Monthly Archives: May 2012

Blind horse dances – Music

Cash, from last Wednesday’s ‘Just for Grins’ post, showed that a blind horse can have a good life. This music video is of Filur Horsdal, a 22 year old blind Knabstrupper stallion, trained by Bent Branderup at “The Art of Academic Riding” school in Denmark.

Filur Horsdal, a 22 year old blind Knabstrupper stallion, ridden by Bent Branderup at "The Art of Academic Riding" school in Denmark.

Filur was born in 1990.

Video length: 3 minutes 40 seconds
Music: Classical piano
Uploaded by  on Sep 21, 2011

Filur has a companion named Hugin, who is also a blind Knabstrupper stallion. Hugin was treated to some tasty flowers for his 25th birthday. He is blind, but knows his treat is coming.

Hugin, the blind Knabstrupper stallion, is treated to some tasty flowers for his birthday by Bent Branderup.

Hugin, the blind Knabstrupper stallion, is treated to some tasty flowers for his birthday by Bent Branderup.


Video length: 4 minutes 1 second
Music: Classical piano

Hugin, the blind Knabstrupper stallion, rolls with enthusiasm on his 25th birthday.

Hugin enjoys a roll and a shake on his 25th birthday.

The Knabstrupper breed registry was established in 1812 starting with a single chestnut blanketed mare purchased by a Danish butcher from a Spanish cavalry officer. The mare was bred to a Fredricksborg stallion and produced a wildly colored stallion son. These two horses became the foundation of the Danish breed. American Appaloosas were introduced in the 1970s to add genetic diversity.

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Just for Grins – Blind foal plays with zipper

Cash, a blind Quarter horse foal.

This is a blind foal named Cash. Cash was born on a Quarter Horse breeding farm in northern Alabama on February 7, 2007. Cash has a very rare eye disorder called aniridia, in which the irises don’t develop. He was given a chance to live. A blind horse can have a good quality of life.

Read more about Cash’s story.

He loves playing with zippers.

Video length: 1 minutes 3 seconds
Uploaded by  on May 31, 2007

Rolling Dog Farm is a non-profit sanctuary that rescues and shelters disabled animals. Every animal who arrives at the farm gets another chance to have a safe and loving home. Residents include blind dogs, blind horses, deaf dogs, blind cats, and animals with medical disabilities like muscular dystrophy. Yet every one of these animals enjoys life to the fullest!

Learn more about how to care for a blind horse.

Cash, the blind Quarter horse, training under saddle at 4 years old.

Cash, a blind Quarter horse, under saddle in 2010 at 4 years old. (Click image for Youtube video)

How to care for a blind horse information brochure:

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Song of the Singing Horseman – Ride On

Video length: 3 minutes 15 seconds
Music: “Ride On” written by Jimmy MacCarthy on album “The Song of the Singing Horseman” released in 1991 by Mulligan Records. The female singer is listed as the Youtube uploader, but no name is listed.
Uploaded by  on Oct 15, 2010


True, you ride the finest horse I’ve ever seen,
Standing sixteen, one or two
with eyes wild and green
You ride the horse so well
hands light to the touch
I could never go with you
no matter how I wanted to

Ride on, see you
I could never go with you
No matter how I wanted to.

When you ride into the night
without a trace behind
Run your claw along my gut, one last time
I turn to face an empty space
where you used to lie
And look for the spark that lights the night
through a teardrop in my eye


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Just for Grins – Riding backwards

This guy is really good at riding backwards. This is “backwards horse riding Jamaican style”.  “Yeh, Mon”

Video length: 52 seconds
Uploaded by  on Jan 22, 2010


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Riding Icelandic Horses on coast of Denmark

Nine ladies riding Icelandic horses along the west coast of Denmark on a lovely day.

Video length: 5 minutes 41 seconds
Music: “Like Sunflowers” from the album “Crow” by Eivör Pálsdóttir. She is singing in Icelandic. The title of the song in Icelandic is “Sum sólja og bøur”. She is from the Faroe Islands and has her roots in the Faroese ballads.
Uploaded by  on May 6, 2011

I enjoy listening to the sound of beautiful songs without being able to understand their meaning. This is good because I was only able to find the Icelandic lyrics. Google translate does not do an adequate job on translating Icelandic to English. It seems to be a love song.

Icelandic lyrics:
Hann angar Sum sólja og bøur,
Sum tað bláa hav,
hann sigur tær vakrastu søgur,
tá sól er farin í kav.
Hann droymir teir vakrastu dreymar
hvønn tann einasta dag,
droymur seg burtur
um dalar og heyggjar,
til støð tú ei hevur sæð,
á, um bert ein dag,
eg kundi flogið avstað við tær,
men vit hittast bara,
tá ið eg blundi,
í náttardreymum hjá mær.
Nú komin er kvøldarstund,
Eg droymi meg burtur til tín,
Og eg sovi mí søta blund,
Tú ert vagrasti dreymur mín

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Just for Grins – Irish Cob foal eating grass

Jelani's Bowen, then Gypsy Vanner colt, rests on his first day.

Jelani’s Bowen” was born on March 25th 2007 at 4:30AM. His mother is Shayla, and his father is Chakotay. He is an Irish Cob described as a “big teddy bear, very sweet and cooperative”. He is at Jalani Stables living in the Netherlands on the border with South Holland.

Warning: Cuteness overload!

“Bowen die erg lui gras aan het eten is :D” – Sandra Keyzer

Bowen that is a very lazy way to eat grass.

Video length: 1 minute 20 seconds
Uploaded by  on Apr 29, 2007

Bowen is all grown up now. Isn’t he gorgeous!

Bowen all grown up. He is a piebald Irish Cob stallion with blue eyes.

Jelani’s Bowen all grown up.

The Irish Cob breed is also called “Tinker” or “Gypsy Vanner”. The breed originates from the UK and Ireland. Members of the breed come in a variety of colours but predominantly are of piebald colouring and have many draft characteristics, including heavy bone and abundant feathering on the lower legs.

Learn about Gypsy Vanner horse, like Bowen.

* View websites with Google Chrome for language translation.


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Dressage Lusitano Grand Prix Stallion

Dressage Lusitano Grand Prix Stallion SansaoHM
USDF 2006 Grand Prix All breed award

Video length: 4 minutes 6 seconds
Music: “Chuva” sung by Mariza, who is a popular Portuguese fado singer. Fado is a musical genre usually with a melancholy theme and accompanied by mandolins or guitars which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal.
Uploaded by  on Jan 29, 2007

Casa Lusitana offers the classically-trained Lusitano to dressage riders and breeders throughout the United States. Their Massachusetts and Florida farms are home to Jorge Gabriel and the world’s finest Lusitano horses.

Learn more about the Lusitano breed, like SansaoHM.

I enjoy listening to the sound of beautiful songs without understanding their meaning, such as this mournful Portuguese song. If you would like to know the meaning… read on for lyric translation…

Translation to English using Google translate:
The ordinary things in life that there
Only the memories that hurt
Or make you smile
There are people who go down in history
the history of people
and others of whom neither name
remember hearing
They are emotions that give life
the nostalgia that bring
Those who had with you
and ended up losing
There are days that mark the soul
and people’s lives
and the one that you left me
I can not forget
The rain drenched my face
Cold and tired
The streets of the city had
I’ve traveled
Ai … my cry of missing girl
shouted the city
the fire of love in the rain
died a moment ago
The rain heard and kept
my secret to the city
And behold, it hits the glass
Bringing nostalgia

Lyrics to song “Chuva” in Portuguese:
As coisas vulgares que há na vida
Não deixam saudades
Só as lembranças que doem
Ou fazem sorrir
Há gente que fica na história
da história da gente
e outras de quem nem o nome
lembramos ouvir
São emoções que dão vida
à saudade que trago
Aquelas que tive contigo
e acabei por perder
Há dias que marcam a alma
e a vida da gente
e aquele em que tu me deixaste
não posso esquecer
A chuva molhava-me o rosto
Gelado e cansado
As ruas que a cidade tinha
Já eu percorrera
Ai… meu choro de moça perdida
gritava à cidade
que o fogo do amor sob chuva
há instantes morrera
A chuva ouviu e calou
meu segredo à cidade
E eis que ela bate no vidro
Trazendo a saudade

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Just for Grins – Horse blows a raspberry

Horse blows a Bronx cheer (raspberry)

Bill is a travelling documentary filmmaker. His niece Olivia introduced him to this horse. Bill asks “Why do you like this one”? Answer: “Because he makes funny sounds.” The horse blows a raspberry. This is also called making a Bronx cheer. To humans it is a noise signifying derision, real or feigned.

Hopefully this is just a funny learned trick and not a nervous tick like ‘wind sucking‘. Horses under stress, particularly ones kept locked in stalls for extended periods of time, can develop stress habits. Perhaps this horse has learned that doing a nervous tick has gotten him rewards?

What do you think? Is this a trick? Or from stress? Or something in between?

Uploaded by  on Jan 4, 2011
Bill also has a blog.

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Icelandic horse dressage practice

Icelandics can also do dressage!

Young lady doing English dressage riding on her Icelandic horse

She comments that her Icelandic horse, Sola, can be very stubborn. Icelandics are known to be smart and have a mind of their own. They are both learning how to do dressage together. Icelandics are a gaited horse, who have a special gait called “tolt“. The Icelandic horse can also trot. Most dressage riding is done  with a trot.

Dressage is a French term meaning “training” and its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider.

Icelandic horse dressage

Video length: 3 minutes 31 seconds
Music: The music is an instrumental and very relaxing. “Expression” by Helen Jane Long, a British composer, musician and pianist.
Uploaded by  on Aug 12, 2010

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Snake in the barn

Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous.
– Chanakya

I’d add to that proverb to treat an unknown snake as if it is poisonous, just to be on the safe side. Guess that caution is true about treating many things in life.

Recently I was home by myself doing some mowing as was approaching sunset. The push mower died yet again in a too heavy patch of weeds. The sun was down and was getting dark, so I quit and pushed the mower up near the barn to cool off before putting it away.

Our barn has a fence panel that we use as a large gate . There is an open door into the “tack” room that has the light switch just inside the doorway.  I pulled back the fence panel and stepped in under the barn to turn on the light. Using what must be built-in instinct I stopped without thinking why, looked down and jumped backwards. Was that a dark shape on the ground moving? It was difficult to make out looking through my dusty sweaty no-line bifocals in the post sunset light. Was it my imagination? The shape moved again away from me. I took a half-step and leaned into the tack room to turn on the light. Whoa… a big snake heading along the edge of the wall towards where we store our hay bales. I moved off to the side to try to get a better look at it.

Snake was beige / brownish and at least 2 feet long and fatter than my thumb. It knew I was there. The snake curled up slightly when it got to the small corner.  If the snake just moved over 3-4 inches then it would have a clear path into the hay area.

Suddenly I wished I’d paid more attention to my snake identification. I knew it wasn’t a Rattlesnake. Wasn’t a Coral snake. Wasn’t a friendly little Garter snake. I kept my distance. Wasn’t sure whether friend or foe. Whatever it was, I didn’t want it to go inside to hide amongst our hay bales. Thankfully I wasn’t feeling panicky and merely felt a healthy cautious respect towards the snake.

Blue plastic horse stall rake

Horses were out in the yard grazing thankfully and out of the way. If need be, I could jump over the fence panel to get away. The sawdust rake happened to be right next to me. I had seen snake wranglers on tv use snake hooks to lift a snake up to move them without causing them upset. This plastic rake could work similarly and would keep the snake 6 feet away from me.

The snake was in a loose curled up S-shape at the corner keeping an eye on me. The snake blended very well into our sandy reddish tinted dirt. Even in the light would be easy to not notice this snake. They have very good camouflage.

I took the rake and slid the plastic tines up under the snake lifting it gently about 6 inches off the ground. I moved the snake away from the hay area. It slithered and fell off. Picked the snake up again and got it moved a bit more. It fell off again. Kept repeating. My snake handling  technique was improving. I got it out of the gate panel and several feet away from the barn. It was in even poorer light now.

At this point the snake was about 2 – 3 feet away from being able to get back into a completely dark area beside the barn through some fence panels or under wheelbarrows or the push lawnmower. What to do? Had to decide fast!

I’ve been soaking the horse’s hay in a wheeled plastic cooler to lower the sugar levels in the hay. I had not gotten around to soaking more hay earlier in the day and just given them hay in the slow-feeder small mesh hay bags. The cooler was even dry inside. The cooler was open about 3 feet away with the lid nearby.

The snake moved back towards the dark. I picked it up again and with a couple of tries was able to lift it up and tried to get it into the open cooler.  Half way in and the snake fell off back to the ground immediately heading off again. Where was the lid? Just off to the side of where I was standing by about 3 feet. I picked the snake up again and lifted it into the cooler this time, then reached over for the lid taking no more than a second or two. The snake was up and out of the cooler. Again lifted it up and into the cooler, this time keeping the rake over the top to discourage the snake from getting out while I grabbed the lid at my feet. The snake was at the bottom of the cooler. I quickly put on the lid and pushed down. Whoo!

Okay…some sort of beige / brown snake with patches on the body was in the cooler. I’d tried to figure out what shape of head or what the colored patches were like, but couldn’t see it well enough to know for sure. Didn’t see what type of eye pupil shape.

I closed the barn gate leaving on the light and carefully wheeled the snake in the cooler across the backyard and out the other gate onto the driveway under the good flood light at the garage. There was a heavy grey paving stone type brick up by the house, which I put on the cooler lid. I definitely was not going to open up the cooler to peek.

I went inside to clean my glasses, calm down and cool off sitting at my desk by a fan. Made myself some tea and searched the “Inter-webs” to try to figure out what type of snake this might be. I was treating it as if the snake was dangerous. Even if it wasn’t dangerous, I didn’t want a large snake in my hay area. We don’t have a rodent problem.

Steve’s Snaketuary in Texas had a video comparison between a non-venomous Texas Rat snake and a venomous Copperhead on Youtube. So was the snake a Texas Rat snake? I sure wanted it to be a Texas Rat snake, but if it wasn’t then I was sure glad it was gotten safely out of my barn and in that closed cooler on the driveway.

Uploaded by  on Sep 26, 2010

Thought I could safely release it to the wild. I was not going to transport the snake, even if in a container, by putting it in the car. I could call Animal Control, but would they probably kill it? I didn’t see any reason to kill the snake. Called my hubby, who was visiting his Mom, to let him know my plan to take the wheeled cooler with the snake safely closed inside to a nearby field to release it. There is a field area off to the side of a road with woods and bramble not too far away. There was good street lighting at a spot right by the road. That was doable and seemed best option for the snake.

Got the plastic rake, a large flashlight, and put on a head lamp. Locked up the house and wheeled the snake with the heavy brick on the lid down the street.  The grass on the side of the road by the field and woods was 2 feet high. No doubt there were other snakes possibly right in that grass. I positioned the cooler off the edge of the road and into the grass. I took the brick off the lid and set it aside on the road edge. Bumped the cooler to make sure the snake was knocked down and pulled off the lid and stood back.  The light from the street light and my head light shone down into the cooler. The snake was down at the bottom in what had been darkness. The snake in a second rose up with his head out the top of the cooler. I had a very good view.

Oh my! It was most definitely a venomous Copperhead snake! The snake moved out of the cooler and disappeared into the grass. I waited a bit, then pulled the cooler off onto the road and put the brick inside. Put on the lid and moved to the other side of the road. Whoo! No sign of Mr. or Ms. Copperhead. Shaken just a bit… I headed back home pulling the cooler with the brick. I stopped and called my hubby on the way.

I had read before my trek about Rat snakes and Copperheads. Copperheads are not very aggressive and unlikely to strike unless cornered and threatened. Most strikes are because they get stepped on. I was glad to know that their venom won’t kill you, though hurts badly and would make you very sick or lose some tissue near the bite. The initial strike often has no venom. The snake doesn’t want to waste the venom for a warning. The Copperhead has cat-like pupils. The Rat Snake has round pupils.

Didn’t know until later that they have an 8 – 24 acre range of territory, so still within range of our house. Our barn backs up to a small wooded area. No doubt there are more snakes behind our barn. Copperheads give birth to live babies about 8 inches long that are as venomous as the adults.

I’ve only seen one Copperhead a few years ago when out walking on a trail. We’ve lived here for over 20 years and I’ve only seen a large snake in the yard about 3 times usually when mowing. They always slither off in fear. I try to then just avoid the area for awhile. None have been near the barn.

I was glad I had carried my cell phone with me that night when out mowing in the backyard. Since that night I had planned to always head out to the barn with a flashlight after dark, but already haven’t done so. We should get some better lighting by at least fixing a broken switch that leaves some areas dark. I am more often taking my phone with me.

That’s my adventure – a snake in the barn.

Copperhead snake in hay by Tom Spinker on Flickr

Copperhead snake by Tom Spinker on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Upcoming posts will be “How to tell the difference between a Rat Snake and a Copperhead.” and “Can you find the Copperhead?” They have very good camouflage.

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