No, I'm Not Making This Up.

Since I last posted, Indy and I have had three great rides - two for 40 minutes and one for 30 minutes. He was super all three times. He's even starting to walk straight to a target instead of weaving all over the place. A great time was had by all.

Last Monday however, things went a little bit wrong... I had Indy all saddled, and he was standing beside me - as he always does - and I looked a way a moment to say something to Mike. In the meantime, for some reason Indy decided he needed to go to the back of Ami's stall. Ami was still tied there, so she backed up and Indy went under her tie rope.

Don't ask me how he managed this - I have no idea. It only took a second and there he was, the saddle horn hooked onto her tie rope, pulling it into a V with Ami on one side and her tie ring on the other. She pulled back, the fuse on her safety halter snapped and it was all over before Mike or I could even try to grab the quick release knot and untie her.

Ami then strolled on out of the barn, and Indy didn't seem to know anything had even happened. All's well that ends well, right? Unfortunately, this wasn't the end. As I took Indy out to start our ride, I noticed that the saddle looked a bit, um, odd. The cantle and pommel were much too high and the seat was considerably shorter and deeper than it was when I put it on him.

Yep, the tree was broken right behind the foregirth. I couldn't believe it! Just the right combination of pressure and torque, jerking the tree against the unyielding foregirth. Unbelievable.

For those non-horse people, a saddle with a damaged tree is like a car with a damaged A-frame. Totaled. Period.

Since I do love this saddle, and besides, it's the only one I tried that fit Indy, there's nothing to do but get another one... At least I won't need the pad, fenders, leather stirrups and Bates rig. One must look on the bright side - if one can find a bright side that is.

Just kidding - sorta - since Indy and Ami were not only OK, they demonstrated what Cool Characters they both are. Plus, it's been way too hot to ride the last couple of days anyway.


Another Nice Ride

Last Friday Indy and I had another very enjoyable ride. It was about 85 degrees, but it didn't feel like it. The humidity was low and there was a nice breeze. Too bad we can't seem to have more days like this.

The heat's been on ever since. We're nothing like what's been happening in the West, but 97 is close to record heat for this time of year in northern Indiana. It was really miserable today because the humidity was up due to clouds moving in to give us a 40% shot at rain this evening - as well as Tuesday and Wednesday.

I certainly hope we do get some of the predicted rain, because it's getting to be a real drought situation around here. The pastures are the hardest hit. First cutting hay - including ours - didn't produce as many bales as normally, and many folks won't even get a second cutting if we don't get rain - and soon.

We have about enough for the winter from our first cutting, but many don't, and even grass hay may be in short supply - even here where we usually have hay coming out our ears. We certainly won't have any to sell, and neither will many others.

Still, I certainly can't complain. It could be a lot worse, and in most of the rest of the country, it is.


Judge Upholds Ban On Horse Slaughter

July 7, 2007

A US District Court Judge has denied Cavel International's attempt to declare a recently enacted Illinois law making it a crime to slaughter horses for human consumption unconstitutional.

US District Court Judge Frederick Kapala rendered the decision on Thursday against Cavel International, the last remaining horse slaughter plant in the US.

On May 25, 2007, Cavel had filed suit in federal court challenging the enforceability of Illinois' law banning horse slaughter. In early June, Judge Kapala granted Cavel a temporary restraining order, preventing the state from prosecuting the slaughterhouse under the law. He subsequently extended that protection for 10 business days but then denied any further injunctive relief to Cavel on June 25, 2007. Judge Kapala did not believe he had jurisdiction to make any further determinations on the merits of this case due to an appeal pending in the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. However, on July 3rd, the 7th Circuit ordered Judge Kapala to proceed on Cavel's request for further injunctive relief and with a final decision on the merits of the case.

Judge Kapala analyzed Cavel's arguments that the Illinois state law is preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, a violation of the Commerce Clause, and a violation of the state's police power. In rendering his decision against Cavel he found that the slaughterhouse "failed to demonstrate any constitutional infirmity" in the state law.

"We are very pleased to have a federal court ruling that upholds the constitutionality of Illinois' state law banning horse slaughter," said Tracy Silverman, an attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). "This decision is one more important victory on the road to banning horse slaughter in America once and for all."

Attorneys for Cavel International may appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. However, the ruling means that the doors remain shut on the slaughter plant, sparing the lives of thousands of America's horses.

AWI is being represented in this matter by the nationally renowned law firm of Patton Boggs.

The Animal Welfare Institute, founded in 1951, is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. AWI's legislative division, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), is leading the national campaign to end horse slaughter and advocating passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

For more information:

Horse slaughter in the news

Animal Welfare Institute
Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL)


Saddle Time

Since my last post Indy and I have had three rides of about 20 minutes apiece. What is the main thing I have learned from these rides? That I'm much more out of shape than he is.

The Aussie saddle I'm using weighs about 26 lbs. That's the same weight as the saddle I used on DJ for almost 20 years. DJ was something like 2-3 inches taller than Indy, and I had no problem lifting the saddle onto his back. Now, I struggle and push and sort of slide the saddle up Indy's back instead of lifting it up as setting it straight down as I always did before. SHEESH!

My first saddle - 1978 - weighed 36 lbs! I guess I couldn't even pick that one off the ground these days. Have I gotten soft of what? Of course I am older...

We had a couple of interesting things happen on these rides - mostly concerning my efforts to find a way to make the saddle stay put without having to girth so tight. On the first of the three rides under discussion, when I dismounted to quit I decided to see if I could get back on if the girth were just one notch looser. The answer is NO. When I put my weight in the stirrup, the saddle turned a full 90 degrees.

So here we are, the saddle is now on Indy's side, and he's looking at me with a "What the heck?" look on his face. Fortunately, he decided it was just one more thing that goofy humans do, and he stood quietly while I struggled to hold the heavy saddle up with one hand - lest it slide completely under his belly - while trying to loosen the girth enough so I could boost the saddle up on his back with the other. I thought for a few minutes that I was going to have to call for help. The saddle wouldn't budge without the girth being looser, and the girth strap was almost out of my reach and didn't want to give an inch either. Finally I managed to loosen the strap and get the saddle on his back again. I also assured Indy that he was indeed a good boy!

I've often heard about people with round backed horses using the rubberized mesh non-slip shelf liners under their saddle pads to prevent slipping. It always seemed to me that wrinkling would be a problem with such thin material, but what the heck, it's cheap and I decided to give it a try.

It does make quite a difference, and since I ride an Aussie saddle with a fitted pad, I tied the thin liner to the straps at the front and back of the pad. This keeps the stuff from wrinkling much - enough, I hope. We're still in the testing stage with this stuff. I'm not sure Indy likes the feel of it next to his back as well as he likes the sheepskin. We shall see. It's up to him of course....
"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra