on a helmet within the first year will probably void the warranty from the manufacturer.)

There Be Boogers Out Here

horsekite

If you’ve been around horses for any appreciable length of time, you’ve dealt with something like this-the unexplainable-known only to the horse-but you’ve still got to cope with it BOOGER leap that they come up with. The height and prior warning can vary tremendously, and what follows can take on many forms-from simply standing and stamping all four feet in place with eyes bugged out to the vertical AND sideways leap combined with a 180 spin and sprint for a minimum of a half mile. (And, before you ask, yes, I’ve managed to ride and survive that maneuver. Do not ask how-I don’t know.)

Having seven horses in my pastures means that when the power company sent two MONSTER boom saw machines in to trim the tree limbs away from the lines, I got to see seven different versions of the ‘Booger’ reaction. (Can’t say that I blame them-those machines were impressive. Dually equipped wheels that are tractor sized front and back with a boom that must reach 80-90 feet, the driver sits in a cab that rotates to follow the boom. To a horse, that big noisy thing WAS a booger!)

We couldn’t decide which was more entertaining-watching the boom saw or the horses’ reaction to the intrusion. I do appreciate them giving those horses a great workout. I do have a couple of untrained mares-and got a glimpse of what I have in store for when I get them under saddle. Let’s just say it should be interesting. I hope they take care of me. I don’t bounce like I used to. Ground has gotten harder. Two more-then I am done training youngsters.

Choice of Riding ‘Style’

Probably the first or maybe second question out of anyone’s mouth after they find out that you are a fellow horse love is-what kind of riding do you do? Followed closely with-what kind of horse do you have? They’re really interchangeable and can be one then the other. But you will get them. Some people have yardsticks-if you aren’t into ________ and ride ________, well, you just don’t register with them as being significant in their world. I’m not going to put that down-I think it’s a bit short-sighted on their part, but it is their choice. No skin off my nose certainly.

As one man who came into my spouse’s office responded to that question: “Quarter horses! Is there any other kind? What have you got?” To which my spouse replied, “Well, I guess if that’s the case, I don’t have any!” (We have Arabian crosses and a TWH.).

Then you get into the (sorry, but it is true) snobbery of what kind of saddle your butt is parked on. Honestly,  I’ve ridden just about every type of saddle made with the exception of a jockey’s half saddle, a side saddle, and a vaquero/knight’s saddle. It isn’t the saddle that makes the equestrian. Any body can be taught how to be a passenger on a horse-that’s called being a rider. I’ve seen dogs, cats, goats, and monkeys do it. It takes dedication, hard work, willingness to learn, and the ability to admit your mistakes to be an equestrian. I see darn few who fill that bill. I see a lot who take the short cuts of tight nose bands, tie downs, harsh bits, heavy hands, and spurs. They are by no means amateurs-you can see them at the Olympics. If you see a horse with a gaping mouth even with a tight flash nose band or figure 8-something is wrong. If you see a gag bit-something is wrong. If you see a horse being yanked on, something is wrong. Not with the horse-wrong with the human.

I didn’t used to see this-but since I have seen horse do cutting, reining, roping, show jumping, trail classes, dressage, and liberty work either bitless or bridleless, it dawned on me-what have I been doing to my horses? All that must not be necessary if the necessary time is spent. All that stuff is merely shortcuts for humans and we rationalize our actions that cause pain to our horses. How dare we?

 

What Horses Can Teach Human About Life-Intro

Humans have, over the centuries, learned to become worshippers of the warriors and predator mindset. In doing that, we’ve lost a great deal in being able to know ourselves and those who love us, live with us, and work with us. I find that incredibly sad.cave painting

But-and this is important-horses can bring this back to us. They have always held this wisdom. They use it every day in their interactions with each other, with humans, and with other species. All we have to do-incredibly enough-is open our eyes, ears, and minds to learn.

How is this possible?

Watch how a mare teaches her foal. She’ll nudge the baby towards her udder. But in a couple of weeks, after the baby has learned to nurse and found out that bumping her hard and pulling hard will make the milk come down faster, she’ll object if the baby bites and hurts her. She’ll nip it in the rear quickly-but if the baby does it again, she may deliver a fast cow kick AND a nip to the butt plus a total refusal to allow junior access to the diary bar. There’s no loud “boo-yah”, fist pump, or anything else. It’s quick, quiet, and Junior is just left standing some distance away from mom wondering what the heck just happened. The lesson?  Treat me right or you don’t get what you want-and you get left socially isolated. Not fun-but it is surely effective.

Likewise, as young horses mature, they interact with each other and adult horses learning to find their own place within a herd’s hierarchy. A ear position, the gesture of the head and neck, the whipping of the tail or a tail held high or in a clamped position, rearing, striking, a single or a double hind leg kick-all of these translate to messages that horses use to convey emotions, warnings, and information. They are masters of reading body language. Not just equine body language-but that of their entire environment-which includes that of other animals, both prey and predators (including humans). In fact-they are ‘hard-wired’ for the job then trained by their dams and herd mates into black belt masters. Even the dullest is good at it. We are the dullards. 

 

 

EU Standards, Canadian, Mexican, and Possibly USA Packing Plants

Please note: I do not and never have advocated for equine slaughter. I know that there are those that do and I fully understand the arguments pro and con. I am not going there-not because I can’t argue the points, but because that ground has other people willing, able, and with the time, passion, and patience to do so. I consider it a fight I’m not willing to engage in. Plenty of others fighting those battles-I have other agendas. Just for the record-the first known recorded use of a horse was-dinner. Cave horse hunting

My reason for putting this up is informational in purpose. As my followers know, I volunteer fairly heavily with Stolen Horse International. Some of the horses we locate will be located at sales or headed for these plants. So we do have an interest in what is going on internationally in this realm. It impacts what we do.

For example: the European Union (EU) embargo against the Mexican plants cut their production significantly-and that meant they had to find different customers if they wanted to stay open. They have managed to rebound to some extent, but not all the way. (The embargo there had to do with the cleanliness of the plants, the methods used, as well as residues of drugs in the meat.) We are still shipping ~100,000 animals/year there.

Contrast that to Canada where the EU doesn’t have the same problems with the plant operations, but does with the meat being tainted with drug residues. Hence the order that too, effect on March 1, 2017, that all equines processed there must have resided in Canada for a minimum of 6 months prior. Before this, the USA shippers were shipping ~60,000 animals/year across the northern border. Now, granted, horses can still be processed-just not for the EU. They can still be shipped live to Japan, for example, for the same purpose. No problem there at all.

The USA also has a couple of plants making noises about tooling up to start processing horses here-which has certain groups in loud protests. So far, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not turned loose of funding for inspectors for that purpose, and, until they do, noise is all we’ll get out of those plant owners. With the climate change in Washington, D. C., however, it is anybody’s guess how long the FDA can hold out. Standards of other agencies are being gutted by the new administration wholesale. Will this one go as well? No one knows.

For us, we are watching and waiting to see how this all shakes out. We will move in response to the actions of the KBs and the trucks. We go where the horses and the trail leads us.

Paulick report on Canadian plants

on eating horse meat

horse meat scandalJackBlackBand