"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunshine Award

I have been nominated the Sunshine Award by Karen over at Thee Ashke. Thank you, Karen!

The Sunshine Award is for people who "positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere." The nominee must do the following: thank the person who nominated her, nominate 10 bloggers of her own, answer the 10 questions given to her, and post them and the Sunshine Award button to their blog.

Here are the questions:

1. Mares or geldings? There are days when I would say, "Geldings! Geldings please!!" If I were out horse shopping, I would probably look at geldings first. But I wouldn't turn down a good mare. I currently own a mare and I have ridden a lot of really good mares.

2. English or Western? I've never been drawn to Western. I'll ride a questionable horse in a Western saddle and I will ride a Western horse if that's the training they've had. But I won't go out and train a horse to be Western, and neither will I go out and buy a Western saddle. However, I would consider an endurance saddle with Western rigging. So I guess my answer to this question would be English, as it's what I've done all my life and I still do dressage as part of Lily's conditioning, though my go-to saddle is an Alta Escuela. But I agree with Karen at Bakersfield Dressage: endurance really should be an option with these things, as it is what I'm gearing up for with Lily.

Lily modeling the Alta Escuela.
3. Do you prefer younger or older horses? I prefer younger. It's nice to put in the work yourself and know that you're the one that "made" the horse. The partnership is different, especially if the youngster comes without baggage. Older horses can be pretty awesome too, though. Cloud was somewhere between 15-18 years old and he was amazing: he had "go" but listened, he had a great work ethic, and I enjoyed the intricacies of tweaking his diet and supplements to get him looking as good as possible and feeling as comfortable as possible.

4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero? Yes, many. Lucero, my Paso Fino, was the first horse I trained from a baby (he was given to me as a 7-month old), and after that I broke many horses to saddle, most of them Pasos. I love that breed. They just naturally trust and love people, and will do anything to please. It is tragic to know that so many of them get abused and mistreated to the point where they lose that natural trust and become such nervous wrecks, which is what has created the breed stereotype. I'd own another Paso in a heartbeat.

When Lucero first arrived home.

He was 15 when this photo was taken.

5. Do you prefer groundwork or riding? Groundwork has its place in training, but of course I prefer riding. Duh.

6. Do you board your horse or keep it at home? I used to have Lucero at home back on the island, but moved him to a boarding facility across the street where I had more room to ride. Ever since then, I've boarded my horses.

7. Do you do all natural things or just commercial stuff? Oh boy. This question. I will do either as long as there is some medical proof that it will work. Years ago, I volunteered at an equine rescue where the owner/director was ONLY into natural stuff. The one that horrified me the most was that she used colloidal silver instead of antibiotics. You just can't do that. You can't expect a horse with a salmonella infection to get better on only 10 mls of colloidal silver given 2 times a day. (That horse died a slow, horrible, drawn-out painful death. In the end he was skin and bones, with his head and legs swollen as a direct result of all the protein he lost through his constant diarrhea. Oh yeah: she didn't believe in euthanasia either!!) And wormwood, the main ingredient in her "natural dewormer" can be toxic to horses. The barn vet offered to do free fecals on this woman's horses so she could have medical proof that the wormer worked (this was really nice of him, especially since he didn't agree with her methods.) She turned him down. She had all of these herbal supplements that she mixed herself (and that she actually sells online...) and to this day I have no idea how she came up with the doses for any of that stuff. So yeah, that wormwood dewormer? No clue how much wormwood is in it. And these are just two examples of stuff she did. She drove me bonkers.
I have serious qualms about "only all-natural" mentalities, especially because I work in the veterinary field. I saw a dog die after his owner decided to apply honey to a gangrenous wound for 2 weeks before finally bringing the dog into the hospital. We had a cancerous cat come into the hospital on straight opium, prescribed by the holistic vet in town. Our doctors were horrified, first because animals can't metabolize straight opium, and second because its possession is illegal in the US! There are reasons why we use opium derivatives!
One of my favorite professors in tech school taught us that the best medicine combines both Western and Eastern. Some herbs really do work. And some traditional medications really do work. And most patients, human and animal, do really well on a combination of both. I consider disease management through nutrition to be a holistic approach, and I'm all for it: the kind of food you put into a patient can make a HUGE difference in that patient's outcome. My cats only get grain-free food because cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores. There is no room for wheat and soy and corn in their diets. Horse feeds have a lot of fillers, mainly sugar, that they don't need. Lily gets minimal grain in the form of a low starch ration balancer (I'm using Buckeye's Gro n Win right now). Calories are supplied in the form of unlimited amounts of high quality grass hay, and unlimited pasture access. Anything that's missing is supplied with supplements. Each supplement is carefully researched and thought out. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Eleanor Kellon and have her book, Horse Journal Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals. Dr. Kellon is one of the very few vets that has done extensive research on equine nutrition, and this book is about her studies on the effects of various equine supplements on horses. Most equine supplements have not really been tested to be effective. Lily only gets placed on supplements that have been proven to work in that book, or that have similar ingredients to the ones that are approved.
At work we're not against herbs. Most internists I've worked with will give orders for pets with liver issues to take milk thistle, for example. And our criticalists have no problem going to yunnan baiyao for bleeding disorders, along with the medicines commonly prescribed for this kind of illnesses. Go read about yunnan baiyao in the link - it's pretty amazing! We always keep it in stock at the hospital pharmacy, right alongside the Clavamox and prednisone.
So to end my rant: I use a lot of commercial stuff, yes. But I also use natural stuff. I like arnica for muscular pain relief, so I always have Sore No More on hand; Lily gets 7,000 mg of vitamin E capsules a day because the powders don't work as well in horses and it's vital for correct neurological function in horses; Cloud used to live on a Devil's Claw supplement because it is considered as potent as bute (and safer) for arthritis pain; I like what ground flax does for a horse, both inside and out; etc., etc. And of course, this is just how I like to do things. By no means am I saying that everyone else should do what I do! Everyone has what works for them. This is what works for me.

8. All tacked up or bareback? On Lily: tacked up. Bareback on horses that are safe to do so, like Angel and Q.

Bareback on Angel
9. Equestrian role model? I like Karen Chaton's philosophies on endurance; and Nuno Oliveira's and Jean-Claude Racinet's approaches to dressage and training.

Third time I post this video on this blog because I heart it so much! 
Nuno Oliviera himself, riding.

10. What's my one, main goal for my equestrian journey? To have fun, learn, and enjoy my horse. I'd like to try out endurance while we're at it. (There, I finally declared it. That's why we've been doing all this trail riding while keeping track of miles and pace!)

Ok, so my nominations. I have many blogs that I read and that I excitedly look forward to new posts, but I'm nominating the ones that have been influential in my personal and riding goals/progress, and in Lily's training. All of these blogs have played a role in one way or another:

1. In Omnia Paratus - this blogger has quite literally changed my life. I am still awed that I never would have met her if I'd never started blogging! Liz is a super positive, driven, patient person, and she has done a terrific job with both of her horses. One of them is the Morab Q, who just did her first 50 mile endurance ride this weekend, and the other is Griffin, a TWH cross colt that she has trained herself and is just starting real under saddle work. Our weekend's adventure soon to follow!
2. The Journey to 100 Miles - this is a fairly new blog. Gail lives in my area and owns a Friesian that she is training for the Old Dominion 100. Really awesome blog! Go check it out!
3. It Seemed Like a Good Idea at The Time - Team Fixie is amazing. 'Nuff said. Another endurance blog.
4. Boots and Saddles - Mel is an endurance rider. She's ridden at Tevis. And she's a very promising vet student. I always learn something from her blog. Plus she has done an incredible job getting Lily fitted for Renegades from the other side of the country!
5. The Longest Format - Hannah is a former eventer who is trying out endurance with her eventer Tucker. Really cool blog; she writes in detail about her experiences with eventing vs endurance.
6. The Reeling: An Unexpected Mareventure - Andrea is an eventer, the famous GoGo's owner. She is also a professional barefoot trimmer and a terrific horse trainer. The girl can ride through anything. In this blog she chronicles her adventures with her new mare O-Ren and the new herd addition, Trebuchet, as she tries to find another horse that she can return to eventing with.
7. A Horse Crazy American in Germany - a former Seattlelite living in Germany with her husband. It's a fascinating blog. Lytha used to ride endurance. She brought her Arabian gelding Basha with her from the US, and after he passed away, purchased Mara, a German Arab cross mare whom she is training for the trails. Mara is kind of a handful and Lytha comes up with some creative yet productive ways of helping her overcome her anxieties.
8. The Owls Approve - I love Beka's writing. She used to be a vet tech and she owns an OTTB, Archie, whom she fiercely adores. Her goal with her blog is for it to be about life, not just horses, so she often writes about her dogs, cats, and D, her hubby and the love of her life. (Their story is SO much like Charles's and mine!) She's funny, passionate and honest; she has good days and bad days, both of which she will write about; and she has some of the same struggles I do, both in my personal and horsey life. It's always awesome to feel that we're not alone. And she writes in the fearless manner that I would love to write!
9. Simply Horse-Crazy - I admire this young blogger so much! She is driven and beyond her years. Her love for Missy, her Paint mare, is evident in every post, and you just can't help falling in love with that little mare yourself. Her posts are thought-provoking and beautifully written. I love her views on dressage, horse ownership and life in general. And she takes lovely photos, too!
10. The Dressage Curmudgeon - Stephanie's posts have never failed to make me laugh. I love her snark in regards to the world of competitive dressage. It made me wake up in terms of my competitive dressage goals with Lily. I pretty much wanted to do exactly what she did with Miss V. I decided I preferred to read about it a lot more than spending the money to try to do it myself. :)

I hope you enjoy them too!
Note: I would have nominated The Jumping Percheron, as it is THE blog that got me blogging, the one that inspired it all, but Stacey accidentally deleted her blog! :(


  1. I loved your answers! What a wonderful post :) Congrats!

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  2. I really like your answer for the natural or commercial stuff. I am in agreement with you on that!

  3. Oh no!!! The Jumping Percheron got deleted?? That's so sad!

    I really liked your answers. And your nominees are awesome too. What a great bunch of new blogs for me to check out (I follow some of them). I'm especially excited about the Friesian one!!!!!! Yay! Thank you. Also congrats on your award. :)

    1. Thank you! Glad you liked the answers. :) I had been worried that something had happened to Stacey or the mares when I discovered her blog link didn't work anymore. Discovered on COTH what happened; someone had been asking on there if anyone knew what had happened, and Stacey herself answered. Her, Klein and Mocha are all fine. I miss that blog, though! I loved going back and re-reading her stories of training Klein in the beginning, back in Hawaii. I loved her training methods and seeing Klein through her eyes. It was hard not to fall in love with her, too!

  4. Sorry I'm so late on commenting - catching up on my blogroll got a little out of control! Anyway, I'm desperate to know more about your Alta Escuela saddle. I'm always on the lookout for saddles that are a little different and that might have the potential to fit a more baroque-type horse. Can you point me in the right direction for some information? Thanks!

    1. Posted my e-mail address on your most recent blog post. The answer is a little long for a comment! :) I bought my Alta Escuela here in the US from a company that imports them directly from Spain. E-mail me when you get a chance. I LOOOOOVE that saddle and I hope it will work as my endurance saddle. And yes, they are specifically made for baroque-type horses!

    2. OK, I must be having serious baby brain because I can't find the comment with your e-mail - Sorry! Anyway, here is mine - scrappychick11@gmail.com. Please e-mail me when you get a chance - I'd love to hear more about the saddle:)

    3. Blogger sometimes does weird things like that. Just sent you the e-mail! :)