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A NOTE TO MY HORSE-OWNING READERS: This is a survey worth taking the time to complete. It will provide much-needed data on the state of the horse industry in America. We all know statistics are power:The survey results will help power changes in horse welfare legislation and provide indicators about the future of horses and their owners. It took me about 10 minutes to do the survey. I hope you’ll do so, too.

American Horse Publications Launches

Its Second Equine Industry Survey

MARCH 5, 2012 – The American Horse Publications (AHP) is launching its second Equine Industry Survey to gauge trends in the U.S. equine industry. The AHP Equine Industry Survey is being sponsored by Kentucky Equine Research, Merck Animal Health, and Pfizer Animal Health.

In 2009, AHP conducted an online nationwide survey made possible by the sponsorship of Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health and Pfizer Animal Health.  Upon its conclusion on Jan. 31, 2010, a total of 11,171 usable responses was collected.  This completed the largest-ever equine industry survey of hands-on horse industry participants in the United States.1  AHP will strive to exceed that number with the current survey.

As in the previous survey, the purpose of the 2012 survey is threefold. The first objective is to obtain information regarding past, present, and expected future participation in the equine industry. The second objective is to identify which issues currently facing the equine industry are perceived as being most critical to those who own, or manage horses. The third objective is to analyze issues pertaining to horse health. In addition to questions on vaccines and deworming, the 2012 survey includes questions relating to nutrition, feed, and nutritional supplements.

Those eligible to participate in the survey are men and women, 18 years of age and older, who currently own or manage at least one horse and live in the United States. This study is anonymous; this means that no one–not even members of the research team–will be able to associate information that is given with responses. When the survey results are tallied, only aggregated results will be presented.

To show the type of important information AHP collected in the first survey, following is new data from the 2009-2010 AHP Equine Industry Survey on how horse owners use their horses.  These responses have been broken down by geographic region and discipline.  Within each region, the most popular use of horses is for pleasure or trail riding.  It is also the most popular activity nationwide.  After pleasure or trail riding, the top 5 most frequently reported activities in each region are identified.
To download the results of the 2009 AHP Results Discipline by Region Table, click on the link below.
http://www.americanhorsepubs.org/resources/2009-AHP-Results-Discipline-By-Region-Table.xls

To take the 2012 AHP Equine Industry Survey, go to www.horsesurvey2012.com

The survey closes May 15, 2012.

The 2012 AHP Equine Industry Survey is being conducted by American Horse Publications (AHP). AHP is a nonprofit association that promotes excellence in equine media; Its members include equine-related publications, digital media, professionals, students, organizations and businesses. Dr. C. Jill Stowe is providing consulting services for data collection and analysis to the AHP; Dr. Stowe is currently an assistant professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky. The survey is sponsored by Kentucky Equine Research, Merck Animal Health, and Pfizer Animal Health.


The 1995 NAHMS survey collected responses from 3,349 operations, and the 1998 NAHMS survey collected responses from 2,904 operations.  The 2008-2009 American Horse Council Unwanted Horse Survey collected responses from over 23,000 horse owners, non-horse owners, and equine industry stakeholders.


Last up on AnimalsOurEVERYTHING! was a bearded collie, Nekota, who runs as if in flight. This ability to float, plus her Houdini-like escape skills, reminded me of the nun-who-could-fly character Sally Field played in the old “Flying Nun” sitcom; hence Nekota earned the nickname of Flying Nun during a recent stay with us. Here are some photos, taken by Nekota’s owner, Tish Pollock, further demonstrating the beardie’s flying technique.

I see a great 12-step lesson in these photos: Live in the now. That’s something animals beat humans at hands-down. Another 12-step slogan comes to mind: You can’t give away what you don’t have. In this case, Nekota is giving us a piece of her complete joy in the moment. Thanks darlin’ dog.

 



Callie, too, says thank you for being a fan of AnimalsOurEVERYTHING!

I LAUNCHED MY BLOG a year ago this month.

Today’s post  was my 66th. During this year, AnimalsOurEVERYTHING! has enjoyed more than 4,000 views.

I’d like to say thanks to all of my followers, subscribers, visitors, blogging and writing colleagues for taking an interest in my blog. The animals and I are more than a little grateful. We wanted you to know.

Here’s to another year of learning from animals — the  best of  teachers.


Nekota’s long, flowing black-and-white bearded-collie coat brings to mind the habit Sally Field wore, as Sister Betrille, in the old TV comedy “The Flying Nun.” The outfit included a wide stiff hat, known as a wimple. The nun was so light and the wimple so aerodynamic that she could fly in an updraft. That appears to be how Nekota escaped out a window – on a coat of hair that allowed her to float. In some circles, she’s now regarded as a canine Sister Betrille.

Nekota, the "Flying Nun" bearded collie.

Until Nekota, a bearded collie, came to stay with us, I’d never associated dogs and nuns. I do now.

It was a brief visit but one long on adventure for the champion beardie. Sweet and smart, Nekota, like many stars, is prone to elusiveness.  Her impossible brand of aloofness:  Escape.

I’ve been Nekota’s  dog sitter before, so I know she likes to hide and make you work to find her. She’s clever enough to pull off hiding in plain sight; the white and shades of black in her full coat easily blending with shadows in a room. The effort she puts into maneuvering things to go her way is impressive : As it should be in a herding dog, whose job is to convince livestock to do things her way.

Nekota was staying at our place, because she was in heat and needed to be kept apart from the intact male at her house while owner Tish was away. No problem, we thought. We have neutered dogs and a Labrador-proof fence. We would learn that does not equate to Nekota-proof.

Used to having the run of the secluded ranch where she lives, Nekota would not let our mere fence stand in her way.  I know beardies’ long, full coats make them look larger than they are, but I never dreamed she could make herself small enough to actually squeeze under the bottom of the dog run.

I expect she wanted the privacy of the woods to do her business, because she came right back, going flat to get back under the fence, when I called her. Our attempts to block the undercarriage of the fence worked:  Nekota escaped no more.  Well, at least not that way.

The following day, Nekota  seemed settled in and content. It was a warm day; hence when I went to town, I left the low window that looks from our kitchen to the front lawn open wide. The smell of the outdoors, or perhaps a nearby male dog, enticed Nekota to push out the screen – with nose or paws who knows.  It was an effortless, small leap through the window to the deck.

My son, Adam, found the window screen ajar and called my cell to let me know.  My stomach did a flip. A friend’s dog lost on my watch; a valuable, in-heat dog, too. I envisioned Nekota pairing up with one of the coyotes that haunts our place. How would I ever tell Tish?

Adam and I drove the miles between our place and Tish’s twice. We hoped Nekota had headed home, and we’d find her en route. At dusk, when there was no hope of distinguishing a runaway beardie on the landscape, we came home discouraged and worried about Nekota being loose on unfamiliar turf in the dark of night.

There she was sitting on our front porch right by the window she’d used to set herself free. Pieces of dead berry vines and stickery weeds had attached themselves to her long, silk coat. Otherwise she seemed fine. But had she made a match? I called Tish and told her there might be some half-beardie pups in the making. Ever strong, she took the news well.

The third day, when I left home, I locked the lower-level window where Nekota had escaped. It was another warm day, so I left the window in our loft open.  I got another call from Adam.

“Mom, Nekota’s gone missing again,” he said.

I replied, “That’s impossible, I shut and locked that window. You need to go look under the beds and in the dog crates. You know how she likes to hide.”

“Mom, she’s NOT here,” explained Adam. ”The screen from the loft window is on the front lawn. She must have jumped out.”

I experienced an even stronger lurch of worry in my gut. How could a dog make that leap without injury? She’d either gained a foothold on our log home and shimmied down, or she’d made a calculated jump to the cross rails below, followed by a long, graceful leap to the ground. Maybe she’d landed in a roll, her big coat of hair providing a soft, bouncy landing.

Or she’d flown. That’s when I thought of the “Flying Nun.” You may remember the 1967-1970 television series starring Sally Field as Sister Betrille. She wore a pale-gray-and-white habit and a wimple so wide it served as wings, enabling her to fly in a stiff wind.

Like Sister Betrille, Nekota is blessed, because she returned from her misadventure safe and sound.  I’d envisioned her, possibly pregnant, now broken inside and out, caught up somewhere all alone. The only obvious evidence of her flight was a tiny scrape on her nose.

Again I called Tish. We agreed it would be best for this sweet freedom-seeker  to spend the last days of her stay safely boarded at the vet. There she could also be checked for injuries.

In the end, the Nekota was unpregnant and uninjured. Since then, she’s added several wins to her resume as well as the ability to fly when she has the notion.

I like to think Nekota’s flowing beardie coat worked like wimple wings.


A typical winter dawn at stunning Running Mountain Ranch, site of the Open Barn affair on New Years Eve day. Photo by Tish Pollock

Now, this is the way to spend New Year’s Eve: On horseback with animal-loving womenfolk!

Good friends Tish and Stacy began musing about having a ring-in-the-new-year party shortly before Christmas. An open house affair was discussed. That quickly morphed  into the idea of an Open Barn  to be held  at Tish’s on New Year’s Eve day. Party central would be the covered arena at the hub of her sprawling working ranch. Running Mountain Ranch is a rural sanctuary in the coastal hills of Western Oregon.

Looking down on the Running Mountain Ranch barns and arena from a trail in the hills above the Open Barn party site. Photo by Tish Pollock

Tish’s barn stretches on forever and is full of her Arabians and the strapping  warm-blood show horses of boarders. What a treat to watch these big-boned steeds being ridden by Tish’s resident dressage trainer, Lynne Salewski. She makes these guys move with grace and glory.

Dressage trainer Lynne is silhouetted as she mounts Cobus, the Friesian that starred in the 2009 movie, "The Dark Horse." Poor guy, he's big and brave, except for the poinsettia you see in the background. It must have looked like a weird predator to him: It scared the easy-going horse to trembling. Photo by James Sherman

One of them, a  giant black Friesian named Cobus, is even a movie star. He and Lynne were in the 2009 movie, “The Dark Horse,” acclaimed at several international film festivals. And yes, Cobus was  the leading man.

Quite fittingly, Stacy affectionately refers to Cobus as the  Antonio Banderas  horse — after the famous dark-eyed movie star.

I think we all felt a little starlet-like riding our horses around such a grand facility.  Something was happening in every corner. Some riders were giving cutting horses a  “play-date” experience completely devoid of competition and cows. Others were having easy rides on tried-and-true trail horses. Some rode English, others Western.

My Gal Gallop pals astride on New Years Eve day.From left to right, Katherine, whose horse is named Boone; Stacy on Sparky; Kelsey on Tucker; Diane on Bobby; and me on Callie. Photo by Jim Sherman

Stacy was astride her prancing senior-citizen black Morgan, Sparky. He seemed to have the most spark of any horse that day; hence his name, we presume. There was a long-legged paint, Tucker, ridden by Stacy’s daughter, Kelsey; another paint called Velvet; and of course, my Callie, who was quite excited to be out of her usual environs.

Tish also raises bearded collies and is active in herding dog circles; hence, several dog handler friends  and their fast and focused dogs were on-hand, busily urging sheep and ducks here and there. It’s always a treat to watch these savvy dogs at work.

Tish raises bearded collies at Running Mountain Ranch. This photo was taken the day the herding switch flipped for young Rock. It was like he awoke from a nap and suddenly knew what he'd been born to do. Then off he went, sweeping and dodging behind the wooly trio as Tish (upper left) helped direct the ewes for him.

I think it’s safe to say my hands, gloved and all, were colder than they’d ever been after some of us struck out to make a few loops around the wooded hillsides and slopes.

When we got our chilly selves back to the barn, I dismounted, pulled off my gloves, held my hands under Callie’s muzzle, and let her warm breath defrost them.

Once the horses were groomed and blanketed, we headed for the party room – the office in the barn.  Fudge, cookies, ham, biscuits and other delicious traditional holiday snacks and good cheer were waiting. The riding now done (Drinking and riding are not a good combo when it comes to staying safe in your saddle and atop your horse.), Tish had  chilled champagne waiting as well as mulled cider.

Tish is known for attention to detail, and her touch was quickly evident at the Open Barn. She had red, white and pink poinsettias placed along the edge of the arena with the sky as background. And she’d made the cutest little cheese-ball snowman complete with scarf and a carrot nose –a mini horse treat perhaps?

Actually, it became a dog treat later that day when Tish was transporting the  too-cute-to-eat snowman from barn to home post-party. She left a car door open when she went to get something else to return to her  kitchen. A visitor hurriedly jumped into the car. It was  Maverick, one of her bearded collies. “Mav” had his way with the cheese ball until Tish returned moments later . Then he abruptly exited the car with a leap, telltale pieces of nuts and cheese flying off his silky, hairy lower lip.

IT WAS  THE PERFECT TIME TO SHOW OFF MY NEW SLEIGH BELLS

These World War I - era sleigh bells were a Christmas gift from a friend who has known my animal-loving ways since childhood. Sleigh bells were commonly referred to as horse bells in Europe and rural America. Photo by Adam Sherman

The 30-bell strand was a  Christmas present from my oldest and dearest friend, Karen. I’ve been animal crazy since birth, I think. Karen, not so much. But she ALWAYS honors that about me. She and I do share a love of antiques and the history they carry forward. When she came across these World War I-era sleigh bells, she said she knew they were destined for me.

The bells were found in an old barn in Vermont. They’re extra-special and pretty hard-to-find, because they are circa World War I. Before the war, bells were created from brass. During the war, all brass was sucked into the making of shell casings, creating a brass shortage. Other available metals, especially tin and nickel, were used  as a brass substitute.

That’s how Karen knew these hushed-sounding  jingle bells were authentic — and antique: They have a gentler, more muffled sound than brass bells. Much lovelier to the ear in my book. I wonder what the horses would say about the bells’ differing sounds?

It was fun hearing the “oohs” and “awes” when I  showed them off during the ride after-party.

Tish, consider this as a tip of riding helmets and snow caps from us to you. Thanks for a blue-ribbon day. You throw a swell out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new party:  Dogs and horses concur.

The patina of the table contrasted with the deep, dark brown of the leather, reminds me of sunlight drifting into a barn through a hayloft window. Sun rays set the same mood in barns today. Oh the stories theses bells could tell about farming America in wartime. Photo by Adam Sherman



Courtesy Clipartoday.com

If you’re searching for a last-minute gift for an animal-loving human – a gift small or large with meaning and sustainability  –  consider the options below: They’re my faves. Each benefits a person and an animal. You can learn more about these nonprofits devoted to animals, and their gift-giving options, by visiting their websites.

In the years when I haven’t got all my gift-giving done pre or on Christmas day, I’ve turned the tables a bit enlisted some of the groups below in offering Happy New Year’s gifts.

  • CANINE COMPANIONS FOR INDEPENDENCE

Give yourself the gift of raising a puppy for this – the original – service dog  organization. Entice a friend to raise a puppy, too. You’ll both have fun while learning more about dogs and people who have developmental   and/or physical challenges.

The gift shop at CCI.orgI has some nice options for dog-lover gifts, too.  Or, discover ways to help supply a CCI dog to an individual with a disability free-of charge: http://www.cci.org/site/c.cdKGIRNqEmG/b.4011045/k.685A/Donate_in_Honor_or_Memory.htm

  • FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR VET CARE

One of the best dog blogs, and books, out there, I think, is ”Speaking for Spot.” Written by Dr. Nancy Kay, an internal medicine vet specialist. (In the interest of transparency, I helped Dr, Kay with the book.)

Dr. Kay  has compiled  a comprehensive list of organizations that help  owners with vet bills. Here are some from her well-researched list .You’ll find dozens more at:.http://speakingforspot.com/?p=Financial%20Assistance%20for%20Veterinary%20Care

American Animal Hospital Association – (866) 443-5738 www.aahahelpingpets.org/ ; email info@aahahelpingpets.org. Through the AAHA Helping Pets Fund, offers grants for veterinary care of pets that have been abandoned and those whose owners are experiencing financial hardship. AAHA-accredited veterinary practices may apply for financial assistance on behalf of their clients in need.

 Rose’s Fund for Animals – (877) 505-423; www.rosesfund.org; email rosesfund@aol.com . Recognizes that it takes more than love to save a life, and all animals deserve a chance. They will financially assist, to the best of their ability, pet owners and good Samaritans who have an animal with a good prognosis, but are at a loss for treatment funds.                                                                                                      

The Land of Pure Gold Foundation – http://grants.landofpuregold.com. Provides financial aid grants for Working Dogs (Assistance, Detection, Search & Rescue, Enforcement, Military and Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs) who have been diagnosed with cancer.

  • LOCAL OPTIONS

You can also bring your gift closer to home by donating to – or starting – a dog-park fund in the name of a friend or relative. Did you know there are now around 700 dog parks listed at http://www.usadogparks.com/. Now that is a cultural phenomenon.

If you  want  to make a gift to an animal and get a gift in return, consider this site: https://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/store/.  The Animal Rescue Site is partner to Petfinder.com. Petfinder.com Foundation helps support thousands of animal welfare organizations that are members of Petfinder.com. The Foundation provides direct funding as well as training, education and grants of equipment and supplies so that hundreds of thousands of homeless pets have happier lives.

It has many cool items, and your good cents help supply bowls of food for shelter animals. Each item purchased funds at least 14 meals. To date, purchases from a this pet-loving e-store have supplied 492,408,168 meals to animals in need. You’ll find  jewelry , toys and all manner of pet paraphernalia. Contact customer service at (888) 355-4321.

Some food pantries accept donations and/or products to nourish pets.

Make a donation to a local vet clinic and ask them to earmark it to enable an owner who has less, provide his/her pet some vet care . If there isn’t something like this in place, start a fund and spread the word in your holiday cards and party toasts.

Remember, no matter the time of year or the type of gift,

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did.  But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Especially when it comes to pets.

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NEAT NEWS: I came upon a little nugget written by a dog-owner mom who was Thanksgiving hostess. As in previous years, she was having difficulty convincing her dinner guests to leave the television, come to the table and feast.

This year there was a shift: Her son still wanted to keep watching TV instead of pulling up his chair. But this time it wasn’t  football, but the National Dog Show, he refused to leave! Now that’s my kind of fellow.