Friday, December 31, 2010

Giving Mentors Their Due

If you teach horsemanship, you face a dilemma. How do you carve out your own niche while still giving credit where it is due? Pat Parelli has done both pretty well for nearly 30 years, and these days he’s more determined than ever to recognize his mentors. This week and next, he does so on my TV show. Yup, it’s a two-parter, a first for us, and the most engaging I’ve ever seen Pat, which is saying a lot. I’ve picked his brain countless times, both for public consumption and private enlightenment. So I guess his mentors would be my grand-mentors? Mentors once removed? Whatever you call them, it’s good to hear Pat share how these great horsemen (and one very important horsewoman) influenced him. This is a piece of history, my friends. Don’t miss it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blind horses

One of the most counter-intuitive phenomena I’ve encountered thus far is the blind horse. You would think that the prey animal psyche would be magnified by blindness. However, again, the superb adaptability of the horse surprises us. My first encounter with a blind horse was Bright Zip, John Lyons’s Appaloosa stallion. Zip was so unperturbed by his blindness that he would run, at liberty, from one end of the arena to the other, jumping obstacles along the way purely from John’s vocal commands. And one of the most touching moments I can recall is John riding Zip down the hill at his wedding. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd.
This week’s TV show also focuses on a blind horse named Blinks and the richness of his relationship with his trainer, Toah Hatch. Keep the tissues handy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rescuing more than horses

This week’s TV show focuses on two horse rescues, one in the rural Appalachian foothills of Kentucky and one in the desert outside metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Both are beneficiaries of the fund-raising efforts of the American Competitive Trail Horse Association, but it turns out they have more in common. At the helm of each is an exceptionally strong and visionary woman, and both organizations have expanded their good works to helping at-risk youth. Of course there’s nothing new about equine-assisted physical therapy or psychotherapy or personal development. The twist here is the reciprocal nature of the healing; the horses help the kids and the kids help the horses. Good-hearted people all over this great land donate their time, talents, and money to make programs like this work. In my book, they are modern-day saints. We offer our heartfelt thanks to each of them. Enjoy the program and have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Finding the Groove

Professor Sydney Galvayne, (1846 – 1913) achieved a measure of immortality with his 1885 book, Horse Dentition: Showing How to Tell Exactly the Age of a Horse up to Thirty Years. This small book linked stages in a horse’s life with changes in his teeth. One of those changes became known as Galvayne’s Groove.

In the illustration, the third tooth from the left is an upper corner incisor. The dark line starting at the gumline and extending halfway down the tooth is Galvayne’s Groove. It emerges at nine to ten years of age. As the teeth continue erupting, the groove is exposed at a measured and predictable pace, extending the full length of the tooth by age 20, and disappearing entirely at about 30. This horse would be about 13 years of age.
Although it is not infallible, Galvayne’s Groove is still useful in combination with other indications of tooth wear to estimate a horse’s age.
To learn more about Professor Galvayne and other horsemen of the past and present, see The Revolution in Horsemanship.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feeling his oats

In this week’s radio show, equine nutritionist, Dr. Judy Reynolds, shares the problem with feeding too much cereal grain in general, and oats in particular, to horses. What’s wrong with oats? Well, nothing if consumed in the small quantities a free-ranging horse would get and balanced by a diet high in fiber. Unfortunately, that’s not how most horse owners use oats. Oats produce the equine equivalent of a sugar high and in extreme cases, the horse’s normal metabolic functioning is compromised, which can lead to founder. Listen to my radio interview with Dr. Reynolds here for more information and catch her each week with a Nutrition Nugget on my TV show.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Don’t call me Shirley

Remembering Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

During the 31 years I owned Lambchops Studios, I met quite a few celebrities. The most charming was Leslie Nielsen. I’ll never forget the day I introduced him to Hugh Downs in the lobby of our studio. I just stood there grinning like an idiot.

As soon as I met Leslie, I started scheming to interview him. I knew he had some experience with horses from his years playing Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox.” But I had a firm rule at the studio: We treated celebrities like regular folks. In rare instances, we would take photos or get autographs, but I wanted celebrities to think of our studio as a place of refuge where they could relax and be themselves.

Finally one day, Leslie was in to record some narration for "Katie and Orbie," the wonderful animated children’s series, and I felt the time was right to ask him for an interview. He couldn't have been nicer, and in the interview he was very open and free. We talked about his career and his love of horses. I’ve rerun that radio interview I don’t know how many times. And this week, it has special meaning to me. Rest in peace, Leslie.

Listen for: Growing up in the frozen tundra of northern Canada, riding mishaps and wisecracks on Disney’s “The Swamp Fox,” his daughter’s jumping accident, and … something better than a whoopee cushion.

Full interview with Leslie Nielsen on The Horse Show on Rick Lamb

Quickies from The Horse Show Minute

Leslie's Famous Dismount
Rex, the Saddlebred
Swamp Fox Spills