In Response…

Recently, Eventing Nation posted an article titled, ‘Is This Sport Safe Enough? Breaking Down the Latest Eventing Statistics.’ I believe that this article is very appropriate for all riders to read, whether eventers or not.

The eventing world has seen some hard times in the past couple of months as multiple riders (and horses) have fallen to their deaths out cross country. This cues the debate on all social media whether safety for eventing needs to be increased. This article is well written because it addresses everyone’s concerns in an empirical, logical way.

As a refresher, eventing contains three phases: dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country. Each of these phases are crucial to the overall performance of the pair competing — something that I feel many forget. In the article, an analysis of falls out cross country concluded that there was a correlation in eliminations, faults, and falls cross country and relatively poor performances in dressage. When I read this, it startled me because of the truth behind it. I grew up with many riders never having a solid dressage test with their horse because they only liked to focus on jumping because it was more fun. I believe that this is a huge problem.

While Stevenson makes other points about this situation, the conversation needs to expand on coaching and riding. If riders are proficient in dressage, flat work,  the fundamentals of riding and horse behavior, there is a chance that horrific accidents can decrease. Therefore, dressage should be a huge factor in all disciplines. I feel that a rider should understand how to make the horse bend, be supple, and the basics of collection and extension. The problem with flat work is that not a lot of people want to spend time doing something that is ‘boring.’ We should shift the stigma and promote dressage!

Now to say that knowledge in dressage will completely eliminate risk in eventing would be incorrect, but it could severely decrease preventable accidents. Overall, the article stated that fatal falls and other disasters in eventing have decreased over a period of 30 years. With this knowledge, it is great to see how eventing is somewhat improving. There might be more to do, but this discipline is getting where it needs to be!

I am looking forward to seeing where it leads us 🙂

The Outbound

This app has changed my life. Why? Because hikes I didn’t even know about have become available to me at the tip of my fingers.

 

For anyone that loves the outdoors (hiking, camping, cycling, etc.), this is the app for you. You can download it free on the app store and gain so much information on almost anything nature related. There is also the ability to create adventures and save hikes that you want to do.

 

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Not only that, but there is a community on this application who review hikes and give you information on what to bring. It’s like having your own nature guide without having to pay for one!

The app first introduces the ‘featured collections,’ which has hikes and cool places to go. I love that you can search for new adventures, or you can search by the activity you are interested in. You can also let the app use your location to help you find cool things around you. This feature is extremely helpful when you are vacationing or visiting somewhere new.

You can also develop a profile that keeps track of your hikes and adventures. I love being able to see what I have completed so far! And of course, you are also able to write reviews of places and create adventures of your own. This app also connects to their website, theoutbound.com. On the website, they have also created a job search. Here, fellow adventurists can post jobs they know for other job seekers. The website also has a blog where you can read about fascinating places people have gone.

I hope to use this app a lot to document my travels and find cool places to go. My goal is to complete as many hikes and adventures as possible, especially using this app!

Combatting Stall Rest

We’ve all been there. When your vet mutters the dreadful words that your prime competition horse is lame and needs time off, a little piece of soul dies. Recently, Raven somehow hurt herself and needed a couple of months off. This wasn’t our first rodeo, so I came up with a couple tips I’ve learned from her multiple injuries.

  1.  Listen to Your Vet. This is obviously a no brainer, but your vet really knows what he’s talking about. Not only did they go through nearly 8 years of school to be able to diagnose ol’ Buddy, but they probably have many more years of personal experience with lame horses. If they advise you to only handwalk for a certain period of time or insist on re-evaluating your horse every couple of months, it’s because they want what’s best for your horse. (Although, try to avoid crazy ass call fees as much as possible — it can really do a number on your wallet.)
  2. With that said, you know your horse better than anyone. When Raven was 6 years old and she fractured her coffin bone, I knew there was no way that she could survive 6 months off without drugs or some type of stimulation. I pointed this out to my vet and we were able to come up with a plan so that she wouldn’t try to kill herself in her stall from boredom. Talking to your vet to work out a plan that fits both you and your horse will only make things better. If your vet recommends that your horse should be handwalked, make sure you and your horse can do that while being as safe as you can. The purpose of stall rest is for them to heal. You don’t want them making silly decisions that only cost you more time and money.seniorpicswithraven 067
  3. Sometimes drugs are the answer. The first time Raven was off, Ace was my life-saver. I administered it in a cookie before I groomed or walked her and it really helped. If I didn’t use drugs, I would have a horse for a kite every time I had to do something with her. The second time around, I tried to go without Ace (she was about 5 years older), and it worked beautifully! I simply used a rope halter for more control (see this post on how rope halters can help with ground manners) while walking on the flat. Before you make any decisions, it’s best to talk it over with the vet, whomever is around, your trainer, or the knowledgeable gal at the barn.
  4. Alter their feeding regimen. Because your horse will no longer be able to work or go to turnout, they will have to spend a lot of their day doing nothing. I can’t speak for everyone’s horses, but mine gets fat…and gets fat quickly! By changing their grain to a low starch formula, nixing grain completely, or cutting their feed down, you can delay the side effects of stall rest. Also coinciding with my next point, switching your horse to a slow feeder can help ease the stress of staying in a stall while also preventing them from over eating.
  5. Mental stimulation is just as good as physical stimulation. Even if Raven isn’t on stall rest, I still like to play games with her to exercise her mind. Sometimes I will set up a walking obstacle course where she has to go over poles or weave cones while I’m walking her on the ground. This is good to do on stall rest too! You can also hide cookies and make your horse find them. For this exercise, I usually end up placing treats in cerIMG_1810tain areas and make Raven sniff them out. Since she’s not a dog, it’s hilarious to watch her try and find these!
  6. Stretch! Since your horse can’t work, they can lose a lot of muscle. Many studies have shown that a horse won’t start to lose their fitness for up to 3 weeks, but that doesn’t really help if your horse is off for 6 months. However, stretching their muscles can help them from getting stiff. Aside from walking, performing neck stretches, leg stretches, hip stretches, and overall massaging them will really help.
  7. Groom. Everyday. Grooming helps for a world full of reasons. Not only will it help maintain the bond with horse and rider, but it will provide some mental stimulation for your horse. They will also appreciate it to be groomed as much as possible. And even though they will be stuck in a stall, they can still get hooves full of crap that need to be picked everyday. Plus, doting on a horse is ridiculously fun!!
  8. Lastly, make sure to stay up with your health, too. This last go round, I became so bored from not riding that I took up running (idk why tho, running sucks, lol). Maintaining your physical fitness and nutrition is important so that you will be able to handle your horse at all times. Not only that, but it’s healthy for you to maintain some form of exercise as often as possible. So, make sure to take care of your body while taking care of your horse.

Having a horse on stall rest can provide some benefits, too. You can always put yourself out there to ride other barn mate’s horses during the free time that you allocated to riding yours. You also have more time to do other fun things and pursue other interests, like hiking or reading or vegging out and watching Netflix! Just remember to take stall rest one stride at a time and that it can be a good experience!!

What other tips do you have for stall rest?

Good News!

Last week, I received an email stating that I was admitted into the MBA program at my school. Not only am I relieved that I know what I am doing for the next 10 months, I am excited that I can start the rest of my life.

Finding what you want to do “when you grow up” is actually the worst. Personally, I feel like my schooling made me conform to what they wanted so that I could gain the most knowledge, but I feel like I lost who I am as a person. Obviously, I love riding horses and working with all animals, but I don’t know where to go from there. I’m not sure if I just didn’t use the resources at school effectively, or I was so busy trying to maintain my grades while working part-time jobs, but suffice to say, I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate. And I feel like everyone else is in that same boat.

Which is why I am beyond ecstatic to continue my education and see if business might be the better option for me. I am also looking forward to use this time to see what I find enjoyable and what career path would work best for me. At the end of the day, I just have to remember that I am young, I have plenty of time, and I don’t have to worry about many other responsibilities.

All in all, I am excited for this opportunity to grow myself. I am also excited to write my way through this journey. This is an exciting time of change and I am ready for it!

It’s okay, honestly.

Oh man. I have been gone forever! For awhile there, I had time to dedicate an hour or two to writing a post but geez, school really kicked my booty for the last couple weeks. It seems like I just never have the time to do anything! Right now, I am a senior in college all set to graduate in June! Which is so awesome because I want to be done with school, but it also sucks because I have no idea what to do with the rest of my life. And that’s scary.

But you know what, I know what I don’t want to do!  I know that I can never work retail and I know that I can’t work a job that doesn’t pay well because my horse and riding is too important to lose. I know that I don’t want to spend my life unhappy. But the second I have to make decisions about careers or graduate school or living situations all seems like a lot to handle and I am so overwhelmed about it. Trust me, I know what it’s like to have to go to school with tons of assignments that seem like they are due back to back, go to the barn and ride 6 days a week, hang out with friends and your boyfriend, work out, go to work, and hopefully have time for yourself. At the end of that long list of stuff to do, finding out what job you want always wants to be pushed back and forgotten. I can tell you right now that there are many reasons I don’t want to look for a job. The biggest one, thought, is because I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid that I won’t find what I want. I’m afraid of not knowing what is going to happen.

What I’m here to say is that it will be alright.

How do I know this? I don’t. I have no clue what my life is going to be like a year from now, hell, even a month from now! But I do know that everything always works out and I know that I will not stop until I am living the life that makes me happy. I know it’s crazy hard to go with the flow and hope for the best. But sometimes, unfortunately, there are some things you can’t control.

So, to everyone that is struggling with making life decisions, I want to let you know that it’s okay to be scared. I am freaking terrified. I am not going to let that stop me from living my life. And I just want everyone to know that it will all work out for the better!

Here is to everyone going through a tough time — it will get better!

Body Language Series: Expressions

Last post was specific to one idea about body language, but this one kind of covers everything else. Once you become familiar with these face and body expressions, it is actually pretty easy to understand what an animal is saying. I am going to cover everything by body part.

Ears – All animals have ears (duh), and use them to convey their emotions and their focus. If you are holding a treat in front of your dog, they more than likely have their ears forward to focus on you because they want that darn treat! It’s the same case with all other animals; they can easily tell you what their mood is and what they’re focusing on with their ears. If an animal has their ears pinned back, like all the way back on to their neck and not just facing backwards, this means that they are mad. To put it straight, they are angry at you or another animal and you should just leave the situation because you will probably end up with a bite or a kick or something ugly. If an animal, like a horse, is moving their ears around, its usually because they are listening for something. For instance, if I am riding my horse, she should have her inside ear pointing to the middle of the arena. This means shes listening to me and listening to the commands I am giving her. If her ears are shooting forward, that means something caught her attention in front of her. The same case happens if her ears are casually pointing backwards. Animals ears are almost like radar and you can use them to see what they have their attention on.

Mouth – This one is pretty straightforward. Just a reminder from the last post, but do NOT approach an unknown animal head-on. Not only is this seen as a threat, but you might get bitten or barked at or some other action that is seen as aggressive. So while you are approaching an animal, if they bare their teeth at you, that means they are mad. To avoid this situation, let them come to you or approach them at the shoulder.

Butt –  This one is also straightforward. If an animal, like a horse, is facing their rear towards you, it means that they don’t really want to interact with you, they would rather be by themselves. If you need to catch the animal and don’t want to wait until they’re in a better mood, approach with caution! They might try and kick you! To resolve this situation, try and stay away from the hind end and approach more towards the front of their body. This will also resolve the fact that they would not be able to see behind them, too.

Honestly, those are the main things about body language that can help you figure out animal behavior. Animal behavior is a pretty interesting thing and body language can tell us a lot about how these animals show emotions. Just remember to trust your instincts when working with an animal. Get help from others more experienced and observing animals can help as well! If you want more information on animal behavior and body language, you can read tons of books on it or visit this website to get more information.

OKC – AQHA Worlds!!

That’s a wrap everyone! I am now officially done with the Cal Poly Horse Judging Team. I am so grateful for the experience, but I wish it was not over. To commemorate a great season, I am going to share the best (and worst) parts of the AQHA Worlds!

I remember walking into Congress and thinking that the horses there were amazing. Boy, was I wrong! The horses in OKC were by far the highest quality, most talented, best trained individuals I have ever seen. Every horse we walked past was absolutely stunning. The halter horses had huge stifles, the reiners were deeper stopping, the ropers had beautiful manes and were as fast as can be, even the pleasure horses were the creme de la creme! It was such a blessing to be part of this huge production and see the high caliber these horses were performing at.

In judging, we usually rate each maneuver on a scale with 0 being a completely average run. When I typically judge  horses, most are very average quality or slightly above average or below. Here, it was rare for me to give a horse a 0, they were that good! It was amazing to see a good quality mover with a high degree of difficulty…it was a judge’s dream!!

Before the actual contest, my team and I flew in a couple days before so that we could ogle, ahem, practice, and see these beautiful horses do what they do best. It was such an honor to see Snap, Crackle, Pop (2015 AQHA Superhorse) and to see the finals of nearly every discipline, including parareining! If anyone is interested in going to an AQHA breed show, Worlds should definitely be on the top of the list.

After we practiced, enjoyed food from Texas Roadhouse and Sonic, and laughed in the company of great friends, it was time for the actual competition. Let me just say now, this day was even more exhausting than last time! On top of that, I practiced so much more than I did for Congress so I had pressure on myself to do well. Unfortunately, everyone else was also in that boat. Long story short, I did not do as well as I hoped, but I am still glad that I was able to compete.

Giving 6 sets of reasons, which is basically “strongly saying” a 2-minute speech on why you placed the class the way you did, was exhausting! It was hard for me to remember every class and set I was giving. I often found myself saying, “I placed the tie-down roping…” even if it wasn’t tie down! It was definitely a mental challenge.

But the actual judging portion was also intense, too! We judged 12 classes, like usual, with 4 halter and 8 performance. I am always blown away with judging because I always feel like its harder than it needs to be. For instance, judging random classes as practice the days before the contest was infinitely easier than in the contest. My coach always preps us and says that they try to make the classes sortable, but…do they really? While comparing my placings with other students from other schools, or my teammates, heck even my coach, there was some variation. To me, that means that something is not right! But, I am just a little voice in a huge world full of judging…

All in all, I am very thankful I was able to spend a week out in Oklahoma judging amazing horses and learning a lot about the sport and about myself. I wish that I could spend more time on the judging team but  I cherish the time I had.

Rando

Guys this video is life. So freaking cute and so inspirational!

If you don’t feel unproductive after watching this day in the life video then you are doing it right and I salute you.

 

That’s all, have a great one 🙂

What’s on my Mind

Let me tell you about my day today. If you don’t want to read about how irritating people are, feel free to skip this post!

However, I really need to rant about how annoying humanity is at the moment. I know that it’s incorrect to lump everyone into one category. I know that people aren’t going to fit the portrait I’m going to describe, so to speak, but a great deal of people will. And that bothers me.

Basically, a lot of people need to stop being so self-centered and immature and remember that there are more people on this Earth than just themselves. Honestly, my faith in humanity dwindles when people are too afraid to voice their opinion because all they get will be backlash. Everyone needs to be more respectful. And that includes more respectful of others opinions.

Now, I understand people could have different views on things, and those views might be negative and potentially detrimental, but there is absolutely no need to say that what they think is completely wrong and how messed up they are because of it. Let people be who they want to be!!

And it’s not just with opinions, I also see a lot of unnecessary judgement of people. I feel like people would feel more secure in who they are as a person if people just started accepting people. Honestly, everyone is beautiful and unique. Humanity needs to start focusing on the positive.

I know it’s hard. Sometimes I can’t seem to find one positive thing about my day. I think we at least need  to try and that will be a fantastic start.

Anyways, that was my rant. Have a great rest of the day! And try to remember, try to be more mindful of others. They might return the favor and make your day!

Body Language Series: Flight Zone

 Going off of my last post, I figured I would explain body language a little more. Because I originally understood body language through horses, I naturally want to start there.

The first thing I ever learned (mainly through trial and error) is that horses are prey animals. Which means their natural instinct is to flee from danger. This is very crucial to understand and why many people can get hurt from horses or other animals. Not to say that they can get angry and try to buck you off or kick you to get you away from them, but usually they just want to run very fast away from whatever is frightening them. We refer to their flight zone whenever something triggers them to run away.

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from Google Images

You can see in this diagram the flight zone that is applied to basically all animals. Many prey animals have eyes on the sides of there heads to allow them to use what’s called monocular vision, or the ability for an animal to use each eye separately to give them a wider range of view. Prey animals have this vision so to better able detect predators. The only negative part of their vision are their blind spots. Both the front and rear of an animal are not easily seen for them, meaning that you probably shouldn’t stand there for long periods of time!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because the flight zone is probably the most important piece of information when approaching an animal. As you can see, the point of balance is at their shoulder. Here, a horse (or any animal) can see you best and will feel less threatened than if you approached them at their face. This can be easily transferable with humans, too. For instance, we have eyes in the front of our head and therefore our peripheral visions isn’t as good as these animals. If someone approached us at our shoulder or our back and starting petting us, we wouldn’t be too happy! It would freak us out and make us evade the situation. It’s the same for prey animals!So now that we know the point of balance is the shoulder and we should approach at the shoulder whenever we’re dealing with an animal, it’s time to discuss the actual zone of flight. Basically, these animals have a “personal bubble.” Horses, for instance, will easily show you their flight zone when you approach them. If you have a new horse, and once you get close to them, chances are they will probably try to move away from you. If they move away from you at a certain distance, you just detected their flight zone! It can be anywhere from a couple feet to a couple yards. You can use the flight zone to your advantage for training, but it comes to your disadvantage if you’re try to catch them! All you have to remember about their flight zone is that once you approach them, they’re going to try to evade the situation. A good way to prevent this from happening is to approach them slowly, especially at the shoulder! Once they are more comfortable with you, their flight zone will slowly start to diminish. After 7 years of owning my horse, she basically has no flight zone when I approach her!

Now that you know what to do when you approach an animal, your chances of getting hurt decrease dramatically. One of the main reasons people get bitten or scratched or kicked is because they approach the animal incorrectly. Just remember to go slow and aim for the shoulder. If all else fails, let the animal come to you! Just take everything a stride at a time and it’ll work out 🙂