Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Road to the World Cup: Have Saddle, Will Travel. Guest Post

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Coach Courtney’s daughter, Reagan Upton, is a (the!) leading saddle seat equation rider. She is the first adult to win the saddle seat triple crown: United Professional Horsemen’s Association Challenge Cup (Reagan won in 2015, 2016), USEF Saddle Seat Medal (2016, 2017), and the National Horse Show Good Hands Trophy (2017, held at The Mane Event for adults).

Her most recent adventure has been to qualify for the World Cup Team. In the spirit of the old Road To Rolex posts, I’ve asked her to share her story. Step one: getting there. Reagan and her mom flew to Missouri last December for team try-outs at William Woods University. The horse were supplied by the organizers. Usually when you need a saddle, you also need a horse. How do you ship a saddle when you aren’t taking a trailer?

Welcome Reagan.
~~~
Traveling with saddle:

I am 28 years old and have been riding for virtually my entire life, but have never encountered the issue of how to fly with a saddle.  I’ve never had my luggage lost before so I figured I was due for it and this would be the weekend it happened. I had my suit, hat, boots, gloves, and everything for horse show hair in that bag. Everything else that might get lost could be purchased at a Missouri Walmart.

 

I am a person that plans EVERYTHING in advance and had to make sure I had all the minor details worked out prior to getting to the airport.  I decided that I most certainly will be carrying on my saddle (by far my most precious cargo), but what would TSA think of me trying to get the chunky, bulky piece of leather through security?

So I Googled “how to carry on a saddle”. There were multiple forums on the subject that were very helpful.  A few people had experienced issues with the stirrups.  TSA had believed they could be used as “weapons” and required they be checked.  I decided to roll the dice and believed I could get them past security.

Once I got to the airport, I checked my luggage and descended upon the dreaded TSA checkpoint.  I had my saddle in a bag with the flaps fastened to each other to make the saddle appear smaller and to make it easier to roll through the security scanner.  I sat the saddle down on the conveyor belt and nervously watched it roll away.  I don’t know if I was just paranoid and expecting the worse, but it felt like the security guy stared at it for a lifetime.

At this point, I just knew they were going to search my saddlebag and begin arguing why I couldn’t carry it on. Another moment goes by and out pops my saddle. No questions asked or even any odd looks towards my direction. I picked up my saddle (with stirrups attached), placed it on my roller bag, and off I went to my plane.

We made it through with zero problems.

Fun fact: A saddle might not give you weird looks at the airport, but a whip case sure will!

I’d Like Your Advice on Some Horse Buying Advice

My uncle, James Bunting, sent me a plan to approach buying a horse as a business project. He doesn’t know horses, but has built several business over the years. I have no doubt this advice is gold in the business world. However, I have doubts about how well this would apply to the horse world. I could go through the list point-by-point with counter-examples from the searches for Rodney & Milton.
BUT
This could be my discouragement talking. It is all too easy to say why something won’t work. So, I would like your help in taking this general business advice and translating it into horse-specific advice. Theories, personal experience, whatever ya got. I’d rather not have horror stories. The goal is to get me moving, not to send me hiding under the bed. Please forward/share the post with anyone who might have input on the subject. Thanks in advance. Welcome, Uncle Jim.

If I was going to buy a horse, here’s what I would do.

1. Decide if I want another horse. Make that definite decision which will clear my mind so I can proceed with certainty, or, not proceed. If yes, decide what I am going to do with the horses I currently have, and how I am going to it. After that you are ready to go.

2. If I’m going to proceed, I’d set a budget. If I’m going to buy a terrific horse, I’d budget for a terrific horse. It may take some time to learn what great horses cost.

3. Next, I’d assume I don’t know anything about buying a horse. I’ve found that whenever I start a new venture, and I don’t know anything about it, people think I am naive, foolish, and not very smart. But, I ask basic questions, gather information, and forge ahead and don’t pay any attention to the people who think I’m naïve. I don’t mind being perceived as stupid. This is a very important point, you have to be confident in yourself and your process, and willing to ask stupid/obvious questions, which other people may dismiss; the people who can help you are confident in their knowledge and will see your genuine interest and passion and will want to help you.

4. I would learn everything I can about buying a great horse. I’d ask people at shows, stables, etc. people who are the best at what they do, and have great horses.

5. I’d find the best horse buyers and talk with them. I’d find a person, an advisor, who would be willing to lead my horse buying project. I would probably have to pay the person. The key here is to find the best person who is honest and trustworthy and has a proven track record….too many posers out there. I’d check references and ask around about the person, which is just good business.

6. I would actively look for horses and visit the best horse candidates, which may mean travel for you and your advisor, and riding each good candidate.

7. Eventually I’d find a horse who I like and likes me, and it would be clear…this is the one. Patience will be important, and don’t accept an “almost the right one.” “Good” is the great enemy of excellent.

The overall theme here is to have enough confidence to say “I don’t know how to do this and I need help.” I think that is the key to success.

One more thought, which may or may not relate to this discussion. When I start and complete a project, I am very matter of fact about it, all business, nothing social; I’m not out to make friends. But, people respect my process, like the result and are glad they participated in the project and feel good about their contribution.
~~~
Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Starting Points

In August, my mother went to the 100th anniversary of her summer camp.

At the age of 7, my mother began attending Camp Nyoda, an all-girls summer camp. She acted in plays. She did arts & crafts. She took riding lessons, briefly. She stayed at the camp for thirteen years, eventually becoming a counselor. In college, she rode in her one and only horse show. She won a ribbon. She rode a handful of times on vacation or with relatives. She has not ridden in decades.

At the age of 7, I began attending Fireplace Lodge (now defunct), an all-girls summer camp. I acted in plays. I did arts & crafts. I took riding lessons, briefly. I rode in a camp show. I won a ribbon. I left the camp after three years to attend a horseback camp. I went to a dude ranch for one summer. At 15, I leased my first horse and disappeared into the horse world.

Same start; different paths.

At the age of 7, my mother began attending Camp Nyoda, an all-girls summer camp. She acted in plays. She did arts & crafts. She swam. She swam throughout camp, elementary school, junior high school, and high school. At college, taught swimming and was on the Water Ballet Team, now known as the Olympic sport of Synchronized Swimming. These days, she does water workout. One of her spirit animals is a seal. She gets cranky if she does not immerse herself in water on a regular basis.

At the age of 7, I began attending Fireplace Lodge, an all-girls summer camp. I acted in plays. I did arts & crafts. I swam. I passed the Red Cross Advanced Beginner swimming test. I went to a new camp. I passed the Red Cross Advanced Beginner swimming test. I went to college. I passed the two-lap swim test. Soaking in a bathtub makes me feel like a stewbeast marinating in its own gravy. Until recently [Spring Fitness], I had not been in a pool for decades.

Same start; different paths.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Driftwood Horse Art, Guest Photos

Rita Dee
Helmholz Fine Art
Manchester VT

Photos taken with permission of gallery.
Photos posted with permission of photographer.

Similar Statue
[Driftwood Disaster Statue]

Roaming Reader Photos
2016
[Antique Horse Toys]
2015
[Fall Colors in the Adirondacks]
[Summer in a New England Garden]
[Foto Friday: New England]
2014
[Show Today: Winter Tournament, Rocking S] Snow Photo
[Fancy Ribbon]
[Mail-Order Horse] Gratuitous Balloon

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Insights to Sight – Horses See Differently than Us, Guest Post

Blog contributor [Threads Make Feathers] and photo teacher Meg McKinney [Meet Meg], is back. Welcome.
~~~
I recently gained some insight to how horses see, and comprehend – or don’t.

slimhorsevision_mckinneymeg_2016_0156a-s

Background: “Slim,” my younger sister’s American Saddlebred mare is boarding at Stepping Stone Farm. When Slim arrived in Alabama three years ago from California [California Girl Becomes a Southern Belle], she was exposed to all sorts of ‘new’ – southern accents, humidity, along with peacocks, guinea hens, and donkeys.

During one of my early lessons on Slim, the guineas were patrolling the property in full force – clucking and scampering, probably 30 yards from Slim, Courtney Huguely, and myself, in the Round Pen, which is covered, and has a high, heavy post-and-rail fence, which makes a great enclosure for lessons and training.

Just seeing those little clucking birds from that distance, was enough for Slim to get skittish.

She settled down, and our lesson continued.

On a different day, Slim and I are ready to show. Photo by a Friend of SSF.

On a different day, Slim and I are ready to show.
Photo by a Friend of SSF.

Then, when we reversed our direction, Courtney said that Slim would have to get used to the guineas all over again. This was because horses’ see and comprehend one side at a time, or in one direction.

What? This was news to me. Horses have two eyes, on both sides of their heads, right? Don’t they see and comprehend at the same time from both us – just like us?

No.

Slim had to get used to the guineas all over again, in the second direction.

Well, we made it through – those fierce, little clucking birds never hurt Slim from their 30 yard distance, to Slim’s great relief, I’m sure.

Recently, I was reminded of how horses’ eye sight isn’t what we think it is, or, just like ours’.

When I put Slim out in a large pasture at the front of the property, she galloped around, and had a good time. Then, she decided to make tracks to the far corner, where another horse was calmly taking in the pretty sunshine. This meant going around the edge of a pond, and through a wooded area, which Slim did at a brisk trot.

Her pasturemate was an American Saddlebred, Lynnwood’s Yorktown Imagination, aka Tiny, who is anything but. He’s a chestnut gentle giant, that measures a good 17 hands tall. His trot and canter are so long-strided, riders put bell boots on him, so he doesn’t hurt himself at the canter.

Horses meet and greet by sniffing noses. Standing this close and straight on, they probably can’t see each other’s faces, because of their wide set eyes, but they can still watch for potential predators ahead and behind them.

Horses meet and greet by sniffing noses. Standing this close and straight on, they probably can’t see each other’s faces, because of their wide set eyes, but they can still watch for potential predators ahead and behind them.

Tiny and Slim got along in this particular corner, on the other side of the pasture and the pond.

Slim, left, and Tiny, take a leisurely stroll together, seeing each other from their side vision ability.

Slim, left, and Tiny, take a leisurely stroll together, seeing each other from their side vision ability.

When it came time to put Slim back in her stall, we went through the gate where they were, not the gate at the other end of the pasture, where we’d originally entered the pasture. This was a new exit – to Slim.

Then, the next day, I put Slim out with Tiny again, and used the same corner gate we had exited through the day before. She stayed in that area, and did not venture back through the wooded area, around the pond, to the larger, greener pasture, where Tiny had casually ambled to.

I remembered when Slim had to get used to the guineas, in the second direction, and wondered if she was afraid of going in the reverse direction to the open pasture area.

Sure enough, when I put a lead line on her, and began walking her back around the pond, through the wooded area, she acted like it was all new territory, and little frightening.

I kept her moving, and voila! Soon we were in the big, open area of the pasture. Slim recognized where she was, and when I let her loose, she galloped around, found Tiny, and noshed on grass.

Slim gallops across the pasture, seeing in the distance ahead of her, but not the ground directly in front of her.

Slim gallops across the pasture, seeing in the distance ahead of her, but not the ground directly in front of her.

Soooo – what’s the deal with horses’ and their eye sight?

I asked my older sister (a board-certified veterinary pathologist) about horses’ and eyesight. She e-mailed this Wikipedia link, Equine vision, that has detailed information about how and why horses see the world very differently than humans, can judge distance for jumping, with limited color perception.

Slim, left, and Tiny, quietly graze at Stepping Stone Farm Riding Academy, with the ability to see the horse and rider in the ring, but not a few feet in front of them.

Slim, left, and Tiny, quietly graze at Stepping Stone Farm Riding Academy, with the ability to see the horse and rider in the ring, but not a few feet in front of them.

After reading it, I understood why Slim doesn’t always want to walk into the main barn hallway, from the outside — because it’s dark. I thought she was being flighty or cranky. It takes a little longer for horses’ eyes to adjust to indoor light than ours. This is the same reason why a horse will balk at loading on a trailer – it’s dark in there.

Their instincts tell them, “Danger.”

The darkened hallway of a stables may seem scary to a horse, because their eyes are slower to adjust to low lighting than a human’s eyes. What they first see is a dark place, which may have predators lurking.

The darkened hallway of a stables may seem scary to a horse, because their eyes are slower to adjust to low lighting than a human’s eyes. What they first see is a dark place, which may have predators lurking.

I mentioned the pasture episode to Courtney, who reminded me that horses are prey animals, and that’s why their eyes are on the sides of their heads, with their incredible peripheral vision to see beside and behind them, but not straight ahead for a few feet. Predators’ eyes, she added, are located front and center.

Horses’ eyes are on the side of their heads, providing great peripheral vision to spot predators, but Slim has to use her nose to seek grass.

Horses’ eyes are on the side of their heads, providing great peripheral vision to spot predators, but Slim has to use her nose to seek grass.

In the future, I’ll be more understanding when Slim, or any horse I’m handling, balks at something that looks harmless, and familiar, to me. They see a much different world around them.

slimhorsevision_mckinneymeg_2016_0125a-s

Meg McKinney
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A Tale of Two Friendships, Part 2 of 2, Guest Post

Reader and contributor Louise Swan was inspired to consider the idea of childhood friendship after reading my post on the subject [But Keep the Old].
Yesterday. Part 1: the first decade, the first friendship.

Previous contributions by Louise:
[I Beg to Differ, A Guest Post]
[Leading Her On]
[Energy Usage]

Welcome Louise.
~~~

A Tale of Two Friendships

by Louise Swan

Part 2: the second decade, the second friendship.

In junior high school, the focus of my social life shifted from girlfriends to boyfriends. A year younger than most of my classmates, I was insecure about this whole boy-girl thing. However, I saw that access to boys was through the “right” girlfriends.

Enter my new best friend. She was very popular, a cheerleader, and always had a “good” boyfriend. I was impressed with her social success and cultivated the friendship. While she was Miss Personality, I was The Jester. She needed a girlfriend and there I was.

It worked. We talked. We phoned. We walked home together. We double-dated. We were high school best friends.

Our lives diverged. Different colleges. Different states. She married a “good catch ” during her college years.

When it was time for my wedding, she was pregnant with the first of her two sons. My mother, who ran that particular show, decreed that a pregnant Matron of Honor was not possible so she was not in the wedding party.

We continued to lose touch. I was busy with my life, she with hers.

At our 35th high school reunion, we caught up with each other. Her life had not gone as I had assumed. The “good catch” had been abusive, jealous, and controlling. She was divorced. Since she had not prepared for a career, she was making do with different jobs. With lots of anger issues, she had gained lots of weight.

That was 25 years ago. Those years have not been kind. She is lonely and poor. She lives in government-supported housing whose residents are a cohesive clique. She is an outsider. One son is estranged. The other does his best from 800 miles away.

There are physical problems. Health issues prevent her from working. She recently fell and lay unconscious for three days before a friend insisted that the manager unlock the apartment. She was hospitalized with broken ribs, then rehab and back home. She has fallen several times since then.

There is mental confusion. During a recent phone chat, she spoke of “your sister”. I have no sister. She was sure that our mothers had been pregnant at the same time. Her Mom had a daughter while we were in high school. My Mom did not.

How can a friend help? I call. I listen. Our friendship is very different than it was 60 years ago but it is still there. We talk. I hold her in my heart. She may not be gone gone, but she is gone. It is time to say good-bye. But it is hard.

Am I to lose my two first friends within a year?

A Tale of Two Friendships, Part 1 of 2, Guest Post

Blog Reader Louise Swan sent me an email, “The post about old friends [But Keep the Old] and the comments got me thinking.” The result is a two-part blog post. Welcome Louise.

A Tale of Two Friendships

by Louise Swan

Each decade has brought new friendships to me. Over the years, I have accumulated several “best friends”. Now, well into my 8th decade, it seems to be time to say good-bye to some of them.

Part 1: the first decade, the first friendship.

My first best friend was my opposite in so many ways. She was musical, conservative, and shy. I was none of the above. She had sisters. I did not. I had a brother. She did not.

We were so different. Perhaps that was why we hit it off so well. We were in grammar school, Sunday School, Girl Scouts, and summer camp together. Our mothers were truly best friends. Mom was her youngest sister’s Godmother. Our families went to the same Lake Club for summer weekends.

Our lives diverged over the years. We attended different junior high schools. In senior high school, I was seriously into dating. She was not. We had developed different circles of friends. While we continued to see each other at camp and Sunday School, we weren’t as close.

Although we settled in different states, we kept in touch, seeing each other over the decades. Each time we met, it was as if the intervening years disappeared. Our lives continued to be dissimilar. We both married. She stayed married. I did not. I had a daughter. She did not. However, the connection remained. She was my daughter’s Godmother.

Sadly, five years ago, she disappeared into Alzheimer’s disease. While I stayed in touch with her family, she was, in effect, gone.

Last Spring, she died. I was stunned by the effect that had on me. She wasn’t just gone, she was gone, gone. There were no more chapters, the book had slammed shut. My brain knew our friendship had ended when she no longer knew who I was. Evidently, my heart did not.

It wasn’t just the end of a friendship but closure of a whole part of my life. She still lives in my heart and always will. But she is gone.

Tomorrow. Part 2: the second decade, the second friendship..