Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Place to Vent Online - SIM/Roleplaying

...the 21st century way to excite kids about horses...

My childhood horse loves were Jinny, Silver Brumby and Saddle club - the books, not the shows - and I'm sure previous generations fell in love with equines through Black Beauty and National Velvet.

There are so many "places" online that now fuel a horse obsession in the form of simulation games and roleplaying. For many, this is an easy "fix" for the horse obsessed who are without a horse. On Horseland you can create, breed, train and show practically any breed of horse. Those successful in the game are filthy rich (since when was it so common to be handed $10,000 to start investing in horses and over a short time accumulate 10's or 100's of millions?) and have horses with a high number of "points" from wins or places in shows.

...and all I want is a lousy $3 Million and a half dozen of my own broodmares... and some hacks, and carriages... and, I'm getting carried away!

http://www.equination.net - Equination.net (aka "EQ") is an online virtual thoroughbred horse racing simulation game. In this game, each user (aka "stable") has the ability to manage every aspect of their horses, which includes: purchasing/selling; claiming; breeding; training; racing; and much more.
This exciting and free ongoing game is family-safe and enjoyed by people of every age group from all over the world. With plenty of instructions throughout the game and technical assistance just a click away, users don't even need any knowledge of horses or how horse racing works. (Though it is helpful) You can also play with either a basic account which is free, or a premium account, which you pay a certain amount each year and it gives you access to other goodies on the site, like the Race Viewer, where you can actually watch the races your horses run in.

http://www.equintium.com - Similar to Horseland.com. Buy, sell, breed and show horses.

http://www.howrse.com - Join us for free and play on Howrse, create your first horse or pony, choose his/her breed, coat, name and find out all his/her capacities. Look after him/her and make him/her the best. Then you will have the chance to become the best breeder!
Discover an entire world of horses in a fascinating game! You can also run an equestrian centre, but need to be at riding level 3, and you get that after 20 days of logging on.

Fancy "being" the horse? Consider roleplaying:

http://www.freewebs.com/lost-intentions - The Story:
Through the years, Lost Intentions has seen many come and go, leaving their prints within the ever growing book of legends. Sadly enough most of these have been forgotten for they hadn't been passed from generation to generation as they once were. But never fear...

Your Role
Come and make your own life with your own horse, either go and live your normal equine life or make a carrie that hates other stallion. Rebel against all stallions, and when they come in to make trouble you give them a peice of your mind! Lost Intentions is for all Levels and is currently rated PG-13, and is filled with friendly people. PS. there are lead spots open as well!

http://www.freewebs.com/odina - RPG by Sharyn that "needs members, once I finish it, and I hope it'll be really active. Set in the Australian High Country, age and breed have been abolished, as there will only be Brumby's here. And also, who can remember how old their horse is and such? I can't, so I've gotten rid of that. The only 'ages' we have are foal, young adult, and adult. All you have to do is remember what year your horse was born, if born in Odina. More stuff on the rules page."

*thanks to Sharyn for these links!

"Horse's comment on a car - '150 horsepower, big deal. I'd be impressed if it ran on hay.'"

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Monday, May 28, 2007

What Could Be More Appealing?

Three days in South Africa and I’ve been horseriding twice – all day Friday (beach to town to bush) and 10kms Sunday morning up the road. Rhino were pointed out to me and warthog and there’s promise of many more rides and scenery to come. I had the joy of riding Top Deck – a roan/grey arab gelding on Sunday morning and was riding with a young man who does endurance riding. The result: trotting 4kms or so before heading back at a walk (only cause my mount felt a bit sore, or I’m sure we would have continued at the same pace).

To keep up with the horse in front, Top Deck extended his trot beautifully or broke into a rocking horse canter which I could have sat to all day. What a gorgeous feeling!

Running a trail ride business is half of the package here. I’m learning a bit about the family’s real passion: endurance racing in South Africa.

A horse will start around the age of four and a half or older. If only four, they can start in 30km rides, but no more than this distance. There are 80, 120 and 200km rides. You can race an 80km competitively or can enter and run the first leg (30km) and if all’s well the next 30 and finally the last 20. You get no recognition of having competed, but do build up km’s for you and your horse.

At the end of each leg, a horse’s fitness is tested and if deemed fine by a vet, you can continue racing the next leg of the ride. Before the race, the Cardiac Recovery Index (CRI) or Ridgeway test is performed on the horses.

The essential element of this test is the horse is put through an exercise period of around 30 seconds followed by a similar rest period. The horse’s heart rate is then monitored a minute after the exercise starts to see if it’s heart rate has returned to normal – this being the heart rate that is taken before the test is started to establish a resting heart rate figure. The exercise is carried out at the trot and over 80 metres – 40 away from and 40 towards the vet.

There is no monetary value for endurance racing though some events have sponsors who provide prizes. However, most are taken part in for the recognition of kilometers for the horse and rider. There is of course also the sense of achievement through having trained up a horse to be fit enough to cover these distances at a trot or canter. If you love your time in the saddle and to be constantly moving, consider this form of horse riding!

"Riding is not a sport, it is a passion. If you do not share the passion, you do not know the sport, and therefore are wasting your time."

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Your Hands, Their Feet

I always thought farriery was the way to go - variety, good money, physically active - and then concluded equine dentistry was even more appealing. Yes, it was the money that persuaded me, how did you guess? However, I see some pros for farriery in that this business is easier to run on a smaller client base - your horse's feet need doing every 2 months, unlike the teeth which are done annually, calling for more people to use you to be constantly in work.

Spending the majority of my short working life on studs, I've viewed many foals born with the most interesting looking legs. Sometimes it's the vet's job to fix problems; others the farrier can fix in various ways.

The legs are a focus over the first few months of a foal's life as at this age, things can be adjusted to "encourage" growth in a different direction (correcting/minimising the problem).

For example - a foal that toes in - a farrier can rasp a little more off a particular side, encouraging extra growth on this side, pushing the foot in the opposite direction, straightening it out over time. The end result may not be a 100% correct horse, but can alleviate problems, make them more correct and therefore more appealing to buyers/less likely to receive stresses on their legs while in work.

In Victoria it's pretty common for a farrier to charge around $50 to trim your horse's feet (less, the more horses you have) and around $100 for a set of shoes all round. Now in a day one farrier can easily manage 20 horses. Say they were all done at the same place, all trims and therefore at a cheaper rate - $30 - this is still $600 for the day. And honestly, they can manage more, but 20 horses would be quite a demand on the body!

To become a farrier in Oz, you're looking at a 3 year apprenticeship with what I've been told is an average income, but once you've invested this time over the short term, the wage is a lot more appealing.

Some Associations:
American Farriers Association:

Aust. Farriers and Blacksmiths Association:

New Zealand Farrier's Association:

Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association:

"Be wary of the horse with a sense of humour." - Pam Brown

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Off to South Africa!

I'm heading off to the airport this afternoon so for those of you browsing through/reading this blog, there will be limited updates over the next month. I am not sure of how much internet access I'll have while over there, so probably won't be posting as often.

However, I do have a few pieces half written so may be able to finish these or will get them up ASAP upon returning. They will cover the likes of farriery, polo, hopefully a piece on course designing and online horse games.



"Here is one little girl who would rather clean a stall than her own room...
Here is one little girl who would rather wear chaps than a party dress...
Here is one little girl who would rather go to the barn than the mall..."

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Mixing Cattle and Horses

I was at work last week and sometimes feel rather like a valet parking person... for horses. One of our clients had just finished his ride and I took his horse off him and started to untack while he got the trusty animal some snacks that he'd left in the car.

Upon his return, I was amused to once again have someone comment on my age. For a 22 year old, rising 23, it's funny when people question "So, you got a day off school today and wanted to play with some horses, ey?" Where I instruct, some mothers don't consider me looking old enough to drive - I'm gonna having fun when running my property convincing people of my age and experience!

I got chatting with the client and he mentioned how he was having a few lessons before heading off on a Cattle Drive coming up very shortly. Curious, I found out from him that it's an annual event that people can take part in for five days at a time.

The drive starts in South Australia and works in around four parts, a certain number of people trek the cattle to a previously planned location and then do a swap, after the 5 days of travel, another group takes over the large head of cattle and moves them onto the next location and so forth until the whole trek has been carried out. Sounds very interesting and a great chance to see some awesome scenery in Australia's bush!

Looking at the site, it states the ride "...offers people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, the opportunity to re-live the glory years of Australia's outback cattle drovers by riding alongside real working people, moving a real herd through real outback wilderness."

Check out the Annual Great Australian Cattle Drive at http://www.goway.com/cattledrive/.

"Heels down and head up, knees down and heart up, ankles close to your horse's side, elbows close to your own."

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

An Abundance of Horse Jobs

So! I've added a random "quote" generator to the page, listing horse jobs, careers, possibilities working with or in relation to horses. There's 54 in total listed in the coding, so if you think of other job possibilities with horses that you think others should know about, feel free to let me know so I can add them to the coding!

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Invest in the Best

5 Top Tips to further/establish your equine career.

Invest in yourself:
If you're looking to improve yourself for a particular field but struggle with the idea of a full time focus on acquiring skills or a piece of paper; consider work and study. For example, I was working on a horse stud and am interested in teaching, so took up a correspondence course for instructing while working. I could do it at my own pace and because it all relates to horses, things I was doing at work (although not directly related to teaching people to ride) were of benefit to me in this study.
Many put off furthering their skills/starting in a new area until they can focus solely on this decision and consequently end up not doing anything at all.

Invest in others:
Make yourself known; get out there. Attend events related to an area you are working or wish to work. It is possible to do so through work, for example I attend horse sales with my job and have received other work through being seen at these sales. People start to recognise you if you get out there often enough and if you're taking the time to get to know them and what they do, you may just find it'll help you in your particular focus.

Invest in education:
Consider saving to invest in furthering your knowledge - books, a particular course, even travel to a particular property or country to focus on a certain discipline. If this is the place where you can get access to the 'experts', then consider going there.

Invest in the future:
Set goals for tasks that would be of benefit for you to have achieved and find ways to learn or master that particular skill. When I first started out working on a stud, through my six weeks of work placement leading up to that employment I did all I could - injections, dealt with the birth of foals, handled the stallions, mares for covers, helped with vetting, feeding. In the last week I concluded the only thing I hadn't done was drive the tractor around the farm... A rather amused boss obliged to this request, also!

Invest in your industry:
Find out if there are any clubs, federations, etc that you can be a part of in a particular industry you want to work/be known. Many of these clubs have a fee which means you're putting money into that industry, proving you're taking it seriously but as an added benefit, you're being informed of events, changes, important things in relation to this field. Also, you're getting to know key people in this industry.

"A horse is like a violin, first it must be tuned, and when tuned it must be accurately played."

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Value of Planning and Planting

Many people that are strong influences in my life teach and agree on the value of planning and planting - my parents, pastors at church, people I work with - all of whom are successful people that I look up to.

It is so important to (metaphorically speaking) plant a seed - discover your life's desire - and work (plan) on having this come to pass. For me, it's of course my property and reaching people through it and doing what I love.

One of the beautiful men I work with up in the country when doing the whole stud thing works on a few different studs as well as running his own 50 acre property. He has commented often on how he wishes he'd planted trees on first purchasing the property over seven years ago. The time has quickly passed and he knows it would have been smart to take the time initially, to see the fruits now.

In the middle of a strong drought for us here in Australia, the upkeep of horses is proving to be difficult and very expensive - especially for those utilising these gorgeous animals as part of a business. My current boss who has the facilities to keep horses is taking advantage of this time, getting good horses cheap because she can afford to keep them while others can't. I'd much rather be in this boat than considering selling my beloved equine because I couldn't afford to keep him!

Always with my (yet to be purchased) property in mind, I am looking for ways to be able to set myself up to be self sufficient so that I won't suffer from problems that could have been at least lessened due to planning.

Trees provide shelter, wind breaks, shade and more importantly at this time I'm coming to realise, can work well as fodder. My boss has recently been pruning back many trees on her property - not as a big garden clean up, but because certain trees are quite appealing to the horses and work as a gut filler in this time where grass and hay is scarce.

The worker who has implanted into my brain the importance of planting trees on your property when first purchased has mentioned how valuable something like a lucerne tree can be - it's a big bushy plant that can act as shade or a windbreak but more importantly, is appealing to horses and if planted and allowed to grow, can be of great value in times of a drought. Curious about other trees that could do the same thing, I did a search on the net and have found a half dozen trees that could be used as fodder (and wind breaks, shade, fire protection, etc).

I also stumbled across the book - Managing Horses on Small Properties by Jane Myers - which I purchased online (74 horse books in My Library, now!). Check out http://www.landlinks.com/?nid=20&pid=4896 for info on this book. Listed in this book for good fodder trees are:
- Willows, especially Weeping Willows - drought tolerant
- Poplars - tolerate dry periods
- Carob
- Honey Locust
- Tagasaste (Lucerne tree)

Also take a look at Landscape Design on the Sustainability Victoria Website - ESHousingManualCh10.pdf
Did you know that:
- Dense trees and shrubs can deflect strong winds and channel cooling summer breezes?
- A tree shading a window can reduce a room's temperature by up to 12 degrees celcius?
- Deciduous trees provide summer shade yet allow winter sun access?
- Winbreaks are most effective when located at 90 degrees to the direction of the wind?

Some very helpful points on this .pdf file linked above. If you're going to invest time in your horses and have a property, why not invest in planning and planting as well? It'll only benefit you.

"Love means attention, which means looking after the things we love. We call this stable management." - George H. Morris, The American Jumping Style

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

More of the Force

So I got an email back yesterday from a Senior Sergeant at the New South Wales Mounted Police. Here are her replies to the questions I've sent out:

Do you have to be a certain rank as a police officer to become a mounted police officer?
To join the Mounted Police you need to have 3 years of general duties policing experience.

Do you need horse skills or are these taught?
You really need to have some basic horse knowledge and skills to be a successful applicant. And also a good level of fitness as it is quite a physical job riding all day and working with horses.

Why did you join the Mounted Police?
I joined the Mounted Police along with most of my collegues to combine a love of horses and riding with a worthwhile career in policing. It is a very unique job and I feel priviliged to be a part of this organisation and the continuance of such a historical institution.

How much of the job is horse related?
All of this occupation is revolved around horses being the riding of and management of. Obviously when we do Police work on our horses we have to do relevant paperwork and go to court etc...

How long have you been a mounted police person?
I have been with the NSW Mounted Police for 18 years.

Is lots of training involved for the horses?
Yes the horses have quite extensive assessment and training. This training is pretty much on going for the horses to keep them fit and obedient.

What would a normal day consist of for you?
For me a normal day could be anything from completing my relevant paperwork, to attending a demonstration or public protest, patrolling the streets of sydney or a country location, training at randwick racetrack or just mucking out some stables, grooming horses and doing general tasks that need to be completed every day such as vetting horses and checking shoes etc taking horses for spells, assessing new horses and instructing new riders.

New South Wales Police Website:

"How to ride a horse:
Step One - Mount the horse...
Step Two - Stay mounted..."

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Tooth Fairy Goldmine

Admittedly, I am terrible with my horse's teeth - I've had him rising 10 years and not had his teeth done once. (Gasp, shock horror!). Initially, it was ignorance and quite possibly still could be, but I've figured as long as he's in good condition and having no problems keeping weight (he's always rather festively plump) that he's chewing and digesting everything alright.

Well he had them done for the first time today, along with 23 other horses at one of the riding schools I work at. Apparently they get done this time each year and the same trusty equine dentist comes out with his helper and they get them done in a day.

Now, between the two of them they managed 24 horses in 4 hours. For curiosity's sake I enquired about costs - if it's a special visit for just your horse, you're looking at around $110 to have their teeth done. For a number of horses, it's $50. So, in the four hours, they made $1,200.00 between the two of them and this was only from the one riding school.

They'd done a few before coming out to us and had another half dozen or so to do before finishing up for the day. What an income! The main dentist pointed out he has a bit in the way of expenses - the big one being insurance and then lesser - petrol, cost of floats (used to do the horses' teeth - one costs around $100 and he went through four between the 24 horses). But still, taking out $400 for the floats, say $60 for a tank of petrol and then giving even half to his coworker would leave him with around $370.

I'm sure it's higher as the apprentice probably gets a lot less than 50% of the day's earnings! So, for around $100 an hour, not a bad way to work at all!

The dentist who annually comes out to this riding school advocates the course at Melbourne University - one year of study, one year on the job. Apparently there's a lot of people doing the course and too many from Victoria, so quite a few get trained and then head overseas to put their skills to use. But consider two years of training, then another few years on the job and travelling and then you'd be set with experience, a build up of clients in more than one country and the chance to earn a decent income with horses. Not a bad five-year-plan, ey?

"A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient horse walks in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you."

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