Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Food For Thought

What is it about other people's dietary choices that evokes so much sanctimonious vitriol?  If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to a party and announce that you're a vegetarian. You don't actually have to become a vegetarian, just tell people you are so you can watch them completely lose their minds. Then, sit back and marvel at how otherwise normal humans can turn into complete turds simply because you don't eat what they do.

Shamelessly stolen off Facebook, and I don't remember who I stole it from.

I'm not a vegetarian, so at least I don't have to listen to people spew their nonsense about that, but I don't eat any grains, refined sugar or most dairy.  It's really not that radical, I eat meat, fruits and veggies just like you "normals", but people still manage to get bent out of shape about it. I've heard pretty much every argument imaginable against my diet, and some that were beyond even my over-active imagination.  

It gets even worse when they learn that my horses don't eat grain, either. I've been called everything from ignorant to cheap, and some have even implied that I'm downright abusive. 

Why the hate? I'm not hurting myself or my horses. I'm not forcing others to eat what I do or feed their horses the way I do. I have my own reasons for the things I do, just like they have they have their own reasons for the things they do. 

I'm not even one of those sanctimonious jerks who talks about their diet/horse feeding to everyone. My diet only comes up when people notice that I don't eat certain things at social gatherings and (rudely) decide to comment on it. My horses' diet only comes up when someone (rudely) tries to force their Super-Duper Awesome Horse Feeding Program on me. Sadly, those scenarios happen all the damn time, because apparently there are a lot of sanctimonious jerks in the world. 

Modern humans have been around for about 195,000 years, and have populated just about every ecological niche available. That means we're able to survive and thrive on damn near any diet. The Innuit and the Bedouins are not eating the Classic American diet that countless jerks have told me I must eat to survive and they seem to be doing just fine, nutritionally speaking. 

Modern horses have been around for approximately 5 million years, eons before humans were giving them Scientifically Formulated, Specially Extruded and Toasted World Class Performance Horse Feed. We humans have also drug our horses to nearly every corner of the world we have inhabited. Guess what? All those horses all over the world are not eating what the Classic American thinks they should eat. And yet, somehow, those seriously deprived horses manage to get up every day and do their jobs. They frequently skunk the Classic American in competition, too. (Just sayin')

I just don't get it. Of all the things in the world to be a twit about, why choose food?  There are so many other things to get bent out of shape about: starving children, war, politics, draw reins, slow wi-fi, cats pooping in your garden.... I just don't understand the food hate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

All Play And No Work Makes Jack A Naughty Boy

I came across this gem from Horse Nation on Facebook yesterday morning.  It's a collection of rather dubious Craigslist ads.  The one that caught my eye was the description for the "17.5 hands horse for sale thoroughbred 14 years old Good Ryder".... particularly these parts:

"She is very gentle when she is worked. She is a full thoroughbred and a retired race horse. (has a tattoo on her upper lip) We have had her for 2 or more years and we really don’t work her enough."

"After you work her for a few mins she is very submissive but she gets worked so little that it can be tough to catch her. When I first got her she didn’t have that problem. We just don’t need a horse that needs this much work."

I chuckled at that description, it sums up every Thoroughbred I have ever known pretty well.  I have met many horses that you could throw in a field and not touch for months or years, then get them out and pick up right where you left off.  None of those horses were Thoroughbreds.  Thoroughbreds love to work, they love to be busy and stimulated.  This is probably why so many Thoroughbreds develop vices like cribbing and weaving. In my experience, a Thoroughbred left to its own devices will invent things to do.  These things are never things you want the Thoroughbred to be doing.

My Thoroughbreds are currently bored out of their minds.  The ground is frozen, the weather is awful, and my ribs are still messed up from my bout of bronchitis. I haven't done much of anything with either one of them since January. They follow me around like sad, lost puppies when I go out to do chores, poor things.  They're also starting to invent new games.  The current favorite game is one Spider came up with that I like to call "Bite The Baby".  It involves Spider biting Jack and then holding on like a pit bull while Jack tries to run away.  Somehow, Jack is actually OK with this game and comes back for more when Spider loses his grip.  They are strange creatures.

Yesterday evening I was reminded of that Craigslist ad during dinnertime.  Jack decided that I wasn't dumping his dinner into his tub fast enough and decided to "get big" at me and threaten me. He arched his neck, shook his head and stomped his feet.  It was all very impressive, as he is a little over 17hh and not as skinny as he used to be.  I'm sure he thought his display would intimidate me into dumping his bucket faster.  Unfortunately, he messed with the wrong person and it back fired on him.  I "got big" right back at him, and didn't back down until I had forced him to back up several feet away from his feed tub and stand there quietly.  Then I dumped his bucket and let him come up to eat.  

He was a perfect gentleman this morning, the lesson obviously stuck, but I still need to start working the little guy again.  (I call Jack "the little guy" because he's young. This confuses many people, as he is anything but "little"!)  I had started doing some clicker training with him, but never really got past the "intro" stages before the weather and various illnesses got in the way.  I need to start that back up.  

I'm actually sort of proud of the little guy's initiative and spunk.  I know that seems counter-intuitive, since he did something really naughty and potentially dangerous. I've never liked an "easy" horse, though, and I think that good horses, especially good competition horses, need a lot of attitude.  That "attitude" is the spark that takes a horse from "just another horse in the arena" and elevates them to something special.  That spark must be channeled into something productive, though.  I've seen too many people get a horse with attitude and then just let the horse do as it pleases, usually because they don't have the time or desire to work with it, are afraid to "destroy its spirit", or are just afraid of it in general.  It never ends well for the horse. 

Jack was just being a typical bored Thoroughbred, and a 3 year old Thoroughbred at that.  He's still a baby, and hasn't lived here long enough to know all the rules yet. That doesn't mean I excuse or ignore his behavior, it just means that I correct it, move on and give him less opportunities to act a fool in the future.  

I have a feeling that Jack's going to be a fun one....

I was trying to take a picture of something else here, but somehow Jack snuck in.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowy Days Are Boring

We're having another winter storm today, although this one isn't too bad.  It's mostly sleet, with a little dusting of snow here and there.  It's still miserable weather, though.

My kids are out of school for yet another snow day (it's the 4th or 5th this year) and they're driving me nuts.  I've spent most of the day hiding upstairs, messing around on the internet.  I ordered my seeds for the spring, read some blogs, screwed around on Facebook... very productive things.

About an hour ago I heard the horses running around, so I went downstairs to see what they were doing.  I got to the window just in time to see Spider, who turned 19 this year, racing around like a 3 year old with the actual 3 year old, Jack, hot on his heels.

They were having a grand old time playing, until Spider mis-judged his ability to stop/turn, skidded about 10 ft through the mud and snow and fell down.  He slid to a stop just inches from the fence with all four feet in the air while my heart leapt into my throat.

This is why he's a Dressage horse, not an Eventer!

Without missing a beat, he jumped back up and took off in the opposite direction, running down Jack in the process.  That started the game anew, and I watched the two spar for a few minutes before heading out to asses the damage the two idiots might have inflicted on each other and my fence.

They're both fine, and so is the fence.

One of the things I love about Thoroughbreds is that they never, ever grow up. (Even though this refusal to grow up causes me frequent near-heart-attacks)


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