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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.

Farm life

Arena Renovation Part 2

Yard work doesn’t bother me in general. Weeding, mowing, planting, cleaning stalls. I can find pleasure in it all.

Except raking. I despise raking. Not only is the actual act of raking annoying but then you need to pick up all those piles and figure out what to do with them. Raking is a never ending project. I hates it.

Once the arena was fully torn up, it was time to tackle all those clumps of grass and weeds. They needed removed and this has to be done by hand. With a rake.

No joke, literally 20 hours of hand raking through all the clumped sand to pull out the grass and weeds left me with all of 1/32nd of the total arena done. It looked super nice in the tiny corner I finished. At that rate I might have a workable arena again by next spring. If I’m lucky.

The bottom left corner of the arena is what I accomplished in 20 hours of raking. I still needed to go back through the corner again to rip up the remaining grass. It was disheartening. 

This wasn’t going to work. Sure the footing was looking amazing and I was getting some baller abs from all the raking, shoveling and scooping, but every time I looked up and saw the hundreds of hours still ahead of me I wanted to die a little.

It was time for a plan B: use the front loader of the tractor and just scoop the crud out.

While this method proved to be quick and way less work, it also was removing too much. The entire effort was in retaining as much of the sand footing as possible while still removing the crud and this method was removing everything.

I hopped off the tractor and sighed. Not going to work.

It was on to plan C: use the grooming fork part of the drag to break up the clumps of sand as much as possible in an attempt to lessen the amount of raking.

This proved a good compromise. The rake broke up the major piles and spread them thinner so it was quicker and easier to hand rake through. I started attacking the arena with a new vigor.

Then 10 more hours later I looked up and saw I had completed roughly 1/16th of the arena and the other half I had yet to touch at all was regrowing grass as my pulled up clumps had re rooted. Add in a ton of rain killing off days or weeks at a time where the arena couldn’t be worked and this entire project was seeming a bit daunting.

On to plan D: call in a professional.

Riding/Horses

Wyatt Conquers His Fear

Wyatt was given an ultimatum this past weekend: start spending time with Nash or he goes to a new home. It may sound like a harsh thing to do to a 5 year old, but it isn’t fair to Nash to be completely ignored either. Of course, I said it slightly nicer than that explaining to Wyatt that every horse deserves a person and if he won’t be that person than Nash deserves to find someone who will.

Honestly, Wyatt had good reason to start ignoring Nash. Namely, he was scared of him. It began with a bareback ride wherein Dusty decided to ask Nash to trot and Wyatt hit the dirt through no fault of Nash’s as Wyatt just lost his balance. He got back on but was scared. Welcome to the world of riding, Wyatt. Sometimes it hurts.

Look how excited Wyatt is here to give Nash another try. Nash for his part looks less thrilled. 

This was followed a

week later by Nash biting a chunk out of his arm while being led in from the pasture. This was 100% Nash’s fault as Wyatt was doing everything right. Nash got a beating for that. You don’t bite. Period. So now Wyatt was scared to ride and scared to lead.

The final nail in that coffin happened the following week. I was pulling the horses out of the pasture and told Wyatt at least half a dozen times to not stand by the gate. He didn’t listen and as I pulled Nash out he got seriously all out trampled. Thankfully it was Nash and not one of the horses, but the kid now became scared to be anywhere near the pony.

Someday he will learn to have shorter reins. I’m glad we ditched the bit which solved the head tossing issue but still gives Wyatt basic steering and brake control.

It was the perfect storm and I let it ride out hoping he would get over it in time. Except he didn’t and was avoiding Nash at all costs which was unfair to the pony since 2/3rds of the occurrences were all Wyatt’s fault.

That led to my ultimatum. Start being around the guy or he leaves to find a child who wants to be his friend. It didn’t even have to include riding. Just groom him, pick his feet, bring him in from the pasture. Enjoy his company.

We had gone around the one side through the woods and up by the pond. I figured he would be done, but as we stopped in the barn yard he asked to go into the big pasture and ride in there too. 

It worked and renewed Wyatt’s interest in the little devil. Sunday night he wanted to ride. It was too late to tack up, so instead we had him ride Nash bareback out to the pasture after his dinner. Which led to him asking to ride Gem bareback out to pasture. Nash is the perfect kid’s pony when being ridden. It makes up for all his crap on the ground. When Wyatt was up there he paid very close attention to him and shifted himself to keep under Wyatt at all times. For her part, Gem was just very confused about the tiny monkey on her flailing all around and talking non stop. She was good and walked super slowly, but she kept looking at me like “WTH mom?!”

He was so excited after this little adventure that we made plans for a trail ride around the property Monday night. Wyatt really wanted me to ride Gem with him, but Nash uses Gem’s western cinch (it still boggles my mind he fits in her endurance pad and cinch) and I wasn’t about to take her out in my english gear after not being touched in almost 2 months and never being out on these trails. Plus, I wanted both of us there to walk with him and give him the most positive experience possible.

Three adorable butts

He had a blast. Nash was foot perfect the entire time even though he had never been on these trails before and his horse friends were in the barn eating without him. Wyatt felt much more secure in the western saddle and eventually stopped holding the horn and began to steer. I had him randomly stop Nash and ask him to walk on to make sure he had breaks and let Wyatt see that he listens and won’t run off with him. Wyatt has a lot to learn still and really needs to shorten his reins, but every outing that ends with him asking to go faster and explore off property trails is a good one.

The plan is to let him grow his confidence with rides at home while introducing him to the fun of exploring the world on horseback. If he continues to show interest, I’ll start riding Gem with him and fingers crossed we plan to hit up a hunter pace come fall with Dusty on the ground with the lead rope just in case.

A great end to a Monday

Then Tuesday night he asked to ride again! This time I knotted the reins on both sides and had him hold them just in front of the knots. This worked out a lot better and he was able to keep the reins short. He also barely touched the horn.

Wyatt even asked to trot. I got Nash going and Wyatt bounced and giggled. It can’t be comfortable for either of them. I have zero clue how to teach Wyatt to trot tho. Do I teach him to post? To two point? No idea. What I want to do is get Nash cantering so he can go fast without the bounce but I’m worried that will be too much for Wyatt to handle. Will have to do more thinking on that.

For now I’m happy he has regained his confidence and joy.

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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.

 

2018 Volunteer Challenge

Volunteer Challenge First Quarter Winner

The first quarter flew by and saw four people getting out there and helping out at local events. I want to thank Amanda, Emma, Nadia and Bette for making the time to help out. I know not every region had events during the first quarter and I anticipate a lot more competition now that most of the country is thawing out and warming up.

As a reminder the quarterly award goes to the person with the most hours volunteered during that quarter. It was looking like a tight race between Amanda and Emma, but in the end the winner is:

AMANDA with 17 hours!!!

Congrats Amanda on putting in so many hours during the winter months. For your efforts you will receive a prize package worth roughly $50.

While I do not enjoy shopping for myself, shopping for others gives me great joy and as such I didn’t want to give a random and completely impersonal gift card or basket of uselessness. However, this is Amanda and she has pretty much everything coupled with infinitely better taste than I will ever have.

I wracked my brain, or what remains of it, all weekend to come up with something that she might find useful and/or actually use. A good bit of stalking her blog also commenced although I have been following for a year or so now anyway. I think I came up with some good items to reward her volunteer spirit.

Amanda, here is your prize package:

First, I recalled a post you wrote stressing a tiny bit over what to feed Presto once you got him home and while I know he is already with you now (or should be by the time Monday rolls around) I thought this might help you out:

A one month subscription for both your boys to FeedXl. This is an online tool that allows you to input all consumables for your horse to analyze potential deficits and needs. I know nothing about baby horses, so hopefully this provides some help, plus geeking out over numbers is always fun. I’ll need to create the account in your name, so please email me at agemofahorse at gmail dot com with the account name and password of your choice as well as the email address you would like it attached to.

That still left half the prize package which gets you:

This super cute and probably way too honest mug:

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And last is a custom stick horse print of you and Henny (which pictures I pilfered from your blog is a surprise tho). These really caught my eye and looked so darn cute. Here is an example of a non custom print:

stickhorse
Picture from the Giddyup Studio Etsy store

If you can email me your mailing address and the info needed to set up the online account, I’ll get everything ordered and out the door to you although the custom print will take some time to arrive.

April is another monthly drawing which is completely random. It doesn’t matter if you volunteered 1 hour or 100, everyone who submits hours to me by the end of the month has an equal chance to win. Also, while the overall numbers add up throughout the entire year, each quarter starts back at zero, so the 2nd quarter prize is now beginning. Get out there and volunteer!!

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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?