Equine Winter Sports that Need to be added to the Olympics. – Some Humor

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

The 2014 Winter Olympics kicked off and I was thinking it would be much more exciting if we added some equine winter sports.  Let’s face it — horse care in the winter is tough but if you think of it as a sport — it gets easier. Everyone who lives in snowy and muddy areas know what I am talking about. So I decided to make a list of Equine Winter Sports that need to get into the Olympics. Since Curling is a winter Olympic sport…we certainly can add some equine related sports. I hope this gives you a chuckle.

1) Skijoring. Of course this is for real and I have seen it practiced in Montana.  The person wears skis and holds tug lines attached to the horse’s harness. Think of this as ground driving on skis…but with some speed. Helmet recommended!

2) Feeding on a sheet of ice. This requires wind-blown ground (ice), and you must be carrying at least 25 pounds of hay in your arms and have a wind of at least 20 miles an hour blowing against you. The hay must be deposited in the feeder and you get penalized for every pound of hay you left between the storage shed and the feeder.

3) Repairing the frozen water trough. So the water trough has iced over and is not working. In 60 seconds or less you must be able to find the hammer and crescent wrench (bonus points if they reside in your jacket pocket), break the ice, remove the tank de-icer, put in a new tank de-icer and not even get your work clothes (those that you need to wear to the office) dirty.

4) The Mud Dance. This is completed with one mud boot sucked off into the deepest bog of mud on the planet, you are hoping along the fence to go open or close that gate. You get ten bonus points when you finally just roll up your pant leg and put your bare foot into the mud.

5) Trenching. This is a real sport for us in muddy areas.  Pooled water not draining out of the turnout pens…with shovel in hand you dig trenches all over the property.  Overhead views of this look like the gophers have gone crazy…bonus points are awarded if you try to make designs with your trenches. Bonus points are given for spelling words or getting this photographed and printed so you can enter the photo at the country fair.

6) Poop sickle removal. Can you a) break poop of the snowy frozen ground without ruining the manure fork, b) get the poop into a wheelbarrow or other transport device, c) get the poop to the manure pile, and d) return to the barn before the next pile of manure freezes to the ground.

I wish you all warm thoughts and look forward to what you add to this list.  I have lived in mud and snow…I have competed in all of these events and consider myself ready for the Olympics. Wait you ask – “did you compete in skijoring,” why yes I did but I forgot the skis and so made do with my feet until those gave out and then my knees and finally I realized it was time to let go of the lead shank.

Stay safe in this winter weather my friends.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

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10 Stormy Weather Horseman and Horsewoman Activities

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

Winter is here for another six weeks…or so the little groundhog told us the other day. Some of us might have covered arenas and be able to continue riding, others will tough out the cold weather and get in a ride or two, but some of us just might want to take on some stormy weather projects.

Here are 10 things you can do on a bad weather day:

1)      Update all your vaccination, worming, shoeing, and veterinary records. We all know there is a pile of paperwork on the desk. We would rather be riding so a bad weather day is a great time to take care of the paperwork.

2)      Deep Clean your tack. Clean your saddle; check all your straps, buckles, cinch and anything that can wear out. Make a list of things that need to be purchased for replacement or back up. This is something you should do at least monthly but the wintertime and a bad weather day is a perfect time to clean your tack.

3)      Check your feed and grain inventory. Take stock of how much you are feeding. This is a great time to update your feed and horse health and care budget for the year.

4)      Examine your veterinary supplies. You know you have been meaning to check how many leg wraps, powders, or bandages you have on hand. A bad weather day is a great time to figure out what you need to order. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Check all your medications, wormers, and supplements and make sure they are in date. Properly discard anything that is out of date.

5)      Inspect blankets and turnouts. That stormy day is a great time to patch blankets, check the straps on your summer turnout sheets, and make sure you have blankets, sheets, and turnouts ready to use.

6)      Clean your barn. If the weather is not so cold, a bad weather day is a great time to thoroughly remove any cobwebs, sweep out the tack room, dust of the shelves in your cabinets and check all your stalls for loose screws or nails. We all try to do this regularly but a bad weather day is a great time to spend a few extra minutes on this maintenance.

7)      Thoroughly groom your horse. Sometimes we get into a hurry and do not comb the tail out completely or we miss a spot on a back leg that needs a bit more brushing. A bad weather day is a great time to give your horse a deep grooming as you listen to the rainfall or wind blow or the little noise that snow makes when it falls.

8)      Clean out your horse trailer. Pull that trailer into the barn or in a sheltered spot and take the time to go through the tack room and your human living quarters. Get rid of those jeans that are five years old and do not fit you anymore, throw out that old jar can of food with the missing label — you know you are never going to eat it. Restock your trailer and make your second home a bit more inviting. Trust me the Cheeto under the couch pad are no longer edible.

9)      Take some time to review last year’s videos of you riding. A bad weather day is a great time to kick back and watch your riding progression over the last year. Take some notes and then schedule an appointment with your Coach/trainer/mentor about something you realized or want to work on improving. We are always in a rush to ride…a bad weather day when we might not be able to ride is a great time to review, reflect, and make plans to improve.

10)   Watch a really good movie about horses. Yep—this is the best part. Start up a movie that feeds your inner child. Maybe it is time to watch that movie that helped you fall in love with riding or horses. Give yourself some happy time and reward for taking care of those other nine items on this list. Maybe it is time to watch Seabiscuit, Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, The Man from Snowy River, National Velvet, Hildalgo, Flicka…you get the idea. Pamper yourself just a bit.

May you all be safe, warm, and happy as we wrap up the last six weeks of winter 2014. As always, I look forward to your additions and sharing this blog.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).