Blog .:. July 2008 4 Entries

Politically Incorrect

16 July 2008 Comments

We are supposed to say “A good horse is any color, and differences within a breed are greater than the differences between breeds, so the breed of a horse is less important than the individual horse’s ability.”

In the abstract, sure. In reality? As I’m window shopping? I confess to a multitude of politically-incorrect opinions:

Feathers on a horse do not make my heart go pitter-patter, unless you count the flutter of anxiety as I think about mud and burrs and scratches. Should I be so unlucky as to buy a be-feathered horse, my very next purchase will be a set of clippers and the horse will quickly be de-feathered, breed standards not withstanding.

Gray horses take my breath away. I look at them and think “I never, ever want to own a gray horse,” and then I realize that sort of thinking is only tempting fate. I feel like someone has sucker-punched me in the stomach, and I know, I just know, that when I go shopping the Most Perfect Horse Ever is going to be gray, and reason is going to win over aesthetics, and I am going to end up owning a gray horse. With feathers. *sob*

It takes some serious girding of the loins before I can open any Friesian-related ad. It’s not that I dislike the breed—I’m not partial to them, but some of the crosses are ok—it’s the purple prose that tends to creep into the descriptions. It’s so… magical. Mystical. Fantastical. Fantastically absurd. It makes my eyes bleed. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. It hurts my teeth. It’s almost enough to make me want to look at more ads for gray horses.

Almost.

Gypsy Vanners make me laugh. Sorry, but they do. (The purple prose doesn’t bother me here, because the entire breed is purple prose. It’s so absurd it’s actually funny.)

I’ve stopped looking at paint/pinto-colored horse ads. In the abstract, I am sure there are some nice paint/pinto-colored horses out there, but for some reason every ad I open seems to show the same upright shoulder, straight backend, and limited shoulder reach (assuming there is a trot picture). It’s depressing, and the mares are all in foal. Why?

If the horse is a chestnut thoroughbred mare, she could be 30 years old, toothless, and hopping around on three legs and I will still think she’s perfect.

People who put up ads for well bred, nicely balanced warmblood yearlings and then price them reasonably are evil. I do not need a yearling! Do not make them look like a viable option!

People who put up ads for ugly, butt-high, yak-haired yearlings are my saviors, because they bring me back to reality and remind me that yearlings are walking vet bills with suicide pacts. I do not need a yearling!

Not all ponies are cute. In fact, the cuteness of any given pony can be mathematically defined as an inverse relationship to the ad’s emphasis on said cuteness.

“Two for One” packages = I thought your mare was nice, and I was really interested in her, but now I’m not.

“Three for One” packages = You couldn’t sell the mare on her own, and you couldn’t sell the foal on its own, so clearly the best thing to do is breed the mare again for a third unsellable horse. Brilliant!

I will look at an ad for a lanky bay gelding no matter what obvious faults he has or how unsuitable he is by his description.

While I respect your right to sell your ginormous draft as a dressage prospect, you cannot convince me that he is my dressage prospect.

So… at this point I think I’ve basically dared fate to send a pinto-turning-gray Friesian mare in foal with feathers on her legs to me next spring. Sweet. Even I can appreciate a joke.

Tagged: Horses

Lateral Work

14 July 2008 Comments

My lesson this week was good, really good. I think part of it was the little break I had gave things time to sort of sink in and settle. It also meant, when I got on, I was determined to get right to work. Which meant the horse was getting right to work; I wanted to ride, not muck about for the first ten minutes asking the horse to pay attention. The horse also seemed in a good mood, and so off we went.

The only hiccup was the time I was going across the diagonal and couldn’t quite figure out what I was doing, so we did a shoulder in instead of a haunches in. Whoops.

I am curious—anyone who rides haunches in and shoulder in—how do you set up for it?

Having ridden in a couple barns, I’ve learned a couple different ways, but the one that makes most sense to me is to use a circle and, for the haunches in especially, the arena corners.

I was taught the shoulder in by doing a ten meter circle to establish the bend, and then at the finish of the first circle, taking one step as if we were going to do a second circle, the sending the horse down the rail. Once I understood the correct bend, we didn’t do the first circle, but thinking about a circle is still the easiest way for me to set up the shoulder in.

The haunches in we also started with a ten meter circle, but when the horse’s front end was on the track and the hind end hadn’t made that last step, then we’d go down the rail.

Once I understood the bend we were going for, we would use the corners before the long side. For the shoulder in, use the bend of the corner to set up the bend as if you were going to do a ten meter circle there, but take the horse down the rail after that first half step off the rail. For the haunches in, ride into the corner as if riding into a circle, but at the top of the corner don’t let the hindquarters take that last step onto the long rail—ride down the rail instead.

And later, of course, it progressed into asking for the lateral movements anywhere in the arena, and especially on the quarter lines to test the balance of my aids without the wall to help, but by starting on the circle I had a better idea of how everything worked together and learned to think of the lateral movements as a connected movement from front to back, and not something that was done by positioning the hindquarters here or the shoulders there.

Having ridden in a couple barns, I know all instructors approach these a little differently, so I’m curious about what works for other people. It’s always interesting to hear other approaches; you never know when they’ll come in handy.

Tagged: Horses, Riding - Lessons

Sale Ads

10 July 2008 Comments

Due to a project at work, I haven’t ridden in a while. I’ve been reading online classifieds instead. I’m calling it research, since I really do hope to buy a horse next spring. I need to know the general market, right?

I’ve known there are people out there breeding only for color, but I was still a little stunned to see so many ads so blatant in their disregard for quality. One breeder claimed you could definitely resell her horses at a profit, all due to color. Really? Why isn’t the breeder getting that huge profit, then? Or am I not supposed to ask questions like that? Even better—one breeder linked to a color genetics site and encouraged people to go find out all the pretty color foals they could get out of the mare. Way to support responsible breeding, right?

It’s a little depressing to see the number of Friesian crosses out there. I don’t particularly like or dislike Friesians—I hate the magical, mystical hype they have, and the ads that go on and on about the horse’s feathers just make me roll my eyes, but I’ve heard that if you can get past all the stupid marketing gimmicks, the horses tend to be great ammy horses with good minds, decent but rideable gaits, and a willing attitude. But I worry when you start seeing a lot of crosses of any one breed it means they’ve reached that point where people are breeding indiscriminately, to cash in on a trend, with no regard for quality.

Even so, I saw a couple of cute crosses, including one up in Dallas (Friesian x Arabian) that I might take a serious look at if I were actively shopping. (The mare got mental bonus points because she had no feathers. Heh. I’m willing to bet her owner was disappointed, but darn it, I do not think “romance” when I see feathers on a horse. I think “mud” and “scratches.”)

And this filly could make me question my resolve to wait at all. She is cute as can be, and I love her alert but relaxed expression. Her breeding is fantastic. She’s the sort of horse you buy as a yearling and wait for them to grow up, because they will be worth the wait. What a stunning girl.

Tagged: Horses

Carnival of the Horses

1 July 2008 Comments

Welcome to this month’s Carnival of the Horses! We had a great turnout,so without further ado:

Kara Hollabaugh presents Number 8117, posted at Argo’s Journey, saying “Argo’s Journey is the unfolding story of a Wild Kiger Mustang who was captured by the BLM at the age of 17, in October 2007, and now in his new home in Pennsylvania, and how he is adjusting to captivity and all things new.”

Darlene (aka “DJ”) presents Murphey’s Horse Laws, posted at Blog & Pony Show.

Robin presents Busy Weekend!, posted at Pacific Arabian.

GP presents Run Horses Run, posted at posted at Innstyle Montana- Your Home on the Range, saying “lessons from watching horses run!”

Nor’dzin Pamo presents ceffylau: horse noises, posted at ceffylau, saying “Thank you for taking the trouble to host this.  I hope it is as interesting and successful as the last one.”

Chris presents A Tooth Fairy Goldmine, posted at .:EQUUS:., saying “Looking at the possibility of equine dentistry as a career choice.”

Chris presents Profile On: Travis Stone, Race Caller, posted at .:EQUUS:., saying “Interview with a racehorse caller.”

Margaret Burns Vap presents Om on the Range, posted at Athleta Chi.

Margaret Burns Vap presents Cowgirl Yoga: Poses for Riders, posted at Athleta Chi.

Janet Roper presents The Rescue of Classic Maverick, posted at Janet Roper::Animal communicator.

Janet Roper presents The Rescue of Classic Maverick—Part II, posted at Janet Roper::Animal communicator.

Miss Amanda presents My Learning Experience - My Horse Feed Mixture, posted at My Learning Experience, saying “This is the feed mix that I used when I had 2 2 year old fillies.”

Kimberly Cox Carneal presents Shocking Heat Wave Prompts Volkswagen to Eat Percheron at Va. Horse Trials, posted at enlightened horsemanship through touch, saying “thanks for the opportunity!”

A Bay Hose presents Surviving your first dressage test: Introduction, posted at A Bay Horse.

Tamara of In the Night Farm presents Call Me Crazy:  A Word about Natural Horsemanship, posted at The Barb Wire, saying “The method to my madness!”

Mrs Mom presents What’s This I Hear?, posted at Oh HorseFeathers & Related Twisted “Tails”, saying “One of my favorite “Public Service Announcements”.... enjoy!”

Mrs Mom presents My Head Is Spinning…., posted at Oh HorseFeathers & Related Twisted “Tails”, saying “Save A Can, Save A Horse drive, and horsemen helping horsemen”

Chris ODonnell presents Show Dad duty is expensive, posted at Horseshues.com -  One family, one horse, one blog, and a lot of comedy.

risingrainbow presents MiKael’s Mania - Arabian Horses: Are Arabian Stallions Different Than Other Horses?, posted at MiKael’s Mania - Arabian Horses, saying “Some things you might not know about Arabian stallions.”

risingrainbow presents Sassy and Laurietta’s Story - Tragedy or Miracle - 4th Twin Pregnancy in Horses, posted at MiKael’s Mania - Arabian Horses, saying “This compelling series was written over a year ago but is still a remarkable story. I took a lot of heat for writing this story but I tried to tell it based on the facts as I knew them instead of running off half cocked grabbing at little snips of information that supported my position as the attackers of this owner have done. I don’t know what I would do in a similar situation but I do know that watching these events unfold has changed my life forever. I will never forget this story or the bitter attacks that happened because of its telling.”

Beckz presents I Will Jump Sweet Jumps- A Horse Blog: Why I associate with Horses, posted at I Will Jump Sweet Jumps- A Horse Blog, saying “An old post about why I love horses.”

Kalin presents What Time Is It? Horse Show Time!  : El Blog De Kalin, posted at El Blog De Kalin, saying “An inside look at a Tennessee Walking Horse show.”

Karen Brenner presents Karen Brenner Blogs about her Horse Paintings and Equine Adventures, posted at Horse Paintings Blog, saying “Just back from photographing horses for my next series of paintings “Beautiful Horses of Michigan,” this blog article talks a bit about my trip and the exciting 40 horses along the way.”

Halt Near X presents Life is better when you’re forward, posted at Halt Near X.

And I believe that’s it. This is a frantic week for me, so if you submitted an entry and I missed it, let me know. Also, I was copying/pasting from the emails to avoid the HTML issues MiKael and Lynda mentioned, so if I mis-copied something, let me know that, too.

Next month’s carnival will be hosted at Innstyle Montana, so don’t forget to submit your entry.

Enjoy!

Tagged: Horses, Interwebz, Sites to See

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