Remembering the Pit Pony

Posted on October 26, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history.

An article from: Making Sense of Mining
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Horses have been used for many years in different industries to help provide power or transportation. Coal mining was no exception, with horses used to transport coal from the pit site to local users. Horse-powered engines (gins) were commonly used both in agriculture and in mining. They were used in some cases to replace manual winding up and down shafts, the horses being able to lift
heavier loads and for longer periods. The use of steam power, firstly for pumping and later for winding coal and men, had an impact on horse use at the pit surface. Steam winding was used extensively by the 1840s, but in common with many other pit innovations, older gins continued to be used at some small mines well into the twentieth century. After the 1842 Act which prevented
children under the age of 10 and women from working underground, horses and ponies were used more to pull tubs of coal and materials
underground, where roof heights allowed. Gradually, though, much of this work was done by haulage engines, particularly on long, straight roadways.
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The number of working ponies reached a peak just before World War I, with 70,000 ponies in 1913. After this the number declined, firstly due to the demands of the War, and after that, as more machines were introduced. This meant that by 1932, only 32,000 ponies were used by mines. In 1947, the coal industry in the UK was nationalised. This made the process of modernisation quicker, and so fewer ponies were needed. By 1962, only 6,400 ponies were used underground, and the number continued to drop. In 1978 there were only 149 ponies employed to work underground. A very small number of mines continued to employ ponies until the 1990s.
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Absolute Elevation: The Sister to Rolkur

Posted on October 15, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, history, riding, training.

excerpts from an article by Bonnie Walker

versusThe controversy of rollkur within the world of dressage is not a new one. Also called hyperflexion, it is the practice of forcefully pulling a horse’s head into an extreme low, deep and round position. Many have seen photographs of horses being pulled into such a headset, inspiring anti-rollkur websites, publications and Facebook pages. But this is not an article about the evils of rollkur, but rather the less publicly sensational but no less harmful practice of absolute elevation.

No horse is meant to have their head and neck in any extreme position for an extended period of time and there will be repercussions physically if they are forced to do so. Rollkur is an extreme deep and low position, absolute elevation is an extreme high and back position. Since this is an article on absolute elevation, I will discuss mainly this, though you see in the nifty picture I drew, both absolute elevation, rollkur and relative elevation, which is the proper way of doing things.

collectiondiagram4So how does this thing called collection work? Let’s start with your horse’s hindquarters and work our way forward. The idea of “getting the hindleg under” and “lowering the croup” are two concepts that are commonly bandied about in the dressage world. What happens to create and more importantly, sustain, this way of moving is actually a full body experience.

While the sacrum of the horse does not have the ability to rotate, a horse’s lumbosacral joint does. This joint acts to ‘roll’ the horse’s pelvis under themselves, aiding in the compression of the hind legs (aka engagement). It might just be a little (for example in training level to achieve level balance) or it might be more extreme (for example the piaffe). This rotation of the pelvis and compression of the hind leg joints also allows the horse’s center of gravity to draw further back and away from his forehand. These mechanism do not work in a vacuum however and that full body experience we were referring to now must include to the horse’s back and abdominal muscles. Think of them as the platforms that link the horse’s front and back ends. If a horse does not have sufficient muscular strength within his midsection then there is NO WAY we can build a horse with the ability to truly collect.  In addition to supporting our weight, a horse’s midsection also supports and connects the mechanisms of collection in the forehand and hindquarters.  A horse does not have a collar bone as we humans do. Instead they have a muscular “girdle” of sorts that runs near wear the girth lays. When toned, this series of muscles, called the thoracic sling, acts along with the musculature of the neck and chest to elevate the front half of the horse. When these muscles are engaged the front limbs of the horse act to aid in his or her overall balance, pushing upward to maintain the elevated front end and encourage a rotated and engaged hind end. Just as the hind leg must rotate and compress more as collection increases, so must the front end elevate and push upward more to maintain its end of the bargain. All of these body actions to combine to create a phenomenon called “relative elevation”, which is the right and proper way to strength build and collect a horse.
There is no such thing as putting the horse in the headset and then waiting for the muscles to develop afterward. The muscles develop INTO the balance that supports a certain headset. Both extreme headsets (rollkur and absolute elevation) will force the horse to have issues breathing, as that tightly compressed throat latch area can impede airflow.

A swaybacked horse is an extreme example of what happens when the back drops.

A swaybacked horse is an extreme example of what happens when the back drops.

If the head is brought too high, too fast, then the front end does not have the muscular strength to elevate upward, the core musculature is too weak to follow it up and the hind legs cannot maintain the rotation and compression. So, the front end drops, the back sinks and the horse’s pelvis rolls outward instead of under. An array of tendon and joint injuries occur from this, not least of which is a phenomenon called “kissing spine”. This happens when the vertebrae of the spine are compressed together and rub on one another, bone on bone, which is extremely painful.
What you want to get comfortable with is watching how the horse’s body works, and knowing how it should correctly work. If done right, dressage will add to the strength and longevity of a horse. They will become beautiful old geldings and mares. If done incorrectly you will have a ten year old horse than rides like an old man.

About the author: Bonnie Walker,USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist, in San Diego, Ca, rides and shows in dressage. Her profound articles on riding and training are public on her blog DressageDifferent.com

Molly, the Hurricane Survivor

Posted on October 12, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap.

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Found this on Fran Jurga’s Hoofblog.

Meet Molly, The Fantastic Pony.

She’s a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit
southern Louisiana, USA. She spent weeks on her own before finally being
rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled.
While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died.

Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help.
But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that
goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how
the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to
get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her
injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good
leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial
limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins
there.

“This was the right horse and the right owner,” Moore insists.
Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but
sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she
understood (that) she was in trouble. The other important factor, according
to Moore, is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated
to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana. The
little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer
built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s
regular vet, reports.
And she asks for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and
let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to
take it off too.” And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be
pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse, she laughs.”

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner,
started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation
centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went,
she showed people her pluck. She inspired people. And she had a good time
doing it.

“It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life”, Moore
said, “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now
she is giving hope to others.”
“She’s not back to normal,” Barca concluded, “but she’s going to be better.
To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

The bottom of Molly’s prosthesis has a smiley face embossed in it. That way, wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind! 

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