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August 2008
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October 2008

September 2008

Spin in hand

Click to enlarge.    Perhaps this horse never learned how to move naturally, and that can make athletic riding difficult. We bought him at age six out of a dirt turnout where he lived with about 15 mustang types. He is a papered Morgan, and he had been in the dirt lot since he was two or three. Anyway, I decided to revisit last month's hilarious in-hand work with a bridle and dressage whip as aids, NOT punishment. We learned to "dance" together, going through the spin step by step. In-hand hindquarter pivots often kill us in Showmanship classes, but we just never got around to cleaning up our act. Moral: Your ground work (or lack thereof) will always come back to haunt you. Click here for more slides. (You will need the free free Adobe Flash Player 9 download for this.) Next goal: Get the move under saddle.

Sponsored by: Poudre River

Body building

If you can maintain this position, rider's legs straight under the pelvis, armsClick to enlarge. parallel to the horse's top line -- at all gaits -- consider yourself a hero. Because of the loose rein involved, NEVER try this on a horse you cannot trust. Better yet, get someone to put you on the lunge line or use a round pen. Even better, include a helmet. If you cannot hold all gaits right away, start small at the halt and walk. Remember, the most effective goals are small, achievable, and build to bigger things. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Snakes alive!

Click to enlarge. My horse and I passed the rattlesnake on the trail without knowing it was there. The next horse on the ride passed the snake as it "rattled" -- a sound like like dry leaves shaking on a branch. City-border dweller that he is, this gelding continued walking, not realizing how close he came to a venomous hit. Click on the photo to see how well this massasauga rattlesnake (iStockPhoto) blends in! The snake disappeared into the long grass. We knew instantly what had almost happened. The stories about rattlesnakes at Lory State Park were true. A mile or so from the trailer staging area, and several miles from the nearest veterinarian, it could have been panic city. The four of us riding at mid-afternoon -- a dangerous time for snakes -- realized we should know rattlesnake first aid. Bottom line: Don't suck the bite. Carry hose or bored out syringes to keep nostrils open in the event of a muzzle bite; pack a couple rolls of Vetwrap, gauze, and cotton for a light pressure wrap on a
limb. "Clean the wound with soap and water, and bandage above the wound if it is bitten on an extremity. The bandage will slow the absorption of the venom," said our vet, Dr. Allen Landes, of Equine Medical Services. "Note that I said bandage, and not a tourniquet." Take along a dose of a prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Snakes have other "cooties", and their bite can cause complications. If a bite occurs, immediately -- walk, don't run -- to your nearest veterinarian for mandatory followup care. Click here for more on Colorado rattlesnakes. Go to for more horse snake-bite details. Click here for human snake bite first aid.
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No home for a horse

Horses have no home in Hickman, Nebraska, even 32-year-old horses that have been born and raised on the same piece of property. We will keep an eye on "Peter Rabbit" and his owner as they battle city hall. Click here for the full Associated Press story ... property rights, zoning and tax assesment have become increasingly hot horse topics as hay land, farms and ranches disappear to more lucrative development. The Colorado Horse Council continues to work hard for legislation that protects the agricultural status of the horse. Stay tuned as we follow this important issue.
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Trail revival

Click to enlarge. Nothing revives a heavily-shown horse, or rider for that matter, like a trail ride. We got away from it all at Mount Margaret, one of our favorite Colorado horse trails. This pleasant ride features well-marked, looping trails, a stream, and lots of geographic variety. Click on the between-the-ears photo, right, to enlarge this downhill view. The trail is also a popular destination for dogs and hikers, but everybody was friendly and well-behaved toward our horses. This is by no means a complete list, but when planning a summer trail ride, be sure to pack mosquito repellent for you, bug spray for the horses, plenty of water, a non-perishable lunch, and a buddy. (When your cell phone fails, the buddy system saves lives.) By ride's end, our horses felt sharp and ready for the next adventure. To learn about Mount Margaret and other Colorado trails, check out Horse Trails of Colorful Colorado.
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