Your horse moves so smoothly that you always pause, just to watch and admire her – head held high, mane flowing, little puffs of dust from under her feet with every step – she makes you want to be on her back, enjoying the ride. And she makes it look so easy, you rarely think about what's going on in that beautiful body, moving her 1,000 pounds so effortlessly. This is just a tip of our hat to those moveable parts – especially those feet! They sustain and support all of that half-ton of weight with every step she takes, and they rarely have a complaint – and so we tend to take them for granted. But they are probably the finest shock absorbers your horse's Maker ever designed. Join me as we consider what makes them tick and what we can do to keep 'em happy on the trail. Continue reading
Written By Guest Writer - Walt Friedrich
An inappropriate tag for any horse, actually: the words imply a psychological problem, and while every horse can exhibit great caution – even phobia – toward an external circumstance, fear is actually a completely natural and rational response. Practicing that cautious behavior is what's kept horses prospering on this Earth for countless millenia, despite all the hungry predators along the way. Continue reading
Written By: Walt Friedrich
It is a condition – or more precisely, an infection – in the hoof. It is not a disease. Its elimination has been the goal of massive efforts to develop the ultimate product, as witness the vast variety of thrush-busting products on tack shop shelves. All of them do sell, and each of them probably does reduce and control the infection in some hooves – but there are a couple problems: one is that a given product may clear things up for some horses, but seems ineffective for others. And secondly, many of those hooves whose thrush does get controlled end up with a re-infection a couple months later. Right up front, the problem is not a simple one. Continue reading
Winter weight loss is a common issue that arises every winter, and to some degree normal and to be expected. But how do you know what is a healthy weight range for your horse to lose and remain healthy? There is not a single weight range that’s ideal for all horses, as it will vary between breed, discipline, and individual, but here are a few guidelines to follow to help monitor your horse’s weight: Continue reading
A common question that always seems to come up in winter months is why a horse’s urine looks red. People usually notice red, orange or brown spots in the snow where their horses have urinated. Normal horse urine sometimes turns red or brown after standing for a while. This is due to the presence of plant metabolites called pyrocatechines. These oxidizing agents cause the urine to change color when mixed with oxygen. It can happen year round (the same Continue reading
Written by Walt Friedrich
Most of us horse-owners are quite well aware that our horses can pretty much take care of themselves. They may be prey animals, but so are field mice, along with thousands of other species in between, and of them all, horses are probably one of the best equipped for self-protection. Weighing in typically at a thousand-pounds plus or minus a few hundred helps, along with immense strength, and maybe the quickest reflexes in the animal kingdom; he can break your leg or even kill you with a well-placed kick, and he has enough speed to outrun a hungry mountain lion. He tends to keep himself quite well self-protected. Continue reading
written by Walt Friedrich
I always had thought it was my mother who used to tell me, when I was a child, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I was almost disappointed when I learned that 'twas Ben Franklin who first uttered those wise words, and not my mother -- but as I grew up some I came to understand that it's the message, not the messenger that really matters. It applies in every aspect of life, doesn't it, and especially so when it comes to our responsibilities to the animals we are blessed enough to care for. Continue reading
Written By Jenny Pavlovic
They have today’s game plan mapped out. On the Pine Ridge and neighboring Rosebud Indian Reservations in South Dakota, this "boots on the ground" group, small enough to sit at the same picnic table, has a list of dogs to pick up from calls that came in over the past couple of days. The plan is in place to cover an area the size of the state of Rhode Island. The group knows that the plan can shift at any moment, and it certainly will if these words are spoken at the other end of the line: "There's a puppy at the dump."
A day headed in one direction is now immediately headed in another. Sometimes the team's conversation on priorities can be complicated when so many calls are coming in on a busy day, and sometimes the decision is easy. A puppy at the dump is Priority One. If the team hears of one late in the day and cannot find it before dark… sleep does not come.
LightShine Canine (LSC) has rescued more puppies (and even large dogs) dumped or stuck in the massive dumpsters after scavenging, than KC can count. Most of the dozen small dumps and landfills sprinkled around the Reservation have housing nearby. Many stray and free-roaming owned animals frequent them for scavenging, and even for socialization, as people come and go throughout the day. Pups follow Mama there, or get brave and head that way on their own, and yes, they are dumped there. On the Reservation, this is akin to putting a baby at the door of the fire station, the best bet they have for maybe, just maybe, someone finding it. On a reservation without an impound or a veterinarian, where many people live in remote areas, this might be the best they can do.
KC Willis first arrived at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation five years ago to help change the lives of a small group of grandmothers. Since drugs and alcohol were stealing the lives of their grown children, they were raising the next generation. These powerful fabulous women in their 60s, rooted in their land and their culture and their people, became KC’s friends and family.
It was the grandmothers who first began asking KC for dog food…They explained to her how they fed the strays outside the grocery store or on the streets in front of their houses. It was a grandmother who held out a puppy to KC one day and said "Here KC, it's sick can you help it? Please take it." And so she did. And then another and then another, until one day KC found herself with a Lakota friend at her side driving the reservation looking for the ones who had no grandmother to pick them up and hand them off.
KC didn't originally go to the reservation to rescue dogs. But with the help of the grandmothers and their request that she do something about a great sadness that walked through their land – thousands of homeless animals who were suffering from over one hundred years of unchecked population growth – LightShine Canine: A Rez Dog Rescue was born.
When KC was criticized for shifting her focus from daily help for the grandmothers to daily help for The Sunka Oyate – The Dog Nation – an elder shook her finger in KC’s face and said "Do not let them tell you that helping the animals isn't helping the people. You are removing a visible sign of hopelessness from our reservation. We never thought the dog situation could change and we are seeing a change and it gives us hope that if this can change maybe that can change."
LightShine Canine, a 501c3 non-profit organization, brings the heart of the Lakota and the needs of the dogs together. Their goal is to rescue stray, abandoned, injured and abused dogs on the Reservations, provide them veterinary care, and relocate them to foster-based rescue groups around the country. LSC’s dog rescue work program is geared to ensure that the dogs they rescue and the Lakota who assist with this dream are changed forever. The majority of LSC volunteers and rescuers are Oglala Sioux Tribe members taking ownership of the crisis their animals are in. LSC also offers material and educational support to Lakota families who want to better care for their animals.
Every single day of the year LSC picks up stray dogs (and cats) on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud
reservations. They cover a large territory answering calls from communities that can be two hours apart. They visit the housing areas and the country roads and the dumps, taking into their care the animals that need help. They respond to Facebook messages, texts and phone calls from residents young and old who now have hope and help care for animals until LSC can get there. They respond to calls from the Tribe and from police officers about the locations of dogs in need. On their way to picking up strays they come across strays, dogs who were born not belonging to anyone and who would otherwise die not belonging to anyone.
The populations of the two vast Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations are among the poorest in this country, with no veterinarian inside their borders. The number of homeless dogs is beyond what the community itself can handle, with no animal impound. But last year LSC rescued and relocated over 2,000 dogs from the reservations. In the next decade that will represent tens of thousands who will not be born into suffering. LSC has already rescued over 2,000 dogs in 2016, and expects to rescue 2,600 by year-end. LSC knows they cannot save them all, but still pushes forward with love to make a difference for the ones who are close enough for them to touch.
So when LSC received a call at 10 o'clock on a very cold night from an animal lover who had rescued a puppy from the cold, even though a “no travel advisory” had been issued by the Tribe, LSC worker Pete headed out. With a desire to respond to the needs of his community and a mission to save puppies and dogs one at a time, he drove slowly and surely, and made a difference in one more life. Late that night, he sent out the text, "One male puppy on board… a happy camper".
When LSC received a call about a pup stuck in a ravine, Pete headed out with a rope and rescued the pup.
When LSC sees a desperate dog in the middle of nowhere daring to get close to the road to search for food, LSC stops to help the dog. Boots on the ground – Paws off the ground. The dog is safe that night, maybe for the first time in its life.
When LSC is asked to help a large dog with a terrible skin condition, they pick her up and take her to one of the veterinarians who work with them to care for dogs who may have never seen a veterinarian before. Months later, a photo of this dog is posted on Facebook. No longer the miserable, hopeless looking dog with hairless patches and dull eyes, she shows off a glossy coat and looks straight into the camera with a sparkle in her eyes. You have to look twice to make sure this dog with the big grin is the same dog, and indeed she is. Then you see that her foster dad has failed as her foster dad and has become… her Dad. Her forever Dad. Another happy ending.
When LSC has a very dark day because dogs have been lost to car hits, to abuse, and even to parvovirus while being rushed to the vet, they hold the heartbreak close. And then they look into the eyes of the pup on the seat beside them who almost starved to death, and they know she is safe. They whisper farewell to the ones they lost, sit up a little straighter in their seats, and with determination and a glance at the face next to them, they say, “Paws off the ground.” Today is a new day.
To quote KC, “If we as Rescue do not make a difference in the lives of the animals that cross our path…If we do not show the children what it looks like to step in for the innocent…If we do not honor the elders who fear for an animal's safety...if we walk away from that because we don't feel we can ever cross some kind of Finish Line...then we are running the wrong race and we have made it about us. It is not about us accomplishing something. It is about not turning away from something that must be done.” And to quote KC again, “The stray dogs of Native American reservations across this country are the invisible dogs of America. But they are not invisible to LightShine Canine, and now they are not invisible to you.”
With winter coming, LSC is working furiously to help as many dogs (and cats) as possible.
Follow the daily rescue efforts of LSC on Facebook at
https://www.facebook.com/lightshinecanines/?fref=ts and visit their fundraising page at
LSC relies on donations to pay most of the gas and veterinary bills for the animals they rescue. You can donate via the following methods:
Checks can be sent to: PO Box 36, Whiteclay, NE 69365
PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org
“Donate” tab top of Facebook page.
Written By Jenny Pavlovic
The video showed houses submerged in brown water, with neighborhoods vacant and almost unrecognizable. A dog struggled to stay afloat in his outdoor run as a man in an LSART shirt reached in to rescue him. With the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just days away on August 29th, these images looked all too familiar. But this flood occurred in August of 2016, many miles inland from the Gulf coast. Continue reading