Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Little I Know About Horses

My mystery Shadow Horse was given a brief review in the March issue of Equine Journal and the editor was nice enough to send me a copy. It's been a while since I read a horse magazine from cover to cover, and even though I have been riding and caring for horses for decades (that's me doing what I do the most with my gelding Relish), I realized as I flipped through that what I know about horses could fit in a bucket compared to how much there is to know which appears to be an ocean.
There were articles and ads for a breed of horse called Gypsy Vanner, a draft type with gorgoeous black and white markings and flowing white feathers. Huh? I've never seen one, and all I could think of was the time needed to keep those feathers spotless in this mucky spring weather. Next a blurb for 'pasture in a box' caught my eye. It's a system for growing your own forage. What? Is this what they mean by "I'll do anything for my horse?" Actually, what I really thought was that I bet all I would grow is dandelions.
The next article "Chore Busters" had me drooling. Now I want a pasture vacuum, a UTV and bedding sifter. An article on horse manes got me worrying that my gelding's out-of-control hair-do dos not enhance his conformation, and another article on insurance had me wondering, "What insurance?"
Worse were the ads for barns that had more square footage and expensive hardward and siding than my house, trailers that had more appliances than my kitchen and bath, and products to treat problems I'd never heard about.
The most serious and enlightening news, however, was an article about parasite control. Prevention is hard enough--bot flies are ferociously determined in Virginia--but after reading, I am now paranoid that since these cringe-inducing parasites are developing resistence to de-wormers, I'll be spending my spring not riding, but battling roundworms and pinworms along with the stinkbugs and Japanese beetles that love my gardens.
Okay readers--fess up. What is it that you don't know about horses?


Dreaming said...

You are right - there is so much information out there and new thoughts, new research that it's hard to keep up. Hmmm.... I don't know what I don't know!! (And I certainly don't mean to come off sounding like a smart a$$.... I really don't know!)I guess I'll have to get a few magazines!

I fell in love with Gypsy Vanners several years ago. That's what I had my heart set on just before I got the boys - I laughed at your comment because every once in a while I think that I want to trade the boys for a vanner..... and I think about the feathers and decide my guys are just wonderful!

Patrice said...

I know that I think the Gypsy Horse is beautiful!

Laura Crum said...

Alison--There is tons I don't know. All my knowledge is about fifteen years out of date. When I quit competing and being active in the horse world, I also quit reading horse magazines. One thing I did learn in twenty years of obsessing on horses (and taking in tons of info)--there's always something new--and in a few years its proved to have holes. For instance, around here, thirty years ago, we were all advised by the vets to feed our horses a daily dose of wheat bran to prevent colic. And we all did it. Nowadays that's said to create enteroliths. Any more, I don't pay any attention to the fad of the moment--if I even hear about it. I stick to clean grass hay, plenty of room to move around, grazing, regular hoof care and worming...that about covers it. And overall, I have far less problems with my horses than I had when I religiously followed the current advice.

Alison said...

Sorry about the typos everyone!
I'm obviously the only one who didn't know about Gypsy Vanners, but not the only one who isn't afraid to admit she doesn't know everything.

FD said...

I dunno what I dunno about horses - but I'm pretty sure it'll make an idiot of me when I least expect it! More seriously, I was reading about harness horses the other day, and thinking whoa, whole other world there.

Incidentally, Gypsy Vanners are not a breed, so don't feel bad about not being familiar with them. They are merely hairy piebald cobs with good marketing, and if you told any serious horse person over here that you'd bought a 'purebred Gypsy Vanner' (esp at the prices they go for in the states) they would literally wet themselves laughing. ;) The association with gypsies is that coloured horses were traditionally considered 'loud' and therefore declasse, and anything with hair was considered common - so put the two together and the animal becomes extremely cheap, so gypsies tended to to have a lot of 'em by default.

Alison said...

Thanks FD for the information about Gypsy Vanners. I bet somewhere someone is trying to make this a breed!

Susan said...

If you use diatomaceous earth to worm, you won't have to worry about parasites building up resistance to wormers, and you won't have to worry about poisoning your horse.

Francesca Prescott said...

Err, well there are a gazillion things I don't know about horses. There are also loads of things I knew about horses that I learned when I had to pass my riding license test thingy decades ago, but then promptly forgot about immediately. I don't know...who is the current chairman/president (basically: big chief!) of the FEI, and I only know that I don't know that because someone asked me who it was today. Actually, if I think about all the things I don't know about horses as well as all kinds of other things it's kind of alarming, even a little depressing, so I'd rather stay happily ignorant and learn things as I go along.

But as of today I know about gypsy vanners being cobs, so that's good.

What is diatomeous earth?????

Rhonda Lane said...

The proverbial "they" think of something new every day. :)

Already, the scope of the "wide world of horses" is huge, even before people start dreaming up stuff.

But I also think those gaps in knowledge give us exciting opportunities for discovery, as long as they don't compromise our safety or that of others. ;)

Anyway, check it out - the Gypsy Vanners registry! Est. in 1996.

Leslie said...

Alison, I'm on the same page. Just when I think I know enough to keep myself, and the horses, out of trouble,something else pops up that makes me a little insecure. I have stopped getting overly concerned about alot of things I read in articles and just go with common sense and knowing what works for me. Definitely a lifelong journey with our horses!

I've been trying to save for a 14ft stock trailer. While those LQ trailers and beautiful barns make me sigh, I know they're not a reality for me.

I discovered the Gypsies a few years ago when I attended Equine Affaire in Columbus, OH. I'd never heard of them before either. They are gorgeous horses but alas, the white feathering on the feet is a stopper. I have enough trouble keeping my two black/white Spotted Saddle Horses cleaned up once in a while! Right now the mud mess is making that impossible. But I sure do love looking at pictures of Gypsies and seeing them at events like EA.

Your post made me smile because I can relate! Congratulations on the review of your book in Equine Journal!

Alison said...

Susan, please tell us about diatomaceous earth1 Then we will all be smarter and our horse less wormy.

Thanks all for chiming in on 'not knowing everything'. It makes me feel more like one of the herd instead of the bumbling colt on the periphery.