Monday, November 30, 2009

Wrap It Up

Sunday November 29 2009

The discussion of standing leg wraps came up on Ridecamp on Do you wrap your horses' legs after a ride?

I come from the racetrack, where wrapping legs was a given. But that was with horses that were stalled 22+ of 24 hours of the day. It worked better on some horses than others; some horses natually had tighter legs than others. On those that didn't, you could often see the difference in a tight leg and a filled leg if you didn't wrap them overnight. We left them on for 24 hours, but never more, even if we just took them off to re-rub and re-set the bandages. We used different things under the wraps - furasin sweat, or mud, or mud sweat, a rub-down with alcohol or just dry wraps - you got a feel for what was best for each horse. Sometimes we stood a horse in ice boots then wrapped the legs. I did meet a physiotherapist recently who was against icing legs - she pointed out the circulation in horse legs is minimal enough, why would you want to make it harder by constricting blood vessels? The circulation is what carries the fluid out. I'm a big fan of cold-water hosing.

Translating bandaging to horses that are not stalled every day (i.e. endurance horses) - If my horse is going to be tied to a trailer after a 25 or 50+ mile ride, I would rather put standing wraps on all four legs to prevent him stocking up. If the horse is going to be turned out in a decent sized paddock after a ride, it depends on the horse, but I don't feel the wraps are as necessary because the horse is going to be moving around on his own, enough to keep the circulation going and the fluid from accumulating.

Does it really matter if your horse has filled legs in the morning? (Because if he's being ridden the next day, it will likely work itself out.) I don't know. I just prefer to have cool tight legs in the mornings on an athlete, and for a standing/penned horse, I find it most often helps.

Also if your horse cuts or skins a lower leg where it's obviously going to blow up, a furasin sweat works wonders for that. Does it take away from the natural inflammatory process, and is that bad? I don't know, but I use furasin sweats for those dings. Someone also taught me that if you put the plastic wrap outside the cotton wrap (which is against the leg) you get a better, longer-lasting moist sweat on the leg.

I also agree that if you can't put a wrap on correctly you might be better off not doing them at all, because you might do more harm than good. All it takes is practice. I had lots of practice - about 10 years' worth - at the track. A couple of years I was wrapping about 20 legs a day. And I had carpal tunnel at the time - in both hands, but the right one was so bad I couldn't button my jeans or tie my shoes or use a pair of scissors or hold a Dr Pepper can (horrors!). Try holding a leg wrap - much less wrapping one on - in a hand that doesn't work at all, and one that barely does. it was a challenge!

It's also best to use standing wraps (made of double-knit polyester) - not polos, not vet wrap - for standing wraps. The standing wraps have just the right amount of stretch in them for support, whereas the polos have too little, and the vet wrap has too much.

What's your two cents' worth? Add your piece to Ridecamp on

Friday, November 27, 2009


Friday November 27 2009

It is folly to think we have conquered them. We are foolish to believe we are in control.

We harness them, hitch them, cinch them, throw on loads, climb behind and aboard them, and have our way with them. We borrow their athleticism and take advantage of their instincts, convince them to race, chase cows, spin circles, bow their necks, dance, blaze trails; and we congratulate ourselves on our prowess. We convince ourselves of our dominance, when we really only briefly redirect their fear, their trust, their spirit; and we think we are free.

They could kill us or hurt us, and sometimes they do. But most often they let us use them, they let us guide them, direct them, work them. They don't have to, but they choose to give a part of themselves to us.

And when they share willingly with us, it's a gift, an amazing treasure.

Kazam gave me his best effort yet today - a bold, brave, confident horse on the trails who let me direct his fear and trust, who shared with me a portion of his power and courage and being. For a brief time, I felt free with Kazam.

(I think Jose had a talk with him.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Wednesday November 25 2009

I rode my big beautiful horse today, on a beautiful cold Owyhee fall day. Our shadow followed us far below as we rode along the ridge of the canyon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Morning Owyhee

Tuesday November 24 2009

We get some spectacular sunsets around here, but some of the sunrises are pretty fair, too.

There's a kestrel in this tree... I think he is enjoying the sunrise show.

There's an old nest in this tree. Hasn't been used in the last 2 years, but wouldn't it make a great spot for a hawk or Raven to grow up!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sunday November 22 2009

It comes - it really comes today!

The first 'real' snowstorm - more than a skiff. Small and insignificant and brief as it is, it clogs the air with fat wet flakes and leaves a solid white carpet on the ground, enough to stand up on the fence rails and drop a thick blanket on backs and butts and tails and manes and my own locks.

I'm intoxicated with the sight, and delirious with the sounds: the rubbery squeaky crackle of every footstep in the snow, the muted-desert winter-silence but for the flakes that hit my hat and jacket - fft fft fft; the cows walking down from the mountains to Oreana a day late, bawling their cantankerous opinions "Mabel - I TOLD you we should've left yesterday!"

The snow stays for a few hours, just like the clouds; then it evaporates, just like the clouds, leaving only a cold wind and a golden light over the snow-covered Owyhees up the crick, and a promise of more serious snow to come this winter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Joy of Being Jose

Saturday November 21 2009

Every morning he entertains us all. One by one, we succumb to his enthusiasm.

He looks for recruits.

He gets the ball rolling.

Mac is his first recruit!

They spar.

Half brother Kazam is next.

He gets the entire herd whirling in a swirl of dust.

He plays with Huckleberry, who doesn't have many friends yet.

Remember that hand game you played as a kid: hold your hands up, palm down; your friend has his hands under yours. "Try to slap my hands!" Jose's favorite game is similar: pawing in the dirt in front of somebody, and, "Try to get bite my leg!" Mac does it often with him. Jose has even gotten Finneas and Dudley to try it.

And when nobody wants to do it with him, he does it himself!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Free Spirit

Thursday November 19 2009

Every morning, as the Owyhee Mountains glow rose and orange in the sunrise, Jose, the Owyhee Social Director, makes his rounds visiting everybody, getting them excited about being alive to see and appreciate another Owyhee day. He romps with Kazam, plays tag with Huckleberry, spars with Dudley and Finneas over the fence, and wrestles with Mac. His love of being a horse is contagious. I can see the horses smile when he comes around.

Take Rushcreek Mac - he didn't have a personality until he met Jose 2 years ago. Now he's a believer.

Jose, happy with life, is contagious. He has that special effect on horses... and people too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Got Curly?

Wednesday November 18 2009

Think of what it would be like if you couldn't have the one thing you enjoyed most in life. For you addicted horse people, that would be your horses. What if you had to give up horses, riding, everything, because you had a daughter who was severely allergic to them?

That's what happened to Shelly White, when she discovered her infant daughter was severely allergic to horses. Shelly couldn't even walk in the house after being around horses without her daughter having difficulty breathing. She eventually had to completely give them up - there was no other choice. She hoped that maybe one day down the road, say when her daughter was 20 and out of the house, she might get back into horses. As Anastasia grew up, she herself was "infatuated with horses," but she couldn't be around them.

When Anastasia was 12 or 13, Shelly heard about the North American Curly horse, which is known for being hypo-allergenic. When the 3-year-old Curly horse *Cuervo arrived at their farm in Summerland, BC, Canada, it was a life-changing event.

Not only was Anastasia able to be around *Cuervo, and start riding him once he was broke, but she eventually did everything on the palomino Curly - jumping, 4H, Pony Club, dressage, and endurance. And Shelly was rather astounded with his temperament. "I was used to Arabians - you know, a sometimes 'reactive' breed - but this horse was amazing. He came from a thousand miles away, but when he arrived, he was very calm from the beginning. He didn't barge into you or step on you, he was very personable - we were so lucky to have him!"

*Cuervo was such a good horse that Shelly soon got more Curlies. She picked up 3 mares from a Curly Horse Rescue, and they ended up becoming her foundation broodmares. She later got her own stallion - *Sandman's Magic - and now she has about 20 Curlies at her Curly Standard Place farm.

Known as North American Curly Horses, or American Bashkir Curlies, the name obviously comes from the curly coat they get in the winter, and their sometimes curly manes and/or tails. The curly coat sheds out in the summer, though the hair in their ears always remains curled. (The * before a Curly's name means they have curls in their coat, as there are some Smooth-Coated Curlies.)

The curly gene has been seen in most every breed; curly coated horses have been documented as early as 161 AD in drawings in China. The earliest indication of curly coated horses in America is from the 1800's among the Sioux and Crow Indians.

One theory as to how the Curly breed developed in America comes from the wild Mustang. When the curly coat showed up in other breeds, it was looked on as an unfavorable trait. When a Mustang showed up with a curly coat, it wasn't discarded. The curly coated mustangs in fact showed a high degree of hardiness, and rancher John Damele from Nevada is credited with starting to breed the curly coated mustangs, and crossing them with his working stock, in the early 1900's.

In 1971 the American Bashkir Curly Registry started up with 21 horses; now there are several thousand. ("Bashkir" is a breed from the Ural mountains in Russia with a thick, curly winter coat; however, there is no evidence that the curly coat in North American breeds is related. A photo of this breed was saved in a scrapbook by the Damele family, which is where the name for the American Bashkir Curly horse came from.)

Shelly White admits she sounds somewhat like a fanatic, but why not? "You can do anything with Curlies - driving, dressage, reining, endurance, trail riding. They like people, and in fact will seek them out; they are easy going; they will tackle just about anything without questioning you. They don't overreact to things, and they tend to think first before reacting. I've gotten spoiled with my Curlies!"

Besides breeding, raising, training and selling Curlies, Shelly's stallion, *Sandman's Magic, just completed quarantine, and now has frozen semen available for Europe and Australia. "Sandman will be a grandfather of the Curly breed in Australia!" Shelly has also donated a breeding to *Sandman's Magic to the current Curly Horse Rescue Silent Auction.

Shelly enjoys endurance riding as a family affair - the riding and camping with her kids - though Anastasia, now 20, still suffers from horse allergies. She rides her Curly mare *Spar's Barefoot Contessa - produced from one of Shelly's foundation Curly mares - but is worn out at the end of the day. Shelly's son Shane has ridden *Cuervo in endurance also. The family would like to do more endurance in the near future... I might have talked Shelly into trying one of our Owyhee multi-day rides. : )

Check out the Curly Horse Rescue and their Silent Auction, which began November 15, and runs to December 10, and consider bidding on some items.

Or, have a closer look at Curly Standard Place Farm. Have a talk with Shelly, and she just might talk you into your own Curly.

"Put a little curl in your world - you won't regret it!"

(Photos are Shelly's)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stormy Dancer

Tuesday November 17 2009

Who is that durned good-lookin' prancing horse?

It's my horse Stormy, who else?! It's not too often, but some days he has a little get up and go and show in him.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Owyhee Sunrise

Monday November 16 2009

How about a Photo a Day (or thereabouts) for entertainment when the stories don't get written?

This is a foggy, cool Owyhee desert sunrise, near the Snake River.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Saturday November 14 2009

Just a skiff of snow is all we got after the 80% chance... but it was good enough for Smokey!

Note the hang time.

It was good enough for everybody else too.

Jose and Dudley playing.

Oops! I didn't do it.

Rhett is not sure he should be seen with this snow on his nose.

Stormy getting into the action. Doesn't look fat here, does he?

Half brothers Jose and Kazam.

Smokey has lots of boyfriends already.

Stormy doesn't look fat here either, does he? Admit it, he just looks good.

I could have used a bit more snow this time; I just have to wait a bit longer for the Big Storm.