Blogs > Horse Sense

Marissa Raymo will discuss everything about horses, including horse health care tips, training tips, equestrian friendly trails, horse buying info and much more.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Only 5 Days Left To Enter - Your Chance to Win a $40 Gift Certificate!

In just a few days we will be selecting the winner of the $40 gift certificate to CSN stores. It is super easy to enter (click on the link below for details), so don't miss your chance!

Cowboy Logic of the Day
"A lot of good luck is undeserved, but then so is a lot of bad luck.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Picking your Pasture

In the process of planning my horse barn, I have spent many hours considering the different possibilities of pasture fencing, weighing out cost, durability, visibility, upkeep and above all safety.

And after months of consideration, I finally stumbled upon an unbeatable deal on just the right amount of my dream fence - Centaur HTP® Horse Fencing (high tensile polymer). With 3 strands of 12.5 gauge high tensile wire per rail, coated in a rot, peel, crack and chip free polymer material, HTP fencing provides all of the features I need in a fence. 

Here is a great article on different types of horse fencing to help you find which one is best for you.

Other things to consider when planning your pasture are:

How much pasture will I need?
  • A common answer to this question is at least two acres per horse if you plan to provide a substantial part of it's daily forage from grazing alone. Unfortunately, two acres of grazing per horse isn't always available, so it is important to establish a supplemental feeding plan and rotate your pastures to prevent overgrazing.
How tall does my pasture fence need to be?
Cowboy Logic of the Day
"Most folks are like a bob-wire fence. They have their good points."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

$40 Gift Certificate Giveaway!! It PAYS to read Horse Sense!


CSN Stores will giving away a $40 gift certificate to one lucky "Horse Sense" reader! CSN carries everything from pet furniture to track lighting to home decor and more!! The winner can use the gift certificate at any of CSN's more than 200 online stores!

Here is how to enter:
1st Entry - For your first entry all you need to do is Follow My Blog (publicly)!! You can follow my blog publicly by clicking the "Follow with Google Friend Connect" button on the right sidebar of my blog. Leave me a comment on this post to let me know that you are a follower. (You must be a follower to be entered in the drawing). Then make sure your comment links back to your email address so I can contact you if you’re the lucky winner.

2nd entry – To get a second entry you can link back to this giveaway on your own blog or website. Just make sure to come back and leave another comment with a link to your page to let me know that you did!

3rd entry - Get a friend to follow "Horse Sense". Then have them mention your name in the comment they leave. You can have one additional entry for each referral follower!

Any questions? Just email or comment me and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Hurry! This giveaway ends at 12 a.m. EST on Tuesday, June 1st 
and the winner will be announced within a few days of contest closing.

Gooooood Luck!
Note: This giveaway is only open to US and Canadian residents. Please remember that there may be shipping charges or international fees for certain products when ordering your item.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Day, Another Nightmare - Fixing The Buddy Sour/Barn Sour Horse

Once again, another beautiful day turned into a bloody catastrophe. Upon returning from what was supposed to be a calm, relaxing trail ride with Lyric and Koda, my palomino pony is found running back up the driveway from....the ROAD??

When I left, George was pacing up and down the fence line as usual, calling frantically to his mare as she walked away reluctantly. But unlike most days, where he'd settle down and nibble at the grass as soon as she is out of earshot, my little 12.2 hand high pony decided to jump the 4 FOOT HIGH solid wood stall gate to chase after her! Twice!

I imagine this is what motherhood must feel like. That moment of sheer terror as you realize that your precious child has run into traffic despite the thousand times you've told them not to. At 20-some years old, after living most of his life alone, I now have a buddy sour & barn sour pony! What are the odds?!

If you're wondering how it is possible to be both buddy sour (doesn't like to leave his pasture mates) & barn sour (doesn't like to leave the barn/pasture area), here's how:
Buddy Sour - George flips out when his pasture mates leave for a trail ride or refuses to leave without them.
Barn Sour - When George is taken out for a ride with his pasture mates, he will stop walking the moment he gets sight of a trail that leads toward home, and insists that the trail ride ends for everybody. 

So basically George just wants to hang out in the pasture with his buddies for the rest of his life, never having to work or be alone. 

Don't we all, George. Don't. We. All.

But the worst part? His obnoxious behavior appears to be contagious as now the other two barn mates are displaying the same buddy sourness!

So how do we "fix" this issue? With lots and lots of patience and practice. 

I'll work on unsour-ing my horses and report back to you with what methods worked (or didn't work) for me. But for now, here are a couple of great articles with training tips for the barn sour/buddy sour horse:

Cowboy Logic of the Day
"If you expect to follow the trail, you must do your sleepin' in the winter."


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Funny Horse Pics ~ Real or Fake?


Anybody want a car-riage ride?

Looks like somebody needs to lay off the sweet feed.
The only race this horse is winning is the race to the feed bucket.

That's the last time Fido will make a joke about using horse meat for dog food.

This one has bad idea written all over it. I can't decide which is worse -
having the kid unsupervised on a pony with no saddle or reins, or....
nope that's definitely the worst part.

Just can't get enough of those unsupervised children
handling unnaturally large animals!

No sarcastic remarks here. This one is just plain cute!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Results are In! Your Thoughts on Equine Liability...

In last Saturday's post about a local equine liability lawsuit, I included a poll which posed the question "Should a person be held responsible for an injury that another incurs while interacting with their horses?" Here are your responses: 

  • 45.45% of you believe that the horse owner SHOULD NOT be liable.
  • 4.55% of you believe that the horse owner SHOULD be liable.
  • 50.00% of you believe that the liability DEPENDS on the situation.
As a self-proclaimed control freak, it is easy for me to lean toward the SHOULD NOT category, since I know the somewhat obsessive care I take to keep others safe around my animals. But there are always exceptions and I realize that not every horse owner breaks into a sweat each time a stranger's grass-filled hand reaches out to their horse's willing mouth or installs electric fence to keep other people out of their pasture rather than to keep their horses in. There are always exceptions. 
For example, in 2000 a Darwin Award (The Human Hitching Post) was awarded to a Nevada woman who tied her skittish Arabian to her waist to prevent it from tossing its head away from the bridle. After being dragged around the pasture and trampled for about 10 minutes, the woman died from the severe internal injuries and head trauma. 

Like I said before, there are ALWAYS exceptions.

Cowboy Logic of the Day
"Trust everybody in the game, but always cut the cards."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Struck Out!

In the 6+ months that I have owned Lyric, I have been slowly chipping away at her many bad habits and quirks, working hard to help her find the good natured little horse that I believe is hidden somewhere deep below the impatient, unpredictable, irritable mare-ish exterior. 

About two months back, while getting her groomed and prepped to saddle, an unusually powerful stomp caught me straight in the stomach and literally took my breath away. We both stopped for a second to figure out what had happened, and then I continued to tack up as she continued to show her disapproval. 

From that point on, whenever Lyric decided that she would rather not be tied up/groomed/tacked up/hugged/etc., I found myself facing a swift knee to the gut. And if I wasn't within easy reach of her knee, she'd actually reach out with her front hoof to try to stomp down on my foot. In my years of working/owning/playing with horses I have been bitten, kicked, pinned, rolled on and stepped on, but this one was new to me.

If you're unsure of what "striking out" is, take a look at the video of the gelding to the right (about 45 seconds in), and then imagine yourself standing directly in front of him...looks like the recipe for a bad day, right?

If you're faced with a horse that likes to strike out, there are a couple of things you can do to correct the behavior. But unfortunately, as with most bad habits, it appears to be a trait that is easier learned than corrected. 

First, it is important to make sure that the striking out or stomping is not a sign of an injury or health issue. A horse may stomp to communicate pain in its leg or hoof. In this particular case, I ruled out injury because the behavior is completely situational and does not occur when she is not tied down (which likely means it is the result of boredom, anxiety, or frustration). 

If you have a horse that strikes out, it is obviously important to be on guard at all times when you are within reach to be aware of any flying hooves, but also to be able to react quickly. The moment the horse strikes out with the front leg you can either:

A. Slap the knee with a riding crop or the end of the lead rope (not hard enough to hurt, but enough to interrupt the behavior).
B. Catch the leg in your hand and slowly lower it to the ground until your horse relaxes. Note - this is not the best option for a horse that is known to rear.

In either case, you'll probably have to repeat this over and over until your horse realizes that she will have to give to your pressure rather than the other way around.

Cowboy Logic of the Day
"Always try to be a bit nicer than is called for, but don't take too much guff."


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lesson of the Day: Don't Drink & Ride

In light of the upcoming May 11th hearing for Beattie v Mickalich, I'd like to touch on the topic of equine liability. In this particular case, the exact details of the event seem to vary from witness to witness (big surprise!), but here is a broad summary of the highlights:
  • Beattie is injured after she falls to the ground when her neighbor's (Mickalich) horse spooks and rears.
  • Beattie is suing Mickalich for her injury, alleging that this is an exception to the limitations on liability provided by the EALA based on Mickalich's "negligence".
  • According to the Amicus Curiae Brief of Michigan Horse Council, Beattie was not only a previous horse owner herself (proof that she should have been aware of the inherent risks associated with horses), but had also ridden several of Mickalich's horses in the past. Beattie also admitted to having had a "couple" beers before going to Mickalich's house.
It seems the arguments in this case rely upon the interpretation of the Michigan Equine Activity Liability Act  and....the use of crossties??  

Beattie and her supporters argue that it was Mickalich's responsibility to properly secure his horse with crossties and his failure to do so ("negligence") makes Mickalich liable for her injury. 

While scanning through the court materials, I got a little giggle out of each mention of "cross-ties", and here is why I have such a problem with this:
  1. As a previous horse owner, Beattie should have been aware of the "inherent risks" of any equine activity, and if she really believed that the horse should have been cross-tied, then she shouldn't have accepted the lead rope in the first place or at least voiced her concerns at that point.
  2. Cross-ties are not the ultimate answer here. In fact, many horses will have a stronger reaction with the cross ties than being held by a simple lead rope. When a horse that is cross-tied spooks and pulls back, the cross-ties pull back at the horse, causing the natural flight reaction (see above image of a cross-tied horse from to go into effect
  3. Cross-ties cannot prevent many of the other horse-related risks, such as biting or kicking. Must we now tie down, muzzle, hobble and sedate our horses every time a visitor wants to approach? Just as with sex and alcohol, there is only one way to ensure your safety around these powerful and sometimes unpredictable animals - ABSTINENCE!

What do you think?  

Should a person be held responsible for an injury that another incurs while interacting with their horses?
 Cowboy Logic of the Day 
"There's more ways to skin a cat than stickin' his head in a boot jack and jerkin' on his tail."

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Oakland County Trail Rider's Companion

If you love to trail ride but are getting sick of the same ol' scenery, check out the link below for an interactive equestrian trail map of Oakland County from

Click here for Oakland County Interactive Equestrian Trail Maps

You can view and print trail maps for local state, metro and county parks as well as view a listing of upcoming local trail riding events.

Know of any other public horseback riding trails? Send me an email or submit a comment and I'll add them to the list!

Cowboy Logic of the Day
"When you get to where you're goin', the first thing to do is take care of the horse you rode in on."


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Raising the Barn

When I first began this horse barn project, I assumed that my most difficult task would be designing the most economical yet practical horse barn I could to reduce my cost and daily labor. I am now finding that is not quite the case.

It seems that each day a new challenge is added to my list. To name a few:
  • Ridiculous township regulations (100 feet from each property line? Really?!)
  • Fill dirt that is mysteriously delivered to the wrong location (must have found a higher bidder)
  • The tree removal specialist that forgets to bring fuel for his tree removal equipment (among many other necessary tools)
  • Stall materials that are shipped just short of a full set
  • And the mysteriously increasing barn costs (along with some funny math on the part of a few salespeople)
 Frustration doesn't even begin to cover it.

Has my unending search for the best possible price finally caught up to me? Must good service and reliability now come at a premium?  Is "barely mediocre" the new service standard?

Dare I pose the question - What more could possibly go wrong?

Cowboy Logic of the Day
"Remember, even a kick in the caboose is a step forward."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

World's Largest & Smallest Horses

 Big Jake is a 9 year old Belgian gelding that currently holds the record for world's tallest horse at 20.2-1/4 hands high (that's almost 7 feet tall at the shoulder!) and 2,600 lbs!

Einstein is possibly the world's smallest horse at only 14" high and 6lbs (born April 22nd, 2010). It would take approximately 433 little Einsteins to make one Big Jake!


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