Horse & Pony May-July 2017

Biting bugs and horse math

    Two years ago at about this time I bought a pony. I’m a big fan of the under 14.2hh set. They work well for kids and older people. I am closer to the latter and it’s comforting to know the ground is two hands, or eight inches closer if I happen to end up there. My budget was small. I didn’t need a world beater, just a decent moving, sensible pony to have some fun with. Generally ponies are less costly to care for, and can be more easily wrangled if necessary – a theory my chosen Kijiji steed put to the test immediately.
    I promised myself if I bought a pony I would ride consistently. Owning her would make sense on a cost per usage basis. Of course “horse math” allows for some flexibility. For example, it’s advantageous to base your numbers on 185 days instead of 365 days, to allow for snow and icy conditions that make riding impossible, or at least not much fun. If you have an indoor arena (aka all season riding) “horse math” becomes trickier.
    No worries. I’ve been bitten by the bug (again). I look forward to getting out almost every day during the “on the books” season, and I think Piper does too. A sticky right lead canter transition and leaning on the right rein was helped greatly by a visit from the chiropractor. We sometimes forget about the back when we think of soundness. This issue’s Vet’s View offers good advice on recognizing and seeking the best treatment for equine back problems. With that sorted out and a plan in place, I’m looking forward to a fun and rewarding riding season.
    You’ll notice the May-July issue is missing regular contributor (and fellow pony fan) Judith Scrimger. Judith has been busy in Scotland getting to know her beautiful new grandson Robbie. Congratulations to the Scrimger family on Robbie’s safe arrival. 
    Of course horse ownership isn’t only about time with “hands on the reins.” In this issue, Susan Sellers and Alison King bring us stories that confirm horses can be enjoyed and appreciated just as fully from the ground. Nicole Kitchener catches up with an older rider with big goals, and offers some professional performance and riding fitness tips for seniors. As the season ramps up and the weather gets warmer, rider nutrition becomes more important. Kitchener offers some insight in the hows and whys. For those of us whose horse’s feet get the winter off, re-shoeing season is upon us. George Fullerton introduces us (or at least me) to “hot shoeing.” We also meet a Newfoundlander with a career behind the scenes in the dressage world, and this issue’s “On a Lighter Note” proves that winter makes us do silly things.
    Now back to biting bugs. Piper suffers from a summer fly allergy. Do any of you have solutions for this problem? This year I have added a probiotic to her tiny servings of grain in hopes of boosting her immune system and perhaps making her a bit more resistant. She will also be sporting a head to tail fly “costume.” Due to the additional cost of supplements, chiropractic treatment, and clothing, I will require a new and improved mathematical formula. Enjoy your horse (or pony)!