Archive for September, 2012

Well… not exactly. It was Cass Shaving Day! As soon as the sun starts setting just a minute or two sooner Cass & Becca get their winter coats. Not a good thing when it’s still reaching 85 degrees in the afternoon. Remember, Cass is a Canadian by birth so adjusting to our weather’s been a challenge. She does better and better each year. Florida-born Becca handles the heat and humidity a bit easier than her momma. I also don’t have her trained to the clippers, yet.

My girl’s so good.

I just shave her neck & belly where she sweats.

Looks a bit funny but she’s more comfy.

Still find it hard to believe she allows me to shave her. The first time she ever saw and heard an electric clipper she reared up on her hind legs! Really. She did. We’ve taken our time to establish trust, that’s the key. She truly knows I will not do anything to hurt her and I know the same about her. That’s a good thing since I have to be on my knees underneath her to get to the belly!

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I ran across this article recently on the Norwegian Fjordhorse Registry site. It’s a good reminder that even if we aren’t necessarily “training” our horse at a particular moment… we are! The author, Phillip Odden, gave his permission to reprint it here. Thanks Phil!

Reading your Horse;
Trust and Respect

When you are together with your horse either you are training your horse or your horse is training you. Often people are not aware that they are being trained by their horse while your horse is always aware that either it is being trained or it is training you. So you need to learn to read your horse.

Often people assign human traits, human reasoning, human motivation to our animal friends. As I see it horses is horses and people is people and dogs is dogs and fish is fish. Certainly we have motivations and responses in common but we are different. In a horses life the space they take up and the space they can control makes a big difference. It’s about how they make a living.

So if a group of horses is out grazing the one that can graze wherever it wishes to graze and whenever it wishes to graze is the top horse. The one that is lowest on the pecking order gets what is left over. Often the boss horse enforces special control even when it seems not to make any difference. It is in the horse’s interest to maintain discipline just for disciplines sake, just to make sure the other horse understands its place. While the horses further down the pecking order are always testing in small ways, then in larger ways to see if it is possible to move up the rank.

So horses are testing their people as well constantly. You might think they are putting their head in your space to be cuddled but if you did not invite the horse into your space the horse has taken space from you and it knows it. The same with its hind end. When a horse swings its hind end into your space it is threatening you to a lesser or greater degree. Horses bite and horses kick and they can strike with their front legs and they can run over you and knock you down or push you into something. These are some of the ways that horses hurt people when the horse does not respect the person’s space.

In the end I believe horsemanship has a lot to do with trust and respect. The horse needs to respect my space and I need to be able to trust my horse. I don’t like to get hurt. I need to respect my horse in its ability as to what it can or can’t do and my horse needs to learn to trust me in that I will never hurt it or allow it to be hurt. It needs to learn to trust me so when I ask it to do something that is not in its interest it will do it for me. If there is little or no respect from the horse for the handler the horse will evade or resist. And if it is used to winning these little tests it will win the big tests as well and the horse will be essentially useless as a mount or a driving horse. But the horse will still make good company as long as you stay out of its space. Just hand over the food.

The horse has trained you to this end by winning the small tests. Often the handler has no idea of when they are loosing the small tests. Either the handler is unable to read the horse or they choose to ignore the small things. And small things lead to big things. To turn the table and gain respect it is important to enforce discipline in small ways just like the lead horse in the herd. Spacial issues and giving to pressure are little things and big things. Sometimes you enforce seemingly less meaningful discipline, the small stuff, just so the horse fully understands who is giving directions and who is taking directions. If you are successful with the small stuff the big confrontations never happen.

When your horse understands what space it can feel comfortable in and what you expect of it the horse learns to trust you. And the horse is much happier, less nervous and more comfortable.

If you give the horse meaningful work to do it will be even happier since meaningful work is life’s greatest blessing for man or beast.

Phillip Odden

Goofy Becca who’s always testing.

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I stopped by to see the Paso Fino girls for a bit yesterday. I was greeted warmly at the gate by Chica and Gypsy. When they realized I hadn’t brought food they continued grazing and grabbing bits of moss from the trees. They must feel so excited to actually have a choice of what to eat.

Little Chica.

Her pasture mate, Gypsy.

The herd of four was split in half to allow us more safety in working with them. These are untrained horses who have had minimal to no handling by people. Even with their small size they can still wallop a kick!

It took 4 hours of hard work and 6 people to be able to work on the ratted tails. They, unfortunately, had to be cut. To do it’s job a tail must be able to wisp about. The horses have to be relieved to no longer be carrying baseball bats.

The tails will grow back. Groceries, patience, vet care, more patience, farrier care, bigger patience and fair leadership will bring these girls to the life they deserve.


They’ve landed in a soft place to recuperate. There are still other family members that need experienced foster barns. Ridin Dirty Ranch & Rescue can supply a temporary place only. They have 9 of the Pasos. Please contact Tia 352-638-0432 or talbert590@aol.com if you can help.

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It’s just impossible to understand. I suppose there’s truly loving your animals and then there’s looking at them as possessions. I would give up any possession to assure the health, safety and happiness of my animals. As a matter of fact… I have. Scottie and I sacrifice time and again to care for those we truly love.

Cass & I have an unbreakable bond.

Now I have to show you the result of someone not truly loving their animals or even feeling slightly responsible. Again, I don’t know the people involved. The owner is an elderly and ill gentleman but there is an able-bodied caretaker on the premises. One must drive past these horses to leave the house. Neighbors must drive past daily. No need to be a horse expert to see there’s a problem. There is a history of neglect on this property. It finally caught up to them. An anonymous complaint was called in to Seminole Co. Animal Services. Gears got rolling once the officer on scene alerted his boss to the situation. Rescues were in place the next morning to remove the horses that were signed over.

Momma & baby Paso Fino horses before leaving for rescue.

Eighteen horses were in total. Fourteen are now safe. These are the four my friend Terri opened her farm to. They will now get food, veterinary and hoof care and simple attention. Just in one day of having some basic needs met, they are brighter. Their potential is trying hard to shine through the the bones and ragged coats.

The yearling filly now named Chica.

Her Momma, Sierra.

A baby so young should not know such hunger.

Chica is cautious but curious.

Momma could very well be carrying another baby. There were 5 stallions/colts on the property.

A horse’s lifeline are their hooves.

These have long been neglected.

Chica’s never had hoof care.

The matted tails are the worst we’ve ever seen.

The protruding bones speak volumes.

Hundreds of pounds underweight. Backbone & hips.

Absolutely no muscle on this baby.

Chica’s backbone & hips.

Pretty grey mare is in better condition. Now named Gypsy.

Still too thin but not as bad as the others.

This sweet girl is Lilly.

She has a wound on her nose. Probably from a halter left on too long.

Lilly has a sponsor. Thank you Gayle! She has a thing for bays.

Lilly keeps herself a bit away from the others.

She seems somehow sadder than the others. Maybe she’s the one who recently birthed a baby only to have it die w/in 24 hrs.? The complaint wasn’t called in soon enough.

Their foster barn is a safe & happy place.

They can actually graze on acres of grass!

This rescue was a joint effort between horse lovers extraordinaire! When the call came out everyone was up for the daunting task before them. It was a long, hot day of rescue. Loading untrained, scared horses onto trailers is not for the faint of heart. It’s dangerous. It took time, some skill and a little luck but the 3 mares and filly were loaded and sent to Terri’s farm. John and Missy of  JM Horse Rescue worked together with Tia of Ridin Dirty Ranch & Rescue and the Seminole Co. Animal Services officers to load up the remaining 10 horses! Bless Tia for taking those stallions/colts. And thank God, no one got hurt! When you do animal rescue, oftentimes you just have to have faith things will work out. You go get the animals out of harms way and worry about the rest later.

A young stud colt getting used to a halter.

His 1st steps toward a new life!

Each of these horses will need work and more importantly, time. None seem to be trained but their medical needs are the most urgent. This costs money. Money the rescues don’t have. We know more horse lovers will come forward to help these babies begin new lives. Please go to JM Horse Rescue to donate. (You can also find them on Facebook.) If you want to help geld the stallions/colts please contact Tia 352-638-0432 or email:  talbert590@aol.com.

Keep checking the blog for updates on Chica, Sierra, Lilly & Gypsy!

Chica, Sierra, Lilly & Gypsy

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Have I mentioned how absolutely wonderful our pet sitting clients are? Well… they ARE! I’ve known Charlotte for several years from her work with our friends at The Doggie Door. She’s a greyhound gal. Greyhounds happen to be on our list of favorite breeds. I met her new hound last weekend as I signed her up to be part of the official Pookie pet sitting family.

Maggie May, retired Greyhound

As I was leaving that day into Hurricane Isaac, I mentioned my next stop was the barn. That was all Charlotte needed to hear! She grabbed her keys and away we went. We fed, mucked stalls, stored water and prepared the barn for possible high winds. She met my special girls and fell in love – as all do. Having help and company was much appreciated.

Today she brought her husband, Tom for an impromptu Fall Cleaning Day! We’d made note last week that the barn needed a good cleaning out once the storm danger was past. They weren’t shy about getting to work.

Tom & Charlotte sweeping up.

They came bearing gifts for the girls, bananas… that’s the best! We got a lot done. All the old hay inside the perimeter of the barn is picked up. Sorry rats, no more free bedding. Found a massive fire ant hill in the storage stall. That won’t do. They will die. Cleaned up some donation stuff for JM Horse Rescue and before we knew it the morning had flown by. I believe I even heard Charlotte say, “Horse poop doesn’t smell bad.”

Tom, Cass & Charlotte

The highlight of the day was watching Cass and Becca run, really RUN! I put my helpers behind the safety of the gate and got the girls moving those hooves. I run with them (sort of) using the whip to urge them along. The sound of it is all they need and we’ve got a Kentucky Derby! Seeing them run is awesome. Seeing them happy is even better. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of our helpers, too.

Becca, Charlotte & Tom

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