A Treasure from My Childhood

The other day, my mom unearthed something she’d saved in a cedar chest for about half a century. It was a handmade gift, presented to me in my childhood, by a family friend who leased and showed one of our horses.

The gift: A Barbie-sized horsehead sweater (plus matching pants and hat), the miniaturized version of a hand-knit sweater style that was super-popular in the early 1960s.

(Some versions depicted a running horse, or a specific breed, or other motif, but their shape and styling were the same.)

The friend: Bev Wenger, from Fargo, North Dakota. She lived and worked in town, but drove regularly out to our farm to ride. This meant she usually had four horse-crazy kids around at all times, pestering her for help and attention with their own horses.

The leased horse: An Appaloosa gelding named Baldy Sox. As far as we kids knew, Baldy belonged to our Grandma Smith, whom we’d never seen on a horse. We’d also never seen such a thing as a gelding without a job—that was inconceivable. It made perfect sense to us, therefore, that Bev paid Grandma a small amount every month to ride Baldy. It’s how he earned his keep.

I remember getting the knitted Barbie outfit from Bev when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old. It seemed wondrous even then, when handmade Barbie outfits were more the norm rather than the exception.

I must have gotten instructions to be extremely careful with it, for it still looks just like new. My mom is known to be a careful saver of mementos, and she had a real treasure put aside with this one.

Heated Hose: Ever Tried One at the Barn?

Here it comes again—another round of the polar vortex, meaning yet another stretch of super-cold weather for unlucky parts of the country.

If you’re among those who water their horses via hose, I can hear you groaning now. Few things are less fun about horsekeeping than dealing with frozen hoses.

Which leads me to ask: Have you ever used a heated hose for duty at the barn? If so, how has it worked out?

I wasn’t aware until very recently that such a product existed. If you’re already in the know, I’d appreciate your first-hand review of how well a heated hose works in a horse-barn application.

And, I suspect I may not be the only one!

Horse&Rider Articles: Did You Read Any of These Last Year?

An article’s title is meant to draw readers in, not just label a story by subject. With this in mind, I recently reviewed Horse&Rider’s articles published in 2013, looking for grabby titles.

Here are 10 that made it into my notes. My Q du jour for those who read the magazine: Which of these do you remember, either for the title or because you also read the article itself?

1. Put a Feral Cat to Work
2. Should Horses ‘Play’ With Humans?
3. Learn How to Lose
4. Can Horses Be Bipolar’
5. I Met My Horsey Sig-O Online
6. Is Weaning a Foal Really Necessary?
7. Reiner With No Trainer
8. Worm Eggs—Yikes!
9. Avoid Ascarid Apocalypse
10.When Your Horse Dies

I’m always grateful for your feedback, as are the magazine’s other editors. So, thanks in advance for letting us know your thoughts!

‘Trail Riding’—What’s Your Version of It?

I’m curious about something: When you think of ‘trail riding,’ or when you say, ‘I’m going on a trail ride,’ what does that mean in your world, exactly?

• A. Is it any kind of relaxed riding you do outside an arena, such as a mosey around the pasture—mostly right around home?
• B. Is it something more challenging, such as riding an historic trail or navigating in backcountry?
• C. Is it something you must travel to do, horse in tow, because you have no access otherwise?
• D. Do you think of it largely as a social activity, where many riders get together to ride in specific areas?
• E. Is something you don’t think about much at all, because you don’t do it?
• F. Is it something else I haven’t mentioned—such as a form of trail-riding competition?

I have editorial reasons for asking.

In surveys, way more people check ‘trail riding’ than ‘showing’ as their top activity. This is true of equine associations as well as magazines.

Yet as you can tell from the variety of questions above, there’s no one definition of the activity, and therefore no one way to address it in terms of a member’s or reader’s needs and level of interest.

Now for the biggest question of the day:

Do you care to read about trail riding?

That is a simple yes-or-no question. But feel free to elaborate, either way.

How’s Your Hay Supply Holding Out?

If there’s anything I hate worse at this time of year than the prospect of doing taxes, it’s the prospect of running out of hay.

And as I watch the reports of extreme winter weather pounding away at so many parts of the country, I can’t help but wonder:

How’s your hay supply holding out?

If you’ve had long cold spells, you’ve probably gone through your hay faster than you expected, and if you don’t or can’t put in a long-term supply, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that finding more hay is high on your priority list.

If that’s the case, what’s your situation for getting more–is hay readily available, or are you having to scramble to find it? Any tips or resources you can share?

Here’s hoping you’re sitting pretty and have all the hay you need.

If not, here’s a place where you can vent your pain!