Management Strategies, part 2

We got some much needed rain in the brothers’third week of training.  California horse people have a love/hate relationship with the rain.  We love rain because our state is in a constant drought that requires mindful water rationing at all times.  We hate it because when it comes, it dumps too much water on our riding surfaces.  HC Equestrian is located at Indian Hills Ranch; we are lucky to have a nice indoor arena there.  However, it is very difficult to get good photos or video marking the brothers’ progress in there.

During week 3, I took off one of my long lines and worked again on longing with one line.  The thoroughbreds are really getting the idea, especially Corny.  However, as we continued to work, there consistently became signs that the brothers had discomfort in their bodies.


It had been a year since the horses had their teeth floated, so I scheduled them to get done. 

 Corny has some issues with the bit and does acrobatics with his tongue when wearing a bridle. I’ve noticed that sticks his tongue out the right side of his mouth. Before I try to pick up reins, he needs to learn to accept the bit and hold it steady in his mouth. I want to rule out, or address, any physical issues that could be causing this behavior.
Corny’s tongue. Notice that I have the lines on the halter, not the bit.

I got them scheduled for dental work as soon as I could. Both horses were reported to have needed lots of work done. 

Amy Scripps floated both horses

It worked!  In two workouts since their dentistry,Corny has gotten much quieter with his tongue.


In his first month of work, Blue had a hard time holding a canter lead, especially with his hind legs. Corny always started off extremely stiff. Both horses acted as inverse Zoolanders and had a hard time turning right.

Derek Zoolander can’t turn left

Fortunately, I can get Wally Palmer, DVM, to come to my barn. Some of you local folks may know him as the guy who took over Mike Gleason’s chiropractic practice. Anyway, Wally is great. He gave me a good assessment on both horses, adjusted them, and sedated them for Amy to do dental work.

In the next two workouts Blue has been holding his canter lead better, and Corny is more capable of bending.
The brothers are up to date on vaccinations and shoeing, so we don’t have to worry about that right now, though there are definitely some improvements that can be made in their shoeing.

Eight things horses have taught me about parenthood – So far 


Smiley meets his littlest sibling.
Smiley meets his littlest sibling.

My little daughter is only 3 months old.  Over these months, I’ve been thankful for the lessons and experiences that my life with horses has given me.  They sure have come in handy!  Here are some parallels I’ve noticed so far:

  1. I’m used to my body being used as someone else’s handkerchief.  Spit up is less gross than horse boogers.
  2. I know how to go over another creature daily and notice problems. Is this baby/tendon hotter than normal?
  3. I understand non-verbal communication and how to watch for signals that the tide is about to change. A fist that unclenches is similar to a horse licking and chewing.  That’s the time to try something new.
  4. I can accurately apply a salve to a wiggly creature.
  5. Less is often more. Don’t overstimulate the baby or over face the horse.
  6. I have experience with worrying to varying degrees. My horse has put me through a lot of worry with his health problems.  Vets have told me on two separate occasions that I should consider euthanasia.  These experiences were absolutely horrible, but did help me temper my anxiety when my daughter had a predicted fever after her vaccinations.  I wanted to freak all the way out, but I didn’t.
  7. I can make a big deal out of a small victory. Did my horse finally make a transition without bracing against my hand?  Woohoo!  Did my daughter do 30 seconds of tummy time without crying? Yippee!
  8. It’s about the journey.  I enjoy the hours of caring for my horse, hard work, responsibility, and dedication that it takes to have a thriving and happy horse.    All these elements are needed in caring for a baby, and I’m glad I have some sort of experience. 

Many of you have been parents for much longer than I have.  What are some similarities that you’ve encountered between horses and children?