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Ah, it's so nice to see I'm not the only crazy person around here! :rofl: I've done the same thing: Sing when trail riding. When you're doing a posting trot, you kind of have to have something with a matching rhythm, or it goes all belly-up!

I will also confess to crazier stuff: Teaching horses onomatopoeic words to associate with different objects/animals they may spook at. (Works in my dog too: If I say "broom-broom" she immediately runs for the car waiting to get in...) ...so if there's a cow behind the bush and I know it's a cow and the horse doesn't yet, I might say, "That's right, boy, it's a cow. Mooooooo!" And when he sees it, "See, told you. Mooooo!" It kind of stops them spooking to do that... especially when they learn the sounds and notice you are predicting the experience correctly.

Kangaroos are harder: They are silent, so I make a "boing-boing" sound to alert my horse to kangaroos, in imitation of their jumping through the undergrowth. It's fun, and helpful. Doing this crazy noise thing also relaxes the rider, I suspect, and that transfers to the horse, as with singing (unless it's really bad singing... I have been known to sing the Lumberjack Song when running out of ideas... :rofl:)...
 

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She's looking all right! :) Horses always look older when they're in shaggy winter coats and having a sleep. Here's a horse that really does look old for comparison:



You can't see the telltale deep cavity above the eye as it's covered by the tree lucerne, but you can see how grey he's getting around the face. This is our Romeo half a year ago. He turned 30 in November and has been four molars down for a year now, and getting large twice-daily feeds of soaked horse cubes, copra and canola meal in fine-cut chaff, to supplement green growing things he can pick up from the pasture. He's been unable to process hay for several years, but is still enjoying his life, and having regular running sessions with his friends.

Not spending as much time working with our horses as we like: Life is often like that. So many things to do just to keep the head above water...

A Merry Christmas season to you, family, friends and, of course, your horse! :)
 

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Well, you know how they say old is relative, and when you turn 40, cultivate the friendship of octogenarians for perspective! ;-) The life expectancies of Morgans and SBs are around the same, and most of my father's older SB horses died between ages 25 and 29. This one holds the record, and he was ridden (lightly) until he was nearly 29. There are also a few reports of SBs living into their early and mid 30s.

Horses that die of age-related natural causes usually get a bit uncoordinated and doddery a few months to a year or so beforehand. One 28-year-old mare we had just slowed right down, and then detached herself from her grown-up daughter and best buddy, and started walking around all over the farm by herself, looking the whole of my parents' 120 acres over, going walking on the fastwork track by herself and all around the bush tracks she'd trained on as a young horse. She was extra snuggly for the whole week, and in good spirits, and eating well. One morning my father found her curled up in her box. She just looked asleep, but had actually departed. That was quite remarkable. Her daughter just seemed to know and didn't call for her as buddies usually will.

One thing that's for sure is that exercising them and keeping their lives interesting improves their health and prolongs their lives, so you guys are totally on the right track! :)
 

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...is your husband extraordinarily tall, or was that a camera angle thing?

...when my husband first met Sunsmart eight years ago, he said, "I am never going to be on the same side of the fence as that monster!" (He was used to my sweet, polite, small-ish, senior citizen Arabian mare, so a cranky, large-ish, late-cut stallion was a bit of a contrast.) And my reply was: :rofl: ...it only took him a couple of months to get past that statement. And these days, they positively hobnob...

Happy birthday Izzy! :)
 

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Do you think the lack of back lift could be related to a saddle issue? I'm only saying it because I realised with horror that my late mare I rode for over 25 years had a saddle fitting issue with the "nice comfortable" saddle I bought for her as an upgrade to her first one. At the time it was looked at and okayed by various people. In retrospect though it was pretty clear to me that there was an issue of some sort, since she didn't lift her back when ridden in that saddle (but did when ridden bareback), and gave signs of disliking being saddled (as opposed to bareback). It's something I really regret not noticing properly when it mattered. My little mare could have potentially been more comfortable, if, if, if...

Hasn't your landscape greened up? Funnily, it's also greening up here - April/May brings the showers that end the summer drought and the dry, dusty landscape. We love this time of year. :)
 

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https://youtu.be/vtux0I3XZx8
(tried to embed the youtube video so you don't have to click the link, and it shows up embedded in the body of my draft post, but then when I save, it disappears. Hmmm...any tech thoughts on that?)
I'm not a tech really, but I've noticed clips are not automatically embedding anymore and I'd say it's probably a bug in a forum software upgrade (unless it's deliberate).

You horse is looking nice! :)

Confo question on neck: I found just having horses turned out to free range on pasture 24/7 as opposed to barns with partial turnout makes a lot of difference to the neck musculature. When horses graze for their own sustenance, the tops of their necks are constantly engaged in the actions involved in biting off the grass. Hand-fed horses can be more upside-down, especially if they are eating from cribs, feeders or racks that are higher up than ground level. If that little observation is of any help to you! ;-)
 

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Any way to hang it low while avoiding potential entanglements? (The slow feeding net is great, better mimics intake patterns when naturally foraging.)
 

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Sue & Egrogan,

Ana grazes 24/7 and her top line is not developing like I thought it would; maybe it would look even worse if she wasn't grazing; anyway, here is a picture of her neck for comparison; she was scratching her muzzle on the post and that really made her neck muscles stick out.

I know her top line is developing because when I ride her bareback I can suddenly feel back muscles contracting which I never felt before we started training; but you can cleary see a dip between the bulging muscle and the crest.
She's a lot better than a lot of horses, I guess you have high expectations! :) I always think she looks great in your photos. And yes, she may have a genetic predisposition towards ewe neck, and so be harder to get that dressage neck than horses not so predisposed. I certainly see the difference between my late mare, who was naturally cresty and rounded in the right places, and my gelding, who has some ewe neck genes and needed a lot of work to get looking acceptable (and the grazing helped too, when we took him on, he was ex-dry lot/stable).
 

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I think you ought to be proud of yourselves! :)

A lot of horses these days are brought up in barn environments and have difficulty being relaxed in a natural environment, which is sad. It can take a lot of work to get horses like that comfortable on a trail. Do you know if your mare was born into a pasture herd, or in a more confined environment?

The most spooky horses we've ever had in our family were born in stables / yards and never had much if any chance to run with a herd or be in a roomy paddock with a horizon to run to. Conversely, the most unflappable ones were, without exception, horses born into herds with at least moderate room to roam, and lots of things to see.

My Sunsmart was born at my parents' stables. Their horses are stabled at night and turned out in the daytime into smallish runs with one buddy only, so a pair to a run (except for stallions). This represented an improvement from the limited turnout, mostly in barn boxes arrangements we had for our horses in Europe back in the early 1980s, but it still creates a lot more health and behavioural problems, plus spookiness, than being born and continuing to live in a good herd/paddock environment (with ample natural shelter and sufficient care - not all paddocked horses have wonderful lives).

It was a lot of work over a number of years to get Sunsmart to the point where my herd-born Arabian mare was at the outset of her riding career, but it was worth it, for him and for me. He's so laid-back these days compared to at the start, and he just loves discovering new scenery.

Good feeling to make such progress, isn't it? :)
 

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That's a great history there, egrogan! :) Don't we sometimes wish animals could talk? We adopted a young Kelpie a couple of years ago, who'd been dumped at just under one year of age, they think by driving her to a faraway place and then pushing her out of the car and driving away. I wish she could tell us her story.
 

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Nice to see this journal continue! :) Izzy is looking great. When my mare got over 25, free-lungeing her in a roundyard with lots of trot and canter and up and down transitions and direction changes really helped her back muscles, as did uphill-downhill riding. A spot-on comfortable saddle fit is also really helpful, and in retrospect, my mare's fit wasn't anywhere near as comfy as Sunsmart's saddle fit after we had a super fitter out to individually adjust not just the gullet angle but the panel stuffing to suit him to a T. New saddle technologies helped there, but how I wish my mare had had it that good...
 

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Hi Erin, I got that recipe for you! :)

Harira is a real personal favourite at our home. This is Ramadan food Muslims use to get through their daytime fasting periods. It's full of super stuff and I always feel better after eating it. You can cook it with or without meat.


Harira Soup

200g dried chickpeas (garbanzos)
350g dried brown or green lentils
200 g broken-up vermicelli or spaghettini pasta
500g cubed lamb (or beef, or chicken) - optional
1/2 cup olive oil
1L hot water and enough vegetable or chicken stock powder for quantity
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 bay leaves
1tbsp sweet paprika
1tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon
1/2tsp chilli powder or 1/2 finely chopped red chilli
4 crushed garlic cloves
2 diced onions
2 sliced and chopped red capsicums
2 diced potatoes
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes (or equivalent chopped fresh ripe tomatoes)
1 big bunch flat leaf parsley
1 big bunch coriander (cilantro)
Crusty bread and fresh dates to serve on the side

Soak the chickpeas in water overnight, then cook in plenty of water until tender (while preparing rest of recipe). Set aside until needed.

Heat the olive oil in the biggest cauldron you have and sautee the onions on medium heat until glassy and starting to soften. At this stage, turn up the heat, add meat cubes and possibly more oil, and start to seal the meat. (If you haven't got experience doing this combined without burning the onions, you can use a separate frypan to do the meat, and combine later.) When the meat is mostly done, add the garlic, celery, red capsicum, potatoes, grated ginger, and all the spices (but not the fresh herbs), stirring gently. Add the hot water and stock powder, reduce heat, and simmer.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add lentils, and the set aside chick peas (because most varieties of chick peas can always benefit from more cooking - or go to a Lebanese deli and ask for a decent tender-cooking variety - these are larger than what you get in a supermarket). When the lentils are nearly cooked, add the broken pasta and continue cooking until pasta is al dente. Then drain the whole lot into a colander.

Meanwhile, you'll be continuing with the meat/vegetable pan. Some people just use the juice of a lemon, I like to whizz the whole (unsprayed) lemon in a blender and add the whole lot because it adds zest and depth. Try using small amounts of whizzed lemons at first and work up to the full amount next time if you like that taste.

When the meat and vegetables are ready, I like to use a stick blender to blend at least half of the pan's contents to give me a nice thick texture. Yes, I blend at least half the meat too. You don't have to do this.

Then, add the diced canned tomatoes and drained chickpeas / lentils / pasta to the main cauldron. (If you use fresh tomatoes, add them with the capsicum etc earlier on.) Turn off heat, add finely chopped parsley and coriander (I use my blender) and stir and taste to see if your seasoning needs adjusting or you need more stock. You should have a very thick, chunky soup.

This dish always tastes better on the second day, when the flavours have fully developed. It's excellent for re-heating, and the quantity will last for days (plus it freezes well). It's about an hour to make the whole lot but it then sits in the fridge and gives you several amazing meals in-between other cooking over the next four days (don't keep it longer without freezing). I never get sick of this stuff. If you're feeling under the weather, this will really lift you. Traditionally Harira is served with a good crusty, crunchy bread (toast wholemeal Lebanese flatbreads if you don't have a nice crusty loaf) and fresh dates.


PS: We're making that Pumpkin Risotto again this week! :D

:apple:
 

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Re your critique request: You guys look lovely together! :) Horse and rider are in harmony and enjoying themselves.

Now I'm going to ask if you can spot the similarity between a photo of you riding and me riding (other than that we're both beaming and riding towards our husbands ;-)). There is definitely a problem with the one of me riding (it lasted longer than just the photo).





You can click on the above photo to look for the problem up close (although to me it sticks out like a sore thumb, but then I'm super critical of myself...)

So this is a photo of Sunsmart and me in our first month together after I brought him down to Albany six years ago (before we had our farm; I was agisting him solo down the road from where we lived). I was using my old saddle on him and I kept slipping to the right!!! Do you see how much lower my right stirrup is than my left? It was driving me nutty. Why couldn't I stay laterally balanced?

Took the saddle to the saddlery, and they said, "Oh, your tree is broken, you need a new one!" I didn't think the tree was broken but they were convinced. Anyway, it was a Bates Caprilli I'd bought 20 years previously and second-hand, and I was nearly 40, so my husband said, "You should definitely have a new saddle for once in your life, and this seems like the perfect time!"

So this is how we got a custom-fitted Ascot Romana AP (one of the recommended options when you ride a tank of a horse with a huge thorax, big shoulders and a broad flat back, and you're 5ft11 to boot). The fitter who was out was positively brilliant. She said to me, "No, your old saddle tree isn't broken, it's just become ultra-flexible with age. And the reason your saddle was slipping is because the horse is asymmetrical!" So she adjusted the stuffing to counter the horse's asymmetry (and as that improves, you can play with the stuffing again). No more slipping, and the problem of trying to stay symmetrical on my horse mostly solved:



I say mostly, because I also have asymmetry myself in my back/pelvis, and because I've not done any Pilates classes since we moved to our farm, it's not as good as it was. (Really must get back to Pilates classes, but funny how much falls by the wayside when you're house building.)

Anyway, blah blah blah, but the point is, sometimes the reasons for one stirrup appearing higher than another are not simple ones, like having the leathers at different lengths. And this particular problem, for me, was a bit of a detective piece to solve, and I needed help to do it. So I just pass that on whenever I see one stirrup lower than another. :)
 

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Well, asymmetry or not, I still think you guys are like a 1000W lightbulb together! :)

While I think of it, stretching out our legs and back also helps with our little human symmetry ailments and general suppleness. It's just hard to remember to do it before jumping on a horse! I must remember to do it...
 

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Is Cyrus a draught cross? What a handsome individual. His ample forelock would make my horse envious! :rofl: I love horses like that - but then I love all sorts of horses... and have a hard time having favourites, they all seem to have their advantages! Big boofy horses like that are great fun, but rather like the Titanic to turn! :) My mare was 14.2hh and turned on a postage stamp, so she had huge advantages for gymkhana events like bending and barrel races. Sunsmart is 15.2hh and a bit of a tank - although not that much bigger, you do notice it when turning! Of course, as a young horse, the tightest bends he regularly negotiated were the curves on the 600m sand track! :rofl:

It's fun trying out other horses. And it makes you appreciate the good points of your own horse! :) I really enjoyed reading that post. If you do any more experiments like that, I'm looking forward to reading about them!

Do you have that thing where you, in some part of yourself, feel like you're cheating on your horse by riding another horse? Common in people besotted with their one horse, and I used to feel a bit guilty when I rode horses other than my mare, especially if she saw it. Haha...
 

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How nice! :)

...if you wanted to equal the low weight of a child on horseback, we could work out how many helium balloons you would need to attach to yourself while riding! ;-)
 

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I have two more nice pumpkin recipes I've just tried out which would also suit you as a vegetarian:

PUMPKIN AND SPINACH LASAGNA

Oven-roast a 1.5kg Butternut Pumpkin, let it cool, scrape the flesh out of the shell, mix it in a bowl with thyme, sage, nutmeg and chicken stock powder.

Finely dice an onion and sautee it in olive oil. Add 2 x 440g cans diced Italian tomatoes, two freshly pressed garlic cloves and Italian herbs of your choice. Let it simmer around 10min.

Steam a whole silverbeet and shred with a knife.

Use a large lasagna dish. Put half the pumpkin mixture on the bottom and cover with pasta sheets. Put half the tomato mixture on the pasta, and spread on the shredded silverbeet. Crumble 200-250g of Greek Feta on top of the silverbeet and cover with pasta sheets. In the next layer, spread the other half of the pumpkin mixture and cover this with 500g of ricotta cheese. Cover with pasta sheets, spread the rest of the tomato mixture on it, and generously sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino.

Bake at 180degC for 35-40 minutes. Fan forced oven, medium shelf helps stop the parmesan from getting too dark. Delicious vegetarian lasagna and quite substantial due to the cheeses! :) You could add things like pine nuts and cashews to the pumpkin layers as well.

With a salad, totally summer food as well.


PUMPKIN PIZZA

Make your own wholemeal pizza base and when it's ready for toppings, spread tomato puree and herbs on it, followed by sliced mushrooms, a generous amount of crumbled feta cheese, as much diced steamed pumpkin as you like (we made quite a mound!), then sprinkle on cashews or pine nuts, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Bake & enjoy. Really nice flavours!
 
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