Friday, November 30, 2012

Vital Signs

Ok, here's something I KNOW we're all guilty of...or at least 80% of me.

When's the last time you checked your horse's vital signs? Ever? Do you know what their "normal" is? I don't. I only know what I've read and what's normal by the book...

Let's fix that RIGHT NOW.

It's rainy here again, and will be for the entire weekend, or so says my iPhone. (Known to be wrong ALL the time, but we'll go with it for the purposes of this post).  Either way, this is a perfect time to get yourself and your horse familiar with the most important facts every rider should know about their horse (YES, even more important than where they like to be scratched, or what their favorite treat is...). Also, some of these have come in handy since Hatchet has been on-and-off again sick these days. (He's ok now :))

What the hay is this picture?? ...Get it?

Photo Credit: 
First off, let's do a run through of what's NORMAL, according to the "books". My books happen to be the internet. Various vet websites...This is also what I grew up knowing. There you have it! Common knowledge!  Just had to check my facts before I went nuts and blogged about know.

Temperature: Normal body temperature is between 99-101 F.
Pulse: Normal pulse is 36-42 beats per minute
Respiration: 10-24 breaths per minute
Mucous Membranes (Gums): Moist, healthy pink
Capillary Refill Time: 2 seconds or less

Say WHAT??  Let's dig deeper.

Temperature is allowed to vary by about 3 degrees from that norm up there. This can be from any number of environmental factors, stress, excitement, exercise - all that stuff.  Anything outside of that variation, and you've got trouble. Getting to know your horse's normal temperature could save you a lot of panic and silly vet bills down the road. (I'm a panicker, but I try not to be.)
Do everyone a favor, and clean it before you put it back in there...

Photo Credit:
The best way to take a horse's temperature, unfortunately, is rectally. FUN!  The best way I've found, is to have a digital thermometer (More accurate than mercury - no human read error) that's all your own, and attach a string and a hair clip (The claw kind) to the end of it.  Slick up the end of that thermometer, either with some good old fashioned spit, or vaseline, if you're classier, and ease it in, clipping the string and hair clip to their tail. You don't even want to know what happens if that thermometer disappears.  Keep in mind, it's awkward for everybody, and some horses don't like it. Most don't mind...but be smart about it, and have someone help you or distract your horse for you if need be.  Be patient, and don't remove it early! You'll get the best read if you let it sit!

Pulse Rate:
Horses that are very much in shape can have rates as low as 28 or so, and this is not considered abnormal, but if you've got a horse that has a rate above 45-50, it should be looked at. Anything above 50-60 is pretty serious, but can be explained by an elevated temp. Anything above 80, and we've got problems...General rule of thumb, the higher the pulse rate, the more severe the condition.  That being said, keep in mind that you need to have your horse actually be at REST when you take this measurement. They should not be surprised or stressed throughout the process of taking the measurement.
Captivating photo...

Photo Credit:
To take their pulse, stand on the left side of their chest, right behind their elbow. With your handy dandy $5 stethoscope, listen to their pulse for at LEAST a minute. I always check this about 2-3 times before I stick with the results. Just to make sure I've given them a fair shake at it (Panicker, remember?)

Don't have a handy dandy stethoscope?? You can also check their pulse right near the front of their left jawbone.  Under the jawbone, there is a big ol' artery that sticks out. Using your POINTER FINGER, not your thumb, press against the artery firmly.  Since these guys tend to move their heads more than their, umm, elbows, only take the measurement for 15 seconds, and multiply to get your minute's worth.

Don't have a pointer finger?? I can't help you.  BUT, you can also check their pulse by squatting on that left side next to their fetlock joint, and rest your thumb on the outer edge of the joint.  Move your fingers around a bit to feel for the digital artery...

Can't find it?? Don't stress. If the pulse is weak or hard to find, it's most likely normal and OK.

A horse's respiration rate can increase based on a number of factors. Great, right? These can be anything from hot/humid weather, exercise, but also either pain or fever.  Of course, nervousness can also affect this measurement as well - ALL important things to remember when taking this measurement.  A below normal rate could indicate shock or hypothermia, but also could be your horse's "norm" if he is in good shape. That's vague! Perfect!

Watch or feel your horse's belly or ribcage for one minute. You can also watch him flare his nostrils with each breath, or put your hand up to feel his exhale against your palm (just don't let him sniff will mess up the reading). Whatever works for you...It's breathing.  Measure it for 30 seconds and multiply to get a minute's worth.

If you feel the need to bust out your fancy $5 stethoscope again, even if it's just to justify your purchase of it, go ahead and use it to measure their respiration rate too! Place it against his windpipe to listen to his breathing. By doing this, you can also tell if he has a blockage or anything else dangerous. You will also look super cool to everyone else at the barn at this moment.

Mucous Membranes:
The most medical way to say...Gums.  Lift up that hood (Read: Lips), and check out those gums. Here's a guide to what color they should be, and when to panic.

Moist Pink: Healthy, normal circulation
Very Pale Pink: Capillaries contracted, indicates fever, blood loss, or anemia
Bright Red: Capillaries enlarged, indicates toxicity, or mild shock
Gray or Blue: Severe shock, depression, or illness
Bright Yellow: Associated with liver problems

Just like a mood ring!

Capillary Refill Time:
While you're in there, amongst the chompers, you can check your horse's CRT.  It's a quick and easy way to check and indicate blood circulation.

Press your thumb against his gums for 2 seconds, to create a white mark.  Pull your finger away quickly, and begin to count how long it takes that white part you just made to return to the normal color it was...Ta da! Magic!  If your horse is anything like my guys, you'll need to do this a few times to get an accurate count. Hatchet is especially famous for head-banging while I try and do anything with his teeth/mouth.  If your CRT takes longer than 2-3 seconds, your horse might be in shock. Write that down.

Other important things you should know...

Gut Sounds:
My most favorite thing to do, as of late, since poor Hatchet has been suffering some gas colic here and there.  Gut sounds should ALWAYS be present in your horse. Even if he hasn't eaten in a while.  In fact, when you DON'T hear gut sounds, it is much worse than when you hear too many gut sounds (I usually cheer when THAT'S the case...). If you don't hear any gut sounds at all, call your vet, as it is indicative of colic.

To check for these gut sounds, press your ear all the way flush with his barrel, right past his rib cage, and listen for gurgling and other tummy noises in there. Very Technical.  Make sure you can hear them on both sides of the horse.  Also a great time to impress the ladies, and pull out that stethoscope! Best purchase of the day!!

I shouldn't even have to mention this one, but I will to round on this heck of an essay I've written!

Horses drink around 5+ gallons of water a day, and this is super important to their health, just as it is to ours.  If he slows down (And they CAN, right around this time of year, when it gets colder), remember to encourage them to drink, whether it's by flavoring their water (Apple juice works great), or with an electrolyte powder or pellet feed.

To check for their dehydration level, you can perform a quick pinch test. Yep, just like it sounds, you pinch a bit of skin on their neck, on the flat side - not underneath...that's just mean.  If the skin flattens, and returns to normal within 1 second, you're good to go. If it takes longer than that, you have a bit of hydration issues to deal with. Nothing we horse people can't handle, right??


Of course, these are all tips to aid our vet and their visit, or avoid a visit altogether, so make sure to have these measurements at the ready when calling in.  Also couldn't hurt to keep a general log of these values!

Leave it to me to help you get to know your horse in all kinds of new ways!!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!! those of you in the States!

Every year at this time, I try to look inward and thinkabout the things I have, and what I’m thankful for (I know, how mushy and emo)because I feel super blessed to be where I’m at in my life.  Sometimes I, as I’m sure all of us do fromtime to time, get so buried in our daily schedules and running here and thereand doing this and that, that we miss out on coming up for air to look back atwhat we’ve done, who we have in our lives, and what makes up our own lives.  I find myself constantly getting lost in theflow of life, and losing chunks of time all at once!! (How fast did this yeargo, amIright?) Lol…So, without further adieu, please let me share with you a fewthings I am thankful for…
Truth. Sometimes, it hurts.

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First of all, what immediately comes to mind probably mostlybecause of this blog, is that I have three AMAZING horses, who give me moreeach day than I could ever give them back over a lifetime.  They are my support system, my joy, mychildren, my wallet cleaners, my stinky, fluffy, nippy dreams come true.

I have a family who loves me unconditionally, puts up withall my get-rich-quick ideas (Side note: I’m not rich), listens to my storiesabout the horses, and supports me no matter what.  Even with living on the other side of thecountry, they manage to always be there for me, and don’t ever let me losemyself.

I have a solid group of friends, barn friends, and coworkerswho are my second family, always there to listen to me, guide me, offer advice,let me rant, support my silly ideas, look out for me, and share both the joysand sorrows in my life.  I know that Ican reach out to them at any time for anything, and they will come through (andhave, many times).

I have a job, while tough and challenging at times (read:most of the time), has allowed me to HAVE horses in the first place, and to bemore or less financially stable day to day. This job has taught me more about myself, and has taught me so manyskills that honestly affect some HUGE aspects of my life.

I have great lesson kids (and their families), who let meunplug for a few hours each weekend and reconnect with my own inner kid, whilesharing a common interest and love with them, hopefully inspiring them andtheir futures too.  They make what I doworth it, every time.

I have a car that helps me get from place to place daily,and 80% of the time does not let me down…Although it is material, I place a lotof faith and trust that this car will help my life continue on, and it does!

And last but not least, I am thankful for the Internet. Itsounds silly, but think about it.  Without it, I wouldn’t be able to keep in great contact withmy family, friends, OR meet any of you readers. Some of my greatest friends and acquaintances I have met or reconnectedwith over the Internet. I feel super attached to you guys, and I couldn’timagine living in a pre-Internet world! Thank you, THANK YOU for taking time out of your busy days to read myblog posts or my Facebook, or check my Instagram. Most of you readers don’teven know me in the “real world,” and trust me, not a day goes by that I don’tthink about you guys, and feel completely and utterly blessed and loved thatyou give me a piece of your time to read these, or ask me about my horses or mylife, or tag me to share something with me, or whatever it may be. YOU INSPIREME.

What are some things that you’re thankful for, as we preparefor the Thanksgiving holiday? No matter what stage of life you’re in, or whatyou have, there are ALWAYS things to be thankful for…Happy Turkey Day!

PS. Last mushy post for a WHILE! Whew, that was exhausting. :)

Disclaimer…yeah, disclaimer: Please don’t look at any ofthis as me bragging – it’s NOT intended that way. I know I am very lucky, but Iwork very hard for what I have!! XO

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rainy Day & A Ride!

Yesterday was literally the most PERFECT weather to ride in.

It has been raining the last 2 days or so, and for California people, this is quite the shocking change of pace.  For some reason, when it rains around here, people forget how to drive, go into hibernation, and complain on Facebook.  I, on the other hand, LOVE the rain, and look forward to it on a forecast!

I spent most of the rainy Saturday at the barn, of course.  I teach a lesson/horse camp every Saturday, and I cannot cancel on that poor kid, no matter what! J  Once my day was over, I blanketed all the babies, fed them their supplements, and let them have the rest of the day off. I was going to ride with Erin, but as soon as we got around to tacking up, DOWNPOUR. Fun!

Rainy day! See the horse on the end reaching for a drink? hehe
So, that left me with Sunday.  I had no real plans, so I knew I had most of the day to hang out and get things done around the barn.  I arrived and took everyone’s blanket off. Thanks to the End of the World, it was supposed to be in the 70s that day…Yes, the day after a rainstorm.  First up was Rio. He’s a fairly ‘clean’ horse, so after a quick brush off, I tacked up, and headed for the hills! (Quite literally)  He was a little hesitant to go out on his own…He will, but he is a very sociable horse, and loves to have a buddy. As soon as I got him out on the perimeter trail, though, he was fine, and we got into a working trot to warm up.

Rio runs a bit differently than most horses I’ve ridden. Normally, I’d walk in an extended walk to stretch out a horse, and then work them into a trot, but Rio has never required that. This horse has more stamina than I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’ve never felt him have a lazy day.  I ride with little to no leg at all. Mostly voice commands, or driving with my seat. He is SO much fun to ride, and picks up on the tiniest of cues.  Additionally, I will note, he has the most interesting pattern of gaits, and I will not ride him bareback! Not to say I couldn’t…He has more control than 80% of the horses I have ridden, but he’s a bit of a rocky road. Hee hee!

We crossed the bridge over the LA River, went through the tunnels under the 134 freeway, and around Martinez Arena, passing several rental riders as we went. It was kinda funny; as I kept hearing kids say, “That horse’s tail is EPIC!! SO COOL!!!” (Oh, remember when I said people drive like idiots when it rains? Exhibit A: There was a massive car accident right at the Martinez Arena intersection, where a girl my age plowed through a hydrant, and busted a water main). 

There’s a bit of the trail that curves around Martinez that is wonderfully flat, and a great place to pick up a nice canter. I asked Rio to lope out, and we went sailing past all the stopped cars…Best feeling ever.  Went through one last tunnel, and let him loose up the hill. This horse packs some POWER in his hind end, so it feels great to have that underneath you, but he is also conscious of his rider, and will not take off, as to let you fall behind the motion. He will usually pick up a bit, and then with a slight release of the reins, I confirm to him that he can move up and take off up the hill.  I keep my legs against his side to support him (And let’s be real, to hang on) but he does all the rest! J

He’s a pretty smart horse, so once we get up a mile or so up the trail, he bring me right over to the water fountain/trough thing the Parks Department has for both people and animals…sounds great, but it’s really not that bad LOL.  This time, he doesn’t opt to drink, and just lets us stand there and take in the views and fresh air.  A minute or so later, I ask him to move forward, and guide him down one of the 4-point trails.

Rio modeling the trough. Look at that view! *Pre-blue tail*
Now, don’t get me wrong, because I love a good, solid trail ride, but when you keep going over and over through the same 5 or so trails, you have to start getting creative.  Sometimes it’s working on leads around the curves of the trail, other times, it’s finding new ways to traverse the terrain…Rio is game for it all!  Finding deer trails, joggers’ paths, etc. It’s fun for me to see my horse thinking his way though an obstacle, or actually looking at the scenery surrounding him. I catch him all the time looking around, just as if he’s a person, checking out the sights. I wonder sometimes, if they miss the Kentucky surroundings…open pastures, greenery.  In any case, they get MUCH more attention out here with me, than they would out there!

We head all the way down the hill and back to the barn without much of a to-do…I brush him once more (He’s not sweaty AT ALL…remember that stamina thing?) and put him away…NEXT!

Next up, riding Bea for Erin.  Beatrix is a gorgeous Baroque style Friesian (AKA oinker), and Regina’s new BFF.  Seriously, they are joined at the hip!  Erin is gone for the day, and I jump at the chance to ride her mare, what a sweetie.

I tack her up in her stall, and just throw on a bareback pad and her bridle.  I hop on and out we go for a quick workout.  Bea has a bit of energy today, so she’s quick to pick up a nice working trot that actually feels like a solid driving trot underneath me.   It’s fun!  We do this about ¼ of the way around the perimeter trail, and then pick up a soft canter.  Riding Bea in place of Regina is fascinating. Interesting to see how, although alike in many other ways, their gaits are so different. Regina tends to be very linear and predictable with her stride. Bea is a bit dramatic when transitioning into her canter, and feels very…medieval…if that’s even a feeling.  Both horses are amazing, graceful, and fun to ride in their own ways.

BeaCam, creepy edition!
We make our way back to the barn (told you it would be quick!), and I untack her and let her stand in the crossties.  She, on the other hand, has managed to work up quite a sweat from our half hour outing, and I want to make sure she is completely cooled before I let her go back in her stall and eat her lunch.

By this time, I’m feeling the workout in my legs, and decide to give Regina and Hatchet the day off…Can you blame me??  They didn’t seem too upset.  I blanket everyone back up again, feed supplements, and head out. Good day at the barn! J

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dip Dyed Rio!

Have you ever woken up, and just had one of those...ideas? was one of those days!  Rio got a dye job! I found myself at Sally Beauty Supply this morning, picking out colors of Manic Panic to color his mane & tail.

Rio has always been the baby in the group. I've had him since he was two years old, so he's practically grown up with me. He's always had the desire to be the center of attention - I think it's more like the younger sibling syndrome, always growing up in Hatchet's shadow. He is always the one to want to wear silly hats, or do funny tricks. He even ate my homework once - NO joke.  He's very...pliable...which makes him a very fun horse. :)

Exhibit A.
That being said, I decided it was time to give Rio a little bit of extra attention.  I met Erin at the barn, and recruited her help...Rio LOVES his auntie Erin...See?

The bag on Rio's head just ties up this picture into a neat little bow.
We began to suit up. Putting on boots that could get wet and/or blue, rubber gloves, and laying out our supplies. Of course, I didn't take any pictures of this (that would have been too easy), but basically, we had rubber gloves, two pots of Manic Panic, a plastic grocery bag, a comb, a water supply (hose is definitely best, as opposed to a bucket, etc), and rubber bands, but hair clips would have worked well too.

Soooo Instagrammy.
Reading the label, it says it's best to use this on clean, dry hair, but we didn't wash Rio's tail beforehand, and everything turned out fine.  Just make sure you brush through it, and it is free from any big dirt clumps, or shavings.  We started to lather on the dye, rubbing it in with the comb and our fingers. We went through a pot and a half of this stuff, FYI.  Once we got it all rubbed in, we bagged his tail, and tied it around the top portion that we didn't dye. (How FANCY, we left some grey tail to cover the top of the blue area, so it would look more natural.) ANND we let poor Rio sit for a half an hour while it 'cooked' in there.

Nice. No blue cheeks here!
Then, we decided to get a bit crazy and dye his forelock to match. This got kinda messy, but like I said, it's a vegan dye, so Erin assured me with just a few swipes of a baby wipe, the color would be outta there!

Told you he likes attention!
Then we kept him entertained while the time went SOO SLOWLY.  Once it was time, we unwrapped him, and began to rinse....and here's what we got after it dried!

Smurf horse!

Forelock + Face. You win some, you lose some.
He definitely feels pretty! HAHA.

One thing I will warn, is that even though this is a semi-permanent dye, and washes out with a number of shampoos, unless you plan on shampooing your horse as often as you shampoo your own head, just figure that your horse will be this color for a very extended amount of time. It is quite the commitment.  Rio doesn't go to shows, and is not a famous actor, so I don't really have to worry about his presentation...

On the other hand, it can be a LOT of fun, and change it up a bit in your day-to-day ride. Manic Panic is a great brand that has been around a while to earn it's reputation, along with all the fun facts that there are no chemicals and that it's vegan, etc etc.

If you end up doing this to one of your horses, send me a picture, or tag me on Instagram or Facebook! I'd love to see them!!!

Here it is in action!! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

FaceLIFT and FaceBOOK (Clever!)

Just a quick note to let you know that I'm growing!

I've added a beautiful new Facebook page, that's just a baby, so be nice and add me!

See? I told you - Nothing on it. I'll get there!

ALSOOOO, you'll see I've added a "Shop HJ" button up at the top...I'll be opening a small Etsy shop soon, with some handmade goodies, so stay tuned...the link may be funky, but it's because I linked it, but there's nowhere for it to land as of yet. :)

Finally, did it really take you until JUST now to see that I revamped the page?? Came up with my own, state-of-the-art banner up at the top (I know.), and rearranged a few things to where they fit better. See? Change is good. Don't be scared.

Thanks so much for all the support!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Riding Technology - Ariat Volant Boots

One thing I hate more than anything, is spending tons of money on boots that are going to get dirty and messed up anyways...What I LOVE more than anything, is getting NEW BOOTS! Quite the double-edged sword.

Because I am cheap (I prefer the word 'frugal'), it takes a lot to convince me to spend money on myself, as opposed to something for the horses.  I don't ever want to feel like they're not getting something they need, because of me.  That being said, I found myself going into a local Saddlery with Erin to size myself for some discounted boots I found online ($100 Ariat tall boots?? Sure, why not).  I'm not usually a tall boot person - I'm one of those that thinks those are too fancy for daily hacking...BUT who could pass that up!  I walk in, and ask to try on ANY Ariat boot, and even disclosed that I wasn't looking to purchase, just learn my size.  WELL, out comes the salesgirl, who happens to be a friend of mine (Dangerous, at a saddlery), with the Ariat "Volant" boots.  At this point in my head, I'm saying - "PFFT, no worries. We'll be in and out of here QUICK!"  WRONG.  These just happen to be the same boots that Erin, that "Barn Friend" I keep mentioning, wears almost every day, and constantly raves about their comfort and style.  The second I slipped them on, I knew I was screwed.

Oooohhh the whole collection! Fancy finding this on Google.

Photo Credit:
 Dover Saddlery describes the boot in the following way:
The ease and convenience of a front zip. A combination of premium European calf leather and stretch mesh in the upper create superior fit and comfort in this new riding boot. Overlasted construction offers a sleek silhouette and enhanced durability. Oiled leather on the inner calf increases grip. Full-length, premium quality, front-zip system with keeper, TecTuff heel counter and overlay design on foot. Ariat's Cobalt™ Quantum technology. No front intake vents. 
OOOOOHHHH...Melt my heart why don't you.  Needless to say, I walked out of the store with them on.  I know we've all been there!! (Right?)  Thank goodness they were on some sort of sale, which turned out for the better, and made me feel 15.5% less guilty about buying them.

My new babies. Like buttah.

Photo Credit:
First of all, the Pros.


  • SUPER comfortable. I am able to wear these for riding all day, and then out to run errands later (You look REALLY cool getting groceries in these).
  • Very stylish. Look great with a pair of black breeches...I also love how cutting-edge they look. Kind of like a modern steam-punk?? Ok, don't push it.
  • The insole of the boot is so squishy.  I have a pair of basic Ariat Heritage Paddock boots, and I thought those were comfortable, but these quickly put those to shame! #firstworldproblems
  • SUPPOSEDLY, from what I've read, you can show in these. I don't show anymore, so I've been out of the loop for a while. Maybe you can only show in the all-black versions (Far right in the photo up top)?? Do your research before you blame me.
  • Love the grippy leather on the inside calf. My leg stays dead still in these babies even when riding bouncy Regina.
  • Works like a tall boot, wears like a running shoe. Seriously.  These do NOT need to be broken in, AT ALL.
  • Biggest thing I can think of, is IF you CAN'T show in these, they might be a wasted tall-boot purchase for you (get it?)...Might as well get a versatile tall boot that you can hack in and then clean up and show in.
  • Second thing, would have to be the price tag. Without my fancy (and LUCKY) discount, these babies push $500.00. PLUS, some websites I've visited charge an extra fee for shipping big, bulky tall boots, so there's that.
  • Not really a CON, but I've heard that the calf sizes run slim, so keep that in mind while ordering. OR run to your tack store and try them on if you're shopping online. It could potentially save you a lot of time and a headache!
I think I'll pass on these paddock boot versions...yuck.

Photo Credit:
So now that you're hooked like me, Where to Buy?

Literally everywhere online, I've seen them on eBay (Beware of skeevy used boots, unless you don't mind), and your local tack/saddlery store. Here are a few links for you:

Amazon (Check the size before you buy!!)
eBay (Cheap, and come with a free bag, and free shipping?? SCORE)

Just to name a few, but really, these are mainstream.  So there you have it! Your next new tall boots! I just love spending your money for you, especially after I've taken the plunge!

Thanks, Erin, for talking me into these...HA!

Again - I was not paid for this, just wanted to share my experiences and review this product! BUT, just a hint, Ariat, you can send some free stuff my way, and I wouldn't be disappointed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bon Voyage, Maya!

It is with a bit of sadness, but a TON of joy that I announce that we have found a GREAT home for our sweet Maya...

For those of you who do not know, Maya is our mare Regina's latest filly. She is about 6 months old, and a great little filly, with an excellent bloodline (More info on her is under my "Horses" tab up top).  I co-own both of these Friesians with my friend, Erin.

Maya - "Maaje"
Being that we live in Los Angeles, and do NOT own a ranch...We decided it was best for us AND for Maya to be sold to a home that has plenty of land and time to put into Miss Maya.  We ended up finding a couple who is going to start up a Friesian business, and has property here nearby in Lancaster, as well as in Arizona.  They sent us an offer we couldn't refuse, both on Maya's part and on our part!  Bottom line is, she will be WELL taken care of, and have plenty of free space, and love, which makes both Erin and I very happy :).

Our plan is to stay in touch with these new owners, and keep up on Maya's progress. Of course, I will share any information with you guys!!

Thanks for being a part of my family!