Horse 101: Hands

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In the equestrian world exists an odd yet very common term. It is a method of measurement used in determining a horses’ height. The term used to describe the height of a horse is called, “Hands.”

Much like feet, inches, and meters; “Hands” hold their own specific value. Many people know that 12 inches equals 1 foot.

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But what exactly is a Hand? Is there any common measurement that can be used to explain a “Hand”? Does it literally mean the actual length of a hand? And whose hand!? A child or adult sized hand??

1 Hand = 4 inches (10.16 cm)

This is the standard equation of explaining, in universal language, what a Hand equates to.

When written on paper, the measurement will look something like this:

15.2 hh

Which denotes a horse that measures 15.2 hands

Turning Hands to Feet:

A horse that measures 5 feet 2 inches, will be described as 15.2 hands.

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An Equine measuring stick

Historical Hands:

Historically, horses were a big deal in many cultures. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Celts, and more, all rode horses as a means of survival. Horses were used for hunting, transport, and much more.

The system of trade and marketplace was no different then than it is today. The trading and buying of goods have long been an essential part of almost every person’s life.

Many attempts were made to standardize a measurement of horses since they became one of the most traded and needed by many nations and cultures.

Although some methods of measurements varied from the width of four fingers by the Egyptians, to the length of a man’s fist by other cultures; it wasn’t until King Henry VIII of England, created the first world-wide standard. The standard that he created, is the standard unit of measurement we still use today.

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The Hand measurement system is only used in the equestrian world. In fact, to determine whether a pony is a horse or a horse a pony; the hand measurement is a definitive classifier in determining which is which.

A Pony will always be classified as a pony when it measures less than 14.2 hands (hh). Anything larger than that, is a horse.

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The Mainely Pets Foundation

It is rare to find individuals who genuinely enjoy their jobs. Those who wake up everyday with a sense of duty and with a keen, open eye for the next step in their pursuit of their passion. As rare as these individuals are, it is even more rare to find people who dare to take that passion further.

For a small group of Veterinary Doctors in Maine, providing outstanding care for every animal that came into their office, simply wasn’t enough. The sense that more could be done in helping animals and their owners, became a powerful driving force that did not go unheard.

DVM Oonagh Wack


DVM Brian Graves
DVM Douglas Andrews


So in August of 2017, DVMs Oonagh Wack, Brian Graves, Doug Andrews and a handful of other individuals, created a non-profit foundation.

This foundation brought together their passion, committment, and talent for veterinary medicine. With their collaborative minds they created a very unique organization.

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They recognized that more animals are in need of medical care than just the ones that come into their exam rooms. They also recognized that not every one is able to afford that medical care for their pets in need.

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Their process is incredibly simple. With approval of a submitted application, Mainely Pets Foundation will help pet owners and rescue groups, cover the cost of medical care.

If you have found yourself in a tough financial situation, and your animal needs immediate medical care; do not let your pet suffer and please reach out to this organization.


I’m sure most of you remember Bubba from my “Tips From Bubba” series.

Bubba had a tremendously painful gum disease which caused him to experience pain all day and night and especially when he ate. Bubba’s pain was so bad that he immediately would turn away when offered food. The cost of care to even begin correcting his Stomatitis was tremendous. That was where Mainely Pets Foundation stepped in.

Bubba asks for fresh water from the tub faucet shortly after his mouth surgery

If you live in the state of Maine in the US, and are in need of financial aid for your pets medical care, you can submit an application request by clicking this link.

To donate to this amazing foundation and help them to continue helping pets like Bubba, click here.

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If your pet needs help, please reach out. There are other foundations similar to Mainely Pets in the U.S., that can help residents off all states. The Pet Fund is one example. There are also MANY foundations country-wide, that aim at covering spay/neuter costs. In fact, that number is so great, I would not be able to list them all in this post, so if you’re animal is in need of spay/neuter help, call a local veterinarian in your area or a local animal shelter who will be able to tell you more.

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Lakes Custom Creations

Lakes Custom Creations is a budding new business that combines lifelong passion and experience in woodworking and customizations, along with a love for pets.

Started by husband and wife, Jason and Kate Lake, Lakes Custom Creations makes unique products geared towards pets.

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Raised bowls with built-in food storage  

Each product is handmade in Maine and primarily uses Maine pine when building each product. Hardwoods can be used at a higher cost. 

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Standard templates can be used should a person want a more standardized look, however customization is an option as well. Customization can include specific sizing measurements and decorative painting or personalizations such as pet’s names.

Although pet products are not the only thing that they can make. Additional products include signage,

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kitchen racks, festive decor, and more!

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“We can make just about anything out of wood.,” says co-founder Kate Lake. “In fact, our motto is: Let your inspiration become our creation.”

More products can be found here in this Etsy link.

Shipping is not included in the price of the product and is paid for by the purchaser. It is for that reason that products can be shipped anywhere across the globe so long as the purchaser is willing to pay for shipping costs.

Please be aware that if being shipped outside of the U.S., it is common for arrival delay due to the Customs process when entering/exiting countries.

Click this link for Lakes Custom Creations Facebook page. Also, orders can be placed directly via email at To receive a 10% discount on pricing, mention that you saw it here and give the code FFF10 when placing your order.

Animal Abuse In America

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I have anxiously awaited the writing of this post. Although many statistics, information, and ideas come about with this subject, I’ve postponed writing until the right words could shine through.

Chances are, the people reading this are not the ones abusing and neglecting animals. However, those reading this are still impacted by animal cruelty. The disgustingly horrific photos and videos that are seen on television, the internet, and in the news, often leave animal advocates and animal lovers disheartened. There is no harsher feeling than seeing an animal being tortured, knowing that animal abuse exists, and having no idea what to do about it or where to go.

Here are things that everyday people like you and me can do to help prevent and potentially stop animal abuse.


The legal definition of animal abuse is the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death onto a tame animal, beyond necessity for normal discipline. It can include neglect that is so monstrous that the animal has suffered, died, or been put in imminent danger of death.

Animal abuse is commonly known as cruel acts and neglect. Psychological terror and torment is also a form of animal cruelty, for example: the constant creation of fear by the owner to the animal.

Physical abuse such as burning, cutting, using excessive force on an animal

Psychological torture such as routinely performing an act which knowingly creates fear for the animal with the intention of scaring the animal (for example: holding an animal out of the window of a moving vehicle.)

Neglect, such as withholding food, water, shelter, basic grooming needs, or medical care (often found in hoarding situations)

Are all forms of animal cruelty.  


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Below is a chart defining the frequency and types of REPORTED animal abuse cases in the United States in 2013.


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A quick mention on obesity in the US: A stagggering number of American pets are obese. Although this is not a direct form of abuse or neglect, obesity can and often does create many health challenges for the pet and can and often does, limit the animals life longevity, and health. Routine exercise is an essential need for many animals.


Animal abusers find all kinds of different and sick ways of harming an animal.  For whatever illogical reason, these types of people do not see anything wrong with their actions or behaviors. Common traits include:

  • May perform acts of cruelty or torture for religious, cultural, or artistic reasons.
  • Most likely have psychological/ personality/sexual disorders. Antisocial personality disorder in particular revels the highest incidents of intentional animal cruelty according to Psychology Today.
  • Likely to be impulsive, selfish, controlling, attempts to be intimidating, and shows great lack of remorse
  • May have been a victim of violence themselves or have been witness to violent/abusive acts
  • Highly likely to be domestic abusers as well. 71%- 88% of abusers were abusive towards spouse and/or children as well
  • Predominately men under 30 years old and women over 60 years old


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A woman you work with often comes to work bruised. She admits that she and her children are a victim to domestic violence by her husband. Given the woman’s testament, would you consider her dog to be safe in the household as well?


Learn the signs of animal abuse.

Notice your surroundings and environment on a daily basis. Some signs of abuse and neglect are quite evident. However be careful in drawing assumptions.

Example: “Every time I drive home from work, I notice my neighbor’s dog outside. The dog is outside from the time I drive into work and from the time I drive home.”

The owner may have brought the animal indoors between these two times, however since you are at work, you are not able to see that fact. When presenting an accusation of animal cruelty, it is imperitive that your observations/facts be concrete enough to stand up in court.

Gather evidence if possible.

Create a record or log documenting what you see on a daily basis, the animal’s location,  health condition (skinny, dirty, mange-like, etc), living conditions (no shelter, living in feces, etc) Take photos if possible. In general, it is not wise to confront the animal abuser yourself. Law enforcement personnel are trained to deal with situations such as this, because remember; animal abusers may also be violent towards human beings as well.

Don’t be afraid to speak out against the abuse

Even if it means continuous phone calls to law enforcement or someone else of authority. Even if they don’t seem to care (they could be animal abusers as well) Keep placing complaints, making phone calls, and advocating for the animal.

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If your local authorities are not being responsive, call:

PETA at 757-622-7382 or,

the Animal Humane Society at 612-772-9999 email:

Call your local animal shelter

In some U.S. states such as New York and Texas, dialing code 311 will put you in direct contact with someone who can help with animal cruelty.

If you are witnessing animal cruelty as it is happening and the animal’s life is in imminent danger, call 911.

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If you have viewed animal cruelty on the internet, click here to report it. You can also click here. You may need the direct video link when reporting or in some cases, the IP address of the website. In order to assist law enforcement, this link allows for easy look-up of the website creator’s contact information.

Be active with your local animal shelter

This seems a very after-the-fact avenue and for the most part that is true however the local animal shelter is where many neglected and abused animals end up. Many of these shelters are non-profit and depend solely on contributions made by their community to care for their animals. Help the relief effort by volunteering with your local shelter or providing donations if possible.

Encourage tougher animal cruelty laws in your local legislation

Which could mean organizing a citizens’ initiative/petition or writing your local representative and advocating for tougher animal rights laws.

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Right now in Denver, CO, efforts are being made to legally prohibit convicted animal abusers from ever owing an animal again. Similar legislation exists in California.

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Although many US states have felony laws for animal abuse, SOUTH DAKOTA is one of the US states WITHOUT felony-level animal cruelty laws.

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Educating youth on proper animal care can prevent animal abuse in the future.

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Not everyone understands that animal abuse is NOT okay. 

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The Appaloosa

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The Appaloosa has been around for a really long time.

As the story goes, the Nez Perce peoples of the American west created this interesting breed. They had lived in the areas of what is present day Oregon, Washington, and parts of Idaho.

But before we get into that, we have to go even further back in time.

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Spotted horses have been around long before houses, and even pen and paper. This cave drawing in France is one of the most highly discussed images. The estimated date of these drawings extend from 25,000 – 15,000 BC.

“Leopard complex” spotting had been seen in horses all throughout Western Europe for centuries. The leopard complex spotting can be seen not only in the Appaloosa, but in the Knabstrupper, and Noriker horse.

We can attribute many early horses of the US to Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes, and Hernando De Soto, during their conquest and exploration of North America; Many if not all of American horses derive from those left behind on these expeditions. Afterall, you can’t explore new terrain without a horse, and it’s not like they would sail all the way across the ocean just to say, ” Ah, we made it. Now, let’s go back!”

They totally did some sightseeing and left all kinds of stuff behind on their way out. Which had good and bad effects on the Natives.

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The one great effect it had on the Native Americans was of course, the horse. Many tribes took huge advantage to capturing the new residents. It is said that the large Shoshone Tribe which had a vast territory, would often more than dabble in the art of trade and furnished many North American Tribes with these horses. It was around 1750 when basically every tribe had received horses, which meant the Shoshone had ran out of customers.

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Shoshone Chief Washakie and his tribesmen

The Nez Perce in particular became really fond of their new equestrian friends and became deeply involved with breeding efforts. They were unique in the sense that they were super selective in deciding which horses mated and which ones didn’t. They often gelded the inferior stallions and traded off poorer stock. As a result of the Nez Perce’s breeding efforts, they had incredibly superior horses compared to almost all of the other tribes in North America.

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They lived near The Palouse River in the American West. Palouse is a Native American term for “Something sticking down in the water.” (Like horses do when they drink.) As we know in American history, many Native terms were applied by early white settlers to our nation’s rivers, mountains and more. So when these early whites came across the Palouse region and observed their magnificent horses, they became known as the Apalousey horse which then, later on became the Appoloosa.

The Nez Perce lost much of their Appaloosa stock during the war of 1877. They had created a very swift and intelligent breed which allowed many to escape the white’s hasty “round-up’s.”

The captured horses were sold off to cattlemen. As for their counterparts, The Nez Perce that remained on the newly founded reservations were able to keep a limited number of Appaloosa however if they were inclined to breed, they were forced to breed with only Quarter Horses. The Appaloosa was quickly becoming a lost breed.

It wasn’t until the 1930’s that a resurgence in breeding efforts began. The Appaloosa Horse Club was created in 1938 and still exists today. It’s actually an incredible organization that aims not only to maintain breed but also to educate youth as well.

As a result of the Appaloosa’s varied breeding history, the Appaloosa today can range in physical appearance from stocky, more warm-blooded-like to sleek and racey. They typically range from 14.2 to 15.3 hands and have the signature leopard complex spotting.

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The Appaloosa is a very strong horse that weighs anywhere between 800 to 1,000 lbs. Appaloosa’s are used for stock work, show and even show jumping.

The Appaloosa has also paid it forward in helping the Nez Perce today. Breeding efforts went underway in 1994 in an attempt to make a Nez Perce Horse breed. The modern-day Nez Perce use the Appaloosa in these breeding attempts along with the Akhal-Teke of Central Asia. The Nez Perce today feel very strongly about restoring their strong breeding culture and tradition. They were able to obtain horses of direct lineage from Chief Joseph’s stock which had been kept pure on a ranch in Wallowa Valley. For more information on these efforts, click here.

Horse 101: Bloods

In the vast world that is the horse world, horse owners, riders, jockeys, judges, and so on call certain horses by their “blood.” So let’s look into what this means in everyday language.

“Cold Blooded” 

Before there were tractors and heavy machinery, there was the horse. To perform such daunting tasks like logging, carrying freight, plowing fields, and more, human beings would use the Draft Horse. Draft horses are the largest breeds of horses. They often weigh over 1,600 pounds. They have a calm, even temperament and can be easily referred to as ‘cool-headed’ thus earning the name: Cold Blooded.

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A Shire draft horse


“Warm Blooded”

Warm blooded horses are middleweight equines that can be used for riding as well as pulling carriages. Although not as stalky as their cold-blooded counterparts, they have considerable muscle mass and can be quite strong. Tall and easy to ‘get up and go’, these horses are primarily used in sporting events. Their temperaments are more excitable than the docile draft, however, they are calmer than their high energy cousins, the Hot Blooded.

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A warm-blooded Palomino

“Hot Blooded”

Here I resist the urge to sing the number one hit by Foreigner. Hot Blooded horses are high drive, high energy, and hard-headed, to put it nicely. They are the “Hot Heads” of the horse breeds. Many are used in high impact sports such as racing. These horses tend to be fast; like VERY fast, and love to be on the move. One Thoroughbred I rode would turn his head and nip at the toes of my boot if we were standing still, in an attempt to get me to “Keep Moving!” Many of these breeds were developed in hotter climates and tend to weigh considerably less than their cold-blooded relatives.

Hot Blooded Thoroughbred



Horse 101: Equine?… What??

For those that are unfamiliar with the horse world; they find themselves also unfamiliar with the term: EQUINE. When they come across the words Equestrian, Equitation, Equidae, etc, it is like the mind blanks it out as it reads it. It is only when you become familiar enough with the horse world that you are able to understand and actually use these words yourself.

So what does it mean?

Whenever you hear this term it is usually in reference to a horse. Nine out of ten times you can simply replace the word; with the word HORSE and you’ll still be able to follow along. Similar to the way canine relates to DOG, and feline relates to CAT- Equine= Horse. However, to technically refer to an equine is to refer to any species in the Equus family. These include domestic Horses, Donkeys, Ponies, Mules, and also wild species such as Zebras, Onagers, and Asses. There are also extinct species of equine that biologists can prove to have existed such as the Equus Simplicidens aka the “Hagerman Horse/ American Zebra.”


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Illustration of American Zebra

Merriam Webster adds the fact that the word was initially used as far back as 1776 and comes from the latin word Equinus to mean: Horse.


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So keeping in mind that anything “Equi”- has SOMETHING to do with a horse; words like Equestrian, Equitation, ect become so much easier to understand.

Equestrian: One who rides on horseback

Equitation: The ACT or ART of riding on horseback

And now you can go out and remain confident when talking horse talk.

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Mister Ed, the talking horse