“The greatest deterrent
to freedom are men and women of zeal, well-meaning, but
without knowledge or understanding.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis~

"People are so quick to defend their own agendas, but they so often fail to realize we must protect the rights of all if we are to continue to have any rights of our own."

Ranch meaning, in general, any real world dwelling probably not involving full care board. Kind of a rural voice of real horse owners, trainers, traders, auction owners, rodeo contractors, etc.. all of us who have taken a verbal beating and called greedy ass hats. Back at the Ranch contributors, moderators, subjects, and so on, are pro-horse, pro-owner, and pro-slaughter.
Back at the Ranch was formed by a group of like minded horse / livestock owners. It is a place for us to try to educate, a place to vent our frustrations with the current equine industry, a place to share humor and snark, and in general try to open the eyes of the public who seem to be anti-agriculture.We do have a section for comments of course, and if you would like to email us you can do so directly or through the contact us form. We like to hear from our readers. I hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as I enjoy managing it.
Ranch Manager

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What’s He Worth?????

I haven’t weighed in with an open opinion column for a while and I need to vent. I have come to realize none of the New Age Horse Saviors have the first f*ck*ng clue what it takes to produce a good horse. We are living smack in the middle of the information age but there are more people with less knowledge involved in horses than ever before. The proof is at every sale I attend and in nearly every forum I read.
The constant panhandling and finger pointing irk me to no end. It escapes me how any competent horse owners would allow their stock to become fodder for these people. If these so called rescuers were legitimately trying to save as many horses as possible they would opt for animals with a future. Young horses who could be trained and fitted to a better market, sound horses that happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time that can be polished up for a better market. The other wretches would quietly be put down. If you want to buy 25 pasture pets to pension that’s your right. It’s your right if you choose to do it properly with your own money while not affecting what I choose to do with my horses or my own money. When politics and panhandling enter into the mix, it pisses me off. It doesn’t just piss me off, it disgusts me. It disgusts me because as one of our followers so aptly put it “they are pissing away the lives of horses that deserve better”.
I sold one Sunday. I have known the mare since she was a baby. I board her sire. I have started most of her sire’s offspring for his owner. He has the most correct set of feet and legs I have seen on ANY horse. His babies have all had good minds and lots of ability. He is one of the few paint studs I have seen I feel deserved to be a stud. Her mother was a thoroughbred mare who, according to the record on her papers, broke her maiden as a three year old, winning a mile and seventy yard allowance, earned over $13,000 in that one race, and never raced again. Not only could she run she was a classy bred, classy looking mare to boot. That’s the family history on the mare I am going to write about and she was a pretty baby.
The pretty baby was weaned into a situation that went from bad to worse as she aged. At the age of three she went down sick from what I am told was a “bad reaction” to wormer. I think the “thoroughbred” side of her finally gave in to less than ideal living conditions. I love thoroughbreds but poor living conditions affect them more it seems. Maybe the conditions break their hearts and they give up, I don’t know. Long story short the humane society was called and the filly was going to be seized if something wasn’t done. I became something and I should feel good about it. Most likely I’ll never be “somebody”, but for this filly I was the “something” that had to be done. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with a rack of bones that looked like every joint in her legs was sprung but I figured she had a better chance of staying alive with me than as a county seizure.
A friend with many “rescue” tendencies saw her and loved her color. (Have we heard that one before????) I told her the story behind the filly and asked if she wanted her. Of course she did. It wasn’t the perfect solution but I knew the filly would be fed “enough”, have room to move around, and a dry place to sleep.
Why do the personal lives of people who feel compelled to rescue horses have a penchant for being unstable? ………I’ll leave that for someone else to answer.
A year later, again due to chaotic crap with her humans the filly, now mare, came back to me. A truly heartless b**ch, I still didn’t want to kill her. Self and I had a talk the second day of throwing feed to this mare. I told “self” I can’t make her legs straight or make her pretty but I can make her fit and broke. Maybe, just maybe, if she has talent, I can sell the talent with her pedigree to get someone to over look the faults I believe were caused by poor nutrition to give her a chance. “Self” answered we had to try so in the stall she went, into a regular exercise and training program she went. She was worked up on feed until she was on full hay and as much grain as she could stand. The stronger she got the better she felt. The better she felt the more she trained. The more she trained the more strength and frame she built. The more strength and frame she built the more her ligaments straightened. The more she straightened the more structurally balanced she became. The more structural balance she built the more ability she had. The more she used that ability as she trains the more muscle she built. The more muscle mass she built the better she looked and felt. The better she looked and felt the more her good family started becoming apparent.
Roughly 60 days of consistently good feed and regular exercise, 45 days of consistent training later, the ugly duckling began to reach “swan” stage. Sardine Sanctuary readers, take note (R.M. started that nickname and I think it’s really catchy), ….Exercise is using all three gears on the lounge line with limited saddle training for the first couple of weeks until this mare was physically adjusted to the routine, then less lounging and more riding as she learned and got stronger. At the end of the 60 days she could lope circles for 20 or 30 minutes and never draw a long breath. She was being schooled for about an hour to an hour and 45 minutes daily, six days a week. Her sweat was clear, her belly was tucked up, her hip, chest, and forearm were muscled up and defined. She was fit. She has turned into a tremendously talented barrel prospect. She was still green as grass but was the real deal. She could still stand a bit more weight to be perfectly conditioned but she was really coming on. A good judge of horses could see what she would be if she stayed in good hands.
THE POINT…….exercise is VERY important for horses. Exercise is VERY important to their overall health. Exercise is VERY important to getting them back into condition after they have been neglected. Horses who do not feel good will not EXERCISE themselves. If a young horse is going to be incapable of being EXERCISED for an entire lifetime maybe his quality of life is compromised to the point it may be best not to “save” him. A horse’s entire physiology has evolved around his ability to be ambulatory. EXERCISE is a priority for mental and physical well being of a horse, ANY horse. EXERCISE is not walking across a 30’, 40’, or 75’ pen. Annyyywwaayyssss back to my mare……
I called a connection who markets to pro barrel racers to come watch this mare work. I priced her (FYI she’s no longer in danger of being bought by a rescue or the awful KB’s). We did some trading. The mare is going to have a chance to be a good horse. I have some cash and a nice gelding. Now the gelding is in the barn and he’s for sale…….not at rescue price (adoption fee) either.
Speaking of geldings…….I have another gelding for sale. He started out as a “loose” horse or he would have been had he been taken to town the day he got here. He was payment for pasture rent on three yearlings. Lucky for him he never had to go through the sale because he wasn’t pathetic enough to even make a “good” rescue. He made the horrible mistake of being a sound, registered, well bred, and well built but unhandled four year old. He’s now a broke to ride five year old. I have invested a year’s feed and several months training. He’s sane, he’s attractive, he’s an athletic mover, and he’s gentle.

We can see the barn isn’t perfect, the horse isn’t stood up, and the photography is far from professional. Fugly can have a self righteous bitch party with one of my pictures. All that aside, he’s a good gelding and I can honestly say he is a good gelding. I have been riding him 5 or 6 days a week for quite awhile. I read commentaries about a rescue raising $4,000 for the surgery to save a colt so what’s this good horse who’s done nothing wrong worth? He’s in the prime of his life and ready to go to work for anyone who knows how to ride. What is he worth???
I’ll get back to that. Let’s move on to the term “broke”. This has become a loosely applied term. We hear ranch broke, kid broke, well broke, green broke, and the forever special natural horsemanship trained. I like to use the term saddle horse broke, broke enough to finish in the event of your choosing. I don’t care if you are “just trail riding” or going on to working cow horse classes, the basic steering gear is the same. All horses need it every day of their working lives. If a step is missed, if the clock is cheated, someone somewhere will pay. Often it will be the horse.
Here’s my idea of “saddle horse broke”.
1. Good ground manners. If a horse doesn’t mind you on the ground it will get no better when you step up in the middle of him. Ground manners…..leads up at my shoulder, doesn’t drag on the rope behind me, doesn’t try to charge ahead of me, doesn’t weave into my path, and doesn’t look at the horse two fences across from him. Stops when I stop. Backs when I ask for his face and step toward his shoulder. Will move his shoulder or hip away when I ask as far as I ask every time I ask. I can bend his head softly around to his barrel either way when I stand at his shoulder and ask for his face. He will stand this way to be saddled, groomed, or have his feet picked too.
2. Lounges, all three gaits, as I ask. Whoa when I ask. Changes direction when I ask him to stop and step to the “front” of his direction of travel. Doesn’t lug in or lug out.
3. Stands tied. My personal horse is antsy. I hobble her when I leave her tied so she can’t paw. The point…. I know she paws I don’t allow it so she is hobbled. I also hobble all the horses I own as part of their ground work. Keeps limbs attached sometimes if they are caught and if nothing else it teaches them patience and respect without fear or question.
4. Soft in the bridle laterally and vertically. Understands both direct and indirect rein. Backs straight, framed and light. Stops with light bridle contact, whoa and weight cues. I refer to it as when I stop riding them and say whoa.
5. Responds to leg commands for all lateral work involving shoulder and hip control. Sidepasses.
6. Walks out flat, smooth, relaxed, and with purpose. Rates off at a trot and lope and maintains the same rate as long as I ask. Accelerates or rates back easily on cue at both trot and lope.
7. Picks up either lead on command from a walk or trot within a stride or so and lightly collected whenever he is asked.

If the rescue colt is worth a $4,000 surgery as I have been told WHAT IS my gelding that can do all these things well worth?
When the “rescues” can take one from unhaltered to saddle horse broke with no drama fix or forum huddle like real horse people have been doing as long as there have been horses, I will listen……till then spare me the fancy words and figures. I and those like me are busy keeping good, young registered horses working while the rescue dollar is being spent to make sure the sound usable horses the anti-slaughter movement set out to save are the only ones being shipped. The others just aren’t pathetic enough to draw in the donations and the proper amount of drama.


1 comment:

  1. I really wish that some of those who rescue would just accomplish steps 1 through 3. That would be a huge accomplishment in my book. Basic groundwork, or even knowing how to fit a halter correctly seems to be something they are unable to do. For some, you'd have to back it up to proper grooming. For others, to proper housing practices.
    What is a good gelding like yours worth in the rescue arena? Sadly, nothing-he lacks the drama factor.