For the Love of Horses: 21 Facts about Horses and Horse Lovers

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By: Alison Bos

I once had a professor tell our class that “if you ever have a daughter, you better be ready because you will be purchasing a pony.” Our class laughed because deep down, we all knew it was true. Whether raised in the country or the city, there are so many little girls and even little boys who dream of owning their own horse, riding it through the fields and just having an animal to be their partner. 1546136_10202657633624043_1668778204_n

Unfortunately, a lot of little kids’ dreams about having their own horse never become a reality. However, there are several who do have the opportunity to grow up around horses. There are even those who get their own horse later on in life and get to end up fulfilling their childhood dream. This concept of people and horses does cause a lot of people to scratch their heads and wonder, “What is the deal with you and horses anyways?”  Well hang on because hopefully this blog will answer this question.

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Growing up, I feel like I was one of the lucky ones. I was a farm kid and also had a mom who was just as passionate about horses as I was. At six months old, I was put on a horse and have not looked back since.

Throughout the years, I have owned several horses. Each individual one has taught me something. A few of them even became like a best friend. They were my world and my escape from the stresses life would bring sometimes. Looking back, I really do not know how I would have made it through high school, and even college, if it was not for horses. I am sure there are many of you out there who can agree with that statement. Horses are more than what meets the eye. This is a concept that is often misunderstood because some just do not realize how much of an influence they can have on our lives.

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Every person has their own hobby that they are passionate about. It is that one hobby that they dedicate hours to and enjoy it. (Most of the time) It is that one hobby that ranks high on their priority list. Well for people like me, that one hobby revolves around the horse.

So here is a list of 20 things that many do not realize about us horse people and horses in general. This is 21 things that make us want to keep horses in our lives no matter where life leads us. 1000810_10201220383773695_397817303_n

So hang on to your hat and enjoy these 20 facts about horse lovers and the influence horses have on our lives.

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  1. Your first pony or horse is an animal you will never forget. They put up with you when you had no idea what you were doing. They would let you ride them for endless hours pretending you were a cowboy, rodeo queen, or whatever else your imagination came up with.
  2. Growing up, you did not have posters of the “hottest” celebrities or the “coolest” bands. You had posters of horses everywhere in your room.
  3. Breyer Model Horses were a common request on your Christmas and birthday lists. When you were given money, you would save up to 576184_10200774084856501_2077119822_nbuy a new one.
  4. Your favorite movie, TV show and book list included the following: The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Mr. Ed, Seabiscuit. More current movies: Hidalgo, Secretariat, Flicka and more. (Oh and the buckskin in Dances With Wolves is one that you literally drool over.)
  5. Nobody, and I mean nobody, took the remote from you when there were equestrian events on TV. (This is even true for most of us now!) The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes made you so excited. Olympics were only important when equestrian events were on. The first week of December during the National Finals Rodeo gets you giddy as all get out.
  6. Fun road trips include the following: Rodeos, horse shows, horse clinics, horse races, horse fests. You wanted to learn more and you wanted to build dreams of owning horses like you would see at these places.
  7. Common websites visited on your computer included Dreamhorse.com; Equine.com; Barrelhorsewold.com; horsetrailerworld.com and 935761_10201016928285343_2095876359_nany other websites that deal with horses.
  8. You are constantly planning your dream horse barn. Your dream horse trailer. Your dream horse. Your dream saddle. You have it all in your head even if it may not become a reality. Horses make you a dreamer, there is no doubt.
  9. You love your horse enough that they are in your prom and senior pictures (and for many, engagement pictures too!). Those pictures always turn out to be your favorite too.
  10. As you get older, you appreciate more about the horse. Not only are they beautiful creatures, but they are tremendous athletes and such trusting individuals. They really can do A LOT. They can carry a rider and America1393904_10202301002228481_1085074010_nn 734433_10202297160172432_417491144_nflag; they can jump jumps taller than a lot of people;  they can run around three cans doing a barrel pattern in breathtaking speed; they can run with such stamina and grace; they can work cattle; they can have pistols shot off their backs; they can carry disabled people for therapeutic purposes; they can carry soldiers in wars; they can do maneuvers most don’t know they’re capable of – for example reining  and dressage just to name a few.  alisonandcisco.jpg
  11. It does not matter how expensive horses are to own, care for and maintain, it is all worth it to you. The feed, wormer, vaccines, farrier 148602_1464077093231_6846913_nbills, vet bills cost a lot, but you do not care. The tack, equipment, fencing, trailer, truck, etc., also cost a lot, but once again, you do not care. It is not about the money; however it is about what makes you happy. Horses make you happy. And let’s face it. You spend more money on your horse than you do yourself. You would rather buy horse things instead of clothes.
  12. You have had (or currently have) that “one horse.” It is that horse that has left true hoof prints on your heart.  It is the horse that you are proud of. It is your “once in a lifetime horse” that you trust completely, love whole-heartedly and becomes literally like your kid. It’1011939_10201448932847279_1758945640_ns the horse that you can ride at any time and feel like the luckiest person in the world.
  13. Horses teach you what real trust is. You learn to trust an unpredictable, 1200 pound animal that could easily kill you. I know it sounds pretty harsh, but it is true. You trust your horse with your life each time you are around them and on their backs.
  14. It does not matter what kind of day you are having, a horse can make it better. Just hearing them nicker at you when they see you can turn a blah day into a good one. Just like that. You can also go just pet them, groom them and “talk “to them and it will brighten your day. If you are having a bad day, you can bury your face into their mane, cry and even feel like your horse understands. And, there is NO greater feeling than running your horse through the pasture after a bad day, or any day for that matter. 1186043_10201802419644228_460070482_n
  15. A horse can buck you off. You can break bones. They can run off with you, kick you, bite you, etc. However, this does not make you hate them. You love horses enough that you stick with it no matter what.
  16. Horses teach you to conquer fear. I can almost guarantee that if you own horses, you have been injured at some point. You have fallen off. Yes, you do gain fear after these things happen because it is scary. However, you learn to conquer your fear because there is a horse out there that helps you regain trust.
  17. Horses teach you something all the time. It is a constant learning experience when dealing with horses. Even if it is DSC06361a horse you ride every day, they always seem to do things that you learn from. You know what they like, what they don’t like. What they understand and what they don’t understand. You know just how far you can push them. How do we know these things? Horses teach us.
  18. Horses inspire you to be a better person. I know this sounds cliché, but it really is true. You see, when dealing with horses, you cannot have a bad attitude. You cannot be mean. They are docile, willing and perceptive creatures that respond best when treated with compassion and respect. They can sense when you are upset and tense. They are simply amazing. What is even cooler? The fact that horses bring you closer to other people who love horses too. 316460_2465861527933_1787093346_n
  19. If you have a horse that is sick or injured, you do everything in your power to bring them back to health and keep them comfortable. You spend money that you really do not have to give them veterinary care and attention. You lose sleep to check on them in the middle of the night. Shoot, in some cases you even sleep in the barn with them because you care that much.
  20. You base your future plans around whether or not you can have horses. You will only move to a place where you are able to bring your horse with you. Sounds crazy, but it is true.
  21. You know 100% that you want your kids to have the opportunity to have horses growing up. You want them to experience everything you did. You want horses to teach them the lessons they taught you. Even though it will be one of the scariest feelings ever putting your own child on top of an animal like a horse knowing the risk, you know you cannot stop your child from experiencing it. It’s that simple.

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As you can see, there are more to horses and horse lovers that meet the eye. We are all very similar in a lot of aspects. Undoubtedly, we are all on the same agreement that horses are amazing. They influence us in so many ways. Hopefully, this post will serve as an eye-opener – or a reminder- of just how much horses do for us. Kaci 149

Do horses influence you? Do you have a horse that is your world? Do you just want people to realize why horses are such a big part of your life? 1241582_10201837149232446_1816536938_nShare this! Let people know why you love horses.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Horses have been, and continue to be, a huge part of my life. I am very blessed and thankful for the horses I have been around the past few years, whether it be the ones I personally own or the ones I spend time with at work/school.

“Challenge me. Dare me. Or even defy me. But do not underestimate me. For on the back of my horse, anything is possible.”

Until next time, and May God Bless You All!

~Ali

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This post was inspired by my personal horse, "Cherry Bomb"

This post was inspired by my personal horse, “Cherry Bomb”

Graduation: It’s Getting Closer!

It is completely hard to believe that in just two weeks, I, along with hundreds of other graduates, will be walking on the floor of JQH Arena at Missouri State University for graduation. It seems like just yesterday when I was graduating from Billings High School, wide-eyed and scared about what the future held. However as I prepare to graduate from college, I can actually say that I am ready. Yes, there are times when I am wide-eyed and scared, but now I have developed a strong feeling of confidence about what my future holds.

There is so much to get done before graduation. Papers, finals, graduation parties, you name it. All of this has to get done in approximately 17 days. 17 days! Yes, I am a little stressed, but surprisingly not as stressed as I would have thought. Call it “senioritis” or just to the point of having so much going on that I don’t care anymore, I just feel like I am fully ready for the next step. These past four years at Missouri State have been absolutely incredible, and I could not feel more blessed to have gone to school here. Yes there are things I am going to miss about being an undergraduate – the equestrian team, my friends, some of my teachers, etc. However, I know it is time to move on to the next chapter of my life. With this being said, I am so anxious about what the next two years at this university holds.

After graduation, I plan on going back to school at Missouri State to obtain my master’s degree. Once a MSU Bear, always a MSU Bear I guess!  I will be in graduate school for another two years, which I know will be so worth the time and effort. God has placed this opportunity before me, and I know He will see me through. The work is going to be strenuous, the classes are going to be tough and my schedule is going to be crazy; however after thinking about that, I realize that is pretty much what I am used to. Like the famous quote goes “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This is my saying for the next two years.

I know this post is a little different from the rest. There was no calf pulling, twin talking, horse showing or anything like that. I just wanted to share what my plans are after graduating May 18th where an entire new chapter of My “AG” ventures begins.

What Do the Neighbors Think?

So, this week has been a very eventful week adding to the never-ending story of my “AG”ventures. While I was driving home last night thinking about this past week’s events, a sudden thought hit me. “I wonder what my neighbors think of some of the things we do on our farm?” All of the events that I am getting ready to tell you about occurred where my neighbors could easily see me. You see, a few years ago when we sold all of our dairy cows, we sold some land to a developer. Now, land that our Brown Swiss and Holstein cattle grazed on and our green tractors mowed is now providing people with homes. (That’s a fancy way of saying it is now a subdivision.) Even though we don’t milk anymore, we still have a few cows left and have horses. Technically we are not an actual full-functioning farm, but our neighbors tend to think otherwise. So, this leads me to my original question. “I wonder what my neighbors think?” As I get ready to write this, I just want to let you know that it is okay to laugh. I really won’t be offended. 😛

I had to do an equine demonstration for a local 4-H club, so my mom (who’s birthday is today…Happy Birthday!)  and I loaded up our horses and headed to the saddle club. We’ve got an old Brown Swiss cow that we could not sell last year because of her bad legs. She was due to calve that day and appeared she could pop at any time, but showed no signs of calving before we left. We were only gone 3 hours and guess what?  As my mom was parking our trailer and unloading horses, I went to check on her and seen her behind the barn (which is in plain sight of every single one of our neighbors) obviously in labor.

"Kokomo" is now doing great!

From a distance, I couldn’t tell if everything was normal. Like luck always runs, the calf was coming backwards which is a major, major uh-oh. My mom went and grabbed two baling strings and tied it to the calf’s legs. (The cow had gotten up at this point so you can only imagine what the scene looked like.) We began to pull, my mom pulling the strings and I had a hold of the calf’s legs. We were able to deliver the calf, and it was barely alive. We sprang into action. I was on my hands and knees by the calf’s face trying to clear the fluids out of her nose and mouth. My mom was doing whatever she could to help the calf breathe. It was apparent that we would need to lift the calf from its back legs to let gravity pull the fluids from her mouth, nose and lungs. Mind you, this calf is pretty good size. I’m 6′ foot and pretty stout (and somewhat injured from getting bucked off a horse earlier that week. Different story for another time) My mom is only about 5’7″ but for those of you who know her, she is a strong lady! We were able to lift the calf from her back legs to allow fluid to drain. She than began breathing normally, and we knew she was going to be all right. My mom and I at this point were completely tuckered out. Not only did we pull the calf by ourselves, we also were able to hold her in the air from her back legs. Yeah, you can call us awesome. (I just viewed it as good mother-daughter bonding time!)

It took me a few days to realize that some of our neighbors may have seen that entire event unfold. Two women pulling a calf, shoving their hands in its mouth, sticking their fingers in its nose, hanging it from its hind legs. Are they crazy?!?! I could only imagine what the scene would look like to those who are unfamiliar with delivering calves. This was definitely an extreme calving case; however that still doesn’t mask the fact that our neighbors still could have saw it. Lucky for us, the sheriff wasn’t called or PETA wasn’t notified. Hopefully our neighbors understood that we were only doing the best for the cow and calf.

On a more serious note, the morale of this story is this. A lot of times, people see us farmers do things that they think are absolutely cruel and inhumane. It is up to us to educate them about why we do the things we do. You never know who is watching. It all boils down to this main fact. It is up to us farmers to educate the public about agriuclture and farming!

In case you were wondering, the calf, now named “Kokomo” and her momma are doing great. They are alive because we helped them. We cared, just like farmers do.

Journey to Delaware

While many spent their spring breaks at the beach or with their families, I spent mine in the tiny state of Delaware. (The nations first official state!) You are probably thinking two things right now. 1) What in the world were you doing there? and 2) What is there to do in that state?

I made the trip to Harrington, Delaware (home of the Delaware State Fairgrounds) to show horses in the IHSA Western Semi-Finals, I had qualified for this event by being the Reserve Regional Champion a few weekends ago. Granted, there was not much to do in the small town of Harrington; however this trip was one I will never forget. I have highlighted my experiences and have put them in a list below. Enjoy!!!!

  • I got to fly on an airplane for the 3rd time in my entire life. We flew out of St. Louis into Philadelphia the first trip. On the trip back home, we flew from Philadelphia, Cincinnati then to St. Louis. It was amazing because a trip that would have taken 16 hours driving only took 2 hours in an airplane. Thank goodness for that!
  • It was amazing to see how many people did not know what a hat can was. I got so many strange looks from people as I carried it through security and on the plan. Once I explained it to them, you would have thought it was the coolest thing they had ever saw.
  • I got to experience firsthand the craziness of Philadelphia drivers. We had to ride in a bus from the airport to the car rental place. The driver’s name was Al and he told us that he was “an express driver.” He wasn’t kidding. That man was flat-out CRAZY!!! We made it there in one piece…suprisingly.
  • The state of Delaware is tiny; however a very interesting state. It has a lot of agriculture, which I thought was very interesting. There were several acres of flat cropland, along with several wooded areas. Even though there was a lot of crops, I did not see a single cow. There were several horses, however.
  • Harrington, Delaware is home of the Delaware State Fairgrounds, where the horse show was held. It is also home of Chick’s Saddlery, which is a famous discount tack store. There were few restaurants and hotels; however it did have a very large casino, which appeared to be the town’s hotspot.
  • We were only an hour away from the ocean. Since I had never been to the ocean before, we spent all of Friday morning at the Rehoboth Beach. Seeing the ocean for the first time was a feeling I will never forget! Even though the Atlantic was freezing cold, I still had to put my feet in the water to say I had been in an ocean. It was definitely worth it.
  • Saturday and Sunday were spent showing horses. I had made it out of the preliminary round on Saturday, which allowed me to show in the final round on Sunday. The final round did not go as I would have liked. I ended up placing 7th out of 16. (I needed 4th to make it to nationals.) Even though I would have liked to have made it to nationals, I still felt very accomplished for even placing. The competition was really tough!

As you can see, I had a very eventful Spring Break. Delaware ended up being quite an interesting little state. It was a very fun experience being able to participate in the 2012 IHSA Semi-Final competition. If it was not for this horse show, I would not have been able to visit a beach or visit Delaware itself. It is crazy to think that myAGventures have made it to this state; however I am so grateful that it did.

What did you do over Spring Break? Hopefully you have a story to tell, along with memories that will last a lifetime!!

10 Things to Know About Blogging

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Last week, Judi Graff from the Springfield, Illinois area, came to visit the Missouri State Public Relations in Agriculture course to discuss the essence of blogging. I learned so much and am truly grateful that I had the opportunity to hear what she had to say about blogs. She gave us very beneficial information about how we can make our blogs better, and how blogs can be used to tell our stories. I especially appreciated her looking over my blog and giving me advice about what I can do to make it even better. Thank you Judi!

During her presentation, Mrs. Graff discussed several key elements in developing and maintaining a good blog page. Items such as the blog title, the page layout, colors and photos all play a huge part in how successful a blog is. I am going to list ten points that Judi Graf made about blogging that you may have not considered. This list is of things I learned, and I hope it is beneficial to you as well.

Top 10 List About Blogging-

  1. Blog Design: I learned that it is very important to maintain a blog page that is designed effectively. Judy Graff gave the class a simple phrase to remember. Simple, Obvious, Repeat. The page must be kept simple, yet obvious so that it will not distract readers. Posts and other valuable information must be easy to find; therefore it is important to keep it simple and obvious.
  2. You have approximately 7 seconds to catch  readers’ attention. Your page must be attractive and informative to really catch readers attention. This means having a catchy title and tag line, as well as having a page that readers want to investigate. The page must be eye-catching in order to grab readers’ attention.
  3. Have a contact page. It is important to have a page that readers can access your contact information. This page should include your e-mail address and other ways readers can directly contact you.
  4. The importance of a tag line. A tag line is a phrase that is usually located underneath a blog’s title. It gives readers a quick glimpse of what the page is about. It also can give readers a general idea of what kind of blogger you are, which is very important.
  5. Know and understand your target audience. As an effective blogger, you must know exactly who your target audience is. You must ask yourself this question- Who am I wanting to reach? This will determine the type of posts you publish and the type of page you maintain.
  6. Purpose. You must also ask yourself, what is the purpose of this blog website? You must understand why you are creating a blog, and what you want to accomplish with it. Whether it be for business purposes or personal purposes, you must be sure of what you want to achieve with your blog.
  7. The importance of “about” areas. Having a page or other area explaining who you are and why you are blogging is very important. Readers want to know more about you the author and why you are inspired to publish blogs and maintain your website. It also gives readers an opportunity to get to know you better. Judi explained that about pages are the second most viewed pages.
  8. Fast load time. It is very important to make sure your page loads quickly. If you have several large pictures, videos and other graphics, it may take a while for your page to load. If it loads slowly, readers may not want to wait for the information to appear.
  9. Utilize open space. The use of all available space is key, especially above the fold. (Above the fold means the content you see whenever you first visit a page without scrolling.) Saying this, you want as much valuable information to be in sight so that readers will not have to be inclined to visit all aspects of your page. It also makes it easier for them to find what they may be looking for.
  10. Post Titles. Post titles are very important. We learned that titles are what attracts readers to our post. They also give readers an indication of what posts are going to be about. These titles are also what allows our posts to show up in search engines.

These are just the top ten things that I have learned from Judi Graff’s visit to our class. There were several other items that I learned about that I will be more than willing to share with you. I encourage you to use what I have listed and apply it to your blog. Always look for ways to make your blog better. Change your layout, add more pages, provide contact information, and the list goes on. You can make your blog great if you put forth the effort to do so.

Thank you Judi Graff for everything you did for our Public Relations in Agriculture Class at Missouri State University. Your knowledge of blogs is  incredible, and I hope to one day be an exceptional blogger like you!

I encourage you to check out Judi’s blog, as well as follow her on Twitter @farmnwife.

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