Whole horse health

I’ve known for a while now from my incessant research that one aspect of your horse’s health cannot make him or her well. If your horse is not at his or her full potential, the farrier can’t fix him. Neither can the chiropractor or the feed you use or the dentist or the training program you put him through. I’ve known this but I didn’t KNOW it until this weekend.

I have been trimming the girls’ feet for about 6 months now and one of the main goals for the mustang trim is a heel-first landing on the front feet. When your horse does this they have a more “dressagey” gait and don’t stress the bones and ligaments in their legs by slamming down their heels after their toes every step. This is all well and good but it’s been SIX MONTHS and hadn’t happened yet. I was starting to freak out and think I was doing it wrong and if that wasn’t happening then I was probably making them crippled slowly right? Well I tend to panic…

I’ve also been trying my hand at the Masteron Method for equine massage. I’ve been doing as much as I can with Paige on the weekends and this weekend I actually saw signs of release doing work on her scapula. After a few “licks and chews” I took her for a little walk around the cove across the street. I almost did a double take.

SHE WALKED HEEL TO TOE. Her feet are a mess compared to Kricket’s in terms of growth and strength. She’s been fighting a bad case of thrush for a couple months now. And she still walked heel to toe. Turns out the best breakover supplied by the best trim can’t do it all if your horse can’t comfortably extend her shoulder enough to facilitate a heel first landing.

On this note, I am exceedingly excited to have a Natural Balance dentist coming to work on my girls next month. I’m trying to cover all my bases. Nutrition, dentition, hoof care, bodywork and exercise. The exercise might be a bit fuzzy with our lack of arena but if I can do all that I can, it’s better than just spot treating! I have a 26 year old mess of a swaybacked horse that can’t eat hay and went to a body condition of about 3 while I was busy getting married. I want her to keep being my Mare Mare for years to come so I can’t overlook any part of her health. Kricket is only 6 so we shall see how this stance works on a horse not fighting an uphill battle. (No pun intended referring to riding Paige with her crazy withers.)

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The accusing leading the blind: natural horse care

I am a proponent of natural horse care. Borderline obsessed honestly. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on and doing tons of research since Steven and I have moved the horses to our own care on family owned land.

The point of this is that I am sold. 99.9% I want to do everything I can to get my horses to move more, eat better on a better regimen, go barefoot soundly, the works. I want this to be my horses’ way of life and I still think most of the people are crazy who write about natural horse care.

Jaime Jackson goes a bit far on some things but, to his credit, when he has no evidence and is only speculating, he says so. I am not inclined to believe, for instance, that using chemical fly sprays is going to make my horse colic. I read something to that extent today in a book I wish I could return. The entire book is without citations for her claims and she takes such a holier-than-thou tone that I wanted to argue against her just because she was so unjustly argumentative.

I understand there are a lot of people who dismiss natural horse keeping as hippy crap. A LOT of people. However, to combat this it does no good to come back and tell these people they are essentially abusing their horses in their current practices. Defensive arguments to go offensive and you aren’t going to change anyone’s mind doing that. It’s like telling someone their political views are wrong. Is that going to change their mind? Hell no. It’s going to make them stick to their guns even harder.

I would like to see a book on natural horse care that takes a common-sense and gentle approach to convincing people. Maybe put it out in volumes. When you tell someone all at once that stalls are evil, shoes are evil, blankets are evil, processed feeds are slowly killing your horse and you’re a terrible horse owner… no one will listen to you.

Maybe I will write that book one day. In baby steps. Step one: put your horse outside and let them stay there. Once you are comfortable with that, continue to step two.

I’m still in the process of those steps. I still blanket. It makes me feel anxious to imagine my old mare cold and hayless (she can no longer chew hay) in the winter. Kricket obviously eats plenty of hay to keep her warm, but I would rather not up her hay intake to compensate for weather changes. I may one day do away with blankets, but I might not. Either way it does not make me feel inclined to listen to anything someone has to say if they tell me I’m wrong and stupid and doing my horses a disservice.

To make a long ramble short, proponents of the natural horse model should consider persuasion instead of badgering and guilt. A few facts and citations wouldn’t hurt either…

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The treat of the future!

Okay that’s a bit dramatic of a title, but I wanted to share the new treat I stumbled onto today: beet pulp pellets. They’re already a part of Paige’s regular diet so we had them around. Kricket was looking really adorable and hungry (big surprise) while watching Paige finish her dinner. I used to keep treats in my tack trunk but since I already feed the horses twice a day, I find few opportunities where I feel the need to treat them. I felt the need then, though, and turned to the nearest trash can of feedstuffs.

Beet pulp pellets are larger than normal feeds. If you’ve ever fed the extruded peppermint treats, they are about that size. The extra perk? Super healthy. It’s a highly digestible form of fiber and low in sugar. They don’t care that it isn’t sugary. It’s still special!

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Diving Headfirst into Nutrition

Steven got me a book on horse nutrition for Christmas.


Boy, did he not know what he was getting himself into.

We had (and still have) other things to think about for the horses and ourselves so I didn’t immediately start on the book. In fact, I didn’t give it much thought until I literally heard Paige creak and pop while turning around to go back outside after eating one day.

I have had Paige on joint supplements on and off in the past. While we were showing she was on a double dose of Cosequin which got real pricey real fast. Since we haven’t been doing much of anything in the way of performance as of late, she hasn’t been on anything. It hasn’t been all that apparent that she needs anything. She doesn’t start out stiff (which I attribute to her 24/7 turnout) and I haven’t seen her lame in a long time. (I’m going to regret that one, I’m sure. I’ll knock on wood just in case.) However, she’s no spring chicken. She will be 26 Friday and when your horse audibly creaks, it makes you a little paranoid for her future.

So where do I turn? Smartpak. I love Smartpak. They have the best customer service I’ve ever experienced and they have so many customer ratings for everything on their site. Now they have a Supplement Wizard! So I took the bait. After 30+ questions, Smartpak gave me my results… and I about choked on them. Enhanced support consists of gastric support, a joint complex, a weight gain supplement and something for skin and coat. This would cost us $113.80 a month. See where the choking came from? Their comprehensive support plan adds amino acids and salt to bring the monthly total to $136.70. To me, this sounds more like a car note.

Surely a balanced diet for my horse does not have to consist of $100+ of supplements a month on top of her daily 8 lbs of senior and 1.5 lb of Empower Boost (Nutrena’s high-fat ration balancer.) This thought brought be back to my book. My plan was to use the book and basic feed stuffs to get their feed bill down just enough so I could afford a joint supplement for Paige. I couldn’t just toss an extra $45 a month in to Smartpak without cutting back somewhere.

Highlighter in hand, I read the book cover-to-cover. I highlighted all the minerals and trace minerals the author had given specific amounts for. In the back of the book, an excerpt from the 2007 Horse Nutritional Requirement Chart (NRC) filled in a lot of the blanks. I started a spreadsheet with all the nutrients listed in their current feeds and from my book. Thankfully, we already fed by weight so it was easy to calculate how much of everything they were already getting. The book also has an appendix for basic forages and concentrates like bermuda hay and oats.

It turns out Kricket was getting pretty overloaded on some things and severely lacking in others. She gets at least 2% of her body weight in tifton 44 a day so she really only needs a vitamin and mineral supplement. (Both my girls weigh the same amount give or take a few pounds, so I fill their hay nets with 3.5% of their weight so if Paige decides to eat it, there will be plenty. The generally accepted rule is 1-2% of their body weight a day in long stem forage.) What we were previously feeding Kricket cost $1.53 a day. 2 lbs of oats costs $.62 a day. The vitamin and mineral supplement I decided on cost $.18 a day and we are paying the same amount for hay. That’s some serious savings.

Paige was a bit more difficult since I can’t bank on her eating any hay much less enough to consistently count for anything. I suspect she does eat a fair amount of hay, since Kricket isn’t a walking balloon, but until Paige gets overweight, I’m not going to factor hay into her diet. Consequently, she has to get everything she needs in her daily diet from the (horribly more expensive) concentrates. Prior to reworking her diet, she received over $4 worth of senior, Empower and alfalfa cubes. Guess what? It still wasn’t enough. At least, it wasn’t enough of some important vitamins and minerals.

I also learned some valuable things about Omega-3s and their relationship with Omega-6s. My nutrition book recommends a ration of 4:1 between 3s and 6s. Sounds pretty basic and doable until you look at the amount of Omega-6s in EVERYTHING. My Empower Boost? It has almost 3 times the Omega-6 than that of Omega-3s. Black oil sunflower seeds? Don’t even try. Corn oil? Worse. I considered forgetting about the balance, thinking it can’t make that much of a difference right? You can’t even get whole flax seed in bulk here and, I mean, I’ve seen the term “anti-inflammatory” thrown around but has anyone even done a study? Yes. Yes they have.

The title of this paper is “Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Provides Significant Benefits.” Not exactly a grey area apparently. I encourage anyone with horses to read the paper themselves. Personally, it sold me on not only supplementing both my horses with Omega-3s, but to do so with a marine-based supplement. If the idea of feeding your horse fish oil eeks you out, it did so for me too. The numbers don’t lie, though and I am anxious to try it out! From the paper: “The inclusion of omega-3s has the potential to benefit geriatric horses with osteoarthritis, as well as performance horses subjected to high-impact and high stress training, thus potentially improving quality of life and athletic performance.” Bam.

The actual math and balancing of their diets was a bit ridiculous. It wouldn’t have been that bad if everyone gave you the same information on their analyses in the same units. For future reference in case anyone out there is crazy enough to do this too, ppm=mg/kg. That will save you a headache. Therefore ppm/2.2 will give you mg/lb if you’re obnoxiously imperial and feed by the pound like myself. Once you figure all that crap out it isn’t hard to multiply the values by the theoretical amounts of everything you are considering feeding.

Forgive the poor resolution. Damn screenshots. These are just a few columns in the file. There are also columns for the supplements and the totals required for Paige. (Kricket's file is way more boring.)

Forgive the poor resolution. Damn screenshots. These are just a few columns in the file. There are also columns for the supplements and the totals required for Paige. (Kricket’s file is way smaller.)

The biggest issue I ran into was the fact that not everyone gives you an extended analysis. There are a couple of places you can go for some help. For example, http://www.equi-analytical.com will give you actual results for American hay crops for certain years. That helps to guess-timate things like lysine in your hay. It also pays to be obnoxious and contact customer service at the companies that produce what you’re considering feeding. For example, I am currently looking at replacing Paige’s alfalfa cubes with Lucerne Farms’ Hi Fiber feed which is a mixed chopped hay. (The amount of calcium in her diet is a bit ridiculous for her old kidneys.) On their website and packaging they only give you fat, fiber, protein, calcium and phosphorus. I emailed them asking for a more complete analysis and I got back a COMPLETE analysis along with some very encouraging words and well wishes for my old mare.

The moral of the story is that (when the horses are completely switched over to their new diet) they will be on a vitamin/mineral supplement, Omega-3 supplement and be completely balanced (based on the things you see in the screenshot above) and we are SAVING $23 a month. Sometimes, it pays to be a nerd and obsessive mother.

If you are considering doing something similar, look at what your options are at local feed stores first. For example, soybean meal is a fantastic source of protein… and I can’t get it from my preferred feed stores. I also suggest you drive to Mississippi to buy it if you live in Memphis. Mississippi doesn’t charge sales tax on horse and livestock feed.

For your information:

Vitamin/Mineral supplement I chose: Manna Pro Sho-Glo

Omega-3 Supplement: Su-Per Omega Boost

The website gives no analysis so I contacted customer service to receive this:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – 35% min, Omega 6 Fatty Acids – 3% min, Free Fatty Acids – 0.50%, EPA + DHA – 25%, Vitamin E – 50 ppm

If you are interested in a low calcium forage for your oldies: Hi Fiber

I have no affiliation with any of the companies or products listed above. I only wish to save someone the ridiculous amount of time I spent on the web finding this stuff. If anyone has any questions/comments/suggestions or thinks I’m crazy and would like to yell at me via comment, please feel free.

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We took another trip to Shelby Farms this weekend. The weather was great for it and the girls were as glad for the outing as Steven and I were. The downside of these excursions, though, is the trailer ride it takes to get us there.

I’ve had my fair share of trailering with the countless Memphis to Auburn and back again trips I took over the course of college. I’m a perfectly capable and confident hauler. I’ve even added backing into the driveway to my list of accomplishments. The problem with trailering is the mass of non-horsey people flying around on the roads.

I know I’ve pissed off a lot of people in my trailering days. If the road is bad, I’m parking my 5-miles-an-hour-over-the-speed-limit self in the left lane and you can kiss it. I’m not going to beat up my horses’ legs so you can go 90 miles an hour without having to change lanes. This inevitably leads to someone tailgating my trailer.

I’ve tossed around a few bumper sticker ideas on those 6+ hour drives. Obviously the “Caution! Horses!” stickers don’t do much. My ideas have ranged from “I drive for their safety, please go around” to “Hey, jackass. When you ride my bumper I can’t even see you.”

This doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of people that jump in front of me to get to a red light faster. This is a pretty stupid practice in the first place (says someone guilty of it) but to do it in front of someone hauling a trailer is SUICIDAL. If I had a dollar for every time I screeched to an early halt groaning “shit shit shit shit shit!!!” I could buy a brake box for the truck.

It seems common sense is not so common. All you can do is play super defensively and pack a trailer first aid kit. As for me, I’ve landed on a “Caution! Flying manure!” bumper sticker for my trailer.

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Spotlight: Kricket


As you might have guessed from the name of the blog and Paige’s post, I have a young horse. She is not as dramatically young as Paige is old, but she is still my baby. I guess it’s similar to having kids. Sometimes I realize that Kricket is SIX YEARS OLD and I freak out a little. I still think of her as this:

ImageIf you slogged through my post about Paige then you know I bred her to create Kricket when our short-lived show career ended. It had been a dream of mine ever since we leased Paige because I LOOOOOVED Shifty. Shifty was the resident stallion and one of the sweetest horses in the entire world. If given the chance to breed a mare now, I would: A) realize that it is must more cost effective and better for the horse community at large if I were to just adopt a baby or B) take into account the conformation, medical history, bloodlines etc of said mare and possible breeding stallions. But Shifty was so pretty! And sweet. And athletic! He is reining trained and, while I have no idea what a good reining horse is, he would do a turn on the haunches from a shift in your seat. Good enough for me!


Shifty in his heyday

He continues to be a fabulous example of how a stallion should behave. Since he is 19 now and lives at a barn that is overwhelmingly a boarding/training/lesson facility, he doesn’t get a whole lot of action these days. (Riding or otherwise.) About once a year for the past few years I would drag him away from his miniature donkey and groom and tack him up. After a few minutes of getting his jollies out in the roundpen, we would ride. Never once did he buck or run away with me. He was ridden ONCE A YEAR and never acted up. (Even when I put an english saddle and colorful saddle pad on him!) I may not have been informed enough to consider conformation or other things, but I sure as hell did a good job of breeding for temperament.


Stallions are ALWAYS very very dangerous. Clearly.

Kricket was born almost a month early. Consequently, she was born outside. I rarely leave my horses in their stalls unless there is bad weather, an injury or a similar situation. Obviously, impending birth would count as one of these situations if we had thought it was THAT impending. In fact, Kricket was born LITERALLY the night before we were going to start “Mare Watch 2006.” Thankfully this at least meant we had the straw for her stall and the partition taken out to make an extra big stall. 


She got her straw the same day and Paige got what she thought was a stall full of snacks. *facepalm*

I was a senior in high school which meant my alarm already went off at 6:00AM so I was less than pleased to get a phone call before then. I also was super not expecting a birth announcement August 25 when she wasn’t due until mid-September. So when Bill said, “Krista. There’s another horse in the pasture,” I had no idea what was going on. I quickly recovered and got my butt down to Byhalia to see my wild filly. (She was born outside, after all.)


The reason she earned the name Kricket.

I had about a thousand names on a list to choose from. When I met her, those went out the window. She was what Steven and I refer to as “Feral Phil” (Phil being short for filly.) Those whole few hours outside had obviously been enough for her to gain some real spunk and every time you would put your hand on her teeny rump, you would get back a teeny little buck. Like a cricket! My name being Krista Kriz, I thought it was necessary to pass that “K” along and thus Kricket was born.


Just look at that belly on momma. No wonder people kept asking “Are you sure it isn’t twins?”

She was a fantastic baby. Obviously she was handled from day 1 (if a few hours late) and her demeanor shows it to this day. She LOVES people. Consequently, we learned a few basics immediately. First and foremost was give to pressure. I could tie her without worry from a very young age (though I rarely did) because she is an A+ student. I would watch her pull back on her leadrope, feel that pressure and then walk forward to give herself a release. Next was to use that principle to get her to move back by sending energy down the leadline (also the yo-yo game in Parelli.) This was a very important step because did I mention she loves people? It was a bit difficult to get her to respect personal space but now she will back up with the waggle of a finger.

ImageShe got a lot of attention and groundschooling as a little one, but I knew I wanted to take things slow with her. (Okay and I still am.) Paige has arthritis and other chiropractic issues that I associate with the fact that she was doing speed events at the AQHA level at TWO YEARS OLD. She also tends to get very anxious and has separation anxiety issues. These might not be related to starting under saddle too fast, but it sure can’t have helped. So I put a saddle on Kricket at 2 and didn’t sit on her until just before she was 3. (Sit, mind you. That was all at the time.)


Do I make a habit of hanging on my 3 year-old’s spine? No. This was our first full mounting. As soon as my weight came off the stool she backed up really quickly, so I froze, ready to hop a safe distance away. Turns out, she just wanted to sniff the stool.

 From there our training progressed at a snail’s pace. It still is, and I don’t have a problem with that. It took us most of the way through college to canter both leads for more than half an arena at a time. Again, that doesn’t bother me. I’m not a full-time trainer so I can’t expect her to be a full-time student. (Though some scholarships would be nice…) I think I can safely say she’s “broke” now. You know, in Craislist terminology. Ear clipping still eludes us, though. She hates the tickley sensation so I can’t legitimately say she “bathes, loads and clips.” I’m sure we could work through it if I cared enough but she needs that ear fluff to ward off bugs so I leave it be.


Kricket has taught me so much it isn’t even funny. She is intelligent and picks things up quickly, but she is also a boss mare. She’s at the top in every pasture she’s ever been in which has made her training a bit harder than it could have been. She absolutely does not respond to aggression or bullying (At least not a response you want.) If you are clear and patient with her, though, you will find she is eager to please. She is also completely fearless on the trails and otherwise. We impressed people with her bulldozing capabilities when we pasture boarded on 125 acres when she was 4. I tried to keep the jumping to a bare minimum, but she would walk over or through anything that was in her way. No hesitation. That translated to some fun on the cross country field when we were in Auburn when she turned 5. Her only fear: crossrails. She will do them, but just something about them makes her hesitate. Oh well, no professional crossrails for us.


Boss mare

I hope to enjoy Krick for many many years. Sure, she might need a joint supplement because she’s slightly sickle hocked, but I would take her personality over perfect conformation any day. She licks my dad in the face, can go up and down stairs and plays with my dog. I didn’t breed for a horse. I bred for a partner and that’s exactly what I got.


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Let’s talk about foxtail…

I’ve been a little MIA from posting because Steven and I have been scurrying about for the past couple weeks discovering and remedying a hay problem: foxtail.


It’s deceptively fluffy, but those little spines will embed themselves in your horses’ lips, gums and possibly their GI tract.

I had never heard of this one. Probably because I had never had an issue with it. I didn’t read about it in Horse Illustrated as a child and I never saw it plastered on Smartpak or the blogs I follow. Hell, I never read it in any of the ridiculous Encyclopedia of the Horse type books I’ve read. Then, Kricket came up with big ass sores on her mouth.

I am quite the panic-prone mother. I’m going to need a really patient pediatrician when that time comes, because I immediately went straight to “Kricket has a virus and is going to die.” In my defense, when she came up with swollen back legs a year and a half ago it was a virus and she very well could have died. I noticed the sores when I fed before work so my immediate options were Google and Jess my bff in vet school.

Summer sores? No. Too cold for flies, even in Tennessee. Vesicular Stomatis? Maybe, but it didn’t look like it. And, according to Jess, it would just go away anyway. Foxtail in the hay? Surely not. I didn’t notice anything like that in the hay. Then, I looked at the hay.

Now when I say it was lousy with foxtail, I mean that it appeared to be about 10% foxtail heads. Needless to say, I freaked out. We had 15 bales left. Granted, we got them for a great deal, but that was still $50 of hay and it meant we couldn’t go back to our great deal guy for more. Steven contacted him saying there was something in the hay causing sores in Kricket’s mouth and (unsurprisingly) his response was along the lines of “Well there’s nothing wrong with my horses.”

My first instinct (as a monetarily challenged tightwad and noted do-it-yourselfer) was to pick it out. How hard could that be, right? Hard. Too hard. It took hours for us to pick out foxtail of enough hay to equal half the horses’ ration for the day. Not. Happening. So we hightailed it to the local feed store to buy a few bales to hold them over until we could come up with a better solution. Four bales totaling $28 later, the girls were good on hay for a little over a week, but what next?

Starbucks comes through again! To explain, my mother works at Starbucks. She is usually at the drive through window and she makes a lot of connections at that post. Consequently, she has a goat guy. Lo and behold, goats can eat foxtail! They don’t really like the taste (or so I’ve been told) but they will just pick around it with their teeny goat lips. So we are in the process of transporting the hay one truckload at a time to our new goat connection where they are paying us what we originally paid. (Steven says that’s not good farmer-manship but I think it would be mean to make a profit on the hay. I’m also just really jazzed to get rid of it.)

Thanks to Craigslist we also have a new hay guy. The hay wasn’t NEARLY as good a deal as our first load, but this is high quality Tifton 44 and the haynets are completely empty when we get to them in the morning so it is obviously also highly tasty.

I can’t say that I should have done more research before buying hay necessarily, but I wish I had come across this issue before it was my money going directly to the hay. So let my screw-up be a lesson to any of you horsey people who hadn’t heard of foxtail before. (Or am I the only one?)

As a little sidenote, I also learned a lesson about horse behavior. The horses eat out of rubber tubs on the ground. Kricket randomly started pawing at her bucket until she dumped it onto the ground. Every feeding. I was really annoyed because it just looked like a lot of money she was grinding into the dirt and I thought it was quite the bratty behavior. It turns out, that was connected to her sores. A couple days after she was on a foxtail free diet, she didn’t do it anymore. Don’t take your horses’ strange behavior for granted. They might seem like irrational creatures sometimes, but chances are they aren’t going to change their routine for no reason.

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Spotlight: Mare-Mare


I have named this blog “Old Horse Young Horse” and have done very little to explain the relevance of the name. It’s about time those of you who haven’t already been bored to death in person by my descriptions of everything about my horses have the opportunity to be bored to death by it on the internet. Buckle up for a long one, folks, because this one is about Paige. She will be 26 in March so there is plenty to say.


Paige is generally referred to by all as “Mare-Mare” or simply “The Mare.” (Think Sherlock Holmes and “The Woman.”) She has been an obnoxiously large part of my life since I was 12 when my parents leased her in lieu of forking over the cash for a horse I might lose interest in. In retrospect, my parents probably hoped I would lose interest. Sorry, mom and dad. At least I can mostly pay for them myself now. She was a fantastic first horse. She was equal measures babysitter and partner in crime in that she always took care of me but was always ready to gallop wildly across a field or jump things we probably had no business jumping.


Paige at her 17th birthday party.


She had a serious issue in that first year, though. She would abscess so often in her front feet that PK (whom I was leasing her from) really couldn’t make any money off the leasing because she was providing me with another horse every time Paige was lame and paying for the vet and diapers to wrap her feet. (Not to mention the extra shavings because Paige will DESTROY a stall when forced to be inside. She is not a fan.) Eventually she had no choice but to send Paige back to the woman she was leasing her from.


I was inconsolable. In fact, so was my mom. She was a great horse, it was just her feet that was the problem. Well, my family had obviously never heard the “No hoof, no horse” rule, because for my 13th birthday my parents bought her from the woman PK was leasing her from. Sort of. It turns out poor Mare-Mare was “shoved from pillar to post” as my grandmother would say. I leased her from PK who leased her from Bunny who may have been leasing her but also may have just been taking care of her for free from some randos whose names I don’t even know.


The story as I have it is that Paige was bought for a daughter of some horsey people. The daughter actually had no skill/desire to ride and would fall off constantly. They would then send Paige to Bunny who would ride her and say there was no problem with the horse. After this happened a few times, they just left her there. Bunny’s husband would rope cattle off of her, but other than that she just sat until PK leased her and brought her to Germantown.


I don’t know much about her past before that other than what I gather from her papers. (Which you can view at http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/index.php?query_type=horse&h=WINDY+TUFF+PAGE&g=5&cellpadding=0&small_font=1&l= )


She was born in Glasgow, KY March 1, 1987 (making her about a year and half older than me.) She was doing barrel racing, pole bending and team penning at the AQHA level as early as 3. (Hello, arthritis!) She has one AQHA point in team penning which means I could never change her stupid stupid registered name. Thanks, David J. Brown for that 1st place.


Fast forward to relevant happenings. Turns out it was the farrier causing her abscesses. Some people are of the mind that you can change a 15 year old horse’s crooked knees by trimming her feet to correct it. It’s really a miracle she didn’t have serious joint damage because of it. The plus on that side, though, is that Bunny told me she would never be sound again so we got her for a song. Bunny then tried to tell me that all Paige could ever be was a jumper. She proceeded to list all the things she couldn’t do which included hunters, dressage and a whole list of western disciplines. Pshaw.


After we got her feet back on track she carried me (literally) through adolescence. Usually bareback with a halter. Sometimes with a saddle launching over solid objects. I even took a mild interest in western speed events when I found out she knew how already. We tore up some speed classes at local saddle club shows. This was made all the sweeter because I was a small teenage girl on an old chubby horse and we kicked the butts of the teenage boys with the wild eye-rolling uncontrollable horses. (Just ask my dad about the Master Blaster story sometime. He will gladly regale you as he has done a thousand times to other people who have already heard the story.) I was always an English rider at heart so when I was about 15 we decided to legitimately launch over solid objects and tried our hand/hoof at showing.


Paige was no stranger to showing. The problem was that her experience in showing was obviously of the bat-out-of-hell jumper variety and I was trying to do hunters. We fared decently in a compromise of equitation classes before her arthritis was too bad to continue. I did, however, have the hilarious misfortune of trying to show her in a fun class called bareback jumpers before we left the show ring for good. I had ridden her and jumped countless times bareback. Should be no problem, right? Well apparently she knew what the jumper ring at the showgrounds was and she recognized that little buzzer because we tore around the arena so fast we couldn’t make our second turn and were disqualified. Gooood tiiiimes. We did have a good time foxhunting for a season before we left the show world, though. No need for flying changes in the woods!



The obvious solution when you can no longer show your mare is to breed her, right? Well that was what was in my mind, at least. She couldn’t cooperate like a normal horse, though, and didn’t go into season that spring so she was bred in October of 2006. She was 19 at the time so, though everything was normal, we took it easy and stopped all jumping and running and general hullabaloo. Fortunately, we had an outlet because we had a new dressage instructor! We competed in a little dressage schooling show when she was 9 months pregnant. We got one fancy blue ribbon and promptly scratched from the rest of our classes because she was just too hot and pregnant. When we had finished our test the judge just stared at me and said “I think she’s pregnant.” Thank you, Captain Obvious.


Since giving me my second horse, her career has ramped down quite a bit. She came with me to college my freshman year and then both she and Kricket returned with me my sophomore year. She stayed in Auburn with me and Steven until I graduated in December 2011. Since Steven and I have been together she has picked up her old role of mentor and packs him around. She can still get up to her old tricks, though, and has a tendency to confuse cues like “trot” with “gallop madly.”


Enjoying her 23rd birthday cake.

She has been my rock since I was 12. She has been the one thing in my life that doesn’t change. Paige is always there and will always be ready for a snack and a good gallop when I need it. I can only hope that my kids’ first horse or pony even remotely measures up to her. I laugh a little when people ask what discipline we do because we have come dang close to doing it all. We wiped the barn floor with the list of things Bunny said she could never do.


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Horse Mom Tips

Horse Mom Tip: When going in public after the barn, keep your boots on to lend credibility to the filth on the rest of you.

I say “horse mom” instead of “horse owner” or “rider” because I have been all three and neither of the last two compare to horse mom status. As a horse mom you get filthy, you spend way too much time with four legged creatures and you are ruled by the two-feeding-a-day schedule. It’s not for everyone but when you do it, you aren’t your horses owner anymore. You’re her mom.

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Shelby Farms


One of the downsides of our current non-boarding situation is the lack of a place to ride in the swamp weather we have been having lately. While the horses seemed perfectly fine with their food-heavy parent interactions, I was getting a little restless. Thankfully, our little town here is equipped with one of the best public parks in the country.

Shelby Farms has even changed their policy on bringing your horse to the park. Formerly, you had to go to the office and pay a fee to receive a pass. Not any longer! Now, as long as you have your negative coggins tests on hand just in case, it is free free free. (And free of hassle!)

So Steven and I met Devan and Paisley (Paisley being a dog) with the girls and Gatsby (our dog.) We then proceeded to attempt to enjoy what was supposed to be nice weather but was actually pretty dreary and cold. So we pretended we were in Ireland.


What are you doing, Dad? What is that big black thing on your face?!



I’ll get that camera off your face, Dad!!



Me on Krick and Devan on Paige.



Strangest fox hunt ever?



It’s always important to dog-proof the horses.




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