Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Benefits of Flaxseed Oil

My husband's horse, Ziggy, was a rescue. Not an official rescue from an organization. But we definitely rescued him. He was severely underweight and neither his feet nor his teeth had been taken care of in a very long time. He was kept alone in a barren pasture covered with softball sized rocks, no grass and a round bale that I wouldn't feed my goats. He was also covered in rain rot -- a skin condition that causes hair to fall out and skin to be dry and itchy. Once we took charge of him, he was put in much nicer surroundings with other horses, and had his feet and teeth taken care of. He was put on Neighlox for his stomach ulcers, fed a healthy diet with nice fresh hay and, over about nine months, regained a healthy weight. However, no matter what we did, we could not completely get rid of the rain rot.

We gave him Betadine baths every other day for several weeks and that helped. But as soon as we stopped bathing him, the rain rot would return. We tried special medicated shampoos, sprays and ointments. We even tried spraying him with diluted bleach to try and kill the virus/bacteria/fungus that causes rain rot (there are contradictory opinions). His skin and coat would sometimes improve briefly, but would soon be dry and patchy again. So, about half a year ago, I started looking into what kind of supplements we could give him that might improve his skin and coat. After sifting through a metric ton of information of varying degrees of helpfulness and reliability. I decided that flaxseed oil seemed like a good thing to try.

Flaxseed oil has most of the benefits of whole flaxseed without all of its drawbacks. Flaxseed is high in a number of essential fatty acids mainly Omega-3. It also has lots of lignans which are a good source of antioxidants. It is high in fiber and has other vitamins and minerals and such, but the Omega-3 fatty acids and the lignans are the two main benefits. The problem with whole flaxseed is that it is believed that most of the seeds will pass through the body without actually being digested. Whole flaxseeds can also cause digestive issues for some horses. And they can be difficult to eat for horses that have less than ideal teeth. Since Ziggy has both digestive issues and is missing several teeth, I decided that flaxseed oil, rather than whole flaxseed was the way to go.

I found flaxseed oil in the dietary supplements section of my local grocery store (HEB). It costs $24.99 for a 32 oz bottle, and it needs to be kept refrigerated. Foxfire and I started adding apx 3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil to Ziggy's evening grain every day. After a couple of weeks, the rain rot started disappearing. After a month, the rain rot was gone and Ziggy's coat was healthier and much shinier. Also, in the past couple of months, since the weather has gotten colder, he has actually grown a thicker winter coat which he has not done in previous years.

In addition to the obvious improvements to his skin and coat, Ziggy's hooves have also started looking better. They had been somewhat dry, with a tendency to develop small cracks. Now, they look healthier and don't have a single crack.

Another odd thing that happened was that mud didn't stick to Ziggy's coat as much. It used to be that when he got dirty, the dirt stayed on until Foxfire or I cleaned it off. Unlike Shadowfax, whom Foxfire referred to as the Teflon horse because of the way that dirt, once dried, would just fall off of him (I love my horse). After receiving flaxseed oil daily for over a month, Ziggy started shedding dirt as soon as it dried, just like Shadowfax. I had never read anything that suggested that flaxseed oil makes your horse easier to keep clean, but in my experience it does. Since the only thing that we changed in Ziggy's care was the addition of the flaxseed oil, it must be responsible for all of these changes.

Since we were giving the flaxseed oil to Ziggy, I'd gone ahead and given apx 1 tablespoon to Shadowfax each evening as well. Shadowfax is a very easy keeper and only gets a handful of grain for his evening meal, so 1 tablespoon of oil was all that we could add without making oil soup. As mentioned before, Shadowfax already had a very nice coat, but even his coat became shinier, softer and even more dirt resistant when we started giving him flaxseed oil.

So, if you are looking for a way to improve your horses skin, coat and hooves. Or simply a way to make them look shinier and stay cleaner, you might consider giving flaxseed oil a try. It is a bit of hassle to use because of needing to be kept refrigerated. And if you don't give your horse much grain, it might be difficult to add an effective amount of flaxseed oil to their dinner without making it an oily mess. But it was worth the extra effort to finally get rid of Ziggy's rain rot and give him a healthy, shiny coat and stronger hooves.


Just recently, I discovered a product that consists mainly of stabilized ground flaxseed, Omega Horseshine. (Currently available at TSC for $39.99) I decided to give it a try, as a way to avoid the mess and time consumption of using refrigerated flaxseed oil. Also, because it seems like it will be slightly cheaper to use. Hopefully, Ziggy will do just as well on this as he has done with flaxseed oil. I'm also giving Horseshine to Shadowfax and my three donkeys. One of my donkeys, Tesla, has not properly shed out the past two springs (no, he does not have Cushings), and another one, Marie, gets rain rot on her legs each spring. Hopefully, giving them Horseshine over the winter will prevent these problems. We'll see how it goes.

If any of you have used Omega Horseshine (or any similar product), I would love to hear what your results were.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Memory of a Special Day

As I was laying in bed listening to my husband play his new video game, a memory came to me. I don't know why.

It was the beginning of my first year of grad school and some of the younger grad students had decided to throw a “let's get to know each other party”. It happened to coincide with my birthday, and even though none of them really knew me yet, they were kind enough to buy a Boston cream pie and stick candles in it for me to blow out. At some point later in the party, one of the others came in from outside and urged the rest of us to come look at the sky. We all wandered outside to see what was going on.

It was chain lightning behaving in a most unusual manner. It wasn't raining and the lightening was far enough away not to be any threat, so we all sat on or leaned against cars and watched the light show.

I sat on someone's bumper drinking a glass of sweet, sort of vanilla tasting sherry, surrounded by potential friends, and watched the lightning dance from cloud to cloud, chasing itself through the sky. You would think that lightning would be loud and frightening, but for some reason there was no thunder, and I remember it being one of the most fascinating things I'd ever seen. It was very peaceful in a way. Reassuring sort of. Like watching children playing. With all of the chaos, there was still a sense of joy.

All that massive, potentially deadly energy performing a heavenly ballet just for me. For my birthday. It made me feel very special.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Lesson In Lunging

They say that you want your horse to be his best when you are practicing alone and do his worst when you are working with a trainer. That way the trainer can see where your problems are and you can learn more. Well... I learned a hell of a lot this past weekend. (Actually several weekends ago. I was very upset and unable to finish writing this post for a while. As you know, I am not the most emotionally resilient person.)

The Oracle was in town the weekend following my “breakthrough” with lunging Shadowfax. I was all excited thinking that I could show her and everyone else what I had discovered. HA! Shadowfax was very excited that day, and though he was very good about letting me halter him and lead him over to the lunging area, once we started lunging, he went into a flat out gallop and didn't pay any attention to me. I could stop him by shortening the lunge line until it was hard for him to run, but other than that, I had no control over him. Needless to say, neither The Oracle nor anyone else was impressed. In fact, I think they were scared I was going to get hurt. (This was only the second time that The Oracle had seen Shadowfax since I bought him. and he behaved just as badly the first time, in a lesson under saddle with Foxfire riding him. She must think I bought the worst horse ever.)

The Oracle stopped the lesson and sent me off with FuzzyPony to borrow a surcingle and side reins to see if that would allow me to control my horse better. By the time we got the surcingle and side reins on, another person had shown up for their lesson, so FuzzyPony worked with me and Shadowfax in another area of the arena. Shadowfax did fairly well with the side reins and surcingle. Though at this point, he was obviously too tired to run around like a mad horse anymore. Anyway, FuzzyPony watched me work with him for a while, then she stepped in and worked with him for while, then had me lunge him a bit more. By the end of the lesson, Shadowfax was covered in sweat and obviously exhausted, but he was listening to me... a little better than he usually does at home.

So... anyway... I learned a number of useful things:

1. Try, try, try not to be self-conscious and nervous in front of the trainer and your friends who are watching. Shadowfax was antsy and excitable to begin with, and even though I tried very hard to act calm, inside my nerves were jumping all over the place. Shadowfax probably picked up on that, and although it wasn't what made him act up (since he was excited before I even haltered him) it certainly didn't help to calm him down.

2. Don't let Shadowfax's excitement make me nervous.

3. Remember to just breathe. Deep relaxing breaths.

4. How to hold the whip when I'm not using it . Yay!!! (fold the string back along the stock and tuck the handle and end of the string under your armpit, letting the length of the whip hang down behind you and out of the way.)

5. Why holding the horse between your hands is the best position to lunge in, not the way that I “discovered” the other day.
a. you have more control over the horse
b. in a way it's closer to actually riding the horse – your lunge line hand is like holding the reins and your whip hand is like your seat and legs
c. it's easier to get the horse to collect when holding him in that position
d. when you learn more, you can make them side-pass and do other things while lunging

6. Point the whip at his middle ribs, not his shoulder to push him out, basically where your leg would hang if you were riding him.

7. The proper way to make him stop. (Which doesn't really work with him, because when he sees me stepping to the side to try and get the whip ahead of him, he speeds up. Getting that right is going to take a lot of work. Though he usually does stop when I simply say, “Ho”.)

8. Why you need a surcingle and side reins. (They give you more control over the horse. I love Shadowfax dearly, but he is a very large horse who can behave unpredictably.)

9. How to use a surcingle and side reins. (Though I definitely need more help with this. FuzzyPony very kindly gave me her old surcingle to use and I bought myself some side reins. Unfortunately, the side reins seem to be too short and so I haven't been able to use them. I need someone to come over and help me figure out how to make them the proper length.)

10. Shadowfax and I are both weaker going clockwise.

11. Sometimes a horse has just got to run.

12. Not to be embarrassed when your horse acts badly. Trust that your trainer and your friends know that you are not as incompetent as you seem. (Though I am still embarrassed.)

13. How much I have yet to learn, even with something as “simple” as lunging.

BTW, I have lunged Shadowfax several times since then, and he has NEVER behaved that badly again. He is a rather moody horse, and some days, he wants to run and I have to hold him back, but more frequently, he does NOT want to run, and I have to work to get him to go. But though I may occasionally have to repeat my commands to him several times, he has never completely blown me off the way he did in front of The Oracle and my friends.

And that wasn't the first time he's misbehaved in front of others. As I mentioned before, when Foxfire rode him in a lesson with The Oracle, he kept disobeying Foxfire's cues and even bucked a little bit. And another time, during a jousting workshop, I offered to let a very experienced jouster to ride him. Shadowfax bucked so badly, that the jouster decided he wasn't safe. I knew Shadowfax wasn't perfect when I bought him. But is it too much to ask that he, at least once, allow The Oracle and my friends to see how wonderful he can be when he behaves? Which he does, most of the time, honestly. Sigh...

To end on a more positive note: After my most recent lunging session, I continued to work with Shadowfax on bowing, and it seems like he's finally figured out what I want him to do. I no longer have to use the carrot to lead his head down, then between his legs. I can just say, “bow down” and he extends his left front leg, tucks his right front leg under him and lowers his head between his legs. It's not the most graceful bow, and we still need to work on standing still until I give the command and standing still after he gets his reward, but it is definite progress.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Training is a two way street

I was lunging Shadowfax earlier today, and I made an interesting discovery. Normally, when I lunge, I face towards Shadowfax with the lunge line in my leading hand and the lunge whip in my following hand. I generally hold the whip at about waist height pointed at his rear unless he starts circling in too close, when I point it as his shoulder and say, "out".

But today, Shadowfax was just meandering along at the walk, and I was trying to get a bit more energy out of him when somehow I ended up with my body perpendicular to Shadowfax facing the way we were turning and my whip hand pointed sideways with the whip at about chest height pointed as his rear. He suddenly started walking more energetically. I "corrected" my position. He slowed back to meander. And I had an AHA! moment.

I deliberately turn my body perpendicular and hold the whip out to the side at chest height. Shadowfax walks more energetically. I maintain the same position, but slow down my rotation. Shadowfax slows down. I speed up my rotation. Shadowfax Speeds up. I speed up more. Shadowfax goes into a trot. I slow down. Shadowfax drops back to a walk. THIS IS SO COOL!!! I'm not saying anything, not giving any cues other than my body position and rotation and he is doing what I want him to do. I slow down, turn to face him, stop rotating and lower my whip hand to my side letting the end of the whip drop down almost to the ground. He slows down and almost stops, but doesn't quite. So I softly say, "Ho". And he stops.

I have learned a new and better way to communicate with Shadowfax while I'm lunging him. I am so excited. I go up and pet him, switch the lunge line to the other side of his halter and start him walking the other direction. I assume my new position. Sadly, it doesn't work quite as well going clockwise. Probably because I am right handed and have a little trouble holding the whip in my left hand. It still works better than my old position. He has a more energetic walk and responds more promptly to my cues. Interesting.

Apparently, training is a two way street. I am training Shadowfax to walk, trot and canter on cue, but he has just successfully trained me to stand and move the way that he wants me to. Obviously, I still need to work on my clockwise position and movement. I'm sure he will let me know when I get it right. :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First I can't get him to canter, now I can't get him to stop

Actually, I could get him to stop. I just shortened the lunge line and firmly stated, "HO". I just couldn't get him to properly transition downwards into a trot.

To start at the beginning... I lunged Shadowfax again yesterday evening. He did fine going counterclockwise, which is the direction we usually begin because it's easier for me to hold the lunge line in my left hand and the lunge whip in my right. (Should we sometimes go clockwise first? Or is it okay to always start in the same direction?) After we'd switched directions and were going clockwise, he transitioned nicely up into a canter, but when I tried to slow him to trot, he wouldn't slow down. There were no fireworks or anything, he just kept cantering. Considering that up until now, my main problem lunging him has been getting him to canter, I wasn't expecting to have trouble slowing him down to trot.

My usual method of getting a downward transition is to say in a low and slow voice, "...and...trot..." or "...and...walk...". He usually transitions downward before I finish saying, "and". (To get upward transitions, I speak faster and with an upward inflection, "and trot!" or "and canter!". I usually have to repeat a couple of times.) Since, in the past, I had trouble getting him to canter, I decided to let him keep cantering for a while. When I thought it looked like he was getting tired, I tried to slow him down again. He still wouldn't slow. I couldn't let him get away with ignoring me again, so, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I shortened the lunge line and said "HO" and he stopped quite easily.

Once he stopped, I made him stay at a walk for a while in the same direction. Then I switched directions and did walk, trot, canter, trot, walk in the other direction. He did fine. I switched back to the clockwise direction, but since he was pretty sweaty and breathing a bit heavy, all I did was walk him. He walked quite calmly, and when I said "HO", he stopped within two steps which is pretty good for him. I went up and petted him and gave him a carrot stick.

After switching to a lead line, I tried to get him to bow, but he seemed to have forgotten how. Despite the fact that he had done it quite well the day before. Oh well... I finally got something close to what I wanted and so I gave him a carrot stick. I led him back to the paddock gate where Ziggy had been standing and watching us and turned him loose.

I chained the paddock gate in the open position and walked toward the backyard gate. Of course, Ziggy, Shadowfax and the donkeys all followed me. I gave each of them a carrot stick and a pat. And this time, Shadowfax was a little better about waiting his turn. He is learning.

I am going to try to be more regular about lunging Shadowfax and doing other work with him, he definitely benefits from consistency. (Doesn't everyone?) But we'll have to see how it goes. Shadowfax is a very sensitive horse. He can tell when I'm in a bad mood and it makes him nervous. I'm pretty sure that that is one of the main reasons he threw me. I was having a pretty bad day that day. I let my emotional turmoil affect my riding, which led to me being a lot more aggressive in my cues than I normally am. It made him nervous and he acted out. I will have to make sure that I can be calm when working with him, and know that on days when my anxiety is really acting up, that it is probably better to just stay away from him. I learned that bit of knowledge the hard way. But hopefully, now that I have learned that lesson, I will do better, and Shadowfax and I will work well together.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lunging Shadowfax for the first time after a long break

With one thing and another and a flood on top of it all, I haven't lunged Shadowfax in a very long time. I've been working with him a little on ground manners, but I haven't done any serious work with him for months. Finally, things have calmed down a bit. And yesterday, Foxfire and I finished the paddock gate so that I can lock everyone but Shadowfax in the paddock, making it easy for me to lunge Shadowfax in the pasture. So... I decided to lunge Shadowfax this evening while waiting for Foxfire to get home from work. It actually went a bit better than I thought it would.

Shadowfax generally did what I told him to, though I usually had to ask him several times. I had to wave the whip at him a fair number of times, and a couple of times, I had to touch him with the whip, but there were no major fireworks and at times, he actually seemed to be enjoying the workout.

I hadn't planned to do more than walk and trot, since when I first starting lunging him, the major problems came when asking him to canter. But while I was trotting him, his ears pricked and he spontaneously went into a happy little canter. Since I usually have trouble getting him to canter, I didn't slow him down, I just started saying, "canter" instead of trot. Since he transitioned upward on his own, and I let him get away with it, I was NOT going to let him transition downward on his own, so when he tried to slow back to a trot, I said, "canter" even more firmly and waved the whip at his rear. He kept in canter, though he did kick out a bit in exasperation. I made him keep cantering for a couple of circles, then told him to trot. He willingly slowed to trot.

After the first series of walk trot canter, I switched directions and made him go the other way. I had some trouble getting him to go out and keep walking. He either wanted to just walk in very small circles around me or go into a trot farther out. We eventually got things straightened out. He did try to stop on his own a few times. He is very out of shape. And I had to chase after him to keep him going. But we managed to do walk trot canter in both directions twice.

After that, he was somewhat sweaty and he was breathing a bit heavy, so I decided that that was enough for today, even though we really hadn't been going that long. (I need to get a stopwatch or something that I can hang around my neck and time our sessions.) I walked him back over to the trailer practicing "Ho" a few times on the way. He has gotten much better about stopping, but it is something that still needs a little work. I switched from the lunge line to a lead and just walked him around the pasture a little till his breathing got back to normal. I've been teaching him to bow for a treat, so I asked him to bow once and he did it very well, so he got his treat. I walked him back to the paddock gate, then I turned him loose and opened the paddock gate to let everyone out.

Ziggy and the donkeys were waiting at the gate and immediately came up to Shadowfax and me to find out what was going on. And as I walked to the backyard gate, they all followed me. I gave them each a treat and a pat before going inside. Shadowfax still gets rather excited about treats, but he is learning to let the others have their treats, and that if he behaves, he will get one too. He still needs work, but he's not nearly as pushy as he used to be.

Anyway, even though he was far from perfect, I think he did a pretty good job of lunging considering how long it's been since he's had any practice. He may have his issues, but he's a good horse, and I'm still very glad that I bought him.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Donkeys at play

I look out the window and see that Kanny and Tesla are chasing each other around the pasture. I love watching them play. Kanny will chase Tesla for a while, then Tesla will chase Kanny. They don't seem to care who chases who as long as it's an excuse to run. Kanny has a very funny little canter. It's more like a rabbit hopping than a normal canter. His front legs move together and his back legs move together. He doesn't always move that way, he can canter normally, I think he does it just because its fun. Silly donkey.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shadowfax has a mild colic episode

This morning when Foxfire went out to give the horses their morning grain, Shadowfax didn't come to his stall as usual. That was strange to begin with. Then even when Foxfire led him to his stall, he showed no interest in his grain. That was just unheard of. Shadowfax loves food, any food, especially his grain. At meal times, he follows us from the backyard gate to his stall, making hmmm hmmm hmmm sounds. And as soon as we've dumped the grain in his bucket and given him permission to come eat, he dives in very enthusiastically. He has to wait to get permission, because when we first got him, he was a bit pushy about food and we had to teach him manners.

Anyway, for him not to immediately dive into his feed meant that there was something wrong. Foxfire came in and woke me up and said I should come check on Shadowfax. When I made it to the pasture, poor Shadowfax was just standing in his stall looking extremely apathetic and lethargic. He is normally very alert and curious about everything going on, but not this morning. He barely even reacted to my voice and my touch. I put my head up against his stomach and listened for gut sounds. There were some very faint sounds, but not his usual noisy gurgling that you can hear just standing next to him. We decided that he was probably colicing.

Foxfire had to get to work, so I called Dr A's answering service (It was about 20 minutes before her office opened)and waited for her to call back. At 8:05, I still hadn't heard from her, so I called her office. This time her normal receptionist answered and we discussed Shadowfax's symptoms. As we were talking, Shadowfax actually started looking better. He started looking around, then moving around a little, then wandered over to where Ziggy was and started to graze. TR said not to let him graze if he hadn't pooped, so I went over, haltered him and led him back into his stall. Since Shadowfax wasn't in obvious distress, Dr A said she couldn't make it over until 11am. But that if he started showing signs of distress to call her back.

Shadowfax kept getting better and better. And as he felt better, he got more and more frustrated about being kept in his stall. We normally only put our horses into their stalls at feeding time. So for him to be in his stall and not be eating confused and annoyed him. However, aside from looking aggrieved, he was looking pretty much back to normal. But he still hadn't pooped. And when I listened to his stomach, his gut sounds were still VERY faint.

I did some work in the yard while I kept an eye on him. Then eventually went inside to get something to drink and to sit down. I checked on him every 15 minutes to make sure he was still alright and to look for poop. About 10 minutes after Dr A's receptionist called to say that Dr A was on the way, Shadowfax pooped. It wasn't a very big poop and it was rather loose, but it was poop and that was a good sign.

Dr A arrived, looked at his poop, listened to his gut sounds and decided that she still wanted to tube him and give him some oil to help clean out any problems he might still have in his digestive tract. Poor Shadowfax did not understand what was being done to him at all and he acted pretty scared. He actually stopped breathing for a while when they first put the tube down his nostril, then finally he had to take a huge breath. After that, he relaxed slightly and behaved well for the rest of the procedure. I'm pretty sure he'd never been tubed before since both his previous owners said that he had never coliced. It's no wonder he freaked out a little.

Anyway, Dr A said to let Shadowfax out of his stall after Ziggy and the donkeys finished eating the fresh hay that I'd thrown out for them. (They'd finished off our round bale and we weren't getting another one delivered until the next day.) And that it was okay for him to graze the grass. But to not give him any grain for dinner, just a flake of hay or preferably, alfalfa. Tomorrow morning he gets half of his usual grain and he can eat hay and graze and then tomorrow evening he can resume his normal feeding schedule.

Shadowfax was quite happy to get out of his stall when I finally let him out. He went over to where the herd was grazing and joined them. He was completely back to his usual alert self. But I did keep going out to check on him fairly regularly. I can see him out the window now, grazing with the donkeys. I am so relieved that it was such a minor episode and that he got over it so quickly. I don't know what caused it. I wonder if the flood washed something bad into our pasture that he ate and if that was what caused the problem. We did clean the pasture of debris as thoroughly as possible before letting the horses back onto it, but we could have missed something. However, none of the other equines seem to have had any problems. I suppose it could be just one of those things. It is colic season. Anyway, it seems to be over now, and Shadowfax seems fine. So that's good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

US Marshals interrupt dressage warm up during WEG 2010 to serve notice of deposition to Sjef Janssen regarding $500,000 fraud case

Well-known dressage trainer Sjef Janssen was found liable for fraud to the tune of $500,000 in a civil suit back in 2001, but apparently he never paid his fines. During WEG 2010, he was served a notice of deposition by US Marshals, but was not actually detained. The court documents for this lawsuit, Neal v Janssen , are easily found online.

If you don't feel like reading through the legal-eze, here's a summary of the fraud case:

In 1997, Sjef Janssen agreed to act as agent (for a 10% commission) in selling a very expensive dressage horse named "Aristocrat" that was located in the Netherlands, but owned by the Neals of Tennesee. The Neals wanted to sell Aristocrat for $500,000. In 1998, Janssen said that the Neals were asking too much for the horse and that he would forgo his commission if they would sell the horse to a buyer he found who was willing to pay $312,000. The Neals eventually agreed to sell for $312,000. The Neals later found out that Janssen actually sold the horse for $480,000. They sued him in civil court (that Janssen refused to appear at) and won $250,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, totaling $500,000. He appealed the case on the basis that since he is a foreign national and never lived in Tennessee, the Neals didn't have the right to sue him. The Sixth circuit court of appeals rejected Janssen's appeal on the grounds that he travels world wide and did own a house in Florida during the time the fraud took place. Thus the case was decided in favor of the Neals in October 2001.

“defendant appears to be well traveled throughout the world, including the United States, where he once owned a house in Florida. It seems apparent that defendant offered no defense not because of any undue hardship but rather because he had no valid defense on the merits. His effort to stand on the defense of no jurisdiction must be rejected.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court.”
-- 2001 FED App. 0379P (6th Cir.), File Name: 01a0379p.06, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT ( )

In September of 2010, the Neals filed another civil suit with the Kentucky Eastern District Court. I imagine they filed in Kentucky because of WEG 2010 being held there. They must have rightly assumed that Janssen would appear at the games. I presume this more recent suit is what led to the marshals' actions during WEG 2010, since I believe that Janssen has been in the US several times since the original suit.

Apparently, almost 10 years later, Janssen still hasn't paid the judgment given by the court. And no one, outside of a few blog and forum posts, is saying anything about it. Why not? It's quite easy to find the legal documents about the case. In addition to the link given above, here are some other links that I've found with court documents about the case.

However, outside of the actual court documents, it is very hard to find any information about this lawsuit and Sjef Janssen's failure to comply with the ruling of the court. Also, I originally couldn't find any information, outside of a blog post by Camera Obsura, about US marshals having to interrupt what is the equivalent of the horse olympics to serve notice to the Dutch dressage team trainer. When I asked the author of Camera Obscura about her sources, she gave me some information that led me to a an article by Astrid Appels published on that briefly mentions US marshals interrupting a WEG 2010 dressage warm up to depose “a famous dressage trainer” who was in the warm up arena.

“Tyrone Neal ... told me a story about a famous dressage trainer who was deposed by U.S. Marshalls on Wednesday at the warm up area (confirmed by witnesses), as he still ows[sic] the Neal family a substantial amount of money. Justice will prevail. (for detailed info check out the replies of "Rat King" on the Chronicle forum) “ --

If you follow the link to the Chronicle of the Horse forum, you discover that the forum is discussing the Neal v Janssen fraud and breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit. Rat King gives the following information:

“He has not paid any of the $500,000 judgment which was first rendered by the Federal 9th District court, then upheld by the 6th Circuit, the second highest court in the US. The US Marshals did not depose him but rather delivered a Notice of Deposition, Request for Production of Documents and Interrogatories, as well as collect any cash, jewelry, personal property on his person. Today, the amount of monies owed is in excess of $900,000 given 10 years of interest. He was deposed the following day in Lexington. His home in FL was transfered to his then-girlfriend (with whom he has a child) one day before the emergency order was registered in FL in the year 2000. “ --

I sent a message to Rat King on October 11, asking where he got his information, but haven't received a reply yet. Since the writer of the article mentions talking with Tyrone Neal, brother to one of the plaintiffs in the fraud case, right before giving the link to the Rat King post, I can't help but wonder if Rat King is Tyrone Neal.

Other than the above sources, I did find a few mentions of Sjef Janssen's fraud case in various online horse forums, and I also found a website for Equine Legal Solutions that mentions Janssen's fraud case in a post about:

Secret Profit-Taking: The Truth about Horse Sale Commissions

However, I cannot find any online NEWS articles about the Neal v Janssen fraud case. Not one. Not even in online dressage journals. (Even the article doesn't mention Janssen's name. Of course, considering Astrid Appels' lawsuit history with Sjef Janssen and Anky van Grunsven, I suppose her reticence is not surprising.) And other than the very brief and nameless mention of the incident in the article, I couldn't find any mention of the fact that US Marshals had to interrupt a dressage warm up during WEG 2010 to serve a notice of deposition to Dutch dressage team trainer Sjef Jannsen.

So... why has no other journalist reported on this Sjef Janssen fraud case and the, admittedly minor but still noteworthy, disruption it caused at WEG 2010? He is such a popular and controversial figure in the dressage world. Articles, both positive and negative, are written about him all the time. You would think that some professional journalist would want to report on Janssen being found liable for fraud to the the tune of $500,000. Even if $500,000 doesn't mean much to the ultra wealthy who inhabit the upper echelons of the dressage world, it still shows the dishonesty (and disregard for the US legal system) of someone that many people consider a “leading figure” in dressage. And it's not like the fraud case is unrelated to Janssen's work in dressage. It's about misrepresenting the sale price of a dressage horse. Where is the journalistic interest in this act of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty on the part of one of the most talked about individuals in the dressage world?

I suppose the professional journalists are all scared of being sued. Whatever happened to freedom of the press?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Flood Aftermath Part 3: Clean up

I am waaay behind in posting about the flood. I got too busy actually doing stuff to post about it. Anyway...

We had so many downed trees and tangles of vines and fence debris and all sorts of other flood debris along the south side of our property that we hired our hay guy to come out with his bobcat and help us clean stuff up on the Saturday after the flood.

You can see the beginning of what turned out to be a HUGE burn pile as well as some of the bent and twisted fence panels in the foreground.

But even with the bobcat to do the heavy lifting, there was still a lot of work that had to be done by hand.

Fortunately, Foxfire's dad came over to help us out. And our hay guy brought an assistant.

We also had to take down all the fencing that was damaged, but not completely washed away.

Foxfire taking down the part of the orchard fence that was damaged.

On Sunday, Foxfire's father and his sister's fiance, Mac, came out to help us continue cleaning things up. While taking a break Mac found some fossilized shells in a somewhat rocky area of our pasture. Sadly, I did not think to take pictures of them.

After the first weekend, I was feeling healthier and so I started helping out again with the cleanup. Basically, every day, while Foxfire was at work, I would go out and sort usable fence panels and t-posts from the unusable ones, and clean up smaller debris. I also looked at the creek and the land alongside it and made plans for where we wanted our new fence line and gates to go. When Foxfire got home from work, we would both go out and finish demolishing the damaged fences and cleaning up the heavier debris. On a couple of evenings, friends of Foxfire came by and helped us work up until it got too dark to see. By the next weekend, there was still some cleanup that needed to be done along the creek, but the fence lines were clear and we were ready to start re-building.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

PRE Andalusian, Fuego XII, does very well at WEG 2010

Since I got Shadowfax, who is an Andalusian, though not PRE due to being 1/32 Lusitano, I've been paying more attention to Andalusians in the news and such. I was very happy to see that a PRE Andalusian did very well in dressage at the World Equestrian Games 2010(WEG 2010). Fuego XII ridden by Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz of Spain placed 5th overall in the dressage freestyle. He placed 4th in the individual Grand Prix Special and had the 5th highest score in the team dressage competition. Below are videos of his performances:

Freestyle: Fuego XII and Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz was one of only two performance teams to receive a standing ovation in the dressage freestyle. The cheers and screams were so loud at the end of the performance that this very experienced horse was actually spooked into a short bolt. You can't really hear the crowd reaction on the video I've posted below, but on other videos (recorded by people in the audience and not as good visually), you can hear the crowd clapping along with the music and cheering him on during the performance, and then the thunderous roar of approval at the end. In online news articles, they report that when his score of 81.45 was announced, the crowd boo'd their disapproval of such a low score, especially since one of the judges' scores was SIGNIFICANTLY lower than all of the others. (According to the official FEI Altech results page, the judge at B, Maribel Alonso of Mexico, gave him a 71.5 and 82 and placed him 8th.) The scoring was VERY uneven and the crowd was not happy. It apparently took some time for the boo'ing to die down.

Fuego XII and JMMD Freestyle Dressage WEG 2010

Diaz and Fuego's freestyle scores:
Judge At E: 76 tech, 89 Art, 165 total, 5th place
Judge at H: 80 tech, 88 art, 168 total, 4th place
Judge at C: 80 tech, 86 art, 166 total, 5th place
Judge at M: 75 tech, 87 art, 162 total, 4th place
Judge at B: 71.5 tech, 82 art, 153.5 total, 8th place
Overall score: 81.450

Individual Grand Prix Special: Fuego XII and JMMD won 4th with a score of 76.042. (Is that Russian the commentator is speaking?)

Fuego XII and JMMD Individual Grand Prix Special WEG 2010

Team Dressage: Fuego XII and JMMD had the 5th highest individual score of 73.957.

Fuego XII and JMMD Team Dressage WEG 2010

An American, Steffan Peters on Ravel(Dutch Warmblood), won bronze in both Individual Grand Prix Special and Freestyle. Theirs was the one other freestyle performance to receive a standing ovation and earned an overall score of 84.90. NBC showed highlights of this week of WEG and Ravel and Peters freestyle was one of four performances shown(the top four finishers). The tv commentators were very impressed with how complex the routine was and how well it was performed. Sadly, I can't find a good video of this performance online. Maybe one will show up later. I did find this video of Ravel and Peters performance recorded by someone at the games. It's not very good, but it will give you some idea of how it went.

Ravel and Steffen Peters Freestyle Dressage WEG 2010

Edward Gal on Moorlands Totilas won first in the Freestyle with a score of 91.80, despite Totilas breaking into a canter in the middle of a section of extended trot. And Laura Bectholscheimer on Mistral Hojris won second in the freestyle with a score of 85.35, despite having some very obvious problems in the piaffe. I'm far from expert, but I think it would be nice for the horses and riders who had equally difficult routines and who performed without blatantly obvious mistakes to score higher than the ones who did make extremely noticeable mistakes. Even the tv commentators and several online journalists commented on the fact that the scores did not seem to accurately reflect the performances given. And of course, there was the audience boo'ing of the score for Fuego XII. To borrow a line from 00Jumper commenting on Fuego XII's perfomance on the Chronicle of the Horse forum,
There was harmony! There was passion! There was fun!
And then . . . there was politics.

I'm not saying that Fuego should have won. I'll admit that his technique isn't as good as Totilas'. But I do believe that he should have scored higher. I've only been riding dressage a few years and know just enough to know how much I don't know. But based on the little I do know and, of course, on my own feelings and reactions to the rides, I think that Totilas and Gal, though they did have inflated scores (especially for artistry) still deserved first place, mainly for extremely strong technique. Ravel and Peters should have gotten second for their combination of cleanly presented technical complexity and smoothly delivered artistic performance. Fuego and Diaz, whose scores were deflated by Judge B's overly low scoring, should have gotten third for their explosion of artistry and showmanship combined with solid, though not brilliant, technique.

No, I don't think that Freestyle dressage should be all about flash and showmanship at the expense of technique. But the artistic score is there for a reason. It should be used appropriately, as a score that is completely separate from the technical score.

Yes, Totilas has great technique and should get high scores for it, but his artistry is somewhat lacking. And an obvious mistake such as going into a canter in the middle of a section of extended trot should have definitely brought his artistic score down for breaking up the flow of the performance. I personally think it should have brought his technical score down also, but apparently, it is accepted for judges to overlook such mistakes as far as technique is concerned.

And okay, Fuego's technique isn't the greatest, but his artistry almost brought down the stadium. He should get points for that. Yes, artistry is a somewhat subjective thing to judge, but it appears that most people who actually saw the performance believed that Fuego's artistic performance was better than anyone else's that evening. His artistic scores should have been higher. If the dressage world isn't willing to reward artistic performance as something separate from technique, they should just get rid of the artistic score altogether and admit that they are only interested in technique.

Oh well... On to other matters. Sadly, all the horses had their heads held behind the vertical throughout most if not all of their performances. Though some weren't quite as bad as others. At least the event judges did disqualify a couple of riders whose horses had blood dripping from their mouths during other dressage performances. I suppose that's progress of a sort.

If you have Time Warner Cable, you can watch the remainder of WEG 2010 on the Universal Sports Channel. If you have Dish or DirectTV, you only get 2 hours of WEG 2010 highlights on NBC next Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm.

UPDATE: I just discovered that you can watch all of the freestyle dressage performances online at

The top five horses all perform in Part 3(last). Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris perform first. Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz and Fuego XII perform second, and their performance starts at the 12:25 minute mark. Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas perform third, and their performance starts at the 23 minute mark. Steffen Peters and Ravel perform fourth, and their performance starts at the 35 minute mark. Imke Shellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise perform last, and their performance starts at the 47 minute mark.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Turn your butt around and I'll smack it for you

I swear my horse can understand human speech. Of course he chooses when he wants to understand you, but when it benefits him, he is quite willing to do what you say.

The other day...(Actually it was over a month ago, but I just now thought to write a post about it. I wanted to write something more upbeat than just going on and on about the flood.) Anyway, I was in the backyard feeding the chickens and I noticed Shadowfax, who was in the pasture just the other side of the fence, behaving a little strangely. He kept twisting his neck around and biting at his butt. I looked closer and there was this beetle (not a fly, a beetle, weird) that kept landing on his butt just where he couldn't reach it. Shadowfax is actually very flexible and there aren't many parts of his body that he can't reach, but the area just above the base of his tail is one of them. I walked up to the fence and said,"Turn your butt around and I'll smack it for you." I really didn't expect him to do what I said, but he did. He turned so that his butt was facing the fence.

I tried to reach over the fence to smack the bug, but it was just out of reach. So I said,"I can't reach it from here, I'm going to have to go out the gate" and turned to walk to the west garden gate. He turned and trotted over to gate, getting there before I could. (Of course, he probably saw me turn and walk toward the gate, so it's not too surprising that he knew to go to the gate, but still...) I opened the gate and stepped out into the pasture. The flying beetle was still hovering around Shadowfax's butt. I said,"Hold still, I'll get it". And even when the beetle landed and started crawling around on his butt, he didn't move. I smacked the bug, and he still didn't move even though I had just smacked his butt. I flicked the remains of the bug off of his butt, stepped back, and said,"All done. It's dead." He turned his head and whiffled at me. I rubbed his face and said,"You're welcome." then went back into the backyard since I was wearing my gardening clogs and don't hang around with the horses unless I'm wearing boots. He whiffled at me again, then wandered off to graze.

I love my horse.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flood Aftermath Part 2: Tangles of Debris, Downed Trees and Broken Bridges

The flood left frightening tangles of debris along the southern edge of our property. It knocked over several trees and ripped a bunch of branches off of others. It also washed away part of the bridge that's at the southwest corner of our property, and left pieces of asphalt spread over our land. And as I was wandering around taking pictures of the damage, I noticed one piece of debris upstream from the bridge that I am very glad didn't make it down to our property.

A bunch of broken branches and a few whole trees washed downstream onto our land.

Part of someone else's welded wire fence and some fence posts got swept off of their property and onto ours.

Part of our fence, I think, that ended up further downstream on our property.

The flood waters were powerful enough to knock over several of the trees along the creek. Some trees weren't completely knocked down, but seem to be permanently bent over.

A small tree on the other side of the creek that was knocked down.

A couple of larger trees on our side of the creek that were knocked down. It looks like the flood just washed the land right out from under them. So... not only did the flood wash away our fence, it also washed away part of our "property".

These trees seem to still be alive, but even days later, they have not straightened up. I don't know if they ever will.

The flood also damaged the bridge at the southwest corner of our property. It is the only way into and out of the the back half of the neighborhood we live in. We're on the side that can still get in and out, but many of our neighbors were stranded for the duration of the flood.

You can see how many layers of black top were washed off of the the surface of the bridge on the upstream side.

Several large pieces of asphalt that the county so kindly left on our property even after they came out and "fixed" the bridge.

More pieces of asphalt spread along the corner of our property that we don't use because of the frequent flooding of that area.

The bridge was really badly designed. It's basically a solid dam of concrete with one large hole and three small holes for the water to go through. As long as there is not a heavy rain, it works well enough. But every time it rains heavily, the holes are simply not big enough to let all that water through. And then of course the holes get clogged with the debris that the flood is carrying and there is no where for the water to go except up over the bridge. AND onto our property. (The bank on the other side of the creek is much higher on the upstream side of the bridge, so all the water and debris comes onto our side of the creek.) If the bridge had been built properly and not like a glorified low water crossing, that corner of our property (which is NOT part of our pasture for obvious reasons) would not flood so often.

Admittedly this particular flood was not caused by the badly designed bridge. (Though I'm sure it exacerbated the problem.) This flood was caused by a combination of getting 12" of rain in 24 hours and the fact that the city and county have not been planning for drainage with all the new construction that they've been putting up all around us.

There is one positive note. At least this piece of flood debris did not make it downstream far enough to affect us.

Look closesly. See that large green cylinder. That's a forty foot(or so) silo that the flood knocked over. (BTW, that little trickle of water in the foreground is not the main creek. It's usually just a dry wash (natural ditch) leading to the creek.

I don't know where the silo originally came from, and who knows what will happen to it with the next flood, but hopefully, it will never make it past the bridge. Or maybe it will take out the bridge (without damaging our property) and then the county will finally have to build a proper bridge.

Any way, that's all for now. I know that I am about a week and a half behind on posting about the aftermath of the flood, but Foxfire and I have been spending almost every waking moment working to clear the debris and damaged fencing and then to re-build everything that was damaged or destroyed. My next post will probably begin describing the clean up and debris removal.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adventures in Dehydration

Even before the flood on Tuesday night, I'd been feeling run down and sick. I kept putting off going to the doctor in the hope that it would just go away on its own. But I kept feeling worse and worse. Finally, Friday morning Foxfire flat out told me to call and make an appointment with Dr. M. It's a good thing he did. When I got to the Dr's office that afternoon, he took one look at me and said that I looked dehydrated, he did a quick evaluation and determined that I probably had an upper respiratory infection, one of the ones that dehydrate you as your body tries to fight it. And the fact that I'd been working outside in the heat to try and clear away storm damage had just exacerbated the problem. He had the nurse try to take some blood to determine exactly what the infection was, but I was so dehydrated that she couldn't get the needle into my vein. Apparently, when you are severely dehydrated, your blood vessels contract or something. At that point, Dr. M told me that they needed to get fluids in me NOW! They had already given me a bottle of water which I had been drinking, but my poor body apparently required more drastic measures. He had me lay down on the examining table and hooked me up to an IV. They pumped two whole bags of IV fluids into me.

As they pumped the fluids into me, I started shaking and shivering so badly that my teeth were chattering and I could barely talk. The office temp was set at 69 degrees (they told me when I said that I was cold) and the fluids were also 69 degrees (since they were kept at room temperature), so as they went into my bloodstream they chilled me internally as well. It was absolutely miserable. After only about 15 minutes, my poor muscles were so tired from the violent shivering, they started cramping. And every time my arm twitched, the IV needle hurt a little more. They piled three blankets on me, turned off the AC and opened the window to let hot Texas air in, but I kept shivering and shaking until there were no more cold fluids going in me. It took about 45 more minutes.

Even after the IV was done, they had me stay in the room for a while so they could keep an eye on me and make sure I was well enough to drive home. Dr. M told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to do any strenuous work for the next several days. That I could go outside and supervise the clean up and repair, but that I would have to come inside every hour for about 15 minutes and drink a glass of water. If I didn't take proper care of myself as my body fought off this infection, I might end up having to go to the hospital. I HATE hospitals. So, as frustrating as it will be to watch everyone else work and not be able to help. I will obey my Dr. and be a lazy bum. Foxfire will be keeping an eye on me to make sure I follow instructions.

It's not that I particularly liked doing all the work to try and clean up the flood damage. The work that I've done so far has my muscles aching and I'm covered in bruises. It's just that since I can't hold down a job, and there are so many normal things that I can't do because of my anxiety/depression/sleep disorder, that when there is something that I can do, I get a real sense of accomplishment out of doing it. Friday morning, before going to the Dr. I had been working to clear the flood wrack and several very large, very heavy pieces of fencing off of two of my rose bushes that had been buried underneath debris during the flood. It was hard work, especially trying to move the large panels of fencing without damaging the poor roses any more than they had already been damaged. When I finally got the rose bushes clear and saw some of their branches beginning to straighten up and look like they were going to survive, it was a very gratifying feeling.

Later today as friends and family come help us fix things up, it's going to be hard watching everyone else work and feeling, yet again, that I'm not a contributing member of the human race.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Flood Aftermath Part 1: Fences and Pump House

The morning after the flood, Foxfire and I looked at how badly our fence was damaged and decided that it was going to take far more than a day to fix it. Since we couldn't leave the horses in their stalls, and the donkeys and goats in the very small goat pen for that long, the first thing we needed to do was create a larger paddock for everyone. Because of the way our barn, backyard and pasture are laid out, the quickest easiest thing to do was to build a fence between the corner of our backyard and the corner of the barn closing off the corner of the pasture that was the least flooded. In order to get it done in one day, we knew we would need help. I called our trusty hay guy and Foxfire called his sister, Auddie. Our hay guy couldn't come himself, but he sent one of his assistants JT to help us. And Auddie showed up as well.

Since this was the third time in four years that our pasture had flooded and part of our fence went down, we decided that having a permanent paddock in the least likely to flood area was a good idea. It would also make it easier to keep the equines and goats that weren't being worked with out of the way when we were using the rest of the pasture to ride and/or train in. So while Foxfire and JT salvaged some of the least damaged panels and t-posts from the wreckage, Auddie and I ran to a local feed store and bought a 12' gate to put in the new fence. With all of us helping we managed to get the fence up and working by about 1pm. It wasn't truly finished. The gate wasn't properly mounted, just wired into place between two t-posts. But it functioned well enough to safely contain all our critters while we rebuilt the rest of the pasture fence.

The quick and dirty fence closing off the paddock area by the barn. The silver post on the far left is the corner post for our backyard area.

A muddy horse and donkeys walking the new fence line.

Ziggy looking over the new gate, wondering why we won't let him get to the round bale.

Shadowfax looking over the new fence at the remains of the flood.

With the critters taken care of, I ran around taking pictures of the damage the flooding caused. As I mentioned before most of our fences were either knocked flat or completely washed away.

The remains of the fence on the East side of our property.

The complete absence of a fence on the West side of our property.

From where our gate used to be looking North.

From where our gate used to be looking South.

Our gate ended up buried under a bunch of fence panels and t-posts about 2/3 of the way down the Southern side of our property.

The fence panels that we use are made of thick stiff wire about the diameter of a pencil. They are not designed to bend, much less to wrap around a tree.

T-posts are even less bendable.

I also took some pictures of the high water marks on and in our pump house.

You can see a piece of broken t-post as well as the high water mark on the wall.

If the water had gotten much higher it would have flooded our pump house breaker box and we would have been without water until we could get it fixed.

I'll continue describing the aftermath of the flood in my next post. Meanwhile if you want to see more pictures, check out my photobucket album "Flood Sept 2010".

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (Sept 7/8) our backyard/pasture flooded badly due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine dumping almost 12 inches of rain in our area. The flood waters actually came within about 10 feet of our back porch, but fortunately, didn't actually make it to the house. Unfortunately, it did completely destroy 3/4 of our pasture fence and damaged our pump house (we have a well for water) and part of our barn. Due to my erratic sleep schedule, I was awake during the night. I'd been checking on things every couple of hours because we have had the far back corner of our pasture flood before. (Mainly due to a very poorly designed "bridge" that crosses the creek near the corner of our property.) I'd gone out to check on things about 11pm and the water in the creek was still several feet below the top of the bridge. About 2am, I went out to check again, and the water was up past our pump house and flooding about a third of our barn.

I ran back inside and woke Foxfire up and we ran out to try and do what we could to make sure our animals were safe. The horses were running up to the edge of the water, acting nervous and running back away. The donkeys were sensibly standing at the highest point of the pasture underneath the stand of oak trees that cover that area. The goats were hiding terrified in the part of the barn that wasn't flooded, and the chickens were obliviously roosted on their perches above the flood waters that covered the bottom of the chicken coop area of the barn. As I was checking on the goats, Shadowfax came up to me seeking reassurance. I stroked his face and calmly told him that I knew he was nervous, but that really the best thing for him to do was to go stay in the oak mot since that was currently the safest place in the pasture. He turned and calmly walked over to the oak mot and stayed there. I swear that horse can understand human speech. I'm not sure if Foxfire had a similar talk with Ziggy, or if Ziggy just followed Shadowfax's lead (which would be odd since Ziggy is dominant), but both horses stayed in the oak mot with the donkeys until after the water finally receded. I wasn't too worried about the back porch cats, but I did check on them. Xiao Mao and Freya were plainly visible and only moderately disturbed by everything. I couldn't see Shadowcat, but I figured she was probably okay. Cats are pretty capable critters and there were plenty of areas that she could get to that were safe.

However, I was very concerned about the safety of my hens because chickens don't do well in water. But the bottom of the chicken coop was already flooded, and I was worried about going into the water to move the hens to safety. I grew up in south Louisiana and I am very aware of the danger of going into flood waters. But the water was only about six inches deep, and the coop was sturdily built and had lots of things for me hold onto if the waters got turbulent. Plus, I really didn't want my chickens to drown if they woke up and jumped down into the water or if the water continued to rise to the level of their perches. So Foxfire and I quickly grabbed as many chickens as we could and moved them to our back porch. The fact that chickens just "turn off" after dark made it easier for us to move them. Though they were definitely not happy since the most efficient way to move them was to carry them by their legs with their bodies hanging upside down. That way, we could each carry four at a time as opposed to just two at a time right side up. It took a number of trips, but we got all the chickens moved.

The goats seemed to be okay at that time and even if the water came up enough to get them wet, they wouldn't automatically drown the way the chickens would, so I left Foxfire outside keeping an eye on things while I ran inside to try and call our friend DA to see if she was willing to come and get our horses and donkeys with her trailer if the water got high enough to flood our entire pasture. (Our trailer was in the area of the pasture that was already flooded.) I was unable to get in touch with her and went back outside to check on things and discuss options with Foxfire. Fortunately, about that time, we noticed that the water seemed to be receding. It was still raining, but the longer we watched, the more the water went down. I was still worried that it might come up again, but at least for a while, I decided to just wait and see what happened before trying to do anything else.

Since we were no longer freaking out about saving our animals, we took a few moments to try and see what the damage to our property was. Using our powerful Magnum flashlight to shine over the water, we could see that at least most of the fence along the back of our property was completely down. The fence along the east side of property was about half down. We cautiously left the critters in the non-flooded area of the pasture and went to check out the other areas. The bottom of our pump house was covered with water. and the fence along the west side of our property was just gone. I mean GONE. There were no posts sticking up, no remains of the fence, just nothing. It was still dark (it was about 3:30am by this point), so we really couldn't see very well, but things looked bad.

As we were looking at the west side of our property which runs beside a road since we live on a corner, we noticed a truck parked on the road, apparently trapped on our side of the bridge. He had his lights on so we could see exactly how far up the road the flood waters had come. We spoke with him for a bit, offering that he could come inside our house if he wanted to. He chose to stay with his truck and keep an eye on the road and stop anyone who might try to cross the bridge. He also offered to help us with our animals if we needed him to. We thanked him and went back to check on our critters.

The water was definitely much lower than it had been. Our pump house was almost completely clear of water. The chicken coop and run-in areas of the barn were no longer flooded, though the mud was still terrible. We kept watching and gradually more and more of our land became clear of water. Since I was going to be awake anyway, I sent Foxfire back to bed to get what sleep he could. After watching for a while longer and seeing the water continue to recede, I decided to run inside and change out of my soaking wet clothes. I was wet, cold, tired and still rather scared about the flooding. I needed a short break. I got dry and warm and for the next couple of hours, I stayed mostly inside, just running outside every fifteen minutes or so to check on things.

Around 5:30am, when I went outside to check on the critters, the water had receded enough that the horses and donkeys had come out from the oak mot and were munching on their round bale which had been partially submerged by the flood waters. I wasn't too worried about them eating the wet hay, not enough time had passed for it to mold or anything. But now that they were willing to leave the oak mot, there was the chance that since the fences were down, they would wander off or get spooked into running out of the pasture. I hadn't wanted to put them in their stalls earlier because I didn't want them to be trapped there if the water continued to rise, but now that the water was pretty much gone, they needed to be contained and the only place to put them was their stalls which were somewhat wet, but had not truly flooded. I ran inside and got their feed buckets with their morning ration of feed and called them into their stalls. I also got some of the donkeys' feed and called the donkeys and the goats that were willing to come out of the barn into the small goat pen beside the house which had been covered in a couple of inches of running water earlier, but was now just muddy. Three of the goats WOULD NOT leave the barn no matter how much I called and shook the feed bucket so I just left them there. I figured they wouldn't wander too far from the rest of the herd. I finally saw Shadowcat, the third back porch kitty, and I as suspected, she was fine. I also checked on the front porch kitty, Bastet, and she seemed oblivious to the excitement that was going on in the back yard.

I kept checking on things every half an hour until it got light. I woke Foxfire up and we went outside to see exactly how bad things were. All of the critters were safe, if not happy to be shut up in such small quarters, but the pasture (and part of my orchard) was devastated. Unlike the time previously when just a small corner of our pasture flooded, there is no way that just Foxfire and I will be able to fix things by ourselves.

That's all for now. I will post more later.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Schlitterbahn Birthday

For the third year in a row, I invited people to go to Schlitterbahn with me to celebrate my birthday. This year in addition to my husband and DA who had come with me the previous two years, our friend FuzzyPony, my sister-in-law Auddie and her fiance Mac also came with us. Sadly, SH, who had come the previous two years was unable to come this year. DA also suggested that instead of buying park food for lunch that we should bring our own. Schlitterbahn, unlike most amusement parks, actually encourages you to bring your own picnic lunch (as long as there is no glass of any kind).

Everyone arrived at our house bright and early Sunday morning. We loaded everyone and everything into to two cars and drove down to New Braunfels. It was an absolutely lovely day. It wasn't too hot or too cold. The park was not crowded at all. There were almost no lines for most rides and even the lines for the really popular rides weren't that bad.

Just after noon, while the rest of us were riding our last ride before lunch, FuzzyPony went back to the table where we had left our food and set everything up very prettily with a batik tablecloth. DA brought out her home made gourmet quality chicken salad and everyone made themselves sandwiches. The chicken salad was absolutely delicious with pecans and dried cherries mixed in. FuzzyPony had brought enough fresh fruit to feed a small army, Auddie and Mac had provided water and soft drinks, and Foxfire and I had brought several kinds of chips. It was so much better than eating park food. Many thanks to DA for suggesting such a lovely picnic.

After lunch, we took the shuttle to the other areas of the park and rode more rides. We had just enough time to hit all of my favorite rides before they closed the park. We were all pretty tired, but not sunburned thanks to judicious application of sunscreen. We left the park and headed to dinner.

DA, who is the most food oriented of us, had looked up local restaurants online and suggested we all go to Friesenhaus German Restaurant. Everyone's food was good and they had a very nice wine (and tea) list. I had the Von Hovel Balduin Riesling which I liked very much. It had a moderately complex flavor and was neither too dry, nor too sweet. Very refreshing with my Reibekuchen (potato pancakes).

We drove back home and DA gave me a very pretty gift bag. Inside was a copy of Finding My Distance, an autobiography written by a three day eventer. She also gave me a copy of Princess Alyss of Wonderland which I am really looking forward to reading since Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite books. DA knows me very well.

Foxfire told me that his birthday present to me wouldn't arrive until Tuesday. Jennifer Crusie, one of my favorite authors, has a new book, Maybe This Time, that is being released August 31, and he had pre-ordered a copy for me. Yay!!! It is her first solo book in several years (she's been co-authoring books) and I am thrilled to get a chance to read it as soon as it comes out.

All in all, I had a fabulous day. I enjoyed sharing Schlitterbahn with my friends and loved having the chance to just chat with everyone in a relaxed setting. Foxfire tells me that he is already looking forward to doing it again next year. I am so lucky to have such good friends and family.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Healthy Hair Care -- Detangling and Conditioning with Coconut Oil

Not long after I got Shadowfax with his nice mane and his long thick curly tail, I started doing research on the best way to care for horses' manes and tails. I already knew that horses, unlike most animals, have hair like humans, not fur like cats and dogs. So I figured that any information I found out about hair care for my horse would also be beneficial for my own hair care. I learned a lot about why sulfates and silicones are bad in shampoos and conditioners, but one of the most immediately useful things that I found out was that pure virgin coconut oil makes a great detangler/leave-in conditioner for manes and tails. I used it several times on Shadowfax's mane to get out elf-knots and it did indeed work very well. So I decided to try it on my own hair.

My hair is moderately long and somewhat curly and though I've always tried to keep it healthy and grow it even longer, I would always get dry split ends and it just wouldn't grow past bra-strap length. Thinking that coconut oil might help me get the hair that I always wanted, I did some more research on coconut oil and human hair. I found out that even scientists agree that coconut oil is good for your hair. Unlike most oils which have bulky, oddly shaped molecules, coconut oil has short straight molecules (medium chain triglycerides) that actually penetrate into the cortex of your hair bringing moisture and protein to where it is needed the most. Because the proteins in coconut oil are similar to the proteins in hair, they are attracted to the hair proteins and easily bond with them making hair stronger and healthier. Coconut oil also helps reduce how much the hair expands and contracts when it gets wet then dries out, thus reducing the stress and damage that expansion and contraction causes. In summary, research has shown that coconut oil makes hair moister, stronger and more resistant to damage. I also found numerous personal accounts in forums, blog posts and various other online sites discussing how coconut oil helped make hair softer, shinier and generally healthier.

I should mention that all of this research and all of these claims are for unrefined virgin coconut oil. Heating and/or hydrogenating coconut oil changes its chemical structure and it will no longer have the same beneficial effects. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to find virgin coconut oil in the dietary supplements area of various stores. (Apparently, coconut oil is as good for your insides as it is for your outside.) You can also order it from numerous online retailers. I currently use Spring Valley Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil which I bought at my local Wal-mart for about $10. (Sadly, it seems that Wal-mart has discontinued making this brand. However, I called my local HEB grocery store and they apparently carry several varieties of unrefined virgin coconut oil in their dietary supplement aisle.) Anyway...

After I shampooed and conditioned in my usual way, I experimented with a little bit of coconut oil. I started by simply dipping my finger in the coconut oil which is semi-solid at room temperature. (It's melting point is 78 degrees F.) Using only the amount of oil that stuck to my finger, I rubbed it between my palms and fingers where it immediately melted into a liquid, then ran my hands through the ends of my still damp hair. I then combed my hair out and let it air dry. My hair was somewhat easier to comb out, and once my hair was dry, it did seem softer and the ends less dry than usual. As I continued to use coconut oil in this way, I noticed even more improvement in the combability and general health of my hair. The only problem with this method of applying coconut oil is that you do have to be somewhat careful about how much coconut oil you use. It is easy to use too much which will leave your hair looking greasy for a while. However, this method does have the added benefit of leaving your hands very soft and smooth. The same things that make coconut oil a great hair conditioner also make it very good for your skin. I've also noticed that my nails seem to be stronger, and I swear that they are growing faster than they used to. (I'm not sure that's a benefit since I have to trim them more often.)

After the success of just using a little coconut oil as a leave in conditioner, I decided to try it out as a deep conditioner. So one day when I didn't have to be anywhere I rubbed coconut oil into my hair a little at a time until my hair was completely coated in oil. I then put my hair up in a loose bun on the top of my head to keep it out of my way, and went about my usual business for about two hours. (I've read that some people leave it in for as little as half an hour and others wrap their heads in towels, shower caps or even plastic wrap and leave it in as long as overnight.) I then shampooed the oil out, which was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I think all of the oil actually came out in the first shampoo, though I did shampoo twice just to be sure. Then I used my regular conditioner and followed the rest of my usual hair routine. When my hair dried, it was incredibly SOFT, and my ends looked much, MUCH healthier.

I've continued to use coconut oil as a detangler/leave in conditioner for several months now, and I've used it as a deep conditioner several times and my hair has continued to improve in terms of softness, manageability and general healthiness.

Also, due to the research that I am continuing to do on healthy hair care (and also due to the fact that the shampoo and conditioner that I used to use has been discontinued), I've decided to try and find sulfate and silicone free shampoos and conditioners that will hopefully help my hair to be healthier and to grow longer. I'll post more about my quest for healthy hair in future entries.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sarcoid on Marie's face

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a small bump on Marie's face. I thought it was just a welt from a bug bite and didn't pay it much attention. But this past weekend, I took a closer look and realized that instead of getting smaller, it had almost doubled in size. So on Monday, I called Dr. A and asked her about it. She said it could be several different things and that she would need to come and look at.

Today, she came, looked at it and said that it was a sarcoid, a type of benign tumor. She injected a tumor inhibiting serum underneath the tumor and said that it should be noticeably smaller in a week or two, but that she might need to come out and give another injection or two before it completely goes away.

Marie behaved very well overall. She was a little nervous about Dr. A and her two assistants and wouldn't willingly walk towards them, but she didn't make a fuss when they came towards her. When Dr. A was fixing to inject her face I held a carrot stick in front of her mouth and let her bite the end of it. Then, while Marie was distracted with carrot, Dr. A slid the needle in. I thought for sure that Marie would pull back when she felt the needle, but aside from a slight twitch, she stood quietly sucking the rest of the carrot stick into her mouth. Even when Dr. A had to move the needle around to make sure she injected the whole area of the sarcoid, Marie just stood there. I was very proud of her. She's come a very long way from the semi-feral donkey that you couldn't get within 10 feet of that I first brought home.

The sarcoid on Marie's face after Dr. A left.

Closeup of the sarcoid after Dr. A left.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Glare Power

Today when our hay guy was delivering a new round bale, he happened to arrive when Shadowfax and Ziggy were still in their stalls finishing their morning grain. Due to rain and mud and such, we had been several days without a round bale. Although we had been throwing flakes from square bales into the pasture several times a day. It's just not as satisfying for the critters as standing around the round bale and munching down. So all the critters were very excited to see a new round bale arriving. The donkeys and goats gathered around the truck anxiously awaiting their first bites from the new bale. They all very obediently backed off when I shoo-ed them away so the bale could be rolled off the truck. But as soon as the bale hit the ground, they descended upon it like four legged locusts.

This was too much for Shadowfax to bear locked in his stall. He started pawing at the gate. As soon as I heard that unmistakable clang, I turned and yelled, "NO! Stop that!" Shadowfax was standing there with one foot raised and about to paw at the gate again. From about 50 feet away, I just glared at him and he slowly lowered his foot and stepped back from the gate. I said, "Good boy." and turned back to help get the wrapping off of the round bale and put the bale ring around it. I kept expecting to hear him start pawing again. He doesn't paw that often anymore, thanks to Foxfire and I consistently yelling at him whenever he does it. But when food is involved he sometimes forgets his manners. However, he never pawed again, and when I would glance back at him, he was always standing quietly looking longingly towards the round bale but showing no signs of incipient pawing. Apparently, even from 50 feet away, my glare has enough strength to make him behave. Glare power!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Longing vs. Lunging

A not-so-brief note about why I chose to use "lunge" and "lunging" rather than "longe" and "longing". I have come across both spellings online, in books and in dictionaries. I've even come across "longeing" in a couple of blogs, but not in any dictionary. Etymologically, "longeing" is probably closest to the historical spelling which came from the french fencing term "allonge" which means to thrust forward rapidly, which came from the French word "allonger" which means to lengthen or extend. Now this next part is my opinion since I couldn't find any dictionary that explained exactly how these two terms led to the English equitation term. But if you think about making a horse move forward on a lengthened or extended lead rope then you can see how adapting a fencing term and its earlier general meaning to describe an equine exercise would make sense. Now, with all that, you would think that I would decide to use "longe" and "longeing" because they were closer to the historical spellings. However... language is a virus. It is constantly mutating and changing to adapt to new conditions. And I am all in favor of adapting language and its spelling to more clearly (or more interestingly) express yourself.

Nowadays, when most American people see "longe", they think it is simply an olde English way of spelling "long" which is pronounced with a hard "G" sound and which is derived from the Latin word "longus" which is purely associated with length (or emotion (to long for something)), but not movement. I assume (though I did not research it) that the French word "allonger" is also derived from "longus". And, of course, "allonge" was derived from "allonger". However, "allonge" became its own word in English, "lunge" which is roughly defined as moving a body forward and is pronounced with a soft "g" sound, exactly the way that horse people pronounce the words associated with exercising/training a horse by getting him to move forward while on the end of a long rope. Now, if it were just a choice between "longe" and "lunge", I might go with "longe" because, although similar, it is distinct from "long" and more historically accurate. However, a problem arises when it comes to "longing" vs. "lunging".

Before I entered the world of horses, when I saw the word "longing", I assumed an emotional meaning. That someone was longing for their lover. When I saw the word "lunging", I thought of either someone suddenly moving forward towards something or a series of exercises involving forward movement used to build strength in your quadriceps. If I had seen the phrase "longing" a horse, I would have been completely confused as to what it meant. If I had seen the phrase "lunging" a horse, I would have assumed it was some sort of exercise involving getting the horse to move forward. I still wouldn't have known exactly what was being described, but I would have had a better idea of what was meant.

So which is more important? The long rope? The forward movement of the horse? The historical spelling? The spelling that most Americans would assume upon hearing the word, which is based on a word that is in common usage and whose meaning is associated with movement? Or some combination of the above? I chose to focus on the forward movement of the horse and the spelling that most Americans would assume based on the word's pronunciation and the fact that "lunging" is a commonly used word that is associated with movement.

So anyway, both spellings are accepted, but I believe the "lunge" and "lunging" spellings to be the easiest and most descriptive, therefore those are the spellings that I will use. However, I can completely understand that others may choose to use the "longe" and "longing" spellings either for their history or because they like the fact that you must be in-the-know in the horse world to understand what is meant.

On a side note, when I was looking for a new "lunge" line, the only spelling I found for that item was "lunge line". When I typed in "longe line" in the Google shopping search, the only results were for "lunge lines". Google shopping apparently automatically changes "longe" to "lunge" when the word "line" is added. (Though Google web search still finds articles about lunging when "longe line" is searched.) Also, in all the online tack stores that I searched individually, I only found items when I used the spelling "lunge line". So it seems that, at least when it comes to commercial uses, the spelling "lunge" has been decided upon. Yet another reason for me to use that spelling. But still... it is a personal choice.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I was staring out the window in front of the computer desk and was inspired to write a haiku. It's not particularly impressive or anything, but I thought that I would share it with you.

Watching hummingbirds
Fighting over the feeder
Tiny warriors

Friday, June 18, 2010

Second Lunge Session

I lunged Shadowfax again on Tuesday evening, and I think things went quite well for our second time. I still had to ask several times for trot and canter and had to flip the whip a bit, but this time he only did one rather mild buck the first time I asked for canter. Aside from that one little buck, there were no other fireworks. He still isn't responding to commands promptly, but he does seem to be getting a little better about it. And after lunging both directions, he actually stopped when I asked him to "ho". Since we'd done both directions fairly thoroughly, I decided that was a strong positive note to end on and so we did.

Before I lunged him, I also sprayed him with fly spray and though he still sidled around a bit, he did much better than he did the previous time.

It rained yesterday, and today I just don't feel up to working with him, but hopefully this weekend, I'll work with him some more and he will continue to improve.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lunging Shadowfax

Well, I finally felt well enough (and brave enough) to try and lunge Shadowfax. Not that he's bad to lunge. When he is lunged consistently, he does just fine. But he hasn't been lunged consistently since we bought him. (I know that's bad, but first there was knee deep mud and then I was injured and Foxfire doesn't really know how to lunge since his horse was never trained to do it.) I don't know why I decided to lunge Shadowfax today. Foxfire was actually out of town with SH doing SCA equestrian stuff. And you would think that I would want to do it when he was around. If for nothing else than the fact that he could take pictures. (I still don't have any pictures of me with my horse. Sigh.) But for some reason, I felt like doing it for the first time this afternoon, and so I did.

Now, I don't exactly have much experience lunging horses. Back when Cash was still sound, JJ showed me how to lunge him a couple of times. But that was well over a year ago, and Cash was extremely well trained. All I really had to do was hold the lunge line and speak the cues and Cash did what I said with absolutely no fuss. A few months ago, at the jousting clinic, JJ had demonstrated lunging Shadowfax to me, though, because of my injuries, I couldn't actually lunge him myself. Shadowfax is not quite as well-trained or willing as Cash. With some consistent work, he probably could be, but he's not there right now. Even with JJ lunging him, there were quite a few fireworks. So, I knew there were probably going to be some problems when I started lunging him. And there were. But they weren't that bad. And by the end of the relatively short session, he was actually doing pretty well. So here's a brief summary of how things went.

Now, since I had treats in my pocket, the minute I walked out into the pasture, Shadowfax came up to me. How he knows I have treats in my pockets, I don't know. I only have treats about one in ten times I go into the pasture, but, I swear, the horse is psychic, because he always seems to know when I have treats. When I don't have treats, he'll look up at me, but he doesn't come over unless I call to him. If I have treats, I don't have to call, he just comes. Smart horse. I haltered him and led him to the trailer which is where we keep the lunging equipment.

The flies were bothering him, so I decided to spray him, which I knew he wouldn't like, but he needs to get used to it. I pulled out the fly spray and when he saw the bottle, he stepped back just a little and looked nervous. I held the fly spray in the same hand the I held the lead rope in, and with my other hand, I pulled out a carrot stick. I held the carrot stick up next to the fly spray where he could see it. After a moment he stepped forward and reached for the carrot. I made sure that he had to rub his nose against the side of the bottle in order to get the carrot. Then as he was munching the carrot, I slowly sprayed his front legs. He sidled away a little bit in a semi-circle on the lead rope, and I followed him until he was against the side of the trailer and couldn't sidle any more. I again sprayed his front legs and he sort of shifted a bit, but couldn't really go anywhere. I sprayed his leg again and he finally just stood there, so I gave him another carrot stick. As he was munching the carrot stick, I moved to his side to spray his side, back and belly. He moved forward and got away from the trailer, so I moved him around in a circle again, until he was against the trailer again. I rustled the pocket with the treats in it and then sprayed his side again. He twitched a little, but basically stood still, so he got another carrot stick. Then I sprayed his back leg. We went in a circle again and he ended up back against the trailer. Etc... We repeated the pattern several times until I had gotten him to stand still while I sprayed him all over. Then I held up the bottle in front of him again and when he sniffed it, gave him another carrot stick. (The carrot sticks are pretty small, so I can feed him a lot of them.) I put the fly spray away and got out the lunge line and whip, and led him over to a clear flat area.

Now when I started all of this the donkeys and Ziggy were way on the other side of the pasture, but when I started to walk Shadowfax in a circle, they ALL had to come over and see what I was doing. Ziggy actually stayed far enough away not to be a problem, but Kanny and Tessla managed to actually get between Shadowfax and me just ahead of the lunge line, they kept walking and I actually let them lunge with us for about half a circle because it was really sort of cute. But after half a circle, I stopped because I figured sooner or later someone was going to get out of sync and cause problems and I truly did not want that. I locked the donkeys in the goat pen and started Shadowfax walking in circles again. He actually did really well walking at the end of the lunge and after about 5 or so circles, I asked him to trot. He didn't trot right away and I had to ask more forcefully and flip the whip a little bit to actually get him to trot, but he trotted eventually. When I asked him to go back to walk, he did so promptly. When I asked for trot again, he did a little better and he was always willing to slow to walk.

However, when I asked him to canter, there were some fireworks. He wouldn't go from just the voice cue, so I had to flick the whip at him several times. I finally actually touched his rump with the whip, not forcefully, just enough for him to feel it and he bucked and kicked out. I yelled, "NO!!" and he immediately went into a hell bent for leather canter. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was a canter and he wasn't pulling on the lunge line or anything. I let him run around about five times, then tried to slow him to a trot. At first, he just kept running. I tried different things to slow him and finally figured out that speaking extreeeeeemmmmmmmllllllyyyy slowly and letting my voice drop in pitch and volume was the way to get him to slow down. He gradually slowed down and finally dropped into a trot. I trotted him two circles, then asked for a walk, and he slowed to a walk. And then I asked him to stop.

Sadly, he doesn't seem to understand "Ho" at all. The only way to get him to stop is to pull the lunge line shorter and shorter and he'll eventually stop. It's a bit frustrating, but I suppose there are worse things. I'll ask JJ what I can do to teach him to stop when I say "Ho".

I switched which side the lunge line was attached to and started him walking in the opposite direction. This time when I asked for trot, I got it a bit more easily, I still had to make tsk, tsk noises at him, but I didn't have to flip the whip. I walked, trotted, walked several times, then I asked for canter. Again there were fireworks, but a loud "NO!!" was all it took to make him canter instead of buck and kick out. (He only did one buck and one kick before he went into the canter on each side and I sort of wonder if he would have gone into the canter after expressing his displeasure even I hadn't yelled. Who knows.) Anyway, he did hell bent for leather canter again and I let him go for several circles then I started slowing him down. I asked for a slower canter, by saying "canter" in a slow drawn out way on a descending scale, and he actually slowed into a nice controlled canter. After a couple of more circles, I asked for a trot and got it immediately. I asked for walk and got it fairly quickly and then I had to pull him in to get him to stop.

I switched directions again and asked for walk, trot, walk, trot, canter, trot, walk, and got everything I asked for reasonably quickly and with NO fireworks. I tried asking for stop again, and again had to pull him in closer to finally get him to stop, but he did stop a bit more easily than before. I decided that that was a really good positive note to end on and didn't lunge him in the other direction again. Maybe the lunging was a bit uneven in numbers of circles in each direction, but I wanted to stop on a positive note and wasn't sure it would go as well in the other direction. I gave him a carrot stick and told him that he'd been a very good boy.

I led him back to the trailer, switched the lunge line for the lead line and held the fly spray bottle out to him again. At first he pulled his head back, but then seemed to remember the carrots and nosed the bottle. I gave him another carrot stick. I closed everything back up in the trailer, led him over to the gate to the backyard, took his halter off, gave him another carrot stick and petted him a few times. I let the donkeys out of the goat pen, petted them, petted Shadowfax again and came inside.

It wasn't a very long lunging session, and it certainly wasn't perfect, but I am very happy that it went as well as it did. And even though my arms and shoulders are a little tired, my ribs and tailbone don't hurt any more than usual, so obviously it didn't strain my injuries. Now that I know that I can lunge Shadowfax, I will try to do so several times a week. Hopefully, he and I will both improve our lunging abilities, and it will strengthen our relationship.