Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pony Time!

So with Christmas less than a week away, I know many little girls are hoping Santa (and their parents) will heed their desperate pleas for a pony under the tree.  Well I was one of the lucky little girls who actually got their dream pony...  My first pony was Phoenix (all pictures of her are in print and I don't have a scanner) and she was that ultimate little girl fantasy, a snowy white Arabian with a perfect dished face.  Could have been a unicorn (and got dressed as one several times) if you put a horn on her sculpted face.  I kept her till she passed away when I was 21.  My second pony is Max (pictured left), another grey Arabian who originally was for my mom but ended up as my jumping pony, clearing obstacles with me that towered higher than his head.  He is still going strong at 25 giving walk-trot lessons for little kids.  Today I have two horses who decorate the side of my blog, Manhattan and Finally.  Manhattan (Manny) is a 17.1 hand Thoroughbred (pictured below) who can jump a house.  Finally is the golden child (pictured at end of blog).  He is a Quarter horse who I have had since he was 2 and has the biggest heart. 

Now that I've shared about my ponies lets get to some science!  Horses are highly evolved animals with some unique attributes.  In my opinion, their feet have the most highly specialized design.  A horse's hoof is actually is the anatomical equivalent of our fingernail.  If you pick up a horse's hoof and look at the underside they have a triangle middle, this is the horse's frog.  It is a spongy shock absorber.  As a horse gallops the hard outside hoof wall strikes first then the frog extends down and outward to absorb much of the shock.  Now I look at the frog and think wow that would be something Nike would love to use in their newest running shoe, or how about inspiration for shocks on off road vehicles?

The frog is also an amazing pump for the horse's circulatory system.   As the horse puts weight onto the hoof, the hoof wall is pushed outwards and the frog compressed, driving blood out of the frog. When weight is removed from the hoof, the release of pressure pulls blood back down into the foot again. This creates a blood pumping system up and down the horses legs.  Horses rarely lay down, you mostly see young horses or older horses taking extended naps.  Horse are unable to spend a long time laying down because their massive body weight will actually crush their internal organs.  So horses spend most of their time standing up.  They have a special locking feature in their knees to help them sleep standing up.  So having great leg circulation becomes even more important. 

I could go on and on about horses but for today that is all you get!  Hope everyone has a happy holiday season with their loved ones. 
P.S. including a horse treat recipe just in case you're like me and want to give your equine friends a holiday treat, just add raisins to make it human friendly.

Oat Molasses Cookies

2 Cups Dry Oatmeal
1/2 Cup grated Carrots
3 Tablespoons Molasses
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
Combine all ingredients. Add enough water to make a soft dough. Stir
well. Form cookies. Bake 350 for 8 minutes or until golden brown.

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