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Building a Better Bond in Little Time

Everyone has a busy schedule, me included. Actually, make that-me especially. One husband, two little girls, and two small businesses leave little time for my personal horses.

Time is a precious commodity in our home, so when I do have any time carved out to ride or train my horses, I use it intentionally. Here are my tried-and-true methods to use my time with my horses efficiently and effectively.

Before I begin, I make a set of goals for my time. I first decide how my time would be spent best, whether it be riding, lunging, or doing ground work. Then I make a quick mental list of the things I want to accomplish. They are generally smaller, short-term goals to help build foundations for bigger goals. For instance, I'm currently working on a lead change with my horse, Hot Rod. If I have an hour to ride, I might set goals to work on straightness and balance at the lope. Establishing this small step will set me up for the next ride to continue towards a lead change. Have a plan before you ever pull your horse out of the pen.

Budget your time during your ride or training session. For me, it's always the cool-down I tend to neglect. I know how important a cool-down is to my ride and yet when I'm not intentionally budgeting my time, I will lope my ride away and poor Hot Rod gets a quick pat and is put back out to pasture. To remedy this problem, I have started using the stopwatch function on my phone. I will break up my ride into different sections and time them. Or, I will listen to a predetermined playlist to help keep my ride on schedule. Check out the playlist I'm using right now on my blog at www.rockingeboarding.com.

Use the time you have, as little as it may be. Did your day fill up with unforeseen errands and responsibilities? No problem. You don't have to have an hour of concentrated training to meet your goals. If you have an extra 10 minutes, give your horse a good grooming. Use the time to scout out any injuries and assess his weight. If you have an extra 15 minutes, work on a showmanship pattern. You don't have to show to practice showmanship. It's a great way to boost your horse's manners on the ground. Even if you have 20 minutes, you can saddle up just to work through your normal warm-up session. Walk and trot through serpentines to improve your horse's suppleness. When spending time with your horse, quality always trumps quantity. Just because you have little time, it does not mean it can't be beneficial time.

Finally, don't forget to enjoy your horse. Don't forget why you fell in love with horses in the first place. Not all your encounters with your horse have to be strictly scheduled. Maybe you are like me and spending time outdoors with my horse feeds my soul. Sometimes, the most beneficial way to spend time with your horse is not to plan at all. I've had some of my favorite rides when I was flexible in how I spent my time.

Keeping an organized schedule with your horse is important if you want to achieve big goals and dreams. But every once in a while, let loose and enjoy the moment. Ride down country roads, lope in a big open pasture, ride bareback, let him hand graze on green grass. Your horse will enjoy the break and your bond will be strengthened.
By planning ahead, budgeting your time, and using your time intentionally you can reach your goals with your horse. But don't forget to have some fun!

My Power Riding Playlist

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I never ride at home without my music. Ever. Music gets me pumped up, y’all! It helps me keep track of the time I’ve spent in the saddle, gives me a rhythm to trot and lope to, and keeps me motivated. I may or may not dance from the waist up when no one’s looking. I personally need an upbeat playlist for my rides. My horse is naturally slow and lazy, so it helps to have some energetic music in the background. Sometimes I take the headphones out and play it so he can hear it too. Silly, you say? Well, I don’t. Don’t knock until you try it. Here is my current riding playlist and how I use it to time my workout with my horses. It gets my blood pumpin’! You can change the exercises to fit your needs! This is meant for about a 30 minute ride.

Warm up at a walk. Include turns and circles to encourage suppleness:

Swedish House Mafia “Save the World” 3:36

Long trot while actively asking my horse to give his face to the bridle and collect:

The Weeknd “I Cant Feel My Face” 3 :38

Major Lazer & DJ Snake “Lean On” 2:58

Lope big circles with collection:

Lilly Wood and The Prick ” Prayer in C” 3:09

Swedish House Mafia “Don’t You Worry Child” 5:34

Calvin Harris “Blame” 4:15

Work on new maneuvers or patterns:

One republic “Counting Stars” 4:43

Katy Perry Ft. Juicy J “Dark Horse” 3:45

Cool down at the walk

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Protecting Your Horse Against EHM

In February, Oklahoma experienced its first ever equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy diagnosis, and it happened here in our hometown. OSU's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences released a public statement on February 13 reporting a confirmed case of EHM in their care. The equine barn was temporarily closed in order to quarantine the horse. When I first read this press release I immediately felt anxious about the horses in my barns, and maybe you did, too. Or perhaps your memory went back to 2011 when, in Ogden, Utah, a number of cutting horses were diagnosed with EHV-1 and ultimately affected a total of 90 horses in ten different states. According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 13 of these horses died or were euthanized. This was not an easily forgotten event for horse owners across the country.
It's easy to get scared and act irrationally when things like this happen, but I'm hoping to dispel some of those fears and replace them with a bank of knowledge and preparedness. On Tuesday, February 24, the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences held a public meeting to address any questions horse owners might have about the disease. Dr. Todd Holbrook, along with a panel of other invested veterinarians, including our state veterinarian, Dr. Rod Hall, presided over the meeting and took great effort to present the audience with all their available information. Here are a few important facts about EHM they discussed:
Equine herpesvirus type 1, or EHV-1, produces respiratory disease, late gestational abortion in mares, or even the neurologic mutant strain equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, known as EHM.
EHV-1 is found worldwide. Of the two strains, 80-90% of cases are EHV-1, while only 10-20% of cases result in the neurologic form of EHM.
About 80% of the equine population has already been exposed to EHV-1 at some point in their lives.
Thus, the virus can live inactively in the lymph nodes until the horse becomes stressed by traveling, showing, trailering, etc. and the virus begins to actively shed. In some cases, the virus can be presented in the neurologic form, or EHM, which is what was diagnosed at OSU.
Symptoms of EHV-1 include nasal discharge, fever, and coughing. EHM can also produce these symptoms, but will also show limb edema, ataxia usually in the hind limbs, urine dribbling, and loss of tail tone. In worse cases, the horse may not be able to stand on its own.

So how can we protect the animals we love from this disease? Dr. Holbrook spoke on the importance of quarantining new horses or horses who are returning from shows, if at all possible. Respiratory transmission is the most common way the disease spreads. Isolate and carefully watch these horses for symptoms. The incubation time for EHV-1 is one to two days before a horse generally shows symptoms, while the incubation time for EHM is closer to eight to 12 days. Broodmares should be housed separately from geldings and show horses, in order to protect against abortion. Disinfect water buckets, feed pans, and tack regularly. Lastly, vaccinate your horses. While there is no vaccination for EHM, it is still crucial to vaccinate for EHV-1. Horses who travel regularly can be vaccinated up to three times a year, Holbrook said.
Knowledge is power. Knowing how to protect your horse and understanding the disease is the first step to confidently preventing the disease on your own property. I am not a veterinarian, nor an expert on this subject, but I hope what I have learned from Dr. Holbrook and his team at OSU will help you as much as it did me. I encourage you, as horse owners, to educate yourself and do your own research as well.

Buying Hay With Confidence

I recently attended a hay auction where a woman walked up to me and asked for advice on buying hay. She confessed she had no idea how to distinguish horse quality hay and needed help choosing which hay to purchase. I did my best to give her a quick summary of what to look for, but I'm afraid she still went home empty handed. Instead of feeling insecure about choosing your hay, know the facts so you can buy hay with confidence . Spring is the perfect time to take inventory of what you already have on hand, plan ahead on what you’ll need, set a budget to buy quality hay, and make some hay contacts before cutting season. I’m going to breakdown what to look for in great hay, and how to choose a good hay supplier.
Good quality horse hay should be leafy, fine-stemmed, free of weeds, and have a bright green color. Look for dust or black spots indicating mold. In some cases, you can even smell mold and feel heat inside the hay. Bales should be heavy and dense. They should also be neatly baled with tight wire or twine strands, unless you want to end up with what my family calls "banana bales." This is an excellent time to use your senses. Touch and feel the hay for good texture. Look at the color of the grass, and check for weeds or sticks. Smell for freshness. It is also important to know what kind of hay, weeds, and insects are native to the area you live. Payne county mainly grows prairie grass hay, alfalfa, and bermuda hay. Alfalfa, being a legume, has the highest protein percentage found in these three hays but must be fed with care, due to the prevalence of blister beetles. Watch out for stickers in hay that has been baled in sandy soil. Wire grass, or tickle grass, is also a concern for horse owners in our area. The awns of this weed can become lodged in the gum line and produce painful open sores. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension has excellent information regarding horse hay in Payne County. Use the research they've already done to your advantage! Want to know exactly how your hay measures up? The Oklahoma Extension office also offers forage testing.
There are several easy ways to find a good hay supplier, but the tricky part is learning how to keep them. Ask your horsey friends who they buy hay from, and they're likely not to tell you. Once you've found a good supplier, you'll do everything you can to keep them. We met our supplier at a hay sale, but you can also look on craigslist, the Shop and Swap, and specific hay websites, such as HayExchange.com. Once you find someone fair and reputable who sells hay that is of good quality and at a price within your budget, make it known to them that you will continue to come back. Always pay on time, be friendly, and treat them with respect. In our case, our hay supplier has turned into much more than just someone we buy hay from. Going on vacation and need someone to let the dogs out? We call our hay guy. Need to borrow a gooseneck trailer last minute? We call our hay guy. Stranded on the side of the highway, in the middle of the night, in a different state? Call our hay guy's DAD. Once your kids start referring to them as "Uncle," that's when you know you've reached a new relationship level with your supplier. John has become a great family friend to us and it all started by buying hay out of his barn just like anyone else. Now, hay is the very least of our relationship with him. That's the sort of relationship horse-owner's should strive for with their hay suppliers.
Bad hay isn't just a waste of money, moldy hay can cause respiratory problems and even colic. Blister beetles can cause your to become very ill, and some grass awns guarantee a trip to the vet. The best test for good hay is the well-being of your horse. Body condition and overall health can show you pretty quickly whether a hay is suitable or not. Don't let hay-buying become a chore you dread. Think ahead and plan early who you'll be buying hay from this year and be confident in the quality of hay you're feeding

About Allie

About Allie

Welcome to my blog! My name is Allie and my passion is caring for horses. My days consist of feeding, cleaning, and nurturing my two favorite things: horses and my little girl! I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in equine ownership and life as a business-owning mommy!