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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Stills ~ Fade to Black

This week Ed says farewell to Sunday Stills, it will go on just with someone else at the helm.  His final theme was Fade to Black:
"This challenge is my last challenge for Sunday Stills. Thanks to all the folks who have contributed over the last 3+ years. If Linda wants to keep the challenges going thats great, if there is someone who is willing to take over and consistantly issue new and freah challenges just leave a comment and I’m sure she will get in contact with you.  Once again thanks for 3+ years of fun and the chance to meet some very interesting friends…. Ed
For the last challenge just include the colour black into either the subject or the background…"

I will confess I used archived photos, sorry but I've been under the weather and I didn't want to miss this challenge.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Funny ~ The Klotschtein Diamon

A businessman boarded a plane to find, sitting next to him, an elegant woman wearing the largest, most stunning diamond ring he had ever seen.  He asked her about it.

"This is the Klotschtein diamond," she said.  "It is beautiful, but there is a terrible curse that goes with it."

"What's the curse?" the man asked.

"Mr. Klotschtein."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Funny ~ Delivery

The orthopedic surgeon I work for was moving to a new office, and his staff was helping transport many of the items.

I sat the display skeleton in the front of my car, his bony arm across the back of my seat.  I hadn't considered the drive across town.  At one traffic light, the stares of the people in the car beside me became obvious, and I looked across and explained, "I'm delivering him to my doctor's office."

The other driver leaned out of his window.  "I hate to tell you lady," he said, "but I think it's too late!"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

EDucation continued...

There was a lot of info covered in the "classroom" (non-riding) portions of the Ed Wright clinic.  My notes were in point form so bear with me if they seem a little jumbled.  Also at times there were a bunch of questions being asked & answered and while Ed wasn't wishy washy on his opinions, for me it was sometimes hard to sort out what exactly was being said (blame my hearing and the Chatty Cathys causing distracting background talk)  Again its MY take on what I thought Ed was saying so please keep that in mind.

Feed.  Test your hay!  And if you do, don't just do it once and leave it.  Hay grown in the same field but cut, dried and baled at different times can have different nutritional values.  Heck hay in the same field cut & baled at the same time can have different values in different areas of the field.
Also research which lab you send it to.  I believe Ed said Cornell had one of the best labs in the country.  He told a story about one place he knows of that you could send in the same sample on Monday through Friday of the same week and have completely different numbers from each day.
Also weigh your feed!  A lot of us know to weigh our hay, but at the clinic we were also told to weigh our grain.
Probiotics were recommended for competition horses.
For winter time fat & protein are especially important, with the fat being 2% below the protein.  Fat sources are important too, corn oil for example can heat the body (cause lactic acid to build) and also heat the brain.  Soybean oil and rice bran were good sources of fat.
Water is extremely important.  Electrolytes can help encourage your horse to drink and come in many different flavours, experiment and see what your horse likes.  If you have a horse that's a really picky drinker or won't drink away from home haul your own water if at all feasible. 

Misc. Tack.  Ed seems to like to keep things as natural as possible and is a pretty traditional guy.  For instance his preferred boots are good leather boots, he has his own and there is wrestling mat or something similar in them to absorb shock (I believe).  Neoprene style boots hold too much heat, he actually didn't seem to like neoprene anything (boots, pads, cinches)  Polo wraps are good IF you know how to wrap really well.  The problem with them is that they can only be used about 10 times before they lose they stretch/support/give.
Cinches, a good wool fleece (real wool) over nylon. A nice soft, mohair cinch is great but has too much give for arena events.  Great for pasture/trail riding though.
Pads, they need to be thick enough to absorb shock but also need to breath letting air & heat through, and they need to absorb sweat.  A good compressed wool pad (again real wool) about an inch thick, firm yet pliable enough that after 20 or so rides it conforms to your horse.  Although there are some horses that have a more sensitive skin (such as one gorgeous Appy that was at the clinic, she was pretty much all white and had a lot of pink skin which was pretty sensitive)  He said a blanket style pad made of 100% wool might be more comfortable.  (I believe he said like a Mayatex or Navajo pad but I'm not certain)

Saddles.  There was much discussion over different saddles, trees and materials.  Once again real wool was the winner, this time for the underside of the saddle. 
The treeless saddles aren't exactly 'treeless'.  There's a rigid cantle and rigid swells.  Ed demonstrated how when your horse is running they kinda fold together and can pinch in the seat area.  Also due to how they're made, they kinda lock you in, its really hard to get up into that athletic position over your horse's first two ribs.
Flex tree saddles, well one girl had one and Ed took it off her horse.  He demonstrated how when he pushed on it it didn't really flex.  And that was with him pushing on it pretty good, so how much would it flex on your horse?  He didn't really seem to buy the idea.
He didn't dis either the flex tree or treeless saddle.  In fact Ed said something along the lines of "they're looking for the answer but they're just not quite there enough yet"  The bottom line was, at this point, the traditional wood tree saddle, that fits your horse, is still the best option out there.

A couple more things that fit under 'natural'... Ed gave us a recipe for a flyspray.  He was doing it from memory so I hope this is right.  Take 1 cup cayenne and 1 litre of apple cider vinegar and shake together, spray this on do not feed!
(I'm going to give this one a try myself)
As for materials, everything needs to have 'life' or 'feel' to it.  Reins for example... nylon or rope reins don't really have much feel, and not all leather ones do either.  The leather has to be tanned and handled properly to make good reins with good feel.
(after my first clinic with him I really did notice the difference when I rode with good leather reins as opposed to my old rope reins that I used for trail riding)
Ed really did mean everything though; pads, cinches, bridles, reins, heck even ground.  Ground can only be worked and used so long before you should take it out and replace it (honestly I don't think that is an expense a lot of us little, private back yard arenas can afford lol)
Another thing that loses life that a lot of people don't consider is the wool lining of their saddle.  Even if the saddle is in great shape that lining needs to be taken out and replaced every once in awhile.

There was a lot of discussion about breeding, bloodlines and conformation.  
Certain bloodlines are known for certain traits, but once you get too far back on the pedigree bloodlines are so diluted that a lot of what people talk about doesn't really matter.  So if you're looking at papers the sire and dam, and their sires and dams, are the real things to be looking at. 
Also there are some horses out there that are just freaks of nature.  They themselves may have been outstanding athletes but they never passed that on and none of their close relatives had what they did.
Conformationally what he looks for is a nice full hip, symmetrical slope to shoulder & hip, a short back with a long underline, short cannons and a good wither.
So it kinda boiled down to the motion of the horse, how he/she uses themself is the most important thing, next is the mind, then is the conformation.

As for exercise, this surprised a lot of girls.  Ed alternates 2 mile and 3 mile rides each week (3 days of each) with one day off (ie Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2 miles; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 3miles, Sunday off).  Of that time riding, half is a long trot, half is a slow lope.  You do have to work in some speed work, he likes to sprint around the barrels to get that in.  In fact he does some barrel work each week, or day, as the horse needs it.
The shortness of the rides is what really got to some of the girls.  I was pleased to be able to guess the reason, longer rides work different muscle fibres (think of the conditioning Funder does for her endurance and long distance rides)  If you overly condition your horse its harder to get those quick bursts of speed.

There you have it, a good portion of Ed's classroom in a nutshell (from my perspective)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Intro to an Ed clinic :)

First I have to say, for those of you that haven't had the pleasure of meeting Ed... never ever never say "Ed says" because chances are if you say to him "You said..." he'll say "No.  What *I* said was..." and there will be a bit of a difference, sometimes the teeniest sometimes a lot, between what he said and what you interpret.  That's my disclaimer ;) 
So here is what *I* understood and took away from the clinic:

Every horse is different and responds to things differently.  It's up to you to know what helps your horse work their best and keeps them soundest and happiest.

Rate.  Unlike how rate is normally explained ("slowing down your horse so it can turn the barrel") this is Ed's explanation of rate: a shortening of the stride, then shaping and guiding into your turn.
Part of what I love about Ed's method is just that, shaping and guiding.  When you ride Ed's way there is NO "yanking" or "pulling" your horse into and through a turn.

Riding.  The athletic position to ride in and get the most from your horse is up and over the front two ribs, this is also the strongest part of your horse's back.  
At this point he showed us two photos of working cow horse trainers.  Sorry I didn't get the names, but I recognized one as this cover with Boyd Rice on it.

The barrel.  There are two good ways to approach your first barrel.  
One is to look at the barrel.  The drawback to this is it may lead you to rub, or worse, to knock the barrel.
The second, and better, way is to look at the ground where you want to travel around that barrel.
Now that may sound funny.  Seems like a simple thing right?  But I've heard of people suggesting other places, such as a point on the fence/wall to look at and 'ride to'.
This leads to a comment about the "Look!  Look!" that you hear so often yelled at barrel racings.  It's usually your friends and well meaning fellow competitors, trying to remind you to look up at your next barrel not down at the one you're turning.  Two problems, 1) you shouldn't be looking at your barrel as you turn it (umm, yeah I am guilty of that at times lol) 2) you shouldn't be looking up at your next barrel until you're finished turning the one you're at.  Both can cause you to rub or knock the barrel you're turning. 

There's three good ways for your horse to turn the barrel.  The best way, both in terms of efficiency and for your horse's well being, is in "4 wheel drive", or the other metaphor that Ed kept using "like a slinking cheetah on the hunt".  The second best is a rollback style turn where the horse sets and turns on a hind leg, its a bit more hard on your horse physically though.  And third, a pivot on the front leg style turn... this is much harder physically on your horse.

This photo of Lindsay Sears and Martha is a pretty good example of a horse in 4WD, pulling with those front legs and pushing from behind, the whole body working as one. 

This photo and the one below (again Sears & Martha) are good examples of the next thing I want to talk about, hands.
(actually that 1st photo, of Boyd, is a very good example of the hands and the body up over the first two ribs)
Whether you're turning your barrel, running into the arena, running between barrels or scooting home, Ed wants your hands very forward. 
It was something I noticed at the first clinic of his that I went to (Oct 2010)  I was halfway through the order and observed that he was getting all the girls to ride with their hands much more forward than what you normally see.  In fact he put an elastic in the mane as a visual reminder of where he wanted your hands, that elastic was about halfway up your horse's neck.  So when I went to warm up I practiced keeping my hands there, and I was the first person that day to NOT get an elastic (and there were only a couple others)

Look again at that first photo of Sears.  Her hand is way up Martha's neck, lifting up a bit to help shape and guide but not pulling out to yank her into the turn and around the barrel.  Then in second photo, she's running on a straight but hasn't thrown her reins away.  They are up the neck and forward, moving in time and helping energize that great mare to stretch out and run.
With just a small movement in any direction you can get so much more from your horse!  Shorten stride, lengthen stride, smoother turn with more shape and guide (no yanking around the barrel!), cleaner steps backing, etc. 

That hand position, along with timing & feel (you hear timing & feel a lot as well as shape & guide lol) and that forward body position totally change the results you can get with your horse.  And to me, that is the essence of an Ed clinic (as far as the riding)  Now of course there are exercises and drills but they all seem to come back to that.
Sounds easy right?  Wrong!  Ed has so much knowledge & experience, as well as being very competitive, driven and having a keen eye, that when you think you've got it and are doing well he can pick out something (even the teeniest thing) and point out what you are in fact doing wrong and make you work on it.  And he will work within your level of experience.

There were girls at our clinic that ranged from rookie riders to experienced rodeo competitors and he gave them all something to work on within their range.
For example, girls who didn't have much riding experience... He'd help them work on their hands and timing to help them get a better turn but he wouldn't overwhelm them with other things (such as the hindquarters drifting)
Now some may think that's not good, that he should work on them getting 'perfect'.  But if he did that they'd also feel they weren't getting anything out of the clinic, they might feel embarrassed or discouraged so instead he gives them workable & usable building blocks and as they become more advanced he'll pick on them a bit more ;)  Or if they don't come to another of his clinics there's hope that they'll just become better riders with time & experience. 
And he never let on that you were or were not "top of the class" as far as skill, everyone was treated equal IMO.

This is already getting long and this seems like a good place to stop for now.  More to come!

**photos were found via Google images.  Boyd Rice cover of Western Horseman magazine, 1st photo of Lindsay Sears credited to JB Originals, 2nd photo of Sears I'm not sure who the credit goes to (but I think it's Mike Copeman, sorry if I'm wrong!)**

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stepping up

I'm tired of this... the animal rights whackadoodles interfering with rodeo.
(don't get me wrong, 
I'm all for animals being taken care of properly and not abused 
but PETA, HSUS et al can go jump off a bridge for all I care)
Truth is most of them don't have a clue what's really going on or how the animals are cared for.  They just see an instant and cast judgement without really knowing what's happening.

This post has been rolling around in my head the last couple days.  It's summer, rodeo season, and there's a surge in the "rodeo is evil" protests.  A fellow blogger & Facebook friend just had an 'interesting' experience at a weekend rodeo and then there's all the buzz about the Calgary Stampede's 100th anniversary.

This year it seems the 'big target' is calf roping... or tie down roping as it's now called *eyeroll* and of course, as usual, the chuckwagons.

Yes I agree, the chucks can be dangerous.  And I have no doubt that not all the horses are cared for properly.  BUT in what equestrian sport are they ALL taken care of properly?!  Pleasure horses denied food & water with their heads tied, soring in TWH shows, rolkur, etc.  You can't name one, every discipline has someone that is less than kind. (doesn't make it right!)

What I wonder is how many people realize that those horses are doing what they love?  Running and competing.  And WELL after traditional TB "retirement age".
It would be nice if all ottbs could be 'retired' to a new life as a hunter, jumper, dressage horse, barrel racer, trail horse or pasture ornament.  But lets face it, that's not the case.  A LOT of them end up headed for a dinner plate.  Meanwhile those lucky enough to head to a chuckwagon driver are being taken care of as a competition horse, getting to run into their late teens (or longer)

Like I said, I know not all the drivers are perfectly ethical, but most of them are.  This is their livelihood after all, it's in their best interest to take care of those horses.  So maybe, just maybe, cut them some slack.
I'll step off my soapbox now.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Stills ~ Winter

It seems Ed must be feeling the heat, this week's Sunday Stills theme was winter:
"Yep ya’ll read right, so this will be an archive challenge. Its too darn hot to go out looking for pics this week so stay in and enjoy the A/C and lets see some pics of winters past and feel the chill."

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Funny ~ Let's get physical

During my physical yesterday,
 my doctor asked me about my daily activity level, 
and so I described a typical day this way:

"Well, yesterday morning, 
I waded along the edge of a lake, 
escaped from wild dogs in the heavy brush, 
marched up and down several rocky hills, 
stood in a patch of poison ivy, 
crawled out of quicksand, 
and jumped away from an aggressive rattlesnake."

Inspired by my story, 
the doctor said, 
"You must be some outdoors man!"

"No," I replied, 
"I'm just a lousy golfer."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

(not quite) Wordless Wednesday ~ Sunday Stills

I missed posting on Sunday because I was in the middle of an incredibly busy few days.
 (barrel racings, the Ed Wright clinic and dealing with a nagging injury)
The theme for Sunday Stills had been "Roads" and I knew exactly which road I wanted to photograph:
And yes there are some people fools that still use that road even though on this end of it there are signs saying road closed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I Am...

Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader...
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled...
And I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada, 
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a President.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it "about" not "a boot".

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced "zed", not "zee", "zed"!!!

Canada is the second largest land mass!
The first nation of hockey!
And the best part of North America!

My name is cdncowgirl!*

*for those of you that don't know, this was a very popular ad campaign and the proper second last line is "My name is Joe"*
Over 10 years later and I still love that rant.  In a funny way it signaled the start of Canadians becoming more loud about being proud to be Canadian.  Especially funny as its a beer commercial... way to hold up another Canadian stereotype ;)
For a long time people have thought that we Canadians aren't very patriotic.  Truth is we are, we just haven't been very "in your face" about it.  But that's changing, and its a nice thing to see.

For anyone that would like to see The Rant click here

I post The Rant today in honor of Canada Day -- 
Happy Birthday Canada!

PS I've prempted my Sunday Stills in honour of Canada Day.  I will post my pics tomorrow (hopefully)