Friday, October 30, 2009

Shoes! Shoes!

Farrier and Fetch

Scott called last night to tell me the Boys were due for shoeing and he could come this morning. So, I set up the appointment.

He arrived late morning, and I was busy in the house when he came. A bit after, I headed out to the barn, only to find Mic, Scott's Border Collie standing at the back door waiting for me. He looked so cute, just staring at the door, and then bouncing around looking for some kind of fetch toy as soon as he saw me.

Jean, the "dog toy." I knew what I was in for. It was Scott's first stop of the day and Mic was fully of energy. While Scott shod my three Boys, Mic and I played "fetch" with the tennis ball, the rubber hot dog shaped thing, and the multi-hot dog shaped thing. Mic would tire of one toy and in rapid fire Border Collie determination would offer me a new one for another seemingly endless round. At one point, Scott asked me to "tell" Mic to get a drink of water. Apparently, Border Collies get so focused on play or work that they forget to at and drink. Scott said with both Mic and Jack, his first dog, he would have to sit next to the dog and food until they started to eat and finally "remembered" they were actually hungry.

I am pleased to say that Scott told Tucker what a good boy he was this time as he stood quite politely the whole time without turning himself sideways on the crossties. And, he never even acted as if he might pull his foot away. Tucke seemed quite pleased at the compliment.

Chance and Toby were, as usual, good boys too.

By the time Scott was done, it was early afternoon and I wanted to make sure Tucker had some quality turnout time since it was sunny for the first time in days. Since the pasture had dried out, I put all three Boys in the arena/pasture turnout combination. Then I scrubbed the water tub in there, refilled it, and cleaned all three stalls.

That didn't give me much time before I had to head to the library for my witch storytelling session. The kids were really cute--probably 11-14 years old or so for the most part. This was an after school Friday enrichment program. They really seemed to enjoy the whole experience. After the stories and songs, we held a costume contest since 7 of them were dressed for Halloween. Then, in the few remaining minutes before the hour was up, they played musical chairs. The librarian awarded books as prizes for the costume contest and then game, and each child also got a little candy treat. Two of the little girls gave me a hug before they left which was really sweet, and one of the others asked me to come back next week.

I told the librarian I would think about some kind of program to do some other week, so if I can come up with a good idea, I will go back. I think it's a great idea to offer kids something special after school hours once in a while to stimulate their minds and have some fun. I'm pretty sure I can come up with a good idea or two.

When I got home again, it was time to feed the Boys and get ready to go to the farm market for my evening stint as a storyteller, and fortuneteller. Unfortunately, things were a bit too disorganized there for me to get very far. The area where I was was totally dark, and all I had was a flashlight to light things up. If I do go back tomorrow night, I will bring my own illumination and try to set up and "attracting" spot. Tonight, I had no one drop by for a fortune.

I might go over tomorrow afternoon in the daylight to ply my trade as a fortune teller, just to see how it goes. I will be interested to see just how successful I can be. The idea would be for me to charge people directly for a reading. I haven't "done" the cards in years, so I spent my dark evening doing pretend readings for invisible clients, just to practice.

Do I need to note here that working the horses once again fell by the wayside?

Here I am, retired, with the whole day and still.....

No comment more.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soggy Bottom

But I Did Get Some Good Work Done

It was really muddy this morning. I ended up putting Tucker out by himself in the arena. I felt bad about it, but I did want him to get out. I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to ride and he needed some exercise.

Then I decided to tackle his stall. I have rubber mats in all the stalls, laid over dirt. Two of the mats in Tuck's stall had shifted and one was coming up, with a lot of bedding under it. What I really need to do is pull all the mats out and put in a new layer of base and then reset the mats. But there is no way I can do that. These mats are far too heavy. So, instead, I decided to just try to fix the immediate problem.

I had to use a pry bar to raise the mat off the floor so I could dig out all the debris under it. Then, I had to somehow move the mats next to it enough to get the raised mat to lie flat again. It took the better part of an hour to clean, pry, shift, drag, push, pull, and finally get the mats back flat on the floor again. It was lot of work, but well worth the effort in the end, as Tuck's floor is finally pretty level again.

Of course, it also meant three full wheelbarrow loads to the manure pile over very muddy paddocks. Not fun, and I decided to quit after that as that was how I reinjured my right knee last year. I hope I learned a lesson then to stop before I push it too far.

By then, it was nearly time to come in, take a shower and head off for my appointment.

The sun had come out at that point, so perhaps the pasture dried out enough that Tucker can go out there tomorrow. It's a trickly business deciding where he can go without risking pulling his shoes off when it's wet like this.

Meanwhile, complications on the medical front for me are going to pose some more problems to solve. But somehow, things do seem to work out eventually.

At least it stopped least until Sunday, when "showers" are predicted. H-m-m-m-m-m.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

And Everywhere Else

I did manage to get Tucker out in the arena for a few hours' turnout with Toby, so at least he is not totally stall bound. Not that he cares too much as both Toby and Chance seem to be hanging out under the run in shed next to him. So as long as everyone is just standing around, being in or out doesn't matter a lot.

Chiropractor and doctor today, but again, what does it matter? It is still raining. The Boys have lots of hay, and there's not much more to do outside.

More, maybe later. Or maybe not.

Monday, October 26, 2009

On Thing After Another

Tooth to Toe

Sunday morning, when I brushed my teeth, I noticed I'd chipped off a bonded repair to a front tooth I'd damaged when a PVC post for my flag pole hit me in the mouth. This was, apparently, some 6 1/2 years ago, so the repair did have some age on it. I was at the dentist just about three weeks ago for my regular check up and he had polished the repair as it had a bit of a stain on it.

So I called this morning and got an appointment right away. I headed out after the Boys were fed and the bulk of the morning chores were done.

The dentist appointment took all of about a half hour at the most, perhaps less and the new repair looks great!

But while I was en route, I had a brainstorm of sorts, motivated by something an lovely little elderly lady suggested when I was at the farm market on Sunday. She suggested that if I told fortunes, I could "make a mint" there. Since I may be going back on Halloween night for a special evening of fun at the farm...depending on the weather....again, I thought adding some fortune telling would be kind of fun.

I used to teach some psychic phenomenon classes years ago and was fairly good at inventing readings from the Tarot cards. But I am out of practice, and thought perhaps I could spend some of my Barnes and Noble gift cards getting either some simpler fortune cards or at least a good Tarot book to bone up.

This led me on a moderate drive to the bookstore two towns over. Then, while I was there, I thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to have a crystal ball as a prop?" This led me to a Halloween store search along the highway.

Well, I never found a crystal ball, but I did find a round lamp globe, a PVC pipe base and a flashing multi-colored light to put inside. Kinda neat. I got the idea of the lamp globe after I visited a nifty little haunted house at one of the places selling Halloween decorations.

I'd made a big driving circle at that point, spending about four hours shopping around for the pieces I needed once I realized I wasn't going to find a "pre-made" crystal ball.

By the time I got back home, I was pretty tired, but I didn't realize how tired until I went out to long line Tucker.

He was a bit of a rascal. Good for the most part, but he did take off in a gallop once or twice and I had to run a little to keep hold of him...not easy on two bad knees and a sore toe.

Then I set up the jump just to give his muscles a different kind of stretchy workout after being asked for some real collection.

Well, "Mr. Rocket Launch" was quite a naughty boy, using a "speed plunge" on the end of the lines to race around the jump instead of over it too many time to satisfy me. At one point, the outside line snapped where, I guess the nylon has been worn by rubbing on the surcingle rings.

I knotted it back up after Mr. "Let Me Bolt Around on the Circle Like a Crazy Horse," finally let me reel him in. After that, I really took control and made him jump a few more times nicely. But by then Tucker had worked up quite a sweat, and I was exhausted. My mind could have done some more, but my legs had just given up. And the sore toe didn't help either. *sigh*

I took him back into the barn, sponged him off, put the cotton cooler on him and fed everyone. Chance did not get the long line workout I had planned, but perhaps we'll do it tomorrow.

Let us just say for now that both Tucker and I had a good workout.

Which Witch?

Is Which?

Fed the Boys in the morning and Tucker, in his ever self-centered eagerness to get his grain managed to step on the side of my right foot. He is a bit pushy sometimes and I have to constantly remind him of my space. This was in the shavings, so at least it was on a soft surface so it could have been worse. I escaped with a bruised and sore little toe, enough to make me a little "limpy" for the rest of the day.

When I left for church, I put Tucker in the riding arena with the other Boys in the paddocks. Because it was breezy, the mud dried up just a little after the heavier rains of the night, so when I came back home, I opened up the gate to the pasture and let all three Boys use the arena and pasture for turnout.

No riding, however as I then had to go to the farm market to play Jenny the Storytelling Witch. I have added a haunted house story song to my repertoire, so that was fun for the kids. This time, instead of being scheduled in slots of time, I was at a picnic table and called little groups of children over to join me. The table wasn't the best, but once I started my little performance I'd usually get a more children to come over. I must have sung the song and told my modified version of the Reggie the Cat story dozens of times during the day. It seemed to be pretty successful.

Again, though, I was pretty worn out by the time I got home. It was another really good weather day, crisp and sunny.

I love autumn, even when I'm dressed as a witch.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hacking Between the Raindrops

Trail Rides for All

It was supposed to rain all day. But the morning proved to be more of cloudy, then sunny, then showery, then sunny, then cloudy, then drippy, then....etc. I took advantage of the breaks to take each Boy out for a nice hack in the woods.

For the most part, we all followed the "Tucker Trail," as it is shorter and quite a nice little trip.

I rode Tucker first, and since I haven't done much riding with him in the last two weeks, I worked him just a little in the arena first. He laid his ears back and threatened when I put my leg on to canter, but I gave him a slap with the reins, and a good angry shout and he cantered off nicely. I don't know if he thinks something is going to hurt, or if something does bother him, but for now, I insisted and he was just fine once he got going. I was on a fairly loose rein and did not ask for any tight turns or major physical challenges, though. Once I'd assessed his overall attitude as pretty relaxed, I took him out.

Our timing was good as an ATV with I think, my neighbor's kids came whizzing past along the edge of the field while we were still on the woods trail going out to the field. Tucker looked as they went by but kept his cool. Good deal, as I would have expected him to jump around at bit. The rest of the ride was rather uneventful with just a little bit of trotting here and there and the rest at a nice loose walk.

I took Toby out next and, as usual, nothing unusual happened and we too had a lovely stroll. It was pretty warm so I was in shirt sleeves and even when the raindrops hit me, it wasn't chilly at all. Curious as yesterday was miserably cold and windy. The rain must have brought up another tropical front.

I took Chance out last with the plan of perhaps going up the dirt road that used to lead to my grandmother's house to see whether there was the possiblity of cutting another trail across where her driveway used to be. That would give me another short or medium option trail when I wanted some more variation on the paths I now have. All was well until, up ahead, along came a hunter with two labradors--one black and one golden. They saw Chance at the same time that he saw them and they started galloping towards us as the hunter tried to call them back. The golden stopped, but the black kept a'coming, so I turned Chance around and headed back the way I had come.

I have no idea how Chance behaves around dogs, and I wasn't too keen on finding out today. They did unsettle him, but that does not mean he would have stayed unsettled once he got a good look at them. But, I also do not know if he would kick at them or if they were the kind of dogs who would behave around him. I'd much rather test it out under controlled conditions.

We ended up riding the Tucker Trail in reverse, but as we were heading home it started to rain in earnest. I got a bit damp, got us both into the barn and, in about 10 minutes the sun was out again.

After I settled the Boys back in again--with Tucker on his "mud" turnout in the arena, I went to the feed store to get some alfalfa cubes. On the way back, I stopped at the corn maze run by the family that farms our saved farm. I spent about an hour wanderin through the maze which would have been a lot more fun if the mud hadn't been so slippery on the paths.

This year they had cut paths in the shape of the heads of a horse, a pig, a sheep and a duck, with a silo at one end. I managed to see most of the trivia questions for all but the duck as, by then, I was running out of steam. It took me a little bit to get myself back out, but all it all it was kind of fun.

Stopped at the market on the way home, unloaded the hay cubes, fed the Boys, came inside, made a casserole and a ham sandwich and now I am collapsed in front of the computer.

Tomorrow, I will probably be "witching" at the farm market.

How did the weekend get so busy?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Like The Weather?

Wait a Minute, It Will Change

The last rose of summer???????

Woke up to a fairly mild morning, but I had a chiropractor/physical therapy appointment so I didn't have time to do much then. So I went out and took some pictures.

The rosebud is still ready to open, if it doesn't get caught by a frost. And the trees are starting to turn color. But the Boys already have--bright orange in their flysheets for hunting season.

Headed out to the chiro...when I got back out, the temperture must have dropped nearly 20 degrees and the winds were blowing.

I dropped by the farm to get the story on the old barn which may not have much left to save, and nearly froze, even with my long, lined raincoat.

While it never did rain, the winds were stiff, discouraging me from working the Boys. On the other hand, my chiropractic adjustment and the physical therapy treatments also kind of discouraged much too.

Normally, I would not mind the cold, but the change was too abrupt for my system. The Boys didn't seem to mind too much but when I brought them in tonight, I dressed them all in rainsheets. If the promised rains do come, Tucker will have to spend some time inside again for the sake of his shoes, but the sheet will still be on. The winds are coming from the northeast which does tend to blow in a bit on his side of the barn.

It looks like rain all day tomorrow, so I guess my storytelling will be canceled again. I still don't know about Sunday, but I will be telling it for an "enrichement" group of children at the local library next week, so that should be fun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nearly A Perfect Day

And A Nice Ride Too!

I took Chance out for a longish hack this morning. It was sunny and warm, a perfect fall day. What I wanted to do was see how muddy it was in back of the farm we preserved just in case we might want to drive some of the "tourists" around back.

The footing was great, no mud, and Chance wanted to trot for quite a stretch. I let him go, asking him to reach down into the bit as he did and he was happy to oblige. I'm sure he really wanted to canter, but since I've only had him out there once before, I wasn't too sure I wanted to let him. But, he was a solid performer, nice and calm and controllable, to next time, we'll go for it.

When I got back I cantered him in the arena for a few circuits on each lead and then called it a day.

Just to take it a bit easy on myself, I lunged Tucker next. I was pleased to see he looks sound in both directions, so losing that shoe again didn't seem to have any adverse effects. I'll see how I feel tomorrow and, if it's not raining, I will ride him a little.

Carrots all around ended that part of the day, and soon I was headed over to the farm for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

As always seems to be my lot, I ended up as "mistress of ceremonies." I've learned a little trick that suits me well to start off a program--I broke into song. This time, it was "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," a spiritual suited to both the farm's connection to slavery and also with the lyrics suggesting the longed for end of a journey home, it seemed to suit the house. It worked again, got everyone's attention and settled the crowd for the speeches.

We had a State Assemblywoman, a County Freeholder, a Township Mayor, Township Council person, two invovled citizens, and one of the members of the family who owned the farm from back in the 1700's all speak. Everyone was short, to the point, and very appropriate. Then we put up and cut a ribbon, posed for pictures and I ended it all with one more chorus just to bring it all full circle.

We had refreshments and a social hour. I took the newspaper reporter and photographer on a house, property and graveyard tour. It really was a nice event. Just the right amount of speechmaking and a great group of people.

The beautiful weather added to a wonderful afternoon celebrating a very special preservation.

I still have choir rehearsal to go to, and perhaps a meal out with my choir buddies.

It's hard for a day to be more perfect. It's only flaw is that it is going to come to an end.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Little Short on Stamina

But I Did Get Some Work Done

I fed the Boys this morning, carted hay out to the pasture and filled the water tub in the arena with several bucketfuls of water. Fine. Turned the Boys out.

Came inside and "computerized" for a while, just kind of relaxing.

Around 3 or so I went out to clean stalls. Did Tucker's and Toby's since Chance's didn't really need much as he spends most of his time outside. Put a bag of shavings in Tucker's stall since he is staying in at night. Two wheelbarrow loads out to the manure pile.


It is a nice, perhaps too warm day. The bugs were out, so I put the orange flysheets on the Boys.

Then I went out to poo pick the arena. There was quite an accumulation near the gate to the pasture. Since I usually don't ride much at that end, I'd left it the last time I picked. I filled one wheelbarrow load, dumped it, and that was that. I felt my energy sap to a low level.

This time, for once, I decided to call it quits and take a break. I guess yesterday was a bit more draining than I'd realized. I feel fine, just worn out.

By the way, I did not drive myself to the hospital. I had a good friend take me there. Then she went to help out another friend who is laid up with a bad back--horse owner who needed a lot of chores done--while I had my surgery. Then she brought me back home. The hospital was very clear about my not driving.

It was an interesting experience aside from the surgery itself as I encountered all the legal concerns the medical profession has to deal with. I was asked the same questions over and over about when I'd eaten last, if I had any allergies, whether I understood the risks, etc. And at every single point along the way, I had to verify my identity with my name and birth date and often, what procedure I was there for. I signed release papers two or three times and watched my doctor sign a whole pile of papers.

While it was all very efficient I kept thinking how complicated it all has become due to lawsuits, and medical insurance. Thank goodness I was preregistered when I got there or there would have been another round of interrogations and paper signing. By the time I got to the operating room, it was all rather anti-climatic. As a matter of fact, I went under the anesthetic so fast I don't even remember a second of it. At least when I had my knees operated on I had to count backwards. Yesterday, nothing...just oblivion.

I woke up in recovery during some kind of dream with, I think, the horses in it. I seem to remember a few nurses around me kind of telling me where I was, so maybe I was dreaming aloud? Who knows. I'm sure the nurses are sworn to secrecy about that kind of stuff. *G*

Another thing I noticed was how kind everyone there was. There was a true sense that all the staff cared about the patients. It has to be a hard job to be there for people all day like that, and once more I gained a new sense of respect for those in the medical profession. The hospital called me up this morning as well to make sure everything was OK.

Wish the USA would get this darn health insurance straightened out, so everyone can benefit from the kind of care I received.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Shoe is Still On!

Can You Believe I'd Be Excited About That?

For Want of a Nail, The Shoe Was Lost
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of the horse, the rider was lost;
For want of the rider, the battle was lost;
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost;
And all from the want of a horseshoe nail.

Every time Tucker loses a shoe, I think of that rhyme. So far, so good. I will try to work him a bit tomorrow.

My surgery seems to have gone fine. It was a D&C so I will leave it at that. I was under general anaesthesia, so I didn't feel a thing. So far, everything seems to be as predicted, so I will just have to wait and give it a few days.

I don't think I will ride for a day or so but I may lunge or long line. The weather was gorgeous today and should be for at least the next two days. I am hoping it will stay dry for the weekend as I really would like to do my Jenny Witch stories again.

I have added a lot of pictures and a participation haunted house song for the children to join in. I am always interested to see how things like that work out after I have invented them.

So we shall just have to wait and see....again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nice Day At Last

So I Managed Some Much Ignored Chores

As I am having a bit of surgery tomorrow, I needed to do some tidying up in the house--which I did off and on, but it was such a lovely day out!

I put a hoof boot on shoeless Tucker so he could go out to play, then started sorting through the pile of blankets and sheets collecting in the barn. Some of them were total losses, so ripped I doubt even a master blanket mender could save them. Several flysheets, because of the fabric weave simply do not repair anyhow. I found the ones I could mend and proceeded to mend them right away, cursing my sewing machine when the bobbin ran out and I had to wind a new one and change it. (Took too many pieces out when I did and had to put it all back together, figuring it out as I went along. *sigh*)

That done, I then headed out to the pasture to take the Boys' sheets off as the temperatures were up into the low 60'sF. When Toby and Tucker saw me near Chance, they came galloping over at top speed, I guess looking for treats--although I had none. Anyhow, it made it easier to take their sheets off as I didn't have to go after them.

Then I came back inside for some more chores, puttered around outside again, and the day slipped by. Just before I went out for evening feed, Scott, my farrier, called to tell me he'd be by later to put Tuck's shoe back on. That meant I needed to finish clearing out the useless horse clothing and cart the garbage bags down to the bin by the road. I had quite a load, I fear. Chance is a master of totally destroying a sheet if it ends up on the ground, and at least three of them were in shreds. But, they are gone now and just about all the ones left are useful.

I put orange sheets on the Boys for the night and tomorrow. I'll see how warm it's going to get but since I will be at the hospital for a good part of the day, I'll have to decide in the morning whether or not to leave them "dressed."

Scott was here about 7PM. He put Tucker's shoe back on. Now if it will only stay on....*sigh*

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nothing Going On


Tucker is in his stall, not exactly unhappy when it's raining out, but he does insist on having his hay.

Otherwise it is cold, wet, and miserable out there. Not exactly conducive to outdoor activities.

My witch story telling got rained out too, so that wasn't fun.

I'll leave it at that for now. I really haven't thought of anything interesting to post these last few days. Guess the weather has dampened my enthusiasm. *G*

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sorta Rainy

And Definitely Chilly

Rather miserable weather. It rained all night so everything is a soggy mess.

Amazingly, it was more drizzly than "poury" this morning, so I did manage to let Tucker out in the riding arena/pasture for some limited mud turnout. The other Boys were with him, so he was quite happy and the fences seemed to stay intact.

I have surrendered the concept of riding in the muck for the remainder of the weekend if the forecast holds. It is not pretty out there. It does look as if it may clear by Monday, so that's good.

I was at the County meeting last night when the Freeholders voted on the farm preservation resolution. It was a really special moment. As I've said, we've been working for over five years to save the farm. It has been on the Open Space list since around 1999, so altogether it has taken over ten years to accomplish the goal. To say we have had to be determined is an understatement. Somehow, our citizens' group managed to keep the project in the limelight for all that time.

Next week we hope to have some kind of "ribbon cutting" ceremony on the property, just to make it real. I guess I will be a bit busy with helping to organize that.

Sometime soon, though, I want to take Chance for a ride along the property. There is actually a dirt road around most of the 188 acres which I would love to see become a designated horse trail. But that is part of the future. For now, I'll just enjoy the moment.

After all, that's what a horse would do.

Side note: Let Tucker out for a while this afternoon because it was not raining, and I knew he would have to be in for most of the weekend. He came in without that front shoe again. This time I found it, though. Bummer.

Well, at least I won't miss out on riding him, as it will be raining. *sigh*

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Do They Do That?

The Rains Have Come

Looks like we are in for at least four days of rain if the forecast is right. I thought I might have a chance to work the Boys this morning, but alas, it was already raining when I went out to feed.

Tucker is still free to go in and out, but once the ground starts to get muddy, I will be putting him in his stall. Turnout will be limited to the riding arena for the time being.

But here's the question of the heading. The Boys have two run in roofs attached to the barn, three open doors to their box stalls, and a run in shed in the arena. Yet, there they stood under the limited shelter of some wispy tree branches along the woodside of the arena. They had on just flysheets and it is rather chilly out there.

Why do horses do that? Are mine the only ones? You'd think that with plenty of real shelter, they would want to be better protected.

Chris, my former trainer, used to say that horses didn't like being inside during the rain, etc. because the rain on the roof was noisy and if it was windy, the barn would make all kinds of noises. They wanted to be outside so they could see what was going on and flee if necessary.

OK, that could make some sense, but I just came in from switching them over from flysheets to waterproof turnouts, and they seemed quite content to stay inside after I was done, munching on all the nice hay they'd left in their stalls. And, if I do lock them in if there are bad storms, they certainly aren't ever upset or fretting in the stalls. Half the time I'll go in to find them bedded down, sleeping.

This is a horse behavior I just can't quite fathom.

Looks like riding will be on hold through the weekend, as will, I suspect, my witch story telling adventure. Too bad about that as I have some really cute pictures all set up and I even wrote a new song for the kids to participate in.

If worse comes to worse, I will contact my friend who works at the nursery school in Cranbury and offer to go in to do "my thing" for them. Might do that anyhow. It would be fun. And now that it's all written and ready to go, I should use it somehow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Well I Got Some Exercise

PT and Chiro

If you don't know the code, it means, "Physical Therapy and a Chiropractic adjustment." This took up the entire morning.

Too bad, actually as it was a nice, cool....maybe too cool for so early in the season day. After all the medical treatment, I didn't dare undo things by riding.

Instead, I spent the afternoon first going over to the sandpit next door to ask a few questions about their application to have a wetlands definition on the property...not quite what I was hoping as it turned out, but an interesting hour of discussion nonetheless.

Then when I got home, it was time to feed the Boys. I still have the grain in the truck as I've not unloaded it since Friday of last week due to the witchy weekend and who knows what else. Today, I figured again it wasn't the best thing to do to my tuned up body. I am taking it out in bucketfuls, planning to unload the whole lot tomorrow.

Did I tell you that the load of hay I got the last time was prime second cutting? It was an accident as it was supposed to be first cutting. The Boys love it. But it normally costs about $1.25 more per bale than the first cutting, so I don't think they will be getting it again. Hopefully they will eat the "lesser" stuff when the next delivery comes, but by then most of the grass will be gone so they are likely to be less picky. This stuff is lovely, but I really can't afford the price.

I thought about long lining, which would have been a good option, but once I started on getting some more pictures ready to illustrate my witch story--which may well be rained out this weekend--it took up the rest of the day and well into the evening.

I do get distracted when I start to write or do something creative. Time flies and before I know it the day is gone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Three Out Sort Of

Thoroughbreds With Good Heads

I start with that comment responding to something someone on another blog site said about Thoroughbreds. The remark was that if you didn't ride a Thoroughbred for a while that before you got on to ride again you would need to lunge or work the horse down first.

I have not ridden Tucker in weeks due to the lost shoes and consequent lameness. Today, I saddled him up, pulled myself into the saddle and walked off with nary a problem. Now, that was also after I had saddled up Toby who has not been ridden in a while either and taken him out on a hack in the woods. Once more, not a problem except one brief very "Toby second" when he thought he saw something strange in the cornfield.

My Boys are very "Thoroughbred," as well, with rather opinionated personalities and a relatively high sensitivity. Which brings me to Chance. He is no slug, by any means, but definitely a different sort from his pasture brothers. The big difference seems to be in how he tunes in, or rather does not tune in to me.

I remember when I first rode Toby, I was really impressed by how he instinctively wanted to stay under my seat. He was, from the first, just naturally inclined to react to my weight. Tucker was the same, although I am not 100% sure he actually cared if he stayed under me. But regardless, it was clear that he knew I was there and reacted to me.

Chance, on the other hand, is "his own man." If he wanders off track following his own gaze, it doesn't really matter that much if I am leaning the other way. He has a very solid feel in his body as if he is well grounded, which might be the big difference. He seems to connect to the earth while Toby and Tucker have a much more "airbound" feel. I think it is both physical and mental.

At any rate, in case you haven't yet figured it out, I rode Toby on the trails. Then I did a short school in the arena with Tucker, mostly to see if he felt sound. I would not say he was 100%, but he was nearly 99.9% with just a step here and there that I would normally ignore were it not for the lost show syndrome aftermath. What was a big plus was that he took both canter leads without a protest, so the acupuncture seems to have worked. I finished up with a mini-hack just on the loop in the woods directly behind my property. I think Tuck really enjoyed that.

I didn't even bother to work Chance in the arena but instead took him right out for a hack. He is so funny out there. Even though I am clearly attempting to steer and choose our path, he will try to make his own decisions on which way we should be going. When he does, his body just goes off in that direction almost as if he is drawn by a magnetic charge. As I noted above, he really does not tune in to me unless I insist. He's never really "bad," just more interested in doing his own thing. He was even funnier when we got back home and I opened the gate back into the arena from the saddle. Instead of walking in, Chance just stood there, leaning back towards the trail heading out into the woods again. It took me four tries to get him to finally go in.

He surely does have a mind of his own. *LOL*

And it is now official...the farm across the woods is saved! It was announced at a press conference today. The house dates back to the 1600's---about as old as it can get for a house here in the USA. On the top floor are intact slave quarters and there are two historic cemeteries on the property. Along with the house are well over 100 acres of prime farmland. Here in one of the most densely populated states in our nation, this is something truly special.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Still Tired

So I Went Shopping And....

Needed to pick up an adapter to get my fax working and at the mall, I met up with a fellow retired teacher I had not seen in months.

The next time I think of complaining about my circumstances, I will have to reconsider. She has some problem health issues and has had one family tragedy after another within the last year or so. I, on the other hand, have had only minor "bumps" along my life's road recently, so in comparison, my burden has been light.

We decided to have a late lunch together to chat and spent a couple hours enjoying old times. She shed some interesting light on some of the things that had gone on at the school when we were both there, giving me a new perspective on "how things work" behind the scenes. Once again, it proved I had made the right decision to retire now before I was completely worn down by the "system," that seems to want to swallow up creativity and energy.

But speaking of energy, by the time I got back home, I was still too tired to do anything with the Boys.

But, then again, I also got distracted by other events.

First. the farm my community action group has been trying to save for nearly five years now has been purchased for preservation!! Actually, I should be more excited, but at the moment it is all a bit too overwhelming to completely take in. Apparently, there should be a press conference tomorrow making the official announcement. And, on Thursday night, representatives of our group are supposed to attend the Freeholders' (county governing body) meeting to speak our piece--and I guess, say thanks. So that is...excuse the expression....awesome cool!!

Then, I got a call from Stacie telling me she has bought a horse! This was a mare she had tried and loved when she had gone out to Indiana with our trainer. She was not sure about buying her then, but since, after long consideration, decided to go for it. Hopefully she will be delivered within the month. Again...awesome cool!!

Now, if I can get some of my paperwork sorted out here, I will be able to celebrate both events with full enthusiasm. And maybe get myself into the saddle.

I gave Tucker a very short lunge going on the left. Unless my eyes are betraying me, I still see a little limp. At this point, I will have to ride him to see if it is actually there, so that is the plan for tomorrow. If he is sound enough, I will give him a very short school and then go out for a hack. I've also put in a call to my shoer to see if he has any other suggestions or thoughts on what might be going on.

Sometimes things just work out and sometimes they don't. Life is always an interesting adventure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where've I Been??

Witching About

Not sure what happened to Friday, except I did go get grain. But once the weekend it, forget it.

I spent both Saturday and the bulk of today playing Jenny the Witch at the farm market reading my story of Reggie Cat over and over to restless, OK, and attentive children in between a professional clown with all kinds of magic tricks.

When I wasn't "on stage" I was hiking around the grounds getting my picture taken over and over with kids. Today I took my raccoon puppet--Sven Bobby--and my skunk puppet--Hunkley--with me and they were both a hit. The funniest part was how many times people there actually thought they were real. The kids, OK, I could see that, but there were a lot of adults too completely taken in by my realistic furry hand puppets.

Now photo albums throughout the area will feature Jenny Witch, Sven Bobby, Hunkley and dozens of cute little kids completely caught up in the fantasy.

I am totally exhausted. Last night, after a day a the farm, I came home, changed into civilian clothes and went to dinner with my good friends Shelley, George and their son Todd. Loved it, but it was about an hour's drive each way. When I got home, I felt I had to create some illustrations for my story, so I ended up creating a PowerPoint...till about 2 AM.

Got up for church, sang in the choir (little bit of a solo part) raced home, headed back out the farm for Day 2, and just got home a bit ago to feed the Boys and the kitties and now crash for the night. And crash I shall. I am totally exhausted.

Looks like the Boys had the weekend off. I could not have ridden if someone had paid me. I haven't any energy left at all.

Tired but happy....Witch Jenny signing off from Follywoods.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Windy Wednesday and Mellow Thursday

What a Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday was horrible. We had heavy winds, so bad it was hard to even walk outside, let along work a horse. The Boys were either sheltering in the shed, or the barn or running around the paddock like madmen. Fortunately shoes seemed to stay on and the wind did dry up the mud. I guess there is a plus to everything.

Today the weather's mood had shifted completely. I was warm, though not hot, and quiet.

I have been giving Tucker a dose of bute for three days now, so I decided to see how he looked on the lunge. He was still not 100% sound going to the right, but looked fine going left. I worked him a little bit to see what happened, and he actually got better the more he moved. I cannot feel a pulse in his foot, nor do I feel any heat, so whatever is bothering him does not seem to have any outward symptoms except his being slightly "off." After our little lunging session , I took him for a short hand walk through the woods and he seemed to enjoy himself, especially when he was able to grab a few snacks of tree leaves on the way back.

Then I saddled up Chance. The plan was a short school in the arena and then a nice hack in the woods.

My plan, not Chance's. What a card! I mounted just fine, started off around the arena as he fussed with his head trying to decide whether or not to give to the bit and then we reached the gate to the woods.

Dead stop. Lean towards gate. Refuse to move forward. Nap, nap, nap.....

OK Muriel and Claire, I have the opposite problem, apparently about the arena. Teena and Molly do not want to go out and Chance does not want to "stay in." Fortunately for me, Chance does not seem to throw temper tantrums, but simply plants his feet in ignores my leg.

Gee. does that sound familiar? Think he's been talking to Tucker?

I gave him a swat behind with my hand and sulkily, he walked on. We made a few walking circuits of the arena with attempted "run out/stops" at the gate and then he seemed to resign himself to the fact that we were not going on a hack after all.

Considering that I haven't actually schooled him in the arena under saddle for about a week, at least, he was really quite good. He reached into the bit at the trot, nearly stayed there for the canter departs--which were nice and prompt off my leg cue--and, with a little effort on my part stayed kind of stretchy into the bit in the canter itself. The left lead is still better balanced with a little more quickness on the right, but the improvement is considerable.

I think he would benefit from some more long lining, but he is so much fun out hacking that I hate to miss out on taking him out when the weather is so good for it. Perhaps if I stick to this routine of a short school and then a hack, I will actually get him trained.

Trouble is, both of us seem to enjoy the trails too much. *G*

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Book Review

Perfect Gift For Horse Lovers

Horse Lover's Daily Companion is the perfect gift for the horse lover who has everything else already. Chock full of all kinds of tips and treats about horses of all kinds, Audrey Pavia's treasure chest of information will easily keep readers happy.

What is unique about the book is that it is set up for a full 365 day year with ideas for each day of the week.

Mondays are devoted to horse breeds, both common and rare from the well known Appaloosa to the unusual Florida Cracker.

Tuesdays cover all kinds of equine activities and sports where even I, after well over fifty years of loving horses, discovered the sport of "steer daubing."

Wednesdays inspire with stories of horses in history. This may well be my favorite "day" of the book as I've always loved the legends of famous equines.

Thursdays introduce all kinds of training tips, horse behavior, and real life horse information.

Friday reminds us of horse health issues giving brief but sharp insight into diseases, treatments, general horse care and handling.

Saturday and Sunday offer up the fun where you can find a recipe for homemade horse treats or just discover a new way to spend quality time with your equine friend.

Illustrated with some often unexpected horse photography by Tom Sapp, Horse Lover's Daily Companion never fails to surprise with its original perspective. With an attached bookmark so you never lose your place this is the kind of book you can pick up, enjoy for a few minutes or savor for an afternoon of pleasant reading.
If you are wondering why I am reviewing a book here, it's because I was sent a complimentary copy for just that reason. My copy came in a neat little horse illustrated box filled with hay and a free carrot and apple for the Boys. To say they were delighted with the book is an understatment, although sharing the treats was not exactly their idea of good reading. I ended up supplementing the free treats with purchased ones to keep everyone happy, so in the end, The Boys have given Horse Lover's Daily Companion a big twelve hoofs up!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Best Pas De Deux I Have Ever Seen

You Have to Love This

Argh! Blogger posted this back a few days so I am reposting for those who did not see it. As noted below, the regular Follywoods post is below this one.

I have tried several times to get Blogger to post this video properly with no luck. I keep getting an error message.

Instead I am posting the Youtube link. If you haven't seen this pas de deux, you are going to enjoy it. To me, this is what dressage should be all about.

Yesterday's regular Follywoods post is below with a short report on Tucker.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Blues

Still Limping

Tucker is better, but still not sound. On a good note, I do not feel a pulse in his foot or any extra heat. This does not mean too much if an abscess is brewing. When he had the abscess that went on for weeks, there wasn't much in the way of symptoms either, except his being "off."

Still he is improving. And to make matters more ironic, I allowed him into the front paddocks today as things had dried out considerably. I put piles of hay in the pasture, but he and Toby elected to hang out in the front, so I gave them some hay there. Lo and behold, I found the missing shoe!! Right there by the fence where I had searched twice! I know I looked there. It was pretty obvious today when I did see it. So perhaps it was under something and got kicked out today? Bummer. At least I have one very nice front shoe for Tucker should he need one. I wonder if I put it in a plastic bag if I can stop it from rusting?

That leads to the fact that Chance was hanging out by himself in the riding arena, quite a ways away from his elders. Don't know what's going on at the moment, but the herd has a definite divide.

After I "test lunged" Tucker, I lunged Chance...all this because I spent the morning doing paperwork and the afternoon at the dentist. Then, I took him for a nice little walk in the woods, leading him on the lunge. He did seem to enjoy the time with me and was quite cheery out there. I let him nibble on a few trees and just enjoyed the lovely weather and his presence. Not the best for my knees and ankles, but I am ever determined to press on, even when things ache.

Chance is one of those horses that just likes to be around people and doesn't need treats to keep him interested. Toby is like that too, provided he's sure you have no intention of capturing him for work. As I've said, he's earned his retirement, but I do like to ride him now and then to keep him at least a little fit. Tucker is a "stomach horse" who is "all over you" for a treat. But he does get curious now and then and definitely doesn't like to be left out if he thinks one of the other Boys is getting "non food" attention.

Since I have a nice jar of applesauce, I am going to dose up a bit of bute as the vet suggested as an option for Tucker and give him some for three or four days. Maybe if I treat the inflammation in his hoof it will get better. Otherwise we may be in for a long stretch of waiting until something brews and blows. Hate that.

And I really do want to find out if there is any difference in his hind end since the acupuncture.

Ah well, back to, "There's always tomorrow."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Slippery Sunday

Same Thing, Different Day

Went to church. Went to lunch with friends.

Came home. I was so tired I fell asleep for most of the afternoon.

Tucker still seems a bit off. While the other Boys look fine.

I will do a more thorough evaluation tomorrow.

Hope I am not coming down with something. Afternoon naps are not my normal "thing."

Saturday, October 03, 2009

And Saturday Slid By

But It Was Warm

Warm and humid, as a matter of fact, feeling more like summer than fall. I put Tucker out with the other two Boys late morning. I did not lunge him to check his soundness.

Then I came back into the house and did some chores. Soon the phone rang and some of my very good, longtime friends were driving around the area, visiting "old times," and hoped they could drop by for a visit. Ed's brother was up from Florida. Since their family and Dan's family used to live in our area, they were touring old, once familiar places, looking for houses they used to know, driving on roads they were once quite adept at traveling and just in general, sightseeing.

I did a flurry of quick vacuuming and general tidying up, and soon, my friends were at the door. It had managed to rain in the early afternoon, but I'd left Tucker out anyhow as it was just a series of passing showers and the footing never really got too wet out there. We humans sat inside and chatted about all kinds of things, catching up on all the developments in our lives since we last saw each other at New Year's weekend.

Then, we went out to see the Boys. Dan and Ed both already knew Toby and had met Tucker when he was quite a bit younger, but this was their first introduction to Chance. Both men had owned and competed their own horses but have since become involved in showing and competing Welsh Pembroke Corgis. Ed, especially has trained two dogs in agility and been quite successful at it. They no longer ride as the horses were taking up more time and energy than either wanted to expend.

May I say though, that my Boys were quite friendly. And they liked Chance a lot. Dan even remarked on what a nice shoulder he had and Chance obliged by posing quite handsomely. Tucker wanted the bulk of the attention and horse treats, kind of pushing his way into the group repeatedly while Toby was much more polite and ever the gentleman.

By the time my friends left most of the afternoon had wafted by. I needed to go to the drugstore to get a prescription. Then I came home, fed the Boys and that was my Saturday.

I had a good time and the Boys had lots of treats. Who can complain about that?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Two and a Half Horse Friday

All On An Autumn Day

Tucker was quite a bit sounder today, so I decided since it was dry, I would let him out for part of the day. I closed off the riding arena and pasture so the Boys could not come into the barn area where the mud lingers, and let him loose.

Well, I should have had the camera. Talk about flying horses. I think Tuck spent as much air time as he did on the ground. Guess when he's up there he certain doesn't put any weight on his sore foot. And, although it was hard to tell, he did look pretty loose in his hind end, so it's possible the acupuncture has done the trick for the time being. Of course, until he is completely sound again on that front foot and I am able to ride, I will not be sure about the rest.

Later in the afternoon when things had settled down again, I took Chance out for a hack in the woods. He is so funny. He loves to survey the vista as we go along, but his body tends to follow his gaze, so if I don't steer him, he will actually walk right into a tree! He will look off to the right, taking in the scenery, he will then wander off the trail to the right and not notice the tree. I saved him several times, but I am wondering if perhaps running into a tree on his own might be a good lesson for him. Since we were only walking a the time, such a crash would be minor. *Have to think this through....*

When I got back, Toby and Tucker were standing by the gate between the pasture and arena (which I had closed) demanding to be let in. I took the opportunity to halter Toby, let Tucker into his stall and then took Toby back out to the arena for a short lunge session. I always love watching him move as, even at 19, he is fluid, soft, supple and forward. It makes me feel good to see him sound and comfortable.

Then I decided to have him jump the little jump still set up. Well, that was exciting!! Talk about forward, talk about flying, talk about bucking in between just because it was fun! Well, do all that and you are talking about Toby! Enthusiasm, exuberance, and just plain "go!" All I can say is that I'm glad I wasn't riding.

I've locked Tucker in is stall for the night. At some point it's going to start raining again, so I want him to keep his feet dry. I treated him with "sugardine" which is a combination of iodine and sugar designed to help dry out his feet and ease the soreness in that front hoof. I doubt I will be able to turn him out tomorrow if the forecast is right, but perhaps I will be able to lunge him a little to see how he is feeling.

Meantime, I have the other two to play with. Talk about a wealth of riches.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Vet Exam

So Now It's The Other Hock

Apparently, Tucker's left hock is sore now. Kind of makes sense as he didn't want to take the right lead when his right hock bothered him, so now he is not so willing on the left lead.

He wasn't 100% sound to jog because of his front foot...with the lost shoe damage...but Dr. Klayman did flexion tests anyhow and saw some definite change when he trotted off. And, during the acupunture evaluation he found the same conclusion along with a bit of a sacroiliac problem.

Of course, my options were to have acupuncture, use Adequan, or inject his hocks, and possibly take x-rays. I decided on the acupunture for now. Since I can't ride him at the moment, it was the least invasive option and I need to collect some funds for any of the other treatments. We are not competing now, nor is it essential that Tucker be super ready so I have time to think this all through.

Dr. Klayman also felt it was OK and perhaps even beneficial to leave Tucker barefoot behind. He said it would allow his feet to slip and move naturally with his joints instead of catching or being stopped by shoes. He was not concerned about the cracks, so that's good too. Guess it's one more "let's just see how it works," decision. Especially in the winter, I prefer no shoes behind anyhow, and it has been fine for quite a while so I certainly can't argue with that.

It was one of those sun in sun out, warmish, coolish, breezy windy, "can't make up its mind" day. I decided to lunge Chance again and take him over the little jump as none of the Boys had dismantled it yet. (Does that mean that Tucker is the wrecking crew since he's been locked in his stall?) Once again, he was a star and seems to be getting the concept of using some impulsion to get himself over the obstacle. When he does that, he looks quite nice and really starts to use himself. His father, as you can see, was gorgeous over a fence so maybe he inherited some of that talent too. Romancer is a Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross.

Even though Chance's career is not likely to take us over a lot of jumps, I think it's an important skill for all horses to learn. In the "old days" the dressage tests required the horses to jump an obstacle as test/proof of their overall training. I can't quite picture some of today's dressage champions managing that. It make me remember the original goal of dressage which was to train the horse for war. And I always remember a quote I read somewhere...was it by Vladimir Littauer?..."The true test of a dressage horse is in the field."

Can you picture Anky galloping Salierno across the meadow? Or how would Totilas look going cross country? Ravel might surprise us all, however, and I'd wager there are quite a few others who would be really fun to ride ouside the arena on a cross country frolic. I bet a few of them would have fun too for a change. And, I am equally sure a lot of good dressage horses do go out and have a romp or even a nice long hack with their riders too.

I know eventing is kind of the ulitmate test of a dressage horse, actually, but the cross country courses, as Caroline has noted, have become technical and difficult instead of encouraging a horse to gallop on a jump. It used to be: dressage a test of training and obedience, cross country a test of endurance and stadium, is the horse still supple and obedient after the physical stress of cross country. Stadium demanded the precision and ability to "answer questions" no posed on the cross country, taking away a lot of the original purpose of the competition.

I'll get off my soapbox now. I have a lot more opinions about modern competitive riding, but I'll save that for now.

Signing off.....

Best Pas de Deux I Have Ever Seen!!

You Have to Love This

I have tried several times to get Blogger to post this video properly with no luck. I keep getting an error message. Instead I am posting the Youtube link. If you haven't seen this pas de deux, you are going to enjoy it. To me, this is what dressage should be all about.

Yesterday's regular Follywoods post is below with a short report on Tucker.