Category Archives: Handy Tips


FIRST, I wanted to apologize for the stoopid issues with the HORSE AND MAN hosting server.  Sheesh.  A special thank-you to all of you who wrote to tell me your specific problems… without your voices, we wouldn’t know what was broken.

I’ve been told it is all working now…

1)  IF YESTERDAY’S BLOG about tagging your horses during disasters showed no photos, click this link and you should see them.

2) IF THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY’S BLOG about product reviews didn’t have a link that worked to purchase Equion (love the stuff), click here.



I only believe in guns if you use them to shoot my server...





Yesterday’s blog (linked here) about fire and disaster and tagging your horses really did stir up some dust around here!  My email box was FULL of ideas and thoughts on how to tag horses and about fire in general.

I wanted to pass on a few ideas and an excellent webpage about horses and fire.  Here is the link to that excellent page.

A very helpful website about horse evacuation during fire... click image

I’ve listed some excerpts here:


If there is no possibility of evacuating the horses, and the best you can do for them is to turn them out into a large dirt field and hope they can outrun or survive the fire, be sure to remove anything they might be wearing. Horses can often outrun fires, or run through them and live, but they cannot escape from rugs, sheets, or halters that are burning and melting on their bodies. Before you release your horses to take their chances in the wide open spaces, take a moment to soak them from head to tail with the hose. Wet coats, and especially soaking wet manes and tails, will take up to half a minute longer to catch fire, and that little bit of extra time may give the horses a chance to get away from the flames. Horses, given enough space to run, are surprisingly clever about fires. Like wildlife, they won’t run themselves into exhaustion if they can avoid it, and in fact will often find their way to some land that has already burned, where they can stand and wait. The problem is that a big fire will often destroy fences, letting horses out onto roads, where they are in more danger from vehicles than from the fire itself!

Yes, blindfolds can help. Horses can be made very nervous in the presence of fire and smoke, especially if the person handling them is also nervous and in a hurry. Blindfolds can help them get their attention back where you want it – on you. Long-sleeved cotton shirts make very good blindfolds. Cotton leadropes are vastly preferable to nylon ones; cotton rope or leather halters should be used instead of nylon. If you have time, dropping the halters and ropes into a water tank for even a few minutes will make them less likely to catch fire. You can also soak the blindfolds before putting them on – or after putting them on.

Avoid synthetics. Jeans and long-sleeved cotton shirts (don’t roll up the sleeves, leave them long) will keep you safer. Shoes or boots and gloves should be leather – synthetic gloves and rubber-soled nylon shoes can MELT. Safety glasses or goggles will help keep smoke and cinders out of your eyes. And if you’re soaking your horses with the hose, soaking yourself with the hose isn’t such a bad idea, either.


A firefighter friend of mine informs me that a fire coming straight at you does not necessarily have to kill you. When you’re dealing with a brushfire or wildfire, your instinct is – of course – to run away from it, but sometimes, under certain circumstances, it may be better to find the right place and go TOWARD it. When a fire is uncontained and out of control, there is only one truly safe place, and that is behind the fire line, in the place that is NOT going to catch fire – because it has already burned.
If you’re riding in an area covered with short grass, and the fire is approaching, it MAY be possible for you to ride through the fire line and into that smoky, hot, blackened area behind it. If there’s time and you have your wits about you, you may even be able to find a dirt road or path that provides no fuel for the fire, and follow it through and past the fire line. With such a path to follow, you wouldn’t have to ask the horse to go through a line of flames, even very low ones. With a frightened horse and in the absence of a flame-free path, you might have to dismount, strip off the tack, leave your horse to fend for himself, and run through the fire line alone. Either way, it won’t be pleasant on the other side, but it will be OUT of the fire and thus safer.
The very best of luck to you – and to everyone else worried about the fires! There’s no way to predict exactly what a fire will do, and no way for a horse-owner or farm-owner to guard against every possibility, but perhaps some of the suggestions above will help a little. I hope so.

CLEARLY, my idea yesterday of plastic collars with their names written on them – is not such a good idea.  I never considered the ‘melting into their skin’ part.  Ugh.

I bought 12 of these today - bright colors with dayglow silencers (the outer plastic case). I got them with a split ring instead of a chain. With shipping, it was just over $40 - all engraved with their names, age and my phone numbers. Click image to go to site.



One reader told me that it would be an excellent idea to teach my horses to lead while blindfolded.


I could see how this might help, but I know that blind horses (or horses that lose their vision quickly, I should say) tend to panic.  So, teaching a horse to follow you blindfolded would be a huge act of faith for them.

And, maybe that is the point.

To be a true partner, you have to have that trust.

I think I will put that into my instructional sessions with Rojo and see how that goes…

Here is a bit of research on blindfolded horses:

Blindfolding is routinely used to aid the handling and loading of horses that are difficult to control. Fifteen relatively well-behaved horses of varying ages and disciplines were used to investigate the effects of blinkering and blindfolding on behaviour and heart rate in three situations: whilst stabled, when being led in a ménage, and during loading onto a lorry. Heart rate increased in all three situations when a blindfold was used, and when animals were handled by the least experienced of three handlers. The effects of blinkering on heart rate and behaviour were small compared with blindfolding. Overall, blindfolding appeared to make the horses more nervous and difficult to handle. However, the study does not discount the practical application that blindfolding may have for improving welfare and safety when handling certain individual horses. This work forms the basis for further studies involving animals less accustomed or disposed to being handled.

Click image to watch a video about training your horse to lead blindfolded.



Having Morgans, I have raised several driving horses.  They have all worn blinders while pulling the carts.  And yes, it took a while for them to get used to the hoods.  However, I’m glad that they have learned about head garments and blinders because it has served me well when I’ve needed to have them wear head bumpers for trailering – or when I’ve needed for them to wear extensive fly hoods.

But another reader wrote in about her interesting use of a hood with eye cups…

A hood with eye cups is a hood that has cups that can cover the eye totally, partially, or just somewhat – to obscure peripheral vision.  But, they can also be used if a horse has an eye issue and needs for one eye to be totally shielded.

Here was an ingenious use of a driving hood!:

We had a race colt that sustained an injury to his neck and he would not hold his head straight once healed.
According to the vet, just the wrong muscle memory had developed.

We put full cup blinders on him, with just a small opening on one side, so he had to hold his head straight to see while galloping and in time we opened that more and more, then the other side and the colt went on to do some winning and made a great ranch horse later.

Race horse blinders



Yesterday, I mentioned painting their hooves with the livestock crayon.   But a reader had another idea.

She said that during the two evacuations she had last year, they wrote their phone numbers in Magic Marker on the horses’ hooves.

Easy.  And for those of us who have accidentally had their Magic Marker leak  – we know the marks are PERMANENT!

Good Ol' Magic Markers!


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Click image for the May Bucket Fund to help the nursemare foals!




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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | Filed under Handy Tips

It is fire season around here.

Today I was reading about all of the fires in Nevada which is just up over the hill about an hour or so.  Between me and Nevada is the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  It is full of trees.  Timber.

Of course, a huge Forest fire is just one kind of fire I worry about.  To be honest, the woods around here are known for their illegal drug stills (true, sadly) which explode.  One erupted two years ago.   The fire engine were in my driveway – blocking it.  They told me it was too late to evacuate.  Luckily, nothing burned except the perp’s house because the wonderful helicopter ‘dousing unit’  had plenty of water from a neighbor’s pond.

However, fires happen.  I hate the idea.  It scares me.  Especially with 12 horses here.

So I started thinking about very quick methods to ID my horses – just in case.  Gulp.


But first….

Iris scans, microchips and photos (4 sides)  are excellent methods of identifying your horse.  But, many of us have not chipped, scanned or photographed our horses.  And, after your lost horse is found, it takes a scanner to read both the microchip and the iris.  So, you may know that the horse n front of you is yours – but the person that has the horse may not believe you…

Which is why you want to make sure that you upload photos of youandyourhorse together.  Get a Photobucket account or post them on Facebook.  Put the photos anywhere that you can retrieve them in case your entire house and ‘important papers” drawer is gone.  You should also take a picture of your papers and upload those to FB or somewhere safe.  Google docs is a good place for record keeping.

Click to read about Iris ID for your horse...


All of my research kept me enthralled for about 2 hours which wasn’t good since I really needed to write this and get to bed!

As an aside,  during my research sojurn this evening, I ended up ordering the book HORSES OF THE STORM which is about the equine rescue effort after Katrina!  I thought it would be a dramatic and interesting read.  If you’d like to order it, I found it on sale here.

This is a book about the equine rescuers from Katrina! Click image to go to the website.



As I was contemplating this, I had thought about creating a stencil with my phone number on it and then spray painting it onto their coats – but I figured there had to be better ways.  I also thought about quick-collars that you could pre-address and then just grab them and strap them on when needed – kinda like those colored collars that newborn puppies wear.

Somewhere in my mind I remembered hearing that the horses with their IDs braided into their manes/tails were easy to spot.


I started my research.

Basically every site said to prepare in some way because a disaster isn’t a good time to start planning…  If you don’t prepare, you won’t have time to do anything about it when you need to.

Since I was most concerned about fire, I wanted to have an ID method for the horses that was FAST and easy.


I decided that livestock marking crayons would be the least expensive and the easiest to use.

There are several brands to choose from.  Usually the prices vary between $1 – $5.  Cheap.  They come in a rainbow of colors.

Livestock crayons look like this.


I found several companies that distribute them.  Here is a link.

The crayons are waterproof and easy to schmear on.  You could put your phone number and some identifying word on each of your horses.

For example, you could paint your phone  number and then “Petunia” on each of your horses.  Or maybe the last four of your social.  That way, the person that finds your horse will see the personal mark that only would apply to you.

One article said to paint your horses hooves in a pattern only you would know.   Front right foot is blue…

For me, these crayons seemed like a good item to have in the barn or the trailer.  If all else failed, you could write just one colored swipe and at least whomever found your horse would be able to say it had a big blue patch on it’s right shoulder~

These are the expensive versions - but still really affordable.



It seems like ID Tags would be another easy way to prepare for a disaster.  The hard part would be getting halters with the prepared tags on all of your horses – or weaving the tags into their manes or tails.

However, the tags seemed to be the most durable of the marking devices.

You can order tags online or at a Petco Kiosk.  The general consensus is that the aluminum tags are the best.  Many put the little plastic cover around the aluminum.  I think the tags start at about $2.

This is an Equitag. Click image to go to the website.

I was thinking that I could have the tags made up and then have them pre-strung on some sort of shoelace or clothe streamer that I could attach to their hair with a clip – and then braid the cloth in their hair just to be doubly sure.

I wondered if the clips humans use for hair extensions would work in this application…

For me, I doubt I could figure out 12 halters with tags to be ‘on the ready’.  Probably I could and maybe I should, but I thought the mane tags would be safer in case a halter got stuck on something as they were running…

You could also get tags made especially for equines.  I found this link for Equitags.

Some sites suggested luggage tags.

This seemed like a good idea to me. Except I would add a clip at the top as well as the braid, I think. Or a rubber band.



To me, I thought a colored collar that you could write your pertinent information in permanent ink would be the fastest and easiest.

I thought I could have them all ready to go and if there was an issue, I could run around the ranch with all the collars on my arm and just 1-2-3 wrap the suckers around my horses’ necks, seal and go!

This one is reflective but I don't know if you can write on it.

Unfortunately, I never did find exactly the kind of horse collar I had in my mind.  I wanted long, colored, durable, writable and easy to fasten.

Instead, I found several ‘broodmare collars’ – which is what they use at big breeding facilities to identify the mares – some livestock collars and some reflective collars.  So, if you know of the kind of collar I want, please write to me…

Again, a good color and sturdy but can you write on it? Probably. (linked)


I found one that was glow in the dark… Click here.

I found one that was orange like for road construction.  Click here.

I found several for broodmares that you could write on but they seemed perhaps, uh, flimsy.  Click here.

These are broodmare collars - they probably would work. Click image to go to website.



If clippers are all you have (and you have power) you could make your mark on your horse as well…

Or, as I look at my PETCO MINI REWARDS CARD sitting on my desk… if all you have are those mini credit cards from every discount store and pharmacy – get a twisy-tie or rubber bands or dental floss….and start threading those through their hairs.

All of those mini-cards have scan numbers on the back that identify YOU.  And, you will probably be the only one who has a BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO mini-card woven into your horse’s tail.  Or CVS PHARMACY, or HOME DEPOT or whatever rewards card you have in your wallet… USE THEM!

My little pile of mini-cards. With some hair bands or twisty-ties from the kitchen drawer, I'd have a personal marker in a pinch!


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CLICK HERE to help the nursemare foals through the Bucket Fund!



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!