Monday, 30 September 2013

Is the Grass Really Greener?



“If only”…

I was asked to speak to a women’s group this week in Toronto on the topic of marriage and singleness.

Big topic…but the potholes on either road are the “if onlys”. Fall in, and we’ll miss the scenery along road.

In the show ring, in the workplace or in our relationships we can get stuck in discontentment .

“If only I didn’t blow that lead in the class”…

“If only I didn’t forget my pattern”…

“If only I was married”…

“If only I wasn’t married”…

“If only we could have children”…

“If only I wasn’t pregnant…”

And so it goes…

Andy Stanley challenges young singles to focus on “becoming the person, the person you’re looking for is looking for.”

Becoming vs. achieving. Good advice for all of us. Focusing on the process, not just the result.

Paul, a wise a mentor to a young pastor, Timothy, gave him this advice…

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it….But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:6,
The Bible

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Is My Horse in Pain? Part 2



Humans show pain through facial expressions which have been coded and used to assess the discomfort of patients who cannot communicate their suffering in other ways, such as babies.

Scientist have done the same for laboratory animal (for example the “Mouse Grimace” scale).
And now the Horse Grimace Scale has been developed.

I read a recent article from Horse Journal’s John Strassburger with interest about a study done by European researchers to quantify horse facial expressions in order to determine degrees of pain.

They’re calling their new tool the Horse Grimace Scale (HGS), and the researchers hope that its application will help guide trainers, owners and veterinarians in the determination of equine pain and its care….

They conducted the study after castration of 46 males, with one group receiving Banamine prior to the procedure and one group receiving it both before surgery and six hours after surgery. High-definition video of the horses’ faces were then taken for five days after their procedures, and then they analyzed the footage.


Things which were delineated as being expressions of pain in horses included: stiffly backward ears, orbital tightening, tension visible above the eyes, strained chewing muscles, mouth strained with pronounced chin, strained nostrils, and what is described as “flattening of the profile,” which (I’ll be honest) I don’t really understand.

I was interested in this study because we spend countless hours trying to discern the meaning of every change in behavior, of an odd twitch of a tail or ear, looking for the Rosetta stone of movement, sound and behavior. And when something about them changes, you start running down the laundry list of possibilities.

“Do they hurt?” If yes, is it a new injury? An old injury? An issue with tack fit? With their teeth? With their feet or shoeing? Is it curable? Is it progressive? If so, how fast?

“Is it a training issue?” If yes, then, is it a hole in their basics? A question they don’t understand? A mismatch between horse and rider? A mismatch between horse and job?

“Is it a lifestyle issue?” Do they need more turn-out? Less turn-out? A different stall? A different neighbor or pasture mate? More schooling? More hacking? Different feed? Some kind of supplement? Removal of a supplement?

Working with horses, our gut feelings can lead us in the right direction or down the wrong path. The more we learn about the science of how horses think, the better we can communicate with them – don’t you think?





Thursday, 12 September 2013

Is My Horse in Pain? Part 1



You hit a roadblock at a horse show and, because youre a thinking rider, you don’t jump to the “he’s just being a jerk” or “his saddle doesn’t fit” or “she must be in heat” conclusion, with a sigh and a wave of your hand. You look deeper. A common thread. Go through your mental files of personal experience, and the proven facts about horse physiology and behaviour you’ve learned.

Refusing to go over a jump or into the ring. Lameness on the right hind. Head shaking. A canter that just feels “flat”. Is it me or my horse? Here are some of the questions I ask when I’m faced with a horse puzzle…

Has there been a history of this problem? This week? Last month? Is it seasonal? Intermittent or constant?

Am I riding differently? Have I changed my technique? Are my aids clear, or possibly muddied with emotion, distraction or time pressure?

Anything new? New tack? Shoeing change? Feed increase? New crop of hay? Weather change?

Am I reading my horse correctly? Can I distinguish between fear, resistance, fatigue, pain?

Horses can’t communicate the source of the problem. And despite speaking a common language, sometimes neither can the people in our lives. How often have we dismissed someone as a snob when they’re just distracted? Or a wimp without knowing their history? Or lazy when they’re in physical pain?

Next blog, we’ll take a look at an interesting study to help determine if the source of a horse’s issue is pain, and if so to help quantify the degree of that pain…

Wise words from the Bible …

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 
1 Peter 3:8

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15