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2003/12/17

What Is Your Horse Getting For Christmas? by Anne Fordyce Every year, around this same time, we make our lists of gift recipients. There are the children, husbands and wives, Mothers and Fathers, and other family and friends. If I had to guess, I'd say there is more than one dog on your list. This year, add your other favorite four legged friend, your horse. Those trail horses in our lives have provided us with fun and adventure. We have loaded them up, taken them to all kinds of strange places, tied everything but the kitchen sink to them, and asked them to cart us around safely for hours on end. They go up and down steep hills, cross water with no visible bottom, and jump over hanging tree trunks. They carefully pick their way through vines, rocks and logs. They go rain or shine. And, back at home, the trail horses do little complaining of their sore joints, backs and feet; even though we always seem have plenty to moan and groan about. And, they did all the work! For these horses, may I suggest a few things I have seen on their Christmas wish lists? Most aren't expensive, some requiring no money at all, and would greatly add to the quality of your horse's life. One little bay mare wants some regular hoof care. Her owner lets her feet go until a week before the big ride and then has the poor farrier try to slap a pair of shoes on brittle and split feet. The mare asks for a trim every six to eight weeks, and some good hoof conditioners would be nice, too. In return, she promises to stay sound all summer, and hold her gaits smoothly. A big black gelding would love a liniment water wash after a day on the trails. His 15 year old back isn't what it used to be, and he is awful stiff on the second day out on the trail. Nothing fancy, just a quick sponge bath over his sweaty body, and he promises in return to be as good the second day as he always is on the first. That spotted gelding has on his list a little green grass. His living space is too small for him, and he never gets to chow down on the real green stuff, only dry, last year's hay. He wants a little time on the green. His return will be a better attitude and better digestive health. The big dun mare wants some better fitting tack. The saddle she endures is way too small in the tree for her. By the end of the day she is cranky, touchy, and balky. The pad under it is nasty and hard from sweat. The bridle she is using is too tight in the browband, leaving her with a headache. The cheeks are not adjusted evenly and the buckle on one side pokes her in the eye. The bit is too narrow in the width of the mouth. Every pull of the reins is misery. In return for a set of tack that fits her better, she gives a happier ride, day in and day out. A flea bitten gray gelding requests a clean stall. Right now he is standing on weeks and weeks of his own stuff, long since devoid of wood shavings. It's the only place he has to lie down, and his coat shows the filth he lives in. He would love a stall with some fresh shavings, and to have it picked up regularly. In return he promises a cleaner coat, a rested attitude, better hooves, and a little stall cleaning therapy for you. (Better than most group therapy sessions.) A lonesome chestnut mare writes she wants some company. She is one of the poor souls that live alone, a condition completely unnatural to a horse. She longs for someone to scratch shoulders with, and to swish flies with. Maybe Santa will bring her a pony. She promises to stop walking the fence, in return. And, that slight little roan mare asks that her rider loose at least 20 pounds. Its not that she doesn't enjoy their rides together, but her rider has steadily been getting heavier, and she's getting older. They used to be a good match, but the rider is out growing his horse. The roan mare says she will continue to carry the load but, if he could do this one little thing, she'd appreciate it. Santa got a whole bunch of other horse Christmas lists, with new blankets, good vet care, clean water tanks, quality grain, dental care, sharp clipper blades, and many other things that make a horse's life easier. If you look around your barn, you might see those lists. And, throw in some carrots. Happy Horse Holidays. Anne Fordyce is the marketing and promotions director for Tucker Saddlery, Inc and Circle Y Saddles, Inc; Memphis, TN and Yoakum, TX.

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