Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not-a-Friday Book Review

What with my weird work schedule and all the driving back and forth, I've sort of lost track of Friday book reviews. Too, I really hadn't read anything horse-related enough to qualify. But one of the to-be-reviewed books on my plate for next year's YARP list qualifies. And thankfully, although I had a few initial doubts, I can actually recommend this one. Maybe not for older teens, but for horse-crazy pre-teens? It wouldn't be a bad stocking stuffer.

Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan
Orphaned early, Maya is one of those poor little rich girls who have almost everything they need except love. Only childhood pictures of her father are permitted. All Maya has left of her mother is a box full of plastic horses and one photo rescued from her grandmother's effort to destroy all traces of her mother and father's life together. But when a stroke claims her grandmother, Maya discovers her mother's family not only isn't a batch of illiterate pig farmers, but actually wants her. In Wyoming she has aunts, uncles, and even a cousin - and there are horses!

Rather better than I expected after a slightly sappy opening. The parts featuring Maya are very readable. The parts featuring Artemisia (the mare) are a bit over the top. The behavior described may be horse behavior, but it's too anthropomorphic for my taste - might be right up the alley of a ten-year-old, though. And Maya's ultimately a likeable, understandable young heroine.
On a one to ten scale? I'd probably give it a 6 or so. It wouldn't stand up to the challenge of Firehorse, Serilda's Star, or the Bonnie books by Pat Johnson, but horse-crazy kids devour pretty much anything featuring a high mane & hoof quotient, and this one will fill the something-new bill nicely.

Bad Hair Days

Isn't that a face? All I can say is, don't ever let the sheep trim your hair, no matter how talented they claim to be!

And leave it to Sunny to be the only one to let himself be barbered. On one end, his tail is actually touching the ground. Now from the side he looks sort of like somebody grabbed his tail and pulled until his forelock got shorter. Doofus!

By the way, thanks for sharing your favorite winter warming items. Flannel-lined pants sure do sound grand this a.m. Yesterday was close to 60', but we had high winds to match the temp. Between the flying grit and the hunters next door blasting away, I groomed & hung out with the horses, but didn't ride. This morning it's still, but also chilly, foggy, and bitter. and it's already nearly noon, so I'm not holding out much hope for a warm-up. I guess if it was spring it'd seem balmy, right?

Speaking of hunters and deer - if this one isn't thumbing his nose....

We spotted this guy on our way back from Kansas last weekend. (That trip? Long story - don't ask.)

The orange sign?

It reads:
Wildlife Refuge...

Obviously, Kansas deer get a better education that SD deer, because T's tallied three so far this weekend. The freezer will, indeed, be full of venison. And not to worry, it will all get eaten, too!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Long sleeves & snuggly things

- Non-horse-related except in the most general way -

It's fall, and it's chilly, so layering is in order. In case you're like me, and you like a tank top and a long-sleeved shirt under your turtleneck, sweater, vest and down jacket (okay, so it's not quite that cold yet, but it's getting close!), I have a recommendation.

GAP is having a sale on their favorite-fit long sleeved T-shirts. I'm not usually a GAP-girl, but I have to admit I absolutely love these. They're all cotton, so they're really soft, tagless so they don't itch, and they come in tall - which I really appreciate! They're actually long enough not to ride up my arms or come untucked when I'm riding or working (that's the horse-related bit :) ), but not so long that there's fabric enough for a short dress shoved down my waistband - I HATE that! They're also fitted enough to be comfortably snug but not too tight, so they don't make me feel like I'm being squeezed to death or constantly having to adjust them under a sweatshirt or sweater.

They go on sale periodically, and right now they're $12.50. (If you buy a kid's or baby item, they're an extra 15% off if you enter GAP4YOU in the promo code box when you check out.)

What's your favorite winter/cold weather staple?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rabies shots & de-botting

This weekend's excitement did not, needless to say, end up including riding. Sunday T and J sighted in their rifles for the upcoming hunting-trip-with-horses west river (that's South Dakota west of the Missouri, for you non-South Dakotans.)

And may I take this opportunity to say... Run, Bambi, Run!!
(Just not very loudly around the hunters - LOL)
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not against hunting, and I love venison. But if the two of them get all of the deer they have tags for, I'm seriously going to have to track down a new-to-me freezer, because the one above the fridge and the one in the garage just aren't gonna do it.
So in preparation for the trip and because of a few recent skunk-spottings at the vet's, Rufus got a rabies shot. He was very good about it, as usual. And we stuck around afterwards to help them worm and de-bot fly egg the horses and get bridlepaths clipped in. Rufus doesn't mind clippers, either - also good to know.

After a couple of hours with a very dull bot knife, I have to ask - what's your preferred method for getting the little yellow suckers detached?

Here are a few that work, but there are drawbacks....
  • Bot knives - clog with dirt () and if they're dull, removing anything is really tedious
  • I've seen people use clippers - which works as long as you don't mind rough-looking patches on your horse's winter coats, but it's easy to take a bit too much off and end up with bald patches. I know, I know - but I don't clip enough to get good at it!
  • I've used a pumice stone-like block thing with works okay, but it's also fairly crumbly and not really leg-friendly
  • My best luck has been with a serrated butter or steak knife. If you can find one with a dull/round end, so you aren't in danger of stabbing your horse or yourself.
  • I think I heard somewhere that you can soak them off with warm water - but since it's a bit chilly here for bathing by the time I usually get around to bot egg removal, I haven't tried it. Anyone tried that?
And can I just say, as the owner of three sorrel (yeah, yeah, I know, they're Arabs, so they're chestnut - Sheesh!) horses, you buckskin and palomino horse owners? You sure must have a lot of patience, because those bot eggs are camoflaged waaaay too well for my taste.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Deer and mud ponies

Somewhere around the 22nd of October the weather man reported that we'd had fourteen days of rain so far in the past month. The remainder of October didn't have much more to offer in the way of sunshine.

Hello, Mud Ponies!
On the last day of Octber - Happy Halloween! - Sunny was definitely in need of some serious de-mudding. Thankfully, he's not wind-tangle prone, or I'd be doing that, as well. But November appears to be starting out bright and sunny and surprisingly mild. I'm hoping for a ride this afternoon.

Last Sunday we did get everyone wormed, in spite of the distraction provided by some pheasant hunters walking the fenceline to the south. We could see and hear the blockers - the ones along the fence - quite well even from three pastures over, and the cows and sheep all headed up in our direction as far as their fences allowed.

They weren't the only things flushed out and scampering away.
These two deer, this year's fawns, from the look of them, have been hanging out in the tree grove closest to the barns.
They have a regular path worn down to the horses' salt block, and are comfortable enough with the sound of people to come down and browse about while we were carrying on a normal-voiced conversation.
We see them a fair amount out in the pasture as well.
Sometimes they run - the first one was already well over the fence and gone by the time I got my camera out - and sometimes they look at us all big-eared and wide-eyed and just trot off leisurely.

T, of course, is salivating waiting for hunting season....