Van Recovered – Tack, Not So Much

Got a call late last night that the police had found my van just a couple of miles from home.  Unfortunately most of my tack was taken, though clearly the thieves didn’t know diddly squat about horse tack.  They took five whips (longe, two dressage, two driving), which were essentially worthless due to age/cracking/damage, but left behind two pristine white cotton longe lines and an absolutely one-of-a-kind longeing cavesson.  They took my bridle, but left behind the quilted bridle bag and the flash that belongs to the bridle.

They took ONE side rein and for some reason that really bothers me.  I’d rather they’d taken both.  The side reins were specially ordered for me by a good friend and handcrafted, and since I use side reins so rarely, they were in like-new condition.  What the hell am I going to do with one side rein, other than be reminded the other was stolen?!  They took my saddle, but left behind the saddle cover.  They took two stall bandages, but not the polos.  And they left behind my pail with brushes, hoof pick, shampoo, conditioner, sponge etc…  Oh, and they were kind enough to leave behind my rasp, but took my helmet and riding gloves, along with my helmet bag.

My van is in rough shape.  The steering column is a mess and my key wouldn’t fit in the ignition.  Dead battery.  And somehow they managed to put a huge dent in my right front fender.  Seriously?  You drove it two whole frigging miles and couldn’t do that without denting it?!  Or, did your hotwire job end up short circuiting the whole vehicle, and in a fit of rage you kicked it?

The local tack shops are on notice and I’ll be spending the next while searching Craigslist and Ebay for my stuff.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky.

General Update

Besides what just recently happened, I’ve got a few other real life things going on that will limit my time to put together blog articles for the next month and a half.  Please keep checking in and visiting, and by mid-June stuff should be sorted and settled with articles coming more regular.


Reminder: Mark Your Tack

Not just the obvious, expensive stuff, but anything with sentimental value.  Having just had my van stolen out of the residence parking lot (less than fifty feet from my apartment), I’m most upset that they’ve got a few special pieces of tack that mean more to me than their monetary worth. 

It appears the thieves were after my van, not the contents.  There was no broken glass in the parking lot, a sure sign of a smash and grab for vehicle contents.  The thieves then took the time to hotwire my van.   A couple blocks away, another vehicle of the same make and model (and just one year older) showed a failed attempt of theft because the thieves couldn’t get ‘The Club’ drilled and released that the owner had placed on the vehicle steering wheel.   

Place markings in easy to see areas to discourage theft in the first place.  Personal initials or those of your horse, stable logo, phone number, or some other individual marking will work well.  While it doesn’t  ensure theft prevention, it may discourage those ‘lightweight thieves’ from taking it in the first place, or pawning it, and certainly those markings will help police, you and others identify your property should it be found.

To the thief/thieves: ***** * **** *** ******** ** *  **** *****!  Oh, and Happy Easter.

The Importance Of Thinking And Feeling – Seatbones

Riding requires both thinking and feeling in equal parts. A rider who thinks too much quickly becomes rigid in their body and mind, and a rider who doesn’t think enough suffers from a lack of purpose in each ride. The former can lead to such things as impossible expectations, frustrations from both parties and a mechanical outcome, while the latter can result in stagnation of progress, wishy-washy execution, or a loss of interest from both parties.

Feeling alone can get a horse and rider combination quite far, particularly if the rider also has good general horse and riding instincts, though sometimes there is a lack of understanding why some things work and why others don’t that can stall progress. Knowing that something doesn’t feel right is part of the equation, but understanding why it’s not right requires gathering of data, thinking, and often execution of logical experimentation.

I want to focus solely on the seatbones, but not for the purpose of explaining how to sit on the seatbones properly, how to use them, or how to shift your weight on them. Google will have to be your friend for that information at the moment. My concern here is for the horse, specifically diagnostic purposes.

So, now that you’re sitting correctly on your horse for some flatwork, you’ve checked that your pelvis is level and you’ve not got a collapsed hip – and you are otherwise level in your ears and shoulders, and your upper body (including head) and lower body are aligned in accordance with your travel – pay attention to your seatbones and compare how the horse feels under each one, first at a walk in a straight line (both directions), then on a circle (both directions), then at the trot etc…

If you have any natural inclination to feel your horse through your seatbones you will immediately feel that the horse does not move under those seatbones equally. And that the difference can change depending on gait or direction of travel, EVEN IF you as the rider remain perfectly positioned at all times.

Those who have spent a lifetime of working (and feeling) to make their horse/s symmetrical; equally strong, straight and supple on both sides will know that any unevenness in their seatbones is wholly their fault. The rest of us need to figure out if it’s us or the horse, or both. The easiest way to determine which situation we’re dealing with is to have a person of superior riding skills ride the horse and tell you what they feel. Secondarily, you can employ a skilled set of eyes on the ground to correct your overall position of any significant unevenness/lopsidedness, while you concentrate on how those changes affect the feel of the horse under your seatbones. If, after fixing your position, the horse feels the same under your seatbones then you can logically assume the horse has a larger issue than just an unbalanced/crooked rider.

Certainly an asymmetrical horse can displace a rider’s positioning, just as an asymmetrical rider can displace a horse’s way of going. If it’s relatively minor in either case, then simple corrections can be made in the moment to even things out. Even long defined habits that have created uneven muscling can result in an immediate change if for just one or two steps both parties get on the same page. Obviously, it takes time to correct musculature unevenness, but it starts with just one step in the right direction.

For diagnostic purposes, the seatbone bone with more feel/horse under it is the more dominant/stronger/deeper stepping corresponding hind leg and is often accompanied by the haunch being carried to one side (to the side of weakness-being pushed over that way by the stronger and deeper stepping leg). If you can’t really feel either hind leg under either seatbone, rest assured the horse is hollow and trailing those hind legs. Of course, being able to know if what you’re feeling is really the hind leg requires you to have had the experience of riding a horse in a good amount of engagement on a prior occasion so you can make that distinction.

The biggest worry is going to be the horse that is consistently stuck under one seatbone, regardless of changes in rider, rider position, direction of travel, gait, or correcting/straightening exercise for that individual is surely unsound.

There are other points of feel that can help you determine what’s going on with the horse, but let’s just start with one point of reference. I now challenge all of you to go out, feel your horse under your seatbones and think about what you’re feeling and what it means for the horse.

(Suggested reading – this is a very technical book that covers rider from head to toe with such topics covered as how children, adolescents and adults learn about movement, physiology of movement, stabilzation of the body, gaining independence of body parts, coordination of aids, problems/causes/corrections for such things as asymmetry, stiffness, pain etc…  I also believe this comes in video for those who learn better through seeing/demonstration : Balance In Movement by Susanne von Dietze)

Cowboys, Guns And Hot Air

Here is a fun video taken by banjocat at a recent event she attended. She writes: From the AQHA Cowboy Mounted Shooting World Show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Each rider shoots first with a pistol and then a lever action rifle in each round. They’re shooting blanks; the embers are sufficient to pop the balloons (and it keeps the audience from having to dodge bullets.)

An example of a less common horse activity that combines a fair bit of horsemanship with some additional skill, it’s an interesting combination of obedience, agility, and a more literal than usual degree of bombproofing for the horses; accuracy and clear communication/training from the riders. You can’t be relying too much on reins for control when you need both hands to work a lever action rifle.


As I am wont to do, I took a closer look at what was going on with the horses in this video. The best horse runs were the second and third. Not surprisingly, these were also two very good rides that netted the fastest times in the round. Compare to the fifth run (Appy), the worst of the lot.

The obvious difference is the ability of the horses to negotiate the barrels/changes of direction, keeping the entire run consistent through smooth transitioning of weight transfer. While the Appy appears to be the most fleet of foot, he also had a rider who ran him off his feet, never letting up so that the horse could transfer weight to his haunch, instead pulled on his mouth to slow him, and leaned at various times, which made it harder for the horse to maintain its own balance.  There’s no way to know (without asking, or viewing several runs from this pair), if this is how it regularly goes, or if the rider – in the excitement of the event and the pressure to put in a fast, accurate run – let nerves/adrenaline/desire to win take over, throwing caution (and good riding) to wind.

You’ll need to pause the video several times, but I encourage you do so and closely examine these three runs, pausing in particular a few strides before the horse has to negotiate a barrel or change of direction. Keeping playing and pausing every stride and compare horse and rider positioning for these three runs. Key points to look for would be height of haunch, location of hocks, head tossing (though all are wearing tie downs), back positioning (hollowed or rounded), rider hand, as well general body alignment (ear, hip, heel), head/shoulder/upper body rotation in direct relation to lower body (hip) rotation and the direction of travel by the horse etc…

This is an event designed for a compact, lower to the ground individual, with a big hip and straighter hind leg. One of the slowest horses was the big, dark bay with the white face. Probably an individual who can hack/hunt all day long, but isn’t going to set any land speed records. This is partly conformation (too much leg and body), partly training/preparation/riding, but also will be partly muscular and neurological. This is distance runner, not your sprinter.

I’d have liked to have seen more than one woman in the class – maybe there was and banjocat simply didn’t get them on film? This is definitely an event that requires both parties to bring some serious skills to the table. Thanks for sharing, banjocat.

Craiglist Strikes Again

STUNNING! American Warmblood Stallion For Sale – $1000 (Winters)

Very handsome Amercian Warmblood Stallion. Looks like the old style Hanoverians. HUGE bone and feet. Excellent conformation. Very very handsome. Not studdy at all! Stabled next to a gelding over the fence. Has pasture bred. Not a mean or aggressive bone in his body. Very kind horse. Wants to please. Approximately 7 years old. Black, 16.2 hand stallion. Part Percheron, part TB, part AQHA.He is not halter broke but he can be pet and brushed. I bought him as a project horse and just have not had the time I had hoped I would have for him. He is smart and picks things up quickly. Just needs time. Truly going to be an amazing horse, just needs someone to work with him. Everyone thinks he is part friesian. Absolutely stunning horse. Reminds me of the old style Hanoverians. Asking $1,000 . I have video of him moving on youtube. He is a beautiful mover and would be a stunning dressage horse or jumper. This horse will be worth a TON of money once he is trained because of how beautiful he is. He is current on vaccines and deworming. You can see the video under “Gabriel Lost From Legend” Under Christa Petrillo video’s.

When I first read this ad (thanks to Katie for sending), I chortled a bit. Okay, a lot.

  • An untrained stallion
  • An untrained ‘approximately 7 year old’ stallion
  • An untrained ‘approximately 7 year old’ American Warmblood stallion of ‘part Percheron, part TB, part AQHA’ breeding
  • A proclamation about the future worth of said untrained 7 year old American Warmblood of unknown mixed breeding when he becomes trained

Then I watched the video and started scratching my head wondering what Yanci Ranch or the successful racing Appaloosa stallion, Apache Double, had to do with the whole thing. If the stallion in the video is the one being advertised for sale, then there’s a real possibility the horse might make a good working sort. Even without conformation photos, he gives the impression of being a decently built equine. His behavior in the video is typical of the generous spirit of horses, even those neglected for much of their lives.

The ad mentions nothing about the stallion being part Appaloosa, as suggested in the video (but not confirmed), confusing matters more. It would have been prudent (and the truth) for the seller to just simply say ‘unknown breeding’ or ‘grade’.

I couldn’t find anything online specific to a Yanci Ranch closing down 15 years ago and leaving behind a herd of unattended horses, so I can only assume it’s a very localized reality that’s never been nationally discussed.

There was, however, some information about Apache Double, who turns out to be a crossbred – TB/Appaloosa. It’s interesting how he’s thought of simply as an Appaloosa, as seen in this comment: Once again, he set another record, that of being the first Appaloosa to sell for $100,000, when clearly he is not. He is a first generation crossbred of which I’m quite positive his TB parent had at least a bit to do with his success on the racetrack.

Another tidbit in the article is that he won a Reserve National Halter Championship title. He sure doesn’t look like any of today’s halter horses discussed recently on the blog. The photo in the article shows an older Apache Double, 26 or 27 years of age, and clearly arthritic in his body and limbs. But there’s much to like about this individual and it’s no wonder he was successful on the racetrack, in the halter ring and later as a stallion producing winning performance horses. He’d also have made a fine using mount.

What an odd trail to follow from this (in some ways) typical Craigslist equine ad. In the end, though, we have an untrained, aged stallion of indeterminate breeding being passed off, in part, as something he is not. At least he’s priced accordingly. In the right hands, he should become entirely useable (and a gelding).