DEFINITELY NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S
WESTERN PLEASURE HORSE
There’s a video making the rounds on social media that perfectly illustrates one of my biggest fears as a professional horsewoman: that the perversion of horses’ natural movement I see in many show disciplines today will persist – to the detriment of horses – for generations.
For example, I can’t stand the idea that today’s young riders, the professional trainers and judges of the next generation, may have never seen a pleasure Quarter Horse who doesn’t four-beat “lope” jammed on the forehand popping up and down like an oil pumpjack. How will they ever know that’s not how a stock horse should (or even must) move.
The intelligent, accomplished young woman who posted this “educational” video to her Facebook page is exactly the type of professional I’m worried about. She seems honestly to believe this perhaps slightly less egregious peanut-roller posture should be celebrated.
Compared to the worst of what has been in the showring in the past three-plus decades, it’s just parsing degrees of awfulness, I’d say. Compared to how stock horses were shown up until the 1980s, there’s just no comparison.
FLY SPRAY AWAY!
As summer blooms and flying pests return, be sure you and your horse don't inhale a toxic mist. Yes, I'm talking about the fly-repellent spray that's part of your grooming kit during the warm months.
For those of you who live in climates where freezing temperatures kill off the flying pests for several months of the year, well, there has to be some silver lining to those snowy days. We've had a string of such mild winters here in southern Arizona that some people probably never stopped spraying.
But whether you're spraying your horse year-round or only for a few months, I urge caution and common sense in choosing what to spray. Remember the purpose of the product you apply to your horse – like those you might apply to keep pests away from your own body – is to repel flying insects, not to kill them on contact. Chemicals that will kill a bug are, by definition, toxic to living things, of which both you and your horse are examples.
So before you buy a commercial chemical fly spray, please take the time to read the label and be sure you're getting repellent, not "insecticide" or "pesticide." Peruse the warning text, which on many products takes up more space than the directions for use or any marketing statements. If the packaging cautions that you should avoid inhaling the product or getting it on your skin, do you really want to douse your horse in the stuff?
NATURAL FLY SPRAY: THE MONSOON VERSION
Many of my clients and acquaintances have used my home-brew natural fly spray with very good results. After more than two decades using the same mix, I tweaked the recipe recently to deal with some particularly persistent flies during our desert monsoon. You can still find both the classic recipe and variations on my website, along with other information about the oils and the spray. The new, revised version is as follows:
1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
1/2 cup Dawn dish soap
Peppermint Essential Oil
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Essential Oil
Citronella Essential Oil
Clove Bud Essential Oil
Fill a gallon container about 3/4 full of water. Add 1 cup vinegar (apple cider or white), 1/2 cup Dawn dish soap, 20 drops of the citronella, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Tea Tree essential oils, and 10-15 drops of Clove Bud essential oil. Top off with water as needed to fill the container. Shake well. Store airtight and out of direct sunlight.