My Driving Book

My Driving Book -

Years ago I wrote a book. I had people asking me lots of questions about my driving training program and figured a book was the best way to help people! Two years ago I re-wrote my book and added more photos and ground work information. I am very proud of my little book!!

Now I have had Sky for a year, got her physically healthy and sound and restarted her in cart. It’s been quite a few years since she’s been driven, but we started her using my step-by-step process all those years ago, and since she is so smart, she took to being hitched and driven again like a fish to water! I am so so proud of her. She is a shining example of my training program for driving horses!!

She has been very worried when driving out alone and I realized that we didn’t drive her alone all those years ago. I would take my training minis and ponies out alone but we didn’t take her out alone! So that was a hole in her early training and one I have been working to fix.

To do that I pay close attention to her thresholds. We head down the driveway and when I feel her slowing down or wanting to stop I will simply turn her back towards the other horses and trot her back! Then we turn again and trot or walk away from the them. Each time I do this her threshold gets longer and longer, until she is looking out the driveway gates, ears pricked forward and no hesitation in her trot and away we go! If she has a threshold once we get out on the road I will turn her around and head for home again until she is feeling calm and connected and then we turn around and head back down the road. If she is rushing while we are still at home I do figure-of-eights with her across my driveway and into my yard area. We just do big looping figure-of-eights until her brain kicks in and then I can point her straight down the driveway. Patterns really help RBE‘s engage their brain because they are moving their feet, but having their pattern interrupted. She is becoming more calm and connected faster and faster when we hitch now!

Today we had a major break through and she was able to walk when we were still “far” away from home. We were about 3/4 a mile from our house and we could hear her son, Zorro, calling for her. But she calmly walked down the road, looking around. When I asked her to trot, she did immediately! When we got to the bend in the road that you can see in the video I asked her to walk again and she walked the rest of the way home! Such a huge accomplishment for my little RBE.

My Little Rock Star

My Little Rock Star -

Oh my goodness. This little mare is the cutest thing! She is so adorable. When she wants a cookie and I am not giving her one she will tilt her head up at me and then bat her eyelashes!! Where did she learn to do that!? She is so smart and has me wrapped around her hoof.

During Bonnie’s laminitic episode Sky has experienced quite a bit of stress. She came out of winter at a really good weight, then I had to lock Bonnie up in a smaller pen and I put Sky in with her so she would have access to the shed too. BUT she would eat and eat and eat all the hay that I put in there for the two horses and Bonnie lost even more weight than before and Sky ballooned up! She is so fluffy right now! I am always amazed that she fits between the shafts of the cart… it’s down right embarrassing.

I separated her from Bonnie and she now gets two flakes of hay in her slow feed net and she makes that stretch over a 24 hour period. Some how she regulated herself! I found that so interesting. She is getting a 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero, 1/2 a scoop of California Trace (to help balance the iron in the hay), one scoop of Crypto Aero Plus and a sprinkling of magnesium to help with her heat cycles this spring! She has been very regular and so sweet all during her cycles this month and last month. Last spring and summer I wasn’t able to do much with her during her cycles as she felt quite cranky.

Top: Sky last year before Crypto Aero. Taken April 2016 Bottom: Sky this year after Crypto Aero all year. Taken April 2017 We have had a much colder spring this year with high winds and lots of snow and rain. So all the ponies held their coats longer than last year. They are all actively shedding now, but our nights still get quite cold!

I also noticed that since I’ve been feeding her the Crypto Aero Plus powder she has become less anxious when I take her out by herself in the cart. I still warm her up on line and then we spend some time going up and down the driveway, doing figure-of-eights and going as far as her threshold will allow, then turning around and heading back to the other horses, but it takes less and less time for her to feel confident enough to just trot down the driveway and down the road away from home! I’m just so so happy with the Crypto Aero feed!

Sky and her Kingston Saddlery Easy Entry Cart -

Here is Sky in her Kingston Saddlery easy entry cart. The harness is a bit of this and a bit of that. The collar is from Chimamcum Tack and is the Comfy Fit deep V collar. I love it! And she’s wearing her Cavallo CLB boots.

I do want to upgrade to the sliding back band as I know that will help Sky be even more comfy when working. I can see how great that will be as we travel over the bumpy yard ground and we haven’t even made it up to the mountain roads yet. We won’t go up to the mountains until we have the sliding back band and a Hyperbike!

Sky in harness with her Kingston Saddlery Easy Entry cart -

I love how nice everything looks here. As we travel around and around the yard, over the bumps and down the gravel road the cart is nice and quiet and things fit nicely.

I am also going to upgrade to a Comfy fit bridle as well. I love how they fit the mini head and the way the blinders offer even more room between them and the eye. But all in good time and at least we can get out and about with what we have!

I am loving the curved shafts. You can see all the shoulder clearance they offer and when she turns her head her reins never hook on the end of the shaft! Also the neck collar has rein turrets. I wasn’t sure about them at first, then decided to try them out and really appreciate having them! If Sky puts her head down she can’t get a foot over the rein!

We are both enjoying our time spent trotting out on the road. She can really stretch her legs and gets to flying down the road. I love the sound their hooves make as they trot down the road. I remember falling asleep to that sound when I was a little girl and my mom was training Shetland ponies to drive. We spent many hours in a cart behind a pony. Make sure you turn up the sound!


Laminitis -

My whole world is about treating Bonnie right now. I have studied laminitis and founder many times over the years and dealt with a few ponies that had foundered and needed rehabilitation. I was very successful in helping those ponies. But none have been so severe as Bonnie, except Chloe and she gave up the fight. So the amount of stress I have been feeling has been great… so great that I worried I may become laminitic!

I want to treat this as naturally as I can so have been reading books and websites, looking into Homeopathics and treating her with herbs and essential oils. One book that I have borrowed from a friend and have been studying is “Feed Your Horse Like A Horse” by Dr. Julie M. Getty. I have been an admirer of hers for years!

She talks about the importance of feeding your horse some kind of forage 24/7 and thoroughly goes over the way a horse digests and everything they need to be as healthy as they can be in her book. It’s well worth the money! She also has a lot of information about the laminitic, IR and Cushings horse. I came across this list and found it very interesting so wanted to share it here.

Common causes of laminitis:

  • Hormonal disorders such as PPID and insulin resistance
  • Elevated insulin
  • Obesity
  • Genetic prelaminitic syndrome
  • Overfeeding of grain and sugar from sweet feeds (carbohydrate overload)
  • Endotoxins released from the hindgut (leaky gut syndrome)
  • Grazing on pasture that is high in sugar/starch/fructan
  • Physical stress to the feet (concussion founder)
  • Injury to one limb, leading to laminitis in another foot
  • Retained placenta after foaling, resulting in a blood infection
  • Colic
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics or steroidal medications
  • Bedding that contains black walnut shavings
  • Selenosis (Selenium toxicity)
  • Iron overload (causes insulin resistance!!!!)
  • Mental stress (leading to elevated cortisol levels)
  • Forage restrictions
  • Rhabdomyolysis (tying up)
  • Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM)
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Toxic plants

I know that this started when Bonnie was out on the field in December, but after going over this list I think she was a ticking time bomb. I am so grateful to have so much information at my fingertips but can feel overwhelmed sometimes. I think there were several factors that lined up perfectly on that winter day and tipped her over the edge. And the acute laminitis episode that we are dealing with now was caused by the vaccinations overloading her already toxic body. I am so so thankful for my three other healthy ponies!


Boot Comparison

Boot Comparison -

I made a long-ish video that shows all the miniature horse boots I currently have and  I show Bonnie walking in the Easy Boot Mini and the Soft-Ride Boots for a nice comparison. I’ll keep you updated on how I think the Soft-Ride boots are helping over the next couple of days!

Bonnie’s Feed Program

Bonnie's Feed Program -

Bonnie is doing so much better. She had a great day on Saturday, April Fools day. That seemed to be the turning point for her. Since that day she has been up and about, moving more and eating better. I’m so happy to see that! Since that day I have started walking her a little further and the last couple of days I walked her twice a day. After our little walks she moves much easier and is clearly less sore. I am so grateful for that!

The outpouring of love and support we have had on Facebook and the internet world has been so heart warming! All the stories people have shared, the things that worked for their horses and things that didn’t help, have helped me feel so much hope and kept me positive throughout this entire episode. I am simply amazed at the kindness! There is a Facebook friend that I have never met in person that is sending Bonnie a pair of Soft-ride Boots for her recovery. She is allowing us to borrow these until Bonnie is feeling better! I just want to say Thank you Thank you to you all that have offered suggestions and kind words!

I want to share what I am feeding Bonnie right now. I have had many questions about this on Facebook and through emails and private messages so I figured I would just share it here!

She gets hay 24/7. The same hay that I had analyzed. It is nice and low in protein (8.7%), starch and sugar (6.5%). It is high in iron (118) so I am balancing that with California Trace mineral. The magnesium (.11) is low in the hay so I am balancing that with some magnesium powder. I offer it loose in their run in shed, but am also top feeding it to both Sky and Bonnie. I give them about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon once a day. HERE is an excellent article about feeding magnesium and the kind you should feed for the best results.

I am feeding her 1/2 a cup of Crypto Aero Wholefood topped with about a 1/2 a cup of Standlee timothy grass pellets because I wanted to give her a bit more fiber with her feed. I top that with 1 teaspoon of magnesium powder, a small amount of Remission as I am weaning her off that product, and 1 scoop of California Trace. When I receive the Milk Thistle seed she will get 2 tsp of that as well. I wet the feed a little bit because of the grass pellets and she thoroughly enjoys her meal! I feed this once a day and make sure she always has hay in her slow feed net. Once a day, provided that we aren’t having hurricane-like winds, I put out one flake of loose hay as well. Before I started messing with the Crypto Aero I contacted Anna and talked with her about all the additions. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t overload Bonnie with anything. Because the Crypto is a whole food you can feed a lot less and have wonderful results. I didn’t want to mess that up! I got a green light from Anna and altered Bonnie’s feed program.

When I purchase more hay I will have it tested and adjust the program accordingly. If iron is low and the other minerals, zinc and copper and manganese are better balanced I won’t have to feed the California Trace. I will always offer magnesium however I won’t always top the feed with it. I also will only feed the Milk Thistle for a little while, 3 weeks on and one week off until Bonnie’s body says she doesn’t need it anymore! I will get her back to the simplest program that she can manage as soon as possible.

I have also been using my essential oils on her. I oil her feet every day and her body every other day. On her feet I have been using Ortho Sport. The oils I use on her body vary. Some days I use Grapefruit Oil, Stress Away, and Valor II. Then other days I use Peppermint, Wintergreen, Lemon, and Grounding. Sometimes I only use one or two oils and other days I will layer on 4-6 oils. It all depends on how she tests that day! For her kidneys I have been layering Grapefruit, Geranium and Lemon oil over her kidney area. I always allow her to smell the oils before I put them on. Sometimes she will nibble on the oil bottle, sometimes she tries to eat the bottle! Sometimes she will turn her head away at first, then if I wait, she will bring her head back around and take some time to smell and smell the oil. Oils benefit when applied to the body as well as when we smell them.

How fast do oils work?

I am happy with how things are progressing for Bonnie. I wish I could snap my fingers and take away all her pain and make her IR free, but since I can not I will continue to study, read and learn more about this condition so I can support her the best I can. I have high hopes that I can cure her of this with wholefoods, herbs and oils!

Bonnie’s New Boots

Bonnie's New Boots -

For the last three days Bonnie has laid either in her shed or just in front of it in the nice deep sawdust bed I made her outside of the shed. After being on her feet all day on Sunday, at the Nutrition Clinic, she was just plain worn out. And sore. On Tuesday I had my favorite equine body worker come out and do some adjusting to make her feel a bit better in her body. If only we could adjust some spots and do some energy work on her feet and have such an immediate change! She felt so much better after the body work in her back, shoulders and hips. It was obvious. Not only because she looked more relaxed, her attitude changed on Tuesday as well. After the body work she was brighter and more awake than she had been on Monday.

Bonnie in her styrofoam boots. -

This morning when I went out to feed at 6 am Bonnie was standing outside of the shed, on the opposite side of the pen from the shed, eating hay with Sky! So she walked a little distance. It made me so happy to see that, and to hear her nicker and nicker a greeting. Of course every day that she was laying down she would nicker and nicker and I would set her hay and her Crypto Aero right in front of her so she didn’t have to stand. I also gave her a bucket of water for when she wasn’t in the shed. I didn’t want her to have to work very hard for a few days, as she rested and healed.

Today since she was up, I gave her a quick little rasp on her heels and brought her toes back a bit. In order to do that I had to work fast because standing on three feet is hard for her. Last week I found a video on YouTube of a farrier applying styrofoam boots to the front feet of a very sore laminitic horse. It seemed to bring a level of comfort that I had been looking for, so I bought some styrofoam last week and just set it aside… in case I needed it!

Today I went ahead and applied them to her feet. The difference was immediate. Once I applied the 1″ styrofoam to the foot I was working on and set it down she immediately shifted all her weight to that foot, which previously was so sore she couldn’t stand with all her weight on it at all! So I was able to clean and rasp the other foot and apply the styrofoam boot to that foot as well.

styrofoam and duct tape boots -

Styrofoam and duct tape boots!

Then we took a short walk to get the blood moving.

Horses that have become laminitic because of IR are a bit different than a horse that is laminitic from grass and does NOT have IR. IR horses have constricted blood vessels in the hoof instead of too much blood pumping, inflammation and heat as in a regular laminitic episode. So having her walk around is a good thing in this case as it will help get the blood moving. In a regular laminitic case you don’t want to move the horse much during the acute stage as you can cause further tearing of the hoof wall from the laminae. In Bonnie’s case there is no heat in her foot, no digital pulse, very little to no bruising of the sole and no stretching of the white line. I thought that was so interesting!

I should get my California Trace tomorrow and can’t wait to get her on that. I have also ordered the Milk Thistle seeds so will keep you updated. I know we still have a long road ahead, but every little victory counts! So having her want to be a little mobile today felt so good! Maybe I’ll sleep tonight…