Thursday, October 18, 2012

It is with great joy that I announce the sale of *Jack to Camille in Montreal.  *Jack (*GMC Yukon Jack) will be moving to Canada in a few weeks and live at Domaine de Ranch Namaspamoos.  There he will receive training.  Camille eventually will do trail riding with him and may choose to do a competitive trail ride at some time in the future.

Congratulations Camille and *Jack!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Video of Chuck & Caroline with *Walker

Just wanted to post a short video that Caroline's mom, Erica, took (and I edited) of Chuck riding double with Cari on *Walker.  Enjoy.

Gpa & Cari

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sharing the Joy

Through the years that we’ve had our Curlies we’ve been able to share our joy concerning them with many people and in many different ways.  We’ve done demos at local stores, gone to shows, had a booth at Everything Equine, attended clinics, and opened our home for people who are allergic to “regular” horses and wanted to test Curlies.

Some of those tests have not worked, yet some have been rousing successes.  The folks may not have gone on to purchasing a horse from us but we know that the success in the allergy test they found on our farm opened doors for them that they thought had been closed forever.  That is profound joy.

We have recently, though, experienced an even deeper one; the joy of sharing our love of Curlies with our granddaughter, Caroline.  In truth, the bond began long before she was even cognizant of horses.

Her mother, Erica, loved horses as a child; still does.  However, the year she was 9 she wanted to join a horse oriented 4H.  We were happy to have her do so.  Her first meeting had no interaction with horses.  Her second meeting did and that is when we discovered she was horribly allergic to them.  It broke her heart.  But then came the fateful Rose Bowl Parade of 1/1/2000.  Although the first time she tested a Curly she had a huge reaction, the second time she did not.  Over the years she found that some seasons were better for her around the Curlies (low pollen) and she also learned that although she still responded somewhat to them, it was far less than the effects for her around “regular” horses.

Since her allergies denied her the experience of horses when she was young, she has been determined to allow that experience for her daughter.  Every visit here includes time with the horses, from the very first visit after Caroline was born and carried in a front-pack to this latest visit.  Now, though, Cari is almost three years old, and a bit more able and independent.  They arrived on a Wednesday evening and one of the first sentences out of Cari’s mouth was, “Go see Glory?” and off she ran to the paddock to see her.
Caroline's first introduction to *Glory

Caroline actually has a pretty good relationship with *Glory, especially after her February visit.  Her folks had driven through the night and needed sleep, but Cari was wide awake.  So Chuck took her down to the barn with him while he fed the two inside horses and packed the bags for the others.  She helped by carrying handfuls of hay, and in typical toddler fashion wandered and investigated some of the sundry items in the barn.  Chuck got busy stuffing the bags when he heard Cari say, “Look, buckeyes!” and looked up to see that she had crawled through the bars into *Glory’s stall and was picking up the balls of frozen manure.  Kids – gotta love them.  *Glory was happy to have the company and took great care around her before Chuck could come grab Caroline.

Chuck & Cari on *Walker

Cari does "airplane" to help learn balance.
This most recent visit will remain in our memories as well.  It marked the first time Chuck has shared a saddle with someone and the first time that Cari actually rode (pony ride) alone without someone right next to her.  We chose *Walker because she is most concerned with being careful of the human on her and is Chuck’s mare.  *Walker moved very carefully down the hill to the round pen and then made sure that Cari stayed on her back as she was being led.  We even had Cari do “airplane” so that she could begin to learn to keep her balance as *Walker moved without hanging on to anything.

This was a totally joyful experience for us.  We look forward to sharing more with her as she grows and also, sharing this joy with our two young grandsons as they grow.

May your Curlies bring you joy as well!

What a happy girl!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Three week catch-up

Please excuse the three week lapse in blogs, but things were so busy or hot or rainy that I either had a lot to write or nothing at all!!  I thought I would begin with a synopsis of the past weeks.

6/9-6/15 Chuck took a week of vacation.  During this week besides getting to mow pastures (our brush hog had a split in the top and we finally located someone to weld it) I worked with *Beau and re-introduced the driving reins through a surcingle.  He was quite good, although I once did get the rein up under his tail and he let me know in no uncertain terms that he didn’t like it there.  It was quite cute.

Guine worked with *Andi and *Love on the ground a couple of times using some of Parelli’s “7 Games”.

Chuck and Guine went riding again, this time Chuck was on *Walker and Guine on Silken.  On the 14th our vet came out to do the teeth for those that needed some nice relaxing drug in their bodies.  She did *Beau, Dude, and *Sun; then came up to do *Love as *Love needed a wolf tooth (number 105) removed as well.  Once she left, we took advantage of *Love’s relaxed state and did her feet; not that she is difficult to trim, but you know the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines!”  While we trimmed *Love’s feet, Guine took advantage and worked with *Andi too.   Then, Guine rejoined us and bellied-up on *Love three times.  It was the first time anyone had been on *Love’s back and it was a total non-event even though the medicine had worn off by then.

Guine on Silken; Chuck on *Walker
Later that afternoon, saw Chuck back on *Walker, and Guine on Silken.  This time it was to work Silken at the canter and get *Walker used to “hop scotching” with a horse.  Hop scotching is where a horse passes and walks ahead; then the horse behind goes ahead, passing the other horse.  It allows the horses to get used to the idea that they don’t always have to be in front or behind.  Guine also decided it would be good to try Silken over a low cross-rail and all would have been fine IF the stirrup leather hadn’t broken!  Guine headed Silken for the rails at a nice trot and then two things happened.  The first was that due to Silken’s relative inexperience at jumping, she took off sooner than she should have and produced a huge jump; the second was that on landing the left stirrup went right through the stirrup leather.  This completely unseated Guine, which unbalanced Silken, and Guine chose to make an emergency dismount.  The neatest thing about that was that the moment Guine launched herself out of the saddle Silken came to a dead stop!

Chuck on Silken; Guine leading *Walker
The next day Chuck rode Silken while Guine helped me get up on *Walker.  This was a huge step for me as I have been suffering with strong anxiety about getting on a horse for a couple of years.  I can’t quite explain why I have this.  I used to ride fairly well.  Yes, I’ve come off, but who hasn’t?  I really need to get past it, and so Guine helping me was a first step.  I bellied up, got off; bellied up, got off; stopped to work through some nausea and cramping.  Then bellied up and put my leg over and sat up; got off.  Finally, I bellied up a last time, threw my leg over, put my feet in the stirrups and had Guine lead her, stop her, lead her, stop her.  Only half-way across the round pen, but it was a start for me.  Chuck is determined to help me through this, but that was enough for now.  Then Guine led *Walker around so Chuck could ride Silken a bit.

The week-end of the 16th/17th kept us busy with human activities between the wedding of a family friend and Father’s Day celebrations.

The next week became a scorcher up here in Vermont with temperatures into the 90’s.  This really inhibited our working with the horses as none of us are used to that type of heat and humidity.  I did squeak in an early morning session with *Jack and *Leo and after regular types of round pen exercises put the surcingle and driving lines on.  *Leo was clueless and it was obvious that I will need a second person to get him started with the idea, but certainly worth my effort to see what he could figure out.  *Jack seemed to recall the lessons from a long time ago and did what I asked of him with walk-on and whoa.  Left and right were more difficult but that has more to do with the rope halter than a lack of understanding, I think.

Guine on *Babe
That evening Chuck took *Walker out for a ride and we took *Babe out.  Guine had always had a good relationship with *Babe so thought she could ride her, but it turned out that she was much too herd-bound to her two fillies to really pay attention.  Guine opted to get off and round pen her some.  Chuck and I will continue to work on separating her.

Guine on *Leo, his second time with a rider!
Saturday the 23rd was migration day again for the boys and it was our first break in the oppressing heat.  After migrating we trimmed the hooves of *Andi, *Beau, and *Red.  Then Guine brought *Leo out for a bit of play in the round pen.  She had a lot of fun and was impressed by how mature he has become.  She then hopped on bareback just to give him a bit more experience and like the first time, it was a total non-event.  He followed me around for a bit, and then I stepped out of the round-pen and turned my attention away from him.  He figured out what she wanted right quick and they soon were walking around the pen.

Trimming *Red's hind hoof.
The 24th was the last good day before rain set in on us; however, we had made plans to hike Camel’s Hump, the second highest peak (4083 feet) in Vermont.

Guine cantering Silken
Sheri on *Walker with Chuck
Finally we had a break on the 29th and this was Guine’s last day in Vermont, so she and Chuck saddled *Walker and Silken for a last ride together.  As my older daughter, Sheri, was here for a visit we popped her up on *Walker for a bit of fun, as well.

So, here it is, a whole month since Guinevive came to stay.  We didn’t get everything accomplished that we set out to, but we did get many things done that were very important.  Guinevive’s stay breathed fresh air into us.  We had spent the last three years really just taking care of the horses and not enjoying them.  She helped us both regain the right footing and we will continue onward.  She allowed Chuck to remember the joy of riding again.  He has always felt that she was his hero because Guine rides so well and he started in his late 30’s and knows that he’ll never be as good as she is.   He admires her ability so much.

Adria on *Walker
I gained bravery.  How?  Because Guine demonstrated it for me.  All of the horses are “rusty” but Guine came along and said, “I can get on.  I can do this.”  And, she did.  She also took the time to talk me through my fear and I promised her I would keep going.  Today, I rode *Walker all the way around the inside perimeter of one of the acre paddocks.  That’s about 840 feet which may not seem much, but to me was huge.

The last thing we gained from her visit was a chance to see how mature she’s become.  We are very proud to say that Guinevive is our daughter because she’s kind, caring, intelligent, a good horsewoman, and a damn good writer too.

We love you, Guine.

Friday, June 08, 2012

A week of rain and horses

Last Sunday after doing some work around the farm with the help of a friend, Guinevive convinced Chuck that it was time for a ride.  As the boys are in the furthest paddocks, we loaded up the truck with saddles and other riding essentials and drove on out.

Chuck on *Sun
Guine pulled *Red out and started to saddle him up, only to discovered that the girth she thought would fit did not, so she decided to ride him bareback.  Chuck pulled out *Sun and put the Barefoot, a treeless saddle, on him but left him in a rope halter for the ride.  As it was the first of the season they had already decided to keep it short.

Guine on *Red; Chuck on *Sun
Chuck climbed up onto the tailgate of the truck and I brought *Sun up to it.  Chuck got on and we made sure everything was adjusted correctly.  Then he began walking *Sun and I went over and gave Guine a leg up onto *Red.  Off they went.  They kept at the walk, except for a couple of trots that *Sun offered that were easily brought back to the walk by Chuck.  They meandered down 2/3rds the length of the field and then decided to climb off and walk the horses back.

Monday brought out Linda Corey, our Equine Dentist.  Linda has cared for our horses since 2002 and does so without sedation.  Those horses that need sedation I get our vet to do later (that appointment is set for next week).  I am all about having a horse have a pleasant experience and have no problem calling it off if I think it might be otherwise.  We started with *Red, and while I held the halter and kept my left hand on his nose to keep his head lower, Linda floated away.  For those of my readers who are unfamiliar with dental care for horses, the dentist uses very large files to file down sharp edges and hooks that develop from chewing their grass and hay.  Horses have their complete tooth in their jaw and as they chew and wear it down, the tooth erupts further.  Rarely do they get cavities due to their diet although occasionally they may develop a problem due to an accident.  All in all, we got three boys and three girls done.  For more information and a great video visit Traditional Equine Dentistry.

Tuesday, I did manage to take both Silken and *Walker for exercise walks up and down our hill before I had to get ready to substitute teach.  Both of them are beginning to develop better muscle tone.

Silken trots at liberty
Guine & Silken
Thursday Guine and I took Silken down for Guine to test the waters on the ground.  It has been three years, at least, since Silken was ridden.  I’ve worked her this year, but Guine had not and wanted to make sure she would listen to her.  She took her through walk/trot/canter up and down transitions, some disengagements and worked on side passes.  Then we set up cross rails and she jumped them a few times.  While Guine was working with her, I was busy taking photos and video.

Guine and Silken trot on!
Saddling Silken
Today, I brought *Red to the round pen and showed Guine how I work with him.  Then it was time for Silken again, but this time Guine rode her, first in the round pen and then outside the round pen.  Outside she took her on a brief canter as well and then rode her up to her paddock.

You might wonder why I included rain in the title?  That is because it rained, at some point, every day hampering our ability to work with more horses than we got to.  Oh well, there’s always next week!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Saddle Fitting 201

Now that Guinevive is here it has decided to rain.  On Saturday, it didn’t just rain, it POURED.  So she took that time to clean up our all-purpose, hunter/jumper, and Wintec saddles.  Today, as we had a break in rain this morning, we loaded up the truck (after I washed all the manure out of the bed from having made a delivery in the rain yesterday) and visited all the horses to check which saddles fit them better.

2 fingers between point and shoulder blade
In fitting a saddle to a horse it is imperative to make sure you have placed it in the correct position first so that the saddle never impinges on the movement of the horse’s shoulder blades.  You want the forward points of the saddle to be an inch or two behind the shoulder blade; we use two finger widths as an easy and portable measuring device.  Additionally, you want the saddle short enough so that it doesn’t go beyond the last rib as there is no way to support the rider’s weight if it does.

Flatten fist for measuring the pommel arch
Next check is the distance between the pommel (or horn) arch and the horse’s withers.  If you are not on the horse, an easy measurement is a flatten fist.  If you have a rider who can get on the horse, then you want a distance of about two fingers.  The flatten fist also allows you to ensure that the width of the arch isn’t too narrow so that it doesn’t pinch the horse.

Once these are assured then you will want to saddle up and ride the horse.  If you ride hard enough to produce sweat and then take the saddle off you should be able to see the mark/shape from the saddle on the horse’s back.  It should be a complete print without any missing spots.  For a more complete description of all you should check please visit this  great site!

As I mentioned above, we went around to all the horses, except *Walker who uses a treeless saddle and *Glory who is completely retired, to find out which saddles would be the best choice for them.  Once one horse had had a saddle on its back, all the others were eager to try one on for size and came up to whomever had the saddle in their hands to “present” themselves.  Even young *Andi, who is too young for riding in our opinion, just had to try them on!  That little lady is one horse who just loves to try new things and do whatever the human next to her suggests.

Beautiful Z Silken, our saddle model.
We certainly enjoyed our time with them and hope you also had a great day with your horse!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have been working with the horses this past week, asking for increasing time moving forward, using tires as a jumping spot, spiraling them in and out on the lunge, and introducing ground poles and crossrails.  With *Walker, I increased the number of times we walked up and down the hill and also asked her to back up the hill for a dozen paces or so.

However, this blog is going to be just a short one as I want to share our excitement that our youngest daughter, Guine will be coming to visit us in less than a week and staying for the whole month of June!!  Guine is our “horsie girl” and she is coming to help me with the horses.  Not only will my readers be able to look forward to great blogs about what we’re doing, but I will be getting new photos AND video of the horses for sale.

Have a wonderful Memorial Week-end everyone!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Here comes the *Sun (and Dude, *Beau....)

I was going to title this “Rain, rain go away” but it seems we’ve gotten a stretch of nice weather – yeah!  Last week I had begun to do some spring tune up of the boys, but rain moved in as well as getting called to substitute teach so I only got to work with *Jack and *Leo.  Finally toward the end of this week the weather cleared and I’ve worked with *Sun, Dude, Silken, *Beau, *Red, and even took *Walker out.

I love that first time of working with each horse as it allows you to see where their head is at, as well as, what they have “percolated” on over their winter time off.  So how did each horse do?  Read on for a brief glimpse.

*Jack was not super focused on me.  He is usually quite attentive so I’m not sure if this was a “one of” or an attitude change, but he certainly makes me laugh!  In fact, when a horse expresses an opinion that differs from mine, that is my usual reaction; I laugh!  This day I found that whenever I raised my energy to ask for more, he’d shake his head at me.  Silly guy with a high opinion of himself!  Still, he did everything I asked; he just needed to let me know what he thought about it.

*Leo, oh that golden boy!  He is so fabulous and I seriously have no clue why someone hasn’t snatched him up to take him home.  *Leo is all about pleasing and bonding.  He is exceptionally smart, too.  We worked on transitioning up and down and it took very little energy from me.  He really watched my body language closely.  He licked and chewed almost the whole time. 

Dude – is, well Dude!  He is a “tester”, he asks “Do you really mean that?”  Once you have assured him that “Yes, I really do mean that” he is more than happy to comply!  He has grown so much since we brought him to foster with us as a 17 month old that was about a 2.5 on the Henneke Scale.  He is a gorgeous mahogany bay with the softest of noses that is happy to rest on you.  I fitted him with one of our Myler bits, a 5” roller bar D snaffle, and it fit quite well.  Guinevive will be happy as she wants to get him out and about when she is up next month.

*Suncatcher, was well, wow,  did he mature more over the winter!  From the moment he stepped into the round pen with me he was a focus on, energy receptive, “how far, how fast, yes ma’am” kind of a horse.  His ear was on me the whole time.  We did walk/trot/canter in both directions and he never missed a beat.  I was so impressed.

Silken had a few thresholds as we walked down from up top where she resides.  I watched her carefully and when I saw the tiniest bit of tension and “What’s that?” creep into her face, I’d stopped and let her look.  I allowed her to tell me when it was time to move on.  It didn’t take any time at all to walk down to the round pen.  She is as sensitive to energy as ever and transitioning down in speed has always been her bug-a-boo when she first starts back up at work.  Her transitioning from canter to trot is fine, it’s getting to the walk that can be slightly problematic.  However, we did get there and I fully expect that the next time will be far easier for her.

*Beau was ever the gentleman as I fully expect him to be.  We worked without a wand or whip, only my hands and energy.  We did walk/trot/canter in both directions a few times and I even set up a row of tires and asked him for a small trot/jump over.  He really does like to tell me that “Curly boys don’t jump” as it just isn’t his forté, but I like him to do it as a strengthening exercise.  I also had him stand next to the mounting block and bellied up on him while he just stood there.

*Red was so happy to go with me and, like *Beau, such a gentleman in behavior.  *Red has always required a bit more energy from me, so after using my hands for a bit and having him decide that he didn’t really want to go left for me, I grabbed the lunge whip and he decided it would behoove him to move on out.  He’s a funny boy and I love him dearly.  I have, and will continue to do so I’m sure, learned so much from him.  He is so smart and curious.

*Walker took a walk with me, as well.  Due to problems she’s had over the past couple of years, she lost some muscle tone, so I’m starting her with just walking/trotting in hand.  We took a trip down the hill to the round pen, checked it out, and walked back up the hill, trotting on two different flat areas as well.  As time goes on we will be walking up and down that hill more than just once.  I expect it will get me in shape too!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the spring tune-up work we’ve begun.  You can look forward to more write-ups about what each horse is doing, especially once Guinevive arrives.  We are so excited that she will be here with us in June!

Don’t forget that most of our horses are for sale and we are very motivated to sell.  Check them out, come visit if you’d like, and make us an offer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Winning Team!

We are pleased to share that *GMC Jimmy Dee (*Sage) and his rider Tesla recently have begun the 2012 show season by winning their class in second level, test three with a score of 70.1%!!  What a team!!

We have three of his half-siblings for sale.  Check out our webpage:

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Migration Day

This past Saturday was what we call “migration day” at the farm.  Once the horses are in summer pastures, migration day happens every couple of weeks for the boys.  But this was THE migration day, the one where the horses are moved from the winter paddocks out to pasture for the season.

Let me explain how we have our farm set-up.  Because Vermont winters usually have a lot of snow, over four to five months, the horses need to be close to the hay and the house so they can be watered.  We built several wooden fenced paddocks in between the house and the arena where the hay is stored.  Each paddock holds two to three horses.  We typically put the horses in these paddocks at the end of October or the first weekend of November, as the other reason is that with the time change it gets quite dark early on.

Then typically around the end of April they go back to the summer pastures.  The boys have pastures in the lower field, and they get rotated to allow the grass to recover.  The girls have one very large pasture, perhaps about 10 acres, to roam throughout.

Is the past years since we’ve been here, the horses have been quite excited to get out to the summer pastures, and are usually a bit wired.  Not this year, all was quiet and very uneventful, which is really the way we prefer it.

First out were *Beau and *Red.  More due to where they pasture first than anything else.  I took *Red and he just doodled along next to me, every once in a while asking for grass, which I was happy to allow.  We got to their pasture, unhaltered them, and they both took off!  *Beau decided that now he missed his girls and took some time to pace up and down the fence and call.  Stallions, right?

Next down were *Sun and Dude.  Dude, just like *Red, doodled along next to me checking things out.  *Sun was the only one to act up the whole time, and he decided to let Chuck know “I’m excited!” by rearing up a couple of times.  Silly boy.

Last down were *Jack and *Leo. You’ll notice I have no pictures of them and that is because they refused to run around.  We even tried chasing them, but to no avail.  Grass was all that mattered.

Finally it was time to move the girls and *Love was moved first.  There are only two of us and youngsters require that you are “present” and attentive.  *Love wandered down the hill with Chuck and all was fine until the nearby Vixen decided she needed to scoot off.  “What was THAT?” you could hear *Love exclaim!  Once she saw her, then she returned to her ho-hum wandering.

Lastly we took *Babe and *Andi out.  *Babe is always fabulous to go anywhere with and *Andi is still a baby in her outlook on life.  Everything is new, everything is different, and it all requires consideration.

Now the routine of care changes and we look forward to spending more time with each horse as the weather warms.
Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To Everything There is a Season

And a time for every purpose, under heaven (The Byrds, from Turn, Turn, Turn)

Whenever there are major changes happening for someone and they write about it, they usually begin by saying something like “This is the hardest story/blog/etc. I’ve ever had to write.”  I won’t be trite and begin that way.  Instead, I will talk about what has been, and where we hope to go, and the changes that need to happen.

In January of 2000 we discovered Curlies, thanks to our daughter, Erica’s, eagle eye while watching the Rose Bowl Parade.  You see, there are three of us in the family that are allergic to mammals, and hearing about a hypoallergenic horse meant that it just might be possible to make our youngest, and most horse-crazy, daughter’s dream of owning a horse come true.  Little did we know the path we would start down after viewing that Parade.

Young *Beau; just a few days old.
We visited one group of Curlies, and Erica reacted strongly.  Then a few months later, we visited another group, and she had no reaction at all.  In September of that year we visited with the Tilson’s of Tall Trees Curlies and by November had purchased our first horse, *Tall Trees Misty’s Beau.  We set a goal of finding a mare who would balance what we felt his attributes would become, and in March of the following year purchased *Katrina’s Fire Walker from Melissa Kowal in Connecticut.  The spring of 2001 found us building a barn and fences, and *Walker arrived, on her birthday.   *Beau was brought down by Chuck and his brother in August.

Our original goal was to have 10 foals by *Beau, and we have achieved six of them, from three different mares.  We have had a seventh foal, as well, from *Walker and a Missouri Foxtrotter stallion (we were hoping for a filly and got *Leo).  Now, it is time to end breeding.

You see, the family grew-up and moved away, and in all honesty, I probably started too late in my life down this path.  But that is okay.  I have learned so much and made so many fabulous friends by having Curlies.  We have introduced others to the breed as well and made several people quite happy when they learned they, too, might have a horse although they had allergies.

As to where we hope to go, well there are several avenues opening up for us, right now.  One of them is my brand new editing business, Red Quill.  But mostly, we need to be able to visit our family.  We have four daughters and, now, four grandchildren that we’d like to spend more time with.  They all live out of state and it is hard to find someone to care for as many horses as we presently have. 

So, we have decided to offer our horses for sale and will listen to reasonable offers for them.  There are only three horses that will NOT be sold under any circumstances: *Glory of Philea West, *Katrina’s Fire Walker, and *Red Running Star.  The others are available if you are interested.  If *Beau has no one interested in him, then come autumn we will geld him and keep him.  However, he still has so much to give to the Curly World, if the right person came along, we would part with him.

I will keep making blog entries as often as possible, so keep coming back for updates.

Monday, April 09, 2012

A different kind of colt

I ask my readers to please pardon the silence from this blog these last days.  I have been away and without my computer because I have been attending to a different kind of colt. 

This colt will never be measured in hands, nor his will his 'way of going' or 'reach' be discussed.  There will be no worry as to his color genetics either.  This colt will, eventually, walk on two feet rather than four, but if I'm lucky, he will learn to enjoy the four-footed beings that I call my friends.  And if his Gpa has anything to say, he'll learn to ride better than either of us can.

Please join me in welcoming Samson Paul Fucello to the world.  Born April 1st (no foolin'!).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

*Leo's bucket

I love to hear folks who are new to the American Curly breed rave about how quickly they learn.  What especially thrills me are the ones who are quite experienced with other breeds, and can easily make comparisons to Curlies.  Because of allergies, I am limited in my experience with other breeds’ learning abilities, so I depend on hearing from people such as Lynn Marks in her recent thread on the Facebook page Curly World.  Lynn recently acquired a Curly, Harley, on March 8th, and she has shared with us his fantastic progress.

I’m the first to admit that I lack horse-training experience; however, I have tried to make up my lack of years by reading, seminars, clinics, talking with experienced people, and one-on-one training.  For me, my favorite style is Clicker Training, because it makes me break-down the steps of what I want to accomplish into manageable bites and makes me acutely aware of the exact moment in time that a step is done correctly.  This helps the horse to know what I’m wanting, if she/he has done it correctly, AND it puts them in control of the thought-process and decision to get there.  It is also something that can be done when you have only a few moments or limited space.

*Leo eating
*Leo picks the bucket up.
 *GMC Envoy’s Pride (*Leo) our almost 5 year old gold champagne gelding has been inside in a stall keeping our old girl, *Glory, company.  *Leo has always been a mouthy one, and when you are near him (in a stall or in the field) his favorite place to be is so close he might as well be in your pocket, oh and with his nose planted on you.  He loves to lick you (disconcerting at times), or simply take hold of a jacket or sleeve edge with his lips and hold on as if you are going to escape too quickly.  One of his other favorite things has been to pick-up his feed bucket when he is done and hold onto it.  For some reason, it was only recently that I realized this would be an easy action to shape with clicker training.

*Leo brings the bucket to me.
*Leo hands me his bucket.
So, for the past few feedings after he’s done eating and I’m still in the stall cleaning, I have directed him back to his bucket when he is done with a “Get your bucket.” and pointing toward it.  He’s easily headed back to it, and eventually, will bite the rim and lift it up.  At that point what I have been doing was to come over quickly, hold onto the bucket, and ask him to “Let go.”  Once he did, I would click and treat, telling him “Good job.  Good boy.”  It was then time to mold the behavior further, and so I would stay further away from him, and ask him to “Bring me the bucket.”  At first it was only a few steps for him, but the most significant one has been a space of about 24 feet!  At this point, when he does this I “jackpot” the click and treat.  “Jackpotting” is a time when you give LOTS and LOTS of treats.  I typically use alfalfa pellets, but I sometimes mix in bits of sweet treats as well.

I’m not sure exactly where I’m heading in this with him.  I can envision that it will be useful.  For instance, out on a trail ride you drop something and he should be able to pick it up and give it to you.  But it may just be a “fun trick” too.  I do know that *Leo is incredibly smart and he is very good looking.  He is just waiting for “his person” to come along.  In the meanwhile, we will continue to have fun with one another, and I will use his desire to “show off” (By the way, his half brother Sage apparently has this same quality, according to his owner) in order to introduce more “tricks” that will be molded into real abilities in his training routine.

Please excuse the quality of the photos used in the blog to show his ability.  It is quite hard to photo and do the C/T at the same time!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Re-visiting Stringhalt

Revisiting Stringhalt

As anyone who is around horses a lot knows, they are walking potential disasters; American Curly Horses are no exception.  In over a decade of owning Curlies we have experienced disasters, both small and large. One of the most extensive problems, although having occurred over four (4) years ago, still attracts attention.  I thought in today’s blog on my Curly horses I would talk about it again, and bring you up to date.

My long time readers will know that way back in October of 2007, my daughter’s Curly gelding, *Red Running Star, developed a case of stringhalt, seemingly over a matter of hours.  He and *Beau had been in their pasture.  At noon when lunch hay had been delivered, all was fine.  It rained a bit in the afternoon, and when Chuck went down to give them some hay a bit after 5 o’clock *Red could barely walk.  We were devastated and brought both boys up to the arena, and stalls, immediately.

Over the course of the next week or so we consulted with, or were visited by, our regular veterinarian, Alison Cornwall; an herbalist Kelley Robie; another vet who specializes in lameness, Randy Franz; and a biochemist, Linsey McLean.  On Linsey’s recommendation we began to video tape *Red to better see the progression of his recovery.  His first video is here on YouTube.  There are a total of six (6) videos, but the first has had over 32,600 views!  In fact, that first video has been referenced by websites with questions and/or answers about stringhalt.  One was a site written by a long-time vet to help veterinarian students study for their tests (unfortunately I didn’t bookmark it and have now lost the site) and just recently I found this reference.

We never did find out exactly why *Red developed stringhalt, but we think that it was a combination of injury and possible malnutrition due to malabsorption.  We learned that stringhalt can be triggered by a lack of, or inability to absorb, magnesium.  So, besides just giving him time, our primary treatment was a change in diet.  We still follow this diet.  I touched on feeding in this recent blog.

Over the course of time, *Red has had some small relapses.  I learned that by increasing the magnesium he would stop “high stepping” rather quickly, and so for him, he gets the vitamin/mineral supplement I use with everyone in the morning’s feed and then in the evening’s feed I give him a bit of extra magnesium.  I’m happy to report that in the past two (2) years he has not had even one incident of that high stepping gait.

I have had many, many people contact me and ask what we did for *Red; how we cured him.  I always caution them that what we did may not work, but that it is worth a try.  I am happy to be a resource of information and a source of hope that their horse may be cured as well.  This is why I chose to re-visit the topic, as well as to say “thank you” to the vet student who recently stopped by that first video and sent me a message telling me how good the video was and that she was happy to hear he was better.

If you are interested in reading the original blog entry it is here.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Liberty Work

I have been told that American Curly Horses are very intelligent as breeds go.  This is not to discount the intelligence of other breeds, and truly I have little experience with them due to my allergies; however, I can say that most of the ones in my herd seem to catch-on quite quickly to the offered training.  There could be many reasons why those of us with Curly Horses find them so, and I’m not really here to discuss that particular topic.  What I do wish to reflect on is the at-liberty training I enjoy with my Curlies.

I have had many iterations of my style of training since I’ve owned Curlies, but my favorite way to work with them is some combination of Clicker, Tellington-Jones, Rashid, and a bit of Parelli thrown in for good measure.  I’m also a firm believer in introducing a concept, working on it a few times and then letting it “sleep” for a while.  With almost a 100 percent return, the horse not only remembers what was offered, but may have made improvements on it by themselves.

We start with liberty training within hours of the foal hitting the ground.  The first lesson that we teach is to back-up.  I have had people tell me that a horse should learn to go forward for you first, but I have found that all horses know how to go forward, and often quite quickly!  If I happened to be standing in front of them, or even to the side (with one of their feet on mine), I want them to back up quickly and without question.

I like to use Parelli’s first three games as a foundation for the foals, because that is what their mother does and I can easily build upon it.  Eventually, this will lead to me working on lifting their feet.  My ultimate goal being that they will stand and give their foot gently and allow me to hold it for a bit of time.

With little *Andi (*GMC Andrea’s Ankti), I have been doing this and she’s getting very good at it.  The surprise for me though, was the day that I positioned myself next to her front leg, and she offered it to me without a single touch, or even a move toward the touch, from me.  It’s only happened twice, and I don’t expect it, but this is a prime example of the horse taking the training another step.

May your Curlies offer you continued pleasant surprises!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Home Coming

I had another blog all written; however, having been away from our American Curly Horses for 18 days brought another subject to mind.  Often when a human is away from their horse or horses there will be a “testing” of sorts when they return.  Curly Horses are, after all, horses so one may expect them to behave appropriately.  I expected, at the very least, our youngest Curlies to test my leadership abilities by trying to make me back-up or seeing if they can bite me and get away with it. 

I flew in Tuesday evening and after arriving home joined in doing chores with my husband.  As I brought the food buckets into each paddock, I was amazed to find that not one Curly horse behaved as if I had been gone more than an hour or two.  Not one chose to test me as they often test the leadership of a fellow horse, a new human, or even one who they know but haven’t seen for a few days.  When the testing didn’t happen I thought it might be related to the fact that I had food in my hands, so then watched for it the following morning when I did not.  Yet over the ensuing days not one horse has tested me.

Not even in the least do I believe it is because they are Curly Horses, neither do I feel that it was a fluke.  I do think that it is a testament to the relationship I have built with each horse from my oldest *Glory, at 24 years of age, to my youngest *Andrea of only 17 months.  I try to always show them that I am steady, trustworthy, and consistent.  That allows them to feel safe and to know their place in the hierarchy.

Here’s hoping that each of you have the chance to develop such a deep and lasting relationship with your Curly.

(Please excuse the delay in posting.  I arrived home from Indiana, where I had been for the birth of a grandson, only to find that my computer’s hard drive had developed problems.  Thankfully, Chuck was able to replace it and save all my data.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


All horse owners have different ways of feeding, and American Curly Horse owners are no different. There have been many myths about Curly Horses and one of them was that they never need hard feed. That simply is not true. American Curly Horses, depending on where they live, and from where their hay comes, usually need some vitamin and/or mineral supplement. In Vermont, we are deficit in magnesium, as are many places in North America, so it is important to choose a feed that will supplement them well. Because I prefer to have greater control over what my horses eat, especially regarding non-nutritive items in feeds, I mix my own.

I have chosen to feed my horses a higher protein and fat mix, and adjust the carbohydrate need for each horse. But, I primarily used the hard feed as a carrier for the supplements I have chosen to use. For the past four (4) years I have used a vitamin/mineral mix from EquiVision that has kept my horses doing very well. I chose it because it came closest to the amount of magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E that my vet had suggested would be best. It also does not have fillers. However, I have found that three (3) of the horses have needed a bit higher magnesium, for various reasons, and so supplement them with a pure magnesium powder.

Ultimately whether you have a Curly horse, or some other breed, it is best to consult with your vet, and research, research, research before choosing how to feed your horse.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The American Curly Horse

The American Curly is still quite a mystery horse. We know some things about their past, for instance, that the Sioux and Crow nations prized them as we see drawings about them on their calendar counts. We know that the Curly Horse was seen from time to time in round-ups of the Mustang, and a drawing of a Curly Horse was featured in Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not. From whence they came is as much a mystery today as then.

For some time it was believed that they were related to the Bashkir horses from Russia, and from that the name “American Bashkir Curly Horse” was derived, but it has since been discovered that none of the Bashkir horses have curly hair. Unfortunately, the appendage of “Bashkir” still sticks though it is incorrect.

In hopes of unraveling some of the mystery, there is an on-going DNA research project sponsored through the International Curly Horse Organization to discover the breeds that have gone into forming the Curly Horse of today. You can read more about it on this ICHO page:

If you are interested in other aspects of the history of the American Curly I recommend this page as well:

Thank you for your interest!