Saturday, October 13, 2018

So there's this guy with a boat, right...

Seriously.  It's gonna be a long winter if we spend all of it with me riding one weekend (in this case, last weekend) and then unable to ride for two weeks because it's raining from Thursday/Friday until Monday/Tuesday.  The forecast for this weekend is five to seven inches... again.

I mean, the good news is that every time I ride, we figure out that we need less tack?  On advice from one of the BOs, we're going to try a simple French link D-ring next time, so good-bye weird, floppy Western bit!



Also, please allow me to present a crappy drawing to illustrate why we cut my mare's entire mane off.
Yes, that's right - we had the trifecta of "multiple fairy knots tied together into massive dreadlocks," "partially rubbed out mane," and "what the fuck, that piece of mane is like 2 inches long and standing straight up."

Friday, September 21, 2018

So tired of 2018

So I got to ride my horse... once.

And then it rained. And this weekend, it's raining.

All the rain.

And on top of that frustration, last Friday we had to put down our cat of 11 years.

It wasn't really a surprise - she had malignant breast cancer removed the year we lost our dog (I honestly thought we would lose her that year), with a prognosis of 1-3 years.  Not only that, but her dental in the spring had turned up a severe heart murmur (no lie, you could feel her heart pounding if you touched her chest) and the early stages of kidney disease; a midsummer vet visit to inspect a lump on the undercarriage suggested the cancer was back as well.  We decided not to remove it - in no small part because of the kidney disease and heart murmur.

The last couple of weeks, she was slowly declining - not eating enough, although she did still eat, and doing a lot of weird little things.  Like... this was a cat that would not stay under a blanket with you... but she spent a whole night under one with me.  She wasn't terribly interested in lying on feet anymore.  It wasn't anything I could nail down as "she's done," but it was all a bunch of weirdness that had me on high alert.  Then she stared having accidents, and she'd never had one in the entire time she lived with us.  It was time.

So hug your pets for me?  Especially the kitties.

And 2018 - you, sir, are on fucking notice.  That's three this year.  You'd better be done.

The day she came home
Judging you
Sometimes, all you can say is 'cats!'

Monday, September 10, 2018

Eeeeeeee

Hey Cessa!
What?
What did we do this weekend?
Well, you got on me and we walked around.
And how'd it go?
Fine, except for the high-pitched squeal of joy you keep making.
:)

So, hard truth time, y'all: re-riding is hard.

Like, here I am - almost twenty years of lessons under my belt.  Plus another five years of just casual riding.  I should be fine to get on a horse and go ride around, especially my horse, and greenness shouldn't matter, because I've ridden greener than "60 days under saddle with a pro trainer."

Yeah.  Hahahahaahahahaha.  About that.

The first time I tried to get on, I was shaking so badly that we all just went, "Yeah, no, let's step back for a minute and try again."  The second time I tried to get on was a back-and-flail - you know, where the horse backs away from the mounting block and you're trying to get on and you just kind of flail your way out of the stirrup and somehow stay upright?

Third time, though - that went the way it was supposed to.  And then I got led around for a bit and hopped down after maybe five minutes, because I am a total weenie and I'm totally ok with rewarding "greenie behaving perfectly for a human having Moments" with "let's putter around long enough for me to relax and test out brakes and steering on a lead line, then call it a day and stuff cookies in your face."

Next time?  Less equipment.  Don't need the running right now - or the snaffle rein.  Still a little skeptical about this cowhorse bit - loose ring snaffle with a ring as the middle joint and curb mouthpieces means it's all... floppy. lol (Also perilously easy to get under her tongue if it's at all too loose, which is why bridling took three tries.)

But I rode my horse!
And yes, I did eventually relax!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Unexpected excitement

"It's raining. Why are you even here?"
We had this great plan for the weekend!

Saturday was a wash due to various obligations, and Sunday was "pick up horses from the trainer" day.  So Monday, we were all going to get together and get on our 60-90 day broke horses and pretend we've ridden more recently than... ugh, at least a year ago? lol

And then it rained.

There was some registry business that needed to get done, so I packed up the car with too much stuff and headed up there anyway.  I mean, why not?  We could always socialize for a while.  And maybe it wouldn't have rained yet by the time I got there, so we might still be able to ride.

Yeah.  About that.  The thing with tropical systems around here is that they always come from the south.  And the barn is north of me.  And when you're driving north through rain that's moving north...

So we ended up camping out under the arena-side cabana, since the rain was mostly nice and straight.  We zipped up the fabric on the side where the rain was coming from and then did up the mosquito netting on the other sides to keep the spray out.
Similar to the cabana. Not exactly the same, but that general idea.
And that was fine and good, at least for a while!  Herd got stupid between rainstorms, which was fun to watch as they galloped around and boss mare reclaimed her spot at the top after 90 days at training.

Then all of a sudden, it started raining really hard, and the wind kicked up a little.  So, being sensible creatures, we all got up and reached for the sides to zip up the fabric on that side instead of the mosquito netting.

As I was reaching for the fabric, I looked up and saw this weird, ultra-fast-moving cloud starting to sprint across the sky.  "Huh, that's weird," I thought.This was followed by, "Oh, fuck," as the wind that was making the cloud go that fast hit us, grabbed the cabana, and lofted that sucker up over the table and towards the arena.

Now, bear in mind... this thing is set up next to the arena.  It's also next to the pasture.  So on one side, we had a herd of horses and a six foot fence.  On the other side, we had a four foot fence and a very curious gelding who went, "Oh!  The humans are doing something!  Let me go see what they're doing!" and came trotting over.

So the three of us each grabbed a part of the cabana and pulled.  There's probably 10-15 feet between where it was set up and the arena fence, and we managed to anchor it just enough that it ran up against the fence and didn't go over - and thankfully the wind lasted maybe 30-60 seconds.  And then two of us yelled at the third to get the hell out from underneath the cabana as it was trying to collapse on us after it landed, which amusingly is the only yelling that took place during the whole thing (and it wasn't so much yelling as an incredulous, "Get out of there, omg.").
TFW your cabana is made of cheap, thin metal and the wind tries to Mary Poppins it...
Now, let me assure you: this cabana was anchored into the ground.  It wasn't just sitting there.  The wind actually pulled the tent stakes holding it to the ground out and pulled it out of probably 3-4 inches of packed sand that was on top of the tent stakes and around the foot of the pole.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when your cabana gets caught in a microburst.  Had never been out in one before.  Wouldn't recommend, per se, but it was exciting.  lol

I should note that everyone is fine.  Well, everyone but the cabana, which was made with cheap-ass thin metal and crumpled like a sheet of paper in a couple of places.  It's all good, though - enough of it is salvageable that the plan is to make a wooden frame for the top pieces so we can re-hang the curtains and the roof and give it wooden legs anchored in concrete.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Color genetics: Hey, look, more dominant white!

I've been keeping an eye out for more examples (and more photos!) on some of the newer dominant white patterns, and there were some new papers released this year as well, so let's talk about updates to the old ones and some new ones!

The new:

White-21 has so far been found only in Icelandics - and, specifically, only in a stallion named Ellert frá Baldurshaga.  Again, similar to things like W1 and W10, we have a very roany type, with vees of color coming down from the back.  It looks like most of the pictures of him were from news articles, so for some lovely shots, check out here and here.

White-22 turned out to be the source of the white in Airdrie Apache, who I mentioned briefly in my last post on dominant white.  He's currently credited as the founder, but speculation remains that it's his mother, Not Quite White, that might be the true source.
Photo from his owner's site here.
White-23 was an Arabian horse born in 1989 that was mostly white.  It sounds like the horse was Australian and the line may have died out, but the name appears to have been Boomori Simply Stunning. He had two foals that lived who were also white; one, Meadowview Ivory Dream, appears to have died at 3-4 years old.  The other, named Just a Dream, wasn't the easiest thing in the world to Google, so I'm going to leave it at "this line may have died out."  (Seriously, even 'Just a Dream Arabian' wasn't enough to get me anywhere useful!)

White-24 is a Trottatore Italiano mare named Via Lattea.  She's all white, and it sounds like she'll be crossed to an all-white pacer named White Bliss, if this article is anything to go by.  (I'm so curious about the genetic results of that foal.  White Bliss's white, so far as I can tell via Google, hasn't been identified yet...)

White-25 is back to Thoroughbreds - this time in Australia, not the US.  The line seems to have originated from a mare named Laughyoumay.
From Practical Animal Genetics's site
It's another maxed-out white pattern, diluting color where it doesn't take it all away; her foals so far have been white or almost all white.

White-26 is another Australian Thoroughbred line, this one originating in a mare named Marbrowell.
From Practical Animal Genetics's site.
While the mare herself is relatively dark, at least one of her foals has shown up almost full white; as with W25, the color that remains is diluted by white.

White-27 is yet another Australian Thoroughbred line originating from a mare - this time, a mare named Milady Fair, foaled in 1960.  She had an all-white daughter, through whom her line continues.
Colourful Gambler, a 1986 descendant of Milady Fair (from Practical Animal Genetics's site)
This particular pattern has produced both white foals and foals who are more white than not, all in this kind of speckley pattern, as opposed to the roaning of W25 and W26.

The old:
Let's talk about a few of the patterns I discussed before.

I finally found something identifying White-8 as coming from Pokkadis vom Rosenhof.  I knew it was an Icelandic, but I think the way the name is spelled natively has a character that just does not translate cleanly to an English/Latin alphabet.  So one place had Thokkadis, one place had the actual character (which looks a little like a p?), and finally it looks like the translation has settled on Pokkadis.
Screenshot of this page.

White-13 is now telling tales about where Quarter Horses have been. lol

In addition to the QH/Paso Fino cross originally identified, it's shown up in a Friesian cross - Friesian/American White, it looks like?  So likely that QH blood is on the American White side, unless there's something I didn't know about American Friesians.

It's also now shown up in a family of Australian miniatures.  On that one... well, if the folks commenting on this on FB are actually in the know, it sounds like that's less "what's hidden in the family tree" and more "a specific breeder basically just grabbed anything under a certain height and claimed it was part of the breed, so god knows where this really came from."  The words "money laundering and drug charges" were included.  Gotta love the shit people got away with (or didn't, as the case may be) in the 1970s...

White-16 may have been nailed down as well; I'm seeing mention of a horse named Celine, specifically, rather than that vague screenshot - and specifically the Celine that's a daughter of the stallion Relevant and a granddaughter of the stallion Cordeur.  I'm mostly hitting those references on German sites, though, and I can't figure if they're saying the color came from one of those two stallions or whether they're just including the sire and damsire to make it clear which mare is under discussion.

It looks like one of the White-17 Japanese Draft horses was named Hakubahime at the time of testing and may have been renamed to Hakuba Beauty, although I'm working off an article title linked off Wikipedia for that.

And lastly... a cool link!
This site seems to be keeping a running list of the various dominant white/white spotting genes and their presumed horses of origin.  Pretty fun list to use to google horse names and find photos!  :)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Yeahhhhh

Ain't no drama like horse people drama.

Ain't no drama like animal registry drama, either.

And both of them together brings out the real batshit.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I've hidden some older posts, to brace for what may be a coming storm of idiocy.  In the meantime, this is a general PSA for anyone that needs the reminders:

  1. Buying a horse does not mean you have the copyright on every picture ever taken of them, no matter how hard you wish upon the DMCA fairy.
  2. You can't generally copyright an individual's name, either.  Especially when it's not your own goddamned name.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Bits and bites



Two reins, one headstall, one noseband that likes to be creative...
Buckle up, folks - this one got long.

I talked a little bit with Dom in comments about bits and my thoughts on them, so I thought I might expand a little here.

The first barns I rode in, we had snaffles.  Most of them were eggbutts, and most of them were simple single-jointed mouthpieces.  The only non-snaffle I saw the first four years I was taking lessons was a grazing bit.  The harshest bit I saw was a slow twist snaffle.

To be honest, it took me a while to realize that loose-ring bits were normal. We didn't have any of those. lol

I went through a series of various English instructors after that, about half dressage (or so-called dressage) folks and about half sorta-hunter/jumper folks.  Saw a couple of pelhams and Kimberwicks, but that was about as harsh as it got.  Saw a couple of straight bar snaffles, and didn't understand that they were gentle.  Saw some loose-rings and couldn't understand why you'd buy a bit that you needed a rubber guard to keep it from pinching (and I still haven't figured out what kind of magic gets those things on - seriously, the hole is tiny and the bit ring is not...).

So what I'm saying here is: I'm pretty rooted in English bits, and relatively simple ones at that.

I also spent a lot of time reading - a lot.  And when you're reading every used book on English riding you can get your hands on, you get a lot of reinforcement of the idea that a kinder bit is the way to go. (Especially in the British books.  I swear I have more theoretical foundation in the BHC than I do in Pony Club... lol)

When my desperate search for riding lessons of any kind led to a Western pleasure instructor, I started learning a little about Western bits.  I say a little - mostly we rode in snaffles or short-shanked bits (more like a Tom Thumb than anything else).

But I also saw a lovely little paint gelding that did great in a lesson for me in those bits, but whose owner rode in a Waterford sliding-cheek gag (on the bicycle chain end of Waterfords, too) with a single strand of baling wire for a crownpiece.  And a tiedown.  Why?  (Answer: Poor instruction and equipment cheats so that the horse wouldn't fling its head in your face when you went barrel racing.  No offense to barrel racers, but I've met way too many amateurs in that discipline with the worst fucking horsemanship, and I can't tell if it's a "moth to the flame" situation or just what's popular for girls of a certain age and mindset in this area.)
I hate braided nylon reins with a passion, but I thought these were neat.
I still can't say I really understood why the big curb bits get used, though.  That understanding actually came years later, when I was reading the Fugly Horse of the Day blog and followed one of the former authors off to her personal blog.  Cannot for the life of me remember the name of it, and I long since stopped tracking it because she wasn't posting, but she had a couple of lovely posts on moving a horse from a snaffle horse to a neck-reining horse in a curb bit.  Simultaneously, I had the opportunity to ride in a clinic with a lovely gentleman who had studied western dressage and was forming his own video show organization, in what wasn't quite western dressage and wasn't quite reining.

From those two sources, I learned that the point of the curb bits wasn't to saw on mouths, etc, but to use something that communicated the slightest movement so that the loose rein could stay loose and the indirect rein (ie, the neck reining) could communicate clearly - and in conjunction with leg cues.  I don't know that I'd ever be comfortable doing it - if only because I have some sort of mental block where I just cannot handle neck-reining - and I still can't say I'm terribly excited by the big curb bits, but in the framework of what they're meant to do... they're not actually as scary as the "omg, Western riding is so terrible" framework would have you believe.

I'm super-hesitant about gag bits.  Elevator gags actually bother me the least, because there's a very fixed set of leverage levels and a release is easily created just by the weight of the rings as the rein softens.  Sliding-cheek gags bother me a lot, for reasons that start with "if your hands aren't perfect, there's a long way to go for the horse to get a release" and include "how do you regulate the level of leverage when there are no levels?" and "if you should fail to check your tack for any reason and that rope gets caught on the bit and doesn't slide, you're gonna have some serious problems there, buddy."

On the other end of the spectrum, I've ridden in a hackamore a few times, and... I don't hate it, but the horse in question did not need to be in one.  She was a big, lovely Clyde/TB cross they used for actual hunts as well as hunter/jumper classes.  I had the pleasure of riding her in a bit, and she was a joy.  In a hackamore - which that particular instructor insisted that everyone ride in one so we didn't ruin the horses' mouths unless we were jumping, which I have opinions about - she pulled like a fucking freight train.  We spent a night perfecting walk/trot circles, and my ring fingers were blistered by the end of the lesson.  (The instructor's response when I told him there was no way I would be able to canter like this was, "This is why I encourage everyone to wear gloves," which I... also have opinions about.  That was one of my last lessons with him.)

So for now, I'm reserving my opinion of bitless bridles.  They seem to work wonderfully in certain situations, and for certain horse/rider combinations, and I'm certainly not opposed.  Just... one not-so-good experience does not make me want to jump on the bitless bandwagon.

Philosophically, I don't believe in "hard mouths."  It's just a term for "this animal has learned to ignore your hands and the action of the bit in its mouth," just like "dead-sided" is just a term for "you kick your horse so often he's learned to ignore you."  And like anything that's been learned, it can be un-learned.  Sometimes the path to that is ugly, because you have to find some combination of things that say hey, pay attention; sometimes it isn't.  I'm not going to lie and say I didn't start tallying up the amount and type of tack I'm starting with on Cessa and scowling some, because to my mind, a mild leverage bit and a martingale is a lot (and two sets of reins doesn't help, but a martingale on a leverage bit just sounds like trouble being sent for with a stamped, self-addressed envelope).  But I think it's achievable to drop down to a pelham, because it's not that far away from the bit our trainer had her in - and I think it's equally achievable to drop down from there to a Baucher, eventually, and to get rid of the running martingale once we're sure she's not going to try to throw her head in my lap at the first opportunity.  I'd love to get her down to just a plain old eggbutt or d-ring snaffle, but if she needs a little leverage, she needs a little leverage.

Unimpressed. Also in a too-loose D-ring snaffle and wearing only one set of reins, but it was just fashion show day.

You also can't discount listening to the horse.  If they're just going to constantly ignore a certain softness of bit, even after you've done what you can to get them into something at that level and nobody can get them to pay attention, then it's not safe and you ride in what you need to ride in.  Shit happens; there's no reason to get yourself killed in the name of "but their mouth is so soft and delicate and cannot possibly take this bit that will actually let me guide them, even though my trainer is telling me they see happy ears when I use it!"  And if they're going to back the hell off because you've got too harsh a bit in there, it shouldn't take a tense horse spinning up into a wreck for you to go, "Huh, they don't like this bit." 

In the end... Left to my own devices to pick a starting bit, I'm likely to reach for a simple single-jointed snaffle.  But from there, I'm pretty open to what the horse ends up with as long as I can safely ride in whatever discipline I've chosen to pursue that day.  That said, there are a few bits out there that I just... give side-eye to.  Like leather strap bits - I get the theory, but there's this voice in the back of my head whispering, "You have to clean that, and it's going to be sticky and slimy and squelchy and gross," and I just... cannot.  I can't.  It's irrational, and I know you basically just clean it as soon as you get off and it's fine, but I just can't get past the gross response.  I also have been giving some pretty heavy side-eye to the Parelli bits and the Myler combinations; I'm sure they do great in the right hands, but yiiiiikes, that's a lot of leverage and strap and bit.

Congratulations! You're almost at the end of this novel of a post!  Have a dog photo.
In the "bites" part of this post, I'm just going to briefly say that I'm am terribly glad that I did not encounter a loose dog while walking our last dog, because the dog fight I had to break up last week would have ended up a lot worse for our side if I was walking a dachshund cross and not a pittie cross.

In the end, everyone is physically OK: Laz didn't need stitches on his poor face, I'm just bruised, and thanks to the super-awkward five minutes where the other dog and its owner showed up at the same emergency vet, we know that a) the other dog has a home and owner and isn't just a stray, even if I didn't hear anyone calling it, and b) that the other dog had some punctures but was basically fine as well.  (I would have sworn to you, thanks to all the blood, that the other dog should have been missing a hand-sized piece of its side.  In fact, I think that's what I told my husband...)  Mentally, we're all a little shaken; it took me probably three days to be ready to cope with trying some peroxide on my brand-new jeans to see if the blood would come out, and a few more days after that to start trying to deal with the back seat of the car.
Breaking up dog fights?  First experience.  0/10.  Would like to never ever do that again.