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My Own Future

Before this gelding popped up, horse shopping wasn’t even on my radar. Mentally I had prepared for 2-3 more years with Gem and then begin looking as she starts fading into retirement in her mid 20s.

Stumbling across his ad threw me for a loop and I’m not sure what to think now. I know I’m not ready to put an ISO ad out there and the thought of setting up trial rides and spending my time doing that is a bit daunting at the moment.

After the initial disappointment passed, I began a fevered search of sale ads. I know what I want and what I won’t tolerate. Being so close to Aiken has the benefit of a constant stream of event horses for sale but the downside is that they are either green or $20,000 neither of which is on my list of doable. So it may take a while for that unicorn to pop back up.

If one does, I’m likely to run into the same issue I did with this guy. Apparently nobody else works day jobs in the equestrian world and by the time I can get to a horse, it will probably be sold. Evening appointments to ride after work aren’t considered acceptable either. But I tend to believe that things happen as they will and that the Universe has not only its own sense of timing but a wicked sense of irony and a dark sense humor too.

It could stop raining at some point though

There is one farm I’ve been following for a year now. They have really nice looking horses in my price range and typically have a good selection at any given time. They are in MD however (a town called Tuscarora) and over 7 hours away. I made a date with them for the weekend after my boards to go try as many as they think would suit what I’m looking for. I gave them a very honest list of my abilities and desires so we will see. I asked them to email me a list of what they had available the week before so I could make sure the trip will be worth it. I may not come home with anything, but if I got to sit on a handful of horses it would be worth it. Its about a month away, so we will see what that brings.

In the meantime, I’ve hired a professional to finish my arena so hopefully Gem and I can get back to it. I’ve re watched the rounds from the schooling show we did before I took a hiatus and in hindsight we actually didn’t look as bad as it felt. I think we’ve come a pretty long way and would like to see where we can go with this as I await the arrival of my unicorn. I’m in no rush yet willing and able to jump as opportunity arises and I think that’s a pretty good place to be.

More of this would be nice
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Sunday Went A Little Differently

The plan was to go try this gelding. Fall magically in love. Buy him. Turn the Three Musketeers into the Fantastic Four. Conquer cross country and show in my first horse trial this June.

Instead we turned the Three Musketeers back into the Dynamic Duo.

Goodbye Big Guy. I hope the best for you.

I never got to see the gelding. He sold Thursday, came available again Friday and then sold again Saturday. It was fine though. I wasn’t set on it and there will be more to try in the future.

But what happened to Nashville? A lot really.

I’ve been fairly silent about him on here. I had such mixed feelings about him. He’d be great for a while and then pull some crap like the time he bit Wyatt’s arm for no reason. Or the time I gave him a spring bath and it went spiraling so far down hill that I ended up losing my temper and throwing the sponge at him and flipping him the bird. I’m not proud of that. He just pushed all my buttons and I cracked. Dusty finished the bath for me before I did something I’d really regret.

We’ve been struggling with what to do with him for a while. He craved attention and the ability to be his full pony self and he wasn’t getting it. I had hoped my ultimatum would be the push Wyatt needed to start interacting with Nash more. He didn’t have to ride him. Simply hanging with him, being his friend, loving him was enough.

It worked for a bit. He rode him Monday and Tuesday and enjoyed it. Then he asked to ride him Friday. He rode Gem in from the pasture bareback and giggled the entire time. When he got on Nash, Nash pulled a dirty buck and threw him. That ended that.

It was back to debating his fate. For all his flaws he had one job: take care of Wyatt. That’s it and he was failing at that though that was mostly our fault. Being worked for 10 minutes maybe 3 times a month wasn’t doing him any favors.

I decided to put an ad out and see what would happen. If he didn’t sell in a couple of weeks, I’d send him to pony boot camp. Saturday morning his ad hit and Sunday afternoon he sold.

The lady knew  ponies and loved his personality. She rode him w/t/c and over a small cross rail. She adored him and has a lovely farm with a lesson program where he will get to be ridden consistently and loved on a lot. His personality won’t be a hinderance, but instead something laughed at and enjoyed. He couldn’t have been very happy living in a place that didn’t understand him. She laughed at things that drove me nuts and he soaked it all up begging for more attention. I fully believe that he will have a happier life having a job and loads of people who love him and I wish him many happy years. I do worry about his future. I was his 4th home that I knew of in his short 9 years on earth and that just sucks. I had planned on him spending the next 20 years with us growing old and being lazy in the sunshine.

But in the end it couldn’t happen like that and it makes me more sad than I thought it would. Sure I could have let him be a pasture puff for the next 20 years, but I’ve learned a lot having Gem and I knew deep down that Nash needed a loving home versus a tolerant one. Everyone deserves to be appreciated for who they are and loved and he wasn’t getting that from us. He was getting punished for being himself and that wasn’t fair.

Wyatt handled it better than I thought. He cried and it broke my heart, but when offered one last ride he refused saying he was scared. Wyatt really needs lessons until he is w/t/c and then we can revisit the horse thing though he won’t get a pony again. Ponies and I don’t get along.

Loo Mom! I’m Super Mud Boy!

The Dynamic Duo were happy to see Nash go. Nash bullied Pete to no end and poor old man winter kept coming in with fresh bite wounds at Nash level all over his body. Nash wanted Gem to himself and Pete was getting pushed away time and again. At 28 he didn’t need that stress. Gem was stressed as well by all this. I think most of her ulcer issues were Nash induced and it will be interesting to see how she does without him. I was also growing tired of all the bite wounds on her too.

I’ll miss him more than I thought. At the moment it happened I felt relief that he would be gone to a home that would work with him and give him a purpose, but that night it sunk in and I grew very sad. He was adorable. Wyatt was adorable with him. They could have had so much fun together. But they didn’t. Reality sucks sometimes. As I explained to Wyatt, when you love something you have to put their best interest above yours. I immediately followed their barn on Facebook and will be stalking him and his progress so hopefully I can see how much better he is doing.

On to the future I suppose. As ever changing as it is.

These two have no worries about finding a new home. They are as stuck with us as we are with them.
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So Many Thoughts and Emotions

First a shout out to Emma for texting with me during a work day while I was stressing out about things and stuff. Mostly things and stuff the hubby is tired of listening to.

Here’s the deal. I have found a horse I really want to try out and potentially purchase. I have a time set up on Sunday to go try him, but there are a number of people already scheduled before me so it may be a moot point anyway. It did, however, bring up a whole lot of thoughts and emotions I didn’t even know I had.

Writing helps me explore those, so you all get to be dragged down with me 😉

Being realistic, I have time to ride one horse. Heck, I barely have time even for that. Gem is a multiple rides a week type of horse. Sure, I could ride her once a month, but it wouldn’t be fun and why put both of us through that? This means that if I did end up purchasing a new horse, Gem would be defaulted to retired status. Not the end of the world for her – nice grassy pastures, twice a day grain and plenty of sunshine for the next decade.

I’m just not so sure I’m ready for that and I don’t know if she is either.

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10 am naps in the sun doesn’t really seem like a bad life

 

Look, I know she is hard and is making learning a new discipline for a part time ammy rider with confidence issues harder than it needs to be. There are evenings I really, really want to ride, but decide not to because I am already stressed and have no interest in fighting with her.

An easier going, better suited to this sport for my riding ability horse would be a thrill to own. I would ride more often, likely advance more in my skills and abilities and have more fun.

But I love my Gem and I’m not scared of her, I just don’t always want to deal with her crap. I’m excited to see where we would end up in 2-3 years with more work. She has made me a better rider and honestly probably more confident than I realize. It is hard to gauge when I haven;t ridden anything else for so long.

For her part, she still readily meets me at the gate. Now that she is on hold until my exam is behind me, she is starting to give me signs that she misses the work. Or at least the attention the work brought along with it. I don’t think she is ready to be a pasture pet.

Waggy stealing a drink from the horse water trough

Of course, I’m also not sure she really enjoys this new work. She tolerates it and is getting better and better, but like it? Probably not. She is settling into it and figuring out what I’m expecting of her, but she also got ulcers for the first time in her life with me when we started ramping up the schedule. It could have been her heat, the move, the spring grass etc…but she has moved before, had many heats and been out on grass for 5 years all while putting in way more saddle time and travelling a whole lot more with nary an issue. I think it is the stress of the new job.

So maybe retiring her to a second string job would be better for her in her senior years. Even though I’m barely asking anything of her with 18″ jumps, it may be too stressful for her mentally to handle well. Or maybe I’m trying to come up with an excuse to side line her and not feel bad about it.

The other thought I had was that the new horse could be used as a back up horse for a while and keep Gem in the starting line up. I could still ride her twice a week as normal and then squeeze in some rides on new horse when able. But that kinda defeats the purpose of spending that much money on a horse of his caliber. Why bother just to let him sit and age over the next 2-3 years until I’m ready to retire Gem?

And none of this touches on the financial impact of owning two horses. Thankfully, I no longer board or else this wouldn’t even be a consideration, but it still means two sets of tack. My saddles are adjustable which would help as long as the style of panels fits the new horse, but if they don’t it would mean an entire new saddle. Which I probably couldn’t really afford without selling one of my others and I don’t really want to do that. Of course, if I side line Gem I wouldn’t need her saddles any longer as she would be happier going back to riding in her endurance gear and being a trail horse once again. So in theory I could sell both my dressage and jump saddle if needed and not wreck my ability to ride Gem in the way she prefers any way.

I’m really battling over this. The truth is I want a different ride for the arena life. I want to enjoy doing all the things without fighting all the time. I want to not stress about every tiny thing and will it piss the mare off or not. I want it to be easier, not less work, but inherently easier on a more easy going horse who enjoys life as an eventer.  And that makes me feel guilty. I love my Gem. She has a forever home with me regardless of what she is doing. She has given me so much and while she is hard, she does try in her own way and gives it all she has even if all she has is being tense and hard to manage.

The hard truth? I want Gem, but I want her to be different and that isn’t possible.

So I’m going to keep my appointment to try out this gelding as long as he is still available by then. Who knows? I may ride him and get off thinking “eh, Gem is better and I wish I had ridden her instead” or I could hop down and go “wow, so this is what I’ve been missing all these years?!”. Either way I’ll learn something about myself and what I want. I can then continue my casual watching of the horse ads that flood my Facebook feed from Aiken for anything else that may catch my eye. I’ve been casually watching it for almost a year now and this gelding is the first one that has really grabbed my attention. Well, the first one in my price range which is hard to find in the area where most horses with experience in eventing are being listed upwards of $15,000 and I refuse to shell out that kind of dough to hop over 18″ cross rails like a boss. My search may end up taking quite a while in the end anyway.

Just a casual picture of my Smokey cat. Except she is in the living room where she is not allowed. The bedrooms are separated from the living space by a screen door which she has learned to open and now goes any where she darn well pleases. 

Anyone have any insights on what to do during a test ride? Thankfully Trainer will be there with me, but um…well confession time…I’ve never test rode a horse before. I bought Gem without getting on her due to her emaciated and neglected state. No way was I gong to ride her in that condition and no way was I gong to walk away and leave her there. Anything I should specifically do with said horse while on him? I’m very nervous about the whole thing.

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Happenings Around the Farm

Not riding..cuz you know that would be fun and right now life isn’t all that much fun, but that doesn’t mean life around the farm has stopped. The first major project is nearly complete with phase 1 and 2 done. Phases 3 and 4 to come hopefully by the end of the quarter.

So what have we done?

Here is a google earth view of the basic property as we bought it outlined in red. The actual proper line extends into the woods on all sides and includes Wyatt’s fishing pond, but for this purpose I’m focusing on the pastures.

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You can see most of the original fence lines in the picture making 7 pastures with two areas that I call dead space areas that aren’t fenced in or used as yard for the house or barn (marked in blue).

Even when we toured the place pre-purchase we knew we would be condensing that fence line and opening up for larger pastures. First we wanted to cut down on fence maintenance including weed whacking all that fence line, but we also both believe in the biggest space possible for the horses to graze and self exercise in. I swear one of the biggest factors in my endurance success was having Gem in a 30 acre pasture 24/7 which allowed me to get away with lower under saddle mileage.

So they needed to go. The right half of the property in the pictures was the easiest to do and the first we tackled. I say we, but this was like 98% Dusty with me chiming in every once and a while with my not really asked for opinions.

We created this:

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All four of the above were combined as shown with the red outline. Dusty took out the fence lines between 2,3,4 and then created a path through the trees to get from 3 to 5. The horses love this pasture. They created dedicated morning and afternoon nap spots, overnight sleep area and play zones within a week of being out there. This also gives the horses natural shelter in multiple spots, but the best being the tree lined path to #5.

This had the really big benefit of all 4 pastures now being accessed from the barn yard through one gate with a back entrance to pasture 5 remaining as well. The horses will meet us at either gate for breakfast and dinner and it takes all of a few minutes to lead them in.

We noticed within a few weeks of being out there that the horses were all looking slimmer and a bit more muscular, especially Pete whose weight has been an issue for a while now. They all seem relaxed and happy to be out there. Of the 4 combined sections, 3 and 5 have the best fescue while 2 and 4 have more bermuda in them that hasn’t started to green up yet.

With this side complete we (again used loosely to mean Dusty) moved to the other side of the drive way. Phase two created this:

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This side is more complicated due to the blue lined dead zones separating pastures 6 and 7, but I’ll start at the front and work my way back.

Pastures 1 and 7 looked easy enough to combine with the original plan being to push out the fence line around the trees. Then we got the survey done and um…the fence line is the property line so that wouldn’t work. Instead Dusty ran the fence through a path he created in the woods right where I won my new bridle by chopping that tree down with the ax.

Combining these two was a big deal. Pasture 1 has the best grass of the entire property, but we rarely used it. I used endomondo to track how far I walked from the barn to the pasture for all three horses which we take separately and it registered 2 miles! Great for my health, but a pain in the butt and a time suck. Once it was opened into pasture 7, we could let the horses out at that gate cutting the distance in half. Even if the horses are in pasture 1, once the first is removed the others come down to the bottom gate.

The issue becomes the dead space, which is full of awesome grass that I have zero interest in mowing and needs to get included in pasture space.

The dead space by pasture 7 holds the old burn pile and I don’t trust that area one bit. Who knows how many sharp object lie in wait. The plan currently is to expand pasture 7 into the dead space but leave the burn pile out of it. Likewise we will expand pasture 6 up to include the dead space there. The issue is on how to combine 6 and 7 as the woods have a really big ditch running through it that we can’t avoid. I’m tempted to leave 6 as a separate pasture so that we have a large, medium and small space for horse use and rotational grazing, but Dusty wants to combine them so that all aspects of the pastures are accessible right from the barn yard which makes sense. With 2 1/2 horses and that much grass, we could rotate the two pastures on a monthly basis without too many concerns for over grazing. I’m fine with doing it either way.

Overall I am really happy with how things are shaping up. We have been here 3 months now and have gotten a good bit done even with the rainy weather. My Q2 property goals are centered around finishing up the fence work and getting the arena usable again. The horses are settling in nicely with the rotation pattern so far. The big pasture is being rested at the moment and is almost to the point of needing mowed again which is great since the grass hasn’t been growing so well with all the cold and rain we have been getting.

This fall we will be making plans on where to begin with re seeding, fertilizing and weed killing. I also want to rent a roller and roll that pastures as I’ve been noticing how uneven the ground is. I’m becoming a complete pasture nerd and I love it!

Outside of pasture work the other Q2 goals for the farm are:

  1. Lay down rubber mats in the barn aisle cross ties area for ease of clean up
  2. Get the wash rack broken pipe fixed and the water flowing again
  3. Put a door on the tack room

Simple fixes, but with the arena project and finishing up fence work, Dusty has his work cut out for him.

 

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Get Your Hours In!

Ack…tomorrow is the last day of the month. My brain is going in so many directions right now that I am losing track of the time.

If anyone has volunteer hours they haven’t submitted yet, the deadline is Saturday night at 11:59 pm.

I’ll announce the winner on Monday!

Please double check me here because my brain is fried and I don’t even know my name at this point.

I have:

$900 Facebook Pony with 17 hours, none reported to date in March

Fraidy Cat Eventing  – 6 hours, none reported to date in March

Riding to B – 3 hours in March

3 Day Adventures with Horses – 3 hours, none reported to date in March.

Have I missed any?

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Why Yes Life, Please Pile On The Stress

“So be prepared for a welsh cob Arab foal in about 10 months”

Words I never wanted to hear, ever, in my life yet found myself listening to this morning as the hubby and I crossed paths getting around for work.

He laughed.

I panicked.

Apparently he put Gem out last after breakfast this morning and Nash was hanging out by the gate which isn’t unusual for him. He waits for Pete too, liking the herd to all be together. As soon as Gem was let loose, she immediately shoved her hussy little bay butt in Nash’s face, peed and knelt down so the shrimpy little guy could…well…enjoy himself on her behalf. Not that she was suffering, mind you.

I immediately went into panic mode. Did I buy a stallion? I have the vet exam I paid for which clearly states GELDING. I even contacted the seller and made sure I wasn’t going insane. I re read the original ad I still have on my phone. GELDING. Of course, I have no proof he was ever gelded beyond the exam and he could be a crypt orchid some asshole breeder passed down the line claiming to be a gelding, but that seems maybe unlikely. I don’t know. He was certainly enjoying himself and I highly doubt it was the first instance of debauchery those two have partaken in. And in front of Pete no less! The poor old gelding has been pastured with Gem for 9 years and she never so much as batted an eye lash in his direction. Add little stud muffin Nash to the mix and voila! She becomes a whore overnight. Guess she isn’t in to big, strong blondes.

Dusty assured me that most crypt orchids throw blanks. Ok, fine. The chances I’m going to end up with a tiny version of Gem next year are looking pretty slim, thank the Universe. Not that I don’t love Gem, but I really don’t need a miniature version of her for the next 30 years. It still leaves me with a big problem. I can’t have my mare having sex all day long while I am at work. She returned to her normal self after the Gastroguard was started, but it just can’t be that healthy for her to be so….active.

This means I need to separate them. Which likely means I need to sell Nash. Sure, I have the extra pastures to put him in, but I really don’t like having a solitary horse and with his personality I think it was quickly become an instance of him pacing the pasture fence all day long and I will not purchase a friend for Nash. No thanks.

This brings up two other issues.

  1. How would I even tell Wyatt that his pony is being sold? I mean, what explanation would I give him? Sorry, but your pony is a male gigolo?
  2. How would I write that ad? Kid friendly welsh cob pony. No bad habits. Well, except he is horny as hell so watch out!

Ugh.

I don’t need this right now.

Hubby is going to pull blood tonight and send off to the lab for a blood test to check to see if he is a crypt orchid. Apparently you can do that. I may just do that as part of my pre purchase of any male horse for the rest of eternity.

 

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Quarter 2 Goals: Survive

The first quarter went really well. I could feel the improvement in Gem’s over all willingness to participate in this new discipline and start to relax into the work. The biggest change was in her attitude of saying yes instead of no. This got me all fired up for the second quarter and I sat down to write out the list of goals I had.

Which was about the time reality and a big dose of panic hit and I realized this quarter was going to be a wash. If I’m lucky.

Wyatt continues to love fishing. He has two poles and last week caught two blue gills at the same time. He was stoked. 

Currently I am qualified in foot and ankle surgery. This May I will be sitting for my certification exam and spent the better part of February banging my head against the wall trying to collect the requested documents for the case submission part of the exam. Now it’s time panic about the computer portion of the test.

Failure is not an option for this test. If I fail I lose my hospital privileges. If that happens I’m screwed.

Spring flowers make my heart happy

Studying in school was easy. It was my job and I had nothing else to worry about. I graduated with a 4.0 from medical school due to my ability to focus on studying and studying alone. Having a very understanding husband who never fussed about my 14 hour study binges was a big plus.

Studying in residency was also easy. We had weekly meetings to cover various topics and scenarios. I ate, slept and breathed surgery often times scrubbing in for my first case at 6:30 am and my last case at 7:30 pm that same day. I was surrounded by it. Passing the qualification exam was made possible by this.

Waggy and her stick. 

Studying now feels impossible. I have a full time job that isn’t all surgery all the time and is instead once a week. I also need to run the business. Then I come home and be a mom. Cook dinner. Feed the horses. If I’m lucky I get to sit down and study at 8:30 pm after Wyatt is in bed and I’m already exhausted from my full day. Keeping my eyes open and my brain focused until 10 pm gets harder and harder as the week days go by.

It’s not going so well. I’m scared shitless I’m going to fail.

We ended up getting a new riding mower versus the zero turn. It was 1/3rd the price and had great reviews plus we had a great coupon at TSC to use to bring it down even more. 

All that to say Gem is getting a vacation until May 9th rolls around and my life can resume. It’s bad timing. We will lose a lot of what we gained. But not losing my business is more important and so it must be.

No riding. Must study.

No arena renovation. Must study.

No lessons. Must study.

No life.

Must. Study.