Monday, December 31, 2007

Update on Paddock Paradise Project

I have had a bunch of hits from searches on Paddock Paradise in the last few days (maybe from people who were given the excellent book by Jaime Jackson for Christmas?) and Sheil recently asked for an update here.

I have to admit, I have not yet completed my track. My many excuses include the process of changing jobs, ill grandparents living next door and needing extra care, finances, and a general lack of time. Excuses, excuses. Sheesh! I will say, however, that I only have to put about 20 posts in and put up the electric tape, and now that the ground is finally wet, that wouldn't take me very long. Unlike in the summer, when every single posthole has to be soaked for days on end to have any chance of penetrating our concrete that passes as dirt! I am hoping to get time for finishing the project soon. No promises though...

In other ways I am doing my best to give the horses a healthy life, including:

Fed 3x a day, with grass hay almost constantly available. Hay is placed in several small piles to encourage movement.
Only fed enough alfalfa to keep protein at the proper level.
Barefoot and trimmed regularly.
As much exercises as I have time for now, and more as things settle down.
Regular work/play with their minds as well as bodies to keep them stimulated.
Outdoors 24/7 with a run-in shelter when it rains.
Varied terrain (more varied than I'd like, in fact!)
Thorvin kelp in addition to their regular salt and mineral blocks.

I am very happy with how healthy they both are, and Mira, who has naturally great feet, is almost self-maintaining her trim, and has been for the last few months. Very little ever needs to be done to them. Andolu has only been here for about 6 weeks, so I am still getting to know his feet, but he seems to have pretty good ones. They are a little flat, which I believe is typical for a TB, but he is quite sound. He only shows a tiny amount of tentativeness on gravel.

Both horses look very satisfied when you watch them in the pasture. Watching them is fun, because even when they are bickering they look contented overall. They are always ready to get fed, of course, but since they are basically munching all day, they are not desperate at any time. I believe this is one reason why The Dude has gained probably 50 pounds since he arrived - he is a "hard-keeper TB," remember, and is on grass hay and alfalfa with almost no concentrates, but he has gained quite a bit of weight. I like the benefits to their digestive systems in being able to let them "graze" all day.

Other than that, it gets kind of hard for me to describe the benefits of a more holistically-oriented way of keeping horses. It just feels right to me, more and more as I keep making little changes. The horses will show you how much they like it.

To me, health in humans or animals, total health, means not just absence of disease. I believe that the ultimate goal is to have vitality and contentment that radiates from the animal or human. I am seeing more & more of that in the horses, so I know I am heading in the right way. So, if you are considering changing some of your horse-keeping habits to a "Paddock Paradise" or other holistic strategies, I definitely would encourage you to do so. You will not regret it.

However, just as with humans, I strongly believe that the most important aspect, the part that truly affects everything, is the attitude and the love shown towards the horses. I grew up wanting my own horse, and because I never got one as a child, it became a passion. I still can't believe I have 2 horses, and I know the horses can feel how thrilled I am to be around them: You can see it in their expressions. Just like children, it makes them feel secure.

So, the biggest single piece of advice I have for anyone who has horses, or wants to learn how to deal effectively with them, is, be a little kid again! Rediscover the joy of these wonderful creatures!

Well, it looks like this turned into a book, but I won't apologize. :-) I know a lot of you reading this feel the exact same way I do, and for anyone who is still new to horses, I hope this will serve as a reminder to keep your attitude of excitement. Work hard at the skills of horse keeping and horse training, but do it with an attitude of PLAY!

And I will TRY to get that track finished SOON!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Andolu's Christmas Ribbon

OK, the computers are behaving a little bit better, so here is the first picture. Perhaps tomorrow I will have enough time to organize the rest and post them... We can hope! ;-D

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you, from me and the family, and Anatolian and Mira!

"1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels 8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christthe Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

Luke 1:1-14

I like this story. :-) There are a lot of details about it that I find fascinating, especially as I think more and more what it would have been like to BE in those situations. None of the people really knew what to expect about anything. We can see the whole story now, and sometimes, because it's so familiar, we take things for granted. But the people living in the midst of this - I cannot imagine what kind of turmoil they were in! Even Mary was only given 8 sentences to prepare her for being pregnant while unwed (which could have gotten her killed, and definitely got her ostracized), 8 sentences to tell her she was going to be mothering her Creator... 8-0 I can't imagine how much faith and sheer guts that took to keep going even when she was terrified. And the Shepherds. They crack me up! Did you ever notice how in the Bible, pretty much every time an angel appears to anybody, they first have to say "Fear not!" Angels are only messengers from God, servants who do His bidding, but they must be pretty terrifying! Also, the "Heavenly host" was NOT a choir - a "host" is an army. Yikes! I bet those shepherds were looking for the nearest bush to hide behind!

Of course, I like to think about the animals in the story, too. What did the sheep think about the angels? Did they see them? Were they scared too, or just interested, or did they keep grazing/sleeping? Did other people in the town see the angels, or were they all sleeping? Were there any animals in the stable that night, or nearby? I wonder if they realized something really important was happening that night... Anyway, the more I ponder the accounts, the more I have to think about, and the better it gets.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy asking questions about the Birth also, and imagining yourself in the place of one of the people. I have had several people encourage me to do that about the Bible in general, starting a few years ago, and that, combined with finding out some of the interesting details about the cultures then, really makes the Bible come alive to me.

OK, I'll stop thinking out loud now! :-)

Well, I had a great Christmas today! Lots of presents, fun times with a few relatives who were here, some singing... We all managed to stay pretty cheerful all day, too, which is good - nobody started whining, even late in the afternoon, so that is great! ;-) I gave both horses chopped up candy cane in their breakfasts, and Mira loved it! Anatolian did too, as soon as he tried the first chunk! I also braided red & green ribbons in their forelocks, so they looked cute today. Hopefully tomorrow the computers will behave themselves and I can post the photos. :-D

I hope each of you had a wonderful day, also.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Click and Drag?

Tee hee, I was just telling my programmer brothers about one of the things I'm working on with Anatolian. I have been teaching him to face me if he is within 20 feet of the fence, and if he isn't facing me when his feed bucket is ready, I click my tongue and move back a little until he turns around. I will say that he is MUCH more motivated by food than Mira is :-) I also don't put his food down until he has his ears forward, because I noticed he tends to have a grumpy face on at feeding time.

Well, my brothers listened to me, and then one said, "So, it is a click and drag thing! You click your tongue and move him where you want him!" I think that it the perfect way to describe it! :-D


Friday, December 14, 2007


Both horses are doing fine, and I think I am vastly improved in the worry department, compared to what I was like even 6 months ago! :-) I did keep watching both horses all week, especially Anatolian, to see any possible abnormalities, and felt their legs a lot, but, while I did several times start to convince myself that Andolu was really favoring his right hind, (oh no!) I was able to get a grip and look again. Sure enough, I was over-reacting... If he was sore after the fence incident, he must be all over it by now, and I didn't ever really panic. I guess I am improving, slowly, and learning what to watch for, and what is actually normal... :-)

The fence literally took me 15 minutes to fix once the weather dried a bit - without needing tools. I do like that brand.

The English saddle I borrowed seems to fit quite well, so I guess I'll buy it from the lady who owns it. :-) He has plenty of shoulder freedom in it, and all the other aspects look correct. So, now I get to learn to ride in an English saddle!

I am still trying to convince him to try a banana. It's kind of hard, because he turns up his nose at it, and Mira is only too happy to snatch any pieces I put in front of him! I plan to start training the bow with him soon, using a handful of pellets as an occasional treat. I probably won't have very much time to work under saddle with him until February, though, due to changing job situation. It is going to be a hectic time, so I apologize in advance for probable long absences from here. I will be too tired to achieve even this amount of coherency a lot of the time! I do intend to at least get on the Dude every day, and to try to go on short rides 3-4 times a week, but it won't really be serious riding until things get into a routine again. Hopefully the time goes by quickly!

Over and out. See you later!


Some cool links...

I was going to write a deep and profound post, but I have writer's block. I just cannot figure out how to say it. Arrgh. I'm too tired to think right now, so, instead, here are some links; I really enjoyed them all, whether funny, thought-provoking, or serious. Good links for wasting several minutes...

Horsey Stuff:

Body Pilates

Spinal Alignment

Food Stuff:

Grocery Store Wars - "May the Farm be with You!" ROTFLOL

The Meatrix

Goofy Stuff:

Laurel & Hardy #1

Laurel & Hardy #2


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Drenched by Downpours!

Although, we didn't have nearly as much as the Northwest did! Please click here for more info on how to help the animals who were affected by the flooding up there. There usually isn't as much publicity about animals in need in a situation like this as there is about the humans, but they need help desperately right now too, with their owners displaced.

I would guess we probably got about 3 inches here. The rain started on Thursday night, and it poured down. Then, it started to hail. The thunder and lightning was also really loud. I think this is the loudest storm I can remember in several years. I didn't really get any sleep that night because I kept listening for any noises from the horses... Plus, I kept worrying that I had left my car windows open. I knew I had closed them, but it kept drifting through my head - what if I forgot after all? You know how irritating that is, when you are too sleepy to make yourself STOP worrying, but you are too awake to forget about it? Things finally calmed down and it was only misting rain when I got up before dawn to go to work. Both horses were standing under the shelter looking bored with the rain, and I was glad they seemed to have tolerated the noise well.

Well, later that day, sometime between them getting fed in the morning and my coming home from work, one of them must have slipped into my HorseGuard electric tape fence. A lot of my fencing is welded wire fencing, with electric tape, but I don't have the welded wire fencing everywhere yet. Anyway, whichever horse it was, seems to have panicked at feeling the shock, and somehow pulled about 4 fiberglass fence posts over, and pulled the tape with conductors off the posts onto the ground before getting free! Yikes....

Upon discovering the fencing, I looked both horses over several times very carefully, and breathed a major sigh of relief that I have such a safe kind of fencing! I still don't know how a horse could have gotten tangled in it, because there weren't any loose parts, but oh well! I have a feeling that it was Anatolian, and I think it was his right rear leg, because he's been resting that leg a bit more than usual. Neither of them has any marks or rubs or limps at all, though. No swellings, nothing. So I am very grateful, and I'm praying that nothing shows up in the next few days, either! I am also very glad that neither horse tried to go over the downed fencing, and that they just stayed where they belong 'till I got home and repaired it!!!

So, I am very glad for the much-needed rain, and I hope we get more in a week or so, but I'd like some sunny weather for a few days now! :-) I hope you all had a great weekend!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Er, yes

I do realize how long it's been since I last posted - sorry! I am super busy right now with work-related stuff. Hopefully I'll be able to start posting again on the weekend!


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Good Rides

First, another photo... I am feeding the horses in a Paddock Paradise fashion - that is, grass hay as the basis for the diet, with about 40% of the diet being alfalfa, to balance out protein ratios. I feed 3 times a day. First, I feed both horses a bucket of "Senior Soup," i.e. 1/2 beet pulp and 1/2 Equine Senior, soaked so it is about the consistency of oatmeal. Anatolian only gets some because he is convinced that he needs it, and I have to give him some so he'll let Mira alone! It is also handy to give him "Senior Soup" because it makes feeding supplements like Thorvin kelp, super easy.

While they are eating in separate pens, I go to the hay pile and get at least 1 flake of alfalfa, and a lot of grass hay. I scatter the hay in about 8 or 9 piles around the pasture. That is supposed to encourage them to eat more naturally, moving a lot more during the process. It does encourage more movement, for sure, but not as much as I was hoping. The horse will stand there and eat one whole pile, and then move a little bit to the next pile, and eat all of that before moving on. Oh well!

Anyway, the photo is of them eating. Because there is always hay around, both horses have a pretty blase attitude about it. Most of the time when I look out the window they are eating, but slowly and in a bored way. However, as soon as I go over to feed, both horses are suddenly starving to death! ;-D

Anyway, to update you guys on the nickname, I "tried out" all the different possibilities, and the names that have stuck are Andolu/Andoly, and Dude!

So, the last time I told you guys about riding The Dude, he was reluctant to leave Mira behind and go up the road. I was planning to use my "Carrot stick" whip to encourage him to move, as he wouldn't respect my leg aids. Well, I actually ended up using the string that came with the "Carrot stick," as it has a little popper on the end, which would be more effective, and it is a lot less clumsy to carry around. That has worked perfectly!

When he starts trying to turn around and head home, I only have to shake it at him and he immediately straightens out and moves out again. He is also getting used to the snaffle bit and actually starting to obey it quite nicely. The first couple times I was frustrated because he wouldn't pay attention to small cues and I had to practically yank on the reins, but he is now obeying light, gentle cues. Such a good boy!

Our riding time has been limited, though, because I haven't gotten any Simple Boots for him yet, and he has very soft hooves which wear noticeably in one ride on hard dirt/gravel, not to mention asphalt. He also has flat feet. He has been barefoot for about a year already, but did not have ANY trimming done during that time (Yikes!) which means the next 6 months or so will be a transition time for him to grow out good, tough feet. So I have to be careful until I can get some boots.

Until next time, look at something in nature for just a minute and think about what a marvel it is!