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.