Keep It Simple, If You Can

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I admit that it’s a soapbox of mine, but that persistent crazy assumption that bigger is always better annoys me. Certainly, the cell-phone ads make you think more is superior, especially when it comes to ”Gs.” My phone is a 3G (I think), and I can’t imagine how 4G would improve my phone conversations enough to warrant the expense. I’ve got no problems with progress, of course, but it doesn’t necessarily make me believe I need ”more.”

My nieces tell me Kelsey is too little, with the not-so-subtle insinuation that it means she’s inferior to her two taller stablemates. Kelsey’s a Quarter Horse mare I simply love. She’s sensible and quiet. Sure, she can be stubborn at times, but she’s the horse we can confidently let anyone ride.

When you look at her, you think Western. She’s the original old-time Quarter Horse build, but she’s got an awesome English trot. She’s a perfect fit for us, and I hate to think that we might have decided against her because she didn’t ”look English.” Kelsey’s an example of what John Strassburger discusses in this issue’s performance article (p. 10). We went looking for a horse to replace Bonnet, a tall, quiet Thoroughbred, and wound up with ”little” Kelsey. That’s because we wanted an attitude more than a type, and we began our search with an open mind.

Kelsey’s also got beautiful dapples that appeared a couple months after she arrived. We feed mainly plain oats and timothy, which is what she was eating in her previous home, but we also feed a hoof supplement. This simple addition to her diet made an improvement in her coat we hadn’t expected. Turns out, according to Dr. Kellon’s article on bleaching and coat color (p.1), this was likely because it contains copper and zinc, two important minerals commonly deficient in equine diets. One supplement for hoof, coat and general health. Simple.

So Kelsey doesn’t bleach out, but she has a white spot on her nose that easily get sunburned, which results in pink/reddish blisters in that area. You can use a sun blocker like zinc oxide (the same stuff the life guards use), which you’ll need to apply every day. You can also use a long fly mask that covers that area, like the Cashel Crusader (p. 5). Easy and effective. (Unfortunately for us, Kelsey is the great Houdini of fly masks, so we go with zinc oxide.)

Kelsey also goes in a plain stainless steel snaffle, as do both her stablemates and most of the horses we had before them. So, why is our tack room full of bits' I don’t know. I do know I’ll be thinning them out shortly.

Still, it’s difficult not to browse through a catalog or tack store and wonder what kind of super power a $200 bit must have. You’re paying for craftsmanship, the brand name (usually) and the alloys, or metal mixes. Obviously, the actual design of the bit is important to your horse, as is the quality/durability, i.e. no rough edges. The brand is not. But do the metals make a difference to your horse' Should you change bits'

Associate Editor Margaret Freeman explains metal differences (p. 7) and the effects you might find experimenting with different materials. While you decide what’s best for your horse, remember, ”more” isn’t always better.