Friday, September 16, 2011

The Nokota® Type

Nokota Horses
 I became interested in this rare breed because I'm reading the book Flying Changes by Sara Gruen, in which there stars a Nokota sport horse.  Apparently they frequently come in blue roan, which is one of my favorite, albeit a very rare, color.  Because they are descended from Spanish Mustangs, the horses are Iberian in type (other Iberian breeds include the Lusitano, Andalusian, Lipizzan, and Friesian).  Here is a good link with a lot more information on them:

The Nokota® Type

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Posture and Performance – by Duncan McLaughlin | EasyCare Inc.

Posture and Performance – by Duncan McLaughlin EasyCare Inc.

This is a good article on exercises you can do from the ground to help a horse develop proper muscles to aid in self carriage. I particularly like the Lumbar Tuck... it's great for stomach, back, and hindquarter muscles. Click the link to read the entire article... below is an excerpt.

The Fan

Place four or five poles so they fan out and away from a central resting point on a half 44 gallon drum, stack or five tires or similar object (Figure 1). Begin by leading your horse in a larger circle which includes only the outermost edge of the pole fan. Gradually decrease the size of the circle towards the center of the fan. As the circle decreases the poles become closer and higher. If your horse becomes anxious or starts knocking poles, increase the size of the circle until he can easily cope with the pole distance and height. Be sure to work in both directions.

Cavaletti and the Climb Through/ Stretch Through

Walking through cavaletti is an excellent way to develop your horse’s core strength and flexibility. If your horse is not familiar with cavaletti begin slowly. Start by walking over one cavaletti set at the lowest height. When your horse is comfortable walking over this, add another. For most horses the comfortable distance between cavaletti is around 90cm: adjust as necessary for longer or shorter striding horses. Add cavaletti until your horse is comfortably walking over seven or so. Next, raise the fourth cavaletti to medium height. Then raise the sixth cavaletti to medium height, then the third, etc. Raise the cavaletti one at a time and only as your horse develops confidence. It may be necessary to shorten the distances between these raised cavaletti by 5-10cm. For advanced horses you can gradually set all the cavaletti at maximum height or, better still, create a Climb Through/Stretch Through.
You need two rows of cavaletti to make the Climb Through/Stretch Through (Figure 2). The first row consists of four cavaletti set close together (80-90cm) at maximum height. The second row consists of three cavaletti on the lowest height and set far enough apart that your horse has to lift and reach with his front legs (95-110cm).
The Shoulder-In

In this lateral movement your horse’s forehand travels on a path inside that of the hindquarters, with even bending along the spine. The degree of bending is the same as you would expect on a small circle. To introduce the shoulder-in begin by having your horse walk a small circle (6-10m in diameter) around you (Figure 3a). Keep a soft or loose hold on the lead-rope and point a dressage whip or carrot stick toward his quarters. After three or four repetitions allow him to take a few straight steps along the side of your work area before bringing him back on the small circle around you. Repeat this process until your horse anticipates moving onto the circle after a few straight steps. Once your horse is familiar with the procedure you can ask for a step or two of shoulder-in.

The next time you allow the horse to move along the straight side simply step toward his shoulder and bring the whip toward his flanks (Figure 3b). Initially it may be necessary to ‘gently feel’ the lead-rope to keep him looking toward the center of the work area. Ask only one or two steps before resuming the circle. Gradually build up the number of shoulder-in steps between circles as your horse becomes more familiar with the movement. The shoulder-in is physically and psychically demanding and must be developed harmoniously and with trust. Merely pushing or pulling your horse into the required form will have no gymnastic effect. Horses and riders with necessary equitation skills should practice the shoulder-in under saddle.


Perform the following stretches during breaks between the above exercises. This allows your horse time to catch his breath after the metabolic demands of strength training. To be effective each stretch needs to be held for three minutes. This is the time it takes to effect ‘muscle memory’, where the muscle cells come to recognize the stretched position as normal. Initially this may be difficult for your horse. Take time and develop the stretches over several weeks. Remember a gentle stretch held for a long period of time is more effective than a stronger stretch held for a short period of time.

Wither lift. Stand level with the girth facing the side of your horse. Bend your legs and apply the fingers of both hands to the midline of his undercarriage, directly behind area of the forelegs, in an upward direction. The withers should rise up noticeably. ‘Stoic’ horses, those who are desensitized to touch due to pressure from the saddle and girth, may require a very firm upward pressure. Use your fingernails if necessary but remember to use the least pressure possible – don’t you do the work for him.

Lumbar tuck. Only perform this stretch if you feel confident your horse will not kick. Stand to one side of your horse and at the hindquarter facing toward his head. Place one hand on each side of his hindquarter, level with and around 10cm to the side of the point of croup. With firm and increasing pressure slide your index or middle finger back to the point of buttock. The lumbar area will rise and the hindquarters will tuck.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Male Model, Country Style

Okay, so I realize that the road in front of the farm is busy with all kinds of traffic, and people are inclined to stop by if they see us outside (especially on the weekends), but this was a new one!  A very nice male model by the name of Kevin Alexander stopped by to say that he thought the horses were beautiful, and wanted to know if he could possibly use them in a photo shoot he was doing for his portfolio.  So I said, "no problem!", and he came by with his crew and took some nice shots... here are a few examples.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Side Saddle jumping

This photo, taken in 1915, shows Mrs. Esther Stace, from Yarrowitch, riding sidesaddle and clearing a record 6'6" at the Sydney Royal Show.  It is from the Walcha Historical Society.

Pretty impressive, I must say!  Although from what I've heard, riding side saddle is actually pretty secure.  The saddle has something called a "leaping horn", which the lady can grip with her legs.  I have always been interested in riding side saddle, although I've never been able to come up with sufficient justification to buy one.  Other than dressing up in fancy costumes and riding through the park, of course. Which would really impress the birds and deer, I'm sure.  I'm kinda odd that way... I have a lot of mismatched, raggedy clothes for working around the farm, but when I go riding, I like to have a top that coordinates well with my breeches.  Go figure!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Park Police Mounted Volunteer Wins Award!

Gail Joyce has been with the Park Police as a mounted volunteer since 2006. We are very proud of her and her Lippizan mare Anaverta!

Mid-Atlantic Lipizzan Association Ambassador Award for 2010 Gail Ann Joyce and Anaverta

Congratulations to Gail Ann Joyce and Anaverta for receiving the MALA Ambassador Award for representing the Lipizzan breed with honor, beauty and integrity. Below is a little about them:

Anaverta successfully completed her bomb proofing training with Sgt. Rick Pelicano of the MNCPPC Park Police. Anaverta is now the only Lipizzan fully commissioned to perform MNCPPC Park Police Volunteer Mounted Patrols and Details. Anaverta and Gail went to Washington DC to honor fallen Police Officers on Police Memorial Day. They stood stirrup to stirrup with the sworn officers who were protecting the Capitol’s perimeter as president Obama provided the keynote speech. Together they greeted the families of the fallen officers on the day of remembrance.

Anaverta and Gail participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics and were the honor guard for the start of the torch run. As Park Police Civilian Mounted patrol members, Gail and Anaverta have logged numerous hours patrolling their local parks and acting as the eyes and ears of the park police force and providing a visible mounted presence.

In their first show season together they have won TL Reserve Champion high score with Pennsylvania Dressage Association (PVDA) Sugarloaf show. Anaverta also earned Champion high score TL at the Celebration Farm Show and TL Reserve Champion and High Score award at the PVDA year end awards. Together they have also participated in several large, organized trail rides and the Potomac Hunt Sponsored Clinic for “ Hopeful Fox Hunters.”;

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hoof Problems and Rehab

Horse Hoof Problems, fungus, and treatments


This website caught my attention, as I currently have one boarder who was diagonsed with white line disease, and I'm worried that it may be what one of my horses was afflicted with last summer that I believed to be a recurring abcess.  The website is

Fungal Complications

Fungi don’t usually bother healthy hooves, but let them get established in a wall crack and they can eat their way upward faster than the horse can grow healthy hoof down. This effect should be suspected any time a crack acts “stubborn” about growing out. When I suspect this, I put my customers on an anti-fungal soaking program. No topical solution well help at all. You just have to soak, or you'll be looking at those same cracks in ten years. The best products in my opinion are White Lightning and Clean Trax; both available through farrier supply houses. (Anna's comment: much cheaper, with the same results is Oxine concentrate mixed with citric acid crystals... both can be purchased from Amazon)

I can’t help mentioning though, that I usually use Lysol Concentrate mixed to 2 ounces per gallon. I shouldn’t mention it because it is inconsistent with the labeling, but I’ve used it on a thousand horses and have never seen or heard of a negative effect. (If you use 2.1 ounces per gallon you’re on your own, but I’ll stand behind the 2 ounces per gallon as being much safer than most commercial thrush remedies! And more effective.) (not saying much actually) In truth, I think the reason it is so effective is that its cheap enough that people will actually repeat it over and over, rather than the "one or two chances" they'll typically give a more expensive product. It makes a soapy water that kills fungus, yeast and bacteria without harming living tissue or drying out the skin or hooves. Elegantly simple and it works. I typically have my customers use soaking boots to soak the hooves 3 times a week for 30 minutes. I use it for wall cracks, white line disease and thrush.

Additionally, when you see horses with multiple superficial cracks all over the hoof wall, fungus is usually the culprit. It is important to realize this because many people mistake this for dry feet and put oil on the hooves. This seals the fungi into a dark, wet, anaerobic environment and maximizes their “horse-eating” capabilities. Constant changes from wet to dry contribute to this, so drying up the environment is the best cure. If I can open the superficial cracks without excessively thinning the wall, I often will.

Also, there is an important dietary consideration here as well. If a horse is missing something, he’ll provide it to the more vital organs first, the skin gets the leftovers. So any dietary problem will make a horse’s hoof horn weaker and more susceptible to this kind of attack.

Coronary Scarring

Occasionally, a crack will go so high it splits and damages the coronet. Also, an impact trauma or severe cut can damage the coronet. Either way, this can lead to scar tissue and a permanent weakness or gap in the hoof wall growth. This is usually just a cosmetic flaw. It doesn’t hurt a thing, except it can create an entry point for fungus, which can then eat a larger crack and spread the damage to a large area.
When I see this occurring I usually put the owner on a “once a week forever” anti-fungal soak to keep the infection from getting re-established.

Lamellar Damage

A very similar story can happen to the dermal and/or epidermal laminae as well. An old wall crack can damage the laminae, a benign tumor can disrupt growth, a deformity or an adaptive change in the coffin bone can leave a gap in the laminae. The natural crena or cleft at the center of the coffin bone is over exaggerated in some horses; most commonly it seems in draft stock. This can also leave a gap in the laminae (If you see a horse with multiple, dead-center toe cracks you can count on this one; look for the tell tale ‘divot’ in the sole, mirroring the ‘notched’ shape of the coffin bone.
The end result to all these (and more) is that sometimes there is a missing laminae or two on some horses; a little hole in the "white line". Like the coronary scarring, it is usually not a big deal except that it can be another entry point for fungus, which often spreads the damage to the other laminae and the hoof wall. Again, in these cases I usually use an anti-fungal soaking routine to help me grow out the cracks and separation, and then put the customer on a “once a week forever” anti-fungal soak to keep the problem from coming back. This is a good idea when any permanent ‘hole’ is present.

That is all the ammo I need and I very rarely have trouble growing out a wall crack. I hope this helps your horses.

6 months with the front left foot on a long-term hard case with just about everything in this article going on at once.

At the setup trim in October, severe flaring/wall separation was present. The deep hole warns about fungal complications and a need for soaking. Coronary scarring is present from a time in the past when the crack made it to the coronet. You can see the rippled and separated walls, plus the presence of lamellar wedge in front of the true sole; suggesting dietary problems.

As usual with center toe cracks, you see the 'divot' in the sole mirroring a deep crena or cleft in P3. This has been an entry point for infection, and the primary reason these cracks persisted for so many years, through several different farriers. Most likely if the owner stops her weekly anti-fungal soak the deep, infected holes and accompanying cracks will return. (sorry I added that as a personal note to her ;-)

And finally by May, the cracks are all but gone. The coronary scarring/weakness will always be present, but proper management can keep it from being a problem for the horse.