Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Barn Time, 1: and then the rain came

As if I don't have enough series rolling, here's a new one which seems to fit these hot summer days: barn time.

I've been going out to the barn each morning and getting lost in the routine of readying six equines for their day. They've been out all night, grazing hay, much like they do in the winter. After a month of no rain the grass has dried up almost completely, as has the ground.

I was thinking the day before yesterday that in some ways this level of drought, speaking only of November Hill, works pretty well. With a herd of easy keepers and really wonderful organically grown hay (hay grower lives in another part of the county with decent rainfall this summer) that tests below 10% sugar/starch and is easy to balance mineral-wise, cutting grass mostly out of the forage equation works well for this crew. As does the dry earth on hooves.

A few minutes after having that thought two days ago, it started to pour rain. For about a minute, until I lost my focus and raised my arms up to the sky saying THANK YOU - then it stopped.

Yesterday I decided to stay in the moment and not think about all the implications of rain/no rain. I walked out in the heat, which was more intense yesterday than it had been, and felt the dry ground under my muck boots, perused the crunchy brown stuff, the dried out red clay soil, and started thinking about Cormac McCarthy novels. West Texas and Mexico, dry heat and cracked earth, brown dust on boots. Extremes. When I think of Cormac's novels, I think of extremes.

After swaggering around in the sun for a little while, I went back in the barn and got in the moment with horses. Keil Bay stood in the feed room door while I made tubs and his happiness at being given that privilege made me smile. He is happiest when he's my partner in all things, without the divisions of gates and stall doors and lead ropes tied to things. Recently he found me in his stall, mucking, and he was in the barn aisle. We had the most wonderful moments of role reversal as he walked up to the stall door and I hung MY head over from the inside and let him nuzzle me. I was closed in and he was free. He seemed amused and then his eyes took on a questioning air, almost as if he was worried that I might not be able to get out.

We enjoy freedom here on November Hill. Although you might think a nearly 1400-lb. Hanoverian whose nickname is The King would be bossy and rude, he isn't. He responds very well to simple and polite requests, and goes further - he is often quite helpful.

Like yesterday morning, when I had set feed tubs up but needed to run back into the house to get something I'd forgotten. I told the horses I'd be right back, sailed down the barn aisle, and then remembered I'd left the feed room door wide open. Not a great idea with two donkeys and Keil Bay standing there gazing at all those full feed tubs. I stopped, turned around, had the thought  I need to close that door and Keil Bay reached around with his nose, hooked the edge of the door, and slammed it closed with a nice resounding bang.

How's that for being helpful?

The horses and donkeys are all laid back and happy on summer mornings. They've been out all night, are ready for fans and breakfast and nice clean stalls where they can hang out during the heat of the day. They get brushed and checked over, they get herbal fly spray and full mangers. We try to make things comfortable and pleasant for them. I'm rotating one gelding over to the other side of the barn each day, to give that one a break from the pony, who is really making a big play for herd leader this summer. Usually I go to the paddock gate and call out, and one of the geldings will come out and walk through to the other side. They actually do a decent job of alternating so the rotation is equitable.

After I got inside yesterday I made a comment on Facebook about the farm feeling like a Cormac McCarthy novel. An hour later, the sky was dark and we had a huge thunderstorm. Extreme. Lightning struck numerous times right beside our house, so close that sitting on the front porch I could hear the sizzle before it hit. The goldfinches were fussing in the sweetgum tree, darting in and out in flashes of yellow.

Kyra Corgi was shaking, so I came in and offered Rescue Remedy, which she took, and Bear Corgi wanted a dose too even though he wasn't shaking, so I gave him one as well.

It rained solidly for about 40 minutes, steadily but not so hard or so fast that we got water washing around - it soaked in, which is exactly what it needed to do.

My daughter and son were in the barn feeding Salina and giving more hay. At one point Keil Bay and the pony ran out into the front field and got under a tree. My son convinced them to come back to the barn.  Teens and equines weathered the storm together.

Last night I was in the barn for evening feed. Salina got her Summer Whinnies off for laundering and we put some ointment on her eye when we took her fly mask off for the night. She and the donkeys were staying near the barn for the evening in case more rain came, but I opened the arena gate so they could meander around in there and be close to the back field where the geldings were.

Keil Bay was out scouting the back field but appeared, almost as if by magic, as I checked the water troughs. I stood with him while he had a drink, and then we walked off together, my hand on his wither, connected. A few times since moving here with the horses I have felt like their energy carried me along with them - my feet not needing to move, not really even on the earth. Last night was one of those times. It's like being grounded, but through the horse's body, not my own.

Earlier I'd been grounded by two donkeys as I sat in the barn aisle giving neck scratches and ear scratches and a butt scratch for Redford. The donkeys both have silky smooth areas now and a few scruffy areas that haven't fully shed out yet, and the sensation of winter coat and then silky summer coat on my fingers was wonderful. I had the thought that it would be nice to be able to see each of their deep, all-knowing donkey eyes at once, but with my human eyes, could only gaze one way into Rafer's and then the other into Redford's. Still, I soaked in that donkey calm. It's a potent mixture that anyone with donkeys knows can cure you of almost anything, at least for a time.

I think I've written this here before, but there is sidereal time, there's kairos, and I think there's a good case for yet another kind of time. Barn time. There is nothing else like it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

where I was last week, where I am today

Last week I was here, working on book two in my Magical Pony School series, titled Fiona and the Water Horse.  It was the perfect place to write in general, but if more than perfection is possible, that was true about writing a story about a girl and a water horse in a setting that made it easy to imagine each detail of my story.

The second day we began to get rain, and the creek got big and fast, and that made it even better. Although right now I am drawn back to that first day, when the creek meandered past and I was just settling in with pen in hand.

See the pool of light here? That's where the water horse might have been, at least that first day. If you squint your eyes tight and then let them open the tiniest bit you might be able to see him there.

Today, back on November Hill, I've been doing some cleaning. And watching Bear Corgi, who has been very busy doing all the things he does in a day.

He lies flat out like a Corgi rug on the bathroom tile, to cool his belly. He trots smartly out into the living room if he hears anything that might mean we need protection. Or herding.

He follows different ones of us around and camps at our feet. He keeps tabs on Kyra Corgi and tries his mightiest to keep tabs on the cats.

Periodically he piles his bones on his bed and works on them for awhile. Sometimes he works on other things too. He's shifted from stealing rolls of toilet tissue to stealing razors and kitchen knives! We have to be vigilant around here.

Right now it's overcast and I wish it meant we were getting some rain. Who knows - it has skirted around us numerous times so I suppose the one day they're not predicting it will be the day it comes.

Mostly I'm experiencing summer on November Hill, which is lovely, and remembering the beauty of summer on a mountain with the creek rushing by all day and all night. It was gorgeous but there was no room for horses! So I'm also thinking about how to keep the memories from the travels close at hand - like little gifts inside the mind that I can open and enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

a few little odds and ends

I'm home from my writing workshop and was of course drawn immediately, even before my tire tracks crossed the November Hill property line, back into the whirlwind of activity here on the hill.

First, Salina had a middle of the night accident of the very scary kind, scraping around and right up to the edge of her remaining eye. Both upper and lower lid were swollen, and I was frankly ready to call the vet. But it was evening, she was eating and drinking just fine, the scraped area had been cleaned and protected by a clean fly mask, and I decided to implement my eye routine and wait for morning.

One dose of banamine, then alternating doses of arnica and symphytum until bedtime, plus a thorough rinsing with an herbal eye rinse containing calendula, goldenseal, and eyebright.

Limited turn-out with her donkey boys in the grass paddock and barnyard.

By morning the swelling was almost completely gone and now we are very close to being back to normal. The scrape is scabbing and she has not missed a beat eating and drinking. She's still on limited turn-out just because I'm being extra careful. It's fine with her, but the donkeys are getting a bit stir crazy and both went on a little donkey adventure yesterday and today to break the monotony.

In other news, Dickens now has a battle wound - a split ear that has healed as fast as he got it - and the pony is walking around with his own personal flock of birds again. Everywhere he goes, they go.

We are in need of rain, on the one hand, but on the other, there is no grass to speak of and so these easy keepers are doing fine without the sugar.

My first sugar baby watermelon appeared to be ready yesterday. I picked it, chilled it, and then we cut into it. Alas! It was not yet ripe. But equines got a nice treat and even Keil Bay, who would not touch the melon, enjoyed smelling it as I doled it out to the rest of the herd.

We have made a dent in the fly overpopulation using plain, old-fashioned sticky strips. Between those catching the adults and the fly predators targeting the larva, I think we're getting back to a manageable number at this point.

One of the barn fans lost a blade, fortunately encased in the cage of the fan, but according to son, it sounded like machine-gun fire going off in the barn, and when he got out there all equines had abandoned the vicinity and were waiting for help turning the hideous noise off! He unplugged the one fan, replenished hay in mangers, and they went back in without fanfare. This is one reason I would never leave them closed in without one of us in earshot. And while I wish they didn't have to deal with a broken fan on a hot day, it did relieve me that they simply vacated the barn and stood calmly while someone fixed the situation. 

The summer solstice came and went as I sat by a rushing mountain stream working on Fiona and the Water Horse, book two in the Magical Pony School series. My hope is that the heat and dry weather so early in the season means we are in for an early and long-lasting autumn season.

Meanwhile we are considering doing a rain dance and finding ways to stay comfortable. After we make it past the fourth of July and the possibility of fireworks, it's one long slide toward my favorite season.

Monday, June 20, 2011

come join me this Friday on LitChat!

Carolyn Burns Bass and LitChat have been providing fast, intense, and insightful discussions on Twitter since January 2009. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4 p.m. EST, Carolyn moderates lively discussion about all things literary.

This Friday, June 24th, I'll be guest-hosting as we talk about Taking the E-Road. I hope you'll stop in and join the discussion!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

two gorgous seniors and a company I love!!

Late last week I had the pleasure of giving some business to a company I love: Whinny Warmers!  Long-time readers will remember a hard winter we had several years back when I worried and fretted over Salina's arthritic knees in the cold.

Late one night I sat fretting, thinking, if only there were leg warmers for horses! Lo and behold, I googled and there they were. Whinny Warmers! I ordered two cobalt blue pairs for Salina and hoped when they arrived they would actually work.

They arrived very quickly and they were gorgeous. I wanted to wear them myself! But we breezed through the learning curve of getting them on, and Salina immediately knew they were something good, so she cooperated completely. They worked perfectly and her stiffness during the cold winter months was much decreased.

Not only did the Whinny Warmers work, they turned out to be a durable, easy to take care of product. We have washed and dried the 4 whinny warmers many, many times. They have gotten muddy, caked with shavings and dirt, stretched, and generally have been very well used. And right now as I type they are clean and packed away for the summer, ready for another winter season. (although I am told the new Whinny Warmers are far superior to the pairs I ordered several years ago - frankly I don't see how, but I trust that they are - this company never stops working to make better products)

As if this weren't enough, shortly after I blogged about the Whinny Warmers those years back, with a photo of Salina wearing hers, I got an email from the owner of the company, thanking me for sharing the word about my satisfaction with their product. He also asked if I would send him the name and address of my favorite equine rescue so he could send a donation of Whinny Warmers in my name as a thank you.

I sent not one but two, asking that they pick whichever they preferred - and Whinny Warmers generously sent numerous pairs to both Primrose Sanctuary and the NC Equine Rescue League. I was incredibly impressed with the product, the customer service, and the generosity of a small company whose bottom line was helping horses and donkeys.

This year, this summer, we are having the worst flies I've ever seen. Our fly predators are doing the best they can, and even at its worst here on November Hill, it pales in comparison to what I've seen in other barns who don't use fly predators. BUT... it's bad enough that I decided I had to kick in with some extra protection for the horses.

We don't use chemical sprays. The herbal concentrate we use for mixing fly spray does a good job - it's not perfect, but normally we don't have that many flies so it works well.

Late last week I realized Salina was being harangued by flies on her lower legs. With her arthritic knees she doesn't stomp. She just bears it. I had gotten an email from Whinny Warmers a few months back about their new Summer Whinnies. I went online and ordered a complete set of 4 for Salina.

Within a few hours I had an email with the subject line: Billie!!!

It was Whinny Warmers. They had recognized my name when the order went through and were emailing to offer me the discount they'd offered way back in the spring - the email I'd read but forgotten - and even though that offer has come and gone, they offered to apply it anyway. When my order arrived this weekend, there was a second pair of Summer Whinnies enclosed! They said they appreciated my support in the early years of the company and wanted to say thank you.

This kind of attitude is why their company is thriving. Great products, great customer service, and a truly personal, genuinely caring attitude toward their customers - and the horses who ultimately use their products.

I'm happy to report that we put Salina's Summer Whinnies on for the first time yesterday. Once we got the first one on, and she felt the immediate relief, she lifted up the next two hooves before even being asked. We had to work a little to get the last one on - her right leg is always the hardest b/c lifting it means she is bearing the weight on her left knee - the most arthritic - but she continued working with us so we could get it on.

Last night I was in the barn and she looked like she had lost at least a decade of age. Between jiaogulan (I'll write about this later) and the Summer Whinnies, she's a brand new horse.

Cody will get his later today, and as soon as my budget allows, I'll order sets for every equine here. This is a terrific product. Check out the gorgeous Hanoverian seniors on November Hill! Salina, left, is 28 years old. Keil Bay is a spring chicken senior of 22.  He told me last night he wants his own Summer Whinnies - he always wanted to sport a little "flash."  :)  Redford donkey felt the photo was not complete without his handsome self there too...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spalding's Official Response to the Schmersal reining video

I received the following email last week from Spalding:

Ms Hinton

I am sorry I am late with this e mail. I acknowledge I promised you an answer three days ago.

This matter is of great concern to us as well and we are trying to gather all the facts we can from various sources including FEI and the NRHA. We have also spoken with people other than Craig Schmersal who were at Malmo Sweden and at the practice arena when this session was happening.

In your last e mail you suggested that EPONA-TV had produced a letter stating Craig Schmersal had offerd to sue them contrary to what he told me.

The video on You Tube used text to offer a quote from Craig Schmersal. " If you post and try to damage my reputation as a true and fair horseman I will sue you."

When I read the editorial from EPONA-TV on your blog, they offer proof  by posting a letter from a attroney demanding cease and desist.

This may seem like splitting hairs but it seems to be a stretch to publish "I will sue you" quoting one person, and then offer as proof, a letter from that persons attorney that demanded cease and desist.

This is Spalding Labs position. You may post or quote if you choose.

Spalding Labs is waiting for a ruling from the FEI or the NRHA on this matter and will act based upon those findings.

Larry Garner

My response to this was to contact Epona TV to see if they had anything to say. It is my understanding that there is in fact evidence that Craig Schmersal not only threatened to sue, but said/wrote other things as well. As soon as this is published by Epona TV I will provide a link to their information.

As you can read from Mr. Garner's response, Spalding has not sent a form letter in response to my inquiry. Mr. Garner sent me several emails responding specifically to my concerns. He went even further and made several efforts to contact me by telephone to discuss the matter personally. This company obviously goes a great distance to respond to the concerns of its customers, and I do believe they have looked into the Schmersal incident.

Whether they come to the same conclusion that I have come to remains to be seen. There is still more information to be revealed, and I still suspect that Craig Schmersal has not in fact been honest with Spalding in his responses to their questions.

My bottom line is that I want to support companies who provide high quality equine products as well as excellent customer service. There is NO DOUBT in my experience that Spalding provides both.

However, I also want the companies who make their livings selling products for horses to stand behind the horse in one more important way: by ONLY sponsoring riders, trainers, farms, and organizations that treat all equines with the highest level of respect and kindness. Those who make money off horses imo have the most responsibility to treat them well. (I'm not excusing poor treatment of any horse anywhere, but if the horse is being used as a vehicle for gain, it is imo imperative that the horse is treated with the highest level of care and concern)

I am waiting for Epona's response and continue to ask that Spalding, Purina, and all the companies who sponsor Craig Schmersal take a long, hard look at what exactly they are endorsing. The horses deserve this.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

the senior horse, 6: sweet moments

I'm not sure if this is a senior thing or just a November Hill farm thing. All our equines have sweet moments pretty much around the clock.

But somehow the moments seem sweeter as they get older, maybe because we know that as much as we wish they did, horses do not live forever, nor do they tend to leave at the exact moment we do, which would in some ways be the perfect ending for people and their long-time senior equine companions.

A couple of days ago I was in the barn. The pony stuck his head over the stall door at the exact moment I was walking behind Salina, who was definitely in pony range. She squealed and stomped her front leg at him, and the squeal and stomp, though not near me per se, caused me to exclaim "Whoa! I'm back here!"

I walked on to the end of the barn aisle doing whatever it was I was doing and within a few moments, Salina had come to where I was and turned so that she was looking me in the eye with her eye, and nuzzled my arm.

I've said before that Salina is incredibly telepathic, and I feel extremely attuned to her. But she is not what I would consider a particularly affectionate mare. She enjoys being groomed and pampered, and she often backs me up when I'm asking one of the geldings to do something. I feel like she and I are on the same wavelength almost all the time. But lately she seems intent on thanking me for things, and in this case, seeing if I was okay and apologizing for startling me.

She stood there until I put my arms around her neck and leaned my cheek against hers. "It's okay, girl. I know the pony was pushing the limit." She gave me another nuzzle and we spent a few moments communing.

The day after that, I had opened the stall door to do something for Keil Bay. He very much wanted to come out through the barn aisle and spend time in the barnyard but I was busy and said no. He got a little pushy - shoving the stall door as I tried to close it. I stopped and just looked at him over the stall door. I waited a moment and then said "Don't be so grumpy! You can come out. Just please be nice about it."

I opened the stall door and let him out, thinking he would saunter straight out to the grass. But he turned around carefully in the barn aisle, angling his big body between the stall door, the wheelbarrow, and me. He came up to me and just stood there, touching my arms and hands with his muzzle. He, too, positioned his head so he could look me right in the eye. I rubbed him under his forelock and we stood quietly for a minute. He waited for me to say "go on, Big Bay," before he went to graze.

As much as I love riding and feeling the beauty of lightness in the saddle, these sweet and tender moments when I'm having conversations that were initiated by the horses are my most favorite times.

It boggles my mind that there are people who believe that horses don't feel affection and attachment and that they will try anything to get their way.

I wish I could put everyone who doubts or doesn't believe into my body so they could know what happens between horses who are treated with kindness, care, and the deepest respect, and a woman who simply learned how to listen.

Monday, June 06, 2011

working on a new permanent page for companies who sponsor riders/trainers who use abusive methods with horses

I've decided to make it easier for readers to follow my ongoing research into the companies from which I purchase equine supplies, tack, feed, and various other items.

In the next week or two look for a new page here that will list the companies I use, companies I have corresponded with due to their sponsorship of abusive riders/trainers, and companies I have stopped using because of their continuing to sponsor people when abusive practices are pointed out to them.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Epona TV answers every possible question about the Craig Schmersal debacle

GO HERE to read the editorial.

And if you are Purina or Spalding, please read it and most especially click on the link they have provided to the Cease and Desist letter they received by Schmersal's attorney. Unless Craig has an attorney who acts on his behalf without his knowledge or permission, this is clear evidence that in fact Craig DID threaten legal action.

I have been told that Craig has denied having done so. If the video of Craig's riding alone is not enough to bring about a re-examination of company sponsorship, does the fact that he lies to you make any difference?

Epona TV's goal is to document what happens at the upper levels of equine sport. They did not target Craig Schmersal in particular - they simply aimed their cameras at what they recognized to be abusive riding.

My goal is to vote with my credit card, giving my business to companies that stand squarely on the side of the horse and of riders/trainers who use humane training methods, humane horse-keeping practices, and who sit on the horses' backs who win them fame and money in a kind, respectful fashion.

And my secondary goal is to make the information I uncover in my effort to do this available to anyone else in the world who wants to read it and do the same.

Spalding has promised me an official response on Monday. Purina has promised nothing, but I will ask them again if they would like to address this given Epona's editorial.

Friday, June 03, 2011

quick update: Purina, Spalding, Schmersal

I'm fielding emails, phone calls, and trying to get to the bottom of this, so please stay tuned. Craig Schmersal has denied that he got a verbal warning in the warm-up/training session (part of which was videotaped by Epona TV), and he has denied threatening to sue.

I am in the process of talking with Epona to see what their response is.

And I am appreciative that both Purina and Spalding are paying attention and looking into this situation.

As a friend just wrote on my Facebook wall: Take a deep breath and remember that you're only one person! One thing at the time and you'll get through it! I have confidence that you can tackle it all!!

Wise words.  I will stay on top of this, collate the info, and write it up as soon as I can. Meanwhile I have horses to feed, trims to supervise, teenagers to chauffeur, and book sales to celebrate! But I will follow up on this AND on the BLM issue very soon.


the senior horse, 5: don't mess with the boss mare!

This morning my husband came in from the barn to tell me that there had been some excitement sometime last night/early this morning.

An entire section of the barn, an exterior half-wall that makes up part of the barn overhang, had been kicked out. That half-wall was in need of some work. There were two holes in the Hardie Plank from previous kicks, and as are many things around here, it was On The List.

This morning it went to the top.

Based on the crime scene this is what I think happened:

Salina, the boss mare and resident goddess (and a senior at 28 years old) had come in from the pasture to relax under the shelter on the back of our barn and wait to be let into her area for morning hay.

An 11-year old painted pony gelding, who seems to be in the midst of trying to take over the herd in general, came in and moved in too close to the boss mare. I saw him stick his head over a stall door two days ago and bare his teeth at the black mare's rump. She responded with a double barrel kick to the stall wall and I am not kidding when I say that the pony did not move a centimeter. He has also been annoying the heck out of Keil Bay during the day, crowding into Keil's stall and not budging when Keil tells him to scram.

So, probably early this morning, when he moved in too close, Salina let loose with a double barrel kick and it completely shattered two panels of Hardie Plank. There were pieces strewn 25-30 feet back into the paddock.

The good thing about Hardie Plank is it does not splinter like wood does, so there were no sharp edges and Salina had one little scrape above the hock and one scrape on her forehead (I am guessing she spun around and scraped the stall door).

She also had one rear hoof that abscessed last year and the weak spot had just grown down to the toe area where it was very close to being ready to be trimmed away. I had looked at the fault line yesterday and wondered what our trimmer would do with it.

Guess what? He is coming today for our regular scheduled trims and Salina has basically done his work for him. When she kicked, the fault gave way and basically his job will be to clean up the edges.

As I did my investigation, Cody and Keil Bay lined up together in Keil's stall. "WE didn't do it!" was written all over their faces.

The pony was nowhere to be seen. Then I realized he was quite literally laying low in his stall, head and neck lowered so I couldn't easily see him over the wall.

Salina was happily munching hay in the barn aisle with her two donkey boys. "No problem here. I just did what needed to be done."

Which was put the pony in his place and move a barn project up to the top of my husband's list.

Salina, I salute you.

AND, further investigation reveals: another November Hill senior, Keil Bay, was also involved in the barn smashing incident. I still think the provocateur was the pony, but it appears upper level management had a smack down in the wee hours of the morning. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

can we make the world a better place?

Friend and kaleidoscope artist Sue Ivy posted this yesterday and gave me permission to repost it here on camera-obscura. It feels so relevant this week as we struggle with what we can do to change things for horses and in the world.

We should not let the magnitude of worldly problems negatively impact our ability to bring about change in our own spheres of influence. It is tempting to assume that because we cannot solve humanity's problems that there is no reason to even attempt to make the world a better place. But our limited contributions join those of other, similarly minded individuals, and our combined efforts can have a major impact on suffering. Large-scale changes begin when a single person chooses to undertake a task that will improve the lives of a handful of people.—The DailyOM

Enchanted Forrest kaleidoscope gifts, apparel, stationery, posters and more: ~ Books and calendars


Thanks, Sue! I needed to read this today. And please go check out Sue's links to see her offerings. Beautiful!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Purina's response to my email about their sponsorship of Craig Schmersal


Purina appreciates your concern and FEI is reviewing the video of Craig Schmersal.  Purina Horse Feed is not involved in the decisions made by the governing bodies of the sport of reining and leaves decisions regarding reining and other equestrian competitions to the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). At this time, no statement regarding EponaTV‚s video of Craig Schmersal has been released by either organization. Until Purina Horse Feed learns of a rule violation in the sport of reining, Craig Schmersal will remain in the ambassador program.


Beverly Fischer

Customer Service Manager
Land O'Lakes Purina Feed
100 Danforth Drive
Gray Summit, MO 63039
636-742-6170 (fax)

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened"    Anatole France

I guess they will wait and see if anyone ELSE is going to address this. Which is particularly ironic considering the quote at the bottom of the email.

We don't buy Purina products anyway, so I can't take my business elsewhere. But if I did, I would. Purina is a big enough company to make a statement without threatening their profit margin.


I just received and published a comment from Malina at the FEI with a link to their official statement, which I am pasting below (and sending to Purina and Spalding for their information):


25 May 2011
The FEI is constantly reviewing and amending the rules for all its disciplines to ensure that horse welfare is maintained.
Three working groups were set up in January of this year to conduct a full review of the discipline of Reining which will address all aspects of the sport, including rules and veterinary issues.

The working groups have already reviewed the Reining rules and regulations, the competition format and educational standards for all FEI officials within the discipline and will be giving their recommendations to the Reining Committee shortly. Also included in the review process are new Stewards’ guidelines and details of permitted training practices.
Representatives from FEI HQ spoke to the Chief Steward in Bökebergs Gård and were assured that all practice sessions were fully monitored, that each training session was timed and that all practices were within the rules that are currently in place. However, a preliminary report from the Chief Steward has been received by the FEI which records that a number of verbal warnings were issued to riders about their training methods during the practice session.
As part of the review process that was initiated in January, footage from the FEI World Reining Final and the resulting debate will be included in the file that will be submitted to the Reining Committee for inclusion in the review process.
The new FEI Reining rules and regulations will be voted on at the 2011 General Assembly in November for implementation on 1 January 2012.
As the international governing body for equestrian sport, the FEI condemns all training methods and practices that are contrary to horse welfare.



We have now included the link from FEI with their official statement on our correspondence concerning Ambassador Craig Schmersal.  Malina emailed me too with the information you had posted.   We appreciate your feedback and please always feel free to call or email us with any concerns.

Beverly Fischer

Not very satisfying, but it sounds like they might be getting some correspondence about this issue, which is good. If you haven't written or called yet, it's a good time to let them know what you think about sponsorship choices. They make a big part of their living due to horses. I think they should be the first to step away from affiliation with people like Craig Schmersal.

lessons in riding, 7: when it's too hot for me, it's too hot for Keil Bay

We've had a stretch of very unusually hot for this time of year weather last week and now again this week. Highs in the mid-90s, yesterday 96. Although I could get up early and ride, it's not the time of day that fits with my normal routine, so thus far I have been relying on my own comfort level to determine if it's a riding day - or not.

If I'm sweating and uncomfortable by the time I feed breakfast tubs, it's my determination that it's also too hot for the Big Bay. Yesterday I stood in the relative cool shade of the feed room, with sweat dripping into my eyes, which were stinging and burning as a result. No way are we tacking up and heading into the arena on a day like that!

My main objective on these high heat days is the comfort of the horses and donkeys. They get their wet tubs, clean water, extra salt, and I will often put their hay in nets so I can rinse and wet it down. They clearly enjoy the extra hydration.

I offer hosings at least once during hot days and sometimes twice. Yesterday, I was standing out by the water trough, under the oak tree, hose in hand, wetting down my hat so I could cool off a bit before proceeding with chores. Keil Bay marched out, looked at me like I was in dire need of some horse sense, and put his hoof in the trough to wet me (and him) down from head to toe/hoof. It was so clearly a "this poor woman needs some hosing" moment I had to laugh out loud. And thank him, for taking care of me the same way I try to take care of him on very hot days.

They all got hosings and the donkeys came out of the barn to roll in their dust circle. It still makes me laugh when I see them - they love to do what the horses are doing - but donkeys don't generally seem to like water - so they do their own version of hosing - rolling in dust!

I've been letting one gelding a day hang out in the stall and grass paddock on the near side of the barn. The pony is being a big nuisance every day - he crams himself into Keil Bay's stall and Keil gets so annoyed he starts kicking the barn. Short of locking the pony in, which I don't mind doing for a few hours a day but don't like to do for longer than that (he doesn't like drinking out of water buckets - prefers the big troughs), moving one gelding to the other side of the barn has helped alleviate the problem.

Yesterday was Keil's turn on the near side of the barn, and because he gets along well with Salina, I left the stall door open so all four of them: Keil, Salina, and the donkeys, could use both stalls, the barn aisle, and the grass paddock. When I got my things together to come inside, I noticed that Keil (16.2 and 1350 odd lbs., Salina (15.2 and close to 1200 lbs.) and two miniature donkeys had lined themselves up in Salina's 12x12 stall, in prime fan space, and were happily snoozing away.

So much for all that space they had!

We're in for another high 90s day so I'll likely be doing the same routine yet again. Between the water hose with all the cool settings on the spray nozzle, and Keil Bay's magic hoof, we will beat the heat together.