Thursday, August 31st, 2017



I don’t know about you, but, I’ve been stunned at the amount of damage that was done this week by Harvey. I feel so sad when I see pictures of the horses, cattle, and other animals who cannot make it to high land and the ones who do but may not be able to recover from the damage they sustained in the flood waters. I feel the pain of the people who don’t know if they will ever see their furry companion again. Most did not expect this type of devastation from Harvey.

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September is National Preparedness Month and in the aftermath of Harvey, I thought it would be good to dedicate today’s blog to being prepared for whatever might happen.

Be aware

Be aware of what is happening and what could happen.

Having a NOAA Weather Radio is one step. We keep one both in our house and in our barn. Storms can hit suddenly and when I’m giving lessons I need to know if a storm or tornado is approaching.

Also be aware of dangerous situations. Fire is the most feared disaster for most horse owners. We just attended a fire safety meeting held by a local horse organization. Are you aware that the box fans that so many of us use in our barns can cause a fire? The back of the fans, where the motor is located, is not enclosed. Hay and dust can get in and if the motor over heats – that’s a fire.

Know what to do

If you have to evacuate, could you move all your animals? A two or three horse trailer will save some of the horses but not all if you have more horses to move than room in your trailer.

Do you know where you would go? Often there are some facilities available but will they be accessible? I know the Fairgrounds are only two miles from my farm but they have a limited number of stalls. What is your plan B and C?

What if disaster hits and you are not home? Do you have a trusted friend or family member that could help in this situation?

A lot will depend on the severity of the disaster. But having a plan for most conceivable disasters could save you and your animals. Moreover, if you have a plan and an alternate plan, you will not hit panic mode.

Identification and paper work

Do your animals have some identifiable markings? Our dog is micro-shipped, our cattle are branded and tagged, our horses – well, let’s look at this one.

If your animals are registered, do you have those papers in a safe and secure location? Our horse registration papers do show each horse’s unique identifying markings. And, like finger prints, no two are alike.

Here’s a tip that I thought was very worthwhile. Take a picture – selfies, anyone – of you and your pet. Keep them on file or on a cloud. You may be able to use them to claim your animal if you get separated.

No one expects a disaster to happen. But being prepared and taking some steps now could save heartaches in the future.

For more tips and information on steps you may want to take to be prepared, download this handy preparedness checklist from FEMA. Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies

Linda Watson-Call is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.
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An amazing thing happens when we turn on the music is our arena. Everyone, including the horse, perk up!

Part of our riding is to get the horse to walk or march to a particular beat or rhythm. But what happens if we all hear the beat of a different drummer? We still have horses going slow as well as fast. Let’s add music – and everyone gets the same beat.

What is amazing is that the horses as well as the riders pick up on the rhythm or tempo of the songs being played.

We’ve had a drill team here for a number of years, so I’ve always known that the riders enjoyed practicing the patterns more when the music was being played.

Lately, I’ve been adding music for an enhanced riding experience. I’ve had a few riders who could not keep a rhythm with their horses, so I created a CD with marching compositions on it. John Phillip Sousa is great for this. Pop in the CD and suddenly the horse and rider are moving!

I also use music as a distraction. Our barn, like so many others, have birds in it. One of our special needs riders has an aversion to the birds. She hears their chirping and has a meltdown. But, she needs the benefits of riding as well. I found some kiddie music CDs. Not only did the songs distract her from the birds, but, she enjoyed singing the songs and had an excellent riding class. The other students in her class have started asking that the music be played, too. This is the singingest riding class ever!

So whether it’s used as a change of pace, a way to get the rider to feel the rhythm with the horse, or distract the rider, music makes a great addition to any riding lesson.

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

We are excited!  This winter we decided that we needed to bring our horses home.  For eight years we have been boarding our Haflingers next door.  Okay, in the country, next door is two parcels or about a quarter mile away.  The barn is good and solid, but the trek over is getting more difficult, especially when we get dumped on with snow, or like this year, snow over ice!  Plus, our therapeutic riding program is expanding.  The fifteen minutes that I need to change horses between classes could be done in five if they were living on our land.

So, we are spending our kids’ inheritance, and contracted to put up a stall barn next to the arena.  There won’t be any camera’s, we won’t be on tv, no one will be shouting “Move the bus!” but what we hope is that the community will get involved and help us with some of the other work that needs to be done – like putting up new fences, lights, plumbing, building stalls, and all those other things that I haven’t even thought of…but will as the project goes along.

We are planning to do some of the preliminary work done in the next week or so.  The contruction people will be here at the end of April to start building the stall barn.  After that will come the fencing and everything else I mentioned.

Arena in the fieldI know this scene will change.  Soon the stall barn will be along the length of the arena and the horses will be in the pastures.  I hope to capture the activities and progress and post them here. 

If you live in southeast Michigan, come on over and join the fun…otherwise, check back periodically to see our progress.  Nothing like a little barn raising to get the folks together!