Friday, July 30, 2010

Visit with Mazzy

Through the guarded gate....

One of the many horse farms along the way:

The side of one of the barns:
It was such a beautiful evening last night and just the right temperature...peace and quiet:

I went to visit Mazzy last night and she seems very content. Walking into the barn it is bug free, dust free, cool and peaceful. There is just the sound of horses munching hay and fans blowing. What a wonderful place for a horse to recover. If I ever need a lay-up that is where I want to go! Mazzy's caretaker said she was very quiet and relaxed...that was until I got there and started feeding her carrots. Then she became naughty Mazzy knocking her foot against the door for more treats! It is so nice not to have to worry about that part of her recovery!
It is very hard to get a picture of Mazzy in her stall, she needs to be VERY close at all times.I gave her some food to distracted her:
Checking out the view:

She has a view of the bull pen:

The stalls are cleaned all day long - her stall is always spotless!


After I rode Kylie last night we went over Chad's mom's for dinner. She made delicious enchiladas (her mother's recipe).

For dessert we had a light, moist, flavorful Cherry Cake with Marsala, Crème Fraîche, and Cherries. Yum!

•1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking soda
•1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•1/2 cup Marsala
•1/4 cup fresh orange juice
•14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
•1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
•2 large eggs
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
•4 cups cherries

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine Marsala and orange juice in small bowl. Beat 12 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and lemon peel. Beat in Marsala mixture in 2 additions alternately with flour mixture in 3 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups cherries.

Bake cake until top is gently set, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Dot top of cake with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Continue baking until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Release pan sides; transfer cake to platter. Cool to room temperature.

Mix crème fraîche and 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. (Cake and crème fraîche mixture can be made 8 hours ahead. Let cake stand at room temperature. Cover and chill crème fraîche mixture.) Cut cake into wedges. Top each with dollop of crème fraîche and fresh cherries and serve.

Note: I think the original recipe called for raspberries, but cherries were delicious!

Since I came directly from the barn, Chad and I took separate cars. We were on our way out to the car at about 11pm and I heard what I thought was a dog crying, Chad's mom thought it was a peacock, which there are alot of in her neighborhood, so I didn't think much of it. I got in my car and headed home. Chad walked through the door about 15 minutes after me, which I thought was strange since his mom only lives about 10 minutes away, and we both walked out to our cars at the same time. Then I see a teenie tiny critter in his hands. The dogs noticed it RIGHT away! What was it? A scared wet, neglected dog. He asked the neighbors around where he found it, but no one had ever seen him before. No collar, and he doesn't look like he was very well cared for. You can feel all his bones. We fed him, and he ate like he was starving to death. Poor little guy!

Barely bigger than a key!

Looks like he is possibly a Yorkie, Chihuahua mix? He has two rows of teeth like a shark. Thankfully he doesn't bite! Not neutered, of course. Because I am sure you'd want to perpetuate this mix - NOT! I am sure Chad will look for his owner today, but I think whoever ownes him isn't doing a very good job taking care of him. I would like to keep him, but we'll have to see what happens. I hope our much bigger dogs can adapt to a very tiny new family member. He is half the size of Topaz, who isn't a very big cat!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Boarding realities and fantasies

It is very difficult to weigh out what the most important factors are when boarding your horse. There is no perfect situation unless you have unlimited funds, and still it may not be perfect. For me the number one reason I keep my horses at the facility I am at is the trainer. However, there are many things I would change if I could about the facility and how it is run.
In a perfect world (or if I wasn't financially constrained about where I keep my horses) my priorities are lots of turnout, good modern footing, and quality hay. These things all lead to a healthier athlete, and should be part of a competitive show program. Different horses can have very different characteristics and requirements. Consequently, a horse stable which is ideal for one horse may be a disaster for another.

When researching different boarding stables, don't forget to ask about their turnout routine. Having a good turnout regime can make a huge difference to your horse's mental and physical state. My friend at Springfield Stables wrote a fantastic post about turnout. I know many of my readers are of the same school of thought and are aware of the wonderful physical and mental benefits. Regular turnout (and I mean in a space where the horses can move, not a tiny pen for 20 min) eliminates the need for daily lunging, it also keeps horses in better physical shape by allowing them to move around. In order for all space to be fully utilized, the facility has to be well planned out. I get so frustrated seeing tons of wasted space and teeny tiny turnout pens. Fences should be sturdy, horse safe and in good repair.

Bedding: For your horse's health and safety, as well as his/her warmth and comfort, the stall bedding is also extremely important. Poor quality bedding can have a critical effect on your horse's health. It goes without saying that the horses' stalls need to properly cleaned and not just the poop picked out. Moisture promotes mold growth, and excess ammonia (a noxious gas from urine that irritates the airways). And when the stalls are cleaned the bedding must be properly disposed of, or kept far enough away from the horses, not sitting in a huge pile breeding flies. The barn should have good ventilation, smell relatively fresh, not like manure or ammonia.

I would love if my horses' stalls were lined with the ComfortStall® Equine Flooring System and then bedded with some nice dust free shavings. I like straw too, but at the rate Mazzy eats it, I'm not sure that is the best long term choice for her :-). However, it is the best choice for now to keep her stitches clean.

Safe stalls: Above all else, materials used in horse stalls must be substantial. No sharp edges, no screws sticking out, or small spaces for them to get a leg caught in - to me this seems like a no brainer, but unfortunately it is not. A horse is a big, powerful animal, and one kick could take out a wall…and a hoof or damage a knee as well, leading to months of healing and no riding. So, if a material looks thin, it probably is. The size of the stall itself is also important for horse health. A horse 16-hands tall will be at least six feet long, nose to tail, meaning even a 12-by-12 foot stall is only twice the horse’s body length. Since a horse cannot decide to go out for a stroll if he’s feeling cramped, it pays to avoid making him spend boring hours in a cramped space. Inside of that stall, they have nothing but time on their hands and that time can easily lead to mischief. A bored horse will look for trouble, chewing on stall walls, kicking and making a fuss. That’s tough on the walls, tough on the horse handlers, and extra tough on the horse. Giving the horse a view of the aisle or the great outdoors, with stall gates or even horse-friendly windows, is also helpful in keeping horses healthy and happy, and avoiding behavioral “issues” or vet bills for the horse. Of course in my dream world I would love a palatial 14 x 14 stall with an attached paddock, however, the majority of the time I would like them to be out in the pasture.

It is essential that someone knowledgeable will check on your horse frequently. If there were to be an accident in the stall or if your horse suddenly got colic, there needs to be someone on hand to notice promptly and to be competent enough to deal with the situation. At least when the horse's stall is cleaned and when they are fed they should be given the once over. This will eliminate the horse having to stand around until another boarder notices that his eyelid is half ripped off, or cheek sliced open. It is never fun to arrive in the evening to find an injury that no one noticed all day, thus requiring an emergency evening vet call.

Feed: Quality. What are the horses fed? Are the hay and food supplements of high quality, or just the cheapest available? No matter what age of the horse, or activity state, proper nutrition is important and can contribute to a sounder horse and a better athlete. My preference is timothy hay, however the barn I keep my horses (not where Mazzy is currently) does not offer that choice. Alfalfa comes with board, but I have to pay an additional $100/month for oat hay or orchard grass hay. Anything more than two flakes of alfalfa am/pm is extra $.

Quantity. Do the horses get all the food they need, or is there a quota (2 flakes 2 times/day) and the owner is responsible for the rest? A horse should receive at least 2 percent of his body weight per day in good quality digestible forage. So that means a 1200-pound horse would need 24 pounds of hay each day. If average flake of hay weighs around three pounds, that is 8 flakes a day (depending on the weight)! Frequency. How often are the horses fed? It should be at least twice a day and preferably more (access to quality pasture qualifies as a feed). Mazzy is a growing girl and therefore an eating machine! She would starve to death on the normal feed ration. I have to feed her an additional 150-200 lbs of timothy pellets/week, soaked beet pulp, rice bran, and Triple Crown Complete to keep weight on her. She is in heaven at the layup facility getting all the hay she can eat!

Buckets. Are the food and water buckets kept clean? Is old food removed each day and the buckets cleaned out well, or simply new food dropped on top? Water. Do the horse have adequate access to clean water? Thankfully we have automatic waterers. I also provide my horses with Himalayan salt licks.

The general facility upkeep is important. When things break are they fixed properly, or are they gerry-rigged together. Eventually a nice facility will become run-down if it is not properly maintained. Horses are tough tenants and there are contantly things that need fixing.

It is so nice to visit Mazzy and not need to reclean her stall, scrub her buckets, soak her down with fly spray, or find new injuries. She is clean, well cared for, and happily eating. All I have to do is enjoy her company. It is pretty darn close to a perfect situation, too bad it will eventually have to come to an end. If only I could win the lottery, my horses would be living a pampered lifestyle!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On the road to recovery

Mazzy was lucky enough to receive treatment from Dr. McIlwraith this weekend. He flew in for the weekend, and I spoke with him early Saturday morning and he told me to bring her down and he could squeeze her into his schedule. Thank goodness I have a trailer! I was on the road as soon as I hung up the phone. He did some work on her, and he seems very hopeful for a good recovery. Wow, if this is not an example of why you should get a second or third opinion, it is an example of the amazing things the very best can accomplish. In the past few weeks I have gone from possible euthanasia to an optimistic future. I am fairly certain the doc does not know how great the words "I have good news" was to hear today. What an emotional roller coaster this has been.

There is still a long road to recovery, and of course, I understand nothing is certain, but I now have hope. I actually have another big thing to be thankful for, very good friends. My friend that made this whole thing happen with the world renowned joint doctor also hooked Mazzy up with an awesome rehab facility. Mazzy isn't going to want to leave this place, especially after a swim in the aqua tread! No fly mask or sheet needed here! So clean and peaceful. I just hope she stops eating the knee deep straw she is bedded in. Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight now that my baby is safe and well cared for.
Mazzy is actually staying at a farm I am proud to spotlight, even if it is only temporarily.

Good friends are truly a blessing. I am extremely grateful for the ones that have carried me through this whole ordeal, and I am also thankful for the ones that have left me alone. Some people just understand that if I wanted to talk about it I would, and some people just don't get that I don't want to be the subject of today's hot gossip discussion. My business is not something I want to spread around the barn like wildfire, I don't want insincere sympathy and I don't want to discuss it with everyone. Unfortunately the reason some people want the details is so they can have information to blab about. So if you are one of those people that loves to gossip and thrives on others misfortune, and who's horse is the latest tragedy, please do not ask me how my horse is doing, and do not tell me I am not alone because so and so's horse has problems too. That's private and that's not your business to tell me or anyone! This is not directed at any of my wonderful caring blogging friends or any of my friends who are genuinely concerned. Sorry for the rant, but some of my recent stress is about how to avoid all the questions from people at the barn. Whew, feels good to get that off my chest!
No dirt pathways here! All rubber pavers.

beautiful track at the rehab facility

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trying to make sense of German Warmblood "breeds"

When told that a horse is a Rheinlander, people don't understand that this horse's full brother can be called a Dutch Warmblood. The brand that he received at birth is simply a designation of where he was produced (and approved). It has very little to do with specific bloodlines.

Most warmbloods are associated with countries (e.g., Dutch, Danish, Swedish), but an important exception is Germany, where registries are associated and named for regions from which they are bred and where the studbooks are managed, as Germany as a nation did not really emerge until modern times. Regions such as Han(n)over and Westfalia are about the size of a county in the U.S. Thus to call something a Hanoverian or a Westfalen horse was the equivalent of calling one of ours a San Diego [County] or a Los Angeles [County] horse. If a Los Angels horse moved to San Diego County, it's offspring would become San Diego horses. Each would be approved for breeding as long as it fit within the breeding goals of its new San Diego County breeding director.

In Europe things are very different than the US. For the past few hundred years, European breeding has been strictly controlled. There is no such thing as a "grade" horse. According to German law, all stallions to be used for breeding of warmblood and Arabian horses have to undergo a test between the age of 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 years before they are allowed to breed.(Note: there has been a recent loosening of some restrictions along these lines.) All horses are registered with the local breeding director, and the bloodlines are carefully recorded. The local breeding director maintains a great deal of control over the kind of horse that is produced in his area by selecting and approving a certain type of breeding stock. The director also makes strong recommendations to the mare owner as to what stallion should be chosen for a certain mare. Traditionally, the State has owned and supplied the stallions to each area, selected under the recommendations of the area director. The director, therefore, wielded a great deal of power over what was done within his boundaries. However, these various districts are actually all in one big gene pool. State owned stallions were moved from one region to another as needed, and when a mare owner moved from one area to another, his mare band would move with him. Because mares could only travel a few days to a stallion by foot, these breeding regions were thus quite small about the size of one of our counties.

Because the directors had so much control over the local population and they stayed in their positions for many, many years, they could control numerous generations within the area's breeding stock. These various areas would take on a very definite "flavor" as defined by one man's vision. A "type" became identified with the breeding area. However, new blood was continually infused from other regions to improve the quality of the local stock, direct its evolution along the director-chosen path, and continue to keep the small gene pool from becoming in-bred. Breeding stock has always been and continues to be traded throughout Europe. But even though you cannot say that the blood is "pure", all bloodlines have been carefully documented and studied.

In Europe, any out crossed bloodlines come from the stallion line. They use Thoroughbred stallions, Anglo Arabian Stallions, and other Warmblood stallions to improve, refine, or enhance the particular breed. European horse breed organizations have followed, studied, and scrutinized every “improvement” stallion entered into the breeding book and have closely followed their progeny. Their breeding successes and failures have been documented, to excruciating details.

Most warmblood breeds are continuing to evolve. In fact, they are not "breeds" in the sense that Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Morgans and Saddlebreds are breeds. Other breeds are often introduced to the genetic pool to enhance desired characteristics. Except for the Trakehner, while a warmblood horse from Germany, has a closed stud book and thus, like the Thoroughbred and Arabian, is considered a "true" breed.

The original warmbloods were bred to be an all purpose agricultural, riding, carriage and cavalry horse. As the internal combustion engine replaced the horse , European breeders began to refinie their horses to produce a large, correct horse with excellent movement and temperament. The results are apparent in the leading warmbloods which include the Irish Sports Horse, Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Trakehner, Oldenburger, Selle Français, the Dutch, Danish, and Swedish breeds. The major difference in the breeding of warmbloods, is the documentation, selection, and testing for breeding stock. A mare or stallion can only be registered with one breeding registry, but can be approved for breeding by any number of registries by going to an inspection by that organization and being approved for breeding.

State Studs have generally been placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture. As in the past, the primary task of the state studs is to enable farmers wishing to breed quality horses, access to selected and performance tested stallions for a moderate covering fee.

In contrast to the so-called principal studs, provincial studs do not operate their own breeding, but rather make their high-quality stallions available to private mare owners. Principal studs, by contrast, operate direct breeding, as they keep mares and stallions at the same time and use their own progeny again for breeding.

The eleven German state studs are:

The Lower Saxon State Stud of Celle - Hanoverian Founded in 1735 by order of George II, King of Great Britain, Elector of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Its purpose was to make high-quality stallions available to local breeders. Celle's history is intertwined with the history of the Hanoverian horse breed, but the breed registry (The Verband hannoverscher Warmblutzüchter e.V.) is privately owned and is an entity independent of the stud. Since 1945, many Thoroughbreds and Trakehners, and some Anglo-Arabians, have occupied stalls at the State Stud at Celle. Today, 140 stallions including 10 Thoroughbreds, 2 Anglo-Arabians, 2 Trakehners, and 3 ponies serve approximately 8000 broodmares per year. Since the 1980s, private stallion ownership in Hannover has steadily increased, however over 60% of Hanoverian mares are still served by the state-owned stallions of Celle.

Provincial Stud of Warendorf in North Rhine Westaphalia - Rhinelander and Westphalian. The stud has an average stallion stock of 80 warm-blood stallions, two Thoroughbred and 17 cold-blood stallions. The Federal Riding School was incorporated to the state stud in 1968. It is the site of the training and examination of nationally-licensed professional riders and instructors, and is also home to the German Equestrian Olympic Committee. Westphalian breeding has produced a number of sires very influential to sport horse breeding, including Polydor and his descendant Pilot, and Rubinstein.
Hessian Provincial State Stud of Dillenburg - Today Hessen is the 4th ranking warmblood breeding region with 4000 broodmares and 60 state stallions. Stallions used in breeding the Hessen horses are mainly from the Hanoverian, Holstein, Thoroughbred, and Trakehner breeds.

Principal Stud of Neustadt a.d. Dosse in Brandenburg. Following reunification with the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) , stallions from Hanoverian bloodlines and lines which came via Redefin gained a big influence on the Brandenburg breed. The current number of stallions utilised for covering duty exceeds 60 and is recruited from stallions from the breeding regions of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Hanover, Westphalia, Holstein and Oldenburg. Breeders furthermore have access to first class thoroughbreds and Trakehners, but Arabians, Haflingers and draught horses are also at the disposal of the breeders.

Provincial Stud of Zweibrücken in Rhineland-Palatine is under the jurisdiction of the Horse Breeders' Association of Rhineland-Palatinate-Saar (PRPS). Hanoverian, Westphalian and Holstein stallions, but Trakehners and thoroughbreds are also utilised.

Provincial Stud of Saxony in Moritzburg As a result of the German reunification of 1990, Moritzburg was once again bestowed with the title of a state stud and today houses more than 40 competition sport stallions of diverse population in its historical walls, including Thuringian and Saxon breeds, but largely stallions from the North German selective breeding areas and Trakehner stallions.
The spectrum of horse breeds includes not only the heavy warm-bloods, but also Haflingers, draught horses, thoroughbreds and a number of riding ponies of a stock of more than 100 stallions.
Principal Saxon Stud of Graditz - thoroughbreed racing. After German reunification, Graditz in the Free State of Saxony remains the Country’s only Equestrian breeding program. By 1992, the Free State of Saxony decided to privatize thoroughbred breeding. The race horses run in classical black and white colors. The Saxon Stud Administration maintains a herd of broodmares comprising of about 30 head. These are of noble blood and kept for the breeding of potential stallion contenders. Trakehner stallions are generally utilised as premium stallions.

The Radegast-Prussendorf State Stud of Saxony-Anhalt Of the approximately 25 stallions currently stationed there, the Hanoverian World Cup III by Woermann and the Verden stallion approvals winner Fontainebleu by Wanderer are especially significant, Donnerhall and Rubinstein progeny are however also represented in the stock of stallions.

Bavarian Principal and Provincial Stud of Schwaiganger Currently, the stallion roster is 45% Bavarian Warmblood stallions. Holsteiner stallions make up a further 42%. Other German warmbloods - Hanoverians, Oldenburgs, Westphalians, Wuerttembergers, Rhinelanders, Thuringians, and German Warmbloods, (Zuchtverband fur deutsche Pferde or ZfDP) - make up the remainder.
State Stud of Redefin Mecklenburg. Redefin now has 45 breeding stallions which are used for coverings at five main breeding stations. These 45 breeding stallions include one thoroughbred stallion, one Trakehner stallion, 33 warm blood stallions, three heavy horse breed stallions, three Haflinger stallions and four riding pony stallions.

Principal and State Stud of Marbach in Baden - Württemberg is the oldest state stud. The first written recording dates from 1514 during the reign of Duke Ulrich. Most of the popular German Riding Horse breeds are well represented, as well as the Württmberger. They also have one English Thoroughbred stallion, four Altwürttemberger/Schweres Warmblut (heavy warm blood) stallions, Arabian stallions, Schwarzwälder Kaltblüter (Blackforest cold blood) stallions, Süddeutsche Kaltblüter (Southern German cold blood), and a Haflinger stallion. Marbach is very well known as the home of the Weil-Marbach Arabians.

Other German Warmbloods:

The Oldenburg is a warmblood horse from the north-western corner of Lower Saxony, what was formerly the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. The breed was built on a mare base of all-purpose farm and carriage horses, today called the Alt-Oldenburger. The modern Oldenburg is managed by the Association of Breeders of the Oldenburger Horse. The breeding of Oldenburg horses is characterized by very liberal pedigree requirements and the exclusive use of privately-owned stallions rather than centralization around a state-owned stud farm. Unlike other registries that are limited to locally-bred horses, or which prefer one color to another, the modern Oldenburg selects stallions and mares based only on their quality as dressage and jumping horses.

The Holsteiner is a breed of horse originating in the Schleswig-Holstein region of northern Germany. It is thought to be the oldest of warmblood breeds, tracing back to the 13th century. By 1960, the government dissolved the State Stud. The Holstein breeders federation took over 30 Holsteiner stallions, and three Thoroughbreds. “Instead of simply giving up and allowing the breed to wither away as a victim of economic development, the dynamic Board of Directors decided to totally reshape the horse which had been entrusted to them." Currently, there are breeding stations all over the country, but nearly 50 stallions are based at the Holsteiner Verband Stallion Barn at Elmshorn.

*Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. I did my best to complile accurate inflormation, but make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions.

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