Farm life

I Need a Weekend After Last Weekend

Phew! What a weekend we had! Life on the farm has been slowly getting into a routine which generally involves one weekend inside (cleaning, grocery shopping, fixing things), the next outside (mowing, barn chores, fence fixing), the third doing something fun with Wyatt (beach trip, hiking, swimming) and the last I’m too tired to move and remain lazily in the hammock.

This past weekend was farm weekend and it was a doozy.

It started with an early morning ride on Cruze Saturday. I’ll get more into him in another post but he was an absolute angel from tacking to riding to untacking. He was the horse I tested and fell in love with. Tough love for the win.

Still love this big orange beastie

After that it was time to tackle the tack room move. The office is nice because it has a ceiling and door plus is right next to the cross ties at the entrance to the barn. I started clearing out all the garbage tack left behind by the old owners.

Old, dirty halters, tack and a random saddle all went to the local dump
Dust and dirt covered everything. I bet it hadn’t been touched in 10 years

Then it was scrubbing the floor, ceiling and walls with the broom. If the main electric box wasn’t exposed I would have brought the hose in but electrocuting myself wasn’t on the to do list.

So much nicer!
Clean and organized

With that done I mixed up bleach water and wiped everything down that I could. It was so much nicer than when I started. My next step was to clean all my tack in the current room, but I needed to stop when the hay guy texted me to say he was coming in.

So…I may have no idea how much hay we need. I ordered 150 bales and it didn’t sound like much but when I saw the truck pull in I gasped.

Gorgeous, green, fragrant hay. The gang were up in the pasture by the road and saw the truck pull down the drive. Gem, my typically stoic mare, started neighing loudly and pacing by the gate. Nevermind she was standing in lush green grass. 

Dusty made fun of me the entire time we moved and stacked it. One for ordering so much hay for three horses on enough pasture with winter grass that we likely won’t feed hay at all and two for cheaping out on $0.50 a bale ($75 total) and not paying them to bring someone to stack it for us. Moving 15,000 pounds of hay in 90% humidity is no joke. Note to self: in three years when I need hay again, pay to have them stack it.

Wyatt helped by rolling bales down the aisle which was no small feat for a 57 lb kid to do with 100 lb bales.

By the time we finished that chore I was done for the day. Wiped out. Kaput. We had to run some errands and I was planning a landscaping project at my office, but there was no way that was going to happen. Instead we ate tacos at the new taco place in town which is my new obsession. Bang bang shrimp tacos forever. It helped that our waiter took our order and then went home leaving us behind. After waiting 30 minutes we asked a random waitress to find our waiter and when they realized he left, the manager came over and comped our entire meal plus gave Wyatt desert. Free tacos are even better.

Sunday was mowing day. Thankfully the pastures don’t need it as the big one is resting, but it still takes three solid hours to do the “yard”. Dusty hopped on the tractor and bush hogged the next section to be added as pasture. Next step for him is fencing. He is a bit mad at me at the moment as I’ve changed the pasture plans to make three instead of two but the horses aren’t using the pasture space by the pond and I keep having to mow it and then watch it get unused. The new plan is to cut off the back pond pasture from the large one, then take out the lane between it and the second pond pasture making that one large back pasture. It will give us three pastures to rotate.

The gang watches everything we do

After spending the morning mowing I declared the afternoon fun time and spent it at my parents’ house playing cards and joking around. I was exhausted, dehydrated and sore but it was good to knock so much hard work off the list. We have visitors coming in a couple of weeks, so our normal life rotation will be thrown off as we clean the house getting ready, but having them here will force us to stop working and relax a bit which is never a bad thing.

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Happy Retirement Gem

As I led Gem out after dinner the other night it dawned on me that a lot of readers do not know her very well. Most of you joined my story towards the end of our time together and that isn’t very fair to my bestest mare.  She is now fully retired, living large and happy outside eating grass and not being asked to jump over anything or perform another 20 m circle in her life.

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A  few of my favorite pictures over the years. Or at least the ones I have access to on this computer anyway.

It was my last year of medical school and I had time on my hands. Having spent my youth with horses and now finding myself as an adult with spare time and change, I was finally getting that itch back in my soul. An internet search (this was pre Facebook so it was websites or bust) led me to an 11 year old 15h bay Arab mare – $800. No picture, no other write up. I have no idea why I went to look at her, but when I saw the scraggly, pot bellied, hair less mare standing in a paddock of knee deep mud I knew she had to come home with me. I didn’t even ride her. I handed my check over to the 16 year old boy who was selling her so he could buy a truck and went home to find a barn and arrange transportation.

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Our humble beginning in 2009
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Vetting in for the Ride and Tie East Coast Championships Fall 2016

Gem proved both difficult and above my pay grade from the start. She would stand perfectly still while I begged, pleaded, kicked, used a crop and uttered many a swear word to try to get her to walk on. Eventually, out of the blue, she would bolt madly forward and careen around the indoor arena at mach speed. That is if I could even catch or bridle her in the first place. She had a nasty habit of walking annoyingly away from me just out of reach in the pasture and then bolting backwards as soon as I tried to get a bridle on her in the barn aisle. For months I had to bridle her crammed and cornered in her stall.

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Eventually I figured out I was out of my league and moved her to a “training” facility at $1000 a month to include 5 professional rides and 1 lesson a week. I’m not sure that the trainer ever got beyond lunging her and certainly never sat on her though I know a few unlucky kids took lessons on her. By the time I moved to WI, three months and a lot of money later, I was told Gem would never be able to canter outside of a circle, would never go down a trail and don’t even think about jumping. Ok…so maybe the last proved true though she has proven she can jump when she decides to.

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PC: Becky Pearman, used with purchase

I was determined that my little bay mare could be a normal horse and the next year was spent renting a house at a boarding facility which gave me plenty of access to the mare. I was patient and worked slowly from the ground up to build her trust in me. By the end of that next winter she was cantering like a champ and come spring of 2011 we were hitting the trails with her BFF Pete. Unfortunately, we were evicted from that rental when the landlord was foreclosed on for gambling our rent money away instead of paying the mortgage and I moved Gem to a new boarding facility. This place proved magical for us as it had an indoor, outdoor dressage ring, outdoor jump arena, trails and a cross country course giving us a lot of opportunities for exposure.

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Roughly halfway through the 100 miler. PC: Becky Pearman, used with purchase

Gem and I got exposure to a lot of different things and I even jumped her for the first time. That year was the first time I hooked the trailer up and drove it by myself. Gem gave me wings in a lot of different ways.

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She looks so pretty in braids

While in WI, Gem and I completed our first 25 mile limited distance ride placing 8th followed by our second placing second to last. That first 25 mile ride was the first time I rode without Dusty and thankfully I was taken in by a group of women. With two miles left I let them go ahead figuring Gem would be tired and rode the last miles completely alone for the first time ever. Before heading south, Gem tackled her first ride and tie with Dusty and me, placing first.

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When we made it to SC, I was determined to focus on endurance and so I hit the trails all alone. My plan was to go out 30 minutes and turn around. I didn’t care how far we made it or how fast we went. After an hour of ride time, we arrived back at the trailer having covered 0.75 miles. It wasn’t looking good for an endurance career. A month later she stranded me at the trail head for two hours refusing to get on the trailer.

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Fast forward and Gem did improve on the trail alone. We have logged thousands of miles together on the trail, covering triple that travelling in the trailer solo, over mountain, sand and flat terrain in TN, SC, NC and GA. We completed our first 50 mile ride, followed by a second and had plans to move up in 2015 until she cut half her foot off needing emergency surgery and 30 days in a fiberglass cast. Honestly, I thought our riding time together was ended that summer.

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Gem proved me wrong yet again and bounced back that fall without missing a beat. She went on to complete a difficult 100 mile ride at Biltmore in the spring of 2016 and the long course Ride and Tie East Coast Championship in the fall of 2016. After that ride, I decided to hang up our long distance gear. Gem was in top form, both physically and mentally (she dumped me twice during the R&T championships in pure Gem evilness), but she was nearing 20 and had proven herself enough. I felt like we had nothing left to conquer, having crossed all my goals off the list, and Wyatt was growing more demanding of my time.

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The winter of 2017, I purchased new gear and introduced my endurance machine to eventing. She immediately gave me the middle finger and told me where I could stick this new plan. Even with her outright displeasure with this change, she took me to our first CT June 2017 where we placed 4th of 9 and got over the 18″ stadium course without a rail or time fault. She also hauled my butt around a schooling jumper show at 2′ with out killing me or knocking a rail. All told, Gemmie and I went xc schooling five times as well.

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Gem and I struggled with the new discipline until this past spring when I finally started listening to what she was trying to tell me. She was unhappy. Sure she has always been a pistol full of opinions, but this was different and it was time to let her rest.

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At 20, she is happy, healthy and sassy. She has remained sound for the entire time I have had her, even through her injury and surgery she never took a single bad step. She had one minor colic scare a few years ago, but that is it. She was barefoot for every training and competition mile except the 100. Physically Gem is a beast that I will likely never get the honor of managing again.

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PC: Bette Mann

Mentally, Gem is still sharp and quick and ready to put me in my place. Over all the years and miles we had reached a solid understanding: I chose the trail and the speed, she chose her footing and how to maintain that in whatever gait was best for the terrain. I didn’t micromanage her and she didn’t try to run off or poke along. It worked great until we changed to working in the arena where I began learning to micromanage her body moving shoulders this way and haunches that. In her mind, I broke our contract. It is a bit of a shame that she is retired so sound and healthy. In another life, she could easily still be working for another 10 years at this rate, but my favorite black tipped ears are starting to get grey around the edges and she more than deserves to spend the next decade being boss mare in the field and looking down on anyone who dares enter her personal space.

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The last nine years have been very special in so many ways. Graduating, residency, becoming a mother, starting my own practice, buying our farm. Through it all, by bestest mare has been there to keep me humble, remind me that there are more important things in life than work, give me wings to chase down dreams and be a rock when I melt down. Nothing went according to plan with her and yet every goal was reached, every dream came true. I owe a lot to that little bay mare and I hope to see her pushing boundaries in my pasture for many, many years to come.

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Popping the Cherry

I did it. I fell off Cruze last night. And it pissed me the hell off. I haven’t departed from my horse since fall of 2016. I never expected to come off Cruze or at least not while walking.

I suppose I could hide this story and carry on like all is rainbows and sunshine, but that wouldn’t be very real and what is the point of having a blog if I’m just going to lie?

So what happened? I’ve been bringing him back into working three days a week and his last ride was Saturday which went pretty well. I rode him out in the big pasture at the walk mostly but did a few trot sets up the big hill in the back. He asked to canter a couple of times and I got nervous and tense. Don’t worry, I admonished myself telling myself that Cruze is not Gem and I need to “give him permission to do what I am asking” as Trainer puts it.

Last night I was determined to loosen up, trust and let go. If I asked to trot and he cantered instead, my plan was to relax, realize he isn’t going anywhere and ask him to come back to the trot, praise him and carry on.

Ha! Hahahahahahha.

Staring out into the grassy abyss

He started off cranky. He wasn’t in pain as I had watched him canter up to the gate no issues for dinner. He just had no interest in working and instead wanted to yell for his friends back in the barn. That is getting old fast. I mounted in the arena and we headed out to the pasture just like on Saturday.

And just like on Saturday he started off sticky, yelling and getting pissy. Unlike on Saturday he also started coiling his body and snaking his head from side to side while squealing not for his friends but at me in warning. My heart rate shot through the roof but I was determined to stay relaxed and move him forward.

I managed one lap around the perimeter without him doing anything terrifying and decided to work in the one corner that was flatter than the rest mostly to break up the monotony of doing the larger laps. I got started on a serpentine concentrating hard on using my outside aids to turn and keeping my lines straight. We were walking. He knew what I wanted. I was riding just about as perfectly as I can manage at the moment. And he had zero interest in that plan. He began to slow and while I should have kicked him forward back in front of my leg, instead he slowed even more, reared up, landed, bucked and gave me enough time to think quite clearly “this is going to suck” as I launched over his head and landed in a heap in the grass. He stood still and looked at me.

 

I got up and had a full on tear filled melt down as he stood still and watched me. All I wanted was to purchase a horse that did the basics and was able to be ridden both in and out of the arena without doing stupid stuff like this.

I was pissed at him and I was pissed at myself. Here I purchased this horse who honestly is just about the opposite of everything the seller told me (he doesn’t crib, he could care less about other horses, he just goes along quietly with whatever you ask) and now I’m on the ground when all I wanted was to fucking walk in a pasture he knows well and maybe I should just sell him once his feet are good enough to slap shoes on and….

A deep breath later I moved him over to the downhill side, tightened my girth a notch and put my foot in the stirrup. I hadn’t yelled at him, smacked him or made note of the behavior in any negative way.

Then, as I went to mount, he swung that obnoxious head of his around and tried to bite me. I lost it and smacked that big spotted muzzle hard. No biting. Ever. Personality is one thing. Being an asshole is another all together and it has been near on two months of me politely correcting his biting habit with no progress. He looked like he got the idea after that (I was wrong about that by the way).

I got on and was pissed. I forced myself to remain relaxed and allow him to do what I asked but when I asked I meant it and he had to do it now. Not when he decided to. NOW.

You see, while I have many flaws when it comes to riding, being passive is the worst. It is odd because I am a very assertive person until it comes to horses and then I’m a meek mealworm that lightly suggests things and worries I’ll break the horse and they will hate me forever if I get firm. Ridiculous really and it drives Trainer batty.

Not so sassy at the end

When I got back on I meant business and he knew it right away. When I asked for walk, if he trotted he got sat on his butt and made to walk. When I asked to trot, the same thing happened. We managed to finish the serpentine but he was still being sticky and trying to coil up so I marched his butt to the arena where we proceeded to work at the trot in all directions and shapes for a straight 30 minutes until he stopped rooting, breaking to the walk or canter and ignoring my leg.

After that we went back to the pasture for a lap around at the walk wherein I did not allow him to break to the trot under any circumstances. Once that was accomplished we were done. The ride ended up being twice as long and a lot more work than I planned, but he needed the attitude adjustment.

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Hard to see but he had sweat running down his legs. Not my intention, but homeboy doesn’t get to decide he doesn’t want to play the “take an easy stroll in the grass” game. 

He was sweaty and quiet and stood like and angel to be stripped of his tack. Until I went to take his boot off and he whipped his mouth around to bite my butt. He was pretty shocked when this didn’t reward him with a light tap and a “no bite” from me as it did the other 100 times he has done that and instead his face smacked into the heel of my boot as I brought my foot up when he whipped his head around. Guess who didn’t try that again?

Horses are horses and not every ride is going to be great. I’m a bit miffed that it was this bad and that the horse who was sold as completely beginner safe, no bad habits, easy going etc… has a nasty rear and buck when he decides he doesn’t agree with the work plan. That will get him sold on fast if it isn’t nipped in the bud quickly as I won’t tolerate that. Some bad habits I will but not that.

But… I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and a very long lead rope to hang himself with. I’ve had him for 7 weeks of which 4 he has sat due to being crippled. Of the other 3 I have taken one lesson on the flat and gone xc schooling once. The other times are me riding alone. Only last week did he return to a three day a week work load and this was the second time working in the pasture. I was trying very hard to focus on straight lines and properly asking for bend and I was doing my best to be free with my seat and reins to not restrict him from doing what I asked but I was still being gentle, passive and mealy.

Once I got back on and became firm, direct and took no prisoners in doing what I was telling him to do while still being free with my seat and praising him when he did it right, he went on to do the thing with a lot less attitude. Not perfect but the sass was tucked back away and while I was still pissed in general the ride returned to baseline enjoyable.

We will see. I still like him and I want it to work out. One bad ride doesn’t ruin an entire relationship but it does raise some flags and is something to watch. Unfortunately I can’t ride again until Friday (Wyatt has a swim lesson tonight, I have a lesson on Wonder Pony Wednesday and a work dinner meeting Thursday) so we will see what happens then. A major criteria for me was a horse who could handle chunks of time off without becoming unrideable but…yeah…we will see how it goes.

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Returning to Goals

Boards, horse shopping and then Sir Gimpy all combined to put goal writing on the back burner for the last quarter.

Need to make more time for fun with my loves

Unfortunately life has also lost balance for me and when that happens I tend to go into survival mode, put my head down, and just get through it except…well this time there isn’t really an “it” to get through. Its just life stuff that has no end in sight. Work, being a mom, working around the farm…its called living and being an adult yet somehow the last few months have been unnecessarily stressful and really no fun whatsoever.

Having goals for not only my riding, but my life in general has really helped in the past to bring my life back into a better balance. I don’t hate my life. The busy, sometimes hectic life of running a business, being a surgeon, raising the kiddo and living on my dream farm while still trying to sneak in riding is doable as long as I don’t let any one of those things over shadow the others for too long of a time. Letting goals slip by, or just plain not having any, allows the lines to get fuzzy and I end up feeling overwhelmed and not satisfied. So…long story short…it is high time to get some goals written down for the third quarter.

Horses
~ Gem and Pete: Keep them healthy, happy and feeling good. Both are now officially retired (I need to do a retirement post for Gem) and their only job in life is to eat the grass so I don’t have to mow as much.

Still looking amazing at 20 years old

~Cruze: Ugh, my big orange man needs some work.
Stay the course with his hooves. I find myself a little itchy to throw some glue on shoes on and get to really ride, but I know in the long run that isn’t what is best for him.
– Ride 3 days a week. Consistency is the key to all things, so I need to work hard at getting him out. I rode in the big pasture this past weekend and it went pretty ok. I’d like to continue working him on the soft, plush grass for most of the rides but still use the arena for more concentrated work. Maybe a 2 out:1 arena ratio.
– Buy him a new bit and girth. Gem always hated the girth I used with her jump saddle and it appears that Cruze does too. He takes a 48″ and I personally hate fleece so I need to do a little experimenting. As for bits, he needs a 5 1/4″ bit as the 5″ he is going in seems a tad small. I have zero clue what to put him in, but thankfully Trainer has a ton of options I can try out.
– Buy him some stall toys. His wood chewing is driving me crazy. He used to play with his water bucket, but I got tired of the sloshing mess, so he lost water bucket privileges. You;d think being outside all but 30 minutes a day would stave off any excess energy or boredom, but nope. I think hanging some stall toys up might save my wood door and his teeth.
-Work on his herd bound issues. This one caught me a bit off guard. Gem is so above everyone else that she could care less where any other horse is at any time. Cruze though screams and screams for his friends who never answer his call. He is a ton better in the arena generally only letting out a very quiet squeal at the beginning. When I took him out in the pasture he was a hot mess for the first 10 minutes. This was the case when we went xc schooling as well and I think it will just take time and a lot of miles getting out there to rid him of it.
– Go to a hunter pace.  The pace season begins at the end of August and it is my most favorite thing ever. Since we aren’t jumping at the moment, I’d like to set my sights on the paces for the fall and winter instead. As long as he is reasonably sound and comfortable by then, that is.

He enjoyed being out once he realized he wasn’t going to die. One thing Gemmie taught me was that relationships take a long time to build up and I am being patient as Cruze learns he can look to me for support when he gets nervous. 

Farm
There is so much to do, but my head has slowly come around to the fact that farm work is never finished and I need to give myself a little break here. We have lived here for 6 months now and I absolutely adore it. It was pretty run down when we got it, so there is a lot of stuff to do.

~ Finish the wash rack. This is nearly completed and would have been had Dusty not broken his hand in early May which killed off all of May and June for heavy farm work. The siding needs put back on, fittings for the hose added and then cross ties and it should be fully functional.
~Move the tack room.  Right now I am using the original tack room which is large, centrally located and without a door or ceiling which means everything is coated in a rather thick layer of dirt. Ugh. I hates it. The office is towards the front of the barn where my cross ties are currently located and has not only a lovely door, but also a ceiling. It is filthy and full of old junk the last owners left behind but lacks holes in the floor so that is a win. I want to move my current tack room to the office which should take a solid weekend of cleaning and moving things but will be better in the end.
~Get an estimate for tree removal. That big magnolia tree has to go along with four beautiful crepe myrtle trees that are right on top of the darn house. Not sure we have the money to actually get rid of them this quarter, but I’d like to at least get someone out so I know what I am budgeting for.

This does not suck

Family
This is a big time for the family. Wyatt starts KINDERGARTEN. How on earth did that happen?! How do I have an almost 6 year old???

~ Make one last day trip. Summer has flown by as it always does which isn’t helped by the fact that school starts in August down here. We made it to the beach in June and I had hoped to do a day trip once a month, but with family visiting the end of this month it doesn’t seem likely to happen in July. That leaves one weekend open in August and it will either be back to the beach or up to TN to Dollywood.
~Navigate my way through starting school. I have zero idea what all sending him to school entails. I registered him and signed him up for the after school program (yay to saving over $100 a week in day care costs!!) but beyond that I a clueless.
~Continue to cook.  I was doing so well at cooking an actual real dinner most nights before summer started and I got hot. I don’t like cooking in the summer and my appetite takes a nose dive anyway. It is expensive to eat out and eating chicken nuggets for dinner isn’t very healthy, so I need to get back on track with the cooking thing.

This kid owns my heart

Me
Last on the list, but I have learned that if I don’t pay any attention to myself nobody else will and then everything suffers for it.

~Ride 3 days a week. Sanity is key to not losing my crap on everyone.
~Lesson 2 times a month.  Lessons are my life blood. I’d lesson three times a week if I could afford it, but I can’t. Twice a month is a good balance for time and money and I still feel like I learn and improve each time.
~ No sugar.  I gave up sugar (not in an insane “I now make m own sugar free kethcup sort of way”) back in February and that lasted through my vacation in early May when I threw it out the window and then never returned to it. During those months I felt great. No highs and lows in my energy levels, no cravings and as a side I lost 5 pounds. I need to return to this.
~ Give myself a break  I’m type A. Not hard to believe having gone through medical school, surgical residency and starting my own practice. Its a good thing and has helped me through life, but it is also overwhelming and I find myself being very harsh on myself when everything doesn’t get done all the time. I’m doing the best I can and I need to learn how to let things go as “good enough” for the moment.

More smiles, less stress

Lots of good things to work on this quarter and hopefully by writing them down I can find some focus, better balance and go back to enjoying this one time ride we call life.

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Back In The Saddle…Sort Of

With Cruze being sound out in his pasture galloping wildly around I figured it was time to get his butt back in work. Pasture sound doesn’t always equate to riding sound though, so Monday night I tacked up without any big goals for the ride other than assessing his soundness.

Still enjoying the view between the orange ears

Big boy had learned some lessons in his down time and stood like a complete gentleman in the cross ties to be tacked up. He didn’t even move an inch when I took the halter off to bridle. This is a big win as before he would take the opportunity to walk away flinging his head in his best attempt to get out of being bridled.

I used the Cavallo boots up front for some support and we headed to the arena. I have no media from the ride as Dusty was inside cooking dinner but Cruze was sound walking and trotting left. Trotting to the right felt pretty off, so I kept the ride to about 30 minutes total and got off. By that point we were both dripping with sweat from the 9,000% humidity so it was a good time to quit anyway.

Yesterday morning I hopped back on before things heated up too bad and forced Dusty to get some media for me. Please excuse the absolute shit riding on my part. I swear I don’t always ride this poorly but anyway….

Also please ignore the grass I’m still fighting in my arena. Its now down to only the far left 1/3rd by the rail that just will not die. While I love all the rain we have been getting it is making getting in there to tear it up difficult. Someday it will all be dirt. 

Cruze was an angel in the crossties again, let me boot him without fuss and off we went to get some eyes on the ground. I’m habitually thinking my horse is lame anyway so having Dusty watch was helpful.

Always with the side eye to the camera

He was again completely sound and as happy as he gets working at the walk and trotting left.

 

When we switched to the right he was off and not just by feel. Dust agreed he was off with the front left being the culprit.

 

I’m not surprised or that worried at this point. His front right has made some major changes in the last three weeks. The sole has shed a bit with a little concavity forming, the frog shed completely and he has baby bars just beginning to form at the heel. It’s a nice looking hoof if it would stop cracking at the old nail holes.

The front left is slower to respond but it was also the worst hoof to begin with. The frog is just now beginning to shed, the grooves are still pretty shallow and his sole remains thick and flat. He toes out pretty significantly on the front left so I’m not sure how quickly that hoof will make the changes. I looked closely at his yearling pics attached to his registration papers and his front left hoof was normally shaped back then. Hopefully that means it can be once again.

I’m in no rush and I figure he won’t be perfect until the spring but there are daily signs of improvement. He used to never want to give the front right hoof as it meant weighting the front left but now he easily and happily does so. Tiny improvements on the way to happy hooves.

This is new territory for me and I’m not really sure how much to ride him. Having some sore hooves won’t kill him but I don’t want him using his leg in such a way as to put the suspenory or other ligaments at risk. Movement is good for hoof growth though. I think I’ll likely keep it to short, 20-30 minutes, and mostly walk with some trot until he is sound trotting and then add in some ground poles and canter work. I’m also going to start walking out in the big pasture that is now resting to get him some hill work on soft ground with the hope that by the time fall rolls in and the weather cools we are back to jumping.

2018 Volunteer Challenge

Quarter 2 Winner!

Wow!! The second quarter showed a big jump in not only total hours volunteered, but in the number of individual participants which isn’t too surprising since a lot of the country isn’t thawed out yet by the end of the first quarter. I’m very happy to see the numbers go up though!!!

Just some quick business stuff to attend to. While anything to do with horse showing is greatly appreciated by all who are involved, for this competition I am only counting those hours spent during a show helping to run that show. This means things like scoring, running, driving the golf cart, jump crew, scribe etc… For the scope of this competition duties performed outside of the show itself, such as prize lists and board meetings, are not counted. It doesn’t mean those are not appreciated, but that isn’t the focus of this competition. Keep giving back though!!!

Also please when you give me your hours list the job you performed and the venue. I’m trying to collect data and it is really hard when all I get is “2 hours!”. Thanks!!

Tiniest baby catfish 

Quarter 2 saw a total of 123.5 hours donated by 11 people!!! Congrats to all of you for ditching the saddle time and getting out there helping!!!

Here is the breakdown of those who participated this quarter:

Emma: 34 hours
Bette: 23 hours
Sarah O: 18 hours
Amy: 16 hours
Emily: 9 hours
Nadia: 6.5 hours
KC, Olivia and David: 4 hours each
Carly: 3 hours
Amanda: 2 hours

That means that EMMA is the second quarter winner with 34 total hours spent on the ground at shows. Congrats Emma!!!

So I must admit selecting prizes for you was a bit tricky. You already won a candle and the Road ID, so I needed to find something that you didn’t already have but was worthwhile and around $50. It took a while, which is why this post is delayed, but I finally came up with something that I hope you will like.

But you’ll have to wait until it shows up at your door!! I have a bit of work to do in ordering it yet so be patient with me. I hope the wait will be worth it.

A certain someone got all tacked up last night for the first time in weeks. I sure did miss riding the big orange guy.

For everyone else, don’t stop now. We are only halfway through the year and a lot of places are slowing down for the summer. July will be another random drawing, so anyone who volunteers for at least 1 hour this month will be entered to win a $20 gift. The hours keep totaling up for the year end awards, so even if you haven’t been able to get out yet you still have plenty of time to rack up hours and win. In case you have forgotten the grand prize is an embroidered cooler with a reserve champion getting a leather halter. So…get your butt in gear and get out there!!!!

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Would Your Horse Survive A Zombie Apocalypse?

So…during my horse search the Hubs made the comment that a lot of the horses we looked at or found online would not survive a zombie apocalypse. Now to be fair the maintenance they required was to keep them in top performance shape and the injections, special shoes etc…would cease once they retired. But not all horses fell into that category. Thin coats making winter hard, horses with feet so awful they wouldn’t be able to roam for food, allergies, heaves etc etc.

It got me thinking. How would mine stand up?

Gemmie

Within a month she’d be the Queen. Ha! Seriously though, she’d do just fine. She might even prefer a world with no humans. Getting into the details though. Every farrier who has ever seen her is amazed at her perfect feet. She self trims better than any farrier work I’ve come across and can easily handle the most severe terrain without an issue. She has never had an abscess and has never taken an off step.

So very itchy

Her coat is also pretty darn perfect. Thick and yak like in the winter and slick in the summer. Even in this near 100F summer she barely sweats but not in a scary way. She was bred for the desert.

She is aloof and independent enough to not require humans on the regular and smart enough to stay far away from any hunting zombie pack. Plus, she stays fat on air so calories wouldn’t be an issue. If the world fell apart tomorrow, I could rest easy knowing my best mare would be just fine.

 Getting her latest trim

Pete

The old man would do ok with some tweaking. His feet are not near as good as Gem’s but I believe they’d stand up to the roaming life just fine. He may get some bruising or cracks from time to time but he is extremely stoic and would walk through it.

Like Gem, he gets and stays fat on air so the no grain, hunt for grass and edible leaves lifestyle would be just fine for him. The roaming miles would do his old joints some good too. Thankfully he is sound as can be and doesn’t require any supplements.

I caught Pete and Cruze playing the other day after dinner. I didn’t grab my phone until after the running around and rearing hi jinks were done and they were down to lazy bitey face. Pete instigates it more than Cruze, but Cruze is always up for play time. 

 

As for those vicious zombies, Pete is scared of me in a raincoat after almost 9 years with us so I’d bet he’d stay far far away.

His issue would be the heat. His nose cracks and bleeds in the sun if he doesn’t have desitin slathered but that’s limited to the summer and while uncomfortable isn’t life threatening. His biggest issue would be water. He melts in the summer and drinks 1/3rd of the massive water tub each day. He’d either need to wander up north or park by a large lake or river. Water sources attract predators though and while he is big and bold he is also old.

His summer spot is parked right by the water tank

I’d say as long as he had a constant water source and shade or would wander up north into the mountains more that he would probably survive just fine for a good long while.

Cruze

First, I finally found a spelling I like. Not important here but thought I’d mention it.

Cruze is an interesting one and I’d give him maybe a month. Why? He is such a big baby. He is addicted to human attention so I’d worry he’d see the zombies and run over looking for a good scratch only to get eaten.

Sorry big guy, but it’s true.

Who me? Never!

Outside of that, I’m not so sure he has the self preservation instincts to survive the human free world. His feet should grow out well enough to support him. Heck this weekend we switched them to the fields across the driveway because I got tired of mowing all that grass without them ever touching it. He galloped like mad and jumped the big ditch in the woods without issue. His feet are fine. Not perfect, but fine enough and will only continue to improve from here.

I haven’t had him in the winter but he seems to be ok right now. No massive bug reactions though he came in with hives all down his left hip a few weeks ago. They were gone by morning so he must have rolled in either a thistle or maybe even on a fire ant hill. I would not put that past him.

He is holding his own on a high quality ration balancer and the grass buffet though he isn’t getting fat like the other two. I’d worry he’d need more roughage to keep weight on than the other two. We will see how he manages in the cold both coat quality and weight wise.

Mentally though. I just don’t see him lasting beyond a month. He’d be the one I’d worry about the most surving on his own. I just don’t see it happening.

All these summer storms are leaving us with gorgeous rainbows over the pasture. If you squint you can see the tiny specks of the three horses out grazing. 

So what about you all? Would your horse(s) survive a zombie apocalypse? Why or why not?