Posts Tagged With: law

I would maybe, kinda, I think, probably yea want to keep my whiskers.

Well that’s a lot of adverbs in one sentence.  Do horses not know if they need them?  I doubt that.


I have two very different mares.  Bailey is the princess.  She is regal looking and acting, with feminine facial features.  She loves attention, is an extremely picky eater except for treats, and hates mud puddles.   She was a past show horse, so shaving her muzzle was not a big deal at all.  I even bought her a beautiful ruby Andis cordless electric shaver.

Cheyenne mud face photodirty photo(1)

When I bought Cheyenne I thought I would clean up my new mare to look like a princess too.  Cheyenne’s looks and actions are tomboy through and through.  She has a stocky build, will eat anything you put in front of her, has a big head, and likes mud puddles.  But she does not tolerate anyone messing with her whiskers.  No one, no way, no how.  Believe me, I had tried everything and everyone’s advice.

It was now time to access the google gods for help.  Who would have thought there would be so much discussion on horse’s whiskers!  I soon learned how very important horse whiskers are to a horse.  It is such a big deal that Germany and Switzerland governments have banned shaving the whiskers on a horses muzzle.  Horse eyes are positioned in such a way that objects immediately in front of or below the horses nose are beyond their range of vision.  Their horse whiskers help them see these objects. Horses grazing are constantly relying on their whiskers to guide their muzzles toward edible food and away from other objects. The long whiskers near their eyes also warn them when there is a risk of bumping into obstacles, such as branches poking up out of the grass.  Whiskers are thick, rigid vibrissal hairs with shafts made up of non-living protein called keratin and they contain no nerves or nerve receptors. Each whisker grows from a specialized follicle containing an encapsulated blood sinus that is rich in sensory nerve receptors. When a whisker comes into contact with anything in the environment, it vibrates or bends and stimulates the sensory receptors in the follicle to instantaneously alert centers in the brain to trigger immediate motor responses.

This seems to all make sense although I haven’t noticed a problem with Bailey grazing when I shaved her, but my pastures are pretty horse friendly.

horses eating hay

So this is great news for Cheyenne since I will not be shaving her whiskers or Baileys.  I have to admit though, to me a shaved muzzle is prettier, but if it is not in the best welfare for my horse it won’t be done.

Categories: Horse Sense | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

I would want everyone to wear helmets.

Well this is a no brainer.

My past experiences have gotten me to the place I am now, a more prepared rider and owner.  I grew up as a teenage trail guide at a riding stable in Amherst, New York.  Oh, those were the days.  Riding 8 hours a day on the best horse at the stable, a beautiful appaloosa named Freckles.  He was crazy, he was fast, he was fun.  The year was 1975 and I was 13 years old, guiding trail rides without a saddle or a helmet.  Can you imagine that being allowed today?  On rainy days when no one would show up for rides, we would grab a horse and head out for a friendly game of hide and seek tag, bareback and helmet-less.  I can tell you right now, no way would I allow my kids to ride like that.  But that was how it was done…until there was an accident.  It was my favorite instructor out alone riding her horse and she fell off and was killed.  I never forgot that, and for a while I started wearing a helmet when I took out rides.

Amherst stables1

In 1982 I went on vacation with my sister and we stop to visit her friend who owned a horse.  He took me out back to his stable, saddled up his horse and said “do you like to jump”.   I answered like any 20 year old, sure, how high?  I was wearing shorts, sneakers, no helmet, and jumping his horse I had never met or ridden before.

What was I thinking!  What was that horse owner thinking!

Jump 2 1982Jump 1 1982

When my husband and I leased a couple of horses in my early twenties we didn’t wear helmets.  It just wasn’t being done for recreational trail riding.


Today I never ride without a helmet.  In fact it feels unnatural not to have one on.  I like wearing a helmet especially trail riding where is has saved my head from branches many times.  I even wear an orange cover on my helmet during bow hunting season as a precaution not to get shot, because everyone knows a woman on a horse looks a lot like a deer.

cheyenne kathy

The fortunate news for me was I survived that part of my riding history, but if I had to do it over, it would be with a helmet for sure.

In July 2013 Governor Cuomo signed a bill requiring children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding a horse.  Those who don’t want to follow the law can be subject to a $250 fine that would be issued to the parents or guardians.  Quoted from the signed bill:  Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce chances of sustaining serious injury. One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a properly fitting helmet in order to absorb the impact to the head, provide cushioning to the skull and reduce jarring of the brain against the skull. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that wearing helmets reduces head and brain injuries by 85% and the Equestrian Medical Safety Association strongly recommends the wearing of a properly fitted ASTM/SEI certified equestrian helmet with the harness secured during equestrian activities.

My good friend and riding buddy has a very strong opinion on this for a personal reason.  I would never ride without a helmet out of respect for her and respect for my safety.

Categories: Horse Sense | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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