DON’T JUST GIVE, BE

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Thanksgiving is about more than just posting what you’re thankful for on social media.  It’s the time of year we reflect on all that we’re given (and honestly, we should do this more than once a year, don’t you think?), to show and say “thank you” out loud to everyone and everything.

 

For us, we should be thankful for a full hayloft going into bad weather season.  The pungent aroma of fresh bales of alfalfa, timothy and grasses.  The memory of the sore muscles and long, sweaty days putting that hay up, so you wouldn’t have to worry about it later on.  The quiet contentment your horses now have, pushing it around in their stalls, picking out the very best blades one at a time, until all that remains is dust.

 

 

Be thankful for the solitude of a morning alone in the barn, after breakfast has been fed.  Every animal is licking feeders for remaining crumbs, snuffling around corners for their favorite bite of hay, lights buzzing in the morning dawn.  The stillness and peace that settles in, contentment, felt by all.

 

 

Walk into your tack room, be thankful for that smell.  The leather, the sweat, the matted horsehair.  All hard earned and well-loved.  The proof of work done, and the anticipation of more to come.

 

 

Be thankful for the bright sunny days, and any remaining warmth to be felt.  Be thankful for long, lazy trail rides, marveling at the colors of the leaves, the blue of the sky, and the feeling of your body moving in perfect sync with your horse.

 

 

When the day comes to a close, be thankful for every star in the dark night sky.  Find your favorite place, throw out a blanket, lie on your back, and gaze into the wonder of the universe.

 

 

This Thanksgiving, don’t just say thanks, be thankful.  Feel it in your heart, where nobody but you knows, that’s where it matters.  Let your actions be your voice.  I’m thankful for you, my readers, who look for my voice every week.

 

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HUNTER SAFETY CLASS

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Looking at that photo, are you easily able to tell which is a horse and which is a deer (actually, I believe it’s a mule, but the idea is the same)?  Probably, but you’re probably also a horse person, that helps.  If you’re a trophy-hungry hunter, would you take the time to be sure before squeezing the trigger or releasing the arrow?  Every year domestic animals are killed during hunting seasons due to negligence.  I’m sad to say I found countless images of hunters with their horse “trophies” from hunting, which further confirms to me they’re still operating under the “shot first, ask questions later” mentality.

 

 

I don’t want to admonish hunting.  I’m not a hunter myself, but I appreciate and respect the sport, as well as those who participate.  My concern lies with those who are a little too trigger happy, those who aren’t careful, or simply don’t care at all.  They should be your concern as well.  Those are our horses standing in the fields, carrying us down tree-lined trails, those are our family members being mistaken for game.  The good news is, we can do something about it.

 

Most importantly, you need to have an awareness of what seasons are in, and any applicable laws.  Make sure your property lines are clearly marked with NO TRESPASSING signs, and know who you do permit to hunt on your property.  A brief conversation about expectations and guidelines before they go into the woods, can save a lot of heartache, vet bills, and longer more difficult conversations later.

 

Make yourself a little more familiar with hunting implements.  Do you know how far a bullet or arrow can travel beyond it’s intended target?  Consider things like this when turning out, or trail riding.  Dress both yourself and your horse in PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) like safety colors and reflective materials to make it clear that you are NOT game.

 

 

Consider reducing turn out time, or even changing turn out schedules for the duration of each season.  If your horse isn’t in their line of sight, they’re less likely to become an accidental target.

 

Hunting seasons don’t have to end badly for anyone but the wildlife they’re intended to thin out.  Stay alert, think about the bigger picture and make good choices to be sure you and your horses return home safely at the end of every day.

TRICKS AND TREATS

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My how things change in a year…  Still busy with a surprise appointment today, so a re-share because horses in costumes will never stop being hilarious!

 

It’s been a busy work week at the place that pays me… so here’s a link to my favorite horsey Halloween costumes ever!

Feel Good Sunday: Halloween is only an Excuse to Embarrass your Equine Companions

 

Hope you’re having a great week, cozy barns and quiet rides to all!

HONOR LIVING HISTORY

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I haven’t had any living Grandparents since 2006.  I’m fortunate to have a “Bonus Grandpa,” thanks to my boyfriend.  But, I don’t have anyone to tell me stories of when they were my age, or what life was like during their eras.  I miss that.  I think it’s part of what draws me to our volunteer work with the Honor Flight Network, in Columbus, OH.

 

Six Saturday mornings a year, well before dawn has thought of rising, we crawl out of bed, drive to the airport, and stand ready to greet anxious Military Veterans at their cars, as they begin their Honor Flight day.  I’d be lying if I said I did it all for them, it’s just as much for me, and I love it!

 

If you’re not familiar with the program, Honor Flight Network has hubs all over the US (in all but three states I believe), where our Veterans, at no cost to them, are treated to a full day’s adventure.  Southwest Airlines flies them into DC where they transfer to tour buses, and under the guidance of their assigned Guardians (some from home, some active military working in the DC area), are escorted through the War Memorials, and our nation’s capital.  They’re given snacks, drinks and meals, they get t-shirts and their Guardians often share the photos they take through the day, and most importantly, wherever they go, they’re treated to a hero’s welcome on every sidewalk and runway.

 

Honor Flight is manned by a literal army of volunteers, who navigate everything from greeting Veterans at their cars, helping them put on their t-shirts, to baking cookies for the TSA agents, and even dressing in period attire and planting bright red kisses on the cheeks of every one they meet.  Flights are often sponsored by local businesses, as expenses are high to charter an entire plane for the day.

 

 

Planes are met with water canon arches at each airport, compliments of the local fire departments, and Veterans are cheered at every turn.

 

 

They receive mail during “mail call” on the buses from their loved ones and more volunteers, nobody goes without a note of thank you.  As much as the day exhausts them, they’re greeted again when they arrive home, by a welcome home to rival the one they received (or in some cases, especially our Viet Nam Veterans, didn’t receive) when they came home from the war the first time.  Bands, groups, friends and family, all cheering and waving.  Handshakes and hugs, all in their honor.

 

 

Every weekend we participate, I find myself wondering what more I could do.  I’ve signed up to be a Guardian and am just waiting on the call.  Guardians do pay their own way, to help offset the cost, but what a value they receive.  The local branches of the network can always use funding and volunteers, so I created a fundraiser on my Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/183483735555099/  My goal is to raise $1,000 for Honor Flight Columbus by Veteran’s Day.

 

For anyone in the central Ohio area, here is your local branch of Honor Flight,

http://www.honorflightcolumbus.org/home.html WWII, Korean and Viet Nam Veterans, as well as any Veterans with health conditions that may limit the amount of time they’re able to wait, are welcome now.  All are welcome to complete an application and put themselves on the list for their flights.

 

To find a local chapter near you, go to:  https://www.honorflight.org/

 

Whatever you do, wherever you are, you can help.  Donate time and/or money, all is needed and appreciated!

WHERE’S THE LINE?

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(Feel free to read this to yourself, in Morgan Freeman’s voice)

I remember seeing a photo, not long ago, of the Arabian colt discussed in this article.  His chiseled features beautiful, to the point of fragile.  I actually wondered if the image had been photoshopped, it almost didn’t look real, but it is.

 

El Ray Magnum RCF

 

In spite of a full Veterinary exam proclaiming him to be in top health, you still can’t help but wonder, “is that okay?”  When you see his father, it seems slightly less unimaginable…

 

Basilio

 

The parentage is obvious, but the decision by humans to “create” horses with these features isn’t so much.  I’m not asking the question as an accusation, merely as curiosity, “where’s the line between breeding for what’s best for THEM, and what’s best for US?”

 

The Telegraph asks the same question here; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/10/13/extreme-horse-breeding-leaves-animals-looking-like-cartoons/ as well as Martin Clune discussing the subject, albeit about dogs, in one of his documentaries; “A Man and His Dog,” currently on Netflix.  In his conversation with a Veterinarian, they look at a menagerie of taxidermied dogs of various breeds, discussing the differences between the breeds then, and now.

 

 

In their conversation the subject of hybrid breeds was also discussed, and again questioned as to the necessity, or simply desire, for something new.  Overbreeding is a common problem with many animals of recorded pedigree.  At what point do we finally say, “enough,” or do we continue to tweak the model to suit our own personal taste?

 

When you look at this stallion advertisement from 1973-4, it’s hard to imagine what decisions humans made to arrive at the “ideal” we currently accept.

 

  

 

I can understand the effort to breed out undesirable characteristics, like health issues, conformation flaws, etc.  But I’m curious as to what the mindset is when humans are all but creating their own, new and improved version of what was already working for so many years.  Is it reinventing the wheel, or is it something much bigger?  Where’s the line, and have we crossed it?

 

 

ADD A SIDE OF SMALL FRY

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I love how the horse show industry has become so inclusive.  Every year more classes are added to accommodate every age, skill level, and ability.  It lends itself well to multi-generational family activities; the family that shows together, stays together!  One of my favorite examples is the Small Fry class.  I say that in singular form, because way back when I started, there was only one.  Now, there’s a full compliment of classes made available to our wee showmen and women.  Kiddos nine and under, can compete as all-arounders just like their older siblings and parents.

 

 

Probably the only thing cuter you’ll find on the fairgrounds, than a pint-sized rider perched on top of 1,000+ pounds of horse and tack, is Puppy Alley.  Maybe it’s a draw…

 

In addition to the original Small Fry Western Horsemanship, they now have the additional options of:  Western Pleasure and Western Showmanship

 

 

As well as Equitation and Hunter Under Saddle

 

Photo credits to:  equinechronicle.com, gohorseshow.com and pleasurehorse.com

 

It’s adorable overload October 14-16 at the Ohio Expo Center where the All American Quarter Horse Congress is held.  Don’t let the cuteness fool you however, they may not be big, but they’re mighty!  Even the “brokest of broke” show horses, is still a great big, thinking, feeling animal to navigate the Coliseum arena with, and that’s no easy task.  They aren’t just sitting and smiling, they’re doing the work.  They’re practice riding in early dawn, they’re helping groom and bathe in late evening the night before.  They’re fully invested in their rides.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, horses raise great humans.  That’s not to say you won’t witness the odd “Toddlers and Tiaras” moment in the make-up pen, they are still small children after all, but by and large, they’re building a great future for themselves and the Quarter Horse industry.

SUPPORTING THE CROWN

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In spite of being horse-less, I like to find ways to stay involved in the horse community (like this blog), and the Quarter Horse circles.  This year has been an unusual one for me, finding myself unemployed after working full time forever, taking up new hobbies, turning 40, etc.  In every downturn however, there is opportunity.  I’m using my time to distribute Senegence products, and LipSense long-wearing lipstick in particular.  In efforts to promote that, and help maintain a lifeline to the Quarter Horse world, it dawned on me.  Association Queens and Congress Queens wear lipstick, and would appreciate not having to touch up all day, how perfect!

 

 

So, I’m pleased to share that one of my first business gambles with this new line, was to sponsor the All American Quarter Horse Queen contest, and provide all the ladies with a LipSense starter kit.  The committee was as excited to receive the donation as I was to provide it, and I can’t wait to see them all in their new color, “Kiss for a Cause,” selected for it’s color (pink, the signature of the contest) and it’s support of Breast Cancer research with $1 of every tube sold being donated through The Make Sense Foundation, a non-profit branch of Senegence.  I threw in a bonus color and gloss for the winner in “Purple Reign,” because the name seemed so perfect.

 

 

It’s written into the contest rules, that every contestant be on point in her attire and turn out throughout the show.  Products like these that require no re-application are perfect for long days and multiple photo opportunities.  I’ll get time to spend with them all on Thursday of their competition for our own photo shoot and some social time, which I’m really looking forward to.  There are 17 beauties competing this year, and reading their bio’s tells me they’re all incredible!

 

Photos courtesy of the http://congressqueen.com website, all information about the contest and participants can also be found here.

 

I’m looking forward to meeting the 2017 contestants and helping them look their best.  It’s going to be another great show and I love still being a part of it!