Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two days, three states

Rufus update -

Lovely boy - horrible background

As you cans see, he's not at all sore on it, and it can't be too painful, as he relaxes completely while we doctor. But he does have a nice bump.

With salve

Okay, not great pictures. Too much shadow, but you can kind of get the idea. We've been hosing with cold water and then salving. I think the proud flesh is pretty much gone, so tomorrow I'll probably just hose it and then let it be.

I ran T down to the airport in Omaha on Saturday. He's flying out to bring the kids back for the rest of the summer :)

We had a bit of time free once we got down there, so we drove over to the new walking bridge spanning the Missouri between Nebraska and Iowa. The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a 3,000 ft suspension bridge (you can feel it flex and sway when you're standing on it) connecting Omaha and Council Bluffs. You can check out a webcam here. It's easy to find - right down by Eppley field, the Omaha airport.

Major suspension

Nebraska side

Missouri River - Party Boat Central

Standing in two states

Iowa side

That's all that's new from here at the moment. But more riding updates soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Short feet!

All the ponies have new manicures, and all of them were good. This farrier is great - very careful, excellent with the horses. On time.

I'm not sure exactly why J didn't keep using her except that she's always so busy. But if I can keep her coming, I'll be thrilled. She's promised to put us on the calendar for 6 weeks from now, so I'm crossing my fingers.

And, she trims up north too. She gave me the name of someone up there that I can contact if I decide to take Sunny up with me. :) :) :)

We were going to ride tonight, but it's looking really nasty, weather-wise, so I think we'll raincheck until morning. It will also give the boys a chance to get accustomed to their new feet. But we'll go back in a bit and put some more ointment on Rufus. Turns out the scrape on his back leg is forming proud flesh, so we now have some bright blue stuff that goes on the spot once a day. It gets wiped off and reapplied once a day with Vaseline around it to keep the salve off the surrounding skin.

Pictures - they'll be icky, but I'll get some tonight when we go out.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a week

It's Thursday. Amazing.

So today we spent cleaning my new apartment and taking care of all the lease signing details. Such fun. They agreed that I could move things in before the first of the month as long as we were willing to do the cleaning. It wasn't (thank goodness) really icky dirty, just normal, sitting empty, moved out of dirt to be scrubbed off.

On to horse things - we rode for about 2 1/2 hours last night, covering 7 1/2-8 miles. Hot, but worth it. Sunny pointed out a skunk, several pheasants and a couple of deer. We were trotting along quite nicely when he slammed on the brakes and snorted at a large rock. It wasn't until the grass next to the rock started wiggling that I realized he was alerting at a critter and not worried at all about the rock. Hooray! Skunks in the bushes are valid objects of interest. Rocks? Not so much.

We gave Mr. Stripey some room, and he obligingly waddled off along the fenceline without raising his tail in our direction.

Other than that? He'll pick up a right lead straight line, but doesn't like the left. Not a surprise. But I did ask for and get some nice pace changes within the trot, and we lead, followed, and rode middle, left & right without any problem. All in all, a good ride, and we'll go again to tomorrow evening, hopefully.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Good news!

I am (almost) employed again. I start on July 6th. A bit of commuting will be in order, so time for riding may be scarce, but I'm looking on the bright side - when time gets tight, I always schedule better. So look out Sunny & Rufus!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meet Rufus

I promised pictures...

We rode for about two hours again tonight. It was sticky hot, or depending on who you talked to, sultry, muggy, humid, sweaty, damp.... You get the idea.

Post-ride - Sunny's the one eating

We ponied Rufus (the Red) down to the farm and back aagain via the back of the truck. He follows quite happily. T sits on the tailgate, and holds the leadrope, and I drive verrry slowly. It's less than a mile.
As soon as we passed the tree grove Rufus hollered and the whole herd came running to see what was up. As you can see, Sunny was terribly excited. Rufus wasn't much more so.

Since it was 88' in the shade, we mainly walked. The ponies were happy enough to do so. Thankfully the mosquitoes stayed away, as there was almost no breeze.

Anyway, it's late, so bedtime for me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Book Review:

Well, how's this for timely - this week's book review will actually happen on Friday!

In honor of the fact that I've actually gotten out for at least one ride, today's book is about the a western horse's life, the people, country, and critters that he encounters. I read it for the first time as a kid, and acquired an ex-library copy. I was happy to discover that the enjoyment I remembered hadn't waned just because I'd grown up a bit, and it's still just as much a pleasure to read it again today.

Smoky the Cow Horse by Will James
To my way of thinking there's something wrong, or missing, with any person who has't got a soft spot in their heart for an animal of some kind....
Truer words? I've certainly found the sentiment James expresses in the foreword to be accurate enough. And the course of the book as well, even if the events are fictional.

Born on the open way out west, Smoky, as he's dubbed first, lives the good life with all the other little colts, encountering plenty of adventure in the form of porcupines and coyotes and life in general. Of course, eventually every childhood comes to an end, and Smoky's rounded up and saddle broke.

If not all the methods used to break Smoky to saddle are quite as common today, it's still an education. And the progress of Smoky's life from then on goes to show how quickly things can, and do, change. Told most often from the horse's point of view, Smoky nevertheless remains a horse not a human in horsehide.

If the writing is plain and the grammar might have given a few of my English teachers fits, the story at the heart doesn't falter. In fact, written in strictly newscaster English, this wouldn't have been the same story at all.

Although there are bright moments, Smoky doesn't have an easy life of it, and even though there's a happy ending, it could easily enough have ended another way. In a world were horses were transportation, entertainment and livelihood, there was slim chance of a horse spending its last days peacefully grazing, fat and happy. Lucky for Smoky, fate (and the author) intervened on his behalf.
If you happen to run across a copy, the early hardcopy editions have both black and white and color illustrations by the author, and they're as much a treat as the story itself. James wrote a variety of books, some fiction, some not, and I highly reccommend trying one or two on for size if you haven't already.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little rain...

Now that it's finally warmed up that means that all the nice cool rain we've been getting has turned into hot & humid. Complete with nasty pop-up thunderstorms which may or may not drop hail and/or turn into tornadoes. One nice thing about all the rain is that it's been consistent enough so far that we haven't had a big mosquito hatch. The water is staying too stirred up to get properly stagnant, I guess.

T rode the horse - the gelding that the neighbor thinks would be perfect for him - this weekend and had a great time. I didn't go along - company here & long hooves on Sunny. T ended up riding with a friend of ours who's a large animal vet, so while the gelding didn't get an official vet check, he did get a professional eye run over him, and apparently he passed.

It was beautifull all day, but of course it clouded up this evening.

T talked me into going for a ride tonight so I could see how the horse goes. He promised just walking, although we did end up trotting a bit. Sunny was good, the gelding was, too. He's very Arab-typey: cute little ears, dish face, wide nostrils, arched neck, short back, high set tail. He's very quiet on the trail. Handled ditches, deer, and strange horses with equanimity. Sunny snorted at him initially, but on being ignored didn't have any objections to walking along in the next track. We changed leaders, changed sides, crossed a couple ditches, lots of mud, and a wide section of plowed field as we meandered. We rode for almost two hours.

Ominous clouds to the south, but only a few raindrops falling on our heads, and at least it cooled things off.

I rode back with T to the neighbor's place - it's about a mile - and then he rode halfway back with me - we wanted to see how the gelding acted going "home" and then riding alone going back. He was NOT happy about leaving Sunny, and had a bit of a hissy fit wanting to come along with us, rather than going back home. T handled it.

T's really happy with him, and I didn't see anything major to find fault with. He's easy to handle, didn't fuss at leaving the neighbor's place or at arriving at a farm full of other horses. Tacked up easily. Stood quietly for T to get on and off a number of times in the course of our ride. We'll see, but I think we might just have found a horse.

Scary skies & wormer packs

Taking a break from laundry...

This was the sky last night as we reached Mitchell at about 6 p.m. You could see the sky lightening to the west, but the north and south were still black, black, black.
We drove out to check on the horses in case the hail had come through, although from the radio it sounded as if the hail hit a few miles further south.
The neighbor's horses - supremely unconcerned. Ours were fine, too - just too far back for a good pic.
As we drove back toward town... It was actually a full double bow by the time we got there.

So, on to something more horse-related.

Valley Vet has these great rotational wormer packs. They're a year's worth of wormer - 1 dose every two months, so six tubes. (The picture shows one with one Exodus missing, because I used it already.)

Very handy for a couple of reasons - it's more convenient to have them on right here, so I don't have to remember to pick them up when the horses are due. And the price is great, as well. One pack is $33.80. Two or more are only 31.90 - okay, so it's a savings of a measly $.90, but buying two qualifies you for free shipping, as well.

They have a premium pack (that's the one pictured) and a standard pack. The standard is the same rotation, just in generic versions. Pricing on the standard is $26.34 for one and $24.74 for two. You'd need to add $11.50 to your order of two of the standard packs to get free shipping, the cut-off being $60. But still....

Price out a year's worth of wormer - I couldn't do it locally for less than $38 a horse if I want to rotate as most vets recommend. And that's IF I'm lucky enough to find one or more wormers on sale.

Also good? Valley Vet's shipping is very fast, and their customer service is excellent.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Empty house

My sister is home safely, and the tornadoes missed Mitchell (and us) on our way back from Omaha. I have a camera full of pictures, and four days worth of visiting to remember.

The house is empty again. I have laundry to catch up on and the lawn looks like pasture after all the rain. And the sun is out. Must go do something productive!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Worming, but no farrier

The farrier was due at 9 a.m. yesterday morning, which was great, because not only were we supposed to be the first appointment of the day (better chance of an on time arrival), but it would still be cool.

We were there early. I wanted to get them all wormed.

It's been raining here for about the last week, and yesterday morning was crazily foggy - not a common sight here. We we drove up the horses, all but one lone sentinel standing guard duty, were lying down in a rough circle napping. Very cool. Unfortunately, I was driving and on the wrong side of the truck, so didn't manage a picture. Disappointing.

Worming went well.

But the farrier didn't show up. Again. And he wasn't answering his phone. After an hour and a half, we finally decided he was going to be a no-show. I told J to call me if he did happen to appear, but she said if he did she was telling him to go away, she'd wasted enough of her day (!)

I get it in principle - I'm not big on wasting my time, either. But the horses still need their feet trimmed. This is either the third or fourth time he's failed to appear. And it's getting a bit old.

I wouldn't mind so much if he'd call and at least say, "Hey, I'm not going to be able to make it." But so far that hasn't been the case. Running late is understandable, although a phone call to let us know how much longer he'll be would be greatly appreciated - and I know he carries a cell phone, because it fell out of his pocket last fall when he was here, and one of the horses stepped on it. We had a conversation about cell phone insurance.

So... I think I'll be trying someone different.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not-quite-Friday Book Review: something from up north

Once again, I've missed Friday. But since I slacked last week, I suppose I'd better not this week.

We get Canada's weather down here in SD quite a bit, so what's more appropriate than a book from up there?

The Phantom Roan by Stephen Holt
Great old-fashioned Western-style coming of age novel. A young cowboy sets off to fulfill his dream of becoming a vet. Hitchhiking across Canada, he rescues a mangy, injured, outlaw roan with a nasty attitude. Against the advice of his new employer, he nurses the horse back to health, and befriends him. A side story covers the issue of mange management and the government-required cattle dousing that many ranchers attempted to avoid.

The main action kicks in when the outlaw roan's former owner, a rodeo livestock promoter, reclaims the horse with plans to return him to his former career as a vicious outlaw bucking horse. Very exciting stuff.
Growing up, for some reason I always thought this story was set out west somewhere like South Dakota or Montana. Which I suppose isn't so odd - there are a lot of similarities between Canada's "west" and ours. In any case, this was one of my favorite books - and after reading it I spent lots of trips scanning the ditches and creek bottoms we'd drive past for mysterious horse shapes that I could rescue.

The closest I ever came to a "road rescue" - other than returning a the down the road neighbor's escapees occasionally - was on one trip up to visit my folks. Driving along in the pitch black night, somewhere in WI I rounded a corner to see the taillights in front of me light up and something that was not a deer scampering across the road.

It was a burro. I pulled over, chased him back through the farm gate and, since it was two in the morning, closed the gate and stuck a note to it explaining why.

Of course, when I came back by a week later I discovered that the fence attached to the gate I'd shut was decorative, and only ran for about a 1/4 mile. It was open on both ends. But the burro was okay.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Still here...

Okay, I haven't fallen off the planet, really I haven't. It's been a hectic week getting H packed and off to CT for a couple of weeks with her mom, cleaning house in the aftermath and preparing for my sister to arrive for her visit.

Not much new horse-wise to report. After playing phone tag with the farrier, the ponies have a manicure scheduled for Saturday a.m. at 9 o'clock. Which is good, because Sunny's feet are long enough I've been worrying about him overreaching. And a couple of them are clicking pretty badly.

Nose flies have arrived - BECG, you just had to send them this way, didn't you :)

And it's been raining for the last 5 days. Not a bad thing for the hay situation, but not good for riding.

Other than that... quiet is nice.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Knights and Arabians

I played hooky yesterday and went to Sioux Falls to the open show the Arabian horse society sponsors. During the breaks, the Renaissance Festival sharing the grounds took over the breaks for jousting demonstrations. Very cool!

One of the only non-blurry pictures I took.

Although these two both turned out really cool...

...through no fault of my own.


And to complete the magic kingdom theme of today's post, this went over the house the other night.
It's Puff the Magic Dragon - or at least his head - although he'd spun around by the time I got the camera, and you can't see his face any more.

No show pics - it was too dark in there for good ones, but there were a lot of horses there of all types, not just Arabians. Itty-bitty Shetlands, paints, quarter horses, appaloosas (very pretty ones), a couple of TBs.... Lots of kids having a ball.