Saturday, January 31, 2009

Slices of Ice

Just About Everywhere

Ice lingers. Parts of my arena are smooth enough for ice skating.

I used to love to skate, but my knees are far too risky now. Once, when I was young, my cousins and I skated all over the place after an ice storm. We managed to go up the road, into the woods, through the woods, to the little pond we used to skate on, back along the trails. We were out all day skating on top of the iced over snow. I did, however, manage to ruin some of the sole of my Mother's skates that day on the way home. As the day wore on, the sun melted some of what had been perfect skating surfaces and since I had no shoes or boots to change into, I'm afraid the last half hour or so was slithering through slushy stuff.

We'd be out for hours across the way on a little pond in the sandpit. I don't know how we stand the cold, but I can remember just skating and skating. Were I still sound, I'd be out now somewhere, just gliding along.

Winter used to be fun. There was a nice hill in what is now part of the paddock--the hill's still there but part of it is overgrown with trees and brush in my neighbor's yard. My cousins lived next door and my Aunt and Dad shared the field with the hill--no fence. Dad would take the tractor and drive up and down a few times to pack the snow and we kids would get out our sleds and off we'd go. Sometimes we'd add our own extra paths, all start at the top of the hill at the same time and see if we could miss each other as we crossed trails on the way down. How many times I'd walk back up the hill to go back down I'll never know, but again, we'd be out for hours.

The even better hill is in what is now my pasture. There used to be cows out there so sledding could have "interesting" consequences if you hit a "soft spot." *S* And the little pond in the sandpit had really steep sides so another daring feat was to sled down them onto the ice and across on a rather speedy tour.

Now, aside from the first few minutes of, "Oh, isn't it pretty!" snow is just a nuisance. The other day, when I took out the tractor to clear the driveway, I got soaking wet from the rain. I don't have a cab--not sure if they make one for my model--so I just got wetter and wetter as the rain came down. Usually, clearing the driveway is kind of a fun challenge if I have the time, but this was decidedly not pleasant. When I had the truck with the plow, of course, it was not a problem. But the truck is now with my friend Bill and I just have the tractor. In a sense the tractor is better as I can move the snow out of the way with the front end loader and it is much easier to navigate around my yard.

Right now, the snow is a big nuisance since it is spilled out all over the place in white patches mingled with gray patches of solid ice. Wherever the snow melted enough and didn't dry up right away, frozen stuff has taken over.

I was able to get the wheelbarrow to the manure pile going out of Chance's stall, but the last ten feet or so were really risky. So when I cleaned Toby's an Tuck's stalls, I dumped the wheelbarrow by the arena gate. More work for the tractor to clear when it thaws again, but at least I have the tractor to do the bulk of the work.

Spring or the thaw is going to keep me very busy. Both runin shed roof areas need a thorough cleaning, and the paddocks need a good drag. Then, I want to plant some new grass seed in the pasture. And, there are several sections of interior fencing needing repair. To top it off, now is the time to trim all the stuff growing up to the electric wires on the pasture fence.

There are plenty of other places where trimming would be far easier now before the leaves are green again. And I still have leaves all over the lawn to deal with.

The Boys are being pretty quiet out there as the footing discourages romping and frolicking.

I guess we are all deep in the winter doldrums at the moment.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Same Old, Same Cold

Shall I Repeat Myself?

At the risk of being boring....cold again, ice again, no ride again. The weekend may bring a break but I doubt the footing will improve enough for any serious riding. I may manage a hack if it's nice out.

The Boys seem to be quite content just hanging out, but I do notice them paying a bit more attention to me than they might when the weather is great. I know I am the source of food this time of year, but Toby, especially, tends to come to me for hugs and scratches whenever he gets the opportunity. Of the three, Tucker is the least cuddly, but he never wants to be left out of anything.

It is interesting how many people will ask me what my horses are like. They want to know if horses have personalities, like dogs, mostly. Since, as we all know, trying to explain just how a horse behaves and reacts to things is a rather complicated process, so I generally tell them--"Kind of picture a 1200 pound dog and you're almost there." It's not exactly accurate, but horses do crave attention at times, need to be fed and groomed, will kind of "heel" on a "leash" and certainly are as, if not more, trainable as a dog.

But when you think about it, the rest of "being a horse" is far more complicated than that. They are flight animals, not predators, and their physical needs are far different. They need a lot of care in feeding, shoeing, handling, and are quite capable of spending the day without sitting at your feet looking longingly at you all day. And the correct methods of training them are complex and varied.

But I guess people want to know if they are individuals with likes, dislikes, and opinions about things. To that, I give an unqualified, "YES!" Their feelings get hurt, they get angry, the try to figure out how to get out of work, they solve puzzles, they worry about things, and it's pretty evident they can act out of jealousy or love. While we may put all these reactions into human terms so we better understand them, we see and recognize emotions in our horses every day. One horse is a bully, another a coward, one is honest, another cheats, one is daring, another cautious, one is humble and other arrogant. Some are easy to train and others offer a challenge at every new step. Some are "bombproof" and others spook at a butterfly.

Each is a unique individual, yet they all speak a common language. It is up to us to learn that language to we can ask them to become our partners. We may have to "whisper" to some of them to be understood and "shout" at others, but except in very rare cases, we can always discover a way to work together.

When I tell people I've been riding for over 45 years, and I still take lessons, they just seem puzzled. I guess by now, I should know it all.

I don't, and I probably never will.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Make Me An Offer

As Long As It's A Lot

Stacie made her offer on the mare--a very reasonable one considering how difficult the horse is. Remember now, the teenager who owns the horse cannot ride her. She bucks her off, quits, and simply will not work. Stacie even has problems riding her well, but has the skills and the ability to learn how to get good work from her--over time, perhaps even more than a year of rehab.

Mother of teenager contacted Stacie back saying the offer was not enough as they'd paid nearly three times as much for the horse. Now, apparently, they have other people coming to look at the mare.

So, the horse is unrideable and useless to them, so she is worth at least what they paid--which is, by the way, a fair chunk of change? The horse is potentially dangerous to the teenager, but she is still worth a fortune? The horse needs serious retraining and mental adjustments and she is that expensive?

Prediction. Maybe horse will be sold for the money. Maybe horse will be bought by someone who knows how to cope. Maybe not. If not, there is trouble down the way and horse will end up in a bad place. No more said about that.

Stacie will be, hopefully, going up more north to look at another horse over the weekend. If it works out timewise, maybe I can go with her. We shall see.

All the wet snow and water froze last night. Fortunately the Boys have paddock area with snow cover enough that they can break through the top layer and have some traction so I left them out. They appeared to be being very careful. Parts of my arena look like a skating rink. The good news is that it's supposed to be sunny today and go above freezing, so perhaps we will get rid of some of the ice.

I am awaiting delivery of a new Ansur--the new dressage model--soon. I expect when it comes I will not be able to try it out. That happened when I got my first Ansur. That day the weather took a bad turn. I think I managed to walk Toby in it for all of five minutes. It was enough to tell me it felt good, but certainly not enough to do a good test ride. This time, no real test ride is needed as I am familiar enough with the Ansur to know my horses will be happy. But I am very curious about how this new saddle will feel.

This is a true dressage model instead of an all purpose/tendancy dressage. It has gotten really good reviews. Just my luck it will arrive on a day when I cannot try it out.

Only time will tell.

(In case this post is different, I kind of messed up with my original post, so this is a partial replacement.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Poor Little Kitty

DJ and the Dentist

DJ had to have 7 teeth extracted at the vet's. Apparently this is very common with kitties. They develop cavities below the gum line and since the teeth are too small to fill, it's easier to just extract them.

He was not happy going to the vet, and not happy in the carrier on the way home in the evening. I'm not sure he's eaten more than a mouthful of food since he's been home because his poor little mouth must hurt. I have to give him antibiotics twice a day--no fun either--so I guess the whole experience has been really traumatic for him.

Tonight, weather permitting, Reggie is supposed to go to another vet for more of his allergy testing. I way "weather permitting" because we did have that snowstorm last night. School was closed, which was sort of OK, but now it has started to rain. The roads are OK for driving, but I don't know if they will ice up later tonight. I'm not too keen on driving up to the vet if the roads are bad. I'll give them a call later in the afternoon to see how it is over in that direction.

I had to change Chance's blanket this morning because the one he was wearing had a great big rip on the bum. The filling was exposed to the wet and it would have been totally ruined if he'd kept in on all day. It was fine last night so I guess there was some roughhousing this morning to do it in. Luckily, I have some spares I can use.

The Boys were hanging out under the run in roofs earlier, but when I came home from renewing my cats' licenses--required in my town, mostly for rabies control--they were out in the pasture. I was raining a little--not too hard, but decidedly wet. The temperature is rising and the rain is supposed to stop. When it does, I will likely go out and clean the snow out of the driveway with the tractor. No point in letting the snow turn into ice if I can avoid it.

Needless to say, riding is out of the picture. This has, so far, been the worst winter for riding I've had since the Boys moved home. Part of it is that I am getting older and going out into the cold is getting harder and harder. But the other part is that the ground has been frozen for weeks.

Fortunately, I have no real plans or set goals for the season. I definitely want to teach Tucker the flying change. Once that's done, all his basics will be in place and I can play with him as I want. He'll never be great at the extended gaits, but his collected work will be just fine.

I need to get Chance solidly on the bit at all three gaits. and begin developing him to at least first level. I'm not sure I will ever show him, but I may consider it if he seems to be having fun.

Toby, of course, can just enjoy his semi-retirement. I hope to keep him fit enough to do some of the upper level exercises once in a while. Again, as long as I do not ask him to do them often or with "competitive" quality, he can certainly do the tempis and other upper level work without too much effort. I am so pleased at how sound he seems to be and don't want to compromise that by asking too much of him.

I also hope to get some good hacking (trail riding) in as well. There are a number of places I can trailer to to get some nice rides in. Chance is a good hack and I might be able to have some good fun with him.

So, right now, I just sit and plan, thinking of warmer weather or at least some good footing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stacie and the Mare

Lesson With Patrice

Stacie called me last night to give me an update. She rode the Danish mare she tried--the one that would not go forward--in a lesson with Patrice Edwards. Apparently, it was very illuminating.

For the first, Patrice really likes the horse and feels Stacie could learn a lot from her. In particular, not to grip and drive with her legs but to ride more correctly from her seat. (Note to Caroline--apparently she is a Zipster horse--no leg!) When Stacie uses her leg forcefully, the horse quits and simply shuts down. Patrice is big on how a correct seat and correct use of the rider's body will make the horse cooperate. Stacie had a hard time getting the mare to work for her in the lesson and she said she could not get a canter.

This is all interesting to me because I really just use my legs for cues and not particularly to keep my horses going. Tucker, like the mare and Zip, does not react well to the leg, so it's something I need to keep in mind as well. When I used to ride hunters, the concept was, "give the leg aid at whatever pressure you want for the desired reaction, and if the horse does not go as you want, tap with the whip. Don't keep increasing the leg pressure and don't ask again." Russell R. was very light to the leg, as is Toby. Tucker needs to learn to be a bit quicker off the aids, but I intend to work on that.

After Stacie had ridden for a while, Patrice got on the mare. She has a debilitating back injury that really limits the strength in her legs, so she didn't really use them much. According to Stacie the mare went absolutely beautifully for her! Stacie is really considering making an offer on the horse, but hasn't quite decided. She is pretty sure she will have the patience she will need to learn to ride her effectively and thinks she is ready to hold off showing for the season until she does.

She also had a lesson on another horse--a Fresian as it turned out. Again she had trouble as too much leg made the horse respond in unexpected ways. (At least unexpected to her.) When she used her outside leg on the circle, for example, the horse overreacted and threw his hindquarters to the inside instead of tracking true.

Again interesting to me as Stacie had trouble with Toby in that he "wiggled" all over for her. Now I am pretty sure much of that was her using her leg too much. While he does tend to be crooked at times--something I always had to work on, and probably aggravated by my own crookedness--he was really "squiggly" for her and she had a terrible time keeping him on (I think) the left lead. That always puzzled me as holding a correct lead and even counter cantering was never an issue with him. Now, I suspect the "too much leg" might well have come into play.

Years ago, when I used Russell R. for an occasional lesson, a young, but good rider was on him and we asked for canter. Russell took off with her in a hand gallop and it took my "talking her down" to get him to slow down. What she had done was simply grip with her thighs to hold on at the canter. She did not know how to correctly sit the gait and gripped instead. To Russell, that meant "Go, GO, GO!!!"

All quite interesting. And it might also explain why nearly every time a trainer gets on one of my horses, there is rarely, if ever, a problem with my horses' understanding their aids and performing well. Makes me feel pretty good about my own training and maybe even riding skills sometimes.

Now if I could only get it really right!! *G* I guess, considering Tucker's attitude, I am going to have to learn. *lol*

Nearly forgot to mention the weather!! There is a snow/ice/sleet/rain storm headed our way that should be starting about when I leave school. My kitty, DJ, is at the vet's having his teeth cleaned, so I'll need to pick him up this evening too. Not looking forward to any driving in the muck--although the vet's is about 5 minutes from home. Again, it's too cold to ride and I figure the snow stuff is only going to make it worse. I just hope we are not buried under a layer of ice. Yuck.

Monday, January 26, 2009

All Is Calm

Toby Seems Just Fine

In case anyone was worried. Just a quick post now, more later. I just checked him again before leaving for school and he is happily munching hay in Tucker's stall and Tucker is happily munching hay in Toby's stall, while Chance is outside happily munching hay in the paddock.

No clear reason for Toby's colic except his cribbing. The vet and I surmise he swallowed the air to build up the gas. I have had no luck with any kind of deterrant to the cribbing. I do have the collar from Australia to try again, but I'm not sure it will give a shock through his winter coat so I may have to shave him a bit in the neck area to test it out. But the unmodified version of the collar only worked for about two weeks and then Toby either learned how to crib without shocking himself, or just learned to ignore the shocks.

My vet noted that the last time she had been out for a colic with him was nearly the same time of year. It was right as a major snowstorm was about to hit--it did that night--and I had decided to be rather safe than sorry and had her come instead of waiting to see how the colic progressed. Good thing I did as it began to snow as she was leaving and really piled up by the next day.

Nothing much else to report. Again, the temperatures were well below freezing after only a day and a half of reprieve. I honestly cannot recall such an extended spell of this cold weather since I've had the Boys at home. (Is is over ten years already???) I only note this because I have been carrying buckets of water to the trough instead of using the now frozen hose. I can't quite remember not being able to use the hose for more than a week at a time. (I do still have the coil hose inside in case the "bucket brigade" gets too wearing.) Then again, maybe my memory is lapsing. After all, at this time of year, the terrible heat of summer actually is a pleasant memory, so who knows how my mind is working this out.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

And The Window of Opportunity Slammed Shut

With A Bout Of Colic!!

Stayed fairly moderate temperature-wise last night so I got up with hopes of catching a ride or two. I fed the Boys a nice warm, wet feed and then went out into the arena to poo pick as best I could. I worked for about an hour, then started to head back in only to see Toby lying down in Tucker's stall.

I watched him for a few minutes and noticed he was looking at his belly. Uh oh!! I got him up and put his halter on with the lunge line and he started pawing the ground. With him, that's a clear sign of an upset stomach. I took him out to the arena and walked him for a while, but he kept on showing signs of wanting to go down again, so it was back to the barn and a phone call to the vet. Dr. Perez called me back quickly and said she was on her way, about 30-40 minutes out.

I started walking Toby again, adding a bit of trot on the longe since getting his insides jiggling is often a way to break up any gas to help get his gut moving. He did drop a nice pile of manure, a good sign, but it didn't ease his discomfort.

Dr. Perez was soon here. She gave Toby a dose of banamine, and some tranquilizer which seemed to make him feel a little better. She checked his vital signs and listened to his gut. There were hardly any gut sounds at all--a bad sign. She did a rectal exam and said his secum was filled with gas. So the next step was to tube him with oil to break up any possible blockages.

But then, once she had the nasal tube in his stomach, liquid started coming out of it, another bad sign. Since horses cannot vomit, such reflux is an indication that something was keeping his stomach from emptying properly--another sign of a possible blockage. She essentially flushed his stomach, by adding some water and then using it to siphon out the contents of his tummy.

Then, it was a matter of waiting until the sedative wore off to see if he was feeling any relief. Soon, he lay down again, not the best sign, but as he lay there he started to pass some gas. We watched him for quite a while, did a bit of longeing again to see if that might help and finally, after about another hour, he seemed to be much brighter.

I have monitored him all day. I gave him a very small portion of alfalfa cubes well soaked in warm water and will do so again in another hour or so. I spent the afternoon stripping his stall of all the hay and old bedding so he has a nice fresh bed of shavings.

The "window of opportunity" in the title is the weather. It really became quite lovely this afternoon and after I hitched up the drag and groomed the arena, I may well have been able to ride at least a little. But then, I still had not stripped the stall, so tractor and I took another good span of time to do that, leaving the better part of the day eaten up. I still had plenty of daylight left but as the afternoon wore on it got colder and colder until even my newly groomed arena was frozen back up into icy ridges.

Just to show you how cool my vets are, when I came inside after a quick shopping trip to get some milk, there was a message on my answering machine from Dr. Perez, checking up on Toby. I did not call her back, as she said she was actually hoping NOT to hear from me but she also assured me that if I needed her she would be on her way.

The other Boys were quite interested in all the activity today, taking every opportunity to "help" in whatever way might call the most attention to them. That included such assistance as: walking into Toby's longeing circle, standing in the stall with the lying down Toby, nuzzling the vet as she listened to Toby's tummy in the barn aisle, observing at close quarters the tubing, and grabbing Tobys halter when he hung his head out the stall door when he was starting to feel a little better.

I just came back in after checking on the patient and so far, so good. I will feel better when I see some fresh manure in the stall, but he hasn't had anything to eat all day--prior to the two little feeds of wet cubes and he did pass manure twice this morning during the episode. Still I will be on "Poo patrol" for the remainder of the night.

Just another one of those little "joys" of owning a horse. *sigh*

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bless The Sun

Warmer at Last

A nice day, although not warm long enough to soften the footing as my arena was still frozen under what seemed to be a kind of slick layer of watery stuff where the snow had melted. But if it stays moderate all night, in the morning I may be able to poo pick and perhaps even ride a bit. But as I say, Time will tell.

When I went out to feed this morning, Chance was quite happily playing with the horse sheet I had put over the tractor seat to keep the snow off. Fotunately, it was a sheet already destroyed by one of his previous forays so it didn't matter too much, but I really had to laugh at him. He was totally involved in amusing himself swinging the sheet around and working on adding to the rips already in it. He did look a bit sheepish when I told him to drop it, and did so immediately to my surprise.

What is curious, is that twice now I have put unopened bales of shavings in his stall still wrapped in their plastic bags and he has made only minimal efforts to rip them open. My Russell R. used to be a master at opening the shavings for his stall and it was one of the things he really enjoyed. I kept thinking Chance would enjoy it too, but so far no luck. Maybe I need to show him how much fun it could be. Or, perhaps he might be more interested in the shavings wrapped in paper--not recently available at my tack store. When I go the next time maybe I can pick up a bale or two of them and see what happens. I do know Tucker rather seems to enjoy the great "rip" sound of the paper tearing.

Toby, on the other hand, used to panic at the sound of the rustling shavings bags. I think it was a combination of two things. I had him boarded at a barn where they had plastic sheets covering the back windows. One night there was a terrible storm and all the plastic ended up tearing free to flap wildly making an awful noise to add to the storm's ferocity. After than, Toby started to react to the noise from the bags. But we must compound that with the wacky stable manager who really had it in for me, and I am quite convinced that once she saw Toby spook at the bag she delighted in making as much noise as she could when she bedded his stall with him in it and probably even shook the bags at him. She was thrilled to tell me when he started cribbing, so I know she harbored a secret resentment of me and my horses--often admired by the other boarders.

Toby was definitely not happy at that barn, and PJ--much wiser and better able to take care of himself--was not particularly content either. There were tons of other issues, including that someone one (manager?? yeah) was taking away their hay at night after I left, so the bag theory certainly makes sense. Toby is a lot better now, but it has taken nearly 15 years for him to calm down about the bags.

That boarding situation was just one more reason I longed to have my horses at home. Of the other barns where I boarded, only two were really good. The first one closed down when the owners moved out of state, as did the second one. The second one had marvelous hired help--a Mexican horseman (and I do not use that term loosely) named Domingo who was an absolute angel with my Boys. The farm was a huge former Thoroughbred breeding farm. Thank goodness it was saved as a farm when it was sold and is now the headquarters for the New Jersey Equine Clinic, a state of the art horse veterinary hospital where Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones was cured from a training accident when he was a youngster. The vets there are great. They do all kinds of surgeries--except for colics and are only about 2o minutes or so from here. Colic surgeries are, though, handled at Midlantic which is about 45-50 minutes away.

Because of the high population of horses in the area, we are lucky to have some fine veterinarians--mine being one of the best!!!--and a number of good shoers--mine being one of the best!!!!

All in all, with a bit of effort, it's not too hard to find the best care and supplies for my horses within 20 minutes to a half hour from my house. The NJ Horse Park show facility is about 35-40 minutes away and there are a number of good places to catch a lesson or clinic within reasonable distances. This is not true all through the USA, so New Jersey--at least my part of NJ is good horse country.

I do admire the many places my British friends have to hack as so much land is developed around here it's not always possible to find places to ride. And, my local road is far too dangerous and heavily traveled to be safe for riding. Way too scary!! Fortunately, I have the State Park adjacent to my property so I do have trails and with my horse trailer, I can always take a Boy somewhere for some longer rides.

Ah, I wax nostalgic about the spring, summer and fall. And, of course---the thaw!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Skeptics Welcome

The Hope Will Not Diminish

Our country was founded on differences of opinion and thrives on diversity. So, those who do not believe Barack Obama is the real deal and will make positive changes in the world are welcome. I too am a political skeptic who has too often seen politics rule instead of what is best for our citizens.

But I generally have good intuition about people and my intuition tells me President Obama sincerely intends to overcome politics and work hard to do what is best for America. And that, in turn will also be what is best for the world. This is the first time I have felt optimistic about our leadership in many years.

What I admire most about our new President is his intellect. He really is a brilliant man, who is actually ready, willing and able to listen to and weigh other peoples' opinions when he makes decisions. This is such a breath of fresh air from his predecessor! As I so often have said, "Only time will tell," but right now, my instinct is to believe we finally have the right man on the job.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I called the vet to make an appointment to take my cats for their annual vaccinations and was given one nearly within the hour! Catching the first three cats was easy, but Church, the most skittish of the gang decided to play it coy and by the time I had chased him all over the house he was so upset, he bit me when I tried to put him in the crate. I now have a very sore finger. Fortunately, he was an angel at the vets.

The horses are just being cute and cuddly. Chance was especially adorable when I came home from school. For some reason, he was in a cheerful mood and I must admit it rubbed off on me. It's hard to feel gloomy, even in the miserably cold weather when your horse greets you and just wants a hug.

I have been soaking their pellets for morning feed. It makes me feel good to give them a hot meal and it's also a way of helping assure they are taking in water in the cold weather. Toby, in particular, seems to really enjoy it that way. I don't think he has any trouble chewing even at his age as I've seen no signs of it, but maybe, as an older gentleman he appreciates the luxury of a hot meal. I think, though, the carrots I cut up in it may help! *G*

At times like this, when I can't ride, I really appreciate just having these animals around me. I am so lucky to share my life with them all. (Even if they do bite me now and then. *s*)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Computer Feed Overload

When it came time for President Obama's actual swearing in and his speech, there were millions of people signed on to the Internet feeds so that the whole system was overloaded. It kept buffering and suttering.

Now, I do have a television in my classroom supposedly hooked up to cable TV, but that never works. That left us with the really annoying Internet. And in the course of it all, I managed to miss the swearing in! But I did get to listen to most of his speech. And now that I am back home, I will keep watching the festivities.

What a relief to see former President Bush fly off in his heliocopter never to return as leader to the White House. Now we have a new beginning, new hope, a new perspective, and the start of a whole new era for our nation.

It was well below freezing in Washington. I can hardly imagine how those millions of people coped in the cold. The parade is going on and I am feeling great sympathy for all the marchers and musicians. I used to play in a marching band and know all too well how the cold weather can feel. But I have a feeling, all those people are bursting with so much pride and excitement they hardly notice.

Sorry to go on, but the last eight years have been so frustrating to me I cannot tell you. I rarely agreed with a single policy of our government's leaders and was more than once sorely disappointed by how much prestige and respect our nation lost.

Lots of the students at school were totally involved in all the day's news--except for my freshman class who happened to be in my classroom during the speech--and serious schoolwork just kind of shut down for the bulk of the day. Nice, actually. The historic events really mattered.

It wasn't any warmer here in New Jersey, and the ground, the snow, and general climatic misery linger on. The Boys don't seem to care much. They still had hay leftover from this morning where I'd put it out in the paddock. That always makes me happy as it shows I put more than enough out for them to keep them well fed while I wasn't there.

It is supposed to warm up as the week goes on. Maybe by the weekend I will be able to take down the outside lights too.

Cool, Crow Indians riding by on horseback. Lovely horses with lots of color. I'll report back if I see anything really neat.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ah, Well

So Much For Plans

Snow last night, again, just enough to put another coating on top of what's already there. Pretty, I suppose, but a bummer for riding. If it were deeper, it might make riding OK, but a coating over frozen and uneven ground is not too good.

I needed teabags and wanted to look for a new down coat at the Burlington Coat Factory so after I fed the Boys I headed out. It was snowing off and on, more annoying than dangerous. I did find a nice coat, though not 100% what I really want, which is the Land's End Chalet coat. But for now it will do as my current one is really showing some wear, tear and age. Actually you Brits might be pleased to know I may end up ordering the coat I want from Land's End in Britain, as the US store is out of stock. If I do I will be paying a bit more, but at this point, I will at east have my coat.

Drove back home, had some lunch and watched as the snow started falling with some determination. Next time out, I took the truck because I was going to go get alfalfa cubes for the Boys and carrying that weight in the back of the car had already once proven bad for the shocks.

Luckily, the feed store had the cubes--though only one bag more than I needed--but they were out of bedding. Fortunately, I had gotten some bales of shavings yesterday, so I was fine.

Now, on the way home I had a craving for a chocolate milkshake (Ice cream in the dead of winter???), but the little ice cream shop in the town on the way home was closed. I ended up buying some chocoalte/vanilla ice cream so I could make my own. Yummy. Not that I needed the extra calories, but sometimes you just have to indulge.

The Boys have spent the bulk of the day all the way out in the pasture, getting covered in snow. They seem totally oblivious to the weather. They have plenty of shelter and seem happier out in the open.

The bummer is that Tucker had snowballs in his feet. Toby had snow, but it wasn't as bad. Once more, I have to second guess myself about the snow pads. It seems we have had snow every other day since I opted out. Tuck will get around OK as he is pretty careful and when he is walkng in the snow itself or in the bedding of his stall, he's OK. It just has to be uncomfortable for him.

What would be ideal would be some kind of removable pad or a temporary one. I do have some hoof packing I can try but that, various greases, etc. wear out as the day progresses, just acting as a temporary solution.

Don't expect much news on the riding front for a while until things start to thaw--which may be towards the end of the week. There really isn't any point in trying to do much with the footing conditions.

Went over to the farm across the woods this morning, but I'm pretty sure I missed the horse again. There were two gray horses in the front field, but both had blankets on. I think I could see a gray horse in the back field, so I am supposing that's the one for sale. I guess my timing was off again.

Christmas decorations are still up. Saturday was the only chance to take them down in good weather. Now they are snow covered again. My consolation is that as I drive around various neighborhoods, I am not the only one who hasn't "un-decorated" yet. I guess Christmas will linger a bit longer yet. One year we were totally frozen in for all of January, so this isn't quite that bad yet.

Just annoying.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Finally Above Freezing

Just, Though

Snowed a little again last night but today the temperatures warmed up enough to make it bearable outside.

I had run out of alfalfa cubes this morning so I headed to the nearest feed store to get a bag to tide me over until tomorrow when my regular store is open. No luck. I guess the Boys will just have to go without at breakfast tomorrow too. I did give them some of the clover hay, but to my surprise they actually seemed to favor the grass mix instead. Interesting.

The ground is still hard, lumpy, frozen and covered with snow stuff. The woods did look like it might be OK, but I opted for stripping stalls instead as I have been just doing cursory poo picking over the last week. The work was pretty tiring as I did all three stalls. Toby had enough hay scattered about mixed with his shavings to make a good bed, but I put a bale of fresh shavings in both Tucker's and Chance's stall. Then I scrubbed the outdoor water tub and refilled it--bucket by bucket since the hose is frozen. I do have a coil hose in the house to use, but I didn't want to lug it out so I did it the hard way.

No school tomorrow for Martin Luther King Day. It is supposed to snow again--see, I should have put the snow insurance pads on the horses!--but it's not forecast to amount to much. I'll head out to the feed store first thing, then come home and contemplate a ride or two in the woods. Not sure I can take Tucker out, but I may try if Toby has no trouble with the footing out there.

I think, Claire, it is supposed to be just a bit warmer on Tuesday in Washington DC for the Inauguration with temps hovering around freezing instead of below. Still, I hope people know how to dress if they are going to be outside witnessing the event. If I were going, I'd have my down coat and my moon boots (super insulated winter boots) and not worry at all what I looked like. Instead I will be in my classroom at school watching on TV. I hear there will me thousands upon thousands of people in the Capital city to watch the event. One of the women I met at the dinner last night is going, but her daughter has a condo in the southwest part of the city so she has a good place to stay.

Washington is a gorgeous city and the Mall, where many of the people will be is a lovely wide swath of trees, grass, footpaths and monuments. It will be an amazing sight to see it filled with people cheering for our new President.

I didn't think much could be more exciting than the election itself, but this may be the topper. Only two more days and we have a new beginning.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Instant Replay

Same Old Same Cold

Don't even ask. No riding. My face nearly froze when I was feeding this morning. I had soaked the Boys' pellets in hot water and Toby, for one, really seemed to enjoy breakfast. I think he even went in to lick Tucker's tub.

I think Stacie's lesson with Patrice on the mare is the end of this week. She is definitely mulling it over, so we'll see. I may have another chance on Monday to see th horse across the woods.

Today was another lost cause as this frigid weather is just hanging on. I picked up my contact lenses this morning, went to the chiropractor, did some shopping, came home, hung out, fed the Boys and then headed to a Human Rights Celebration to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.

This was sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association and my friend invited me. There were speeches--some too long-- a performance by the NJState Jazz chorus (an excellent group of high school kids singing jazz songs and doing a super job of it), a young man presenting Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech--another excellent job, dinner, and then a speech by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson--a renowned radio personality and Baptist preacher. Dyson was dynamic and entertaining, so it was really worth the time to listen.

The trouble was, the program started at 2 PM (although I didn't get there until 4 PM) and didn't finish up until well after 8 PM. A bit too much, I fear.

But, one of the repeated pleasures was enjoying the excitement of Tuesday's upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. There is such a sense of new hope and anticipation. I plan on having my classroom TV monitor on most of the day tuned to live coverage of the ceremonies. I just hope my students can appreciate the historic importance of the event.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Colder Than Cold

Well Below Freezing: The Daily Weather Report Blog

Woke up to temperatures of 6 F (-14 C) this morning. When I went out to feed Toby and Tucker were in their stalls. Well, Tucker was in Toby's stall and Toby was in Tucker's stall. I'm not sure what Chance was up to but he was right there for the morning feed in his own stall.

The good thing is that the day will be sunny. While nothing is going to melt, the sun will offer some basking benefits during the day and the horses certainly have plenty of shelter from whatever stray breezes may kick up, although it seems to be quite still out, thank goodness.

So, there will not be riding news again today so I thought I'd update you on Stacie's search for a horse.

This week, she tried a warmblood cross mare not too far from where she lives. I think the mare is around 11 years old. She is going at a good price and has had some good dressage training.

The stable has no indoor, so she had to ride on frozen ground. That, of course, does pose some issues, but she was impressed at how well the horse handled the surface and kept herself in good balance. She is also apparently very sound.

However, when Stacie called me, her opening line was, "I've just ridden the female version of Tucker!" Apparently, the mare just shuts down at times and will not go forward.

Now, I would have thought, from what Stacie has said in the past, this would be a complete turnoff. "Forward" was one of her criteria for a new horse. For some reason, she is considering this horse as a good prospect. Supposedly, the mare had been either abused or badly ridden at some point and learned to quit as a defense when the pressure gets too much. She does not like the leg but will work correctly from the seat--something Stacie insists she needs to work on in her own riding. The trainer said you can't really "get after" the mare because that just makes her less forward.

However, Stacie also said that when she had the horse going well, she was absolutely wonderful. She insists that of all the horses she's tried this one is the best "value for the money." She wonders if she will have the patience to deal with the problem and fix it by getting the horse to trust her. (Mares, I know, do have a different mindset than geldings.)

I am a bit puzzled, as I told her. I know Tucker can be driven into forward by an aggressive rider who is not intimidated by his antics as I often am, but apparently that's not so for this mare. While there are tactics to use to encourage her to go, why would you buy such a complicated ride unless it was purely for you to learn how to ride that particular horse? I'll admit, Tucker is teaching me a lot, but if I had an option, I'd much rather Tucker had Chance's attitude attached to his body. Life would be so much easier and more pleasant in the saddle.

Apparently there is a Belgium cross gelding she yet has to look at, and, of course the horse across the woods from me. I'm not sure where the Belgium is, but the horse near me is "on hold" due to the same weather and footing issues keeping me indoors. (Who can stand out in the bitter cold evaluating a horse you really can't ride?)

Stacie may be able to arrange and "evaluation" lesson of the mare with Patrice Edwards when she comes in the next month, as there doesn't seem to be a lot of sales pressure at the moment. I just hope it all works out in Stacie's best interests. I know how frustrating a difficult horse can be.

Meanwhile, I just keep talking to my Boys using the "think method" (Anyone know the story of "The Music Man??") to teach them the upper level movements. When I get back in the saddle, I am sure we will be all set for Grand Prix! (Well, my modified fantasy version of GP, anyhow. *G*)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Snow Curse Continues

"So, I Shoulda Got Them Pads"

My traditional approach to winter, for the last ten years or so was to shoe my horses with snow studs (just little dots of borium) for the ice and snow pads to keep the snow from balling up in their feet. Last year and the year before I opted out because in the year prior we had so little snow the pads just didn't make sense.

This year, when my three shoers came, Kenny asked if I wanted pads. With the recent weather record, I opted out as I noted in an earlier post.

I used to call the pads "snow insurance" because it always seemed that once I had them put on, it would not snow again all winter. Well, this year, so far, ever since I decided NOT to put the pads on, all it has done is snow! I shoulda taken out my snow insurance policy!

Once again, when I got up this morning, the old snow, still not all melted was covered with a new layer. It's not a lot--just enough to be annoying--but it's still snow. To top it off--which it did--it coated the patches of ice in my driveway, hiding them well enough that on the way down to put out the garbage for collection, I slipped and fell. I didn't fall hard, but my knee is noticing it as the day goes on and I feel a few more twinges here and there. Bummer.

I certainly wish I could post some great riding news, but it doesn't look good for quite a while yet. The cold is supposed to hang around for more than a week from the looks of the forecast. That will mean this bad footing will hang around too. I may try a hack to see how it is out there, but with the new layer of snow hiding the ice, I will have to be very careful.

More maybe later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Early Post

No Point In Horsing Around

The ground is frozen solid and it's well below freezing out. (-9 C or 16 F this morning.)

Aside from that, I have a vet appointment with my kitty Reggie in the evening.

A word about Reggie, the allgergic kitty here. If you recall, I took him to the vet just before Christmas for NAET testing. Since then, and since the treatment, he is virtually 100% better. I am hoping tonight will basically just be a follow up with little need for more. I will be taking some more things with me to be sure he is not allergic to other things in the house, including the other cats. Still, the whole experience has been almost a miracle. I highly recommend it as an option for anyone with allergies.

As a fun side note, I enjoy feeding the birds in my back yard and also the squirrels. Now I know gray squirrels are a nuisance in Britain, but here they are just cute little critters. I bought a nice bag of peanuts in the shell for them.

The first day, I put the peanuts out under the bird feeder. I went into the barn to feed the horses. That really doesn't take too long. When I came back out, all the peanuts were gone. "My, those little fellows were hungry," I thought.

I went into the house and brought out another handful of peanuts.

A minute or so later, I looked out the window to see--Blue Jays happily and rapidly carrying off the peanuts to eat themselves. A nice little flock of Jays finished off those nuts in a matter of seconds. So much for the squirrels.

At last, though, this morning, the squirrels were under the feeder, successfully competing with the Jays for their peanuts. I think they managed to enjoy quite a few of the tasty morsels.

Now that they know they are there, perhaps they will get up earlier then the birds and claim the bulk of the peanuts for themselves.

I'd like that.

Reggie's appointment was canceled. Now I have the night off to sit inside the warm house just relaxing instead.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Horse Games

No Footing

The arena was still frozen and snow and ice covered. It's not going to get better for the rest of the week as the temps will be dropping.

I elected to just try some "obedience horse" tonight so the Boys and I would at least have some interaction. The idea was to have a horse follow my lead without a halter or lead rope, then halt, back, move over, and once more follow.

Tucker thought the whole thing was mildly amusing and watched me with disdain.

Toby came over for a scratch and then walked away.

Chance followed me for a spell, but when we did the back up--he was fine--that ended his interest in following me.

The NH crowd would say I need to work on the join up.

I say my horses were just being natural.

Then I filled my pockets with treats and Tucker was on instant alert. He followed, he backed, he followed, he moved over, he kept mugging me for treats. I needed only voice commands to get him to move as I wanted him to, as long as at the end of an exercise was a peppermint horse treat.

You see, all you need is some motivation.

Food is good.

Nothing of Note To Report

Monday Off

No real horse news, except to say I was happy to see that the Boys still had some hay left outside when I got home. That means they had enough to eat and were not standing around in the cold with nothing to keep their insides warm.

MaryLou has posted that Tetley has lots of grass in his field. While she is concerned about its nutritional value, its mere existence is a blessing. At no time does Tetley have nothing to eat. In the winter forage is an essential for every horse. I have thought about the big round bales as an option myself, though after having seen the You Tube video of a young horse playing in one and scattering the whole thing all over the place, I do wonder what "Chance the Destructor" might do to one.

Anyhow, I did not even attempt to ride. The footing has not improved since it's hardly gone above freezing--though it might have gotten better if we would only have some sun. To make matters worse, the arctic freeze is on the way for Wednesday. Prospects for schooling do not look good.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Cold, But Sunny

I doubt it ever got much above freezing today (32F, 0C) but the sun was lovely. It had only snowed about an inch or so and the ground stayed white all day except for the dark roadways where it melted.

After a short shopping trip to get some "Mendit" fabric glue to hopefully patch a few rips in the horse rugs, I came home and computered for a while. Then I decided to go outside to do something with the Boys.

The ground was frozen, but because the arena was still fairly level from the last time I'd dragged it, the shallow layer of snow made riding at the walk and cautious little trot on Tucker a possibility. So I did. Then I decided perhaps the footing in the woods might be OK so out we went. Error!! I did not take the "Tucker trail" but tried a variation. Not a good idea in the cold, with slippery footing, and a totally unfocused horse. Two minutes out and I dismounted to lead him back home rather than risk a "discussion" in the cornfield. I am a decided coward, I know, but the footing was bad and Tucker was threatening to be bad and I have absolutely no confidence in him or me under those circumstances. I took him back into the arena and trotted about for another 5 minutes with some walking for good measure and called it a day.

To my surprise, Toby wanted to be caught so we could go for a ride. I took him out on the Tucker trail and he reminded me of just how nice a good hack in the cold winter air could be. What a lovely boy.

Then I saddled up Chance for the same ride. The benefits of shoeless are obvious in the snow as he was having no problem at all with the footing. As a matter of fact, he wanted to trot off. I am just a little concerned because on the way out, Toby was calling to him and for the first time, he acted as if he wanted to turn around to go back home rather than adventuring. Still we had a nice little hack going in the opposite direction on the Tucker Trail.

I felt really good when we got back--very energized. Too bad the ground was not better because I would have liked to ride Tucker or anyone a bit more in the arena, but it was a no go. Times like this I wonder how well rubber footing would hold up. I don't have the money to lay such a surface, of course, but one can dream. Aside from an indoor it's the only option that might work.

Meantime I certainly did have a nice afternoon with the Boys and each one earned a nice carrot as a reward.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Now I'ts Snowing....

So The Decorations Stay Up

It was snowing in the morning, and all the outside decorations were wet. I didn't want to put them away in that condition and I really don't have a place to dry them. Guess I will have to wait for better conditions.

As for Tucker and barefoot...while it remains an option, my farrier and I consider it a last resort for now. When he was barefoot I had issues with bruises and had a number of lamenesses. (This was as a never been shod youngster.) When I started riding him more, his feet were not really holding up. Scott is not sure his feet are good for barefoot--meaning it would be a long transition. (Scott is an excellent farrier---very knowledgeable and up on his trade and feet. He has no trouble with Chance's being unshod, nor did he protest when I let PJ go barefoot.) I do understand the arguments for barefoot, but I'm not too willing to watch Tuck go through the transition unless we have no choice. Scott fitted his shoes this time and I have managed to control his turnout pretty well. He is also very adaptable to the changes in turnout schedule so that's good.

Needless to say, the Boys had another day off. They have plenty of hay, plenty of water, and all kinds of shelter. I'm sure they don't mind not being worked.

Now I just wait to see how much snow we are going to suffer.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Shal I Repeat Myself?

Too Cold To Ride

I guess, but it really didn't matter anyhow because when I arrived home I found three farriers at my barn shoeing my horses.

I say three this time because Scott is partially back in action. Apparently, his shoulder has healed and rehabilitated enough from the surgery that he can do a limited amount of work each day. He was fitting Tucker's shoes this time. Unfortunately we discovered that Tucker's heel on the club foot cannot be opened enough to let the German no pull the shoe boots to fit in.

I am going to try to contact the manufacturer to see if any modifications can be made without compromising the boots themselves. If not, I guess it's just cope with the turnout restrictions I have used to keep Tuck shod in the bad weather.

I did not get snow pads this time either, so I suppose now we will be buried under snow for the rest of the winter. I was worried that the pads would make it even more of a problem to keep Tuck's shoes on. And, there is the added worry of the fact that he had that bout of thrush.

After the shoeing was done it was already dark, and even colder for riding. I fed the Boys and headed out to the supermarket to pick up a few tasty foods to keep me happy for the weekend as I'd had a sudden craving for tortilla chips and salsa. Paul Newman's company makes a lime flavored salsa I really love and I managed to get two jars of it tonight and a nice big bag of chips.

So, let the weather do as it will. I will be fat and satisfied

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Rather Brisk

But At Least It's Not Raining

I was able to let Tucker out by the barn for the day as the muddy ground was frozen and showed no signs of thawing. As a matter of fact, when I got home from school, I put the winter blankets on all three Boys as the temperatures had dropped again.

Needless to say, it was too cold and frozen to ride, and this time tomorrow does not look any better. Then there is supposed to be snow on Saturday.

The Boy's winter blankets (rugs) are all waterproof, so they will be fine. They have plenty of shelter with the barn and run-ins all open to them 24-7 so I don't worry too much about them. The winds are annoying, but again they have several shelter options facing in at least two different directions to the weather.

Apparently, the electrical inspector finally approved my solar system as there was a tag on it when I went out to feed. I have no idea if the State government people where here for their inspection, and at this point I hardly care. The whole thing slipped out of my control a long time ago.

I did see the panel read that the system had generated 9.4kwh of energy today. I have not idea if that's good or not. At least we had sunshine!!

It seems all our blogs (even the ones at blogblog, Muriel *lol* ) are becoming weather reports. I totally agree with Caroline. No point in trying to ride when you are going to freeze your fingers off. When I was younger, I rode in the bitter cold. No more. Old age, wisdom, and horses in the back yard where I can watch them from a warm window have changed me.

Tucker and his simple or flying changes are just going to have to wait.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wet and Not So Wild

Wow, Did It Rain!!

All day today we had substantial rain. Fortunately it was warm enough not to be freezing. And equally fortunate, as far as I'm concerned, it was not snow.

I left Tucker in for the day. When I came home all was well except that his sheet was torn in a bit "L" on the side! How come the horse that stayed in destroyed his sheet? I didn't find anything in the stall to do it and I'll check again tonight as I put a different sheet on him. Fortunately, I seem to have a fair collection of horse clothing available to swap--that is until Chance ripped up a few. This one can be fixed so it's not a total loss.

I put Tuck out in the arena for a while with Chance for company. When I looked out from cleaning the stalls, I saw him standing in the run-in shed. So much for turnout! It was raining a bit--not heavily--but definitely rain. I guess he didn't mind being in and dry all day after all. He will be in again for the night.

From the looks of the forecast, tomorrow will be dry, so I guess the herd can go out for the day in the restricted turnout of arena and pasture.

Supposedly, the State of New Jersey inspectors will be here tomorrow to look at the solar installation. I guess they need to do this in order to finalize the grant money they have promised. From the looks of things, the electrician was back today. The drill is gone, the solar panel control box is put back together, and the box is gone from the lawn. However, the short circuit in the lights in my carport and back garage is not fixed. Does this mean he will return??

Again, tomorrow is another day. (And hopefully drier than today.)

Short and Slippery

Time Out

Time out of school was just wrong today as it started to rain/sleet just as I was leaving the building. Thought I might manage a little work with a horse, though.

Then I got home and checked my phone messages only to find that the world's longest loan closing was still going on as the loan officer had accidently sent me home with a copy of one of the loan papers he needed. So I had to drive to the bank and give it to him.

By then the rain/sleet stuff was getting steadier. I fed the Boys, drove to the bank and then hermited myself in the house for the evening.

I just came back in from midnight snacking them and locked them all in the barn as it is getting more and more slippery out there. Freezing rain, as it doesn't seem to be coming down as ice.

Have to see what the morning brings, but I'm suspecting we might have a delayed opening if it keeps up this way. I'll worry too about putting the Boys out if the ice is too bad.

One more time, we'll see what tomorrow (or later today since it's 1 AM brings--I fell asleep on the couch.)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Shoe's Back On!

Kyle Stepped in and Saved the Day

But what has the electrician been doing all day? Hard to know for sure, but the electrician showed up at about 8 AM. He told me then the electrical inspector was coming somewhere between 8 and 2. Then he asked me to show him where I had the short circuit in the car garage.

When I came home, there was a box from and outdoor light on the lawn, a drill, and a screwdriver on the front end loader, and two sets of lights on in the barn. Now, granted, apparently Kyle, my farrier's apprentice had just left after putting Tucker's shoe to right for me, but the lights on had nothing to do with him.

It kind of looks as if the electrician left in "mid-stride." If he doesn't come back tonight, I will have to take the tools inside in case it rains.

So, Tucker is back in fine form. I was thinking of working him with some tape on the shoe, but now I don't have to worry. Since he just got out to stretch his legs about an hour ago, I will just let him alone. Monday is the traditional day off and, as always, I am worn out from school, especially since it's the first day back after vacation.

I did have my regular schedule today, but again it was fraught with "extra issues." Several students asked for the work they had missed--something I had fully intended to put to a stop after Christmas. But two young ladies had been absent for extended periods before the holidays and need at least a chance to keep up. Then, one of them left my class without the packet I'd made up for her so I spent a good half hour trying--with no success to track her down. (Another long convoluted story I shall not relate.)

THEN the vice-principal dropped in to ask me to see if I could track down another student who might have a copy of a very important paper one of my other students had lost. The missing paper was the instructions and deadlines for the required marking level book reports--a paper I clearly warned every student to put in a safe place because I would not give out new copies. (This to prepare them for college/university when professors hand out a course syllabus and expect students to keep and follow it.) Apparently, one of my student's mother had called insisting I give her son a new copy. NO WAY. So the VP wanted to see if we could find a student who had a copy and would be willing to let her make a copy to give to the student who lost his.

This is the one rule I follow to the letter. It is the only piece of paper I give to my students that I expect them to be completely responsible for. When someone loses it, I tell them to get a new copy from a fellow student as I will not give them one. In this case, the student told his mom he'd asked "everybody" and no one had a copy. Curious. It took me all of about five minutes or less to find a student in one of my classes to help out.

This is the kind of nonsense that wears thin after 38 years of teaching.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Shoe Curse Continues

But I Rode First!

The ground was pretty good in the arena, with only the edge near the fence on the shady side a bit hard. That left a nice big area to ride in.

Chance was decidedly determined for some attention, so I saddled him up first for a schooling session. He was lovely. From the first he was nicely forward with his head down, stretching for the bit. He still steers a bit too much off the inside rein on the right hand, but even that was easy to fix with just my whip on his outside shoulder to bring it over where it belonged. The canter was so much better. Again, for the most part, his head was down and he reached for the contact. But I did have to keep my leg on, because he was also too quick to break back to the trot. I didn't catch it quickly enough about three times in the whole ride, so that's not bad at all. The important thing is that he is making constant progress and becoming steadier and steadier with each ride.

I cooled him off with a very short little hack behind the barn in the woods. He didn't show his usual enthusiasm for the trail so I just kept it super short.

Tucker was next. As planned, I focused on simply insisting he keep forward no matter what. I started with some bending walk work, one rein to another. Then, I did lot of walk, trot, walk transitions, insisting that he step off each time with energy. Then I repeated the exercises with walk/canter/ trot/ canter transitions, again, insisting on forward.

I do feel a definite difference in his right and left leads with the right being less "smooth," for lack of a better description. If his left hock is bothering him, that might account for it. Again, I will just keep working him until something definite shows up as a physical problem needing vet attention.

After his work, I took him out into the woods for "his" trail. All was well until we entered the woods. Then, something spooked him. It might have been a distant gunshot as someone was target shooting a ways off. Now, though, I wonder if it might have been his stepping on himself, or a combination of both. At any rate, he tried to bolt/buck off. To be frank, for a moment there, my "life flashed in front of me" as I thought I was going to lose control of him. But bless his heart, he listened when I "purred" him back down and, though he was a bit unsettled for a short time, he settled back down for me and we managed to safely finish the ride.

But when we came back into the arena, I heard that dreadful metallic sound of "loose shoe, " and sure enough, his right front had "sprung." It wasn't totally displaced, thank goodness, but the nails on the inside were all out and the shoe was hanging on by the toe clinches and outside nails.

I did not take it off, but instead locked Tuck in his stall and called my farrier. Perhaps his assistant can come by and tack it back on. Technically, the Boys are due for shoeing by the calendar, but with winter in full force, their feet have not been growing too much.

Ah, well, I should have known it was too good to last.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Speedy's a No Go

Better Day Weatherwise

At least it was in the afternoon, after I had committed to perhaps driving over to see the horse at the farm on the other side of the woods. That left me kind of limited as I had to keep the house phone on me when I went outside.

I decided to lunge Tucker. I'm keeping in mind the concept I used earlier last year in that no matter what he does he needs to go forward. The lunging is an easy way to get after him without risking life and limb should he buck. I'll mix lunging, lining and riding for the next several months whenever the weather allows, just insisting on forward energy and not worrying too much about the frame. Actually a good frame tends to just come with the forward, so that's a given.

Tuck worked nicely. When he wants to cooperate, he is very responsive and good on the line. After some good basic walk, trot, and canter, I sent him over the trotting poles and again, he was really good.

I was still cold, but the ground is improving daily. Good enough footing to ride, I think. Gotta get my ambition perking.

Stacie went to try the Thoroughbred today. She called on her way home. Apparently there were two basic, or three problems with him. First, he was slightly off, something his owner insisted he normally warmed out of, but he had just been shod--not a real excuse in my book, nor Stacie's but perhaps, a real issue. Then, he was apparently far more green than he appeared in the photos. Stacie said she could not ride him into the corners or bend him at all. While she is perfectly capable of schooling a green horse, the rest of his behavior was not the most encouraging. Apparently, he simply took off with her for no reason at all, bolting so much she had to ride him into a wall to stop, and then he bucked.

She just doesn't want to have to put up with that kind of nonsense any more. Even if he is a good price, it's not worth it for her to deal with his temperament. When the owner took him back into the barn to untack him he acted really headshy and keep flinging his head around when she tried to take the bridle off. More of that annoying behavior to sour her interest in him.

He'd make a nice project horse, but that's not what she's looking for.

So the quest continues.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thank Goodness I Was Too Cold Again

The Day Became Busy!

It was cold again, although the wind died down. I toyed with the idea of perhaps a hack, but when I went out to feed, there was a hunter with a whistle and, I guess, beagles in the back field and woods. The horses were totally distracted by all the commotion and not at all ready to settle in. I had to lock them all in their stalls to get them to even eat.

When I went out later to let them back out, there was a stranger in my yard--the Township electrical inspector, here to look at the solar system hookup. I had to escort him into the basement and then listen as he explained all the outstanding violations still needing to be fixed because the solar installers were not there to meet him.

Then, when I'd spent some time with him, the solar guys showed up and they all began to review and discuss the same things. The solar guy videoed the session, which probably made the inspector even more picky about things. Then, when the inspector left, the solar guy knocked on the door and I was entertained by a whole lengthy explanation of what needed to be done and why some of the requirements were extreme.

He and his assistant finally left to go get some breakfast and in short order, the electrician showed up. Fortunately, solar guy was back quickly and the three of them sorted out the problems--I hope. Sooner or later the system should get government approval....*sigh*

However, I needed an adjustment at the chiropractor again as I'd fallen asleep on the couch...*duh* and I had a appointment to close on my home equity loan in the early afternoon. I made the chiropractor appointment for after the loan closing, figuring the timing would be perfect.


The loan closing took forever as I wanted to change some of the bills I needed to pay off with the money and the bank had approved other bills instead. After nearly two hours, I had to leave for the chiro. I got my adjustment, and headed back to the bank. It took about another hour to go through the paperwork and settle things.

The bank is in the supermarket, and I needed a few things, so I shopped and headed home as darkness was falling.

What should have taken about an hour had eaten up the entire afternoon. Good thing it was too frozen to ride, because I simply would not have had time.

And this is my holiday vacation?????????

What can tomorrow possibly bring?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Times Like This I Miss the Indoor


It is bitter cold. The footing is a solid rock and the wind has not settled yet.

Twice I boarded with an indoor arena, and I must admit, I do miss the convenience. Hard to say if I would have ridden today since it is so cold, but having the option would be nice.

More perhaps later.