Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year....B-r-r-r-r-r-r!

Lovely Morning Blown Away

Shoulda, coulda, woulda...not really. If I had not gone to the chiropractor this morning, I might have ridden. But my neck and back were not so good, so I headed out. On the way home I got my hair cut and bought some replacement blades for my car's windshield wipers.

Once home, I did a few chores and watched the temperature rapidly drop outside as a pretty hefty wind blew up. Along with the wind came some snow squalls. And soon, it was down in the 20's and darn miserable out there. I toyed with long lining or lunging, but the wind was really ripping up as the cold front blew in.

I opted for going out to put blankets on the Boys in place of their sheets. For once, I think even Tucker didn't mind having his "clothes" changed. I fed everyone and gave them each a big pile of hay in his stall.

Tucker, of course, had to head around the barn to go into Chance's stall to see whether his food was better. That left Chance out in the cold. I opened the inside door and told Tucker to cross the aisle and go back into his own stall. He gave me an, "All right, all right, if you say so," expression and then, quite happily marched back into his stall to eat his own hay, leaving Chance--temporarily at least--in peace.

You'd think Tuck would be happy with his own feed in his own stall, but he has to see if he can bully his way into eating someone else's portion as well. Hopefully when I go out for the late snack he will be in where he belongs. I didn't lock him in tonight because the ground is frozen so mud is not an issue.

Tomorrow is supposed to be cold as well and then the temps will moderate a bit for Friday.

Stacie may be going to look as a Thoroughbred not to far from her house on the weekend. If she does, I may go down. He looks pretty nice and has a super low price. If I needed another horse, I'd snap him up in a minute. I don't know if the link will work for you, but if it does, here is the ad:

Too good to be true? I guess time will tell.

I still haven't managed to see the warmblood at the farm across the way yet. I guess my timing is off.

Meanwhile, we just keep looking.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Trails To Me

Took Three Out

Spent the morning trying to straighten out some bills. Drove over to see if I could see the horse at the farm for Stacie but failed. I must have been too late as the field was empty. Then headed to the feed store to pick up my horse pellets.

Came home, had lunch, and eventually headed outside to the barn. I cleaned the stalls and then let the Boys into the paddocks.

Tucker was quite willing and ready to be caught and worked. Taking a line from Caroline, I decided to use the new Ansur today. Hard to say, because I only worked Tucker for a short time in the arena, but he may have been straighter. I still need to work on "forward" with him at all costs as he gets very lazy, but I had a nice little school. Then I headed out to the "Tucker Trail" for a hack. Aside from one little spook at the fox that leapt up just as we were going out into the edge of the field, we had a nice quiet, pleasant ride. It was a bit over 40F, so it was quite comfortable and the wind from earlier in the day had died down.

I snagged Toby next and took him on the same ride. What can I say about Toby? With nothing to spook him, he is a delight.

Back at the barn, I saddled up Chance who was more than eager to go OUT!! Out into the woods and well beyond if I'd let him. He loves hacks. He trotted off a couple times which would be fine if I were sure the footing wasn't slippery in some places. Then when I got him back home in the area, I did just a little bit of schooling. Stacie's ride had encouraged him to go forward on his own, a big plus. But the biggest plus of all was the canter. On both leads, with no effort at all on my part, he dropped his head right down into the bit into a nice low frame, the start of really going correctly through his back. He made no move to throw his head up at all!! I was thrilled.

Usually I find that when a horse discovers how comfortable it is to drop his head and round his back under the rider, he starts to prefer to go that way on his own. Signs are Chance it starting to think that way. I love it.

Carrots all around as well as a nice fat serving of hay. Tucker is still spending the nights in as there is mud around the barn. But from the looks of everyone as I headed back to the house, I have a happy little herd out there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where Did The Day Go?

Fun Anyhow!!

I went to a late breakfast with some good friends at the Cracker Barrel restaurant about 20 minutes away. I put in a special order for their bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread. When we drove down to Atlanta for the '96 Olympics, my other friend and I often stopped at Cracker Barrels and I fell in love with the BLT. It was a good as I remembered.

And the company was good too. My friend Donna drove me down with her and we talked horses on the way. She says there is a horse at her barn--just across the woods from me--that might be perfect for Stacie. I'll report more on this as I find out the details.

I was home by early afternoon. But then, the bank called to tell me I'd been approved for the home equity loan I've been trying to get. Yea!! This means a lower interest rate on some money I've borrowed and a good bite into the credit card debt I need to pay off. Things are looking up.

As I was on the phone to the bank, the hay kids pulled in with a full load of hay!! Another yea!! I'm not sure how many bales they unloaded, but I now have a full carport again, so I am quite happy.

Then, I came back inside to try to figure out how to apportion the equity loan and wasted a good hour on one website that just was loading as if I were on a slow, slow modem instead of my high speed cable. What a nuisance. At that point, the afternoon was on the wane.

Out I went to work the Boys. I decided I'd lunge again but this time over some trotting poles and jumps. The warmup on the flat was great. He was nearly instant to all the commands. Then we headed for the obstacles and he started getting silly. Sometimes he trotted the ground poles and sometimes he cantered them. The two little jumps were first set at a one stride. I had to pull him up a half dozen times when he bucked and ripped off at a mad gallop on the open side, for fear he'd try to jump from that. But, remarkably enough, each time he did approach the little combo, he carefully adjusted his speed, balance and stride to meet them perfectly. I love that instinct!

I shortened the pair to a no stride for the finishing exercise and once again, Tucker adjusted himself. He did misjudge once, hitting the first fence and knocking it down. That sent him off into a nother buky frenzy, but once again, he settled all on his own to jump several more times beautifully.

I took Chance out for a session next. While he does need some encouragement to go forward he too was a wise jumper. As it was starting to get dark, I hurried the work a little and left the jumps at the no stride. I'd lunged him through that kind of combination before so I figured it was worth a shot to see how he'd go. Once again, he didn't let me down. He went over both jumps on each hand with equal skill. Again, I loved his natural ability to adjust himself to get over well.

Obviously, the jumps were little but still, both horses showed good common sense in figuring out the striding on their own.

Now, if only I were back in the jumper world, I'd have two really good prospects. Guess I'll just have to play around a little bit.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Stacie and Chance

Stacie called this morning to see if we wanted to get together for the holiday. I called her back after church and she came over in the afternoon.

When we went out to get the horses, Stacie decided she'd ride whichever horse came over willingly At first Toby made a move, but when she ran out of treats, he turned and walked away. Chance, though, along with Tucker moved right in, eager for some attention even without the treats.

I caught Tucker, and she took Chance.

Grooming took a little work, but the sheets had kept them pretty clean underneath.

Tuck was pretty cooperative for most of the work. His trot was fine, and he cantered with minor protests. But part way through the ride, he started behaving strangely. It started when I tried to make a left turn across the arena... and he simply didn't. It was one of those drift out to the right, through the outside rein, bend the neck to the left, but not follow with the body kind of things. I eventually corrected it with a strong outside rein, but if I put my left leg on him, he really went crooked away from it.

I did not do any lateral work at all, and both canter leads felt OK, but I am suspicious there is still something bothering him behind. I will keep working him through it, but if it starts to become chronic, I guess I may have to get a vet out for chiro or x-rays, whichever ends up being the most logical.

Stacie really had to work to get Chance going forward. Sometimes he is on the lazy side, and sometimes not. Today was a lazy. I finally gave her the whip to encourage him and soon she had him going really nicely at the trot. Then, by accident, she pushed him into the canter on the left lead. It was the first time I'd seen him canter under saddle. His head was not entirely steady, but for the bulk of the ride, he was in a nice little frame and looking good! Considering how little under saddle work he's had in the last few months, it was quite a nice effort.

The temps were in the high 60'sF for most of the day, cooling off as we finished riding. All the while, Toby was exercising himself by running back and forth along the fence line, trotting, cantering, and bucking like a young colt. I thought he'd be all sweated up under his sheet, but he was OK enough that I was able to change into his lighter weight sheet for the night.

Tuck and Chance were sweaty too, but not too wet, fortunately. I put Tuck in his stall without a sheet for about an hour or so until he dried off and then put his and Chance's light sheets on too.

I figure we managed to exercise three horses for the price of two this time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


And I'm Not Sure Why

Woke up with a bad neck, heading for a headache. After I fed the Boys I headed for the chiroprator. Had a bunch of stuff out of alignment.

Then I headed for Sears, not to far away to check out the sales on vacuum cleaners. I had had really bum luck with them and decided I try a Dyson. Expensive, but perhaps worth it???

Got my "animal" cleaner on sale with some extra bonuses on the price--including 3.5% less sales tax and headed back home. Stopped at Target to check on vacuum cleaner belts for one of the not quite working ones at home and bought new wreath hanger for the front door at half price.

Came home, checked the Boys, and simply crashed. I was overcome with tiredness. Maybe getting the adjustment did it, as my body just wanted to collapse. I listened and took a nap all the way until feeding time.

I was a decent, but damp day, getting warmer for tomorrow. Maybe if I get a good night's sleep I'll have more energy. I suspect I am fighting off some kind of bug since I usually don't feel this exhausted so easily.

I did put Tucker in for the night again as the ground is thawing back into mud in the paddocks around the barn. He seems quite content. The new hay is yummy, but the bales are really small. Not such a good value. I may go over there during the week to get another "flavor" with some more weight to the bales.

Meantime....nothing of horse value to report.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bummer on Bolt!!

Not So Good X-Rays

I just talked to Stacie. Apparently Bolt's x rays showed "Significant" changes in both hocks. This is a 7 yo warmblood broken to saddle with viturally no work behind him. The middle hock joint is fused, but there is arthritis in the lower joint and, unfortunately changes in the upper joint as well. Stacie will have the x-rays to get another vet to look at them, but now it's pretty much a no go on a purchase.

Bolt's name comes from the blaze on his face. Not quite sure, but it has a brown spot in it. He is a really cute, good sized chestnut with, apparently, a wonderful personality and good movement. He has been standing around in the field for about two years--I think--just being a horse. What a bummer. Stacie has been looking for months and he is the only horse so far she took a real liking to.

Back here on the home front, the ground was frozen most of the day, and I was knee sore and just plain tired. I finally went out in the late afternoon to find the footing pretty good in the arena. I cleaned the stalls, then picked out the arena and hitched up the drag to the tractor and gave the surface a good grooming after I fed the Boys their dinner.

Then when the arena was nice and smooth, I collected Tucker and lunged him for a nice session while Toby and Chance watched from the pasture. Tucker looked great. Nice and forward and good an sound. That is a plus since we've had so many little issues over the last months, I never quite know what to expect.

Chance bopped over to me when I went to open up the pasture gate again--the only way to keep him and Toby from "helping" me lunge Tuck. So I slipped the halter on him and gave him a lunging session as well. He was, as well, nice and forward, but he tried to quit a few times. It's an interesting contrast with my two Thoroughbreds who just go and go like the Energizer Bunny. Chance is always ready, willing, and able to just walk instead of trotting or cantering. And, unlike the other two, lunging him will take the edge off if he is excited or wound up. With them, all the lunging does is wind them up more.

Carrots all 'round ended the evening before the sun set. Now I'm back inside just kind of sitting around. It is supposed to stay moderately warm without much in the way of freezing temps for my whole school vacation, although there are showers in the forecast.

Now all I have to do is muster the energy to saddle up and ride. It would help if we had some occasional sunshine!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

And We're Out!!

Christmas Present for the Boys

Turnout at last. I could have ridden since the windy night had dried the area footing, but I decided against it. It just didn't seem fair to either the Boys or me after three days of confinement.

Christmas Eve/Morning must have gotten even warmer past midnight as all the ice disappeared in the arena. That meant Tucker had a turnout place with minimal mud. I put them out around 10 AM and just brought them in again now, at about 8 PM after I came home from Christmas dinner at my cousins' house. I'd fed them in the arena before I'd left at around 1:30 so the later feeding hour was not a problem. And they had some nice hay in the pasture.

Dinner was delicious for me and the company of family added much to the day. On the way home, I drove my Aunt around to look at some of the houses decorated with Christmas lights. Some people get very carried away with all kinds of lit up Santas, snowmen, deer, candy canes and just lights everywhere. We just toured around a bit taking in the sights. It was a fun drive home.

Now, I am just waiting to hear how my friend Stacie's new riding prospect makes out in his vet exam tomorrow. You all, I am sure, recall Stacie's horse, Lucky, who had the bone problem and finally ended up being unrideable. Over the last several weeks, Stacie finally found a young warmblood to buy and has since taken him on trial. He is at a trainer for now, and tomorrow will get his x-rays. Please send good vibes for Bolt so he can have a wonderful new home with Stacie. I think I am nearly as excited as she is about him.

Weather looks semi-promising for the week even though it's supposed to rain again on the weekend. Temperatures will stay moderate and mostly above freezing. The problem will be, as ever, monitoring the mud situation, but I can cope with nearly anything except......ICE!!!

Christmas Miracle

The Ice is Melting

After midnight here, so it is officially Christmas Day. I went over to my Aunt's house next door for our annual Christmas Eve--dinner, pressies, etc. and when we all started to head home we were greeted with NO ICE!

Within a matter of about five hours of darkness, the temperature had risen enough to melt nearly all the remaining snow and all but the thickest of the ice. It is close to 6oF right now.

The family gathering was lovely as always and I received quite a few really nice gifts--mostly clothes. My cousins also gave me a lighted horse picture, kind of a stained glass effect. I haven't quite decided but I may hang it over my gas fireplace. It really is very pretty.

When I got home I had another surprise. Somehow, Tucker had gotten himself out of his stall. I didn't notice at first when I went out to see how the footing was in the arena--still a ways to go, but as I headed back into the paddock, I heard the sweetest little nicker, and there he was, standing in the run in shed. He must have reached over his door and pulled the latch open. Since his stall was fairly clean, I suspect he'd been out for several hours.

He was perfectly happy to go back inside for the night even after I let Toby and Chance out to stroll around. Those two are not too likely to get into too much trouble with the footing.

I treated them all with carrots and apples both at dinner, and at late night feed. (Carrots with tops for dinner!)

If the temperature stays up for tomorrow, with the promised sunshine, we should be fine. It's windy now, which is good as well because it will dry things up a little.

Don't know if I will be able to ride anyone, but at least they will be out and about.

Thank goodness for Christmas miracles.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still Horrible

But I Do Have Hay

I called my hay guy and got no answer. I suspect he closed for the holiday week and forget me--mostly because of the beastly weather and the ice. (The place next to him is like a skating rink.)

So, I called my former hay guy--the farmer who farms the lands around my pasture and drove over there to pick up some bales. I decided to use my car since the truck and trailer had been disconnected and I'm not sure my icy driveway would be good for controlling them anyhow. I headed out right after school got out. The road into the town I have to pass through was closed. I took the detour, and they were doing road construction there too, but it didn't slow me down much at all. I picked up the first eight bales and drove home, then headed out again as I really wanted to stock up a little with another eight.

Hit the same closed road, took the detour and STOP! This time the road crew was filling in the roadbed with macadam--hot paving material. OK, but...but...they were filling it in by hand, shovelful by shovel full instead of pouring it out of the truck. I was stalled there for at least five minutes and it didn't look as if anything was going to move for a fair bit of time, so I pulled out of the ever increasing line of cars and took an even longer route.

The town of Jamesburg is a small little one, with a mainstreet split by railroad tracks. The road I needed to take is a main through road. Why would they be doing simultaneous construction on the only two routes in is beyond me. The detour took me into town from the several miles further out, but I eventually got to the hay barn to get the rest of my load.

Then I dropped by the supermarket to get the Christmas carrots for the Boys. (carrots with greenery tops) When I got home I figured I'd check out the footing around the barn to see if there was any way the Boys could go out for a bit.

NO WAY! Even the snow, having been soaked by the rains, was frozen into treacherous ice. And anywhere the water was lying, including in most of the paths the horses use, was suitable only for ice skates. I have those little spiky things on my barn boots and even I was having trouble navigating the footing. I tried to explain this to Toby and Tucker who were watching my every move and I think they understood. Chance, on the other side of the barn couldn't see, but I was very clear in telling everyone how dangerous it was out there.

Now there is rain on the way and much higher temperatures, giving me hope this will all wash away. But I am not sure how much worse the morning will be. Wet ice not yet thawed can be even worse.

I have one of the new bales of hay already next to the feed room, so as long as I can make it out there the Boys will be well fed.

The heated water buckets have been a godsend. I am so glad I invested in them.

Till tomorrow, then. I hope the news will be better on the weather front.

PS: Just thought to add that Reggie, my black kitty who went for the NAET treatment is doing so much better. He has virtually stopped his compulsive groominh and is, in general, much quieter and content. He still has a ton of personality and likes lots of attention, but he seems so much more comfortable. Can't wait for the next visit to the vet to see how things are going and perhaps give him another acupuncture session.

This for all the people in the world who question natural therapies as a way of curing physical problems.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Just As I (Feared) Predicted

I left all three Boys in for the day and will keep them in tonight and for at least part of tomorrow.

The footing is absolutely treacherous.

I had to put my little spiky things on my shoes to go out to feed this morning. Tonight I drove the car right up to the feed room door. I still have to go back out to pick out the stalls, so the little spiky things will be back on.

Looked over at the yard across the way where they operate the heavy machinery. It looked like a huge skating rink.

Fortunately the temperatures are supposed to rise over the next few days going up as high as 50F by Christmas Eve--rain though. Then things will moderate into the 40's. That should do the ice in nicely.

Today was frigid. So cold, it hurt to go outside for any length of time. The wind was ripping too. I had Chance's top door closed to shield him for the day.

The heated buckets worked a treat. Each horse had a little water left in his when I got home--I had worried about that. Tucker drank from his unheated bucket first and finished about half of that and nearly the full bucket of the heated water. I think Toby drank some unheated too, but I'm not sure about Chance. At least his bucket was nearly empty so I know he had water. I filled them up again when I fed dinner and I'll go back out in a bit to do the stalls. I can't let the Boys wander in the aisle as I often do because of the extension cords for the water heaters.

I can't let them outside either because of the ice. I am afraid they will just have to be patient until things start to thaw out.

When I was boarding out one year, we had ice for well over a week once. I have feared that every since I brought the Boys home. The only thing I could do is pen in the little run in adjacent to Chance's stall--where I kept Tucker confined before--and let each horse out in that for a little while every day. That way they get to walk a little bit and see the outside world.

So...water buckets a big "A+" and the ice an "F."

AND, somehow I have to get some hay. My hay guy did not come with any. I called tonight and they were not there. I will call tomorrow morning and if I get no answer, I'll go to my other hay place and pick up some bales to tide me over.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weather Or Not

Not With This Weather

It was raining and sleeting when I got up, then just raining when I went to church. Cold, soggy not quite get rid of the snow kind of rain.

By the time I got home after a luncheon at church, it had stopped raining so I put Tucker out in the arena with Chance and Toby for the afternoon. All the snow in there had turned to slush. Not so bad, except that the temperatures are supposed to drop radically overnight, turning everything to ice.

I spent the later afternoon hooking up the heated water buckets in each stall--this time running extension cords through the barn aisle mostly because I didn't want to plug them in the outlet near Tuck's door in case he decided to play with the wires. It's a bit of a mess, but as long as I keep control over who's in the aisle, it will be fine.

The plan will be to keep all three Boys in tomorrow. It is supposed to be bitter cold with heavy winds. While I am sure they could all be fine outside, the icy footing is my big worry. It might be quite treacherous. No sense in taking any chances.

I switched them all over to winter blankets. Chance a lightweight thinsulate over his Rambo sheet and Tuck and Toby have winterweight blanket on. I'm not quite sure what blanket I have that fits Chance at the moment, so the double layer will do just fine to protect him from the freezing temps. If the wind is blowing from the west, I may have to close up his top door too.

I do wish I were going to be home. That way I could check on them during the day. I'll fill a heated bucket for each one and one regular bucket of water. Hopefully they will drink the regular bucket first and save the heated water for later in the day.

Every day is a new complication in the winter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Footing is a Mess
Snow, frozen, ice, all kind of chopped up. Snowballs in the feet, and generally ICK. With another storm on the way tonight/tomorrow morning.

So far, I have been moderately productive for the day. I managed to unhitch the trailer from the truck--I'd left it hitched because there was still more horse feed to unload. Everything was frozen together and I finally had to pour hot water on the ball area so I could disconnect.

Then, I made a grave blanket for my parents' grave--quite pretty with evergreens and holly from the back yard, some silk poinsettias and a fabric bow. I took that over the cemetery and placed it. Then on the way home, stopped at a store to get some lights for the back of the house and filled the truck's gas tank--just in case. (It has the 4 wheel drive.)

Headed home. Put up the garland and lights on the back porch. Came inside and started a pot of chicken soup. Then the phone rang and my good friend invited me to a late lunch.

Off I went and I just got back around 5 PM, in time to feed the Boys. Both Toby and Tucker had icy snow balls in their front feet-with the shoes. I have shod them with snow pads in the past, but haven't needed them for several years. Don't know what to do this year with the "Tucker-lose-a-shoe-a-thon" in full swing.

Tuck's in for the night. Now, though I have to watch his water bucket as it was frozen over when I put him in. I have a heated bucket if need be, but as long as I am home to check, I can keep him watered just fine when he's in. The outdoor tubs have heaters so they are no problem.

Winter swings in tomorrow with the coming storm. It might be snow, it might be a wintery mix, or it might be rain, or it might be all three. No matter what the combination, it adds up to "sloppy." Then it's supposed to be bitter cold on Monday, meaning all the wet stuff will freeze to ice. Looks like all three Boys may be in that day. If it's too icy I will not risk anyone going out.

Hasn't been a start of winter like this in several years. Guess I was getting spoiled.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nothing to Report

Unless You Like Snow

Or sitting around watching it snow. Or working for an hour or so making sure the stalls are clean and tidy even though you have to push the wheelbarrow through the mud.

Suffice it to say the weather has been quite contrary. Right now I am at school and we are closing down early due to the weather.

More perhaps when I get home. I left Tucker in for the day to preserve his shoes. The snow is one thing, but snow over top of mud is another disaster for shoes altogether. Hoping I can turn him out for a bit in the arena later.


Doesn't look too promising. It was raining/sleeting when I came home. Really unpleasant out there. I have about an hour more before I go out to feed. I'll see how it is then. For now, just slop.

Bought a Fling-ama-string" ( for my kitties. It kept Reggie entertained for a good half hour or more already. He is really beating the thing up. I do hope it survives. One would hope it was tested with very determined cats. I did get a sale price, so it was under $20. Kind of expensive if it doesn't last through a cat attack.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Too Busy To Count

And Another Day Passes

I left Tucker in this morning since it was SO wet. I also had a half day of school since I had a doctor's appointment for my knee. School was busy, with a parent conference during my hall duty, so I had no time to do any kind of real planning, etc. during the morning.

Then when it came time for me to leave, no substitute showed up, even though I had all the paperwork in on Monday for my half day. I had to call the main office on the intercom and then just wait for some 20 minutes before I was able to leave.

That left me a bit pressed for time, but I did manage to get Tucker out into the arena with Chance to enjoy the little bit of sunshine peeking through the cloud cover.

Then I went to the doctor and ended up there for over 2 hours waiting for my treatment. I rushed back home to feed the Boys...only to find Tucker out in the muddy paddock. Part of the fence in the arena was knocked down. This time, though, Chance was stuck inside the arena which surprised me. That means Tucker had either stepped or jumped out, and Chance had not figured out the escape route. (Tuck's shoes were still on...whew!)

Then, I gathered my black kitty, Reggie, and some items for testing and headed to the vet so he could have NAET (Namburdripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) allergy testing and acupuncture. He has been compulsively licking himself and actually has taken off his fur on his belly and hind legs. My former vet is now just doing alternative medicine, so I connected up with him for the testing.

It is a fascinating process. An assitant holds the cat and puts her arm up to hold against a downward push from the testing vet. He holds various suspected items--food, treats, vacuum cleaner debris--and then presses on the assistant's arm (she is the surrogate for the cat who would not hold up his paw). When her arm shows weakness, then they know the substance being tested is a source of allergic reaction. (I have done this with my horses and it is really remarkable.) Anyhow, Reggie showed allergy to one of the dry cat foods I feed, two types of canned fish, and the vacuum cleaner debris. I am suspicious that since I did vacuum in the kitchen and vacuumed up some of the dry food, that might have triggered the reaction.

Once the allergens are uncovered, the vet acupunctures the cat to rechannel his energy--or perhaps affect the allergy/antigen system. Then Reggie has to be kept from the allergens for 25 hours and not eat anything as well while his body re-programs itself.

Well, Reggie is now locked in the bathroom and none to happy about it. Since I only have one bath in the house, this is an interesting inconvenience, but at least I will be visiting him during the 25 hour confinement.

In about two weeks I will be taking him back to be retested and also to be tested for anything else I might suspect--including fur from each of the other cats in the house. My vet said one woman had nine cats and one cat was allergic to just one of the other cats. He said it took a while but they finally got the problem under control.

Alternative medicines fascinate me. When my knee doctor heard I was taking my cat to my former vet, he was very interested. He knows my vet, so that's a plus but he had forgotten that he did the NAET treatments. He started asking questions because his cat has some allergy problems and now he wants to make an appointment too. Apparently he lives near the vet hospital.

So, that took up the bulk of the day. Tomorrow it is supposed to be pretty nice weather. I will have to get up early to fix the fence so Tucker and the other Boys can go out in the arena/pasture again for the day. Rain is coming back on Friday, so I don't hold out too much hope to get a lot of riding in.

The almost winter jinx continues.

What A Difference A Day Makes

S'now Go!
Talk about contrast! The picture below, of the fence in the front area of the house was taken Tuesday afternoon around 4:30 or so. This, after short sleeve weather on Monday.
The lights are LED and pure white so they really look nice when it's dark.

Top all this off by the fact that the fire alarm went off at school around 2 PM or so and we all ended up standing outside for about 20 minutes. The kids were freezing and wet since most of them didn't have their coats in class.

I'd left the Boys out in the paddock/pasture for the day and I suspect they had used the new run in shed because they were not all snow covered when I got home. I fed them and locked Tucker in his stall only to find him outside again when I went out for late feed. Since Chance was hanging about by his door, I can only surmise he opened it to let his play pal out. I tied it shut for the rest of the night.

It is supposed to get warmer and rain tomorrow, so I suspect Tucker will just have to stay inside for the day.

More pics of the Christmast lights for your amusement and mine since I did not ride.

The house, lit up in the dark.

The barn lights at night with the star.

And my "artistic" shot of a bow on the fence with the LED lights and snow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This Is Ridiculous

Nearly 70 F Today

This weather is crazy. It was over 66 F when I was driving home from school.

I debated and debated about how to work the horses and finally settled on long lining Tucker. He was a super boy and worked really well on the lines for about 20 minutes or so--hard work. But even then he was getting sweaty so I stopped the hard stuff and decided to walk him out.

Now, mind you, while Tuck had some in hand work down at Kenny Harlow's, I really haven't focused much on that kind of training. And I have never done any of the "natural horsemanship" stuff or all the "joining up," stuff, or clicker training or any such "stuff."

Now, mind you I will not criticize any kind of work with a horse that encourages owners to really "work" with their horses but.....

With Tucker still in his bridle and surcingle, but completely loose in the arena otherwise AND with me not touching him in any way, we spent about 10 minutes just doing some simple exercises.

I said, "Come, Tucker," and he did, following me wherever I went.

I said, "Whoa," or chirpped to him and he stopped.

I said, "Back," and he backed up.

I said "Over" and he moved his hind end whichever direction I wanted.

I used to play with Russell R. like that, call him my obedience trained horse. But I have not really done any of that with Tucker.

So, without all the "Bells and whistles" of the "games" or the "TTellington Touch" or whatever, my horse responds to the basic commands and follows me like a tracking device. ( I was going to say puppy, but didn't think it suited The Royal Tucker.)

I suspect with just a little work, I could get him to do even more, but for now, I think he's just fine.

I put up the barn decorations with the star and then strung the lights on the fences by the house. I still have a few little decor to add to the back door area to finish up, but I am now officially decorated for Christmas. (Did this in the dark, by the way. It is quite cloudy, but I think that moonlight was filtering through the overcase--or else I just have great night vision!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Decoration Day

Tree in the house, in my bay window.

The House Is Nearly Done
All I have to do it put the lights on the fencing alongside the house. And, I still need to put the garland and star on the barn.

I took the time between church and church to put up most of the outside decorations.

That way, I avoided the tempation to try to ride the Boys.
Besides, after I went to buy cat food for the kitties, I really didn't have time.

The Vespers service was lovely and the party afterwards full of good food and good fellowship. The choir gang is a really great bunch of people so I had a really nice evening.

Tomorrow it's supposed to warm up. I plan on doing something with the Boys and perhaps getting the rest of the lights up.

Oh, yeah, and I have to teach all day at school too.

How many hours are there in a day?
Moon is lovely but really doesn't look much bigger than normal. I tried some pics but I'm not quite sure they do it justice.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cold to Spare

Not My Day to Ride

I never did warm up today. It was frozen in the AM, then I went to the chiropractor and physcial therapy.

I was still kind of sore when I got home, but my friend, Bill, and I had to go to the bank to find out about opening an account for the Eastern Villages Association--our community activist group. We spent longer than we both expected there, and also ended up doing some grocery shopping.

When we got back to my house, Bill helped me clean up some of the branches piled on my lawn ever since the day before I hurt my knee again.

Got some work done, at least. Not sure the footing in the arena ever really got thawed, but I was too chilled to work up much enthusiasm for working the Boys. It's supposed to be below freezing again tonight, then warm up a bit tomorrow, and finally get really warm on Monday.

Tomorrow is also the Vespers service at church, so I must follow my tradition of taking extra care with the horses. Well over ten years ago, I fell off PJ out on a hack and broke my wrist. By the time it was set at the hospital, and I managed to get to the Vespers, the service was nearly over. I had had two solos, and someone had to step in to cover for me. So now I am somewhat superstitious and don't take the Boys out for hacks on Vespers day. I may just lunge them if I have time. It gets kind of close as we have church in the morning and then, have to go back for the later service. Since we have a choir party too, I need to make whatever dish I am taking. It's an easy salad this year. *G* Essentially, I am bouncing in and out all day long and may not be able to coordinate a horse session.

The hunters are still out in force. Yesterday, I passed a guy on the road with a deer on his tailgate. It always upsets me to see that. Bill had a dreadful story about someone shooting--a nd not killing--a deer immediately across the road from his house. (The police had to intervene on that one.) While I understand the reasons for hunting, it still breaks my heart.

Anyhow, from the looks of the place where the hunters park, the woods would not have been very safe today. Apparently it was the last day of the regular firearm season. There are a few muzzleloader days left, and bow season goes on for a while yet. The bow hunters aren't so scary so things should get a bit better in the next few weeks.

Now if my metabolism and the weather would just communicate better...but it's hard to adjust with the temperatures changing so much every few days.

Hey, at least my neck and back are feeling better now.

And Tucker can stay out for the night because the ground/mud is frozen.

And I'll go out to see if I can get a good picture of the moon for Claire.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wet, Wet, Wet

Soggy Everywhere

Roads flooded, as did the paddock by the barn, so I had mud to spare.

Even though the rain stopped, I left Tucker in for the day. When I got home from school, I turned him out in the arena/pasture combo along with Toby and Chance. Now there is a lovely full moon and it is so bright out there, I hate to think of bringing him back in for the night when I go out for late feed.

But, tomorrow is another day. Hopefully, his shoes will still be on and I will be able to ride in the daylight.

It's chilled off again, but on Monday it's supposed to be up near 60F again. Rollercoaster weather. Guess I'll have no excuses about getting the outside Christmas decorations up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rain and more Rain

Miserable Day

It was raining in the morning and just got worse as the day went on. I left Tucker in the barn for the day and I don't think he was too upset about it.

He'll have to stay in tomorrow morning too as the forecast calls for more rain until the afternoon. I hate to do it to him, but I just can't take the chance with those shoes. The mud is really bad. I'll turn him out in the arena when I get home from school so he can play a little.

Meanwhile the Solar system saga continues. The electrician was here today to install a new main panel and in the process, first didn't connect the outlet that my phone was using and then, for some reason kicked off my cable modem so I lost my Internet and my telephone in one shot.

Luckily, the electrician was still in the area, so he dropped by and found to disconnected outlet wires and fixed that. But the modem issue needed a call to the cable company.

Fortunately, I have a cell phone, so I called and set up an appointment for tomorrow evening. Then off I toddled to choir practice.

I came home and started getting rid of some of the extra phone wires I had near the computer, and in the process, unplugged (again) and replugged the modem and suddenly it came back to life!! It rebooted itself and I was back online and back with a telephone connection.

Now, what the heck was that all about? Maybe it just needed a nap? *G*

So I called the cable company to cancel the service call. My cancellation was handled by a lovely lady who asked me what I was going to do tomorrow now that I wasn't going to have to wait for the serviceman. When I told her I would be able to go (on time) to the school dance concert, I opened a whole "conversation" about her daughter, once in a color guard dance group with a marching band, and then the full story of her grandchildren. I mostly listened.

Don't know what it is about me, but somehow I seem to have a knack for making people want to talk to me, whether I actively solicit it or not. I thought, perhaps it was something sympathetic in my facial expressions, but since it happens on the phone too, it must be my voice.

Whatever the reason, I know a lot more about one Louisana family than I did some twenty minutes before. Note here: Louisana is a state in the USA, so I was not talking to someone in India about my Internet service. How refreshing.

So I am back online and back in communication with the world. And it's still raining.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Half a Ride, Half a Ride, Half a Ride Onward...

Taking No Chances

OK, so I had some time to ride today before the rains came. (Long story I won't tell now.)

The Kavalkade boots to keep Tucker from pulling his shoes had arrived as well--amazingly short shipping time from Germany--so I also wanted to try them out. They seemed to fit nicely, and Tucker went just fine in them.

I schooled in the arena for just under a half hour as it was getting rainier and rainier. He is nearly back to his usual more cooperative self on the canter departs, so that's good. Every time I work him the half passes are getting more solid and he is developing his walk pirouettes as well. It was a nice little session, but he sweated up a bit since it was so warm--nearly 60 F.

I then decided to reward Chance for his good work in the dark by taking him out on a hack in the woods again--in daylight.

Error!! In the dark, there is no hunter/woodsman out along the field with a chainsaw and a truck! Now, mind you, people, trucks, and machinery are rather normal around the world. In fact, people, trucks, and noisy machinery have been at my little farm more than once when Chance has been there. In fact, they are there now installing the solar system.

HOWEVER, this is not people, a truck, and machinery in the forest! There are not supposed to be people, etc. in the woods.

At least that's what Chance thinks. For the first time ever, he attempted to bolt off across the cornfield. Fortunately, he is rather easy to muscle back under control, but I wasn't too keen on making a big issue of it. The other horses were out in the pasture, within sight, whinnying to him, adding to the emotional upheaval, so I dismounted and led him the rest of the way home--no that far, actually. (So we'd really finished well over half the ride.) He was being quite silly about it all. At times like this, I really do realize how green he is and how inexperienced.

And I just keep reminding myself, "Things take time." Besides with all the hunting that's been going on out there during the last few weeks, perhaps he was right to be concerned after all. I'm not sure whether his guy was building a tree stand to shoot deer, or sawing up fallen trees for firewood, or, building who knows what. It was a deep mystery to me...and obviously to Chance.

Have to laugh as I remember one time when PJ an I enountered a man in a jeep changing his shoes out in the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area where we used to ride regularly. PJ ended up galloping sideways across the road and into a stand of pine trees before he stopped. Lucky me.

The good old days. (Revived.)

When I got home, I noticed the one boot had shifted off Tucker's foot. Darn. The other one was still perfect. When I investigated, I found out why. The heels of his left front shoe are too close together to allow the frog plate to fit in between them as it's supposed to. So, the boot was sitting on top of the shoe's heels rather than between them. Either Tucker's shoe needs to be opened or the boot plate needs to be narrowed. The other one was great and I really think if I can get them to fit, they will work well.

But again, another glitch in the plans. It's never quite as easy as I hope it will be.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What A Ton Of Fun!!

Hacks in the Deep Dark Woods

It was a beautiful day! Cloudy, but warmish and really lovely.

Of course, I was stuck at school, suffering parents complaining about grades and teaching in a classroom with no real windows. The kids were great today, so that was good, but who wanted to be inside?

I rushed home--nearly hitting all green lights on the way and didn't get caught behind a truck!!--a miracle drive. And ran into the house to change clothes.

The solar guys are still on the barn roof, by the way, so I'm not sure what the status is of the system, but it's getting there....

I snatched Tucker from the paddock, threw on his tack and the bright pink quarter sheet and headed out on his Tucker Hack. Nifty little ride through the woods. He was a star! Just a little spooky about the discarded pumpkins along the now cut cornfield, but otherwise a good, solid, forward trail horse. I trotted him for a few circles in the arena when we got back and then hurried into the barn to untack him--leaving his sheet off as it was that warm--and put him in his stall.

Toby was easy to catch and I quickly tacked him up as the sun began to fade on the horizon. It was rather dim in the woods, but Toby and I know the trails well, so we had no trouble navigating until the last little bit trying to find the narrow trail back to the barn. Toby knew where it was, but I steered him wrong and with a sigh of resignation, he marched along until he got us back on track. Then back to the stable and in his stall.

By now, it was about 5 PM and essentially dark. I had already decided I could give Chance a little hack in the cornfield as it's open and we could see at least a little. But when we headed into the woods to go out there, he was so positively confident and happy, I decided to do the Tucker Hack on him as well. Horses must have really good night vision, because Chance never put a foot wrong out there. He was absolutely a perfect ride! It was so cool. I could see the basics, and since I'd already ridden the track twice, I knew where everything was, but Chance acted as if it were broad daylight!

What absolute fun! He is such a good solid little horse.

All of the Boys are good solid horses in their own unique ways. I am so happy to have ridden all three out tonight, and pleased as can be at how they all behaved. I know it should be no big deal, but it is.

I decided the other night that while I do love to train, I will not put any pressure on either myself or the Boys to become dressage stars. As I've said before, I didn't miss showing at all this season, and just don't have much ambition anymore.

Tonight, riding in the dark was too much fun to think about schooling! *G*

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday, Monday

And the Winds Stopped as the Cold Blew In

OK, in the 20's F all day. That's -2 or -4 C now that I am home.

I did have a parent meeting after school, too so I was a little later than usual getting home.

Do I have to say I didn't ride? Thought about a hack in the woods, dressed in bright orange and equally bright pink but I think my nose was already frozen enough.

Supposed to warm up on the morrow. Then, it's supposed to REALLY warm up and rain. Then it's supposed to get colder again, but not as bad as today.

Well, it is nearly winter. What else can I expect? *sigh*

The Sunday Curse Continues

It Didn't Rain, But.....

This time it was windy. And I mean WINDY--the blow away, icy cold, knock down trees in the woods kind of windy. After hearing a horror story about a young woman killed by a tree branch while out fox hunting a number of years ago, my imagination waxes wild about riding out among the trees when it's as windy as it was.

Thus, hacks canceled. Riding canceled as well as it was just too darn cold.

I lunged everyone instead. The arena surface was good, not frozen, yet as the temperature was just starting to drop.

Tuck was a bit silly, esepcially on the woods side of his circles, with some squealing, bucks and shies, convincing me that not riding had been a good idea. But he never really bolted off, so our session was good otherwise.

Toby actually seemed to want to get caught, so I lunged him next and then gave him a nice little grooming afterwards, getting off the mud from where he'd rolled. On the lunge line he was practically perfect in every way.

I finished up with Chance. Interesting. He started off with a limp which I thought, at first was in his front, but then realized it was coming from his right hind. Since that's the leg I had my vet check out this summer when he could find absolutely nothing wrong, I kept going to see what would happen. After a little bit of canter on the left lead, the trot was fine. And then he looked sound on the right rein.

There is some kind of chronic problem there, but he seems to work out of it, making me think it might be a muscle issue. I will continue to monitor it and look into some supplements that might help. If you recall, he has "said" to the communicator that he had been kicked as a foal. This may be so. As I don't have any major plans for him in competition, if he does have physical limits, it's OK. But I certainly don't want to ride him if he hurts all the time. So far, it improves as he goes along, so perhaps if I get him fit it will not be an issue.

Once again, as I always say, "Only time will tell."

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Tucker Has A Shoe!

The farrier came early this afternoon to put Tucker's shoe back on. Good thing too as Tuck was getting chafed by the boot. It is a good fit, but I guess that's one of the problems with wearing boots all the time.

At any rate, that finally allowed me to ride him a little. Aside from a little nasty moment on a canter depart from the walk, he was a good boy. I challenged him with a little zig zag at the trot half pass. He managed quite well. He still has to develop more cross over if he is ever to learn the upper level movement, but for a baby zig and then a zag he did admirably.

Since Toby decided to come into the barn when I was grooming Tucker after his ride, I captured him and gave him a short lunging session. With just a halter and lunge line, he is as close to perfect as a horse can be--nice and forward, stretchy and round. What a good boy.

With daylight fading, I decided to ride Chance a little bit. He was nicely forward as well, and offered a good round stretchy frame with very little work on my part. So, I decided to try a little canter. For the very first time, with minimal effort on my part, he took the right lead and cantered a full circle with his head down on the bit!! Then, I changed rein, asked for the left lead and again, he cantered with his head down!! This is a first! I think if the whole ride lasted more than 5 minutes, I'd be exaggerating, but with those results I halted, dismounted, and then gave him a huge cuddle to tell him how wonderful he was. Essentially, he is now working in a good little training level frame at all three gaits.

Considering how erratic my training schedule has been over the last year, I am quite pleased with Chance's progress and delighted that Tucker is really confirmed in all he's learned so far. I past years, I would have moved both horses along a lot faster but I honestly don't have the ambition any more. I'm not sure why, but I am very mellow about what I accomplish with the Boys. If I show, that's fine. If I don't that's fine too. I am just enjoying the process of teaching them new things and discovering how well they learn.

Here's hoping the weather holds so I can go out on hacks tomorrow.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Solar Panels Up

And The Saga Continues

When I went into the feed room, there was no room to move. They had installed a big panel on the wall right above where I put the feed. It may interfere with my putting extra bags on top of the feed bins, or it may not. I will just have to see.

The panel is connected to the panels on the barn roof. There were several big boxes in the room blocking my way and the feed container had been moved to the center area as well. It made for a big of a mess when I fed the Boys, but I guess it will all get straightened out eventually.

If the electrician showed up, I don't know about it. He will not have access to the main panel in the house as all is locked up. I wasn't going to give him liberty of going in the house unless I spoke to him first and made sure everything was OK. I will presume he has enough to do outside in the barn prepping for the final hookup.

The panels themselves are very unobtrusive. I do wonder about what happens when it snows. One part of the roof, over the run in area has a very shallow slope. Normally, snow would slide off and not collect there, but what if we have a big storm? I need to ask the company whether I will need to clean off th panels. That could be an overwhelming job to take on.

Meantime, in case you haven't figured it out, I did not ride. Tucker is doing very well with his protective boot, so he is out during the day, enjoying what is proving to be nice, chilly, but sunny weather so far. It did rain a little last night, but nothing to really make it muddy or miserable.

By the weekend, the arena should be really nice for some riding. I should drag it as well to level and smooth things off. No word from my farrier about coming to reset the shoe. Typical, though as he is not the best about calling back. Sometimes he just shows up. Could be a bit tricky if he comes and the solar guys are there too.

I have order confirmation on the German boots, but I don't expect them to come for a while. Still, the International shipping fee was very reasonable, so I don't mind too much. I am kind of excited about trying them, though. It really would solve the problem if they work.

More later.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Will I Ever Get Going Again?


OK, the solar panel guys were in full swing when I got home yesterday, so I didn't dare bring the Boys into the barn. I ended up feeding them in the riding arena, hanging out to supervise so Tucker didn't eat Chance's dinner.

The installers hung out until dark, and the Boys were stuck in the arena/pasture area. That, and the general mayhem of the installing, left me not too keen on trying to ride somebody. And, even if I did, I'd have to chase the non-ridden horses out into the pasture where they'd be stuck until I was done. Just too darn much work for a schoolday evening.

Tucker is wearing a Simple boot which really seems to fit his bare foot pretty well and, thank goodness, stays on. However, as I said yesterday, I really can't ride him in it as he is unbalanced and "limps" at the trot on the corners. He seems fine frolicking around himself without me, so that's a plus.

I found some really cool boots from Germany designed to keep a horse from pulling his shoe. I have ordered a pair for Tucker. My farrier has used the Hoof Armor with mixed success and is willing to try, but first I will go with the boots and shoes.

When I first got Tucker, he was a barefoot baby. I kept shoes off him and he was OK, but then had some stone bruises. When I did shoe him, front only, he moved much better and felt far more comfortable to ride. Then we had the issue with the hoof crack which seems to have grown out. But the lost shoes are a chronic problem. (His conformation and way of going). While I suspect, over time, he could be OK barefoot, it was not too successful when he actually was, so I am not too confident about it. Still, my farrier would be ready to see how it could go.

The Kavalkade boots are here:
Very interesting concept and it does look as if they would do the job. My farrier worries a little that they might chafe if used extensively for turnout. However, I was figuring to use them when the ground is bad, and then keep Tuck in the arena and pasture--as he is today--during the day and put him in the stall--bootless--for the night, at least when the ground is wet and we have mud. So the boots would come off every night.

Don't know if the solar panel guys will be done today, but the electrician is supposed to meet me to look things over. I also have a parent conference right after school.

Hate this time of year when the sun is down before 5 PM. It is not too inspiring to work outside.

Or am I just getting older??

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Confusion Abounds

Solar Power Is On The Way

Not that I exactly have the money for it at this point, but the solar energy company plans to start installing my energy system this week. In the long run it will be a good thing, but right now, it is a bit painful financially.

So somehow I have to coordinate these guys coming and going to get the work done. And poor Tucker is stuck in the barn where the guys will be climbing all over the roof to install the panels.

I have him out in the arena right now with a Simple Boot on his unshod hoof. If it's still on when I go out for late feed, perhaps he can be out in it during the day until he has another shoe. I hiked around this morning and didn't find the lost shoe, so as of now--will look again tomorrow morning--he needs a replacement.

I also found this stuff on the Internet: I have emailed Scott, my farrier, to see if he knows anything about this stuff. If Tucker could go barefoot, it would solve the problems, but I cannot take the time or risk it would be to transition him. Supposedly this stuff solves the bulk of that problem. And, it might be a permanent alternative to shoeing if it really does work as described. I told Scott if he wants to experiment, I am willing to let Tuck be the subject, as long as we can get shoes on him ASAP should the product prove a failure.

Otherwise, I will be running into this lost shoe scenario regularly. It's not good for me and definitely not good for Tuck. Horses need to get out, move around, and exercise, not be kept in stalls like hot house flowers, dependent on the time a human being can handle or work them to provide exercise.

I know there are plenty of horses that spend all their time in a stable but I personally don't think that's at all good for them.

So, again, we shall see what will be.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Can I Rewrite An Old Blog Entry?

Tucker's Lost a Shoe (Where have you heard that before?)

No comment beyond the fact that it is muddy. It's the OTHER shoe, the one my farrier's assistant did not reset. It was on this morning, gone tonight.

He is now locked in again. There is no other option as I cannot afford to have him bruise his foot.

As I needed another chiropractic adjustment for my lower back issue tonight, I was home after dark so I could not do a shoe search. That will have to wait until morning. Guess I will be getting up early.

I was not planning on riding because of the chiro, so that was not messed up, at least.

What I need to find is some kind of protective boots that fit him well enough that he can work if he loses a shoe. The ones I have do not fit over a shoed foot, so when I get one on the bare foot he is uneven. Maybe I should get one size up. Then he could wear two and at least be sound enough to trot a little.

As far as the mud management goes, I am having fence problems with rails going down around the arena fence. Until I get that sorted, it is not a successful way of turning Tuck out only on the sand. I'm pretty sure Chance is the prime culprit in the fence demolition service.