Saturday, September 29, 2012

Starting a horse rescue

Our family has really been thinking hard about starting a horse rescue at the ranch.  The current economic climate has been very harsh for horses.  When the real estate bubble busted back in 2008, people were so desperate they would take their horses out into the desert, tie them to a Joshua Tree and leave them to die.

Things don't seem quite that desperate now, but there are still many many horses being abandoned.  A friend of mine with a horse stable regularly wakes up with horses tied to her fence in the morning.  And the price of horse feed is going up up up as the price of oil goes up (afterall, you need to put gas in your tractor and your well motor).

One impetus has been being given a horse.  She wasn't a rescue per se, but her owner is getting up in age and can't dedicate time to her anymore.  She's a great little mare and she got us thinking about how many other horses are out there needing to be cared for.  Many people get rid of their horses because they can't handle them and many horses who are abandoned for lack of finances won't be adopted because they also tend to be poorly trained.  So we've decided that we will focus on rescuing a small number of horses at a time and training them to be excellent animals before adopting them out.  This should ensure a happy and stable horse home.

We also want to use rescued horses for doing therapy with veterans, victims of violence and really just anyone having emotional problems.  There's so much to be learned through interacting with horses and they can be comforting and nurturing as well as challenging.  I (Serina) have my doctorate in marital and family therapy and using horses to do therapy was the focus of my schooling.  I've kindof gotten away from this with our focus on the farm, but I'd really like to offer horse-based therapy (equine assisted psychotherapy) at the ranch.  Life isn't worth living if you're not helping someone.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First riding lesson today

I know horse riding is a bit off from a farming blog, but hey.  You want to know what a southern california farmer does?  She takes horse riding lessons.  I had my first one today-or at least my first lesson in a while.  I took a few months worth of lessons when I was in college and learned how to not kill myself on a horse.  The rest of what I learned was through reading, reading, reading and a few videos.  I've probably spent thousands of dollars on horse books.  Yes horses, my true passion in life.  I don't think anything really excites me as much as horses do.  Here's a little clip of my baby, Tarik.

Anyhow, the lesson today went great and I am pleasantly sore.  I really didn't expect much from it.  The lessons are only $15 an hour which is amazingly cheap (and the only reason I'm taking them) and they're from a trainer in the high desert, Stacy Nichols.  High desert plus cheap equals probably not good.  However, I really enjoyed them.  The horse was safe and I learned a lot such as what the proper aids are for asking a horse to canter.  And I finally understood some things that my last teacher was always yelling at me about.  Stacy Nichols is very good at breaking things down so that it's easy to understand and she's patient with me wanting to know why.

I don't know if she has other students who insist on knowing why, on knowing what the right way as well as the wrong way of doing something is as well as the consequences of both and why should I hold my hands this way or put my feet that way and what would happen if I did this and on and on and on.  I'm like a two year old, but that's what happens when you're the type of crazy person who would go out and get a doctorate and then farm.  Talk about a nut, but a nut who is soon going to be in shape and an excellent horsewoman.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Riding Lessons

I've decided that to continue my equine workout routine that I'm going to sign up for actual riding lessons.  This will help keep me on track as well as teach me more about horses and how to work with them.  I signed up for dressage lessons as it is a very education-based style of riding.  It is very technical and detailed and focuses you on learning exactly how to control a horse.  Just what I want and need to know.  I mean who doesn't?  How would you like to get in your car and the car decide that it doesn't like you or doesn't want to go straight or doesn't want to stop or would really really really like to be back in the garage....yea, that's not too much fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Guinea Hog piglets

We were surprised this morning with a pair of Guinea Hog piglets. They're so adorable and so tiny! But boy can they squeal. Don't pick one up with their face aimed towards your ear.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Frustration with horses

Rode Tarik again today and this time I just walked him.  And I was only on him for probably fifteen minutes.  It was long enough for my muscles to notice though.  Pathetic I know, but horse riding actually works a lot of muscles.  This is an illustration of the muscles used in riding, although I think it's more than that and I'm certainly feeling it right now.  Hence why I'm minimizing the time I spend riding until I build up some muscle.

I think a lot of people quit riding because it really is such a workout.  I also think that's why people get so mad and frustrated and plain pissed off at their horses.  You've never seen someone as angry as a horse owner.  I've seen horses kicked, punched, jabbed with a screw driver.  And I really think it's because people are so much more fatigued than they realize.  When you're become frustrated with your horse, try riding for less time.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Overdid it

I did my horseriding workout today, but like everything else in my life I overdid it.  I should have just walked, but I insisted on trotting.  I should have ridden for a few minutes and rode for a half hour.  Now I'm totally wiped out.  Still, I'm glad that I followed through and rode.  If I can keep it up then I should begin getting stronger and stronger and maybe actually feel like a human being again.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Horse Workout

So I was thinking that it's time I got back in shape.  I was doing so good for a long while.  I'd lost 100 pounds and was keeping it off with hardly any problem.  I was active and becoming more active as I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and was getting it under control.  Then in 2008 disaster struck.  An idiot of a doctor prescribed me a medicine that caused a horrible potassium deficiency.  Potassium is necessary for your muscles to work.  I became so weak that I couldn't even pick up a toothbrush to brush my teeth.  I lost my muscle and I gained back all that weight in only a few months after I had kept it off (easily I should mention) for years.

This was me a couple years before the potassium deficiency.  Not perfect, but I was happy.
This is me now (on the left obviously).  Not horrible, but I'm definitely not happy.  And it's not even the weight really, it's just that I still haven't gotten back the strength that I used to have and it just makes everything in life so much more difficult.

So I have a goal now of putting on muscle tone.  I'm not going to worry about losing weight and I assume that losing weight will just naturally follow the development of muscle tone.  I eat better now than I did when I was keeping the weight off without a problem so I'm happy with the eating part, although I'm certainly going to try to improve.  But I will focus on the muscle tone.

My mom had a great idea that I should start riding my horses again which I've only done a handful of times since I was so sick four years ago.  It's taken this long for me to feel strong enough that I'm not afraid I'll fall off the horse if it so much as trips.  

The idea will be that I will ride as a workout rather than for the sake of riding.  If it's a workout then I won't feel pressured that I have to go out on the trail and be out for a while.  I can ride for five minutes. Shoot, even carrying the saddle out to the horse is a workout that will help with strength training.  Plus, horse riding has been shown to work phenomenally to build muscles with handicapped riding.  It's amazing for physical rehabilitation and that's exactly what I need.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm going to try to spend some time everyday riding, even if it's only a few minutes.  I can't wait to get back in the saddle.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fascinating Fun Facts About Pigs

* Soldier pigs have gone to war. On battlefields, they have used their sensitive snouts as mine sniffers.
* A mature pig has 44 teeth. The canine teeth, called tusks, grow continuously and are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.
* Scientists believe that pigs are one of the most intelligent animals, ranking close behind apes and dolphins
* China has the world's largest population of domestic pigs
Pig On Farm
* The average sow gives birth to 8 to 12 pigs at a time
* An average pig eats five pounds of feed each day, or a ton of food every year
* A pig's squeal can be as loud as 115 decibels, 3 decibels higher than the sound of a supersonic airliner
* An average American consumes 51 lbs of pork each year
* Pigs do not have sweat glands and pale pigs risk sunburn, hence they roll in mud to keep themselves cool
* A number of pigs together is called a herd
* A piece of lead used in a ship's ballast is called a hog
* One of the smaller moulds used for casting iron is called a hog Curling Hog
* A curling rock that is not thrown far enough to get over the hog line, is called a hog
* A pig raised for meat is called a hog
* A broom for scraping the underside of a ship is called a hog Curling Hog
* A large railway locomotive is called a hog
* A Harley Davidson motorcycle is called a hog
* In the UK, a sixpenny coin was called a hog
* Pork is the world's most widely-eaten meat
* In Denmark there are twice as many pigs as people
* There are approximately 840 million hogs on farms throughout the world
* On average, pigs live for about 15 yearsMiss Piggy
* The largest pig on record was a Poland-China hog named Big Bill, who weighed 2,552 lbs [1157.4 kg] owned by Burford Butler of Jackson, Tennessee, USA in the year 1933
* Here is the feisty starlet girlfriend of Kermit the Frog from the Muppets - Miss Piggy
* Pigs do not have functional sweat glands. They use water or mud for the purpose of staying cool in hot weather
* Pigs do not prefer to sit in mud. Infact, they prefer cleanliness much more than other animals. They use the mud only as a coolant in summers, that too out of necessity.
* Mud also provides the pigs protection against flies and parasites, apart from being used as a form of sunscreen, which protects their skin from sunburn.
* A female pig is called a sow, while the male is called boar. The baby of a pig is called piglet.
* Pigs have such a well developed sense of smell that they can easily find things underground.
* Many experts consider pigs to be more trainable than dogs or cats.
* Even though pigs have four toes on each hoof, they walk on only two of the toes. This makes them look as if they are tiptoeing.
* The largest litter of piglets ever born included 37 piglets, out of which 36 were born alive and 33 survived.
* A full grown pig can drink up to 14 gallons of water a day.
* Domesticated pigs are used as sources of food, leather and similar products.
* Pigs have four toes on each foot and each toe ends in a hoof. They only walk on the two middle toes on each foot so they look as if they are on their tiptoes.
* Did you know a pig can run a 7-minute mile?
* During the War of 1812, a New York pork packer named Uncle Sam Wilson shipped a boatload of several hundred barrels of pork to U.S. troops. Each barrel was stamped "U.S." on the docks. The "U.S." stood for "Uncle Sam" whose shipment seemed large enough to feed the entire army. This is how "Uncle Sam" came to represent the U.S. Government.
* The saying "living high on the hog" started among enlisted men in the U.S. Army who received shoulder and leg cuts of pork while officers received the top loin cuts. “Living high on the hog" came to mean living well.
* Have you ever heard the saying, "Don’t buy a pig in a poke?" In 17th century England, it was a common trick to try to give away a cat to an unsuspecting shopper buying a suckling (young) pig. When he opened the poke (sack), he "let the cat out of the bag," and found he had been cheated.
Places named after the pig:

* Boarhills, Scotland
* Hog Island, Florida
* Hog Island, Grenada
* Hog Island, Guyana
* Hog Island, Michigan
* Hog Island, Virginia
* Hog Point, Virginia
* Hog Head, Ireland
* Pig Point, Virginia
* Bay of Pigs , Cuba
* Sow River, England
* Babe Island, Guam (not really after Babe, the Gallant Pig)
“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals” - Sir Winston Churchill
"No man should be allowed to be President who does not understand hogs." - President Harry Truman