Letters: 11/08

Blanket Sizes

The article on turnout blankets in the October Horse Journal was excellent. It was very informative on all aspects of choosing a blanket. However, you discussed size in the article, but you left that out of the comments section on each blanket. It would have been nice to know what sizes each blanket is offered in. So many of us have large draft or draft crosses now days, and most blankets don’t come large enough to fit. I need a blanket that is larger than 86” or 87”. Yet the majority of blankets on the market only offer up to 84”. There are a scant few that have 86” or 87”. Your article would have been a major help to those of us with plus size horses if it had included sizes. It’s disheartening to go to each of these websites and find out that the perfect blanket will not fit my horse.

Diane Kowallek,

Middle-Age Time Crunch

You ”hit the mark” in your September editorial, ”Is The Problem Really Fear’” When the kids were little, we all seemed to have more free time and I used to ride with a great group of women. As time went by, our kids grew and life got exponentially more hectic. Some of our daughters continued to ride and some discovered other activities. Now, eight years later, I’m the only adult still riding. Most gave up after a fall that scared them or when their child decided to no longer ride. It’s such a shame.

I ride three times a week, on the flat and over fences, and I feel as fit as the moms that do pilates, yoga, and run five days a week. Plus, I have a great relationship with my daughter and find being with our horses deeply therapeutic. I do miss my riding buddies, but I’m now the ”fossil” that rides with the teenagers!

Georgette Topakas

More Time

I just read your September editorial — what a breath of fresh air.

Instead of this more, more, more and it’s never enough theme, you’ve come out with not only a sense of moderation, but comfortable advice about listening to your body’s wisdom rather than the chatter going on out there. No, it’s not preachy. No need to be apologetic. It’s about enjoying what you’ve got and simply being with your horse(s) rather than more competition, more fences to go fix, more pressure on them, more whatever. Sometimes it’s not about moving into the next thing but about not moving at all.

In an unanticipated moment, I found my horses all lying down together in the sun last spring out here in rural ranching Arizona — yes, the sun is most welcome at that time of the year, even here. I quietly walked into the area where they were and slowly sat on a downed tree trunk, hoping my arrival was peaceful enough that I wouldn’t disturb them. None of them moved. We communed together there for well over a half an hour in the warmth of the spring sun and I was surrounded by the magic of horse herd energy.

If you don’t allow yourself those moments, you’ve missed half the movie!

Sue Newman

Age And Vulnerability

I just read your September issue and believe you left out a basic issue in your article on fear. As many of us age, we have more vulnerability. Although I hate to admit it, reflexes, agility, balance and other physical abilities that come into play in difficult situations diminish over time. As a result, it isn’t only fear that leads to our reining in activities, it’s common sense and healthy self-preservation.

In my own case, my surgeon said, ”With a hip replacement you’ll have to stop riding.” I didn’t stop — that was three years ago — but I am more careful because the possible adverse consequences of falling have grown. I cannot mount without a mounting block — I regularly do more than the recommended 90-degree angle with the left leg but mounting is simply not in it — and, because the other hip is going and I have trouble swinging my leg over my (long-suffering if hot-blooded) horse’s back, it is a very dicey time for me and I am very cautious.

I do jump but not terribly high and I ride my scared-of-everything horse on the trail but don’t push him too much because, again, there is a real need to be careful.

Yes, there are ways to deal with fear. Yes, part of the problem could be that not enough time is spent in the saddle. But in an aging population of riders, there are also very real reasons to be cautious for many of us.

Kiki Harris

Fly Mask Notes

I wanted to respond to a letter regarding fly masks and ear sizes that was sent in by Sherrie Sidman of Virginia. She’s on the right track by consulting the Cashel Company regarding larger ear fit. I have a Tennessee Walking Horse mare who just has really big ears — and I had the same problem with all other masks with ears: They were just too short and rubbed her.

Cashel does make a mule-sized fly mask that has really long ears, and I was debating on ordering that and just shortening the ears, but when I contacted a representative, she suggested a ”warmblood” size mask, in which the ears are about an inch longer than their regular horse mask. The only problem is that the warmblood size in general is a bit bigger all around. However, I made a few simple adjustments to the Velcro strip on the bottom and it fits perfectly now.

Of all the companies out there, I have found the Cashel fly mask to have most of the desirable features and the least of the frustrating ones.

Keep up the great work. I really value your publication.

Kathie Judy