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Monday, July 12, 2010

Does Your Horse Remember You?

This is a question I have been considering since the owner of the horse - a seven year old grullo quarter horse - I was leasing had to move him to a different facility. They moved him unexpectedly in April and I have not been able to see him. It has been almost three months since he left and since I cooed at him and scratched his ears. Now, with the possibility of seeing him again, I wonder if he'll remember me.

An article titled "Horses Never Forget Human Friends" by Jennifer Viegas makes me feel hopeful that my special equine buddy will be as excited to see me as I am him. The article summarizes a study that was conducted at the University of Rennes in Chamberet, France, involving positive and negative reinforcement among twenty Anglo-Arabian and three French Saddlebread horses. Generally, the researchers determined that horses remain loyal to humans with whom they have had positive encounters with in the past. They also remember people even after a long period of separation.

You can find Jennifer Viegas's article at:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Burrs in Manes and Tails

I've recently started volunteering at the We Can Ride Stables in Minnetonka, MN. We Can Ride is this amazing theraputic riding program that was founded in 1982 and works in conjunction with the University of Minnesota. It is also a Premier Accredited Therapeutic Riding Center with North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).

They currently have 14 horses at the Minnetonka, MN location. These horses have big pastures where they get to roam around and eat grass to their heart's delight. Since most of my horse training took place in the DC metro area, when I came to the barn and was assigned horses to groom I encountered something I never had to deal with before. Burrs. Since all the horses live outside, and since it's colder in MN and they are starting to get their winter coats, several of them come in to the barn in the morning with burrs everywhere. After my new favorite pony Trixie (see photo above)(1) came into the barn practically dressed up as a burr bush, I wondered, what is the best way to get burrs out of a mane and tail without damaging them?

I turned to the authority on grooming for the answer. In the book "Grooming To Win: How to Groom, Trim, Braid and Prepare Your Horse for Show" by Susan E. Harris there is a whole chapter dedicated to the mane and tail. Ms. Harris tells the reader that the key to mane and tail grooming is detangling. "When detangling long mane of tail hair, start at the end of the hair and work carefully up toward the roots." (2) Harris suggests that the best way to do this is to pick out all tangles by hand. "If the tail is tangled and full of bedding or debris, spray it lightly with conditioner or a detangler. As the hair dries it becomes slippery and tangles, burrs, and debris will slide out more easily." (2) Harris cautions to prevent breakage not to brush the hair when it is wet.

In the end, the goal is to maintain a full and beautiful mane and tail. In order to do this, a groomer must be careful not to break or damage any of the hair. According to Harris, "Mane and tail hair is not shed, but grows at a steady rate of 18-25mm (about 2/3's of an inch) per month. At that rate, it can take years to grow a shoulder-length mane or a tail that sweeps the ground." (3) So next time I, or you, encounter a burr, take time to pick out as many tangles as you can by hand. If you need to, give the tail a quick spritz of a detangler of your choice, and gently pull out any burrs. Taking time and care so as not to damage any hair will lead to a better looking mane and tail, and who out there doesn't want a good looking horse or pony. ;)

(1) Photo above courtesy of We Can Ride website.
(2) "Grooming To Win: How to Groom, Trim, Braid and Prepare Your Horse for Show." 3rd Ed. Susan E. Harris. Wiley Publishing inc., Hoboken, NJ. 2008. Page 75.
(3) "Grooming To Win: How to Groom, Trim, Braid and Prepare Your Horse for Show." 3rd Ed. Susan E. Harris. Wiley Publishing inc., Hoboken, NJ. 2008. Page 40.

My New Business Cards

They're fantastic and I totally love them. Now I just have to keep plugging away and getting to know the MN Horse Community.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Business Cards!!

I received my new business cards in the mail and they look fantastic! Photos to come soon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What is "pin firing"?

Before we can talk about firing, or pin firing, it is important to understand the idea of a counterirritation and a means of treatment for lameness. "Its [counterirritation] purpose if to convert an old chronic injury into and active form to begin an active healing process." (1) Essentially, by re-damaging an old injury, the thought is that the injury will be able to heal better the second time than the first time.

There are several types of counterirritants. They range from mild forms, such as braces, to severe forms, such a firing.

"Firing is ... [a] means of producing counterirritation; it involves piercing various parts of the horse's leg with a red-hot iron or needles, and may be used on splints, bowed tendons, osselets, rind bone, and sesamoiditis." (2) See photo for example of healed firing on horse.

As I understand the process of firing, it was a very popular treatment among race horses in the early 1900's. Even though it has fallen out of favor among horse-persons in recent years, there is still the occasional horse who shows up with the tell-tale scarring that results from firing.

1) Evans, J. Warren. Horses, 3rd Edition: A Guide to Selection, Care, and Enjoyment. Holt Paperbacks, New York, NY 2001.
Page 350.
Evans, J. Warren. Horses, 3rd Edition: A Guide to Selection, Care, and Enjoyment. Holt Paperbacks, New York, NY 2001. Page 351.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Trail Rides at Rock Creek Park Horse Center

On June 28, 2009 I was helping out the barn by picking up an extra shift and getting the trail out. Much to my surprise and delight a photographer/reporter from the Washington Post showed up to take some photos and interview some staff. Take a look at the article and see me leading the trail out. =)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why is it called a curry comb? - PART 2

I was talking to the barn manager, Suzanne Ward, at Rock Creek after my first posting about where the word "curry" in curry comb came from. Suzanne is very knowledgeable when it comes to horses and when it comes to random tid-bits and facts. So, it should not have been a surprise to me that she had a more definitive answer regarding the curry comb.

According to Suzanne, the word curry as it relates to the curry comb was first used in a 14th century French poem called "Roman de Fauvel" by Gervais De Bus. Roman de Fauvel is translated as the Faun Colored Beast. In the poem there is a donkey whose name is Fauvel. "The donkey's name, which when broken down forms fau-vel, or "veiled lie", also forms an acrostic in which each letter stands for one of the seven deadly sins: Flaterie (Flattery), Avarice (Greed), Vilanie (Guile), Variété (Inconstancy), Envie (Envy), and Lacheté (Cowardice)." (1) It has also been suggested that historically the word "fauvel" is where the word english "favel" came from in relation to currying favor. In my previous posting I referenced the idea of the words "fauvel" and "favel" having a relationship with favor, as in currying favor. In the poem, " The English expression "to curry Fauvel", (now to "curry favor") arose from the scene in which potentates descended so low as to brush down the donkey and clean him off." (1)