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I would like to welcome all of you to this month's online meeting of Horse-Aholicas Anonymous.

You may be sitting there thinking that you are OK, and don't really need any help. It is not easy to realize that you are a horse-aholic, and even harder to bring yourself to a HA meeting for help. HA is here to assist you. I have some questions to ask to try to determine if you can be helped.

  • Can you say 'sheath' in public without blushing?
  • Do you know exactly what 'snaffle' means? (No, it is not a drink!)
  • Do you drive a truck with some type of towing package and/or dual rear wheel when everyone else you know drives a real car?
  • Do you have more than one type of trailer because you own horses?
  • Do you spend your holidays going to shows, sales, clinics, and seminars when everyone else goes on cruises?
  • Do you discuss things at the dinner table that would make a doctor leave in disgust?
  • Do you consider formal wear clean jeans and freshly scraped boots?
  • Does the inside of your home look like your interior decorator is 'State Line Tack'?
  • Do you often have barn boots on your front porch?
  • Is your mail made up primarily of breed magazines and horse catalogs?
  • Do your shirt pockets often contain bits of feed, hay, and empty syringe covers?
  • Do you worry about paying your monthly feed bill before you think of paying your electric bill?
  • When you meet a person, do you ask how many horses they have, and pity them if the answer is none?
  • Do you remember the name of a great-great-great grand sire when you can't remember your own Great grandfather's name?
  • Is your primary dream in life to breed the perfect foal?
  • Do you find non-horse people boring?
  • Is 99% of your e-mail about horses?
  • Do you have a collection of bits even larger than your collection of horses?
  • Does you halter collection include more than four foal halters, all the same size?
  • Do you know more than five people this list fits exactly?

If you answered YES to three of these questions, you are in pretty good shape. You will lead a long, dull life, and never call your mother and tell her "I'm in the hospital, but everything is fine! The horse is OK."

If you answered YES to 10, you are in serious trouble. Give in gracefully, and become a member of Horse-Aholics Anonymous now... You will qualify eventually anyway.

If you answered YES to 15 or more, you are incurable.

My advice to those who, like me, are incurable is as follows.....

Sit back, smile, read your email, and know that your life will always be filled with good friends and better horses, and it will never be dull.

Submitted by Penny, Somewhere in Maryland

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Riding high on the success of such books as "You're My Mare Not My Mother" and "Denial Ain't What Keeps The Horseshoe On," . . .  by Trelaine Lewis who currently calls Northern Nevada home

. . . Pamela Wilsby-Higgins is holding clinics across the country to promote her latest book and infomercials "From A Whisper To A Scream: When Your Horse Can't Hear You."

The plucky blonde, so progressive in her methods of equine communication she's called "The Woman Who E-Mails to Horses," is the first woman to receive national attention in the growing field of touchy-feely horse training. Although successful, Pamela has been criticized for her unorthodox techniques and is the first to admit she's not a traditional horse trainer.

"Training is such a worn out concept, even the word 'train' is archaic, it comes from the Old French trahiner, to drag. And that's just what training is, a BIG DRAG! "What I'm interested in is communicating with problem horses, letting them know they're not alone. Since I too have issues with trust and a history of abusive, dysfunctional relationships, I understand what they're going through. I can also relate to frustrated riders. As I wrote in 'You're My Mare Not My Mother,' at one point a guilt-tripping gelding shamed me into believing if I were a prettier, thinner, smarter person I wouldn't be having riding problems. "My goal is to facilitate people away from The 'Self-Centered' riding made popular in the 1980s to a more 'Co-Dependant 'riding where the horse and rider work closely to deepen their relationship and become meshed in the riding experience."

In defense of reports that her clinics are among the most expensive in this new industry, Pamela is unapologetic. "You get what you pay for. Horses are individuals and it takes time to discover what form of communication works best for them. Whispering to horses is fine, but some respond better to murmuring or babbling, while still others prefer mime or slide shows. I have found when working with a herd, semaphore is the most effective."

Pamela further points out that not all bad horse behavior is the result of a negative breaking experience. "Horses are very sensitive and can have a variety of problems, both emotional and paranormal. They can suffer from depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, even repressed memories.

Most people are unaware of the large number of horses who are survivors of alien abduction. I have found that repressed memories of such abductions are the primary cause of trailering difficulties. There are also horses unfairly labeled 'spooky,' when their behavior is actually an appropriate response to poltergeist activity."

Pamela's symposiums cover a wide range of topics, such as: Reimprinting the Inner Foal, Obsessive/Compulsive Dressage, Gymkhana? Andelusions of Grandeur, Bi-Polar Bending, A.D.D. in Arabians, Fear of Flying Lead Changes, and Feeling Suicidal? Consider Eventing.

When not on tour, Pamela offers weekend retreats at Passing Wind, her Malibu, California Ranch, that focuses on specific breeds and riding disciplines. She will also customize sessions to meet a client's particular needs and budget. "Once we even re-birthed a Tennessee Walker to help her face her 'Water issues. It was exhilarating and only 3 or 4 people were injured." Pamela Was unable to comment further on this event as the matter is still in litigation.

Pamela began developing her techniques under the tutelage of GoWaanPoOLmiFynGer, the charismatic shaman of the Diamond-Phillips tribe and author of the ground breaking book, "Horse Buck Hard." "The whole monosyllabism of Horse Buck Hard overwhelmed me with its Zen. I knew instantly I had to study with him."

GoWaan PoOLmiFynGer introduced Pamela to his tribe's ancient practices of Equine- Aromatherapy, Prance-Channeling, Stall Feng Shui, Public Relations and Marketing. "GoWaan taught me so much. Not only did I learn how frequently riders with dysfunctional personal lives project unresolved emotional issues onto their horses, but the outrageous amounts of money they are willing to pay to be told it isn't their fault." Pamela went on to become GoWaan PoOL miFynGer's assistant when he toured to promote his calendar and video, Buckskin, Beads and Beefcake. "It was a great gig," she reflects, "but I knew it wouldn't last, when I noticed most of the women attending his sold-out clinics didn't have horses."

She next traveled to the Australian outback, where she studied with acclaimed Snowy River Kanguru Bruce Fosters, whose masterwork, "The Principles Of Bonding From Brumbies to The Boardroom," has become an integral part of the executive training programs of many multinational corporations.

"Bruce is an incredible visionary. He was the first person to theorize that a rearing horse is really just asking for a hug!"

Since starting her own clinics, Pamela has emphasized the differences between her methods and those of her contemporaries, but she does admit to performing the crowd pleasing, ubiquitous get an unstarted horse to accept a saddle, bit, bridle and rider without breaking its spirit in under an hour demonstration. "Of course, since I'm using the techniques I've developed, my version is different from what people have come to expect after seeing other clinicians. For example, I find using a pyramid-shaped pen, instead of a round pen, brings more energy to the session. I also use indirect lighting, scented candles and soft music. I start by having a few glasses of wine with the horse, then begin to recount my earliest childhood memories of separation and abandonment, while lunging the horse at a trot. After several minutes of this, usually at the point in my litany of victimization where my abusive second husband leaves me for my farrier, the horse will begin to go through a visible change. While still at a trot, it will start shaking its head and trying to cover its ears. This is the moment I call 'The Throw Up. The Throw Up is the point a horses reaches when it can't stand listening to my problems any more and will do anything to get me to stop, including being saddled, bridled and ridden for the first time.

"People think it's magic when they see how willing the horse becomes once I shut up and start saddling, but there's nothing mysterious about it. I just have a very annoying voice and more issues than T.V. Guide. "

Future goals for Pamela include developing a web site, and a 900 number. "I envision a network where for only 99 cents per minute, riders can speak to their own Psychic Tele-Trainer, that I've personally educated. I also plan to explore the financial aspects of communicating with other animal species. I'm willing to discourse with dogs or chat with cats. I'll even vocalize with vermin if there's money in it."

Submitted by Ann Marie, Onley, Pa. 

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The Top Ten Reasons To Ride Dressage
  1. Found ice-fishing too stimulating.
  2. I enjoy wearing full formal wear rain or shine.
  3. Who wouldn't love spending afternoons riding in circles getting yelled at.
  4. Just love subjecting friends and family to my latest equine video spectacular.
  5. My chiropractor needs a new car.
  6. Wanted to find a place my husband wouldn't go - aka. the barn.
  7. Had tired of spending cold winters by the fire, and hot summers by the pool.
  8. My lawyer wanted me to have 3 judges.
  9. Lived for the sport where I could say "Piaffe" to the judges.
  10. I had way too much money in my bank account.

Submitted by Penny, Somewhere in Maryland

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More Horse Slang Definitions
  • Bleacher butt: When you sit to long on bleachers at a horse show
  • Manure sinus: Inhaling to much arena/manure dust
  • Riders leg: Bow-legged
  • Saddle butt: When you have been in the saddle to
  • long Puken: A horse that dives in the bridle
  • Wet saddle blankets: Lots of riding
  • Driving into the bridle: Applying legs pressure while pulling back on the reins
  • Drive: The same as driving into the bridle, yet lacking the time to say the whole sentence Three gaited horse: A horse that; 1) trips, 2) stumbles, 3) falls.
  • Show trainers: Trainers only capable of riding in circles.
  • Slip and sliders: Reining horses.
  • Withers: The reason you rarely see a man riding bareback.

Submitted by Karen, Finksburg, Md.

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Your Horses are on Fire!

By Baron Tayler, Originally published in Anvil Magazine in 1993.

Much as I love shoeing horses, my business interests have led me to design, patent, and manufacture machinery for farmers who work with draft animals.

Since the farmers and teamsters who use my machine work with draft animals almost exclusively, I acquired a few Percherons. They're the kindest, gentlest, most easygoing creatures on the earth, but owning them created a problem for me. I had only ten acres of pasture; that's a little more than three acres a horse-hardly enough to feed three 1800-pound horses year round without haying.

Luckily, a nearby farmer has a large pasture that he hasn't used since he retired. I moseyed over and asked if I could use the pasture for the Percherons during the winter when I'd run out of grass. You should have seen his cataract-clouded eyes light up! He told me he'd just turned 91 years old and had mourned the day he had sold his last team and converted to tractors. Yes, he said, he'd love to have the horses in his pasture.

October rolled around, and the horses finally ate the last stalk of grass in their field. I walked them down the rod and let them into the large pasture which was knee deep in lush forage. They were in horsy heaven. January arrived, and the horses had grown long, thick winter coats. The weather had been cold, but little in the way of snow. The field had a clump of trees in the middle and when it snowed, the horses snuggled up under a huge pine and slept.

With the first big snow came trouble. I was sitting at the breakfast table when the phone rang. It was a lady who lived in a house next to the pasture. She wanted to know if I owned the big horses. I told her that I did and asked her if there was something wrong. "The horses have no building to go into to get out of the snow," she said. I explained that they had a big tree to stand under, and that their dense coat was an excellent insulator. I assured her that the horses were quite comfortable. Semi-satisfied, she let me return to breakfast.

The following day the woman called back, and in a firm voice told me she was sure the horses were cold. I asked her how she knew this.

"Because they look cold," she replied.

"And in what way do they look cold?" I countered. Silence. Not a word for 30 seconds.

Finally, she said, "I just know they're cold!"

"Okay," I replied, "Why don't you meet me in the pasture in five minutes and, if the horses are cold, I'll take them into a barn." She agreed.

We met five minutes later. "Will they hurt me?: she asked. "Do they kick or bite?" It started to dawn on me that this woman was a busybody do-gooder who knew absolutely nothing about horses. With time on her hands, she probably decided that my horses needed rescuing and appointed herself their savior.

As soon as we entered the pasture, the horses trotted over looking for attention. Three 1800-pound "puppy dogs." After she watched me pet them for a few minutes I asked her if they looked cold. "Well, no," she replied, "but it's hard to tell with all the hair."

"Why don't you put your hand on one and see if it feels cold to the touch?" I asked. It was obvious she had never touched a horse before. Hesitantly, she reached out and touched one.

"Well, she said, "I have to admit that they do feel warm but I still wish they had a barn to go into."

Just then one of the horses dropped a big, steaming pile of manure on the snow. She stood looking at it, quite puzzled. "What's wrong?" I asked.

No reply at first. Then she said, "Why isn't the horse standing in the pile?"

"Why would he do that" I asked. "Because it would keep his feet warm," she replied. That snapped it! I was trying to talk logically with a certified nut case! I left her standing in the field.

The snow melted a few days later, and I hear nothing more. Then another storm hit that promised to be a keeper. With the temperature staying well below freezing, I knew the snow wouldn't melt for a while, which meant I had to start feeding bales of hay until the snow was gone. Since my daytime schedule was hectic, I found it easier to feed at night, usually around midnight. Two days after the snow had stopped falling, the old farmer called me. He said the woman was bothering him again, claiming the horses were not being fed. I assured him they were and told him of my nightly ritual.

The local animal protection society called the next day, explaining they received a report that I was starving my horses. I invited one of their inspectors to come out and see for himself. When the inspector arrived, I showed him the hay scattered over the field and explained my feeding schedule. I told him about the woman who believed horses should stand in their manure. I asked him to confirm my nightly feedings with a neighbor who had seen me feeding the horses. He did and was satisfied that the woman was, in his own worlds, a "Looney Tune."

A few weeks went by and along came another dusting of snow. The temperature hovered just around freezing, the snow melting as it hit the ground. The local animal control officer called. He was laughing so hard it was difficult to understand him. "Could I come over?" He asked. Fifteen minutes later he arrived, still laughing. His face was as red as a beet! I thought he was going to have a coronary on the spot. Finally, calmed down to a mild chuckle, he told me that a woman had reported my horses were on fire!

The officer apologized for the inconvenience of his visit, but it was office policy to investigate each complaint. I was too busy laughing to even notice. Regaining control of myself, I climbed into the officer's truck, and off we went to check on my "roasting" horses. When we arrived at the field, the sun was just starting to break through the clouds. Three gorgeous Percherons were standing there, contentedly munching on grass. Thick columns of steam rose off them as evaporated moisture in their coats condensed in the cold air. The officer and I were awed by the beauty of it, but soon the spell was broken. We both stated chuckling again, almost rolling on the ground. "Your horses are on fire!" the officer roared.

I never heard from the animal control people again. However, the woman continued pestering the old farmer with a myriad of odd ball complaints. I felt so sorry for him that I took the horses back to my place a month before I'd planned to. The farmer was sad to see them go. He still enjoys telling the story about those horses that were on fire.

Submitted by Jamie, Crofton, Md.

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T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the barn

By Jackie Arns

T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the barn,
All the creatures were sleeping, all safe, snug and warm.
The feed pails were hung by the stall doors with care,
In the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The ponies were nestled all warm in there beds,
While visions of carrot cakes danced through their heads.
The Arabs, the Thoroughbreds and even the Apps,
The jumpers and hunters were all taking naps.

When out in the paddock there arose such a clatter
I awoke in my stall To see what was the matter.
I moved to the window quick as I could
To see where the noise came from, if I could.

The sight I beheld as I gazed out that night
Was a beautiful horse All whiter than white.
He wore a red blanket so nice to behold,
His hooves how they sparkled all glittery-gold.

With swift certain motions to our barn he came,
and silvery moonlight danced from his mane.
More rapid than racers his hoof beats they came,
And he neighed and he snorted and called us by name.

He was our Christmas, a ghost-horse of white,
Who has come to all horses, since that one special night.
A gallant example Who served man so well, 
Especially those with whom A baby did dwell.

For those special horses who shared stable and stall,
To give comfort and warmth to the Savior of us all.
Now thinking of them, he entered the door,
To distribute among us his gifts and more.

Down the aisle he came, his hoof beats so light,
And he stopped by each stall in our stable that night.
Gifts he did give to all in our barn,
More heart or more courage, or to be free from harm.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
And he filled all the feed pails then turned with a jerk.
And nickering softly on gold hooves so bright,
And giving a nod he went into the night.

and I heard him neigh as he went out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Ni-i-i-i-ight!

Submitted by Lisa, Libertytown, Md.

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Murphy's Horse Laws
  • There is no such thing as a sterile barn cat.
  • No one ever notices how you ride until you fall off.
  • The least useful horse in you barn will eat the most, require shoes every four weeks and need the vet at least once a month.
  • A horse's misbehavior will be in direct proportion to the number of people who are watching.
  • Your favorite tack always gets chewed on, and your new blanket gets torn.
  • Tack you hate will never wear out and blankets you hate cannot be destroyed.
  • Horses you hate cannot be sold and will out live you.
  • Clipper blades will become dull when your horse is half clipped.
  • If you approach within fifty feet of your barn in clean clothes, you will get dirty.
  • The number of horses you own will increase to the number of stalls in your barn.
  • Your barn will fall down without baling twine.
  • Hoof picks always run a way from home.
  • If you fall off, you will land on the site of your most recent injury.
  • If you are winning, quit there is only one way to go. Down!

Submitted by Karen, Finksburg, Md.

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My wife she has a Quarter Horse, with flaxen mane and tail.

She thinks he is the finest thing that ever jogged a rail.
She calls him Dandy Darling, and if the truth I tell,
That fancy pampered Quarter Horse has made my life pure hell!
My wife she used to cook for me and serve it with champagne.
But now she'd rather feed that horse and fix him special grain!
She rides him every morning, and grooms him half the night.
And the last time that she kissed ME, was just to be polite!
He dresses better than I do, with matching wraps and ties.
My wardrobe's so neglected now, that I attract the flies!
One day my wife was shopping, she was way down at the mall.
And fancy, pampered DANDY was just a standing in his stall.
He looked so smug and sassy, that I began to grin.
I'd saddle that fat sucker up, and take him for a spin!!
I've wondered since if the cues I gave, he may have misconstrued.
Cause when I climbed aboard that horse, he rightly came UNGLUED!!!!
He bucked and spun, and snorted fire, then threw me through a fence!
I saw big stars and there are 6 teeth, that I ain't heard from since!
My wife came home and saw me, just a lying in the dirt.
She rushed up to her HORSE and asked him, "Sweetheart are you HURT?"
He'd scratched his nose a little bit, and the memory galls me yet......
She left me lying in the mud, and ran to call the VET!!!

Submitted by Lisa, Libertytown, Md.

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How do you . . . 
  • To induce labor in a mare? Take a nap.
  • To cure equine constipation? Load them in a clean trailer.
  • To cure equine insomnia? Take them in a halter class.
  • To get a horse to stay very calm and laid back? Enter them in a liberty class.
  • To get a horse to wash their own feet? Clean the water trough and fill it with fresh water.
  • To get a mare to come in heat? Take her to a show.
  • To get a mare in foal the first cover? Let the wrong stallion get out of his stall.
  • To make sure that a mare has that beautiful, perfectly marked foal you always wanted? Sell her before she foals.
  • To get a show horse to set up perfect and really stretch? Get him out late at night or anytime no one is a round to see him.
  • To induce a cold snap in the weather? Clip a horse.
  • To make it rain? Mow a field of hay.
  • To make a small fortune in the horse business? Start with a large one.

Submitted by Sharon, Unionville, Pa.

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