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!!


  1. It is colder here, sleeting this morning then snowing big snowflakes at lunch time ... still snowing right now.

    Beu? not too happy about the snow, because we are stuck at home.

    You are lucky to be a place where there are quality horse people. There are many horse people so few are actually good.

    I am very lucky with Mirella as instructor and yard manager. She is very "pro" and a gifted instructor (she is my 7th, so I can compare).

    I realise now how important it is to work with the person.

    I am saving money, 1/ to buy a horse, and 2/ for some specialised tuition.
    It is too important to work with GOOD competent pro. I made the mistake twice. I paid too high the price.

  2. Its brilliant you have all that on your doorstep!
    I agree its hard having horses at livery there's always 'something' not quite right or not done the way 'you'd' do it.