Bananas for your horses??

In fun things to try with your horses, my friends swear that all their horses eat bananas.  And I have witnessed it with my own eyes.

Caitlyn feeding Ky a banana-seriously!
Caitlyn feeding Ky a banana-seriously!

They go crazy over a nice, ripe banana.  I got a challenge yesterday after stating Bruno loaded for the reward of his big apple.  I was challenged to get some bananas and see if any of my band of horses would be interested in them. If they loved them like Ky did, then all my loading problems would be a thing of the past.  Last night, armed with a bunch of bananas, I headed to the barn.

Now, remember both Snow and Mick were rescue horses that had to learn to eat most anything to survive.  Snow has been known to eat all the plums off the plum-tree (I found him covered in plum juice and thought he had blood all over his white coat).  Snow will eat figs, oranges, any candy, strawberries, water melon and any type of granola bar.  Mick is a little more discerning but he has even eaten Chik-fil-a chicken nuggets (he is a herbivore) because the coating is sweet, loves red licorice, Gatorade and cream soda.

I went one by one down the stall line.  Feather, trustingly, took the piece of banana I offered and immediately spit it back at me.  No way!  Fortunately Kona was my science partner and was eating the fallen banana as we made our way down the aisle.  Mickey wouldn’t even consider the banana.  I got to Snow and figured, this is my banana eater!

Snow says NO!

Snow says NO!

Snow gingerly tried the banana.  He had cleansed his palate with some cold water, then placed the banana in his mouth. Then spit it out.  Wow, not going too far with this.

Moving on to Bruno.  Bruno didn’t even eat carrots until Sherre puréed them and fed him through a syringe.  Just recently, Bruno started his love affair with apples.  So, it was possible that he might like the banana.  But, no, another failure.

We were down to the end of the line.  I had little hope that Kid would eat the banana.  Kid is not a real food oriented horse.  He does not even like carrots.  Kid did not disappoint.  He did not even consider the banana.  Not for a moment or even a second, Kid just lifted his head and walked away.

I find it very odd that all of Caitlyn’s horses LOVE bananas and none of my little piglets will even consider them.  Let me know if any of your horses like bananas because mine sure don’t.

I guess Bruno won’t be charging off to the trailer in hopes of a banana reward!  We did try.

Loading, Riding and Christmas Lights

Lauren's Christmas lights adorning the barn.

Lauren’s Christmas lights adorning the barn.

Lauren got the tree up and Sneaky took her spot as a present.

Lauren got the tree up and Sneaky took her spot as a present.

Yesterday morning I got up at my usual time to feed the animals.  I had on shorts and a tee-shirt.  It was balmy and crazy humid, so much so, that I was sweating by the time I had the morning feed done.  It was 4:00 a.m., dark and hot.  Seriously.

I had routine doctor/tests things scheduled and had some office work to finish before my first appointment at 9:45.  Lauren was headed out to do some shopping with a friend.  The horses were out except for Mickey who is again, having abscess troubles (although is much better already today).  It started to rain around 9:00. I had Lauren get Bruno and Kid in before she left.  It was just drizzling so Feather and Snow stayed out.  By 9:15 when I needed to leave, it was all out pouring.

Rarely when I am home, does it matter what I am wearing, but because of my medical appointments, I had made an effort to do my hair, my make-up, and put on nice clothes-well, at least clean clothes.  I headed out the door expecting the sheets of rain to fall on me, but not the abrupt temperature change. It had dropped from the high 70’s to the 40’s in the few hours since breakfast.  I was hit with a gust of north wind that chilled me to the core.

I got completely soaked by the time I had Feather and Snow successfully back in their stalls.  Feather had been standing in the run-in shed and was reasonably dry but Snow was soaked to the skin.  No doubt, Feather had kept the white pony out of the shed with her evil ways.

It was good Jordyn had gotten down the day before to ride, because with the temperatures and rain forecasted, she won’t be riding for a while.  The whole family came down with Luke still off work following surgery.

Jordyn with little sister, Kendyll, headed to the arena.

Jordyn with little sister, Kendyll, headed to the arena.

Jordyn is still reluctant to trot (since the whole Feather bolted with her thing) but Lauren had them playing “red light-green light” getting in some good practice on stopping and making Snowney go.  She is going over trot poles in the jumping position and just being more at ease in the saddle.  Kendyll spent the whole time running to Lauren with her arms outstretched wanting Aunt Lauren to pick her up.  Kendyll got to take her turn on Snowney at the end, and we almost didn’t convince her to get off!

Trainer Sarah had come Saturday to work on loading giant Bruno who had gotten reluctant (as in never getting in the trailer again) to load after his series of trips to the vet.  Lauren has been loading Bruno each day since Sarah’s visit and Bruno has been getting better and better.  Yesterday, (before the vast temperature change hit) Lauren haltered him, walked him out of the barn, across the yard, straight up and in the trailer without even picking up the whip.  He stood there quietly eating his apple.

What I love most about Sarah working with my animals is that she is always positive and never abusive.  It is easy to get frustrated and angry when wanting a horse to load.  It can fall apart fast and did for us when we were trying to get Feather to load before Sarah intervened.  She uses a dressage length whip with a little tassel on it. She gets the horse so she can hold his leadrope and encourage him forward by tapping on his hind quarters.  This allows the handler, Sarah, Lauren, whomever, to load the horse when they are by themselves.  Living where we do and with me out of the area most days, this is crucial.  We cannot rely on having one person to lead the horse into the trailer while another stands behind it with the whip encouraging it on.

It may take an hour or so, the first time, to get this accomplished (Feather, Sarah said, was the record holder of over two hours to load)  but it is a safe, non-violent approach that makes the whole process easier.  Ask Lauren for a demonstration sometime.  Or I think I actually have a “YouTube” video of Feather loading.  Let me know if you want the link or Sarah’s contact information.

Horses when they are lunging, are moving off the whip at the hind quarters, it is really just the same idea.  Just controlled, up close, in-hand.

Everyone got bundled up last night for the first of many days to come with cold temperatures and rain.  We are lucky to have our nice barn, even though it is totally open to the front, it blocks the strong north wind that roars down our open pastures and keeps everyone dry and comfortable.

Lauren has been busy getting the tree up and some Christmas lights on the barn.  It makes it festive at least. I am a little surprised that Bruno has not been inclined to eat the Christmas lights.  I mentioned to Lauren that she should have strung them higher so Bruno couldn’t reach them immediately after she had completed stringing them along the 75 feet of barn front.  She told me if I was worried about it, I could get up on ladder and re-hang them.  Guess we know they are still where they were!


Thanks for riding along.  Stay warm, dry and safe.  Enjoy this wonderful season.

Christmas Season Updates

I changed the blog’s header to show last year’s Christmas photo.  It includes from left to right, Mickey, Feather, Me, Kid, pony Mimi, Lauren and Bruno.  I also added some falling snow that we hope to never see here in south Texas. I hope everyone enjoys the festive touch as they start making their holiday preparations.

Once I mail the Christmas cards, I will update with this year’s photo-want to keep the suspense going for now as to what this year’s card will bring.

George Morris Critiques the local riders (a few years later)

December, 2013 Practical Horseman

December, 2013 Practical Horseman

George with a smile!

George with a smile!

George Morris is one of the top experts on hunter/jumper riding in the world.  He is known to be straight-forward, exact and have high standards.

I strongly recommend his column which appears monthly in Practical Horseman Magazine.  Photos of riders from all over the country are evaluated by him.    George critiques their position, clothing, weight, turn-out and their horse’s ability to jump.  As you read the columns, month after month, and study the pictures, you are able to understand and visualize what the correct riding position is and also what a ‘good’ hunter or jumper should look like.

Rarely is there a moment when we are on horseback, at a show or at the barn with friends, that someone is not taking a picture.  Check out any day on Facebook, you will have plenty of opportunities to critique photos.  All you have to do then is apply what George has taught you, to your own riding, horse and skills.  It isn’t always pretty.

In the beginning, when Lauren was just starting out and we had just “discovered” George, rarely did anything about her riding match his standards.  But as time went on, Lauren and her horses started to approximate more and more what George suggested.  We were never brave enough to actually send a picture in to the magazine.

But local Houston riders, Kavita Sinha and Caitlyn Epperson, did send their photos to George.  Now, both riders are accomplished young women not the youngsters depicted in the photos.  I guess it takes a while for George to get through his mail, like six years.

It is pretty crazy that George picked both ladies out of all his photos to appear side by side, under the heading, Perfect Posture!

Anyway, read, enjoy, and take an opportunity to learn from George!  Congrats, to Kavita and Caitlyn!  George gave both of you pretty high praise.  I bet if he saw them ride now, he would be pretty impressed with the equestrians they have become!


Final note from George today!

Seems fair enough to me!

Seems fair enough to me!

Mickey gets the nod

After all was said and done, Lauren chose her all time favorite horse, little Mickey, to go to lessons. We wanted to see how he was doing after eight weeks off due to hoof problems. It was also nice to have a horse that easily loaded, stood tied at the trailer and jumped without complications.

Dev was pleased to see Lauren holding her position well while jumping.

Our friend, Alex, also rode Mickey and he did well for her. No, it’s not time for Lauren to start showing Mickey again but it was good to see him sound and happy.

Mickey and Lauren having a fun day

Mickey and Lauren having a fun day