Do you remember piling into your friend's house and listening to Radio Luxemburg?
We would carefully search for the aloof signal wafting across the airways all the way from Europe. The melodic tones would fade in and out with an eerie wailing resonance. The illegality of it added to the excitement.
I'm sure many of you reading this did your early 'courting' while listening to Radio Luxemburg. A clandestine tryst while supposedly doing homework or, 'we're just going to listen to some music'. Were our parents really that naive?
Many evenings were spent soaking up the latest musical releases along with the interjections of the alluring DJs. Voices like Kenny Everett, David 'Kid' Jensen, Alan Freeman, Noel Edmonds, and the now-infamous Jimmy Savile.Commercial radio was such a novelty to us. For some reason, I distinctly remember the ads for tampons. 😜 I would try to act so nonchalantly while cringing inside.
Things have changed beyond all recognition. We now have access to unlimited tunes at the simple press of our finger. We carry a device in our pocket with more power and technology than the spaceship that went to the moon. But, that can not surpass the nostalgia of our misspent youth when music and friends meant more to us than anything else.
My favorite way to steam music is Amazon Music (UK link). (US link to Amazon Music). What are some of the songs that remind you of your teen years?
It was a chilly 21°f (-6.1°c) this morning at the barn. And, it's supposed to get down to 4°f (-15.6°c) next week here in North Carolina. This is tiresome even for the most dedicated horse people.
So far this winter has been a combination of either mud or ice. Our northern neighbors like to mock us when we complain about the cold temperatures but we just don't have the infrastructure to cope with it for days on end.
The extreme cold makes everyday chores take much longer than usual and requires more energy and physical strength. If you board your horse please take a few minutes to thank your barn manager and barn hands for their hard work in all weather conditions.
So, as we patiently wait for a thaw from this frozen tundra here is a lighthearted look at some things your barn manager will never say, in winter.
Oh good a snow day.
I love freezing weather.
Breaking ice off of water troughs is my most favorite thing to do.
Mucking out twice, and sometimes three times, in a day because the horses can't go out, is awesome.
Going through twice as much hay because the horses are in all day makes me so happy.
I love it when the ends of my fingers turn blue, it really sets off my perfectly manicured nails.
Dragging water to the barn in coolers because the pipes have frozen is so much fun.
I wish it would snow again.
Changing blankets every five minutes because the temps keep changing helps to tone my biceps.
I can't wait to ride my bi-polar mare, who's been standing in her stall for days.
I think I'll call in sick today.
I wish the weather could stay like this forever.
Taking care of horses is a labor of love and looking forward to spring is what is currently keeping me going.
Here are five MUST-HAVES to help you get through the winter months.
Thermal underwear is an absolute must. Wearing layers helps to keep in the warm air that your body generates and also gives you the option of stripping off layers as it warms up.
Heated water buckets. Unless your barn is really, really well insulated there is a possibility that the buckets will freeze during the night. This is harmful to your horse as they need 24/7 access to water.
Heat Cable Kit. We have these on all the faucets in the barn. They heat the pipes if the weather goes below freezing. No need to keep taps dripping all night.
Phone friendly gloves. Most of us, nowadays, carry our smartphones with us wherever we go. With these gloves, you can use your phone without having to take them off.
Yeti Rambler. Carry your cup-o-joe to the barn with you and keep yourself warm from the inside.
We'd love to hear from you. Let us know some of the things your barn manager never says in winter and follow us on Facebook.
It's that time of year again. We've passed the winter solstice; the days are slowly getting longer and gradually creeping towards spring. But, we still have some severe weather and the problems that go along with it to contend with.
One of those problems is the amount of rain we have been getting and all the mud it creates. I have covered that subject in a previous blog here. Another issue that comes with too much rain is rain rot.
What is Rain Rot?
Contrary to what many people think, rain rot is not a fungal infection. Rain rot, or rain scald as it is sometimes called, is caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria is normally dormant and harmless in a horse's skin. Problems arise when the skin is compromised. This can be caused when the horse becomes wet for extended periods, high humidity, high temperatures that cause excess sweating, or biting insects. Biting insects (particularly flies and ticks) can spread the infection from horse to horse.
Rain rot is contagious to humans and other animals. Anything that comes in contact with the affected horse, such as brushes, buckets, blankets, etc., should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared with other horses. It is also prudent to keep an infected horse separated from other animals on the farm.
How to Prevent Rain Rot
I know it's a clique, but prevention really is better than cure. Daily grooming with clean brushes is very important. This allows you to regularly inspect the condition of your horse and notice any problems before they get out of hand. Reducing the amount of time your horse is exposed to rain is also important. This can be done by providing a safe, inviting shelter for inclement weather. You also have the option of blanketing your horse. It is vital that the blanket is waterproof. A wet blanket will exasperate the problem. When possible, reduce humidity by installing fans in your barn. We used Air King Enclosed Motor fans as their enclosed motor reduces the likelihood of fire due to excessive dust in the barn. Using a reliable insect repellent will also help prevent bites that can compromise the skin and also transfer the infection to other animals.
How to Treat Rain Rot
Rain rot presents as scabs and lesions usually on a horse's body, back, and croup areas. Scratches are caused by the same bacteria but found on the legs. The scabs are usually painful for the horse when touched. They can also ooze.
Step One: Remove the Scabs
The bacteria that causes rain rot is alive underneath the skin's surface. Removing the scabs is a delicate process and can be painful for a horse. Softening them can help. Wearing surgical gloves, I wash the area with warm water soapy water. I use Betadine as it is an intensive antimicrobial agent that treats bacterial infections. Some people suggest using a soft curry comb but I have found (as gross as it sounds) that scraping the scabs off with my fingernails is the best method. Don't be alarmed if removing the scabs reveals bare skin. When the scabs have been removed rinse off the remaining Betadine and thoroughly dry the horse.
Set Two: Treat the Infected Area
Applying treatment before removing the scabs is pointless as it will not reach the infected areas. I use diaper rash cream containing zinc oxide but I have also heard of people using an antimicrobial spray. Either of these methods will help to fight the infection and prevent further spread. Keep the horse dry and re-administer the treatment daily.
Regularly inspecting your horse is the best defense and should be part of your daily routine.
It's January 2021 and instead of having a winter, we are living through what feels like a monsoon. Temperatures are chilly overnight but that doesn't stop the rain. Our property has turned into a mud farm!
One good thing is that the horses don't seem to care. We are fortunate to have enough land that they can still go out each day. They are enjoying wallowing and rolling to the point that it's difficult to tell what color they are anymore.
We have been actively working to combat the enormous amounts of mud being generated as a result of the ground being completely saturated.
Our gateways have a generous layer of crushed rock to make them dryer and easier to navigate.
I regularly re-dig drainage channels to allow run-off water to drain as quickly as possible.
I also make sure the horses have plenty of time to completely dry between their excursions and regularly check for signs of rain rot.
As much as I wish it would dry up I am very comfortable working outside in this weather as I make sure I am suitably dressed. I couldn't do it without my Tilley hat, oil skin riding coat, or waterproof Ariat boots.
What are some products that you can not live without when tending to your mud farm?
I know the title of this blog sounds rather dramatic but that doesn't make it less true. Let me give you some insight into how and why my horses helped save my life.
In June of 2018 my adult son, Sam Davis vanished without a trace from his home in Charlotte, NC. The police thought he had taken off to clear his head and would pop back up again. I knew differently. As mothers, we know our children no matter how old they are. My husband and I pinned posters all over the area and I created the Find Sam Davis Facebook page. I regularly posted updates even though they were few and far between. Every Friday I would do a Facebook live video to mark the passing weeks.
My life was a living nightmare. Sleeping was difficult, eating was optional, and showering was no longer necessary. Every second I was consumed with dark foreboding thoughts, devastation, disbelief, and the enormous feeling of hopelessness. I had no enthusiasm, at all. I stopped teaching horseback riding. My only focus was on finding my child.
Days, weeks, and months blurred together. But, finally, after eight months of not knowing where Sam was a teacher at a local elementary school found what was left of him in some bushes after retrieving a wayward ball. My whole world fell apart. I thought I was prepared for the news but I was so wrong. My agony, despair, trauma, torture quadrupled in a split second. Even though I still had a teenager at home who needed me all I wanted to do was go to sleep and not wake up.
Learning to stay alive
All throughout this horrific experience, I had horses, cats, chickens, and a dog, not-to-mention people to take care of. Staying in bed wasn't an option. My barn became my sanctuary, even more so than normal. My horses had no idea what was going on in my life. To them, everything was normal. Night followed day and mornings meant coming in to stand in the cool barn, caressed by the fans, and lavished with breakfast and copious amounts of hay. Their soft nickers, judgeless eyes, and impatient stomachs kept me grounded.
Solitude is lonely, grief is even lonelier. Amazon Music kept me company while I took care of barn chores. I also discovered that an empty barn is a good place to cry. I can not count how many times I paced up and down the aisle weeping while talking to myself, to Sam. Trying to put into perspective what my new life now looked like.
Life goes on
Grief is a very personal journey. It is a journey, not a destination. Two years on I still have days when I don't want to get up. Unless you have experienced deep depression you can not imagine how difficult the simple act of putting your feet out of bed each morning can be. Think of yourself as very fortunate. But, every day I get up, get dressed, and head to the barn. I look at the world differently now. The sun is brighter, the dew on crisp mornings is clearer, the air is sweeter, and, most days, my smile comes more easily.
My barn is still my sanctuary. There is something very cathartic about cleaning stalls, grooming a horse, or sweeping the aisle. My horses know my secrets, and I know they won't tell. I feel Sam in the breeze occasionally, and I even smelt his aftershave one day, true story.
I am enormously grateful to my patient clients, my loving family, and the kind support from complete strangers. And, of course to my trusted horses who did, literally, help to save my life.
Let us know how your horses have positively influenced your life.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts please reach out to a medical professional.
I have been riding for almost fifty-years and working with horses for thirty-years. I have had many spills over that time, including being dragged by a shetland when I was very young and breaking my ribs when I fell into a jump standard. Thankfully, I always make a point of wearing my riding helmet.
Falling off goes with the sport. We all know that. As the years rolled on, incidences of biting the dust became less frequent. Especially when I decided, I was too old to ride unbroken horses. But, of course, they didn't go away.
As equestrians, we train hard to help prevent accidents and spills and take precautions to keep us safe. One of the most important things we can do is ALWAYS to wear a well fitted, undamaged riding helmet.
Yesterday I fell off of my normally placid Andalucian mare. We were trail riding, as we do almost every day. She thought she saw something in a group of trees. She spooked, dropped her left shoulder, and spun to the right. Spooks are not uncommon, and I have ridden and survived many over the years, but not this time. My not-so-elegant dismount consisted of a somersault over her left shoulder, and an unceremonious landing with a wallop on my back very quickly followed with me smacking my head on the ground.
I tried to sit up, but the world was spinning, literally. I stayed down until I stopped feeling dizzy. My riding companions, including my six-year-old granddaughter, dismounted and came to my aid. My horse had made it halfway across the field in her attempt to get away from the invisible enemy.
Eventually, stumbling to my feet and went to retrieve her. I legged my granddaughter back onto our bombproof paint and slowly walked back to the barn. I wanted to re-mount but still felt light-headed. When we got back to the barn, I climbed back on, as you do, and took my mount down the lane and back.
According to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, head injuries have been found to be one of the most frequently occurring injuries and are the leading cause of death in horse-related injury events. Today, my neck is sore from the whiplash that thrust my head to the ground, but I am still here, and I put that down to the fact that I was wearing an ASTM/SEI approved riding helmet.
Please take the safety of your head and brain seriously. Do not let vanity get in the way of protecting the delicate computer that controls your whole body. I am very lucky. It could have been much worse. I think I will also invest in a protective vest. My helmet is now compromised so I will also be buying a new one.
Have you had a spill where your helmet saved your life? Tell us about it on our Facebook page.
Every summer we all comment that "the flies are bad this year," when in actual fact, they are bad every year. We are always looking for a safe fly spray for our horse that actually works. I have tried just about every product on the market. Some work better than others. Some don't work at all. I try to stay away from the ones with harmful, poisonous chemicals in them. If you have ever looked at the ingredients and what those potions are capable of doing, you would never use them again.
So, how do you determine what is a safe fly spray for horses, and people, and is it going to work?
You don't have to because I have done it for you. I have created and tested two, home-made, formulas that work on my horses. They can be easily produced and costs less than $3 for 32oz.
Create the cedary oil base with equal parts of the following ingredients - cedar oil, castor oil (carrier). In a 32oz spray bottle mix together 11fl oz of Pine-Sol, 11fl oz of white vinegar, 10fl oz of water. Add 1tsp of the cedary oil base. Shake well and apply generously to your horse. The total cost of 32oz = $1.35 (not including the spray bottle)
These formulas are good with barn flies, house flies, nats, and mosquitos. I have yet to find something that can repel deer and horse flies.
Disclaimer: These products and formulas have not been approved by the FDA or any governing body. Use it at your own risk. Discontinue use if irritation develops. Prices are correct as of August 2020 and are subject to change.
The quick answer is, it doesn't. But, I can see why people would think it does.
This non-horse related blog is brought about by questions and comments from people over the years who have asked me what the difference is between England, Britain, UK, and so on. I will attempt to answer them here.
I will start by saying that I am from England. I am also from Britain, and the United Kingdom, and the British Isles. I could go on and add Europe into that mix. It's very easy to see why people are confused.
I will start with the large picture and work backward.
Europe is a continent, not to be confused with the European Union, a political and economic union of 27 members located primarily in Europe. Europe, the continent, covers 3.9 million square miles and is made up of forty-four countries. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and Asia to the east.
The British Isles
The British Isles is the name of a group of islands situated off the northwestern corner of mainland Europe. It is made up of Great Britain (more about that later), Ireland, The Isle of Man, The Isles of Scilly, The Channel Islands (including Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, and Alderney), and over 6,000 other smaller islands.
The United Kingdon, known as the UK for short
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a sovereign state made up of four countries; England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In international law, a sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area.
Great Britain, aka Britain
Great Britain is not a country; it is a landmass. It is known as 'Great' because it is the largest island in the British Isles and houses the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales within its shores.
England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are countries. Scotland and Wales have their own governments led by their First Ministers'. They also have representation in the English government in Westminster, London, by elected members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Northern Island is also a country, it has its own government called the Northern Island Assembly. It also has representation in the English government.
Ireland is an independent country. It is part of the British Isles but not part of Britain or the United Kingdom.
The creation of a business can be a daunting task. There are many things that need to be considered. One of them is a catchy, name that is easy to remember. I didn't have that problem when I started my equestrian business in America. I had known, for a very long time, that my barn would be called White Rose Equestrian. But how did that come about?
As most of you already know, I am originally from England. Yorkshire to be precise. Our story begins there many, many years ago.
The War of the Roses
In the 1400s, England engaged in civil war as two rival branches of the royal house, the House of Lancaster and the House of York, battled for the English throne.
The conflict persisted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, with control switching back and forth between Yorkists and Lancastrians. The two adversaries finally united when Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, known as King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York. She was the eldest daughter and heir of Edward IV. The House of Tudor successfully ruled England until 1603. This ended with the death of Elizabeth I, the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and the granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.
The name "Wars of the Roses" originated because of the heraldic badges associated with two rival branches of the same royal house, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. The emblems continue to be represented extensively throughout the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire and are incorporated into each flag.
Since I am from Yorkshire, it only seemed fitting to carry some of my heritage across the ocean and into my business. The Yorkshire Rose is front and center in our business logo, as are the colors of the Yorkshire Flag.
I am proud of my origins and very grateful to all our wonderful clients and friends who support White Rose Equestrian.
Father's Day is quickly approaching (June 21st, 2020), but there is still time to buy something special for your horse show dad.
Some dads understand that learning to ride is so much more than just learning to ride. They recognize that being around horses and helping at the barn also instills compassion, empathy, teamwork, hard work, coordination, and so much more. These dedicated dads don't mind getting up early or going to bed late so their children can have extra time with their horse. They learned how to tow a trailer and load a horse just so their child can compete in shows. Their dedication and commitment to their equestrian should be recognized regularly but even more so on Father's Day.
What does your horse show dad need?
T-Shirt - Of course no horse show dad would be complete without the obligatory horse show dad t-shirt.
Photo Album - These days, most people store their photos on their phones. A great way to memorialize your time spent with your dad is to get him a photo album of your journey together. This self-adhesive photo album makes it easy to present your photos and mementos. Try this link to order prints from your phone.
Drink Container - All equestrians know that barn time is not the same as regular time. Especially during long hot days at the barn in summer, it is essential to stay hydrated. Get your dad a 26oz Yeti Rambler. I have one of these and can tell you it keeps my drink cold all day long.
Fitbit - If your dad is a fitness freak or just wants to get fitter, a Fitbit is a great idea. He will be able to track his steps, exercise, and calorie intake. They are fun to use and can be synced to a smartphone.
Overnight Bag - Often, showing requires overnight stays. Your dad should travel in style, just like you and your horse. A versatile overnight bag is an ideal gift and a great way to say thank you.
I'm sure that horse show dads are happy with their role and get immense satisfaction from spending time with and watching their equestrian learn and grow. However, it is still important to show some extra love on Father's Day.