Equine Uses Of Household Goods

horse trainingWhen you need something for your horse or barn, you run to the local tack store or farm store, right? Well, if it’s for tack, or blankets, or riding clothes, the answer is yes, but for some items for use on or around your horse, a trip to the grocery store, hardware store, or home store, can provide cheaper and easier alternatives to horse-only products. I’m going to share a few of my must-haves, as well as some of my favorite alternatives. One thing you will have to do though, is let go of enough pride to not mind the strange stares and looks you may get buying human stuff in horsie quantities. You haven’t lived until you’ve gone through the line at Costco with 30 gallons of corn oil and 20 pounds of carrots, and gotten the puzzled once over from the clerk, who clearly thinks, “Guess the fried carrot diet works OK.”

The first thing to always consider is that for certain items, buying them at a tack store is going to ensure a price hike. Muck tubs, double-ended snaps, rakes, and brooms are all examples of items than can be found elsewhere for less. Lowe’s or Home Depot, or even your local hardware store are good bets for many of these. For muck tubs, I find the laundry or storage aisles of Wal-Mart, Kmart, or Target can yield a $5 to $10 savings over buying a “certified equine muck tub.”

That storage solutions sections of those stores is also a favorite of mine because of all the neato boxes, containers and everything else you can find to help organize your horse belongings. A friend of mine once said, “You can never have too much Rubbermaid.” Truer words were never spoken. Forget pricey custom bandage boxes, get a clear plastic one in your barn colors with a drawer to keep everything tidy.

However, one area I do think you need to go “for equine use” is large tack trunks. In my experience, the lighter storage chests and trunks found in human stores don’t tend to be strong enough to bear up to the weight of horse stuff for too long before the handles or bottom break or crack. So, I have a tack trunk made by an equine manufacturer, but everything in it is organized in human use containers.

When it comes to actual human products for use on horses, the list can be endless so I’m only going to mention a few of my favorites. The first one on the list, in big capitol letters, is duct tape. It has too many uses to list, and can be used on the horse, as well as in the barn. I saw a sign once (in a barn, naturally) that said “Duct tape is like the Force-it has a dark side, a light side, and it holds the universe together.” So make sure you have at least three rolls on hand at all times. There is almost nothing that can’t be fixed by the judicious application of duct tape.

A landlady of mine introduced me to the wonders of baby diapers many years ago, and I can’t live without them now. They are the ultimate easy solution for feet. Have a horse with an abscess that needs to soak? Or a horse with a sore foot that needs to be poulticed or have some other medication applied? You can struggle with rolls of cotton, elastic wrap and duct tape, fiddle with buckets of hot water and salt your horse doesn’t feel inclined to stand in, or you can just use a diaper.

For an Epsom salt soaking wrap, place a large handful of salt in the diaper, add just enough hot water to lightly saturate the salt and diaper, apply to horses foot and attach with the diaper tabs. Reinforce with duct tape. For other medication or poultice, apply to foot, and cover with diaper. The tabs on the diaper mean it can be attached the foot in no time, and all the breakthroughs in waterproof “no leaks” linings in modern diapers means the medications will stay locked firmly inside and on the foot.

Just remember when the helpful clerk asks you “How old is your baby” to not just off-handedly answer, “10” or they might call the authorities.

Another favorite produce of mine is WD-40. It doesn’t have any “magical” uses in the barn, just lots and lots of uses. Boots too tight? Spray some WD-40 on your calf and on the lining of the boots, and voila, everything slides on easier. When I’m taking out studs or putting them in (the kind that screw in to your horse shoes, not the equine male kind) a liberal does of WD-40 on the stud and stud hole keeps everything clean. I also like to pack my stud holes with cotton soaked in WD-40. And of course, the million different hinges, windows, etc. that stick in the barn environment can be freed with WD-40.

A few more favorites: Listerine, chamois, and skateboards. Rinsing the tail in Listerine once a month or so can get rid of the rail scungies and itchies like nothing else. I’m not sure why, and I probably don’t want to know, but an old horseman friend of mine shared that one with me, and if you can stand the smell (you should use the yellow “original” Listerine, not one of the newer flavored ones) it works great. A cheaper alternative to those pricey “non-slip” pads for use under your regular saddle pad can be an ordinary chamois used to dry off cars cut to the proper size and shape. They absorb sweat and keep everything in place.

And finally, the skateboard. Yes, an actual skateboard. It needs to be what I’m told is now considered an “old school” skateboard-one with a large, wide platform to stand on, and big, fat, wheels for “all terrain use.” If you travel fairly frequently with your horses and have to be setting up your tack room and equipment, or even if you don’t travel much but do often have to move feed, etc. then you need a skateboard. If you get a nice, big “old school” board you will discover that it’s the perfect size to put tack trunk on to wheel to and from the trailer (just tilt the trunk slightly in the direction you want to turn). You can also stack bags of feed or even a hay bale on there. The principle of just tilting slightly to turn makes maneuvering a snap, and you get a “dolly” without the size and expense pf a real dolly. It can pack easily in the trailer due to its small size, and can be easily stored in the barn. The big wheels are key though, since they will roll well in dirt and gravel, unlike newer models with the tiny metal wheels that get choked up without pavement to run on. Trust me, the skateboard will change your life.

I don’t know exactly where to get a skateboard of the proper type these days. I got mine from a neighbor’s son who was getting out of “old school” and, I presume, in to new school. Maybe skate shops have some just sitting rejected in an old school box somewhere, or maybe an auction site on the internet. But your best bet is probably to approach some people of a certain age and ask if they used to skateboard, and if so, do they still have their ride. Ask to borrow it, or just buy it for a nominal fee.

What you choose to tell people you are doing with the skateboard is entirely up to you.

Yale researchers prove Vikings were here first

Three decades after Yale scholars announced the discovery of the medieval Vinland Map and 25 years after chemical analysis suggested the map’s forgery, researchers have vindicated the map’s authenticity.

Yale University Press held a conference Saturday to celebrate the new edition of “The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation,” which includes new evidence indicating the validity of the map.

In 1965, the discovery of the map — a very accurate Viking drawing of the northeastern coast of North America — challenged the original theory that Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on American soil.

“No map has been a subject of greater controversy than the Vinland Map,” said Wilcomb Washburn, Director of the American Studies Program at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. “The play of human emotions effects the consideration of truth in history.”

The international conference brought together authors, renowned scientists, and scholars who have dedicated their lives to search for the truth behind the Vinland Map, and discuss new theories and data that support the authenticity of the map.

“[The Vinland Map is so] highly studied it was a unique document” in itself, said Thomas Cahill of the University of California at Davis, who attended the conference.

In 1965, Yale researchers discovered the Vinland Map in a small medieval volume purchased by Paul Mellon ’29 and shocked the academic world. The map — dated before 1440 — is significant because of a black ink drawing of an island in the upper left hand corner. The island is labeled Vinlandia Insula (Island of Vinland, land of vines), and the coast of Northeastern America is unmistakable.

If the representation is authentic, then the Vinland Map is the only one drawn before Columbus’ voyage depicting North America.

An authentic Vinland Map is certain proof that the Vikings discovered North America first.

The Vinland Map appears on a single sheet of vellum, which has the consistency of a very thick sheet of tracing paper. It measures 11 x 16 inches and folds down the middle.

When folded in half, the map fits perfectly into a book of manuscripts where researchers theorize it existed for hundreds of years.

In 1972, the results of chemical analysis of the map’s ink raised doubts about its authenticity. McCrone Associates’ Walter McCrone — who attended Saturday’s conference — removed and analyzed portions of the map’s ink. McCrone concluded that the ink contained a significant amount of titanium anatase in it, a material scientists thought was invented after 1920.

So in 1974, researchers declared the Vinland Map a forgery, shattering

scholarly reputations and years of research.

At last weekend’s high-powered conference — which included Chester Kerr ’36, former Yale University Press director for more than thirty years — scholars discussed new evidence reestablishing the map’s credibility.

In 1985, Yale’s Beinecke Library secretly lent UC Davis’ Cahill the map for four days, he said.

Cahill and his colleagues performed a series of chemical tests to determine the map’s ink’s components. Cahill used PIXIE — particle-induced x-ray emission tests — to determine the substances of the ink as a whole, and not just a few fragments.

He found only a minute presence of the titanium anatase, which scientists have since discovered occurs naturally. As a result, a medieval scholar’s ink could conceivably contain this substance.

“The Vinland Map does not in any way stand out from the 150 medieval manuscripts already analyzed [at UC Davis],” Cahill said.

Cahill said he could easily account for the disparity between his results and McCrone results.

“The interpretation of the same data can be quite divergent,” Cahill said.

In a letter to current Yale University Press Director John Ryden, McCrone wrote that he sands by his original research and still believes the Vinland Map is a forgery.

“I will now play my cards by writing what I would have written [for the new edition] had I been asked. My title would have been: ‘The Vinland Map, Still a 20th Century Fake.”

At the conference, tension rose as discussion of the map’s authenticity continued.

“How can you claim authenticity for anything?” Cahill said.

Jacqueline Olin, also from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. offered other evidence that the titanium anatase occurred naturally in the ink of the scholar who made the Vinland Map.

In medieval times, Olin said, scholars made ink through a process which created green vitoral, the primary substance used for ink in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The process also produced a byproduct of titanium anatase. The titanium anatase could easily have contaminated the ink solution, Olin said.

But both Olin and Cahill pointed out one questionable fact: two different kinds of inks appear on the map, one for the map itself.

Currently, scientists are carbon-dating the parchment of the Vinland Map. Though it was not officially announced, several people in attendance said the date of the parchment is compatible with the date scholars believe the Vikings made the map.

Mellon, who anonymously donated the million dollar map to Beinecke Library in 1965, was scheduled to appear at the conference.

But the plane Mellon chartered to fly into the conference experienced technical difficulties, and Tweed-New Haven airport could not accommodate his jet.

Mellon was expected to publicly acknowledge his anonymous donation for the first time, speakers said. Kerr said Mellon had stated earlier, “I think it is about time I took credit for once.”