I feel like Goldilocks… This one is juuuuust right! Shopping for shavings is like shopping for bedsheets.

Do you use shavings?

I do.

When Mama Tess was around, I gave her a new bag of shavings daily – mostly because she needed her bedding to be full, fluffy, cover a large area and be super soft.  I wanted her to always be comfortable.

Choosing the shavings for my Queen (MT) was quite the ordeal.   It totally reminded me of buying sheets… thread count, cotton or poly, blends, seasonality, design, deep corners?, color… you name it, the choices were very specific to her and my predilections.

But once I found the perfect type (size, feel, price), I never varied.  It was AMERICA’S CHOICE all the way.  Big, fluffy, soft and 12 cubic feet per bag.

This is not Mama Tess… but I love this deep bedding!


Recently, I’ve moved to a new city which is 5 hours South of my old city.  That means that not all of my previous shaving choices are available because it depends upon the lumber companies in the area and the types of wood they are cutting, etc. per what shavings choices are available in this new area.


So, I’ve been trying to find my very favorite shavings, America’s Choice, to no avail.   Waaaaah.  Now I have to figure out a new type of shavings for Norma Jean, Dodger and Gwen to share.   They are my oldsters and they lie down more than the others.

Wahhhh. I cannot get my favorite shavings where I live now.


Yeah, I know, what’s the big deal?  Shavings are shavings are shaving.

Oh, so not so!  Shavings are all different – just like bedsheet selections.  Different sizes, different coarseness, different tension in the packing, different dust levels, different size flakes, different types of wood, different types of preservatives – Ahhh a world of choices for Goldilocks!

Said differently, here are my issues…

Density of packing:  Oy.  I want to be able to use my knife, cut open the plastic and let it explode out and all around the stall/area.  Easy to disperse.  However, many of the companies compress the flakes so that the cubes are smaller (for stocking, I’m sure). For me, when I cut open the plastic on these densely packed shavings, I may as well have a block of cement.  I cannot kick it apart without breaking a toe.  Forget using a rake to break it open (it will break the rake.   I end up having to use a shovel or a pic axe.  Ugh.

For me, this bag of shavings was like packed concrete. I practically broke my foot trying to spread it. I’m sure for strong guys who need to pack a lot of shavings for shows and such, this is great. But for me, ugh. Too densely packed.

Coarseness:  I like soft shavings.  I’m not sure how they make soft shavings, but I think ‘soft’ equates to expensive.  I find that if I want softer shavings, I have to spend a bit more.  That’s OK.  There is nothing worse thane spreading out shavings and then having your horse scratch a cornea.

These were inexpensive and readily available, but very coarse – in my opinion – even though the package says “soft”.

Wood TYPE:  This depends upon where you live and what kind of lumber is milled in your area.  We are lucky that we have cedar which I love.  We also have pine.

DUST:  Of course, for my purpose which is sleep, not absorption, I like no dust.  Since my horses lay their heads down on the shavings, I want it to be dust free.

PRESERVATIVES:   Yes… this is important to me because I’m using shavings as a bedding.  I think if you have a horse in a stall, or if you are using it for bedding, shavings clean of preservative would be the best.


There was one local feed store left that I hadn’t tried to purchase shavings.  So, I decided to get some hay delivered and add two bales of their finest shavings – per a conversation I had with the kind girl at the desk.

I got this bag.  Long Beach Shavings, Co.  I wondered if they were from Long Beach, CA, but that seemed unlikely.  So, I went to the website which is clearly marked on the wrapper.

This is what i am trying tonight… I’ve never heard of it, but a local feed store carries it so I ordered two bales when they delivered hay.

The shavings bag says it is a product of Canada… but the parent company is from Texas.  I guess it is all about networking suppliers.

Anyway, this bag was easy to open and the shavings puffed out fairly well.  Not as well as America’s Choice, but it didn’t take a pic axe to spread them – I used my rake easily.

They aren’t as soft as America’s Choice, but they are good enough.  Pine.  There is very little dust.

As I perused the website to find the contents of the shavings… I saw this.  Hmmmmm.  Made in California by way of Canada?  Not sure how it all works.  But, I do like the shavings.

The website showed this as the shavings I had purchased… Hmmmm. A product made in California and Canada?


I was happy with the ease of use and spreadability.  I think they will be easy to clean and they feel fairly soft.

Tomorrow, I will know.  If Gwen, Dodger and Norma are covered in shavings, it was a good purchase!

Beddy-by awaits my three oldsters! If they are covered in shavings tomorrow, I will know they liked these shavings.



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The determined Bettina Eistel and her very special horse, Fabuleax 5.

Originally posted in 2010.

I saw this photo today and it took a while for my brain to register what I was seeing…  Take a look.

Look closely…

Yup.  No arms.  Her name is Bettina Eistel and her horse is Fabuleax 5.

What is even more compelling than the fact that she can brush her horse with her feet, is that she competes, very well, at the Paralympics in dressage.

Bettina didn’t just overcome her disability, she walloped it!

(Kinda makes me feel ridiculous for complaining about anything having to do with just about anything…)



Thalidomide.  (I wanted to read her book but it isn’t translated into English and I cannot read German.  I wonder if a Kindle could translate it?…)  Anyway, she was born in 1961 in Germany, with no arms due to the drug, Thalidomide.

Her book

What is Thalidomide?  Thalidomide was a drug they gave pregnant women before it was known that it caused birth defects…  Hence, Bettina was born without any arms.

When I was too little to understand manners, I can remember my mother telling me not to stare at kids I would see who had birth defects.   She would shake her head and just whisper, “Thalidomide”.   I remember being very appreciative that I didn’t have that kind of a birth defect.



Bettina doesn’t let her disability stop her.  After all, this way of being is all she has ever known…

As an aside, another disabled Olympian was explaining the difference between being born with a disability versus being born “whole” and acquiring the disability.  This concept is an interesting topic.  You probably can come to some of your own conclusions here.

Bridling… look at him drop his head.

Anyway, as a small child, Bettina learned how to use her feet and toes as her hands and fingers.  As a youngster, she started in horseback riding lessons.  (Thank goodness her parents supported her and let go of their fears around this.) She wears riding boots with cut-outs in the toes so she can have ‘hands’ (imagine how cold her toes must get … and how often they clip a branch or a fence board – ouch!).  She can saddle, bridle, hose down, wrap, blanket and do just about anything else that is needed for her horse.  And, she rides by steering with her legs and holding the reins in her mouth.  IN HER MOUTH.  Try that… I tried to hold my brush in my mouth while braiding my girl’s hair and I ended up drooling all over the place in about a minute.  I have no idea how she does it.  Amazing.

Oh, and besides all those horse riding feats, she can text, write and put on mascara with her toes!

Hmmmm.  I’m starting to feel sheepish for complaining about anything…

They say Bettina is a master at hose water fights!

“After highschool in 1979, Bettina studied the History of Art, Archaeology and Ethnology in Hamburg, followed by an eight-year study of psychology. During her psychology studies, she  participated in a project with Hamburg’s home for children. In 1989 she completed her studies with a diploma and has since worked as a graduate psychologist in a Hamburg counseling center for children and family therapy.”


I really couldn’t find much information on her coaching (Her coach Franz-Martin Stankus) or how she learned to ride.  But, I did find out that she:

“Eistel was formerly Vice-Europe and Vice World Champion (two silver and bronze at the European Championships in Portugal in 2002 and three silver at the World Championships in Belgium in 2003) and won two silver and one bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens , she won also three times the German championship.  As the most recent successes are the bronze medal in the required tasks of the individual competition and the silver medal in the team standings at the 2008 Paralympics in Hong Kong.”

Not bad even for a girl WITH arms…

With her dressage medal


You have to really think about the kind of horse who would let this kind of a rider be his partner.  Really… what temperament is needed to perform at high level dressage as well as take care of a disabled rider?  Wow.  I wish I knew if they looked high and low for him… or if they simply trained a good horse to understand this rider?  (I need to read her book.)  I mean, did they find a horse and say to him that this is the way we are going to do it now?  Or, does the Fabuleax 5 ‘know’?  I often hear that certain horses are much more gracious with disabled riders than with regular riders.  I know that my Gwen is much nicer to children than to me… I wonder how that happens?  Is it the horse or the quality/feel/spirit of the disabled rider/child that effects the horse?  Dunno.

Taking a treat from Mom

Bettina says she trained her horse via voice commands, head movement and leg aids.  Funny, I bet hardly any of us would think it was even possible to ride a horse without arms.

From where I sit, I would like to be in the presence of  the wonderful Fabuleax 5.  He is a saint in my book.  Fabuleax lets Bettina ride him in the only way she can… with the reins in her teeth and the other set of reins between her toes.  And, he does his job.  Simple.  Gosh.  Impressive.

If you notice in the photos, he lowers his head to be bridled and to be brushed.  Atta boy!

Beautiful boy


Bettina also landed a gig as a Talk Show Host.  With a weekly show on German TV station ZDF, Bettina is something of a media star.  They say her popularity is because of her engaging and optimistic personality… but one cannot ignore her amazing ability to do everything, literally everything, with her feet..

Bettina as talk show host


Her website (linked here)  is in German… Babelfsh can translate for you.  On her home page, on the bottom right corner is a word “Kontakt” which mean Contact.  You can email her there.


I wanted to bring this story to you because I think sometimes we give up too easily.  Or maybe it is just me… maybe I think I give up too easily or don’t push through my/my horse’s issues or don’t get over myself/my fears or don’t put as much effort/time into training my horses as I could.  Reading about Bettina was a good shot in the arm for me…

I sure don’t feel like making any excuses or complaining…

I cannot even imagine folding the laundry with my feet, let alone living 24 hours without my hands.  Wow.  Very inspirational.

What a great team!

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