For mother’s day weekend, I left Columbia, SC to travel down to Florida to visit the madre. She lives near Sarasota, Florida, which is south of Tampa and on the Gulf Coast. As classes officially ended the week prior to mother’s day weekend, I made it out with a 3.9 GPA for my first year of graduate school, but certainly not without a price to pay. As Rumplestilskin may say on Once Upon a Time, “Magic always comes with a price, dearie!” So does having good grades as well as your health, the toll of the magic of life. Knock on wood, I made it out alive and healthy without major sickness over the winter months, however mentally I was drained. Summer may have been around the bend, but with no loans coming in over the summer months and nothing to keep me occupied (no more 60+ hour “work week!”) I started to find myself slowly spirally out of control. Thankfully , I was able to gain a part-time job to hold me over until the next school semester in August, but I was still so stressed out. You know it is time for a mental and physical breather when you have nothing much to stress about, but are too consumed and tied up with stress you’ve been withholding and bottling up inside to be able to fully relax and just be. My mini-vacation couldn’t have come at a better time , and allowed me to become stress-free by the sea.
As the weather has slowly been warming up again, and is a nice 70 or so degrees outside, Luna has been a captive of the wonderful South Carolina sun. Many wolf hybrid owners tell of how their dogs love to stay outside when it is cold, which is very true for Luna as well, but she doesn’t simply want to stay out only if it is cold. Give her a ton of fresh water, an added pet pool if you chose to do so, and she’d be set for weeks! It’s almost as if she is petitioning against the enclosure of the indoors until she gets what she wants “I’ll stay out here for weeks unless you get me more toys to tear up!” If you have ever gone through this with your wolf hybrid or large breed dog, know that you are certainly not alone in your quest to bring your pooch back inside. But the difference between the inside “where she belongs” and where they actually chose to belong and feel most comfortable and happy can be quite different.
As I’ve been training my 2 ½ year old Tennessee Walking Horse, Rooster, there have been two things that Rooster has struggled with. The seemingly paramount task of getting him saddled and someone on him almost seems easy when you compare it to 1. Him moving when mounting, and 2. Just about revolting in being tied up. I was perplexed, as I had never trained a young colt prior to Rooster. To be honest, Rooster is going wonderfully, exceeding my expectations, minus these two little things that I need to work on with him. But what are the ways people train to do so?
Before Rooster, my 2 ½ year old Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH), I had no prior knowledge about the breed that so many people are wanting to own. One of the main reasons for their increase in popularity has been due to the mass media with recent abuse cases as well as for being gaited.
“I am a Show Horse, I am a Trail companion I am a way to have fun, and a way to mend a broken heart, I listen, I feel, I love, I am your Tennessee Walking Horse, I am smooth as no other when I am in my prime, Long striding, sweeping like gliding in air, I work, and work for you, I and excitable and can wow you with flash and pure power, I am calm when in the hands of those that love me, and as sweet as you let me be.”
The TWH was first founded in…I bet you can guess! Tennessee. It is a “mix” so to say of Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Morgan, American Saddlebred, and Canadian Pacer horses. The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder’s Association currently uses blood typing, DNA, and micro chipping in order to maintain the purity of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The TWH was originally bred to be an all-around horse for the everyday rider as it can be ridden in both English or Western, and has a very calm, docile temperament. The TWH has come to be known as the “the world’s greatest show, trail, and pleasure horse.” TWH come in many different coat colors, range from 14.3 to 17 hands, and weigh 900 to 1200 pounds. The one thing I’ve found in having my TWH, Rooster, is that they have a narrower face alike an Arab than a regular horse, and therefore need a Cob Size halter, etc. so that they don’t drown in a horse size halter.
Tennessee Walking Horses are gaited, meaning that they perform a running walk rather than a trot (naturally). They have three distinct gaits: a flat foot walk, a running walk, and a canter. The running walk is natural and unique to the breed as it is inherited through genetics. The running walk is an entirely too-smooth-to-be-true gait that is very much alike the flat regular walk in exception for the speed difference. You can view a video of a Tennessee Walking Horse performing a running walk HERE. Whenever I ride Rooster at his running walk, I barely move, and it almost feels like I’m on a magical gliding carpet. At the running walk, a TWH can travel up to 20 miles per hour. A TWH will also continue to nod while performing the running walk, whereas most horses do not do so at the running walk equivalent, the trot. The smooth sailing gait is the reason why many individuals chose the TWH as it makes riding more manageable for those with back problems and other ailments that may interfere with riding due to the rough gait of a trot that can be painful on a person’s joints.
All of that sounds fine and good about the breed doesn’t it? If you search Tennessee Walking Horse I Google, you are likely to come across many articles about soring of TWH. For competitions, TWH are trained using cruel methods in order for them to “learn” to prance their feet up very high while performing the running walk in order to gain an advantage at horse shows (as shown in the picture to the right). It is a grotesque experience for the horse, and I personally don’t understand how an owner can allow such a thing nor impose it on the horse themselves. Caustic chemicals, chains, hoof knives and grinders, sharp objects, weighted shoes, and other more gruesome means and devices are used to make it very, very painful for the horse to step down so that they are more inclined to hold their foot up for a longer period of time, unnaturally, for competitions. This practice, called soring, has gained the spotlight for animal activists in the past year. There is currently a federal bill, The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act that would make all individuals who sore horses, under the Horse Protection Act, for profit or to win prizes would be held accountable for their actions. You yourself can be a change agent, and contact your legislators using this online form from the Humane Society to help advocate for the passing and implementation of the act.
When I first looked at a picture of Rooster, I didn’t know what breed he was. Looking into it, I found a great amount of owners sharing their stories on how loving, brilliant, and devoted their Tennessee Walking Horses are. He is very smart (sometimes too much for his own good!), is eager to please you in training, and has a complete puppy-dog personality, and will follow me around and eagerly wait for me at the gait. In owning Rooster I have been able to witness these characteristics first hand. I know that almost every horse owner has a favorite breed of theirs. Prior to Rooster, I loved draft horses as well as Morgans. But if you haven’t ever been able to see or ride a Tennessee Walking Horse, I highly recommend it, you won’t be disappointed. On days when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the grass is green, riding is the most pleasant and relaxing experience as I am carried away by my own personal magic carpet of a horse.
“Through their connectedness to ancient rhythms,
horses show us a place they have never forgotten.
When we remember where we come from,
everything changes and triumphantly we can behold our beauty.”
As many of you may know, I own a 2 ½ year old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding. When I was “browsing (or in other words, adamantly looking for) a horse, I didn’t ever expect to buy a rescued horse, and one that was not actually from a non-profit rescue none the less. In many ways, the same stereotype is reinforced with rescuing a horse that it does with rescuing a dog or cat from the Humane Society or any other shelter; that they are in some way emotionally or physically inept. That picture isn’t all false of course, but many horse rescues have horses up for adoption that are healthy and have been worked with so that they may be emotionally ready for their new owner.
Have you ever heard the saying “It is like beating a dead horse?” Welcome to second semester grad school, when there is never enough time to be found and too many things to do. In one of my courses this semester, we are conducting our own treatment therapy group, utilizing first-year Master’s in Social Work students alike myself. The session that I myself am co-facilitating has to do with coping, encompassing the physical, emotional, and major life events that trigger stress and lead to the havoc that is present in almost every graduate student’s life. Because as everyone knows, life never stops and it certainly doesn’t get easier by adding a gigantic amount of work to your already hectic schedule.
Teaching one’s dog to sit on command is one of the first tricks most people ever attempt to teach their pups. I know it has been for me!
But do we know why? What do you actually gain by commanding an animal to plant their butt on the floor?
In this post we’re going to explore what dogs, owners and even passers by get out of “sit”.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Sometimes I can’t believe how fast the year has gone by, and I’m sure everyone has made so many accomplishments as well as overcame an obstacle (or two, or three..) Overall I couldn’t have asked for a more momentous year. Back when I first decided to blog, I made a post called What’s In YOUR Bucket?
Although I haven’t crossed all of to-do’s on my bucket list, I did make a little dent! Looking back on all of the things we accomplish in a year truly does put your life in perspective! Here’s a quick look at my top 5 accomplishments of 2012 in a nutshell.