Best Breeds?

A post tonight by the fabulous DocHollandD about an ag class exploded, and quickly involved into a discussion of everyones fave breeds and crosses, and the dreams of what we we chose to raise.

For me that’s California Red sheep, mini Jersey cows (about three), and a complex assortment of horses. Oh, and a herd of fertile mules. You read that right. It’s been an obsession of mine since freshman bio.

Most animal folks can answer in a heart beat.

But what informs our choices? How do those choices effect conservation…and the communities those breeds and types are imbedded in? I touched on this in ASEH 2018 Tweets, and it has been central to a lot of my public history coursework. It was even a large part of my comprehensive exams. And it is part of why I explore what breed has meant in the past.

What, to you, makes a breed worth having?

What makes them worth conserving?

Header image: GF Hamids Tamora with colt GF Brigadoon, by the Al Khamsa stallion Mohummed Kazam, at Four Oaks Arabians, Breezewood, PA.

Yikes! Shoe trouble

A couple of days ago, Buffy twisted a shoe. I may have panicked just a little. Ok, not really panicked, because Buffy is eminently sensible and was tiptoeing around. I was still worried she would step on it and rip her foot off, or worse slice a tendon.

It’s been at least a decade since I’ve pulled a shoe. I’d briefly considered getting a farrier toolkit on Back Friday, but of course didn’t. The farm has several perfectly good farriers!

But I wasn’t willing to risk waiting. Especially as we waited to see if Buffy’s farrier was available same day. So I put Buffy on the wash rack (which doubles as a fabulous farrier bay, being covered in nice rubber mats), and when in search of tools. The first thing I found was a rusty old set of nippers.

In a clinch (pun intended, I guess?), nippers are all you need to get a shoe pulled…in theory. They can cut clinches (don’t do this with nice nippers if you have a choice, you will need to send them for professional sharpening after), and be used as shoe pulled.

I said “in theory,” right? Right.

Here’s the thing. Those clinches were tight. The shoes were two days old, and Buffy’s farrier is good: she doesn’t over nail, but the nails she uses have no wiggle and the clinches are seated, nearly level with the hoof wall.

And those nippers? Not a great tool for cutting in a tight space. Even nice, new, quality nippers aren’t the right tool. I mentioned how flat those clinches were. Luckily, I was offered some non-standard tools and given leave to abuse them (have I mentioned how much I love Moon Dance Ranch?) So, with a small screwdriver and a carpentry hammer, I proceeded to pop the clinches.

Every horseperson should learn how to pull a shoe, and how to evaluate farriery. But I am so very glad it is not my day job. Buffy was a SAINT. She even let me use a mounting block as a shoeing stand. It is still hard work. And pulling a shoe can be done piecemeal, and isn’t really a precision job. Putting one on? Requires a precise eye, nimble fingers, and often creativity as well as being an intense workout.

Once I got the first clinch popped, though, I knew we were out of the emergency call zone. It took me a while, but I pulled all but the most twisted nail, and the rusty nippers stood in for pullers and off the shoe came. Her farrier did manage to get out later that day, so she wasn’t three shoed for long.

SaddleBox Review

We had an exciting new product donor this year for Equine History 2019: SaddleBox. They very kindly sent me my own ahead of the conference so I could let folks know what to expect! The regular subscription is $34.95/month (you can also order a non-renewing gift subscription). Here is what my SaddleBox contained:

Tough 1 Genie Brush
with comb and braider bands

I had a hard time taking this away from Abdiel. I might have to get him his own (sans braiders). Very easy to clean, just brush against a post. Braider bands are large, suitable for heavy manes or turnout braids.

Epona Grooming Mitt
I was hoping this would help with the sand Buffy loves to scrub into her coat. I’m not sure why! It isn’t very good for sand, but it is great for sweat and dried mud.

Face brush- ultra soft!

Hoof pick with brush

Tough 1 Shedding Comb
I don’t use shedding blades much, but I was pleasantly surprised by this design. It works much better than the usual narrow loop. I’ll keep it around for spring.

A decorative ceramic boot, and a bumper sticker.
I’ve looked through previous SaddleBox extra gifts. Most of them aren’t my style, but they’re a fun addition.

And last but certainly not least, MannaPro Apple Nuggets. Buffy is a fan.

The best part? SaddleBox supports a variety of rescues.

#EqHist2019 Speakers: Genetics and History — Equine History Collective

The panel will be at 9:00a.m. on Thursday November 14th, opening the second day of the conference. It will be chaired by Alyssa V. Loera from Cal Poly Pomona. This is a new feature this year, and we are delighted to include more methodological variety for investigating the past. Two of these papers have agreed […]

#EqHist2019 Speakers: Genetics and History — Equine History Collective

This was the panel I was on. My presentation is being called the “Dead Pony Manifesto” and argues for interdisciplinary collaboration and communication. Let me know if you want a copy of the paper or the video!

#JourneyToTheStart: The Yearling Year

I’ve been working with a pair of yearlings at Moon Dance Ranch. It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s also been an opportunity for me to think through, consider, and now articulate my training choices for getting horses ready to start under saddle. A lot of folks view ground work as something they need to do. For me, its often the best part! I’m very lucky that these yearlings’ people are thoughtful about their horse care, and are in no particular rush. This works out well for me, as I sometimes need to take time away for my research, and for the yearlings, who have a great team behind them.

Flynn (chestnut) and Willow (grulla) July 7, 2019

Stay tuned for biographies (and foal pics) of this dynamic duo!

That’s Ag Hist

I just returned for the Agricultural History Society Centennial meeting in D.C. It was my first year at AHS, and I expect I will be back! I shouldn’t have been surprised that I already knew so many scholars there, either digitally or from other conference. It was a very collegial conference, and absolutely packed with papers of interest. I was, of course, especially happy to see that our roundtable was not the only equine history being represented, and AHS kindly scheduled the other equine panel back to back in the same room.

And, of course, we did pop over to the museums.

Global Gaits: 19th-century World Trade in ‘Vermont Trotting Horses.’

Or, A Trotter is a Trotter of course, of course.


Take a look at my presentation on 19th century trotting horses for ASEH 2019 Tweets here.

The full ASEH 2019 Tweets program is here.

Mr. Ed, aka Bamboo Harvester, would have been called (unsurprisingly) a saddle-horse, not a trotter. He was, however, descended (like many American Saddlebreds) from a number of trotters, including Hambletonian 10 discussed in the presentation.