From the island of Sotra in Norway, and someone wonderful enough to have filmed and posted it:
From the island of Sotra in Norway, and someone wonderful enough to have filmed and posted it:
Whether your horse has a woeful tail or a gorgeous tail, you can improve it.
With coconut oil.
It’s the trendy substance right now for healthy cooking.
Some of us have discovered how great it is for skin care, as a hand cream or bath oil.
African-Americans have been it on hair for a long time. And the rest of us are now catching up.
Whether the hair is in the boudoir or in the barn, the secret of coconut oil is out.
And what is the secret exactly? It turns out that coconut oil has a unique ability to bind to the protein structure of hair and to seal moisture inside the hair shaft. After a coconut oil treatment, hair feels soft and silky while looking thicker. Sounds like the recipe for a perfect tail, doesn’t it?
Long before I began cooking with it, I read about using coconut oil on horse’s tails in a thread on the ultimatedressage.com bulletin board. I tried it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my horses’ tails. And that’s why I want to share it with you.
Headshaking equals heartache. Not the occasional studly shake, the protest against bad hands or the signal that it’s time to float teeth. The repetitive headshaking that is distracting to horse and rider in its intensity and the pain it represents.
I’ve been lucky. I had one horse that rubbed his face after every ride and liked to throw his head around, but he never developed the headshaking syndrome that is so difficult to treat, much less to cure.
Some of my friends have not been so lucky. Watching the syndrome develop over time, watching an endless stream of treatments (from nose nets to spirulina to craniosacral therapy) fail, and watching horses suffer and dreams die, all has made me wary when I see a horse violently shake his head or try to rub the bridle off his face.
I was all set to vet out the perfect lesson horse when I heard how the horse had experienced a bout of allergies the prior spring and how he’d been observed scratching his head and neck. That alone made me cancel the pre-purchase. I explained to the seller honestly my concern about allergies and headshaking, and was told “good luck finding a horse.” Well, I need that good luck, since I have yet to find my lesson horse, but as Louis Pasteur said, “fortune favors the prepared mind.”
Yesterday was one of those days when I had horses to dry.
There aren’t many days when it’s too warm for blankets, it’s snowing, the horses have winter coats, and the temperature is going to drop precipitously when the sun sets.
Most of my turnout sheets won’t stay dry after all day in the snow, so neither do the horses. That’s when it’s good to have horse-drying know-how as well as options. I use a modern horse-drying method as well as an old-fashioned one. I’m sure there are others, like hair dryers and heat lamps, but those are outside my purview.
This may be yesterday’s news (actually, it’s eleven days ago’s news), but it’s still great news that the FEI has decided to speak for the horse.
The 24th edition of the FEI Rules for Dressage Events will now make it clear that any horse with “fresh blood” on its body will be eliminated from competition and that elimination will be final, with no appeal.
I join in the chorus saying “thank you” to the decision makers who adopted the new rule at the FEI General Assembly. I like to think that all who made their voices heard on the issue made a difference. My voice joined in here and here.
For jumping, here is the FEI rule mentioning blood:
“…in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the rider to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in disqualification…”
It’s common to hear people talk about how horses are stoic. Less common is people talking about how other people’s horses are stoic and their horses are not.
Are they right? Who am I to say?
Of course, that hasn’t stopped me yet.
Increasingly, I believe that all horses are stoic, and the ones who seem not to be stoic may be just as stoic as — or even more stoic than — the ones we think of as stoic.
I had a horse that I thought wasn’t stoic. In fact, I thought he was a hot house flower, and I called him that. True, there were things he wasn’t stoic about, like raindrops or a touch on the neck that was a little too soft, or, when he was younger, anything but a goat hair brush on his body.
It took me too long to realize that he had ulcers (I’m older and wiser now). Once I realized he had them, I treated him for years and in a variety of ways, until he was finally retired at the age of 12 due to his incorrigible nature (which I now believe was attributable more to chronic pain than to Native Dancer inbreeding or mistreatment, although they likely played a part).
It’s post-Olympics and, although I’m out of synch
it’s time to post at least a few of my thoughts and impressions about the equestrian events.
I was afraid that I wasn’t going to have time to watch the Olympics at all, but I made the decision to eat into my already abbreviated sleep time to go to nbcolympics.com to catch what I could (rather than blog). Kudos to NBC for finally giving us a way to see everything and anything we wanted to see on our computers, whenever we wanted to see it.
From the comments following last Wednesday’s post, I know that there are prominent proscratinators among my readers. If that predilection for procrastination kept you from watching the coverage, you’re in luck. You can still see it — and see it all — here. I doubt whether this will be the case forever, so if you want to catch what you missed, you might want to put your proscrastinating on hold temporarily, just this once.
There sure was a lot to watch. It took me days just to get through the eventing dressage. And then I watched the rest of it. I watched almost all of the dressage and almost all the show jumping. The parts I missed weren’t at the end of the competition but rather throughout the competition, randomly and frequently.
Increasingly frequently as time went on. Early on, I optimistically expected that disappointing rides would somehow magically improve rather than remain the same or detriorate further. Realizing that my optimism was unfounded, as rides went on, I made the decision to use my curser to fast-forward. That saved time, which was important because sleep deprivation is cumulative in its ill effects.
Overall, I think the horses outshined and outclassed most of their human counterparts.
My darling ex-husband used to say of courtship, “the woman chases the man until he catches her.”
A similar thing can be said of catching horses. In order to be caught, a horse has to feel as if he’s not being caught. A +/- 1000 lb. animal gets to make the choice of being caught or not being caught. We may think that we can make that choice for the horse, but we can only successfully persuade.
It helps if the horse has been successfully persuaded from an early age so that the choice we want the horse to make has become an unconscious habit. This is often what we rely upon when we catch our horses (or lead them or ride them, or when horses agree to the myriad of things we ask them to do for us or with us).
Nevertheless, for some horses, and for some horses in some environments and at some times, whether to be caught or not remains a conscious choice, and that’s when our catching skills are put to the test. A horse that’s escaped…a horse that’s in a large field of grass…a horse that’s with his friends and doesn’t want to be the first to leave…a horse that’s running from flies…an unsure horse with a brand-new handler…or a horse that’s panicked.
Have you ever been told that your horse is a pig in his stall? Have you — please tell me it’s not true — ever said it yourself, about your own horse or anyone else’s?
If so, you should know that it may be common as far as insults to equines go, but it’s totally inaccurate.
You see, pigs are actually very clean animals — some of the cleanest on the planet, based on their behavior. Although they like to wallow in the mud, it’s only because it keeps them cool, since pigs can’t sweat. So, along with encouraging people to stop referring to horses as pigs in their stalls, I’m going to encourage people to stop talking about “sweating like a pig.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that pigs are so averse to manuring in their homes is because they have excellent senses of smell. That’s what makes them such good truffle harvesters. And those famous noses are pretty close to the ground, no matter what breed of pig it is. Just as horse’s noses are when they eat or sleep lying down in their stalls.
Interestingly, both pigs and horses share a vomeronasal organ (VNO) — an additional chemosensory organ absent in humans. If you’ve seen a horse exhibiting the flehmen response, you’ve watched a horse bringing scent into his VNO. We have no idea how well either pigs or horses smell compared to the way we smell, but based on anatomy, they seem to have an advantage.
Horses’ stalls are their houses and their havens, just as much as ours are. In order to understand how they might feel in their stalls, we should try living in a small closet. That should be fine, right? As long as we’re in there alone all night and there’s another closet nearby, and there’s a hole we can peek out of?
Here in the United States, if you decided to keep your horse in your living room, the authorities would come and put a stop to it. Legislation and regulation has a far reach in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
When it comes to freedom, I’m beginning to prefer the Western Isles of Scotland. And in terms of bravery, there’s one Stephanie Noble, who despite being declared “a fruitcake” by her neighbors, is still bravely caring for her Connemara filly, Grey Lady Too, inside her home.
Does this look like an unhappy horse to you? For true horse lovers, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
The Scottish SPCA has investigated the case, and their inspector declared that “it [the horse] does appear to be in good condition and well cared for.” A spokesman for the Western Isles Council announced that Noble was free to do as she pleased in her own property provided that public safety or hygiene were not affected.
Before you conclude that Noble has no idea what she’s doing when it comes to horses, you should know that she is a British Horse Society instructor. She lived in the US until 1994 and has run equestrian businesses here as well as in Ireland and Europe. Her latest horse is named after her first pony, Grey Lady.