Rainy Days Make For Pretty Riding Days – Really!

March 31, 2013

Oklahoma weather changes rapidly especially in the Spring. Today started with some clouds and a serious downpour in the early morning hours. We were riding close to the barn and rode under a covered area right as it started coming down hard.  An hour later, it was absolutely gorgeous. The rain had stopped. The wind stopped. And the air smelled wonderful! It was warm, no dust,  and great riding.

For many years. we have ridden when it looked like it was about to rain. Sometimes we get a little wet, but it’s still fun. Many times like today, the rain passes quickly and it turns off to be a bright, sunny, beautiful day. Today was a great riding day and it was a real pleasure  to see some rain, some sun, and watch Spring starting to wake up. It’s the perfect time of year to trail ride!!

 

 

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Too Many Horses?

March 25, 2013

We see a lot of folks with several horses in the barn or the pasture that are never ridden. If you ask them about a specific horse, there is usually a story that goes along with it. More often than not, you hear something about needing to finish the training or the need to break the horse to ride in the Spring. Never mind the colt you are talking about is 9 years old.

Horse owners are notorious for keeping horses they want to ride, but don’t know how to go about it. Some may have the ability and the experience, just not the time required to get it the 120 days of training done. Others need a trainer, but don’t have funds or can’t find one who can fix the problem they have. So another year goes by and nothing happens. The horses stand there just continuing  to cost money for feed, hay, vet bills, and care.

If you find yourself in this situation, you aren’t alone. We see it a lot. So what should you do. Well, we have some advice, but you won’t like it and probably won’t accept it. Decide if you really what to ride, be honest. Some people like a yard ornament. No problem, if you enjoy watching your horses without riding, more power to you.

On the other hand, if you truly want to ride, then you need to make some changes. First, cut your losses. Sell the horses you aren’t riding or training. Yes, you are likely going to take a loss. Guess what, you are going to take a loss if you keep feeding them! Give  ’em away, sell them, and start over.

There is a large number of people who used to ride when they had a horse they could handle. Over time, they end up with 3 or 4 horses that aren’t ready to be ridden. They slowly stop riding their horses while thinking next year will give them the time or ability to resolve the impediment. Sell the horses  you don’t use and buy one you can use. You will be far happier and money ahead to have one good horse you can ride when you want, then 4 horses that need something done with them.

It’s a choice and we understand not an easy one. We have all been there at some time in the past. But if you really want to ride and don’t have a good horse, you have to solve the problem. Like most things in life over which we have control, the hardest step is making the decision and then executing the plan. First decide what you really want. If you want to ride, then get you a horse you can ride and hit the trails!


What’s The Right Horse For Me?

March 21, 2013

The right horse for you depends on many factors including “You”! Horses are like football players, not everyone is a quarterback. Some are linemen, others are the center or play a defensive position. So ask, what makes the right person to play football? Sort of depends on the position the team needs. The little guy who can kick a 50 yard field goal isn’t the guy you need snapping the ball.

First, you need to know yourself, your ability, your confidence level, and your intended use of a horse. If you can’t answer these questions, you have no business buying a horse. You are just an accident waiting to happen as far as we are concerned. Anyone with horse experience will understand what we are describing and tell you the same thing if they are being honest with you.

Pick a horse that is suited for your intended use. There is no reason to look at polo horses if you don’t play polo. You don’t need a jumper if you don’t know how to sit a horse slowly loping down the trail. You certainly don’t need a race horse if you don’t intend to race. Horses, like football players, are suited to specific positions. Our horses are selected and retained to do certain tasks such as trail riding, search and rescue, ranch work, and general pleasure. These horses have the ability to do a lot of different things including parades, play days, and some rodeo work. They are not all suited to do everything.

The right horse for you is one you can actually ride safely and have fun in the equine activities you want to enjoy. If you want to play polo, you need to look elsewhere. If you want to jump, better look other places. Although you can jump off the tailgate of the truck if want!

Our horses may or may not suit your needs. We are happy to tell you about any horse we have and its experience, ability and likely intended use. You can ask us about the horse before letting us know what it is you need. We are pleased to tell you about any and all of them. However, after we tell you about our horses, you need to expect some questions about you, your intended use, and your experience.

You should also be prepared to hear, we would like you to come ride the horse you like several times before you buy. Once we have met the first time, you will probably be told to come back several times WITHOUT letting us know when you are coming. We tell folks all the time to pull up to the gate and call to let us know they are there and ready.

We are comfortable with our horses and you need to be as well. We can’t be confident that any given horse is right for you until we get to know you, your experience, your planned use, and if the horse will be a good fit for you.


Where Do You Buy A Horse?

March 15, 2013

Don’t you wish for one of those spectacular deals that let’s you get a great horse for a song. One of those situations, where the neighbor down the road has a great trail horse and suddenly decides to sell everything he has to join the foreign legion. Yeah well, just keep go right on waiting and hoping.

Of course, you could go to the sale barn. Years ago, we ran across a newbie horsewoman. She had only ridden a horse two or three times when she decided to purchase her own mount. She went to the Friday night sale by herself and came back with a horse. It never kicked, bucked, or acted up. She trail rode it, took it to parades, and loaded the horse in a single axle, one horse trailer that would barely hold a Shetland pony. The horse was a bargain beyond description.

Well, before you try it yourself, make sure your life, health, and disability insurance is paid up. Experienced horse traders find surprises when they come back from the auction with new horses. There’s a reason horses are cheap at the sale barn and it’s not just because somebody decided to sell them quick. Don’t mistake us, good horses go through sale barns. Sort of like taking a child fishing and watching him cast his unbaited hook into the water. Once in a while, there’s a catch, but not often.

The best place to buy a horse is from a person who is selling a horse you already know. Makes perfect sense, you know what you are purchasing and can evaluate the transaction from all angles. Yep, it’s still the same old problem, those situations are few and far between. Most people who have a horse they like, aren’t looking to sell it. So the opportunity to find this type of market is limited.

So where do you buy a horse? You need to do some homework and find a place that does a couple of things:

        1.     sells sound quality stock,

        2.     encourages you to ride, test, and get to know the horse BEFORE you buy it,

        3.     sells horses that perform in the environment you plan to use the horse, and

        4.     prefers to lose a sale than sell you a horse not suited to your riding experience and ability. 

Are these facilities particularly easy to locate?  Not necessarily, but the odds are considerably better than your other choices and far more within your control. After all, if you are speaking to a seller who doesn’t meet any of the above criteria, go some place else. You don”t have to keep talking to them and you sure don’t have to give them your hard-earned money.

Our principle aim is to match you to a horse that does what you want. We aren’t about volume and never will be. We are all about quality and the genuine pleasure of seeing folks find the horse that is right for them!

 

 


Worming Horses Should Be Easy

March 10, 2013

We sometimes run across people who complain their horses are hard to worm. It really shouldn’t be any big deal if your horse is properly trained. If things are as they should be, it only takes about 20 seconds. You adjust for the weight and squirt the paste in the mouth. If you put it under the tongue, it is a little harder for the horse to spit out. Otherwise, you can push up the horse’s chin and stroke his neck until he swallows.

Some may ask, how can I train my horse? We sell a video you can have your horse watch for $19.95. If you can get him to actually watch it start to finish, we’ll refund your money. Just kidding!

Training for worming is as simple as placing a bit in his mouth. Practice putting your thumb in the horse’s mouth every time you bridle and even when you just halter him. You want the horse to readily accept you placing small things inside his cheek and under his tongue. An old syringe works well ( without the needle ).  Use one about the same size as a paste wormer and practice with it. We don’t like a lot of treats as a rule, but an occasional ounce or so of pancake syrup will make him ask for more. Don’t over do the treats, it creates other problems down the road.

If you practice a couple of times a week for a short while, your horse will soon be where you can worm him anytime you want and without a fuss.


The Old Cowboys Did Things The Right Way

March 1, 2013

You may have noticed we have been focused on ranch roping and cowboy work here of late. Well, it’s because the old guys have a wealth of information that is quickly slipping away and part of what we do is educate. You don’t learn how to work livestock or train horses watching T.V.  or reading books anymore than you learn how to do  brain surgery. The only way to really learn is to do it. That said, it doesn’t mean observing a professional or getting some instruction isn’t really helpful. Bet that brain surgeon didn’t put his medical book down and go to “cuttin’.” Sure hope not anyway.

A real cowboy is usually quiet, hard-working, pretty much does his job, and keeps to himself. Handy in almost every way in ranch work, most aren’t authors or writers. They pass on what they know by mouth or sometimes demonstrating. If a young person comes along with a good attitude and a willingness to learn, they will spend untold hours teaching for no more pay than a big smile and a “thanks”.

We respect the cowboy because he figured out how to do things the right way, often the same as the “easy way.” Not because he was lazy, but because he was smart. No reason to get someone hurt or risk losing a good horse or a cow if it could be avoided. No doubt, there were wrecks waiting to happen. Working around big animals was a challenge and had certain inherent risks that still exist today. The cowboy learned to limit the risk to man and beast while achieving the goal.

We aren’t opposed to rodeos and the competition of these events, but they aren’t true to the way a cowboy really did his job. Sure there were cows that had to be chased down and roped in the brush, but not until it absolutely had to be done. The first step was to try to ease up to the cow or calf and toss the rope over it. No reason to run off weight or make the job harder than it needed to be.

Years ago I used to help a rancher with branding and working his calves. With several hundred calves to vaccinate, brand, and castrate, it usually took four or five of us the better part of a day. When the calf was caught, one of us would “throw ’em.” If you haven’t ever seen it done, you stand next to the side of the calf and lift them up in the air while flipping them on their side while suspended in the air. When the calf lands, he is laying on his side on the ground. If done correctly, the calf lands on his side without any significant impact. You sort of control him so he lands softly and isn’t hurt.

I can still recall the old rancher yelling, “Don’t throw ’em up high! You’ll kill ’em’ if you do!”  You see as the day wore on, we started getting tired. When you grabbed the calf to throw it down, you could over compensate and end up with the calf higher off the ground than you really intended. When the calf hit the ground, it could injure it to the point it would die later. The old rancher, a cowboy, was pretty aggressive about making sure you sure we did it right and the calf didn’t get hurt. The first time you messed up was a lot of words we won’t repeat here. You didn’t get a second time without someone being asked to leave. He had waited all year to get those calves to the age they were and wasn’t about to lose a bunch of them by rough handling.

Now don’t get us wrong, when you work livestock, “pretty please” doesn’t always work either. We had a few momma cows that had to treated rough by today’s standards of what some folks think should be done. Of course, these tend to be people who haven’t had a hot, mad, 1300 lb. animal charge them while trying to put her horns clear through you. Once you have felt the snot and the hot breath on the back of your shirt collar and barely escaped to the top of the corral, you can develop a different perspective as to what might be considered “too rough.”

And that’s what we like about the old cowboy ways; do what you have to do, nothing more and nothing less. Work the animal as easy as you can without anyone getting hurt. Not many cowboys left today and the ones left are sometimes misunderstood by the media and the television industry who accuse them of animal abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth. We tip our hats to those men and applaud their skills and ability in handling horses and cows. They do it the right way!