Locating your diaphragm.

I gave this post two tags.  One is Rider Fitness.  The other, Organizing Your Time at the Barn.

Or in this case, your time not at the barn.

Perhaps it is the start of show season here in the Northwest that is creating a tendency in the professionals to nag, but I have been noticing that many of you spend a great deal of time in your cars.  In fact, I would say some of you spend more time in your cars than on your horses.  (This is something that should be thought of as a quality of life issue!)

Given that you do this, then I have a suggestion: use this time to find and strengthen your diaphragm.

Short story:

Yesterday I came home and Rick asked me about my day, “How did it go?”

I said, “Great!  Sally finally found her diaphragm!”

Not a long male silence, just a pause, the hint of a grin, neatly squelched.

“Perfect.  Where was it?”

There are days when he should just go straight to the creek, smoke a cigar and leave the niceties of coming home well enough alone.

But anyway, Sally drives rather a lot, and I gave her this task last week:  When driving, hopefully on one of those long, boring sections that are common in Eastern Oregon and the south side of Washington State,


place your hands at the base (YES–AT THE BASE) of the steering wheel, settling your seat bones in the seat nicely, lift your chest, press upward on the wheel, downward on your elbows, downward/backward on your seat bones.

Hopefully you will locate and press out and up the place just under your rib cage in the center–the same one that should ache like crazy on your first horse, about ten minutes into the ride.  That place is key to both your center and using diaphragmatic breathing to your advantage on a horse.

Frankly, I was surprised to hear how many people do long trips with hands at the 10 and 2 position.  I understand this for severe traffic, drivers education, or the Indy 500, but on a long trip?

On looking for the following totally frightening picture:


I located an article that says 10 and 2 hand position is no longer advised:


For one thing steering wheels have changed design, and then, should the airbag deploy, it will hit your hands going several hundred miles an hour.  And I gather, through some other unpleasant-sounding articles that nasty consequences can occur–such as “degloving” which I will not go into just now.

The consequence I am looking for is that you ride better.

Anyway, I always drive hands low on a long trip. and was surprised to hear others do not.  If you spend a lot of time at something it shapes you.  Give it a try.

(For more on this subject–diagrams!–please see previous post: https://dressagesnob.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/weight-aids-use-of-the-seat/)

Would you buy a young horse that clicks when it walks?

This is a new category–questions people are asking.

Question: Would you buy a young horse that clicks when it walks?

My assumption is that the question is joint clicking–not forging, which is when the hind foot strikes the forward heel which for whatever reason has not gotten out of the way in time–that makes a clicking sound too.

I have asked around in the past about the actual reason for joint clicking, as many of them do it.  No one I have talked to seems to know exactly what causes clicking, but if new news is out, please pipe up!

Answer: given we do not know exactly what causes joint clicking–usually in the hind fetlocks–it is not a 100% deal breaker for me.  But I would certainly prefer they not do it.  First, though it quite possibly is ligament noise, it makes me nervous about wear and tear.  Second, I associate it with stiff horses–not lame ones, but tight ones.  You rarely see a loose, fluid mover with this noise.  That said there is nothing wrong with working tight, strong and somewhat stiff  horses–they can be good too–you just approach them differently.  Also, interestingly, clicking can come and go.  Some horses do it when young and then you notice that you are no longer noticing it. . .

If we are referring to forging it is typically a sign that the horse is on the forehand–retarding the flight of the front foot, allowing the back to strike it.  Lots of green horses do it and as they get more balanced it goes away.

An attack of stupidity. Off to the vet?

Let me preface this post by telling you I have been going through a phase of seeming to guard against stupidity.  My own and others!

A stupid person or act is well-defined by this classic:

by Carlo M. Cipolla
illustrations by James Donnelly



This short treatise, (though I think inaccurate on the ratio of males to females born), asserts that stupid individuals are placed at an even rate through society and their very random, unthoughtful and irrational behavior makes them unpredictable and very dangerous.  They can cost you a lot if not guarded against vigilantly.

(Example, touring with a young couple interested in a short-term stay at the Odell House (my other line of work) when showing them a month-long place to stage a house hunt, they suggested that in this room:riverOne

We tear out the hundred year old built-in book-case at the foot of the twin bed


so their five-year old child could have his clothes stored more conveniently near to him.

This obviously did not happen, but it works well into the idea that people are either:

Intelligent.  Dealing with intelligent people is a win-win–both parties benefit.

Helpless.  These people lose by allowing others to take advantage of them.

Bandits. People who gain from others misfortune or loss.

Stupid. Stupid people cause themselves loss while also causing others to lose.

So how does this relate to horses and vets?  (Or in this case, horses, cats and vets)

An example of Intelligent behavior:

X client has been having difficulty with the bitting of her horse.  She rides very well and is conscientious about properly fitting tack.  The horse has had his teeth worked on, but still seems uncomfortable sometimes with his bitting.  We were talking yesterday and I said to her:

“Every day before you ride check his mouth for soreness in the bars, particularly on the right–and I really think you should make an appointment and have an x-ray of that lower jaw on the right.  I can feel something there, and we need to know if there is a spur or a leftover wolf tooth.  Better to know what we are dealing with than to guess.”

She has appeared hesitant to spend the money, yet later in the day I got a text:  “Appointment on Monday–soonest they could fit it in.”

This is an example of an intelligent well-reasoned choice to use medical help.  The benefit of knowing will almost surely outweigh the cost.

Here is an example of a not so well thought out moment.

This is Pasha, who you have met in other places in the blog.


Here he is shown admiring the new bike just come in from a winter ride.  He likes to go out, and does so on a leash, accompanying me to the grocery store in the car on occasion.


He’s obviously an indoor cat, but he does get to go and play in the chicken house looking for mice–his hobby.

But most of the time he just hangs out.


Last night Rick brought him in from the chicken house, and all seemed well.

But around two in the morning I noticed a large wet spot at the base of the bed, where he often sleeps.  I got up to see what was going on.  On picking him up I found he was rather helplessly attempting to lick himself on his chest–he was soaked!

Realizing in my semi-asleep state that there was a cat and a lot of wetness involved, I thought to myself, “This is an emergency!”

(I am not an expert in cats.  I do horses.)

But my cat vet has frequently pushed home the point that cats live on the verge of dehydration.


Disturbances to fluids are very serious.

I asked Rick to help me, and shined a flashlight on Pasha’s face and chest.  Pasha looked unhappy and unwell!  Continually licking himself, yet I could not find an injury.

I told Rick, “I think we might have to take him to the emergency clinic!” And went off to get dressed.

Rick appeared in a moment, saying, “Are you sure?”

Long stubborn female pause.

Rick again.  “He jumped off the bed just fine.”

As a primary diagnostic I went and got Pasha’s bag of treats–told him to sit, which he did, and daintily accepted the offering. (As you may see from his figure, Pasha typically has a good appetite.)

Pasha had not in fact gotten a stick (or mouse) lodged in his throat.

He was not stricken with the dreaded drooling disease.

He had, in fact, missed his jump to the bathroom counter and landed chest side down in the open toilet.

And, as there is a lot of fur involved in Pasha, there was indeed a lot of water involved–as well as some measure of feline distress and a great deal of licking.

This would have not been helped by a trip to the ER–though they might possibly have found it as funny as Rick does. . .