Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Power of Instinct

Sometimes you see a horse photo in which the real subject is not so obvious at first glance... where it takes an intimate understanding of the subject to fully appreciate the entire scope.

Here we have a groom who knows and truly loves all the participants in the turnout: Two horses hooked as a tandem ( a challenging driving turnout if there ever was one!) and driven by his wife.

What we see here is a raw,  pure instinctual action by Ray, the groom. Just purposely but kindly stroking the lead horse  on his hind end, with the back on his four fingers. It's not planned.   It''s not practiced. It's not trained. He just reached out and did it out of pure natural as stroking a curl on a young daughter's hair.

We have two horses to consider. Ray is standing in the middle of  both of them. He can't reach the lead horse' s head. But he instinctually  knows the leader will feel and appreciate his presence by stroking him on hind end. He knows the horse well enough to know the horse will feel comforted, not concerned, by the touch coming, for all intents and purpose, out of nowhere for the lead horse who cannot see him.  The lead horse just senses his presence....and trusts the participants enough to be reassured rather than startled  by the touch,....and Ray knows the same: the lead horse will be reassured by his calculated soft bush with the front of his fingers, done with pure, calm, yet meaningful and purposeful energy. You'll note there is no talking going on here. It's pure touch and pure energy.

It's the instinctual move of a natural horseman. Well done!

Photo by Dana Goedewaagen at

Monday, May 15, 2017

Balkers that Lie Down

Balkers that Lie Down or Throw Themselves
Some horses lie down when they are balking or throw themselves. When you have this kind of horse, don’t try to get him up by beating him with a hickory club, a barrel stave, or a fence rail, or tie a chain around his neck and fasten a team of horses to it. Instead of this, kneel down on one knee close to your horse’s head, placing your hand on the ground if you wish a resting place. Keep your hands of his neck. Blow in the horse’s ear and sometimes he will be up in a few seconds. When this fails tap him on the ear or on the end of the nostril, tapping a little harder each time you repeat it. When this fails raise his nostrils up in the air and pour some water into them. You will find that your horse will not stay on the ground very long. If this fails hold his nostrils shut, cutting of his breath, and he will fight for air. If he does not get up saturate a handkerchief with ammonia and hold it to his nostrils. Don’t place your hand on the horse for a resting place and do not keep the handkerchief on his nostrils too long, as he might get used to the ammonia and stay on the ground. When your horse is up reward him by patting him on the shoulder. ~ advice from the 1800's

Image result for throwing horse training

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Inside Leg to Outside Rein?

I read this online not too long ago and it was too good not to pass along:

"Someone once told me that your inside leg is like the wind 
and your outside rein is the sail, 
wind blows into sail and that sends the boat forward."
 ~ Nancy Allen 

But what about driving where no inside leg is available?

I highly recommend Muffy Seaton's book and video: "Bending the Driving Horse". She explains it very well and shows it very plainly in the video. Once you learn this, you will use it with every horse, every drive forever. Worth every penny!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Equine Back: swimming like a fish

There are those who claim the horse's back does not really flex laterally. Watch this video.

When you are sitting behind your horse in a carriage, the back, from it's tail all the way up to the poll,  should look like a fish swimming through water *if* all the parts are moving freely and correctly. If that is not the case, it's probably time to enlist a chiropractor, acupuncturist, farrier and vet.

It should look something like this from behind:


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Polydactylous Horse

 poly = multiple  dactyl = finger

Julius Ceasar's horse with multiple toes

An eight footed equine

Mark Sittich von Hohenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg (1574-1619)
The horse had been obtained in Arabia, each of its alleged eight feet possessed its own horseshoe in the painting, and the painting itself is on public display at the Palace Helbrunn (now a museum), situated between Salzburg and Untersberg, Austria. 

Odin Rides to Hell on Sleipnir, an 8 legged horse.

Yes, it happens to people too!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What kind of bitting is this?

Here's the original photo followed by an enhanced close up.

I am familiar with overcheck bits. but this bitting looks unusual to me.

Tell me what's going on.

UPDATE: The best explanation received so far is that the large ring is a bit attached to the overcheck *and* the reins. Normally there is a separate overcheck bit but not always. The smaller ring on the side of the head is likely part of the caveson/noseband known as a race ing halter today and is used for cross tying the horse while harnessing etc and or for attaching other driving equipment to. There are what appear to be 2 reins on the near side (left). The bottom one likely is a lead for tying that is probably attached to the higher noseband ring on that side. 
Credit for this explanation goes to Lori Pennell and Dottie Billington and Janice Jones

It's a version of these bridles: 

Image may contain: one or more people and horse

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The power of Acupuncture

Today, we pulled Heyday Black Hawk's shoes for the winter and we studied where he had progressed to in the past year. "Luke" is an 11 yr. old Morgan gelding. Before arriving at our farm, he had 2+ years off from regular work. He had had good care, just no serious regular working exercise.

He arrived here in mid summer of 2015 so he only worked a few months before being laid off for the winter. He started up again in April of 2016 and worked 4-6 days a week until early November. He is being trained and used as a carriage driving horse. He competed lightly and gave many lessons. see in this photo the 'fever rings" on both front feet? (red arrows)  Generally, it is thought that these rings become evident after elevated temperature, infection, or inflammation that disrupted a horse's circulation and affected hoof growth. The position, mid hoof wall, is such that experience tells me and my farrier that these rings began around 6 months ago. So what happened to Luke 6 months ago that might be the cause ?

He has no record of any health issues, no episodes of elevated temperature. No illness. No injury. No significant change in diet or routine, except more exercise.

Well, go back to this statement: "these rings become evident after elevated temperature, infection, or inflammation that disrupted his circulation".  The key here is "circulation". What disrupted his circulation about 6 months ago? The records show that he was treated by Dr. Ann Christopherson with acupuncture in mid May and again in July of 2016. . Dr Anne treats the whole horse. That means mainly blood circulation, energy. Her goal is to restore the horse to it's optimal physical and mental condition  within the limitations of its genetics and previous permanent damage to the horse whether thru historical poor physical and psychological care and misguided training, and/or traumatic injury.

If you look carefully at the left front foot, you will see that the hoof is actually growing out slightly more narrow than it was a year ago, particularly the lateral wall. In other words, the top half above the ring is growing down narrower than the older half below the ring. In this horse's case, this is what we were after. His feet were too spread out and too flat. Sometime early next summer when the fever ring has grown out, he should have grown the foot we are after.

It is my belief that the primary cause of these fever rings are the result of Dr. Anne's acupuncture. She has improved the systemic circulation of this horse, improved the flow of energy through and around his body and also restored a balance of relaxation and tension in his musculature.

A couple of additional factors have gone into his changes over the last year. He has recived two chiropratcic traetmenrs by Scott Hie, in conjunction with the acupuncture. His farrier, Kevin Wade, has been careful to trim him and shoe him to provide proper support. Luke has had correct dental work to ensure his dentition is not adversely affecting his proprioception* . And all of this has supported by good care and proper training aimed at correctly developing him as an athlete.

* For more on the relationship of dentition and proproception: