Let’s Pay Tribute to our Equine Veterans on the Memorial Day Weekend…






How many of you have older horses wandering about your place?

THE EQUINE VETERAN

I know, I know, many of you don’t have horse property so you probably don’t have geriatric horses around…  Still, on this Memorial weekend, I wanted to shine a special light on the older folks of the horsey set – the veteran horse.

Now, I don’t want to delve into the ugly truth about the retirement of most of our older horses. However, I will touch on it because this has to be said.  Most of the older horses are not sent out to pasture – but are more often sent down the road…  Older horses are sold as kids horses (which they often aren’t), cheap pasture pals or as inventory for a broker or feedlot owner.  Sadly, these horses that can no longer perform are released into an unknown future.  Now, I know this isn’t true in all cases.  I know that older horses can be placed safely.  But let’s be honest, you don’t see many geriatric horses around, do you?

For me, I know how tough it is to house, feed and keep older horses.  It is a commitment.  They can have health problems and they do need more care for everyday stuff.  They need their eyes covered during fly season (and sometimes just to shade the sun), they do need different feed and they might need extra skin or hoof care.  But, the same is true for older humans.  I guess you either have the stomach for it or you don’t. But, in my humble opinion, if you purchase a horse, you should agree to care for it.  Young or old.

Having said that, some people feel that caring for an older horse is too much of an expense.  Some people feel that an older horse takes up space, time and money whereas a young horse in that family could live and thrive. Some people feel that the older horse is done anyway.

I’m not going to address that.  Instead, I’m going to speak about the older horse.

MY OLD GUY

Let me start by saying I miss my now passed 20 year old gelding, Aladdin, every day (He is pictured first and last.).  No, I don’t miss him in the way that I cannot get up in the morning, but I miss him in a very admirable way.  I admired him.  I appreciated him.  And of course, I loved him.  The way that I am reminded of missing him is my daily routine.  After 20 years, Aladdin knew what was expected and what to do.  He knew what all the other horses were supposed to be doing and he knew what I was supposed to be doing.  There were no shenannygans.  There was no head raising or sudden deafness.  There was no avoidance or pushiness.  There was no discord.  He was my partner.  He knew what was up and he agreed to it.  Finally, we were perfect.  I couldn’t ride him anymore, but he had achieved oneness with his human.

Now, I’m not saying that he was perfect because he finally did what I wanted.  What I am saying was that we had reached a “perfection” that I think you can only reach when the horse has truly matured — whatever age that might be.  Aladdin totally thought about all of his decisions.  I knew that.  So I didn’t care if he wanted to be pissy for a day.  He wasn’t pissy in a defiant way, he was just pissy in an old man way.  He still did what he knew would keep the place working well —  and I looked the other way if he decided to pin his ears all day.  Aladdin had his beautiful routine.  As we all know, horses love routine…  He would come into the barn in the morning at feeding time.  He would walk into the feed room and help me fix everyone’s grain. He would eat, he would stand while I applied his particular fly mask (and no other), he would go out to graze, he would stand by the apple tree when he wanted a treat, he would play with the pig, he would sleep right outside the mare pasture (just to infuriate them), he would stand by my front door when it was time for dinner, he would walk down to the barn with me at dinnertime, we would fix dinner together, he would eat, he would nap after dinner and then he would come up to the house for me to take off his fly mask just before the sun went down.  And his best trick of all… he would come up to the house and stare at me if there was something that needed tending around the ranch.

No, I couldn’t ride him.  But, he was my companion.  He was my buddy.  He was my ranch hand.

ONE IN A MILLION?

OK, well, maybe he was one in a million.  But, I don’t think so.  The reason I don’t think so is that I have another 20 year old here.  She is/was my incredibly successful show mare.  She has had 6 babies for me and has way over proven herself and her worthiness.  However, she can no longer show or produce.  So, generally, these ex-show mares are moved on down the road quietly…  But, let me tell you about my old Tess.

Tess is the regal and graceful grand dam (pictured grazing second to last).  Things would not be so calm and steady if she wasn’t running the roost.  Sure, I have to tend to her feet more often.  Yes, she must wear a fly mask daily.  Yes, she is a bit portly on the same feed everyone else gets.  And, yes, I bring her inside on bad nights.  But, she deserves it.  She pays me back all the time.  I can just say to her, “Tess, you come in but keep Wrigley out of the barn.”  And, she will do just that.  I never have to tell her that it is time to come back in from grazing.  She will walk herself back as soon as she knows I’ve fed the dogs.  Not before and not after.  She lets me do any kind of grooming or work on her.  She always stands quietly for the farrier or vet.  She never fusses and she never acts silly.  She is the ultimate in the mannered, gracious older mare.  She has agreed to do her job of tending to her flock as long as I take care of her needs.  Simple.  And, when I hear her nicker towards me…  I feel honored.

FAIR AND JUST

But, don’t all the equine seniors pay back in their own way?  I have another older mare and she has the same mindset of “why rock the boat?”.  They seem to be done with all the uproar and have settled into the art of ‘been there, done that’.  I find that this attitude of horsey wisdom has a great effect on the other horses — and on me. So, I guess my feeling is that if you have a horse, you do need to think about your end of the road, together.

You see, the older horses are quiet and they listen.  They are mellowed and saged.  They see value in their relationships.  They see the value in communication and practice it.  They know it isn’t about prowess anymore.  They know that it is about bonds.  They hang with and are devoted to their friends.  Dunno about you, but I like that.  I think that is fair and just.  Which is how they are as an animal.  Fair and Just.  They should be treated fairly and justly throughout their lives.

And,  if I could have my fair and just friend Aladdin back, I’d do it in a heartbeat —  even if he didn’t have a job, per se…

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Horse Bling for Valentine’s Day!






To bling or not to bling, that is the question.  Well, not really.  It doesn’t matter to me whether you blingify your horse.  But, if you do, or were thinking about it, or didn’t even know there was such a thing — here is my introduction to bling.  Besides, it’s Sunday and we should talk about festive things!

In my bling travels, I have found different categories.  First, there is the Brow Band Bling.  That you can find all over Ebay or search Google.  Basically, some clever people have devised a way to weave or sew beads or crystals into the headstalls of various types of leather or plastic.  This seems to be more prevalent in the Dressage world but you will see brow band bling for the Western world.  Here are a few examples of Dressage Bling Bands that I found in my quest.  I was quite impressed with the volume of options presented by browbandswithbling dot com.  I think if you wanted some elegant Sunday Bests for your horse, you could find it here in this category.

Following Brow Band Bling  is the overall Headstall Bling.   Headstall Bling is the natural extension of Browband Bling.  The Western world has embraced this big-time.  I’ve attached a few pics of some selects I’ve chosen.  The first is a good example of the next level of Headstall bling (you can find them with less going on…).  I chose this artist because she has gone above and beyond with adding PAINT.  A new concept.  The other example is the full blown horsey bling attire – the total package.  I chose this one because it is so much fun!  I could see myself buying this for my horse for Christmas — like he’d care (*more on that later).  At this particular website, there are many full attires to chose from.  I particularly liked the Ed Hardy model.  It cracked me up.  I didn’t know Jon Gosselin had a horse…   Anyway, here it is in all of its glory!

Next we take a step back into “horse jewelry with a purpose” — or so they say.  This would be the Rhythm Bead Category.  Have you heard of these?  They are supposed to help you understand your horse’s cadence because you can hear the beat of the beads rattling.  They fit around the horse’s neck and fall around the chest.  Here is a picture.  You can find these rhythm beads on the Internet and I am listing an outlet here.  You can get just about any color and any design.  They range from $15 to a lot more.

I see that there is now a Rhythm Bead expansion category of Mane and Tail bling You can get clip-on bling and add it to those areas.  That seems kinda fun.  After all, the TWH people have been doing that for years.  Here are links to where you can find those in all shapes and sizes.

Lastly, I’m going to bring up my personal favorite.  This category I’ll call Bridle Tags. You’ve probably seen them before with either a simple I HEART MY HORSE or perhaps a I HAVE THE RIGHT TO RIDE IN HERE when the tag is for entry purposes.   But, this particular Bridle Tag goes to eleven for me.  It is unusual, hip and you can personalize it.  (They have dog collar tags, too.)  So, I present to you the Sweet Bird Studio Horse Bling. You can have your horse’s name engraved on it.  Or, talk to the artist and design your own from her wealth of found objects.   I bet you could have her do just about anything if you browse the human stuff on her site.  Very cool and all unique.  I like her human work for myself!   But really, isn’t it all for us?…  ;)

*I once had a horse psychic come out to speak to Aladdin because he was being very mean to my donkey (that story later…).  During the conversation, Aladdin piped up that he wanted a flashy bridle.  He wanted one that would sparkle in the sun like he had seen in the arena where he was boarded at the time.  Now, you may think I’m nuts, but I did go out and get him a headstall with silver.  And, I swear he puffed up the first time I put it on him.  He used to pout when I would tack him up without it.  And, now that he is retired, I can honestly say he nuzzles it whenever he sees it.  So, color me crazy, but I think they know what they are wearing.


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