Dragonfly Saddlery

Dragonfly Saddlery Shop in Hassocks, UK

Dragonfly Saddlery shop in Hassocks, UK is well know supplier of horse and equestrian equipment. We stock good range of horse riding equipment including horse tack, horse saddles, horse bits, girths, horse bridles, head collars, grooming kits, etc.

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The importance of a good farrier

Learning this lesson the hard way.

This has been the year of bad farriers -- not just for me, but for many people at my barn.  It started when my younger horse, the one that has been in training, was trimmed too short in late spring or early summer.  I switched to a farrier that several other people at the barn had just started using, too, and for several months she seemed to be the answer -- but she started laming other people's horses by trimming them too short, as well, so I switched again, this time to a friend of my trainer's.

The newest farrier just trimmed my horses on Saturday, and so far I am cautiously optimistic.  They seem to be moving well, and my thin-soled youngster is not sore, which is a good sign.  But after all the problems I've had this year, I've learned not to make snap judgments.  We will wait to see whether they continue moving well, and whether I continue liking this new farrier after a couple of trims, before I decide for sure that I like him.

I've also learned that "good enough" isn't always actually good enough.  My first farrier, the one who trimmed my youngster too short in the spring, had been trimming my older horse for four and a half years.  I knew his quality had been slipping for quite some time, and it had gotten pretty bad of late, but I had history with him so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Until he lamed my baby and cost us several months of training time while his feet grew back.

The second farrier seemed to be exactly what we needed.  She trimmed a little on the short sign, which worked spectacularly well for my older horse, and she (claimed she was) willing to be careful on the younger, thin-soled horse.  (I had x-rays done to confirm the younger one's club feet, and they showed that he has extremely thin soles.)  But she seemed to sometimes have problems trimming people's horses too short.  The first time we all gave her the benefit of the doubt.  The second time, the owner of the horse that got trimmed too short was a bit on the crazy side, so everyone figured she was just crying wolf.  The third time, though, the problem could no longer be ignored, and we all switched -- again.

My newest farrier -- well, I'm not totally sold on him yet.  He seemed to do a good job, but he didn't exactly knock my socks off -- though I thought the last one had, so perhaps a good, understated, basic trim is what I should have been looking for all along.  For now, I'm reserving judgment, but I've learned my lesson -- at the first sign of shoddy work, I will bail.  Never again will I risk my horses' hoof health in order to give a farrier the benefit of the doubt!

From Maine?

Hello my name is Sky. Im from Maine! I love horses, but the problum is I don't have any horse freinds. Yep I live in a small small town. No One! I will go to some horse shows but all of them are old people. LOL

My (and my horse's) first show

Showing for fun and exposure

My horse and I recently competed in our first show.  It wasn't actually much of a competition, since it was a schooling show at the end of the show season, and the turnout was small, resulting in no one else riding in my class.  (They combined my class with another age group, but still placed us separately.)  I was actually glad of the small turnout, however, because it meant a little less stimulation for both me and my horse -- and a better environment for us to get used to showing for the first time.

It wasn't our first time being at a show, actually.  I took him to a schooling show a couple of years ago, at which he was a complete wreck.  We went with a horse he was corralled with -- his "girlfriend," actually -- and he spent the entire time at the show hollering for her.  He was bothered by all the horses in the practice arena before the show started, and even once the practice ring emptied somewhat, he was very anxious and high-strung.

We didn't try again after that for a long time, but earlier this summer, I finally took him to another schooling show.  The local group that puts these on does one every month throughout the show season, and they are fairly inexpensive.  I brought him to the show in August just to hang out and let him get used to things, and to my surprise he was pretty chill -- a dramatic difference from how he was two years ago, so I decided that next time we would actually do the show.

I knew from walking Panama around the grounds at the show in August that the bleachers alongside the show arena were going to be the biggest problem, so as soon as we got there in the morning we started working on desensitizing to them.  I lunged him past the bleachers while someone stomped, jumped, and ran back on forth on them, and then we rode back and forth past them.  He was clearly worried but not badly.

When I was being judged, of course, it was different -- then the bleachers were full (instead of just one person being on them), and as a result Panama spooked once.  It was a small spook, though.  The other thing that he was paying a lot of attention to was the soccer game going on across the field, over in the sports complex.  Every time the fans would start whistling and screaming, Panama got a little concerned.

Otherwise, though, he was quite well behaved.  He was relatively calm (except for that little spook and his tendency to carry his head a little higher than usual) and took almost everything in stride, even when a pony dumped her young rider and got loose during one of our classes (since they had combined my class with a younger age group).  I only did walk/trot classes this time, since I think he is more likely to blow up at the canter if he is going to blow up, but I think next time I will be comfortable trying a couple of canter classes.

I am interested in showing for a couple of different reasons, but competing heavily is not one of them.  I know I have a different attitude toward it than many people, my trainer and some of her other students included: I am showing primarily to have fun, but also to give my horse some valuable experience and exposure.  That's also why I've been acclimating us both to showing gradually -- I want it to be a positive experience for both of us.  If my horse and I can't both have fun with it, I am not interested in continuing to show!

Surprise, surprise

Injuries (and the vet bills that go along with them) are no fun!

Thursday morning, I arrived at the barn to tack up for a riding lesson, only to discover an injury just above my horse's left hind hoof.  There is some scar tissue through the coronet band there from an accident when he was a yearling, and it was extremely swollen and distended, with an inch-long split right along the top of the hoof.  The picture above was taken when the wound was fresh, after I had cleaned it out and cold hosed it.

I called the vet, and he came out the next day -- he said it wasn't something he needed to come out right away for, and I appreciate that, since he probably saved me a hefty emergency call charge.  In the meantime, I was to hose it down a couple of times.  (I actually cleaned it out with Betadine, too.)  Needless to say, my lesson was canceled that day.

By the time the vet came the following afternoon, the majority of the swelling had gone down, and as a result the split didn't look as deep.  We had a couple of theories about how it happened, whether he'd bumped it or whether it was an abscess that had popped out the top of the hoof, but the vet said it wasn't an abscess, since he hadn't been lame at all, and since an abscess would likely go to either side of the scar instead of popping out through it.  The vet thinks he bumped it and the scar tissue split, since scar tissue is more inflexible and therefore more likely to do so.  (I've run into that before, when Panama got kicked on an old scar when he was 3, and it opened up a huge split on his leg right along the line of the scar.)

The good news was that the vet didn't think the injury would interfere much with riding.  He said it would only be sore another couple of days, and then it shouldn't bother Panama at all.  I do have to keep it bandaged and covered with a bell boot, however, mostly to keep him from bumping it and slowing down the healing process and/or making it worse.  As it is, the vet expects that it's going to take a long time -- about 3 weeks -- to heal, since it's hoof on one side and scar tissue on the other, and scar tissue heals more slowly.

I lucked out that the injury won't impact my riding habits very much (I still plan to take it pretty easy), but it's a reminder about how having horses -- pets in general, but especially horses -- can mean a surprise vet bill at any time!

Stop horse soring in its tracks

Sometimes, the cruelty of our species overwhelms me.

Every year, I hear about something new and hideously cruel that we are doing, either to fellow animals on the planet or even to fellow humans. Animal “crush” videos, bull hooks in circuses… they never fail to amaze me. How cruel are we willing to get for the bottom line?

Today I read about horse soring. Apparently people who show horses will actually maim their horses in the leg and foot in order to make them step higher in competitions for better point results. They do this with chemicals, hoof knives, and other torture devices. The higher the gait, the more impressive the horse—even if that means, as indicated by the Humane Society’s undercover footage, mutilating one’s horse for the result.

This is simply outrageous, and members of the House are ruling on protections to add to the Horse Protection act to ensure it stops and people who do it are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But they need to hear from us to know that this is exactly what we want them to do—and we need them to do it now to help save horses from further suffering.

Click here to learn more and to send a message to your local politicians today.

Make a My Little Pony variation

Join the latest cute craze.

Modifying My Little Ponies seems to be the latest artistic phase going around, and boy does it look tempting. It’s so tempting, in fact, that my daughter and I made this drawing of Starlight from Rainbow Brite as a My Little Pony—to be fair, we saw someone’s modified toy version and drew it; we just added a bunch of color and sequins.

If you look up the My Little Pony meme, you’ll find all kinds of variations, from Star Wars ponies to Tron ponies to Avengers ponies. Perhaps the most comprehensive and fun list of pony mods can be found here. My favorites are probably the Edward Scissorhands pony and the Freddie Krueger pony, though the Alien pony is pretty amazing, and the Catwoman one is a lot of fun, too.

It’s even more fun to name the ponies creatively. For example, an Iron Man pony was named “Pony Stark.” Most don’t have such names but it’s a nice touch, don’t you think?

If you decide to modify your own pony, be sure to post pictures! We’re going to start collecting them so we can modify our own. I think the first one that we’ll make will be the Buckbeak (Hippogriff from Harry Potter) one…

Horses are a time commitment

Like most anything else, the more you ride the better you'll get -- but the animals themselves also require time and attention!

The little girl I nanny for has been taking riding lessons once a week (roughly) for almost a year, and her mom (who is not horsey at all) asks questions or makes comments from time to time that indicate to me that she doesn't fully understand how hard riding is, and how long it takes to become proficient in it.  She wants her daughter to get better and maybe even do some shows, but at the same time, she is reluctant to let her spend a lot of time riding or doing horsey things.  She doesn't seem to understand that, like many things in life, practice makes perfect.

I think it's a common misconception among non-horsey people that riding is easy, the horse does all the work, and therefore there is not that much that you, the rider have to learn.  Quite to the contrary, riding is hard.  The horse may take the steps for you, but you have to be able to control your balance and control the horse all at the same time.  Every part of your body -- your heels, your lower legs, your upper legs, your core, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your head -- have to be able to move independently from one another, because each one means something different to the horse.  It's a carefully orchestrated dance that requires precise coordination and takes many, many years to perfect.

And of course, horses themselves take work, too.  If you lease or own a horse, riding isn't your only responsibility.  Horses need to be groomed, see the vet and farrier, and sometimes they need to be cared for during illnesses or injuries that make them unrideable.  They also require attention that has nothing to do with riding: bathing, blanketing, hand grazing and so on.

This all came up because the mom wanted her daughter to do a show this summer, and her instructor said she needs more riding time before she starts showing.  Ideally her instructor would even like the girl to eventually lease or buy a horse for riding, lessons, and showing.  Unfortunately, the mom has the daughter's schedule jam-packed with various summer camps (and extracurricular activities during the school year).  I can't imagine cramming in another ride or two a week, let alone the time it requires to lease or own a horse!  At some point soon, mom and daughter are going to have to sit down together and decide how seriously they are going to pursue riding, so that they both have realistic goals based on the time they are putting into it.

Does horse racing cause premature harm to horses?

I'll Have Another is retired with tendonitis at three years old. Is this fresh proof that the racing industry is inhumane?

Another blogger on the Horse Forum, Erika, recently posted on whether Thoroughbred racing is inhumane.  Ironically, less than two weeks later, I'll Have Another -- a three-year-old colt who has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness -- was retired due to a tendon injury.  It means that he won't be able to compete for the chance to win the Triple Crown, which he would have gotten if he'd won the Belmont Stakes, too.

I'm glad that his owner and trainer made the decision not to run him on an injury -- but I am also disgusted by the fact that this colt has tendonitis at age three.  The fact that these horses have to be "retired" before they are even out of adolescence, due to injuries -- shouldn't this be a sign that horse racing, at least the way the industry currently operates, is inhumane?

I think a great deal of the problem is that these horses are being worked -- and worked hard -- long before their bodies are mature.  In most other disciplines, a horse isn't even considered old enough to be backed until it is three -- any younger, and their bones aren't finished developing, which leads to injuries.  Horses that are started too young, even as leisure horses, can have debilitating joint problems later in life.

And here we are even talking about horses that are ridden gently -- or at least gently compared to pounding down a racecourse at a full gallop with a rider on their back.  And if you think about it, to be raced at two and three years old, as most career racehorses are, they must start their training far younger.  By the time they are running in big races like this, they have been working so hard since they were mere babies, that they really are physically ready for retirement.

But is it inhumane or abusive?  Yes, I think so -- on both counts.  A century ago we decided that it was inhumane to make small children work in factories.  Why is it any less humane to make young horses -- equally as undeveloped as those children -- work so hard that they are causing life-threatening damage to their bodies?

Is Thoroughbred racing inherently inhumane?

Over 1,200 race horses die at the track every year

There are some animal-related sports - or should I call them "pastimes" - which are inherently inhumane. For example, there is no way to make dog fighting a humane sport. The same goes for bear baiting. Many people would argue that sport fishing is inherently inhumane, even if it's done as catch-and-release, due to the trauma inflicted upon the fish.
 
Is the same true of thoroughbred racing?
 
There has been a lot of attention paid to this issue recently. An HBO show about thoroughbred racing decided to shut down production after its third horse had to be euthanized. It's hard not to see the irony: a show aimed at exposing the seamy underbelly of the racing trade couldn't help but fall victim to it. Even though the show operated under strict supervision, and worked closely with Humane Society agents, the tragedies happened.

What happened on the set of "Lucky" is one thing. It's just the tip of the iceberg. In the real world, thoroughbreds are dying left and right. They die because they are drugged (to hide the pain, to increase performance, to look undamaged) and they die because we have bred them to be unsupportably delicate.
 
Heavy, sturdy leg bones are a liability in a race horse. Dense bone slows the horse down, by fractions of a second. But a fraction of a second is all it takes to lose. So there is a war of escalation among thoroughbred breeders: who can breed the horse with the longest, flimsiest legs? And unsurprisingly, if you take a young animal with long flimsy legs and make it run at top speed, it will often stumble and fall. Its legs snap with the force of its running and the weight of its body. 
 
Eight Belles was only three years old when she stumbled at the end of a race and destroyed both of her front ankles. Her injuries were so severe that she couldn't be moved off the track, and was euthanized where she fell. Sportswriter Sally Jenkins wrote that "She ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles." The same is true of all race horses, simply because of the demands of human fashion.
 
And of course, the money. It's always about the money.
 
Over 1,200 race horses die at the track every year. As the California Racing Board's veterinarian said, "In humans you never see someone snap their leg off running in the Olympics. But you see it in horse racing."
 
So what do you think, thoroughbred racing: inhumane or not?
 

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