What Was A Fire Horse?

Posted on November 13, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history.

firehousephoto from Detroit News, 1910
Fire horses pulled the fire wagons through town and country directly to the scene of the emergencies. As fire companies grew the upkeep of the horses evolved and transformed to reduce response time to fire alarms.
At first horses were stabled near the stations. When the alarm sounded, it took valuable time to unlock the barn, fetch the steeds and harness them to the engine. Before long, the horses lived at the station and the reluctance to accept them was replaced by a deep affection for the noble animals.
The stalls were positioned behind or next to the rigs. In 1871, a quick hitch was developed. Two years later, Charles E. Berry, a Massachusetts firefighter, created a hanging harness with quick-locking hames. His invention was so popular he left the fire department and sold his patented Berry Hames and Collars nationwide.
Not every horse could serve as a fire horse. The animals needed to be strong, swift, agile, obedient and fearless. At the scene, they needed to stand patiently while embers and flames surrounded them. They needed to remain calm while the firefighters fought the blaze. This was the case in all weather conditions and in the midst of a multitude of distractions.  (courtesy firehistory.com)

Info from New Bern Firemen’s Museum:
Fred was part of a horse team that pulled the fire wagons in the early 1900’s. Fred was bought from a Gastonia, North Carolina, man in 1908. For years, he pulled the fire company’s wagon, marched in parades, and competed against other fire horses. He died on the way to a false alarm, apparently of a heart attack, at age 25. His driver, a man named John Taylor, died only a couple of weeks earlier. Fred’s contemporaries — Old Jim and Ben Hurst — were other fire horses whose legends are preserved in stories. The two belonged to Atlantic’s rival volunteer company — the New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1, which was incorporated just after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
During the war, the Atlantic company basically was inactive, with most of its members away in the fight and Union troops occupying New Bern for three years. After the Confederacy surrendered, some of those Union soldiers stuck around the area and continued their volunteer fire company with about 30 men. The New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 would eventually be nicknamed the Button Company after it bought a Button fire engine in the 1880s.

Fred, worked nonstop during the worst fire in New Bern’s history. On the morning of December 1, 1922, a fire sparked at a lumber yard and spread quickly. While firefighters toiled to put out the massive flare-up, a separate fire kicked up in a residential area about a mile away. High winds swept the sparks from house to house, and fires multiplied throughout the predominately black neighborhood. A newspaper account of the event in The News & Observer said flames “spread out like a giant fan” until they reached the Neuse River.

shoeing fire horse,1920's

shoeing fire horse,1920’s

Fire horses were replaced by 1929. The Portland newspaper wrote:
“Despite the thrill of watching motor apparatus roaring to a fire many recall the ‘days of real sport’ when horses started for a fire and deeply regret their passing.The horses will be sent to a farm to pass the rest of their days in easy work.” Feb 16, 1929, Portland Evening Newpaper.
On May 13,1929, the Portland News wrote: “[For the past six years] each night at 8:59, 20 juveniles would gather at the fire station to wait for the nine o’clock horn blow. The fire horses would come in, back into the stable for their run harness and the kids would go to the stable door to watch the big horses made ready. The attraction of the animals for the children has never failed during the last six years.Farewells have been said to the big black horses by more than a score of youngsters in the vicinity and tears were falling fast from the eyes of the kiddies in the neighborhood.”

Three Basic Principles of Dressage

Posted on March 12, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, history, riding, training.

clinic in Chesapeke City
photo: Hassler Dressage

 

from Dressage Today, Charles de Kunffy brings forward the basic principles of training the horse dressage.

As a young rider in Hungary, I remember how three moments of evolutionary breakthroughs made all the difference. Like all young riders, I was impressed when I looked at the sophisticated equine professors that moved with big, round necks, as opposed to thin, inverted racehorse-looking ones. Being pragmatic and used to getting things done quickly, the easiest solution to achieve a round neck seemed to be manipulating the neck so that it appeared to be round. My coaches got on my case, leaving me with a sense of desperation. If not actively working on the horse’s neck, how in the world would I get such a round and tall carriage?

Backed up by my relentless coach, my patient horses soon revealed a most surprising discovery: I could influence the neck’s position from the haunches rather than from the reins. The principle of this discovery is similar to the principle of sweeping dust into a dustbin with a broom. As you sweep, the dustbin travels forward to receive the dust. It has to move in order to receive the dirt being gathered up. Similarly, the horse is gathered up from behind by energizing his haunches and giving him the room through the reins to articulate freely. Trying to achieve collection by working on the horse’s neck cuts the horse off in the front. Confining reins prevents the hind legs from powerfully supporting the rider’s weight and balance by lifting him with suspension. Following this, I realized that a horse consists of three bascules:

The neck (the easiest to access and manipulate)
The back (which takes more knowledge and skill to engage). If a horse has what we called a “warm” back–loose, supple and oscillating–he can lift the rider. It’s almost like sitting on a suction cup; it comes up and supports the rider’s pelvis. On the other hand, if a horse has what we called a “cold” back–low and stiff–the rider achieves nothing other than growing old sitting on it.
The hind end (the haunches should thrust the pelvis forward to lower the croup and to actually articulate at the lumbar-sacral joint). This last bascule is the one that is widely ignored by riders. If it were addressed, one would see many more horses that lower themselves toward the ground in supple strides from elastic joints. Horses with unexercised hind leg joints move stiffly with high croups. Horses with ill-developed muscles, lacking strength and suppleness, might appear to have round necks but remain still disconnected through the topline.

Once I understood to ride the horse’s hindquarters instead of his neck, the second breakthrough came when I realized that riding is a dancing partnership with the horse. Every horse has a certain signature rhythm–a footfall that’s like a fingerprint. Only when a rider aids in the rhythm of the horse’s footfalls will they make sense to the horse. Horses don’t understand banging and poking with legs out of phase with their footfalls, although the rider might use an occasional kick as a wake-up call. A horse that’s pushed out of his signature rhythm will run off and not be able to do relaxed extensions.

So we were asked to get into a rising trot and tell our coach when we found the horse’s perfect rhythmic profile. Once we had established that, we were able to stimulate the horse to more activity without changing his rhythm. This resulted in a dancing, free, forward, suspended and rhythmic movement without the horse being confined in the front.

The third important principle was an understanding of how to keep the horse together without confining his haunches from the reins. My coaches insisted that the reins may be used for a thousand things except to inhibit the haunches or to set the shape of his neck. A well-schooled horse will collect on even sagging reins into a piaffe or school canter. No need to hold him together, only drive him from leg and seat. Consistent and knowledgeable use of half halts educate the horse to understand the leg aids not merely as “go” but also as “energize” without running off.

When thinking about collecting a horse, many riders only think of closing him longitudinally from hocks to bridle. However, one must realize that one closes the horse also laterally from outside leg to inside rein and from inside leg to outside rein, like an X. Half pass and the shoulder-in, for instance, are exercises that utilize this concept of closing the horse laterally. In the half pass, when the horse is closed correctly, he lowers his outside hip and thrusts his pelvis toward the inside shoulder. In the shoulder-in, the inside hock is supposed to reach so deep–not just across but deep forward–that it reaches level with the outside stifle. The rider who fails to close the horse longitudinally as well as laterally will fail to engage him.

These three principles allowed me to train to higher levels. I wish you well in riding your horse in your horse’s native rhythm, closed from behind, strong and seated, elastic and supple.

Dr Stephen O’Grady:Flexor Tendon Flaccidity

Posted on February 13, 2020 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

tendons

Flexor tendon flaccidity or tendon laxity is a relatively common limb deformity seen in newborn foals usually involving the hind limbs although all four limbs can be involved. Weak flexor tendons is thought to be the cause which results in digital hyperextension where weight-bearing is placed on the palmar/plantar aspect of the proximal phalanges and the toe of the hoof is raised off the ground. The condition often tends to self-correct within days after birth as the foal gains strength and is allowed moderate exercise. However the tendon laxity often persists and it is not uncommon to see a fool that still has digital hyper-extension at 4 weeks of age.

Treatment is sequential depending on the severity of the tendon laxity and the response of the foal to treatment. Therapy begins with controlled exercise allowing the foal access to a small area with firm footing for 1 hour three times daily, the toe of the foot can be shortened and the heels can be rasped gently from the middle of the foot palmarly/plantarly to create ground surface and a palmar/plantar extension can be applied if necessary. This extension which extends approximately 3-4 centimeters beyond the bulbs of the heels immediately relieves the biomechanical instability. A cuff-type extension shoe is commercially available or a small aluminum plate extension with clips. In either case, the author feels that either type of extension should be attached with adhesive tape rather than a composite if the foal is less than 3 weeks of age as this avoids excessive heat being applied to the fragile hoof capsule as the composite cures and prevents contracture of the hoof capsule at the heels. Regardless of the method of application, the extensions should be changed at 10 day intervals. Bandaging the limb is contraindicated as this will further weaken the flexor tendons.

Photo: uncorrected adult legs in 7 year old mare

Angular limb and deformities are common limb abnormalities in foals that require early recognition and treatment. The pathogenesis of this problem is not clearly understood. Angular limb deformities can be classified as either congenital or acquired in the first few weeks of life. The primary lesion is an imbalance of physeal growth; for various reasons, growth proceeds faster on one side of the physis.

Reliability of ‘One Day Training”

Posted on November 25, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, riding, training.
Police horses in training

Police horses in training

 

The methodology of horse training evolves continually and we at equi-works are always checking out the latest ideas or techniques that claim to shorten that initial saddle-training time for our horses. The potential of clashing or bonding between horse and trainer weighs heavily on the success of a one day training session. The flexibility of the trainer is critical in choosing the right training path that will reach the horse in the shortest period of time. A trainer may succeed with the use of force, for example, if they are working with a dull, belligerent animal, but can they be flexible and switch to using patience and understanding when working with a frightened, skiddish horse? We found a great article explaining the pros and cons of one day training and therefore we are passing it along.

“Can you train a horse in one day?”   check out Jerri Streeter’s probing article on this subject published at info barrel.

Two-Gun Nan

Posted on May 17, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, history, riding.

two-gun

 

Two Gun Aspinwall and Lady Ellen during their 4496 mile ride across the USA.

The momentum of the cowgirl legacy is still felt today, and their stories remain as relevant as ever. Two-Gun Nan, towered with the tallest of these larger-than-life figures. She did so not only in the show arena as a lead in the rather masculine realm of trick roping, sharp shooting, archery, stunt riding, bronc riding, and steer riding, but also as the sensuous, beautiful, entirely feminine Oriental dancer character she portrayed known as Princess Omene as well. Still, even boasting these startling talents that eventually made her the highest paid star in the biggest show of the era – the combined venture of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East troupe – none of this was what she was best known for. Her most remarkable feat was real, not staged, and incredibly difficult and dangerous.

Two-Gun Nan’s magnum opus came in 1910-11 when she rode from San Francisco to New York on her Thoroughbred mare, Lady Ellen, covering 4496 miles and taking 180 days in the saddle. At 31 years old, she became the first woman to ride from coast to coast. She did it wearing pants and split skirts, riding astride, which was likely still illegal in some parts of the country. She did it packing a pistol, which she used on at least two occasions to shoot up inhospitable towns. And, she made the ride alone.

Two-Gun Nan Aspinwall stunned America and inspired women of a new generation with her transcontinental ride.  “A travel-stained woman attired in a red shirt and divided skirt and seated on a bay horse drew a crowd to City Hall yesterday afternoon,” reported the New York Times on 9 July 1911.    “They gazed upon Miss Nan Aspinwall who had just finished her lonely horseback ride from San Francisco. She had many adventures and once spent a week in hospital after her horse stumbled down a mountainside. ‘Talk about Western chivalry!’ said Miss Aspinwall. ‘There’s no such thing. In one place I rode through town shooting off my revolver just for deviltry. At another place I had to send several bullets into a door before they would come out and take care of me’.”
Equally skilled with a gun or a horse, the Los Angeles Tribune reported that while in New York upon completing her journey in 1911, Two-Gun Nan, “entered a 12-story building and startled her friends by remaining in the saddle and ascending to the top floor,” (via the freight elevator).

The ride became part of the greater Western mythology almost instantly, where it remained solidly for half a century. In 1938, almost three decades after the ride, Nan’s journey was included on the Mutual Broadcasting System’s national radio broadcasts of Famous First Facts, where she reported that it was the suggestion of Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill in 1909 that instigated her to make the ride. The media legend of the ride again was recounted on the radio in 1942 on a broadcast of Death Valley Days. In 1958, Nan’s adventure made the jump to black-and-white television when it appeared in an episode of the Judge Roy Bean television show.

At a time when the frontier to the west had closed, and barbed wire cut across every stretch of once open country along the entire continent, this cowgirl single-handedly found a way to rekindle the American fascination of saddling up, heading to the horizon, and banging around the vast expanse of a country that spread from one sea to another. Perhaps more importantly, she proved this dream and this country were open to women as well as men.

re-posted from horsetalk.co.nz

 

Just Being ‘Neigh’-borly?

Posted on June 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history.

Back in the spring of 2008, a paint horse named Whisky broke loose after being tied outside a bar near Lake Desolation in Saratoga County, N.Y.. Concerned citizen Robert Carey saw Whisky and his “wingman” cowboy galloping off down the street and attempted to corral the wayward wards. After grabbing Whisky, Carey was allegedly knocked unconscious by Whisky, badly injuring his shoulder. Two surgeries to repair the damage to Carey’s shoulder were apparently unsuccessful, and Carey remains unable to work five years later, prompting his lawyer to say Carey is “…the proverbial one-armed paper hanger.”
horseservice
In the classic, “he said, he neighed” style representative of this sort of legal case, Whisky’s side of the court room claims Whisky is “calm, docile, well-trained, and sociable.” Further, Whisky’s owner, Burton Schwab, claims that he’s never received complaints about Whisky’s behavior in the past “had no knowledge of Whisky ever moving or jerking his head violently or quickly, knocking anyone to the ground, or stomping on anyone.”   A county judge refused to dismiss the case, and the Appellate Division’s Albany-based Third Department affirmed that decision.

Alcohol was also to blame in the  arrest of Patrick Schumacher, 45, who was taken into custody by the University of Colorado Police Department in Boulder, Colo., in 2013, for driving under the influence while on horseback and animal cruelty. Schumacher failed a sobriety test, and a search of his backpack revealed a gun, several beers, and a pug named Bufford. The horse and pug were held overnight by the local humane society. When the two animals were released back to a sobered Schumacher, he then remounted and continued the 600-mile trek to Bryce, Utah, for his brother’s wedding.

 

Reunited with dog and horse

Reunited with dog and horse

Trimming the Hoof Bars

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

Natural hoof trimmer Linda Harris of  thehappyhoof youtube channel  explains the importance of the bars of the hoof, and the 3 V’s of natural balance.

In trimming the bars you are just getting what ever may be laid over the sole off of it, so that as the hoof wall grows past the sole so will the bars (instead of laying over towards the outside wall and growing sideways, covering the sole in the seat of the corn).  You do not want to dig the bars down past the sole. You do not want to reduce the bars to where any leverage on the heels will push them forward, because then your heels will also go forward. That whole area of the heel buttress is formed to try and hold the heels in place.

 

In this photo, the inside bar (pictured on right and not yet trimmed) is slightly laid over with a chunk laying on the seat of the corn of the sole. The outside bar (pictured left and just trimmed) shows you where the white line is.  As you’re trimming, keep in mind that your actions in the back also affect the front of the hoof. NEVER take off any of the back half of the foot without taking some of the front half, even though it may seem like the front half did not grow much, and here is why.

The front half of the hoof is where the main sole ridge is that protects and surrounds the coffin bone. That sole ridge will grow forward with the wall and get thicker and thicker and begin to raise the front of the foot as well as grow gradually forward. With some horses, the wall will grow out past that sole ridge and you automatically know to trim or cut it off. With others the sole ridge will just grow and thicken along with the wall and so you think your foot has not grown. This is even worse if the toe in general has been stretched forward and is at a low angle because it will “seem” like the wall hasn’t grown at all. This then eventually creates a situation where the sole ridge, that is supposed to be thickest at, and surrounding the rim of the coffin bone, is actually out in front of it. So then you have thick sole ridge not under the actual toe of the inner foot, (as it’s supposed to be). Therefore the inner foot itself is sitting behind the toe callous, on thin flat sole. This slowly drops the toe of the inner foot down low and closer to the ground.
This is one reason why we rocker the toes to try and thin that sole ridge which is out of place.  This allows the wall to grow down very tightly connected to the very end of the internal foot where it will once again connect with the sole in that area. It grows down to the ground and then RETAINS that sole ridge under the front perimeter of that internal foot where it’s supposed to be.

Now this picture looks pretty good, the walls are trimmed down and the bars are defined and fine.

In the end the final and ultimate goal is to get the walls to grow down without being leveraged so they will reconnect in the right spot at the very bottom of the internal foot with the sole that grows from the sole corium. From there they continue to the ground and contain that V under and around the V of the internal foot.

What are the three V’s of the hoof?

Problems occur when the 3 V’s disconnect from one another. The V shaped rim of the coffin bone and sole corium drop onto FLAT sole instead of being in the V shaped ridge of the Wall and Sole ridge.  Then you will get coffin bone remodeling, because you have a V sitting on a _ like so V . Our 3 V’s are these:

V   Coffin bone / which is hard but also a softer bone than the rest.

V   Sole corium attached to coffin bone / which is soft and padded full of blood.

V   Wall and sole ridge.

Now we can not undue whatever prior damage may have been done to the feet. BUT when the hoof capsule is as correctly grown and reconnected as close as possible in alignment with that internal foot, the body has a “chance” to heal itself, proving our bodies and the bodies of animals are in and of themselves wondrous things.

Yielding and Releasing

Posted on May 10, 2015 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, riding, therapy, training.

Mark Russell"Lessons in Lightness"

*Mark Russell on Yoda, riding in lateral release.

When riding your horse you may eventually want to know how to lower his head.  The typical way of shortening the reins so that the horse grabs the bit and you pull his muzzle toward the ground always ends up as a tug of war. Is this the only way to achieve a lower head carriage on the horse? To go beyond the tug-and-pull method the rider needs to learn the difference between ‘yielding’ and ‘releasing’ because, while it is possible to pull hard enough to create yielding to the bit, it is impossible to use enough force to make your horse relax and quietly carry the bit. Relaxing to the rein requires releasing to the rein, not stiffening or contracting on it. How do you learn the difference between yielding and releasing?

Let’s imagine that we are walking on the sidewalk and your next step would land you into a deep pothole. I suddenly realize that you don’t see it.  So I grab your arm and pull you away. Although you stop (or ‘yield’), you become confused and irritated.  Then I show you the pothole.  You smile, relax your body, and ‘release’ the tension from your anger.  At first you yielded without relaxing, and then you released resulting in relaxation.

Perceiving the difference between yielding and releasing when riding your horse is the beginning of its athletic development. When the horse carries the bit in its mouth, rather than locking onto or against it, then it will move more freely and respond to your cues more quickly since the areas previously locked up with muscle tension are free to move.  The reason horses are taught yielding, instead of releasing, is because novice riders need to go safely from point to point.  Horses are taught to accommodate this by clamping down on the bit and carrying the rider with a braced neck and locked jaw. Such tension travels down the horse’s spine and to the legs which shortens their gaits. Shortened strides are easier for riders who can’t sit well in the saddle. If instructors never elevate riders past this basic lesson of “stop and go”, then these horses never leave this state of muscle contraction. Laboring along, most horses eventually succumb to lameness issues. Stiff joints, leg, and spinal injuries, excessive muscle bunching behind the ears of the horse restricting rotation of the head, all these can be traced to defensive bracing against the rein.

A foal out in the pasture will look just like a deer when it rotates its head to look around. Every horse should be able to rotate its head without bending its neck. They should be able to look sideways just as people do, without turning the rest of their body. Unfortunately, we see horses bend their entire neck just to look to the side because the muscles attaching the head to the neck are too stiff from labored bridle work. In extreme cases,  horses won’t bend their neck at all but instead turn their whole body around because even their lateral flexibility is gone.

*photo from “Lessons in Lightness”, by Mark Russell

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