Wednesday, May 26, 2021


Katman got a fresh load of shavings and proceeded to scare the crap out of me. Rolling in a freshly bedded stall is something they all do and he is no exception. This time however, he got something in his right eye. I whipped out my bottle of Vetracyn ophthalmic gel  and put a generous glob in his eye. In return I got back about a pea sized chunk of gray nasty something that was obviously causing the issue. 

The red part under the eyelid- this has recessed quite a bit but when it first happened that was sticking out under the eyelid and in plain sight on a much larger scale. The bottom eyelid was also swollen and puffy. 

After getting the pea sized chunk of crap out it had to feel so much better. He wasn't done yet though because next came a healthy glob of some terramycin an ophthalmic antibiotic. For $20-$25 a tube it is definitely something good to have in your first aid kit!  His other eye also got a healthy dose of gel and salve just in case. Fly mask went on for the night and I hoped for the best.  

The left eye still showing a little bit of pink irritation on the inside bottom. 

The next day there was a marked improvement- swelling was almost gone and the eyelid was almost back to normal. I also had a plan for a better way to flush the eyes. 

I have some packets of saline solution for flushing sinuses, so I took a handful of these to the barn. A bottle of water from the tack room fridge and a small container from the $1 store, I mixed up a batch of saline. A small syringe and we were good to go. Kat was again very patient while I rinsed his eyes and flushed away anything and everything caught in there. Another glob of terramycin and put the mask on again to wait to see.  

A few days later and much improved. Still a little pink but no more swelling and he's not rubbing his face on things. It doesn't look like he suffered any injury to his eye or vision so that's always good. The fly mask stays on now too since those pesky bugs have returned. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Silver dapples

The weather has warmed up enough that everyone at the barn is shedding like crazy. Kat and one of the other horses there have pretty fluffy winter coats that will take some time to shed out. My pony is lucky since I body clipped him. Speed up the process a bit... Lol

He went from a silver dapple color-  

Kat showing off his deep chocolate brown color.

To a silver color with dapples- 

He's such a unique color and yet every year when I clip him or he sheds out- he changes just a little bit more. 

He is still and always will be - a character with a Huge personality. And now that he has short hair again, I can rinse him and he will be dry in a few minutes tops.  Hooray for that!

With his feet coming back around too, it won't be long before I'm back to driving him again and he's tearing it up. I'm betting we qualify for the old farts class before long. Lol  

He loves a good roll.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Making it work

Everyone and anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big supporter of and I champion the cause of ground driving and long line work. Fix the horse first and we can work on fixing us later. 

For the English crowd long line work is not lost if you don't have a surcingle. Use what you have- saddle, bridle and a piece of baling twine. 

Drop your irons and use the baling twine to tie them together underneath the horse. This is a little closer look and you can see the blue baling twine on the inside of the iron. Just like with a western saddle, this will limit the swing and keep them closer to the horse more like a surcingle. 

To keep your reins up and out of the way you can run them under your leathers and buckle them on top of the seat. This will still allow your horse plenty of room to stretch out and down when working. 

In the past I have also seen the reins run under the flap and buckled on top of the seat. This shortens them a bit and works more like side reins, but for long line work- this doesn't help. You don't want your reins giving one signal and your long lines another. You can also either take them off altogether or twist them up, buckled around the neck and run thru the throatlatch on the bridle. Whatever works for you. Now you're ready to get to work and fix the horse. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Fine tuning

The cart has undergone some changes and now the overall picture is a better one, but... There are still a few more changes that could be made. 

One would be bigger, solid wheels. Anything above training level does not allow pneumatic tires. If the wheels on this cart were a little bigger, it would help to level out the shafts giving a more balanced look.  

The paint is another issue. While I like this color- Matte Sage Green- and it is a primer & paint all on one- it's coming off onto my harness and chipping in places. I may end up sanding it all down again, hitting it with a coat of primer and painting it a glossy black to match my other cart. Then if the color comes off anymore, it's black on black and not noticeable. 

Another thing that would help is to drop the tugs one more hole and straighten out the shafts. The straighter the line of draft, more level the shafts are and balanced the cart is- the more pleasant the overall picture and also the easier it is on the horse. 

Another less noticeable necessity is the trace extenders.  The length of traces are a bit short and although I bought extenders, I need the next one up. This will let the breeching keep the cart back off the ponys rear end which helps keep everything where it should be. 

The last thing I need to work on is a pad for the harness saddle and also a sleeve for both the breast collar and the breaching. These will all make harness cleaning much easier since I can take off the 3 pieces and throw them in the wash. These also let me add a bit of color to the turnout to keep things fun. 

*My apologies for the oversize pics. Blogger wouldn't allow me to use a smaller size with the format. Every time I tried to go back to a smaller size the text got all screwed up., stuff got shifted all around and the whole thing looked like a mess. Is anyone surprised? * 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Small changes

As I mentioned at the end of the last post there are a few small issues with the set up we had. I will start with one of the most glaring issues as it is the first thing Gary pointed out when I sent him the pics of this pony. 

Look at where the shaft is and how high up it is in relation to the traces and 'the line of draft' as it is called. I let Gary know that there is room to punch holes and drop the tugs some which will fix part of the issue but the cart could also use bigger wheels too which would bring it Up a little in the back, helping to level out the shafts. 

Problem #2 with this pic is the part of the shaft from the tug stop to the tip.  The tug stop is typically closer to the tug so this tells me I may be able to let out the traces a few holes and forgo the trace extenders. Wahoo!  But if the shaft and cart come forward where they should be, then the length of this part of the shaft comes into question. Not a problem. The tips are a little rough for my taste and I had gotten rubber stoppers to cram in them before. Trimming them off a little is not a problem.... They are also incredibly straight. The length and straightness both add to the problem of poking into the pony's neck when she tries to turn. Bigger sweeping turns aren't so bad, but smaller circles and tighter turns will be a problem. 

Shaft level and line of draft seems to be an issue with me. Lol 😆 This was from the show in Luling a couple years ago. I had swapped out the marathon shafts for the straighter, more traditional shafts for the show- and forgot to drop the tugs on the harness to accommodate this. My bad! 

See how high up the shafts are in relation to the traces. This is also making the hold back straps on the breeching look a bit awkward. I took the harness home and punched a couple holes on both sides and dropped the tugs.  Easy enough...

The tugs have come down into a better position. There may still be another hole that I can drop them again. I need to check, but I have since brought the cart home for the other changes. 

From a distance though it already presents a nicer look with things being more level and even.  As for the length and the lack of curve, both easily remedied by a trip to Lowe's for a pipe bender. I already had the pipe cutter and it didn't take much to measure from the tug stop out 12" and mark the shafts for cutting. Put the cutter on, spin it around a few times and done. File the edges smooth of the new cut, popped out the old plugs from the scrap ends and of course they won't fit damn the luck. No big deal because I wanted to bend the tips out and thought I may have to heat things up - which would melt the plugs anyways so this worked out. Another trip to Lowe's for the next size bigger plugs and some other things. 
I also found some Pale Sage paint that caught my eye so before I heated up the pipe to make bending them easier, I busted out the sander and some 80 grit to take off the layers of paint where it was chipping off anyways.... 

I measured 6" in from the tip ends, bent the ends with the pipe bender and gave it a couple light coats of paint. Lucky for me I didn't have to heat up anything and was able to get it done. 

I still need to remove the wheels and seat to finish the paint job, but theres no rush. Funny thing is, the cart was originally close to this same color when I got it several years ago. It was also bright red too at some time in the past. The sage seems to go nicely with the vinyl on the new seat. Now all that's left is finding new/ different/ bigger spoked wheels instead of the pneumatic wheels on it. Once you move up out of training level, pneumatic wheels are no longer allowed. But then there's always something more to consider... 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Putting to

 I know I have done a few attempt posts about putting a horse or pony to a cart and what is involved, but this time I have pictures to help the words make sense. With the help of a friend of mine at the barn and her pony starting in harness- here goes. 

When putting a horse or pony to a cart or carriage it is always good to have two things. One is a header to stand in front of the horse and help keep them quiet and two is a routine. The days of fhe old west in the movies, when the actor runs outside, unties the horse,  jumps on the carriage, flaps the reins while yelling HAAAA! and tearing away are bullshit. If the horse is wearing a bridle of any kind its not a good idea to use the bridle to tie them and if the horse is put to a cart or carriage, they are to be wearing a bridle and not tied. Any time you're working around an animal that outweighs and out muscles us like our horses and ponies do- everything should be about Safety first! Our own safety and that of the horse as well will help things go smoothly. 

When I was training Kat I didn't often have a header and I taught him that when the bridle went on and I put you 'here' you are not to move until I am on the cart and have asked you to go. When we finished and we get back to our 'here' spot again, he was to stay put and don't move until everything was undone, I removed the cart shafts from the tugs and asked him to come forward. This is probably the first part of our routine- establish a 'Here' spot. This should be somewhere the horse is comfortable standing, where the cart is easily accessible and you have plenty of room to walk around both sides to fasten and unfasten everything. For the first several times putting them to and taking them away from the cart, I do it in the arena usually somewhere in the middle of the end by the gate. I have brought the cart out to where we will be hitching and unhitching and thus established our 'Here' spot. When you get to the point of competing, you're hauling to new places and sometimes showing out of your trailer so your 'Here' spot may be close to the trailer, but you will still establish a place where all of your hitching and unhitching happens.  

So now that the harness is on, bridle and reins are on, cart is in the arena waiting and everything is ready, what happens next? Well there are 8 points you have to do and the first 2 are the shafts going into the tugs. This is the first part of putting to. Bring the horse around to stand in front of the cart to where you can bring the cart forward to the horse and slide the shafts into the tugs. 1) left side and 2) right side. You may have to slide in one side and then walk around to the other side to check that they are both in the tugs. With ponies and minis you can look over their back- horses not so much. 

Here you can see the shaft is thru the tugs on the harness saddle.  There should be a tug stop which will help keep the cart from sliding too far forward hitting your horse in the butt. The tug stop does Not go thru the tugs.  This was a mistake I made early on and was corrected at our first Darby. 

Next you will attach the traces to the singletree. 3) right side since you're already over there and 4) left side. There are a few varieties of trace ends and singletree attachments. This cart has what is called a sword end meaning it is flat with 2 holes in the end. The trace slips on and there is either a leather strap or a wire that drops down thru both holes- one on either side of the trace to keep them from sliding off the end. I found some handy pins with rings that I attached to the inside hole with a small cable. The pin drops into the outside hole and the ring flips down to hold the trace on. The cable keeps the rings attached to the cart so they don't get lost. Since everything is still in the beginning stages, the traces are a tad short so I made extensions for now. 

Traces attached to singletree. A good rule of thumb is that there should be about 18" between the horses butt and the front of the cart. This gives their back legs room to move at the different gaits without cart interference. The traces can usually be adjusted accordingly.  Step 2- slide the nearest trace on and fasten it to the singletree on the cart. For mine it is slide the trace on, push the pin down and flip the loop down.  Then go around and do the other side the same way- 3) left side and 4) right side.

Step 3 is attaching the holdback straps and breeching.  Some people attach snaps to their holdbacks and leave them on the cart. If your harness is synthetic and your cart is kept indoors, this is a good way to be able to just snap them on and off quickly which saves time. My harness is leather and my carts stay outdoors so that's not going to work for me. 

You can see the breeching strap comes forward from underneath and goes thru the ring on the underside of the shaft. If you run your traces thru the gap between the shaft and the hold back straps, it's a good way to keep them up out of the horses way.  Now that the hold back is thru the loop on the outside, the strap goes over the shaft towards the front inside by the horse. Depending on the length of your straps you can wrap them once or twice. When you have it tight enough, now run the end back towards the buckle, going under the wraps on the shaft and over the traces. Buckle accordingly and tuck the ends in the keepers. Do one side and then the other- 5) left side and 6) right side.  On a two wheel cart- this is your brakes. This helps stop the cart without letting it run up the back of your horses legs or ass. This also helps hold the cart back off the horse when going down hills. 

Last in the process is to adjust the straps that hold the shafts down and don't allow the shafts to flip up and dump you out the back. 

As shown in the above pic, this strap goes over the shafts and then down the side of the saddle, thru part of the buckle on the girth and then buckles to the undergirth. With the traces running under this strap, it keeps everything neatly held down instead of flopping around and loose- begging for something to get caught up in it. 7) right side and 8) left side. Now your horse is put to the cart and you're ready to drive. 

Take your reins down and climb into the cart. When it comes to unhitching it is the same routine just in reverse. It doesn't matter which side you start with, but the last ones buckled are the first ones unbuckled, left side , right side. Breeching- undo one side then the other. Then undo the traces, one side then the other, then pull the cart back taking the shafts out of the tugs... Sometimes it just seems easier that if I'm on one side to just do all of the buckles on that side then go over to the other but when you think about it- if something were to spook your horse and only one side of things was fastened in place, how much more dangerous would that be?

There are a few issues with this set up but I will discuss that in another post. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

No hoof...

We all know the saying- No hoof, no horse. I have been a bit lax on what has been going on with my ponyman and his feet. I have been turning him out while I clean his stall and fill his water tub, mix up his feed and bring him in to eat. I have also had hell finding a good farrier. Kat is not a tough pony to trim. Never has been and likely never will be. He has good feet and stands like a champ. 

I had started working him to bring him back into shape with the intent to start driving him again. Problem is- he has been off in one leg or another. At first I thought it might be age creeping up on him and something he might work out of.  Didn't happen. 

Checking his feet for a rock or something maybe wedged in his hoof- he was a bit sensitive in one of his hind hooves. Sensitive enough that cleaning out his hoof he was trying to pull it away. The other one wasn't much different except he was sensitive in the heel rather than the point of the frog.  He had some crud down in the groove so I grabbed my bottle of vinegar, a bucket and we headed for the washrack. 

After rinsing his hoof from the bottom with the spray nozzle to get everything out without causing him pain, I soaked his hind feet in the bucket and poured a healthy dose of vinegar in it. Vinegar is an acid and if he had anything going on- this would "kill it dead-er 'en hell" as a guy I used to work with would say. I'm still not sure how anything could be any more dead than dead, but he would always throw that phrase around and it cracked me up. 

The vinegar killed it all right. Kat walked off sound. Problem is- the barn aisle is sand and loose dirt, which sticks to a wet hoof and gets all packed in again before he could get to his stall. No this doesn't help. 

Another issue going on is that he is due for a trim. Checking his feet- the angles were way off in his front feet. The left front heel was as long as my thumb. The right front was about half that and although we have left a little more heel to stand him up- increase the breakover to prevent overreaching- he doesn't grow hoof that fast. There's no reason his heels should've been that long. Yes I was lax on that and I admit it. 

His hind hooves were also long all over. I started on them because his frogs had issues. 

In the picture above, despite the dirt you can still see how long his heel was on the left hind as well as the hole that went way down into the frog.  Yeah I would be a bit off too. The right hind looked even worse. Deeper cracks, several small holes and a place right at the hairline that looked like he blew out an abscess or something and lost a couple layers of skin. Yeah seriously not paying attention but I am now! 

Same hoof after I took a hoofknife and my nippers to it. Opened up the area around the frog and the hole is still there, just not as deep now. Black spots are mud from the turnout that wouldn't come off.

Right hind- with all of its deep grooves and while the heel still looks too long, its really not. 

Left front- this one shows some deep cracks and grooves as well. Again the heels appear long but they're really not. They have been taken back down to where they should've been all along. He's got about an inch of heel vs the 3" he had. He's not a damn saddlebred or even a Shetland and I have no intentions of putting shoes on him let alone stacks like some of them sport. Yuck! 

Right front- 

Right front heels- fortunately Kat's right front seems the least affected by all of this. His heels were also long and there was plenty to trim off, but the frog and surrounding skin didn't have super deep crevices. 

The new farrier agreed with the vinegar soaking and the occasional wrapping to keep everything clean as well as the hoof supplement to help speed up the growth process and hopefully get rid of all this a little sooner. Kat is ready to be done with all of this too even though he is enjoying the added attention.