Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blog Carnival!

This week's edition of the "Horse Lover's Blog Carnival" is here. Wow, this was a big one - lots of good posts about all sorts of things! The main theme was the "Horse as Teacher."

Oh, by the way, I am one of the contributors. ;-)

We had snow last night! Almost 6 inches! This is only our second snow this year, so even though it's kind of hard getting up at 5 a.m. and going off to work in snow and ice, I didn't mind. This area is SOOO beautiful when it snows....

Mira, however, does not seem to share my liking for the white stuff. She's standing out there looking sulky. Oh well. She'll cheer up when we go on a ride later on today!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Math of Breeding

In horse magazines and books you constantly read about the problem of overbreeding, and how there are too many people producing too many poor horses for the available market. This is undeniably a problem, as evidenced by the fact that at many auctions it is possible to buy registered purebreds for $50 to $100, which is less than $0.10 a pound! The rescues, which try to save as many as possible from slaughter and adopt them out to good homes, are always full. Nobody likes the slaughter industry, but right now it serves a useful purpose in providing a necessary "release valve" for the extra horses, and while there is much debate, I believe it is a better alternative than we would see without it. I truly hate the idea of all those horses starving to death slowly rather than quickly and humanely killed. And I'm afraid that too many people that say they love horses casually breed new babies every year and add to the very problem they are trying to outlaw.

However, one thing I have never seen addressed is the math of breeding. Exactly how many new horses do we need every year to replace the ones that die, without increasing the net population? What would responsible breeding look like? So, I sat down and worked out the math.

Per population of 1,000 horses:
Assuming the average lifespan is 33 years, we would need approximately 30 new foals each year to maintain a steady population.

If we assume that once a mare begins breeding she continues to produce a foal every year, we would only need about 30 full-time broodmares. However, let us be more generous and also allow for hobby breeders and good mares that also need to be ridden more. So, let's assume that each mare only foals every 4 years. About 1/2 of any foal crop is fillies, and the other 1/2 are colts. So, out of 500 mares in this population, only about 120 would ever be used as broodmares.

Now, stallions have successfully bred over 100 mares a year. However, most people believe it is a lot healthier to restrict a stud to 30 to 60 mares or so as a healthier balance. A breeding stallion should however have the opportunity to breed a good number of mares every year or else it is not fair to him, and he may become more dangerous out of frustration (all stallions, no matter how well-trained, are still dangerous - it's the nature of the hormones). Let us say that each stallion breeds 30 mares a year. Thus we only need 1 stallion per 1,000 horses. This means that out of every 500 colts born, only 1 should remain a stud. All the others should be gelded.

To responsibly maintain a steady population of horses and ensure a continual improvement of quality, only the best colt out of 500 colts born should ever be used for breeding, and only the best 25% of mares should ever be used for breeding.

There you have it! A handy objective formula to help you evaluate your horse for its quality and suitability in a responsible breeding program.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rich, Linky Goodness


I just love this picture - I hope they won't mind my borrowing it. The link is here. Talk about sheer drama and beauty - Friesians will take your breath every time.

Here are some fun pics I found of a wedding on horseback - very cute. Not sure I want that horsey of a wedding myself, but I thought it was a fun idea.

Now on a serious note, here is an amazing video of a reenactment of a Jerusalem Marketplace in the time of Jesus. The scenes are set to the tune of Todd Agnew's "My Jesus." Go watch it. Right now. And then be quiet and think about it.

Well, I hope you enjoy the links!


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Still Alive

Hi there, I'm still alive & kicking. Had a very bad case of the cold combined with something else, not sure what. I have been sick as a dog since Saturday, to the point of taking time off work. (Rare for me)

I feel like I'm resurfacing today out of my kleenex & blanket cocoon and getting back into real life finally! I hope to post some fun links tomorrow, so stay tuned in!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blue Sky & Green Grass

A Picture of paradise!

Aaahh, I had a very nice, relaxing day. :-) I got off work a little earlier than usual, and so had some extra time this afternoon. It was Mira's day off, so I just did chores around the pasture and groomed her. Then I took her out above her pasture to this spot where the grass is the best. It has grown about 4 inches in the last week from all the rain, too, so it's just perfect! Just look at how contented she is...

I've always been sort of interested in photography, but I've only started really getting into it since getting Mira. She's a good subject to start on, so I'm having fun learning how to take good pictures, and the weather really cooperated today. I loved the balmy weather but now I'm hoping it'll rain again soon, and hard. We REALLY need it here. Even the mountains hardly have any snow. :-(

Well, ta-ta for now!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Longeing a horse is the act of sending it around you in a wide circle, attached to a long, light line, and controlling the horse's speed, direction, and distance from you. Roundpenning a horse is similar, but you rely on a fence and not a rope for boundaries.

Horse people often use longeing to "get the fresh out" before riding a horse, so the horse can buck and play before you get on. It can also be a very useful training tool in a lot of ways.

One of the common, and dangerous, problems a young horse will have that is addressed by longeing/roundpenning is an eye-changing problem. This is where a young horse feels insecure and wants to use one of their eyes to watch you at all times - if you ask them to turn away from that side they might spook, kick, or run. Obviously, you don't want that happening under saddle, so it is a good idea to get that taken care of at the beginning of training. That is one of the first steps in becoming a well-educated, well-rounded horse.

All horses have strengths and weaknesses, just like all people do, and it is SO satisfying to be able to help a horse get over a fear, develop a strength, and overcome a bad tendency! Horses are capable of such incredible things, and don't ever let anyone tell you they can't think - I have seen them stop and think something over very carefully. It is so cute how you can see the wheels turning in their heads!

My goal in training is not so much to produce a "well-trained" horse as it is to produce a "well-educated" horse. I think of the "well-trained" horse as one that knows it's job very well, while the "well-educated" one not only knows it's job, but it thinks about how to help you with yours. Examples: A cutting horse that "reads" a cow and controls it's direction and movement with no help from the rider; a babysitter horse that carefully watches small children to keep them from getting hurt; a trail horse that moves over next to a stump so you can easily get back on, etc.

But how does this relate to people?

Well, the older I get the more I realize how much God wants me to be well-rounded. This is NOT some self-improvement spiel - I'm talking about the simple fact that God wants to improve our strengths and fix our weaknesses. I hear a lot of talk about working with your strengths, and doing what you are good at, but it seems like people use that as an excuse to ignore their weaknesses. "Oh, I just can't help being grumpy before I've had my coffee in the morning." "I don't know how to talk to my friends about God, so I'll just pray for them." "I was born with a bad temper, so please just don't mind it when I blow up - I really don't mean to!" Etc., etc.... And I have my own little excuses and reasons why I don't need to work on this or that fault....

We also tend to do the same thing with things that are more... not neutral, maybe subtle? Like how much we read, pray, exercise---I keep thinking about the Greeks, and boy, they were really pretty smart about the whole "moderation in all things" bit.

But really, how pathetic is that, to go through life without ever sitting down and developing a personal worldview and belief system? I am not talking so much right now about moral convictions - we can thrash that out later. ;-D I'm talking more about convictions that shape how you view life and make decisions.

For example, one of my convictions that has come through much reading and talking, and yes praying, is that I want to be as healthy as I can be in all ways, and that part of the way to do that is by living sustainably. I make a lot of my decisions based on that conviction, rather than what other people think would be good, or how I might make the most money, or what would be easiest. By now, you may have figured out what my favorite word is…


I guess you could say that my philosophy is if something is worth doing, it's worth doing intentionally. Notice I am NOT saying "worth doing PERFECT. (Or even RIGHT - I make plenty of mistakes!)" I just believe that life is such a precious gift that I want to make the most of it.

What about you? Will you join me in my attempts to live intentionally?


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ta Da!

Yay!!! Muchas gracias to Brother #1 for fixing my computer! I'm up and running again, and it sure is a relief!

I hope to publish my "Round" post tomorrow - hopefully. It seems to be taking a lot more editing than I expected, and I keep thinking of things to add, so we'll see!

On other news, it has been raining cats and dogs (but unfortunately not horses) for the past few days. The sound of rain is so cozy on the roof, especially since it's been so dry, and we really need it. Although, I do hope it'll be clear tomorrow afternoon so I can ride. :-)


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Stay Tuned...

Aargh! I have so much to post about, but my poor computer has been broken this whole week! Thus, my computer time has been SEVERELY limited. *pouts* I hope it will be fixed very soon now, so stay tuned for my next exciting post on the concept of "Round." ;-D