In my part of the world this is the time of year we start putting out hay. The pastures are down for the count; not only snow-covered and dormant but at least for this year, the good stuff is pretty much used up. So it’s time to break out the hay (and my checkbook!) and start the ritual of winter feeding. While for me it is seasonal, for many horse people this is a year-round thing, the only viable way to keep a horse’s belly full.
I am a big fan of thinking for one’s self; there is a ton of one-sided misinformation out there pertaining to horsemanship, all dressed up asthe answer and readily available for our consumption. But don’t just take somebody’s word for it, think it all the way through, imagine as many possible outcomes as you can and compare it to what your own experiences have already taught you. Maybe there is some good in there but perhaps some pitfalls too.
Horses die. It is one of the ways they keep us horsemen grounded in reality during these modern, antiseptic times. They remind us of an essential truth; everything that lives, will die. Sometimes horses do it all on their own but sometimes we are called upon to help. That ultimate decision will always be one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching you'll ever have to make but if you live with horses long enough you most likely will.
Since it’s New Year’s Eve and since most folks like to read top ten lists and make the appropriate resolutions on this day, I thought I’d toss a few out there for the sake of our horses.
So lately there's been a big internet flap involving a big-name (lets me out) clinician performing at a large international venue when things got a little out of hand. I use the word performing deliberately. This happens a lot when a clinic, which should first and foremost be a gathering place for learning and improving, becomes a show. When there is pressure to get something done while everyone is watching, pressure to top the other guy, and especially when you're trying for that WOW! factor, there will be the temptation to take things a step too far.
Don't let the title fool you. This is not one of those "make 'em yield columns." Respect works both ways or it doesn't work at all. It's a rule that applies double to horses. If you don't have your horse's respect, the time you spend with him might be considerably less fun than expected. While most of us understand this and are able to pull it off to varying degrees, we are less successful at returning the favor. That's our loss.
"Daddy, how long 'til we get there?" Not all time is created equal. When my kids were little we lived sixty-two miles from town-it was thirty-five miles to the nearest paved road-so I heard that one a lot. Sometimes Larry's IGA seemed like the last stop before eternity.
The use of spurs is a time-honored tradition in the horse world. They have evolved into works of art complete with beautiful metalwork for the eye to behold and sporting jingle-bobs and long heels chains that create a rhythmic sound for the horse to hook onto. Something of a culture has developed around them and they surely mark you as a horseman when you’ve got a pair strapped to your boots so some folks aren’t going to like to read this one. Traditions are hard to shed, coming equipped as they are with knee-jerk emotional attachments and reasons why learned by rote from a young age. Spurs can be a touchy subject, but most especially if you’re the horse in the equation.