13 February 2015

A good joke

     Many, many years ago, when I was just a young PFC at Ft. Bragg, my squad leader was SSG Asher.

    Sergeant Asher was quite possibly the most profane man I've ever met. He could not speak without cussing. I honestly believe that if you were to fine him for every curse word, he'd be broke in fifteen minutes. 

    A relic of the draft days, he'd stayed on in the US Army,quite possibly because he was utterly useless at anything. I cannot remember what his MOS (the job he was trained to do). He was a poor NCO.  He was the sort of leader who didn't lead so much as walked along and hoped everyone followed. His supervision of soldiers was so hands off as to be non-existent. His strategy was based on the hopes that if he didn't piss you off, you would repay him by behaving.

    He also had a store of jokes, most of them just dirty enough to make them good ones. In the three years I was in that unit, he told a joke almost every day, and I never heard him repeat the same joke twice. Amazingly, I still remember many of them.

   My mind has a strange filing system for jokes. If you ask me to tell a joke, I might remember one...but when I do, the rest are all there, waiting to be told. Most of them are dirty, but not pornographic, or filthy, or racist, or misogynistic.

   I love a good joke. Because it's my blog, I'm going to start putting them down here. (My wordpress blog, "Throughthebridlelightly.wordpress.com" was meant to be a semi joking one, and never got there. So I'll start by putting jokes here, just for fun. 

  So, with a tip of the cap to SSG Asher, of the 8th PSYOP Bn, Ft. Bragg, here's today's joke:

    A man had lost his job and had no money. But he did have land and some farm animals, to include a large, full grown sow.
He decided to have her bred so that he could  raise pigs to sell as weaners. When the sow came into heat, he discovered that  few people have boar pigs. He searched the internet and finally found a farmer about two hours away who had a breeding boar. He called the man, who agreed to have the sow bred, but the man would have to bring the sow to his farm.

   The man had a pickup truck, so he figured all it would take was some time and gas money to take the sow to the boar. 

    The sow, however, had other ideas. She absolutely refused to load (horsemen, we understand this, DON'T WE). She would NOT get into the pickup. The man finally had to get his wife to help and between one of them pulling the sow with a rope and the other pushing her with a sharp stick, the sow, reluctantly got into the bed of the truck.

 The man drove to the boar owner's farm, apologizing for his lateness. The sow was very happy to get off the truck. They put her in with the boar, which promptly bred the sow. Then they had to load the sow all over again. This time she was even harder to load.  The man wanted to pay for the breeding, but the owner said, "no, let's wait to see if she's caught'.

   A month later, the sow came into heat. The man  called the boar owner with the news that the sow wasn't pregnant. The boar owner said, 'well, I warned you. Bring her back." 

   So the man and his wife had to wrestle the sow into the truck. She was again, resistant and stubborn and again, it took a long time and a lot of work to finally get her into the truck.

   The man drove her to the boar owner's farm. The sow was bred by the boar. As usual, she was a real pain to load into the pickup for the trip back home. 

   A month later, the man's wife said, "The sow is in heat again."

   "Damn it" the man said, "I'm sick of it. I can't bring myself to wrestle that old pig up into the truck. It's not worth it."
   "Well, you better tell that to the pig". his wife said.
   "Well, she's sitting in the cab of the truck, blowing the horn."



10 February 2015

If you aren't receiving notifications when I post

I believe I've fixed it. If you aren't receiving notifications of when I post, please email me and I will add you to my list. The steps for doing this on Blogger (for your own blogger blog) are as follows:
Mobile and Email

find the box that says notification email address.
type in the email addresses you want to be notified. Separate them by commas, NOT one below another.
 Save your settings.

Cavalier Attitude, thank you for bringing this to my attention, and jogging my elbow to finally figure out how to fix it.



09 February 2015

Why we can't control guns in America

    I've ranted about guns in my country before, so if you choose to pass on, please do.

    This is more for my European and Australian readers, anyway. We Yanks already know about the problems we have with guns.

    Above is a link to that rant. I received more than a few comments about it, some expressing thanks for my describing my frustration, more telling me in nasty words that they hated me.
Those hate comments I sent to the trash, where they belong. I also beefed up my virus and malware programs to keep the rats out.

    Take a look at the idiot in the picture above. Published on 17 Jan 15 in the "Seattle Times", it shows a bozo wearing a trench coat (the same style that the Columbine murderers wore when they slaughtered over 20 of their high school classmates). It appears he has a handgun in a holster under his trench coat. He is wearing a knife strapped to his left thigh.
Bozo is carrying a automatic pistol. It has what appears to be laser sights. It is fully loaded and probably has a round in the chamber. He is carrying it the way he 'seen it done by the sojers'. Soldiers are trained to keep their fingers alongside the trigger so as to be able to immediately respond to the enemy. 

   Look at his expression. This is the face of a man about to bravely enter the jaws of certain death. He's scanning for snipers. He's walking as if he expects an IED to go off.  Is he a member of the armed forces, entering a building full of  fully armed Taliban? 

    Oh, not at all. Bozo is not even remotely associated with the military. (we wouldn't take him). Bozo is swaggering into the Capitol building, the place were laws are made. His perceived enemy are lawyers, lobbyists, and legislators, teenage pages (who's job it is to run messages to the legislators), janitors keeping the place clean, docents willing to tell you who is in what part of the building,  citizens seeking to meet with their representatives. The people in the building (other than bozo) are in suits and ties, dress shoes, high heels, dresses. None of them are armed. They are in the building to discuss, create and manage the laws in the state. 

   But Bozo is on a mission. Bozo is there Protesting His Second Amendment Rights, which his steely gaze indicates he believes have been infringed. 

   Last fall, the voters in this state voted into law one that says that anyone purchasing or transferring a weapon must pass a background check. 

    Doesn't this chap your ass? Doesn't this infuriate you? Aren't you appalled that we are trying, desperately, to keep weapons out of the hands of felons and people who've already demonstrated their intent to hurt, murder, etc other people with guns?

   Well, the fact that the majority of voters in this state actually passed such a law infuriates Bozo. Far more heavily armed than even the security guards in this capitol, he is Going To Show These Politicians that he won't stand for it anymore. No, he's angry. He's here to flaunt his weaponry. He's here to SHOW THEM HE MEANS BUSINESS.

   Which is the point of this rant. Look at this clown. I can hear the dramatic music he's playing in his head. He's making a point, don't you know, and everyone who sees him can see it right away. He's probably got an erection (probably the only one he's ever had). He's a Man With Superior Firepower.

   He's also an effing fool.

   I like guns. I have several. I don't use them to intimidate people, like Bozo is doing. I don't use them to make my point heard. I don't carry them out in the open in order to cause fear. 

    That's what this dipshit is doing. He's really a coward, unable to make his point without making it behind the protection of his gun. He's a bully and a coward. His IQ is probably no higher than room temperature. He was not breaking the law at this point. It was legal to carry a weapon into the Capitol.

However, bozo did expose our legislators as the useless, pusillanimous public trough feeders our elected officials are. In failing to heed the many initiatives we citizens have brought to them, pleading for SOMETHING to control guns, they blamed the overwhelming power (and under the table funding) of the NRA for not creating a law with teeth. It didn't matter when it was only innocent citizens being shot at. But when they realized it was THEIR skulls in the cross hairs, they created and passed the law forbidding weapons in the Capitol building(s) in less than 24 hours.

   Which infuriated Bozo and his ilk even more. How dare the suits inside actually call them out on their childish display? Do the suits think the guns aren't responsibly handled? 
  Well, no. When I see a bozo like this clown carrying a weapon like this into a civic building, one where he KNOWS no one else is armed, or has any reason to be, he's doing it to inflate his ego. He has one thing on his mind-he's been offended, and by god, he's not going to take it lying down. Nope. He's using fear and intimidation, and the gun is merely a solid promise if you don't listen and agree. He is no better than the Taliban. A case could be made that he is a terrorist. The difference being, the Taliban know their opponents are armed and willing to use them. Bozo, here, is safe in the knowledge that no one will shoot at HIM.

   Which is why he's carrying the gun. He is depending on everyone else to be decent citizens. It allows him to have his tantrum in public, with his wonderful gun to insure they allow him to have it.  He doesn't have to be courteous. Everyone else must respect him or else.

   What he doesn't realize is that the vast majority of people who may have been undecided on the issue of carrying weapons  into the capitol had their minds made up when they saw this picture. Yep, maybe the people who have been crying out for SOME sort of gun control aren't so crazy as the frothing mouth breathers have been saying they are.

   The sad thing is, every time we try to make even the slightest change to gun laws, we get clowns like this who do things like this. We get the idiots at the NRA saying the only way to counter a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The NRA is the power behind this bozo. Whether we like it or not, innocent people..children at school, high school students in the cafeteria, shoppers at the mall, women at day care centers, people watching movies, people in medical clinics, at the gas pumps, driving on the road, waiting to board an aircraft, getting our hair done, all of us...are at the mercy of any bozo like the one above. If he's having a bad day, you are going to pay with your life. 
   And the NRA will protect him.


05 February 2015

A picture can be worth a thousand shrieks

    "The continuing saga of Raven's feet". 

    Last week, Matt the Farrier returned to work on Raven's feet.
(see "A silver lining to white line disease").

    I was able to take decent photos of his feet this time.

    In  a way, I wish I hadn't.
    Take a look at these and tell me they don't make you cringe.


     Especially the last one...that nail end was a tendon ripping, artery opening accident waiting to happen.

     I can't tell from the first series of photos how bad they were. The damage was hidden in part by the epoxy from earlier sessions. We were focusing too closely on the white line to really pay attention to this.

     But, again, things aren't as bleak as they may appear.

     The white line is almost gone. Matt dug out just a little bit in both hind hooves. It's almost cleared up. 
     Raven's hoof angles are improving measurably. Not only can we see that the heels are opening up and actually impacting the ground when we're holding a hoof,  we (I) can see it in the way he moves.

    Even before Matt came back for this latest session, I could see Raven feeling 'happier' in his feet. Watching Sue ride as often as I do, I've learned what is normal for Raven. Up until now, he's always dragged those hind hooves. You could see long, shallow grooves left from them as he trotted (in a freshly raked arena). I'd watch the puffs of dirt rise up from them as he trotted on hot dry days. His hooves were burnished on the fronts. In other words, he's always dragged his feet.

    But last month, watching him move under saddle, I saw something different. Not as much dragging, in fact, hardly any dragging at all. Instead, when they trotted past me, I'd see: shoes. Four of them, not two in front and just a suggestion in the back. His trot has developed more bounce, more rhythm, more balance. His whole body language said that he was feeling more comfortable in his feet. 

   Matt was early, as usual. (it's so nice to have a farrier that not only is on time, but is sometimes early).  He got right to work on Raven's feet. This time we were going to do something different. We decided to let Raven's back feet go barefoot.

   There's a lot of argument regarding barefoot horses. My last owned horse, Jordan, had feet like rocks. My farrier at the time would bitch that he had to use his harder rasp on Jordan, a CMK Arabian. Within six months of buying Jordan, I realized he didn't need shoes, and had them pulled. He went barefoot for the rest of his life and was quite happy. So was I: shoes are expensive. I kept him trimmed every 8 weeks.

   Alas, Raven isn't so lucky. He's 1/2 Trakehner, 1/2 Thoroughbred. He has the TB speed and the TB feet-meaning they're not as tough as one would wish. 

    The Last Farrier, a well meaning man, advised Raven NEVER go barefoot. But as I've discussed earlier, I'm convinced that he was unintentionally the reason for the problem. He was right: Raven's feet were so bad that going barefoot would have been disastrous. 

    I'm a big fan of letting a horse go barefoot, especially if he's not going to be used for trail riding. But I also understand, now, that many horses just cannot go barefoot. Five thousand years of domestication has given us a wonderful animal and friend, but it came with a price in the form of anatomical and conformational weaknesses.

  There's a mindset among some horsemen that NO horse should wear shoes. 

   The 'natural shoeing' set think that a horse is a horse, but they're not. Basing their ideology on the legendary toughness of mustang's feet, they insist that all horses can and should be barefoot. 
But they are wrong. The reason the mustangs that were examined and their feet extolled over are mustangs that had good feet. Mustangs with bad feet DIE.  (I think one of the wierdest things I ever saw was a mustang at the BLM with a split hoof. I mean, split in two, toe to heel. The only reason he was alive was that he'd been rounded up). The basic premise of natural selection is that the sick, the old and/or the disabled animal is the one that is picked off by a predator.

   Domesticated horses are bred for many things, but never, as far as I can tell, solely for good solid feet. So they don't have them. While I don't like it, I understand that most horses NEED shoes. We ask too much of their feet: carrying us as well as the horse, on unnatural surfaces, in unnatural conditions, applying unnatural forces, keeping them confined in small paddocks or worse, in stalls,  in too soft, too wet, too dry, and trimming them as well as we are able and not always succeeding.  That is where all our foot problems arise. Shoeing and improper trimming exacerbates an already poor hoof. 

   If you still doubt me, consider Homo sapiens. Us. Chances are you grew up in what we consider 'first world' conditions-you lived in a house, you walked on sidewalks, you started wearing shoes at a very early age. Your feet look 'normal' to you, until you look at the feet of someone from, say, Kenya, a person who grew up never wearing anything more substantial than a pair of flipflops. 

    Humans who have never worn shoes have feet that look almost deformed to us. Their toes and feet splay out. They are the natural human foot, a part of the human body that was never meant to be shod. WE shod humans are the ones with the deformed feet.

    People who grow up in warm climates, such as that found in Africa, living in poor rural communities, often never wear a shoe. They might not be able to afford shoes, but they are also in a place where they don't need them. It pays off, too. Let's consider the  Thoroughbreds of the human species, Kenyans. When it comes to running long distance marathons, there's the Kenyans, and then there are the also rans, all us white folk who seldom went barefoot, bringing up the rear. The Kenyans sometimes run the marathons barefoot. 

I believe they compete in the Olympics barefoot. When they compete in our marathons,  (you will please forgive the pun, but I can't resist) they are a shoe in. They're so far ahead of the rest of the runners that, several years ago, some boneheaded racist tried to make a rule that any Kenyan that ran in the Boston Marathon be disqualified solely because everyone knew they'd beat all the white (and black) Americans by many, many minutes. Thankfully the dipshits were shouted down and, hopefully, run out of town on a rail. I have no patience whatsoever with racists.The point being, Kenyans win. Every time. It's because they grew up in natural feet.

   The above photos were captured from the net and I'm sorry but I cannot find any citations of the original posters. The first is fairly recent, showing the feet of two Africans who are showing normal, never shod feet. 
   The middle picture was taken as part of a study of the human foot done in the early 1900's. It shows a picture of an African person who'd never worn a shoe in his or her life.  The third one shows a pair of normal, never shod feet in fig. 1, and, in Fig. 2  a pair of shoes or boots that look all too familiar to shoes of today (especially high heeled ones and cowboy boots) and the third showing the resulting pair of feet from wearing such footwear. 

  See the differences? That's what happens to feet. As they grow, they're formed by the footwear. Our feet, while they grow throughout our lifetime, can and do change but it's usually in response to wearing shoes. I don't believe that they can revert to the natural form. Horses, though, have a different foot that changes shape to suit the environment. 

   That doesn't mean that there's not a propensity for the 'natural shoeing' mindset to also afflict human runners.

     There are millions of runners/joggers in the US. You can see them everywhere-running in parks, alongside roads, running with dogs, pushing strollers, running fast, jogging slowly-but moving at a fast clip-in shoes. 
  About two years ago, the 'natural running' fad hit the US. 

   Someone who obviously had good feet to begin with came up with the idea that we should all be running barefoot. We were "designe to run barefoot."  (you will excuse the term: I don't believe in 'creation science' or 'intelligent design". One look at our bodies will tell you that if we were designed by some creator, he was insane. Bluntly put, we evolved.)
We DID evolve to run barefoot. But civilization changed that, as it has changed everything else about us. 
    The barefoot running craze hit-and lasted perhaps one season. People who ran in shoes for miles without pain had it forcibly proved to them that running barefoot is a terrible idea.

    The instances of foot injuries skyrocketed. Podiatrists were inundated with runners who had shin splints, bone spurs, plantar fasciaitis, torn ligaments, green stick fractures of the tibia, sciatica, broken ankles, people with hip, back and neck injuries-all due to trying to be something they aren't: barefoot runners. That's just skeletal injuries: skin damage from our relatively filthy roads, strewn with gravel, rocks, broken glass, pieces of metal, dog dung, pollutants such as oil, you name it, it was on the roster. Feet that had carried their owners for miles, were suddenly sources of pain and medical emergencies because they had been forced to be barefoot. You can't unscramble an egg, and you can't run barefoot if you've been wearing shoes all your life.  

    We are so formed by shoes that one day, I was forced to walk about in my rubber boots without my orthotics in them. One day. And the next week I was in great pain and so lame I could barely walk.  

    Back to the topic! 

    Once Matt had pulled the shoes and the epoxy, I took photos...and am still cringing at the damage still evident from bad shoeing and the white line disease. Yet underneath, the sole is improving, and Raven is growing the hoof out at a good pace. 

   He dug out what was left of the white line. The feet are looking better even though, externally, they look dreadful. 

   Matt, however, was so encouraged by the real improvements he's wrought in Raven's feet that he decided to forego the epoxy, for now...and let the horse go barefoot. (in the rear only).

    We decided to let the hooves grow out without shoes. NOT, though, unshod. No, we put him in boots. They're rubber overshoes.  Matt insisted we keep applying the white line killing stuff and to keep the hooves dry. We are making progress. Spring and summer are coming, and with the warmer weather, his feet will grow faster. We take them off at night when he's in his stall to let his feet breathe and dry out. (because he sweats in them, a bit).

    He seems quite content to be in them. It sounds odd to hear him walk..instead of that sweet, sweet 'clip clop' (a sound so near to my heart that it probably could replace my own heartbeat) and is now a "clip fwub clip fwub". 

   We're getting there. Next trimming, I'll post more photos. 

02 February 2015

Horse racing in the US is dying.

    Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States is dying.

I've listed several reasons. I've kept them relatively short, because..well, because I could type for days and make this such a long post no one would read it. 
So, without further ado (wow..I've never used that phrase before), here are my reasoned reasonings.

1. Thoroughbreds are fast, but frail.

    In the last thirty years, they’ve been bred solely for speed. As is true in any sort of breeding for one trait, others suffer. So while they’re blazing fast, TB’s are so because they have too light bone, too small feet, skin half as thick as a regular horse, and a propensity for bleeding from their lungs which leads to:

2. Over-reliance on performance enhancing drugs. 

    This doesn’t necessarily mean steroids, although I’d bet my boots there are horses on steroids right now. I mean drugs like Bute and Lasix. A horse running on bute is doing so to mask the pain. A horse running on Lasix is doing so because its lungs aren’t capable of handling the high speed. I suspect some of the latter comes about due to:

3. Inbreeding

    Conformational defects, such as obstructed or too small airways in horses (to name but one) crop up far too often when closely related animals are bred to one another. Examples such as stallions serving their daughters are common.
   A few years ago, every single horse in the Kentucky Derby was related to the other horse in the field. They’re all Northern Dancer horses. By breeding solely to Northern Dancer, breeders got faster horses, but the older, unrelated bloodlines have died out. Breeders have no choice now than to breed their horse to a related horse. In biological terms, this is called a ‘genetic bottleneck’. In laymans’ terms, the breeders have bred themselves into a corner that they can only find a way out through outbreeding. But:

4. Refusal to bring in fresh blood. 

    Breeders refuse to bring in horses that were bred from non-speed bloodlines. If you were to suggest breeding to an eventing/hunting/showjumping/dressage Thoroughbred, you'd be laughed off the farm.They won't breed to a horse that doesn't have a racing background. It’s all about money, now, and breeding to an outside line (if one can be found) will mean that the horse will probably be stronger, have better stamina and endurance, and will never win a race.  
5.  Disgust at the very public breakdowns on the track

     Horses are breaking down more often for many reasons: they’re too light boned, raced too young raced too hard or too often, and racing on drugs. The public doesn’t know. What they do know is they can’t shake the memory of Eight Belles trying to stand  on the shattered ends of her cannon bones. 

 The gallant filly’s breakdown wasn’t the only memorable breakdown, but with far better cameras, it was far more observable and visceral.   

6. Off  track betting and Casinos

    Whether we like it or not, gambling pays for horse racing. When Off Track Betting became legal, and the later legalization of casinos, gamblers didn’t have to go to the track, could bet on other sports, and play other gambling games.

7.  Loss of interest in the sport

   The variety of means to gamble is part of this, but the increasingly urban nature of the fan plays a very big part. Horses were an important part of the American culture until after World War II. Now you can meet people who have not only never met a horse, in some cases, can’t discriminate between a horse and a cow. 

8.  Fewer breeders 

     The number of people who are actively breeding Thoroughbreds has been dropping like a rock. It takes a lot of room and even more money to breed racehorses. Kentucky Blue Grass country is no longer mile after mile of farms with names like Calumet, Idle Hour, Claiborne Farms, BelAir Stud. Nowadays, the Pike is lined with names like Walmart, Gated Community, Starbucks, and McDonald’s Hamburgers.

11. Fewer horses

     My home state, not the biggest of TB producers, produced only 350 Thoroughbred foals in 2014. Given that only a few actually get to the track, that’s not enough to maintain a sport.  This results in a situation such as that found at Aqueduct, a famous track near New York City. Aqueduct led the nation in numbers of breakdowns at its track (I want to say it was 28 horses in one season.). The reason: the track had been purchased by a nearby casino, which, on the face of it, would make you think it a good thing. But there are far fewer racing horses now. They’re being raced more often than once every thirty days (I may be wrong on how long a horse may rest between races). They’re being raced while sore. They’re being raced too far, too fast, too often, without a rest-which leads to breakdowns.

9.  Fewer tracks.

    Even storied tracks such as Pimlico (in Maryland) have to fight off the ever increasing demand for their properties. Developers look at the track as so much ‘wasteland’ that they could turn into millions of dollars for their pockets. Cities see that land as far better used for things like strip malls and office buildings.

10. Fewer jockeys. 

    We as a nation are getting heavier. The century old regulation that a jockey weigh no more than 115 pounds is a difficult weight to maintain. In the early part of the last century, most jockeys were black, due much in part because they grew up malnourished, and therefore, small and thin. White boys took over after the Depression, possibly for the same reason. Beginning in the 60’s, however, the jockeys ranks were..and continue to be filled with Hispanic men, as both black and white Americans are better fed and bigger. Owners and trainers were blatantly sexist, refusing to allow girls to be jockeys until the late 70’s. Even now, most jockeys are Hispanic because they are usually shorter and lighter weight than the average American of any race or sex. 
Need I also mention that so many youngsters have never ridden a horse and probably never will. 

11. Cheating trainers

      Cheating trainers aren’t new. It just amazes me that they still try it, but they do. In the case of the big name races, there are too many eyes to see nonsense going on,  but in the smaller tracks/races, there’s still a lot of cheating going on. Horses forced to run with a sponge up one nostril, or horses are 'milk shaked'..calcium carbonate pumped directly into their stomachs just before a race-are just a few of the ways to 'enhance' a horse without using drugs. When they’re found out, they are fined, but not banned, which means they get away with it. The horse suffers. 

12. Bleeding hearts who think the horses are being forced to run.

     Organizations exist that focus on what they think is abuse to the animal,  and have a lot of money to make their point. Given enough money and legislative palms to grease, they can and have gotten tracks shut down.(and I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a developer funding the effort). These people, though, don't know squat about the horse. All they see is what they perceive as 'cruelty'. They point to the jockey's whip as proof of force.  They cannot believe that you cannot make a horse run if it doesn't want to. And they don't want to believe that Thoroughbreds run for the love of it.

13. Television producers that focus on everything but the horse

     Most people cannot afford to actually go to the track, so watch it on television. 
     Television producers such as NBC have turned horse racing into a circus, complete with clowns dressed in hideous hats; Hollywood celebrities mugging for the camera; "Page 3", (dressed, but obviously well endowed) blonde “reporters”  who proudly proclaim that they know nothing whatsoever about horse racing; dress designers discussing the latest fashions; ‘human interest’ stories that have only the faintest connection to the horse; and football players being given a tiny task in order to make the tie in for NBC’s real money maker, football.  The horse is so forgotten that in many cases, the only thing you know about it is its name and the odds on it.We can see this crap on regular television every day, so why bother watching it at what is supposedly a horse race?

  The Thoroughbred loves to run. I would love to see TB racing where there is no jockey and no handicapping. Put the horses in the gate and let them go. THAT would be fun. 
But I'm dreaming. That will never happen.

   It's sad, but I am convinced that Thoroughbred racing in the US is on its last legs.

Picture citations: