In Texas, near Dallas, we get a few good hard freezes a year. As a horse owner, this can be a time of distress due to cold temps coming on suddenly and causing colic. We also have to make sure our horses keep drinking even though they do not like the icy water. We add salt/minerals to their diet to ensure their desire to drink is strong. We want to keep them hydrated! I know that a lot of folks in the colder states feel that we are over doing a lot of things. Like blanketing. But the issue is simple. We could have a 40-50 degree temperature drop and rise in one day. Welcome to Texas! Our horses are not likely to be 100% prepared for the rapid changes! So yes, we might sheet or blanket our horses when the temps drop below 40 or we have cold rain/snow as we did already this week!
There are so many benefits to a good freeze! For one, our winter grass depends on these freezing temperatures. Without it, the winter forage cannot thrive. Add in a lack of rain, and guess what? No grass! Our warmer types of grass will die off and without a good freeze, the winter grass will not come into play. This means we have to rely on more hay to keep them satisfied!
Another bonus to a good freeze is killing off pests! It seems I was still utilizing fly spray into November. That is crazy! A good freeze will kill off the flying pests! It also helps to kill the fleas and other annoying bugs. So, even though we don’t like to be cold, we truly need a good hard freeze (or 5) to reset the insect population!
As far as barrel racing goes, I’m a fair weather racer! In fact, I much prefer summer in Texas with temps reaching the 100° plus temps over winter amy day! Why? I can cool down. It’s hard for me to warm up! But we shall trudge on and keep going because, well, in Texas, barrel racing is year round!
So I took a photo of the morning sunrise over the pasture today. I want to remember WHY we need a good freeze! Our high today will reach near 50°. I’m sure we will hit that in a couple of hours. I bet the four legged children will love to shed their blankets and run around like crazy kids soon! My point of this post is simply that a good freeze will benefit us in so many ways. So instead of cursing the cold, we need to embrace it!
Recently, I learned of an organization called DTOM220.org This organization helps Veterans work through mental and physical issues using horses. Did you know that horses are very therapeutic? I actually did a paper on it for my Master’s degree. I won’t get into the technical terms but I’d like to open your eyes to what horses provide for therapy in different situations! (Disclaimer- This is my observations, thoughts, feelings)
I worked with a youth home for kids that were in the system and at risk for going to jail. They had a full blown ranch for these kiddos. What I observed was shy, absurd kids finding their voice with horses. They smiled and talked to the horses. They learned to communicate without words. See, horses can sense distress. The right horses will foster a bond with the distressed rider and help them to open up. On the flip side, I watched the “bullies” soften. They learned that they could not be rough with the horse and angry words didn’t foster what the child needed when working with horses. They learned to soften, trust and open their hearts. A lot of the bullies had fear when it came to horses. It was very humbling for them when they sat in the saddle! To watch these kids BLOOM around horses was simply breath taking!
Hippotherapy also helps with disabilities. Anything from pain, amputation, muscle defects right down to autism and other challenges! First, you move when they move. So wheel chair confined patients get the opportunity to have four legs under them! It has been shown to increase circulation and endorphins! For people with disabilities, horses open a door that humans can’t. I have watched an autistic kid go from not talking, severe touch sensitivity to openly communicating with the horse followed by hugs!!! I have seen kids in wheel chairs find their legs! I have seen the impossible, possible!
If I keep going, this will turn into a thesis 🤦🏼♀️. So I will add this…. when I’m over run by my anxiety, fears, stress, etc, my place is with my horses. It’s my therapy. I went a year without a horse to care for and it was the longest ever. I went to bed at 8pm. I woke for work every morning. But I lost my “purpose”. As a mom, I can say I have way more purpose than I did back then, however, take my horse away and watch me crumble. I can testify that riding horses does, in fact, help with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety and other issues us humans deal with daily. The right horse will change your life. I encourage you to look around for organizations that offer therapy using horses. Most all of them are non-profit. Make a donation! It can be time, used tack, or financial. These places are few due to insurance expenses and lack of volunteers! www.dtom220.org is just one of many! Let’s help them out!!!
Lots of talk about how bad 2020 has been. I get it. Lost jobs, wrecked families, storms, and the list goes on. I could add on my list of “gasp… will it ever end?” But I tend to take a different approach to life. I am an optimist with a realist side. Let me explain.
2020 started out with a bang. I can’t remember how many years ago it started (insert humor) but I don’t remember the first 3 months being all so bad! Lynx and I did great at some races. My kid was learning new things. My husband was in a pretty good state of mind and my other horses were doing good too. In fact, Goose and I were riding a lot! I gained new students and the weather was pretty darn good too. Then… March comes along.
When spring break hit, I had plans. Plans to go places with my kid and have some fun! I even bought season passes for the water park for the summer! I was sitting one point away from winning the year for BRAT Barrel Racing and had a wonderful person who blessed me with so much! He helped me to get my business back on track! Heck, I even got my taxes done BEFORE Spring Break! 😱😱 Life was going good! Then… that virus came around and BAM… life changed.
The change happened. I refuse to call it our new normal. But it impacted a lot. This is where being a realist sucks but being and optimist pays off. So let’s start with the reality. Funds were low. Races were canceled. People lost jobs. Kids stayed home for online learning. I will throw in that Lynx injured his right hind leg. It was messy. BUT. Yes I said BUT… WE learned to appreciate what we lost. We learned to be flexible. WE LEARNED TO COMPENSATE for what was lost. Barrel racers changed the way they ran races so we could still go run. Moms and dads worked together to keep their kids in some what of a learning environment. Heck, I think most of us learned to REALLY appreciate teachers!!! We learned how to be resourceful. We learned to be kind and help others. Then… BAM… Riots.
I won’t go into much about Riots except when people are down on their luck, bored and think to much, the tend to over react to everything. The Internet has increased this over the years. Take away a person’s lively hood and they turn to stupid things. I’m not saying that the protests were stupid. I’m saying things got out of hand. Period. I was taught that there is always a right and a wrong way to handle a conflict. We can all guess which way it is going 😐.
What I saw with the Riot stuff is people standing up for themselves. People praying. People actually learning about the CONSTITUTION. 🇺🇸 I saw groups formed to keep livestock owners safe. I saw people helping people.
Moving forward. For me, since everyone was home, I did loose a couple of students but I gained several! I did have my good horse down but I gained Splash! I would have never bought a fourth horse had my mare not slipped her foal. I learned that I can still jump ride and not die or fall off! I learned that I can teach kids in groups! That is so much fun! I learned new ways to work with different styles of learners on horseback! Why? Because I had time. I had time to sit down and make lesson plans. I had time to advertise and talk to a new group of people! I also had help (thank you Tori!). None of this would have come into play had 2020 not happened!
Because of Splash, I won two saddles, a buckle and a bunch of other goodies! Because of Splash, I have a horse to teach kids how to go faster than I will allow on Lynx or Goose. This… this is my positive outlook!
While I was scrolling through all the mess on Facebook, I learned about a new product called Summit. I learned how it works by using it and getting to watch all four of my horses change while on this amazing product. I’m not sure I would have noticed as much if life was “normal”. But with the increase of students, I had the chance to actually see the changes! Let’s not forget that Gabe went from “too lame to ride” back to “lesson horse for the timid”!!!
We only have 4 more months of 2020 and I plan to make the most of it! My son changed schools and is super excited about riding the bus and meeting new friends! I now have three horses to run and four to give lessons. Yes, the hurricanes are horrible but I got to see some folks that I haven’t seen in a hot minute! Oh! And we got some very much needed rain! So let’s pray for those who have had a hard time of it and let’s count our blessings! Don’t forget to count your family and horses (dogs and cats too) twice! I know they have been my sanctuary from all the crazy! The world will keep spinning and if it doesn’t, then we get to meet Jesus (or God or whatever your belief) a little sooner! That is NOT in our control! All that is in OUR control is how we look at life! Be BLESSED!