Sunday, March 29, 2009
T and G and I spent Saturday morning identifying the trouble spots in the electric fence and making sure that all wires are appropriately tight and hot. The horses weren't real pleased to be locked in the upper lot for the duration, but after three of them made repeat appearances in the pasture next to the one they were supposed to be in (with no gates open or down) it was pretty apparent that some of the stinkers have discovered and embraced the fine art of fence crawling.
Since that just isn't acceptable, and the spring grass is just too darn tempting for them to stop on their own, it was time to get serious about zapping their sneaking noses. They're now much safer, and although not pleased about it, much more respectful of the fence. Having the current back on should keep the deer out of it, too.
Other than that, it was a fairly uneventful weekend. I spent much of it working on a presentation. PowerPoint is such fun....
Friday, March 27, 2009
I started last week with good intentions, determined to finish Crazy Good the biography of Dan Patch that I've been working my way through for wa-aay too long. Well, you know how best intentions go.... So if you're a trotting horse, Standardbred fan, you'll just have to wait. (It's a good book, I just keep getting distracted.)
One of the biggest distractions was this week's featured title. You may remember a few weeks back Friday's title was a book about a man who rode 10,000 miles up through South America aiming for New York. It was a very interesting book, but I liked this one better - once started, I dived in and didn't come up for air. T was thrilled (NOT) - I kept reading him bits.
Last of the Saddle Tramps by Mesannie Wilkins with Mina Titus Sawyer
An account of Mesannie Wilkins' trek across the United States, the book is prefaced by a letter from Art Linkletter in which he writes, among other things, "This is a story that all adult Americans should read, and their children as well, for today we need more people like Messannie Wilkins."I just hope I have half the spunk she did when I'm her age - I'll have to start working on that!Linkletter wrote those words in 1966: they're still true today.
Diagnosed with a lung affliction at sixty-three that left her perhaps as much as four years to live - if she lived a restful life - Mesannie Wilkins was determined not to spend one more winter in Maine. She set out with her dog Depeche Toi, and a newly-purchased, aged gelding of indeterminate parentage on a short cross-country jaunt: Maine to California by way of Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas and Idaho with a few side-trips in between. She describes it as her first vacation.
It's an incredible story, made more so by the simple, straightforward way in which it's told. This was not a woman with money (less than $40 to her name when she sets off), or even much experience with horses, but she certainly had plenty of determination and a lot of faith. I was particularly struck by her nightly prayer:Please God, help those that need Thy help, regardless of race, creed, or color. As I'll pass this way but once, please lend me a guiding hand to help someone from out of the ditch. I will not take Thy credit to myself.A sentiment we could all profit by following! Mesannie is completely endearing, and her adventures are told in a friendly and far less clinical style than Tschiffely's. This would be a fun book to read with kids (although there'd be lots of historical detail to explain to them!) and a map on hand to trace Mesannie's journey.
Look for Mesannie's story at your local library or you can check for a used copy at Amazon or Alibris. (The used ones are a bit pricey, for my taste, so I'm holding out for a reprint edition!)
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The evening started normally enough. We arrived at the farm - T was to move a bale, a matter of a few minutes work with the tractor, leave me there, take H to get whatever it was that was on her "have to have it tonight" list, and then return to pick me up - only to find that 7 of the 8 horses were making an unchaperoned excursion around the mile section.
Seems they'd spooked through or knocked down a gate panel somehow, and rather than staying in familiar territory, gone exploring. The two pastures & gates that would ordinarily have stood between them and the open road weren't closed as with the recent spring weather, G's been in moving things around with the tractor.
J had gotten home only moments before we pulled in, to discover only one - slightly frantic - horse pacing the right side of the fence, and a message from a mile-neighbor saying that she thought the horses racing through her yard might be J's. J wanted to hook up the trailer, but I figured it might faster to locate & corral them first, or at least determine the situation before we started messing around with transport.
I grabbed a couple halters, gloves & my nail apron with clicker & treats, and with J in her car behind us, we headed out to see if we could track down the fugitives. When we did find them, they were scattered out across the gravel road looking confused. T pulled up to around a 1/4 mile back, at which point they started heading away from us, so I yelled stop at him, hopped out and hollered.
We've yelled "Come On-n" to bring the horses in for at least three generations in my family. No matter how far back in the woods they'd be, we'd yell and pretty soon hear pounding hooves heading our way.They stopped trotting away, milled around, I hollered again, and then Sunny whinned a greeting and the whole bunch headed in my direction at a lope. In seconds I was surrounded by anxious, sweaty noses, and you can just bet all those whuffling muzzles got a treat as quickly as I could dole them out.I've instilled the habit in J's horses since I've been here, and thank you God, it worked this time, too.
Sunny was more than pleased to be haltered, and as we were only about 3/4 of a mile from the house at that point, I just started walking in that direction with the whole herd clip-clopping around me. The only bad spot, and I think the reason they hadn't ended up back in the front yard earlier, was passing the pheasant operation directly to the south of the farm. They have a whole pack of kenneled hunting hounds which were, of course, howling and barking their fool heads off at the unexpected entertainment we provided. But with Sunny in the lead (and on one) we trotted right on by. They were back in their pasture, gates ALL closed & fastened, in short order.
None of them - again, thank you, God, were any worse for wear beyond a layer of sweat. Definitely tired, though. I let them drink after they were cool, and passed on feeding the evening's grain - just plenty of hay.
I've been grateful before for the farm's location down a relatively untraveled gravel road. I was even happier that the horses made their escape before 5 PM, when everyone would have been on the road home. Tracking them, they'd run the entire mile section, north, then west, south, and east. The direction they were headed when we caught up with them was on to the east - straight toward another oil road. The mile they did travel down the oil (blacktop, for you easterners) includes a large hill where they would have been practically invisible until.... well, bad endings with cars will be recurring nightmares for a while.
We checked fences last night, and I walked them again today to be sure we knew exactly where they got out. They won't be getting out there again. Did I sleep well? Not really. But I spent a lot of my night saying my thank yous.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
- Mud - or rather absence of mud. It is currently almost knee deep, and especially bad exactly where I have to wade across to close the gate to the upper lot. I almost lost a boot to the suction today, and of course the gate popped off the top hinge again, which required several more wadings through the muck before I had it (temporarily) fixed.
- Weird weather - SD's getting hit by those wacky weather patterns just like the rest of the midwest. Here that means that after the beautiful 60's and calm we had last week, it dropped nearly 40 degrees in less than 12 hours, and we have sleet, snow, and yuck. The horses are pleased the grass is coming in, but blech!
Although I have to say,
SO glad I'm not out there
in the Black Hills with their
FEET of new snow!
- Shedding - spring means shiny coats and goodbye to winter scruffies.
- Grass - When the pastures come in no more moving hay bales and graining every day, which will leave more time for...
Sunday, March 22, 2009
It took both cats some time to figure the holes out, but Snowball has recently taken up napping on the middle level. Yesterday morning I caught her playing with T.
Then I got Sunny out and we played follow the motorcycle down the driveway. I wasn't expecting any major nervousness, as he's seen them before, but a refresher never hurts since riders out on the roads aren't always considerate. Sunny got in a couple of good sniffs while it was standing still, and T and I were talking, too before he started it up, which probably didn't hurt.
This morning was rainy, and while I managed to get out to feed in between showers this afternoon, the lot is liquid squish. Blech! It had actually been starting to dry up pretty nicely, but this certainly won't help. The grass is sure green, though - it's amazing what a few warm days and some warm spring rain will do.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Gotta love goofy horses - she was actually pretty good about standing in the water for about 12 minutes. She had grain and someone standing there hitting the itchy spots, so she seemed content. But at the 12 minute mark she'd had enough. I persisted so that she'd actually take her foot out of the bucket nicely instead of drenching both of us, but mostly it was a mud bath by that point.
She was walking sound, at least on the soft dirt in the lot, and didn't seem in any sort of discomfort. We'll get her out on a harder surface tomorrow and see. Second round of penicillin then, too.
Sunny was completely normal. Filthy, but normal.
Since T was along and I had the camera I got to actually be in some pictures... well, sort of in some pictures - LOL!
We trotted up and down the driveway several times. T finally figured out how to get things to record on our fourth or fifth pass - neither Sunny nor I were quite as enthusiastic by that point!
They don't always have the same "classes" but the general idea is that there are 5 or 6 events and each stallion must compete in at least so many. They get points for placing in each class, with the overall winner being crowned at the end of the evening. They usually do halter, pleasure (English/western), trail, freestyle reining/dressage, and some sort of action - barrels one year, cutting another. I think they sometimes wait to see what horses they have lined up before deciding definitively on what events they're going to have.
This being western country, the entries are usually heavily weighted toward QHs & paints going western, but there was a very nice Friesian one year, a woman on a Palamino who rode sidesaddle for the western pleasure portion, and a beautiful leopard Appaloosa took high point the very first year. It's fun to watch - particularly because with the same horses in and out of the ring you really start to notice things you like about each - sometimes about the handlers, as well. And with the English & western riders in at the same time, it's also interesting to see how gaits and ways of going compare in each discipline. It's always fun to watch the freestyle portions - and of course, attempting to guess who's going to come out on top is part of it, too.
The fair runs three days - Friday evening through Sunday, and while it isn't as big as the Black Hills Stock show, there are vendors for all things horse-related, and plenty of stuff to keep the kids busy and occupied, as well.
G was out feeding the sheep when we arrived, and commented to T that if horses are anything like people, occasionally they must just get a touch of indigestion. Probably true.... But we don't tend to thrash around and twist our insides up (and we know where to locate the Tums!) when we get gas.
In any case, it was a relief to see him acting normal. Now maybe my stomach will go back to normal, too.
Foxy was walking around comfortably on all four feet - not sure how quickly Bute wears off, but it's been 14 hours since she had a dose, so that's encouraging. I'll soak & try to get some pictures of the puncture site tonight.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
So, back to Foxy - back feet cleaned out fine, not hot or sore. But when I picked up the left front she almost fell down on me. Definitely something with the right front. Yes, indeed: a very old, rusty, fencing nail. Grrrr!
Thanks to a recent post by Mrs. Mom, I had fresh in my mind the quick pre-vet care for that: duct tape and two pieces of wood thick enough to allow Foxy to bear weight on that foot without driving the nail in any farther. I just needed to find the tape (since mine went with the truck and T back to town) and two pieces of wood the right size. Thankfully, G was home and gracious enough to provide the tape and a hand with cutting it into strips while I held the wood in place & taped.
Got his okay to call the vet, since Foxy belongs to them and J wasn't home and can't take personal calls at work.
Called the vet clinic. Yes, they could send a vet - unfortunately not the horse guy, but beggars can't be choosers, and he could come in half an hour or so. Called work, let them know I'd be late and could someone please stay until I arrived. Wonder of wonders, the vet actually did arrive when he said he would, (although he forgot a couple things he needed...).
He'd have preferred to haul her in to the clinic for x-rays, but after he looked at it said it wasn't TOO bad. The staple hadn't broken off, wasn't embedded very deeply, and if there isn't too much bruising, may not abcess. Penicillin, tetnus booster, bute for pain, soaking.... the usual, and call about a repeat visit and x-rays if she hasn't stopped limping in two days.
While we're soaking Foxy's foot I look down the lot to see Sunny lie down, get up, and lie back down again and then he's flat out on his side. Oh crap. So I collect him and bring him up - at least it's convenient that a vet is on hand, but at this point I'd really prefer the horse guy! Good gut sounds in all four quadrants, and temp is normal. Sunny's not trying to lie down or kicking at his belly - and wasn't real thrilled about having his temperature taken.... Vet says probably gas, walk him for 20-30 minutes and see how he does. If anything changes, the horse vet is on call tonight, and will come.
So I walk him up & down the driveway & road for 30 minutes , during which he plods along politely, occasionally attempting to pull me over to where there's new grass started along the edges. He's not exactly perky, but he's not glazed & pain-faced, either. No manure production or audible gas, though :(
While we trudge I call J who's off work but has meetings all evening, and update her on Foxy & Sunny - she'll check on him when she gets home. Then I call T, who is finally home from work - he'll drive out and check on Sunny after he finishes getting H fed & started on her homework. Put Sunny back in with the herd, and he stands at the fence looking at me. I'd prefer trotting off gleefully, but....
So I headed back in to scrape the mud off, find work clothes and relieve the library director, who waited the extra hour & a half for me to appear.
T called around 7 pm & said Sunny was upright & protecting his spot at the bale from the rest - he wasn't eating, but was alert enough to whinny at T & make "feed me" faces as usual, so that's a good sign. J emailed me at work around 8 pm and reported he was eating and chasing the mares away, which is usual behavior for him, so that made me feel better. She'll check on him later, too, and I'll run out early before work in the morning.
I don't think it could have been the new bale of hay, which is quite lovely, and which he hadn't yet touched - several of the mares dived in and they were fine. He was eager enough to eat his grain, which was not from the new batch I just picked up, and which none of the others showed any sort of ill effects from eating. I guess for now, as long as he's okay, it's a matter of note it and watch for recurrences....
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
besides "Wash me!!!" that is?
Star has loved mud ever since she was tiny. When they were tiny, she and Solitaire (one of Star's yearmates) used to lie down in the melt pond in one of the pastures and wallow. Solitaire was almost as muddy yesterday, so obviously neither of them have outgrown the habit. Sigh....
Monday, March 16, 2009
Well, out of the blue this a.m. there was a lovely email from his new owner's mom. She included some pictures, which I won't include here, 'cause I'm not sure if it would be okay - but suffice it to say that J & Dodge just plain cleaned up at their first schooling show of the year - 4 blues in their English/hunter under saddle classes!! :) They have two more schooling shows, and then they're entered in (their first) Class A - Region 16 - Arabian show at the Coliseum in Springfield, MA. Pretty darn cool.
But what's cooler? They continue to rave about how spectacular he is on the trails. And I quote:
Now they've put a LOT of time and effort in Dodge. He was green, had only a handful of rides in an English saddle on him, and could be a handful if he didn't get plenty of riding time, so I'm going to give them lots of credit for the level he's reached. But the miles of trails he saw in SD? I think that helped him a lot mentally. And I don't care who you are - that's a darn fine thing to hear about a horse you had a hand in. I've been grinning all day!
Calm, level-headed, willing to do whatever is asked of him, and just a pleasure to have in our family. I can't thank you enough for all the early training that you put into him. He has a solid foundation and everyone out here is jealous!!!! We have the Arab they all WISH they had!!!!
Can't find a good picture of the big lug at the moment, but I'll have to see if I can't find one later on this evening.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
That's since November.
They average about 1 round bale every 5-7 days.
And just under 5 gallons of mixed grain every night.
Is it any wonder they're happy to see me in the evenings?!
One thing's for sure-
Sunny doesn't mind wearing his supper!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Sunday was H's fourteenth birthday. She asked for a blue cake.... It turned out sort of Smurf-colored, but it was tasty, nonetheless. Newly 14, she lobbied for a later bedtime - um, seems to me that 10 PM is late enough given the crowbar we have to use to get her out of bed in the morning! LOL!
Otherwise, the week was memorable only for the return of winter. It was cold over the weekend, and went - I'd say south, but that wasn't where those temps were coming from! - from there.
At least by Wednesday we had clear skies again, and it might have been only 8', but the horses were basking in sun puddles. It's amazing how much difference lack of wind and a blue sky makes, even when it's cold out there.
This weekend promises to be above freezing, and there's some fence repair that's been waiting, so that's my plan at the moment. I'm not even going to think about riding, as every time I've planned to do so lately we've had a freeze.
Moon and Me by Hadley Irwin
Fourteen year-old EJ (Elizabeth Jane) has been transplanted a lot in her life. Most recently, she's been shipped from the hustle & sophistication of France to the wilds of rural Iowa to live with her grandparents. Finishing out the school year in a tiny town, she hasn't made too many friends. Her days consist of school, homework, longing after high school hottie Rick Adams, and riding her grandparents' half-Arab mare, Lady Gray.Ultimately? This one isn't as strong as A Perfect Distance or Tin Can Tucker, but it wasn't a bad read. Just less horse-intensive. And I'm not thirteen, either, so perhaps that made a difference :)
That's pretty much it, until Moon comes along. Twelve-year old Harmon, a.k.a Moon, is a child prodigy, and when he decides to take EJ under his wing and suggests she and Lady Gray enter a 100 mile endurance ride later that year, EJ is steam-rollered along. So begins a journey, a lesson in friendship, and responsibility, and a completely unique summer experience.
I admit, I picked the book up because of the cover (girl & horse...) and the blurb's mention of endurance riding, which is an interest/someday goal of mine. Ultimately, the book is far less a horse story and far more the story of the evolution of friendship. A few horse-related flaws here and there, but not as many as I expected after I read the first few pages.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
This little booklet must have been first or second grade, and after chuckling my way through the six or so pages, I though it might be fun to put photos with the descriptions. (It's interesting to note that neither my spelling, nor my penmanship have substantially improved!).
Shandar photos were fairly easy. I have numerous shots of my poor, long-suffering pony. Usually draped in something, whether kids or other odd get-ups. He was really a saint most of the time. (Although yes, occasionally hard to catch!)
I learned all sorts of horse dos & don'ts under his patient tutelage and my folks' watchful eyes - this must have been shortly after Shan came to live with us.
That blanket? I still have it. It's TB-size. And it was NOT cold when this picture was taken. If you look closely, he's asleep. Not sure what I was up to.
I recall spending a lot of time pretending to be asleep, just to see where he'd wander. Usually, back to the barn.
Then there were the cats.
Muffin, our first kitten, grew up in a household with two little girls who fought over everything. She very quickly learned that my mother was the boss, and we could safely be ignored or intimidated. She could, and often did, bring home bunny feet and partridge wings, leaving them proudly on the doorstep.
Climbing up to go to bed in the top bunk when Muffin was there first went something along these lines: "Ow! - Mom! She won't let me up!"
[From the kitchen - in a stern tone:] "Muf-fin." [Sounds of me climbing gingerly into bed, making sure not to accidentally kneel on a paw or tail.]
Friday, March 6, 2009
Having forgotten to put on my rubber boots before wading in, I decided I might as well continue as I started.
[Plug here for Mountain Horse Mountain Rider boots - (I think they've discontinued thesel, or at least they've gotten difficult to find in the US, unfortunately, but I LOVE them.) In spite of the fact that they're leather with laces, I have yet to go home with wet feet after wading through the over-ankle deep slop. Wet pant legs, yes. But my socks are always dry. They're not cheap, but one pair lasts me several years of winter/summer wearing. And I wear them in everything, 'cause I'm always forgetting to put on muck boots.]On the other thing.... Well - my co-workers were mad, which was nice. I'm still on the lookout for that window to show up, and I have moments of panic now and then, but on the whole, I think we'll all weather this just fine. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers - they're much appreciated, and I'll keep you posted. Unless something major occurs, though, I'm probably going to stick to horse topics here. It's cheerier! :)
In case you're unfamiliar, the Chicken Soup for the [insert object of affection]lover's soul books are supposedly true accounts of miraculous, inspiring, and/or touching experiences revolving around someone's experience with the named thing. So in this case, horses.
Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul II by Jack Canfield
I received this as a present one Christmas. I've never read a Chicken Soup book before -- if you're a fan of anthologies like this, you probably already know what you'll find inside. If you've never read one, some advice: unless you're a fan massive quantities of sweetness and light (think eating a whole cake, or a giant swirl of cotton candy all at one go), it may be best not to read them in one sitting.And I really mean that last sentence. I don't know that I would voluntarily pick one of these up again outside of a doctor's or dentist's office waiting room or other, equally dire, location with a serious dearth of reading material. (Which is why I bring my own book along when I visit those places!)
I did. Which in retrospect was most likely a mistake. Read over a period of time, I probably would have enjoyed all of the stories more. Read all at once, by two thirds of the way through the book, I was on inspiration overload.
The first third of the book was great -- I sniffled my way through part of a box of tissues. The last handful of stories were for the most part realistic and believable, and I enjoyed them, as well.
A few in the middle, however, rubbed me completely the wrong way. If you're a horse owner, you'll know which ones when you hit them.
Overall, it wasn't a bad read, and there are a couple of stories I may read again some day or recommend to friends. When, if ever, I read another Chicken Soup book, however, I think it will be one or two "bowls" at a time.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
On the bad news front, it was definitely a pink letter day. The economic downturn has hit home here.
but not a complete shock,
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
But this afternoon she wasn't just a bit off. She's dead lame on her right front. Still no heat in it anywhere, no bumps, not an ouchy spot to be found anywhere from shoulder on down. She will stand solid on it, but favors it - a bunch - when she moves. Since she's the one who apparently blew 4 abscesses simultaneously last summer...I'm thinking she has another one brewing. So while she ate her grain I stuck her foot in a bucket of Epson Salts & hot water (she was so thrilled) for about 15 minutes. Figured it couldn't hurt anything, at very least, and with her hoof completely cleaned off I could take a good look. Still nothing obviously wrong other than that something obviously hurts.