Friday, December 31, 2010

Three Quarters Isn't Bad

The path I shoveled to the house for the Comcast guy. 

Still In Need of Repair

So, four things were wrong, apparently:  my tractor, the gate, the Internet/Phone connection, and, as it turned out, my cable TV.

I'm pretty sure all but the Internet/Phone connection have been repaired.  Tractor guy was back yesterday AM to fix the fitting.  Gate guys showed up later and repaired my fence/gate. Comcast spent two hours here and fixed my TV cables, but that did not fix the Internet/Phone problem.

Here I was, happily surfing the Web around 6:30 PM, and off went my connection to the Internet and with it, my telephone.  This time I called Comcast on my cell phone while my house phone was out. The troubleshooter told me he was getting a "bad" reading there and that my connection kept "timing out."

At that point, he promised me service, but could not schedule anything because my account was still open from that morning. He promised someone would call me back by 10AM today to let me know when a technician could be here.

I've put in two calls to Comcast (Xfinity) so far this morning, and still no resolution. There is a new trouble ticket in, but no answer yet as to when someone will be here to address the issue.  I will be patient for now, as most of the people I've spoken to on the phone have tried to be helpful and the technician who was here was certainly determined.  He did a lot of rewiring for my cable TV, pretty sure that the bad wires there were affecting the other service.  And, on that he did a beautiful job.  But, it did not fix the Internet connection. The problem is that when he was here the Internet was working perfectly. Whatever is going wrong is intermittent.  I was hoping the data the phone contact got yesterday during my outage would help, but at this point, it's hard to tell if there is internal communication within Comcast to give the data to the right person--the on site technician.

So I wait.

But on the plus side, the gate!!

Here is a close up of the repair.The gray colored bracket is a brand new fabrication to replace the one that was bent.  First a picture before the repair:
Then a picture of the new bracket:
Then a shot of the post reset and one of the gate across the driveway:
This is a drive through bump gate and, surprisingly enough, the horses have so far not tried to pass through it when they have gotten out into the back yard.  The gate can be electrified if needed.   When you hit it with the car, it swings open and then closes behind you.  The company that makes it is Ecklund and you can find them on the Internet.

For you machine addicts, I offer a picture of my now happy tractor with its replaced hoses.
Well, this is supposed to be a horse blog, but somehow all the side adventures that seem to go along with trying to keep up even a little farm have been occupying my time.

So here's a picture of Tucker looking cute just to prove I do have horses here!!
Guess he closed his eyes for the picture, but at least his ears are up!! *G*

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I Have Six Blankets

Another Day of Repairs

The tractor repair guy called this morning. He was worried about one of the hose fittings he'd put on my tractor and wanted to drop by to swap it out for a new one. Guess he came right from home because he was here in less than a half hour and fixed the tractor for me. So that was good.

Then Comcast Cable had to be here, so that repair guy was here around 9 AM.  My Internet and phone had been kicking on and off. Turns out some of my cable TV wiring was getting old and was causing some signal disruption.  That took about two hours to fix as he even replaced the line coming up to my TV as well as some of the other wires.  All was well.

When I'd fed the Boys earlier, I found this:
Tucker buns exposed!! This blanket was relatively new and had a storm flap.  As you can see it was pretty well ripped.
Major repairs needed!!

Now you see why, when blankets are on sale, I buy them.  For some reason, I had six brand new ones up in my attic.  (I remember buying one for each Boy, but not two!!)  Now I know why.  Tucker has been "dressed" in this blanket for perhaps a month.  At this rate, I figure I will go through half my stock of replacements before the season is over. *LOL*

Everyone else seems to have avoided the destruction so far.
Toby looked fine beside the makeshift, temporary manure pile.
And Chance looked quite serene gazing out to the snow-covered pasture.

So far the Boys have made paths around the barn area, but I did see a trail going out to the pasture since the storm ended. (They were out there sheltering under the trees at the edge during the early hours of the blizzard. I guess the trees made a decent windbreak.)

They are not the happiest of campers, but they have plenty of hay and water, so that's all the important stuff. And, obviously, they have been playing "Tag."

Seems that Tucker spent most of the game being, "It!"

PS: The 825 guys just came by with my repaired gate. They even reset the post. I'll post pictures tomorrow of the repair work. It's amazing. ( 2 PM, Thursday.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Without Consequence

But My Driveway is Open

I finally went down to the Operating Engineers facility down the road to talk to them to see if perhaps they could help me get my second driveway open.

Sure enough, in the early afternoon a huge front end loader arrived and started to work.  This thing has tires as tall as I am as it's heavy construction equipment.

Unfortunately, under the snow is a layer of packed snow/ice stuff and my driveway has a hill.  Several times, the machine started to sideslip when the snow was built up in front of it. But, he managed to get the driveway open.

OK. great. But then he came through again to try to clean up some more of the snow at the end of the drive, and disaster. The machine started to slide, lost traction and skidded over to the left, hanging itself up right next to that fence post you see.  Now this huge thing was stuck in my driveway. The photo below is before he got stuck.
Well, he put in a call to the garage and soon, another huge front end loader appeared to pull him out. 
Loader #1 was a John Deere and Loader #2 was a Caterpillar, for those who appreciate fine construction equipment.  It didn't take too much to get the first loader out as it was not stuck in much snow, just slipped off the edge so he couldn't get any traction. 

Anyhow, safe and sound, loader one headed out the slippery slope driveway and loader #2, pictured here, turned around and headed back out the other driveway.  To get an idea of the size of these things, that door in the garage behind the machine is my regular garage door where I drive the car and truck in and out. 


Off they went. 

But there is always a price to pay. In this case, my fence and the drive through gate:
The fence post can be reset, and I already did a half baked job of that. The gate?  Bent to smithereens. 
I am hoping that if I get the gate off the pole, I can take it to the school where I used to teach and the welding shop can straighten it out for me. If by some chance it breaks when they try to bend it back, they can weld it back together.

Otherwise I am going to have to buy a new one, and that's not cheap.

The Boys have been out in the pasture a little and have made some paths around the paddocks. Mostly they seem to think standing in the run in is the best place to be.  I don't blame them.

I dug a path from the now open driveway to the house where my electric meter and the connections for my cable are.  I've been having some intermittent breaks in Internet/Phone service and Comcast informed me there is a weak signal coming in for those services--the cable TV is fine. Could be the connected from the pole, something down the road, or the connection to the house.  At least the service guy can get to it if it is at the house.

Right now, the tractor repair truck is in the backyard, and the guy is working on the tractor. We should be up and running again soon.  Not sure how the little guy would have done with the snow in the second driveway, considering how much trouble the big machine had with the ice. If I'd slid the Kubota into the snow, I'd be in a real pickle, so maybe this time it's just as well the big guys came to help out.

It might have cost me a fence and a gate, but that's repairable. The tractor or my getting hurt?  Not worth it.

UPDATE!!  The tractor is fixed.  And just about five minutes ago, a pickup truck came in and took my broken gate and fencepost away. The guy from the Operating Engineers took it upon himself to take it to see if he could fix it!!

Unbelievable! It was a total accident and he did not have to go out of his way like that to try to fix the thing.

WOW!!! Hope it works, but if not, we'll be fine anyhow. I am just blown away by his kindness.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

S'no Joke

This is the path I had to shovel to the barn. I widened it with the tractor. 

What It Looks Like

The tractor repair guy might be here today, but I doubt it. More likely to come as the week goes on.  They said I could fill the tractor with hydraulic fluid and use it, just keeping an eye on the level.  My farmer friend tells me not to take the chance. It's driving me crazy having the one driveway blocked but I'm trying to live with it.

Meantime, I shoveled a short path to the side of the barn by the arena to dump the manure for now. I can move it once the snow is gone--and the tractor is fixed.  If I get up enough energy, I might shovel a path to the real manure pile. But we'll see.

Meanwhile, for your amusement, since I hope most of you don't have snow to shovel, here are some pics of the storm's aftermath. 

But, here is one of my favorites. This picture came from my friend Stacie.  This is Rosie, the mustang mare she adopted this summer.  Rosie will be three in the Spring.  I suspect, from the photo, that's she's been in the snow before.  I just thought this was so cute it needed to be shared.
Rosie is somewhere around 15h or a little less--Stacie hasn't measured her recently. Looks to me as if she has more snowdrifts than I do.  She is about 35 miles south of me.

Nothing like a little snow to make the winter interesting.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bummer!!!

Tractor Woes

Darn!!! I had the tractor serviced this summer for a hydraulic leak in the front end loader.  All was working well.

Then, I finished one driveway today, let the tractor sit and went out to do the other driveway. Thank goodness the farmer from next door drove in to ask if he could borrow my tractor, because he saw the fluid leaking before I did.  I probably would have gone on using the loader until it stopped and got stuck somewhere.

Looks like another leak in the lines like the first one. Now I think I should have had everything replaced the first time.

The tractor place was closed today, but will open tomorrow morning. I hope I can get the repair truck to come out here.  If not, I'm hoping that perhaps I can drive over there, get some hydraulic fluid and fill the system so I can finish the driveway, and then get the tractor fixed--if they have to take it away to do it.

Bummer, bummer, bummer. I looked to the future and had the darn thing serviced. Who knew it was going to be a problem again?

At least I can get the car/truck out.

Horses are fine. Not too happy with the snow, but they were out playing for a while. Fortunately, they have places to stand outside under the run in roofs.  But I did see them out in the arena at the run in shed out there too, so they were moving about.

I picked out the stalls but did not dump the wheelbarrow yet. I will have to dig a path for it and I just completely ran out of energy at this point.

Snow Update

Over a Foot and a Half

Just shoveled my way to the barn from the house.

Of course, it was about 2 AM when I started. I'd fallen asleep on the couch again....this was for the Boys' "midnight" snack.

The snow is over my knees. Hard to say exactly how deep because of the drifting, but I'd say we are close to 20" snowed under here.  Trouble is, it's still snowing. *sigh*

On the plus side, it is a very light, dry kind of snow. That makes it blow easily into drifts, but I also was able to clear all the way from the ground up in one shovelful.  I did not have to scoop it off in layers, although I did do that quite a few times just to make it easier.

The barn is around 100' or so from the house, so at the moment I have a snow "tunnel" out there. The Boys were very happy to see me. There is snow in the barn as well. Some blew into their stalls and the aisle is partially covered. My barn is not air tight and there are gaps at the top and bottom of the big sliding doors at either end.

I'd carted four bales of hay over to the barn earlier in the day, so we'll be fine for about three days before I have to cart more over. There's plenty of feed there and in the morning I will shovel out the area in front of the water trough to make it easier for them to drink. I may need to dig a path for Chance to get around to the water trough side of the barn and some kind of path to the manure pile.

I cleared a bit around the tractor so I could get to it for the massive plowing job I'll have tomorrow. I'll be interested to see if the loader will be able to push the snow out of the way or if I will have to dig and lift it.

Oh, the adventures of having my own little farm!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And Thus Came the Snow

Church the Christmas Kitty under the fiber optic tree. 

And It's Not Stopping Soon

Dusk is falling the day after Christmas and we are being snowed under by a large coastal storm.

Yesterday, Christmas Day was cold but clear. I went to Ship Bottom, on Barnegat Island, to my cousins' house. We took some time to go out to see the ducks on Barnegat Bay.  I brought some corn to feed them.



The salt water was frozen in places near the shore and a way out into the bay as well.  A few seagulls showed up, but they apparently didn't like the corn too much so for once they did not chase the ducks away from the food as my cousin said usually happened.

This one gull had a big piece of food--either a clam or a doughnut--but he was too far away for us to get a good look.
The storm did not strike here until around noontime.  These pictures were taken a bit after 4 PM, so as you can see the snow is already building up.
I'd just fed the Boys, so they were under the barn roof. But when I went out to feed them, they were standing out in the pasture under the trees.  Not sure where they will spend the night, but I'll be going back out around midnight with a nice hot mash for each of them.  The fuzzy focus is all the falling snow.

And you can see more in this picture. We have plenty if anyone needs some. *G*
Snow shovel on the back porch. Tractor seen there by the barn all ready to go once the blizzard stops.

Just to keep you in the spirit of the season, here's one final view.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Love My Farrier!!!

Scott Previte Rules!!

I had to go get some barley for Toby and some shavings. On the way home, I stopped at the supermarket.

I should have some right home instead as I must have missed Scott by maybe 15 minutes at the most.  He was here, put Tucker's shoe on and left by the time I got home.  Darn.  I had a toy for Mick, too.  Guess it will have to wait.  Tuck is due for shoeing soon, so I asked Scott to put him on the list for next week.

The morning feed store trip did take twice as long, or longer because the store I usually go to was out of the barley. I had to travel another half hour or so to their other store to get it.  I didn't mind too much as it was for Toby.  When the Boys are going to be deprived, the extra time and driving is worth it.

While I was at the store, I also picker up some easyboots--hopefully in Tuck's size--and a pair of gators to use with the Cavello boots I already have. I figure if Tuck does lose a shoe I can at least turn him out for a while in the boots. The Cavello boots fit him beautifully, but they do chafe.  I am hoping the gators will protect him the next time I need to use them.

Needless to say, I ended up spending more money than I'd planned. Somehow that happens every time I set foot in a tack store. Had I stayed in the feed store at my first stop, that never would have happened. But the second store--Rick's Saddle Shop Superstore--has everything right there in front of your face, so it's hard not to see things you "might" need.

It's Christmas Eve.  The Boys will get carrots with tops and apples with dinner and carrots with late night feed.  Their stalls are all freshly bedded and all is well at Follywoods.

Here's hoping you and yours have a lovely Christmas full of love and joy.
Not my Boys, but a horsey greeting for you all, anyhow!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Saddle Up

And Shoe Off

I kept my promise to Chance, despite the wind. Actually the wind was gusting on and off and the temperatures were in the upper 30's.  I managed to get a short trail ride in during one of the lulls.

It was pretty calm in the woods although the footing was hard in a lot of spots and strange in a lot of spots. I think Chance broke through a layer of frozen sand in the woods because he took a couple steps where his feet seemed to go into a hole or something. Nothing drastic, but I was glad we were walking.

He did, along the road at the edge of the field, decide he wanted to trot, so I let him and then, in short order, he broke into his little rocking horse canter.  It was only for a very short stretch, but it was fun.   We had a nice rider through the woods and he was a good as gold. It's so nice to just be able to relax and enjoy a ride like that on a cold windy day.

To my surprise, the footing in the arena was not too bad, so I figured after I poo picked I could either ride or lunge Tucker. The picking took longer than I expected, and when I got back in the barn, I found I'd left a stall gate open and Tucker was stuck in the feed room again with Toby standing behind him.

We went through the usual turmoil to get him out and he nearly got stuck trying to turn around, but he managed.  Once he was out, I had to clean up again and when I found two fairly new horseshoes in the aisle, I knew we were in trouble.  In the process of raiding the barn, Tucker had lost a shoe.  It's the right front again, and I'd been keeping an eye on it because I thought it had that "ready to fall off" look to it. It wasn't loose but it just didn't seem to be sitting quite right on his toe.  Actually, if my calendar is right, Tucker is quite due for shoeing.

So that now meant that I had to fix up Tucker's stall so he could stay in.  I basically stripped it and added two bags of shavings to give his hoofies a good cushion and filled his water bucket.  I toyed with hooking up the heated bucket but since I am home here I can go out several times a day to see that his water does not freeze, adding heated water as needed.  

With Christmas on the immediate horizon, I have no idea when Scott will be able to come.  And there is the big worry of a potential snowstorm Sunday into Monday.  Of course the storm is not a sure thing, but it would not bode well for Scott to get in here if it does arrive.

In the meantime, I need to go to the feed store to get some more barley for Toby and stock up on some shavings for the stalls.

Never quite seem to find a way to actually get all the chores done. They just keep coming back.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still Cold

But I'm Getting Better

Not much to report here. My cold is getting better, finally. I still have a cough and some congestion, but each day there is some improvement.

I was going to put the lights up on the barn this afternoon, but when I plugged them in, of course, they did not work.  I have some extra lights for the garland, but the star was a goner--or so I thought. I finally sat down and took a look at it and found two broken wires in the strand of lights.

Ms. Fixit to the rescue!! I stripped the insulation off the ends of the broken wires, twisted the copper together and then taped it with electrical tape.  Plugged it in and, voila!! Once again I have a Christmas Star for the barn.  It's still not the best star in the world, but in short order I had it, the garland and the new lights up and lit for the evening.

All the hanging out at the barn was done under the close supervision of Chance.  He spotted me on the ladder and made sure I had all the connections set up right.  I am hoping the bows and lights are too high for him to reach....They do not need modifications.

He was also out in the front paddock making sure I put the garbage and recyling out properly.

I made sure I spent a good while with him scratching his chin and telling him what a lovely boy he was.  I also mentioned that if it was a bit warmer or at least not so windy tomorrow, that perhaps we could go on a trail ride.

Now I have a promise to keep.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Do Horses Think?

Equine Musings 

I have a little book called, “Horse Miracles,” by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger.  It’s a great collection of inspirational and otherwise horse stories, mostly true.

Thinking of my last post and the comment about “not a care in the world,” I recalled a passage I thought I’d like to share. 

It’s from a chapter in the book on horse whisperers and communicators.  In it, a horseman and communicator named Bill Northern  gave his perspective on what horses think of humans. 

He says that, “in general, horses think that humans are around the provide services for them.  If a horse’s owner is late bringing its oats for dinner, the horse thinks, ‘What’s wrong with so-and-so? Why is my dinner late.”  A dog, in a similar situation thinks, ‘What have I done wrong to deserve a late meal? I’ll try to do better.’  And a cat grouses, ‘The chow is late. I’m going to go kill something.’” 

Perfect!! *LOL*

Northern goes on to say that horses have great pride and will often misbehave when they feel insulted or demeaned.   So, if you are having trouble with your horse, perhaps you need to apologize for having called him/her a bad name.

The story goes on, “A horse’s pride tells it that it is smarter than its owner, Northern advises horse owners, ‘If he can understand you , and you can’t understand him, he’s probably correct.’ “

Knowing my Boys, I am learning to believe this more and more. I have always found that if I treat them with respect, they generally return the favor. 

I’m sure some people might find it silly, but when I have to get one of my horses to move out of my way, I usually say, “Excuse me.”    I can still remember one time tapping my PJ lightly with a dressage whip to get him to quickly step out of the way of another horse in the barn aisle.  The look he gave me as he moved out of the way was so obviously insulted that I never did that again.  Of course, I apologized, but that expression still affects me when I think of it.

So maybe, just maybe, when we are thinking of training, we need to think more of “asking” our horses to work instead of “telling.”  We might get farther.

Unless you are riding Tucker—in which case he’s the one doing the “telling. “  *G* 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekend Passes

Full Up

A cold winter weekend comes to an end.

The memorial service for Dawn was Saturday, and it was really beautiful. Her husband read some wonderful passages from the bible that had great meaning for Dawn and him.  Afterwards, I went to Dawn's daughter's house for a light meal with the family.  I stayed for quite a while and came home drained of energy.

Needless to say, it was too cold to work the Boys. It was supposed to warm up over the weekend, and, although it was higher than the 20's we've been having, the low 30's were not warm enough to thaw the ground.  I could go out on a trail, but I just had no urge to do anything.

Sunday morning brought church. I did manage to sing the Introit, Anthem and Amen pretty well, taking it really easy on the hymns. My voice is on the edge, coming and going at will because of the cold. Fortunately, I do not have to perform again until next Sunday, so I have time to recover.

But I did go to my friend Bart's party in the afternoon and into the evening.  It was a Christmas carol sing. I sang--off and on.  Between coughs and sips of rum punch. Apparently alcohol worked a little. Maybe it killed the germs!  Anyhow, I just got home and it's nearly 8 PM.  I was a bittersweet evening, but I was glad I was there.

I am going to give the Boys a hot, wet late night snack again.  I did last night and added some apples, so they were quite happy. As I've said before, I'm not sure it really makes a difference to keeping them warm but they do seem to enjoy it.  I also like the idea of giving them a super soggy meal to assure they are getting some extra water in the cold weather.  I know Tucker drinks quite a bit as I've seen him at the trough often enough. I'm pretty sure Toby and Chance do too, considering how often I have to fill the tub, but it's always a concern.

Today, because of the party, I fed the Boys early.  Toby and Tucker were in the barn, nibbling on their hay. Chance was off by himself all the way out in the pasture, nibbling on the imaginary grass.  I hope there hasn't been some kind of dispute in the herd with Chance the odd "man" out, but he didn't seem at all upset.  He is kind of an independent fellow anyhow, which is actually kind of good.   He's never concerned about leaving the property to go on an adventure and he doesn't seem to mind being left behind.  I guess he has a lot of self-confidence.

At any rate, once I called him in for dinner, he was right there, so no big deal.  He just sauntered on in as if he didn't have a care in the world.

Maybe he really doesn't have a care in the world. For a horse, that's pretty darn good, I think.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More of Same

Could've Worked Today
The Principal of the school where I subbed called this morning asking if I could come in. I had to turn him down because of this darn cold.  I am at the coughing stage and just feel crummy and tired.

Ah, well. It would have been nice.

I mostly sat and lay around all day after I took care of the Boys in the morning.

But then, I had $50 worth of coupons to spend at the feed store before they expired on the 19th.  Since Dawn's memorial service is tomorrow and I have church and a luncheon on Sunday, that pretty much left today as the only sure time to spend them.

I got some feed, alfalfa cubes, and shavings--still spending  a good bit of real cash, but I'm set for a while again.  I usually have to stock up on the alfalfa cubes before the feed runs out, but that's no big deal.

In other news, the girl who bred Chance posted a picture of both Chance and his mother on her Facebook page.  I have to share his mom's portrait.  It's a little fuzzy, but you can see her coloration and general body build.  Her name is Sundance.
And here is the Boy himself.  I suspect with the same lighting, their chestnut colors would be similar.  Like mom, Chance is considered a paint, but he only has a little white spot on his flank. But it looks like his blaze came from mom.

I've shown you his dad before, but as a remiinder:

One more time an example of how important the mare is when breeding.  Please note, Romancer, Chance's father, is 17+ h.  Chance is about 15.3, so even his size is more from mom than dad.

While a good stallion is important, I've read that the mare is usually more dominant in passing characteristics on to the foal.  But there are some stallions that really to "stamp" their get, and I have to suspect those are the ones with higher breeding fees.

I wonder whether Totilas is going to be a dominant sire like that?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not Much Going On

Still Cold and  a Cold

I am still under the weather with my cold, and it's still really cold out, so status quo.

My hay man came today to bring another twenty-two bales of hay. What I have should tide me over into the New Year.

I've been feeding the Boys after 9 AM in the mornings lately, so I can sleep in.  With their late night snack, they do fine waiting until then. But this morning, I realized at about 6 AM that I had forgotten to put out the garbage and recycling. I leapt out of bed and carted the cans out, only to see three cute horse faces staring at me from the barn.  Not one to ever be able to ignore cute horse faces, I took some hay out to them.  They seemed quite pleased and I felt even better about leaving them until 9 AM for breakfast.

In the winter, especially, forage is an important part of a horse's diet.  Constant eating is how horses keep warm.  It's hard to keep hay in front of them all the time, though.  If you put out too much, they trample it into the ground and waste it.  Even today, when I went to clean the stalls, there was leftover hay scattered about.  I wouldn't mind but my Boys tend to pee on the uneaten hay and all I end up doing is cleaning it out of the stalls to throw it away.  It gets kind of expensive when that happens.

I keep working on trying to find the right amount of hay to portion out at each feeding.  Right now, I'm getting pretty close to finding the right balance. They get hay three times a day.

I would think one of the big round bales in the pasture would be nice, but I always wonder how it stays dry and edible in the rain and snow. I know some of you feed round bales, so input would be appreciated.

For now, though, I seem to have it all pretty much under control.

Ugh!

Cold, Cold

Really cold again today with a bit of wind.  And my cold is not being  kind to me. I actually felt better today, but my cough is really nagging. Hoping I get over it soon.

Too cold to do anything with the Boys. They spent a good part of the day in the stalls, from the looks of them. I'll have some more serious cleaning to do tomorrow.  Aside from staying in to eat their hay, I'm guessing they wanted to stay out of the wind.

The best thing was, though, going out for midnight feed. I'd brought their filled buckets in earlier and had soaked some beet pulp in with their pellets.  Before I went out to feed, I put enough nice hot water in each bucket to make it nice and wet.

Then, I had the wonderful pleasure of staying out in the barn for a while just listening to all three Boys slurp up their snacks. I love to hear horses eating anyhow, but the wet feed just makes for an even nicer sound.  Content and happy horses enjoying a good meal makes me happy and content.

I doubt the "non horse" world could ever understand. But I know you readers do!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Birds

And I Do Have A Cold

I was tempted to write "Birds flew" as my title, playing with the words "flew" and "flu," but since I don't have the flu--better not, I've had a flu vaccine--I decided against it. Darn it. I love puns.  In do have a potentially nasty head cold. Hopefully I'll be able to shake it soon.

At any rate, it really doesn't matter much as far as doing anything outdoors is concerned as the cold wave has hit us full force.  It is only around 24 F with a wind making it feel more like 8F.  The Boys are just hanging around by the barn, I guess using it as a wind break.  They do have their winter blankets on, and I gave them some extra hay this morning, so they should be fine.

The grackles were back this morning. I think the whole flock is grackles with a mix of male and female. I only say that because there are a lot of the shimmery iridescent black birds and then a lot of the smaller, dusky colored birds mixed in. Could be some starlings, but I suspect the smaller birds are the females.

I took a few pictures but they are not great for a few reasons. The main one is that I took them through the windows of my house and the windows have screens on the other side of the glass, so the mesh interferes with a good picture. The second reason is that, at least on my front lawn, the leaves are still so deep  that a lot of the birds kind of vanish against them.  At any rate, this flock covered my front and back lawns and my Aunt's lawn next door.

This picture shows them in my yard and in the next picture, if you look off and up to the right, you can see them swarming across my Aunt's lawn.
This last picture shows a thick group of grackles at the bird feeder. Needless to say, it's pretty easy to tell where all the bird seed went this morning. 

The grackles are really noisy too, both with their vocal sounds but also the rustle of their wings as they take off or land en masse.  It's amazing when I can hear it inside the house with all the doors and windows closed. 

Now, of course, I still wonder if they eat the stinkbugs. Research on the Internet isn't too helpful, but I did see a few references to the fact that the birds do prey on at least the local stinkbugs--the brown mamorated ones have been accidently "imported" from China and Japan.  

I also have to admire how opportunistic the birds are. When I looked out just now, there were four of five of them perched on the horse's water trough.  I guess everything else is frozen, so if they want a drink, that's the only option. 

I just put some Cheerios cereal out there at the feeder and now it looks as if a flock of starlings is after that.  I just hope some of the bigger, more aggressive birds like these leave something for my little sparrows, chickadees, and the cardinals. 

Nature has her ways.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shiver and Sore

Not Feeling 100% Myself

I have been battling some kind of sinus thing, worrying for the last two weeks whether or not I'd be able to sing for Vespers.  Obviously, I managed, though not without some concern on my part.  Then I woke up this morning with a hint of a sore throat and that "yucky" extra tired feeling.  I don't think I had a fever but I never bothered checking.

I went out and fed the Boys. Frankly, I was a bit surprised at how cold it was. The forecast had suggested temperatures up in the 40's, but I don't think it ever got out of the 30's. Above freezing for the bulk of the day, but with enough wind chill to make it feel like the 20's.

I came in to have breakfast and take some medications, including some Tylenol and decongestant.  I still had that worn out feeling so I thought...aha! What about the terrible tasting metabolic stuff my doctor had me on to help balance my system?  Why that? Because two years ago, when I had a fever for over two weeks, he prescribed several doses of the stuff and I felt a lot better.

So, I took one dose--the stuff is a liquid and tasted absolutely dreadful. It's called Oxygenic D+ by Nutra Spec and is blended to treat dysaerobic metabolic imbalance. Essentially, the body overprocesses oxygen and loses energy. There's a lot a more to it, but that's the basic meaning.  Strangely enough, after about 30 minutes, I took a second dose. In less than an hour, I felt much better.  I've also used the D+ when I 've had an upset stomach, and it again seems to help. Strange stuff. but my doctor told me I could take it when I needed it. Apparently, I needed it.

That gave me the inspiration to go on a mission. My fiber optic Christmas tree was not working. So I  took it apart and took out the light bulb.  All the other parts seemed fine, so I guessed that was the problem.  Lo and behold, I found the proper replacement bulb in Lowe's at my first stop! But, once I was in the shopping corridor of East Brunswick, I couldn't stop there. I visited the newly reopened farmer's market and got some veggies. Then I toured a few other stores spending a bit here and a bit there picking up odds and ends.

I did need milk and tea bags.  The rest of the stuff??  A pair of fleece sweatpants on sale, the video of Shrek 4, some flickering battery operated tea lights on sale, shampoo,  and a container of Christmas popcorn--3 flavors--also on sale.  Obviously, I find it hard to pass up a sale. *G*  Besides I had fun.

When I got home, it was even colder as the temperature had been dropping all day.  I decided to put the winter blankets on the Boys.

Apparently, the brown marmorated stink bugs had decided the blankets were the perfect place to hibernate over the winter.  There were dozens and dozens of the little demons in the folds of each blanket.  Shannon over at "A Work in Progress, " http://shannonfornari.blogspot.com/2010/11/brown-marmorated-stinkbug.html had a good post on the bugs.  I will not repeat her analysis.  Unfortunately, the darn critters have well invaded New Jersey.  I did, however, in my research on grackles find out that they do eat sinkbugs.  Now all I have to do is direct the next hoarde of grackles in the blankets and I'm all set!

I made sure there were no bugs on the inside of each blanket, and dressed the Boys, leaving the bugs on the outside of the blankets to fend for themselves once the cold wind hit them. Serves them right--thinking they could wear my Boys' blankets for the winter. Let them find their own winter clothes.

Pleased to report the new light bulb fixed the tree and it is now merrily glimmering in my front window.  I am quite pleased that I managed to fix the tree myself.

Horsewomen can be very handy when it comes to fixing things.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rainy Day For Vespers

Things Went Pretty Well

It rained pretty hard off and on today.  I didn't mind not having the time to ride as it was not weather conducive to equine pursuits.

Church service in the AM was a little hard as I kept looking out into the congregation to the spot where Dawn used to sit--she had stopped singing in the choir where she sat right next to me during her chemo treatments.  Every time my eyes reached that spot, I choked up.

Vespers, however, was much easier.  The choir did a pretty good job, considering the lack of rehearsal time and the change of accompanist/director.  We're a competent group of singers, but we all agreed we could have used some more practice time on some of the numbers.  I had two solo parts and one counter melody descant thing and did a passable job. I'm my own worse critic, so hard for me to tell if it was really good or not.

After the service, we went to someone's house and had a nice quiet dinner with a group of nine which included the couples two children.

So the first phase is over for now. Funerals and such next week for Dawn. As well, I may have to soon face some kind of services for my aunt who passed away at age 100 out in Oregon.  The family may bring her back here to NJ for burial alongside her husband, so that is yet to be decided.

Not the happiest Christmas season I've been through.

On the other hand, considering what Britain, Europe,  and parts of the US Midwest have been experiencing  regarding precipitation in the form of those white crystalline flakes, I can perhaps be grateful for rain instead. At least I don't have to shovel it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Out of Three Isn't Great

More Plans Gone Astray

Nice day today with temperatures up in the 40's.  OK. I had plans.  Three, actually.

One, put up the outside Christmas decorations.

Two ride the horses and do a few barn chores, including cleaning the water trough.

Three pump up the lawn tractor tires and mow up the leaves on the lawn.

Well, the morning broke with sunshine and the heavy task of calling my fellow choir members to tell them of Dawn's passing. Once again, somehow complications developed including what we were going to do both in church on Sunday morning and for the evening vespers service.

Eventually, one of the other members and I decided to meet at the church at noon to look through the music we'd been rehearsing to see how we might manage to perform at the vespers service.  We had already decided not to sing our usual anthem at the morning service since our director would not be there and we wanted to honor his request that we offer silence in Dawn's memory.

We manged to get two other choir members there so we had a quartet and soon decided that all but one of the songs we had planned would probably be manageable, if we could find someone to play the piano accompaniment. Soon we were in touch with the choirmaster/organist from the Methodist Church in town--he is a really good friend to our choir director--and he agreed to play for us.  He came over to our church right away and we spent another hour or so going over the music in a little mini-rehearsal.  It's going to work out just fine. Not quite the same as with out director, but our choir is pretty adaptable--small but flexible--so all will go on pretty much as planned.  When I called Don, our director, to tell him of the arrangements, he seemed kind of relieved. I made it a lot easier for him to take some time for himself to think and grieve.

Obviously, at that point, the bulk of the day was gone.  I got home and set to work with the outdoor decorations. It's a fairly straightforward task, but it does take time--especially when a string of lights refused to work and needed to be replaced. That led to a quick and, fortunately successful, shopping trip to get some new lights.

I still need to decorate the barn--no biggie--and put up my fiber optic tree in the living room.  I don't do a decorated tree because my cats think tree ornaments are just tons of fun to play with, so this is a lot easier and looks quite nice in the window.

I did clean and refill the water trough--the hose thawed out enough so I was able to use it, but I never did get to ride. And the leaves are still, well, as thick as leaves on the lawn.

Tomorrow doesn't look too promising either. With church in the morning and an early rehearsal for the 4PM vespers program, my schedule is pretty tight.

But, on the upswing, it's supposed to rain anyhow. So I might not be missing much after all.

At least I finished 1/3 of my plans. That's something.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Day Gone Askew

Not Quite As Planned

I got a call in the morning that my neighbor had acquired all the paperwork on the application for the concrete batch plant in our neighborhood. This is a development I am opposed to and the papers he had were really important, so as soon as I finished breakfast, I headed over to his house.

While I was there, the Township Councilman who works with him showed up and soon we were all engaged in an interesting discussion of the election and various Township and eventually national political issues.  I ended up there until noon time.

Headed back home for lunch with the intention of eventually going outside to either complete some useful chores or do something with the horses.

Then, I opened my email to find a message from the my dear friend's son-in-law informing people that Dawn was slipping away in the hospital and they were losing hope for her recovery. "Visitors" he noted, "are always welcome."

I needed to go see her and her husband. I called my friend Richard, another choir member, and we thought going together would be the best option.

I fed the Boys, took a shower, changed clothes, and off we went.

Prayers and love to Dawn, her husband Don, and the rest of the family, as things do not look good. I am glad I was able to see her and to give Don some support and comfort. There is, at this point, nothing to do but wait. It is a heartbreaking situation.

This weekend is out church Christmas Vespers service and our choir is slated to perform a number of pieces. Don is our choirmaster and church organist. I have no idea what is going to happen, but I told him he needed to follow his heart and be where he needed to be, not where anyone else might want him to be.  I assured him the choir will be fine and he had to do what was best for him.

I am sad and  wrapped in a sense of loss.  I can't even imagine how Dawn's family must feel.

Sorry my horse blog has drifted so far astray, but sometimes life just has a way of knocking things completely askew. This is one of those times.

Added Saturday morning, 3 AM:
Opened an email after I woke up from falling asleep on the couch. My beloved friend, Dawn, passed away at around 1 AM Saturday morning.  The wait is over and she is at peace.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Rather Upsetting Day

Never Did Warm Up

The hose to the water trough was frozen this morning, so I had to carry the water in buckets. Not a big deal, but a sure sign of dropping temperatures.  The wind had died down and the sun kept peeking out, so I had some hope--to little avail.

All day long, something was nagging at me. I was restless and kept feeling there was something "hanging over my head."  There was something I needed to do, or something wrong I wasn't going to be able to fix.  I kept going over and over in my head a list of all the things I've done or not done for the last few days to no avail.

Then somewhere around 3 PM, the phone rang. It was my church choir director and friend telling me he was cancelling choir rehearsal this evening because his wife--my dear friend--was in critical condition in her battle with cancer at the hospital.  He was really upset, so I know it was a pretty serious setback.  I took on the job of contacting the rest of the choir to tell them what was going on and that we weren't going to rehearse.

Dawn, my friend, is one of the sweetest people I know. She had just finished a round of chemo and radiation therapy with great success only to find the cancer had spread to another place, requiring a new type of chemo treatment. They may be moving her to the a specialized Cancer Institute soon where, I hope, they will be better able to deal with all the side effects and problems she is suffering from. All I can do for now is pray. Good vibes and prayers from all of you would be appreciated.

Once I got Don's call and called all the choir members, the sense of "something is wrong," eased a bit, so I can only guess I was getting psychic connections to Dawn.

At that point, I needed to do something useful, so I headed outdoors.  First I considered doing some leaf mowing only to find three--that's right 3--flat tires on the surviving lawn tractor--I may have "killed" the other one.  Since that meant an entire adventure of pulling out the air compressor and the extension cord and sitting in the cold garage hoping to get the tires pumped up, I opted out of that chore and headed for the barn.

I checked out the footing in the arena and found that there was at least a 20m circle thawed enough to ride a little and told Tucker I only wanted to ride him for a few minutes to see how he was feeling after his 4th shot of Pentosan.

He came over to me and helped me put his head in the halter. As agreed, I only rode him for perhaps 5 minutes at the most.  Once again, on the right rein, he fussed about trotting off, but when I turned him onto the left rein, with a little encouragement--no real walk warm up this time--he trotted off.  At first it seemed a little tentative, but after a few strides he began moving out quite nicely. I reversed and trotted on the right, reversed again, did a few half halts/walk/trot transitions, walked a little and trotted again. He seemed pretty willing to keep going.  I did not try to canter as I wasn't keen about the footing. There just wasn't enough cushion.

I keep thinking that his reluctance to trot off is an anticipation of pain more than pain. I only say that because once he gets going, he seems relatively willing to work.  The other day I even did lateral work and he just kept going without problems.

It's not the best time of year to jump to any conclusions about his soundness, though--at least not with the footing like it's been for the last week. But so far, so good.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wind, Wind, Go Away!

Another Day of Wind

Wind chills brought the temperatures down into the teens.  It eased up a little in the afternoon, so I went out to make the grave blanket.

If you don't know what a grave blanket is, it's time to explain. It is a decorative covering of greens or flowers used to lay on a gravesite as a memorial.  Most often, here in the USA, they are used at Christmastime or, in some cases Easter.  Some people might use something similar to remember birthdays or anniversaries. Some people just put a wreath at the grave, some floral arrangements.

Here is the one I made for my parents' grave after I finished it.  I decided not to put the shiny decorations on it I'd bought because I liked the more natural look.
I  used evergreen branches from the bush by the house, and holly from our holly tree.  It has a red ribbon I bought along with some artificial poinsettia.  

Here it is at the gravesite:
It looks quite pretty there in the cemetery.  My parents loved nature and both loved Christmas, so it's a fitting time for me to make a little extra effort to remember all the love and goodness they gave me in their lifetimes. 

It would not be fitting to blog from Follywoods without a mention of the equines in my life.  Thus, I include, to brighten up the mood, so pictures of the Boys taken a few days ago.  

Tucker's "glamor" pose.
Chance getting some exercise:
And Toby, warily watching me, ready to run off in an instant if I dared to approach him with the halter and lunge line. 
I think I may have figured out how to set the camera to better capture the action shots without too much blur, but it will have to wait for another day.  Today, the arena did not thaw out completely.  It was fine in some spots and frozen pretty solid in others.

I'd love to be able to afford some rubber shavings to mix in with the sand, but so far, it looks as if it would cost thousands of dollars to buy enough.  It's one more thing I intend to do when I win the Publisher's Clearing House Grand Prize.

There. I've said it. I am going to win. Yes.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Well, Almost

Better Today, Hay, Hay, Hay! 

But...I was still cold. I did the barn chores came back in the house and took forever to get warm again.

Then I called my hay man as I was down to three bales.  I needed to go shopping for some materials to make a grave blanket for my parents' grave, so I took my shower and changed clothes and....hay man showed up.

That took me back outside in my down coat--so I wasn't too cold. We chatted while he unloaded and stacked my hay--sweet guy. And then he repaired my carport roof where some of the roofing was blowing loose. There was still enough wind to lift the metal roofing material, so it was pretty windy again.

Then I went off on my shopping trip.  I managed to find a nice bow, some silk poinsettias and some trimmings for the grave blanket.  When I got home I searched some more and found a good piece of wood to use as the base. I have some lovely evergreen branches on a bush by the house, holly from the holly tree, and probably some pine cones from the pine tree to decorate the blanket. I've made one for the past two years or so instead of buying a ready made one. Even with the ready mades, I used to add evergreens from our home and the holly, so I finally decided that making the whole thing from greenery from home was the nicest remembrance for my parents.

Thinking now that adding some standing pine from the woods would also be a nice touch as every Christmas, my mother loved to take a walk out into the woods to pick some for the house.  Might make a good motive to take Chance out for a hack--presuming I can find a suitable fallen tree to stand on so I can remount after picking the greens.

Speaking of the hay, the Boys are really cleaning up this grass mix from New York State. It is really nice hay with a green look and a good fresh smell.  Apparently, NY-- at least the upper part of the state--had a great growing season for hay.  I guess all the rain passed well north of us this summer since we had virtually none, and our hay crop was really bad.  I heard at least one farmer plowed his whole crop of corn under because it never even grew enough to produce ears.  The farmer here by me got a pretty good corn crop from the looks of it, but I did notice some of the ears were smaller then usual.

Amazing that in this world of advanced science and engineering, we are still at the mercy of nature's whims.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Bit Brisk

If It Weren't for The Wind

Might've been a fairly nice day if not for the wind. It was cold, in the 30'sF, but not intolerable.  The sun was in and out and we had snow flurries off and on.  But the wind bit right through.

I spent the bulk of the day indoors. I did go over to my elderly neighbor's house to pick up some of my misdelivered mail and visited for an hour or so. He had many stories to tell of past days and we had a nice long chat. He has a live in housekeeper taking care of him--he is now 88--and she was glad I was there. She told me as I was leaving that she finds it rather lonely out here in the country.  Guess I need to stop in now and then.

It was kind of fun to see the Boys out in the pasture from their windows.  The fencing is right behind their house and apparently the Boys are quite the entertainment.  While I was there Tucker and Chance were in and out of the pasture several times. Not sure what that's all about.  There isn't much grass at this point, so they go out to nibble for a while and then rocket off back to the barn area.  Maybe it's some kind of relay race.

Not sure the ground ever thawed out during the day as it was frozen overnight. I must admit I didn't go out to the arena to check the footing.

Guess I'll just have to see how the week goes as far as riding is concerned.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Shopping and Play

I Had a Coupon

I had a 20% off coupon for JC Penney that was only good today. So after church I "hit" the mall--one I hadn't been to in a while. I'd already shopped my more local Penney store and seen a top I liked, but they didn't have it in my size.

Well the farther away store didn't even have the tops except in the Women's department--sizes 1X and up.  Not for me.  I wandered around the store for a while just looking to see if there was anything else I might like or that might make a good present for someone--no luck. Then I "cruised" the rest of the mall, window shopping. It's pretty obvious that I didn't need a thing.

I saw a woman in the store with an armload of clothes. I asked her if she was planning on buying everything, and when she said yes, I gave her the coupon.  She seemed pretty happy, and I was pleased it wasn't going to waste. It was a "share with family and friends" deal, so no fault there.

But on the way out of the mall, I passed Bob's Stores which is a kind of discount on quality brands store and I decided to stop.  There, I found some really nice cardigan sweaters at 2/3 off their original prices.  I ended up buying several for me in some really good colors.  The nice thing about the sweaters is that they have larger buttons and are sporty, so they will go with jeans as well as dressier outfits. I tend to wear either sweaters or jackets all winter so I should get some good use out of them.

I was still a bit windy and rather cold when I got home in the early afternoon.  I decided I'd give Tucker a lunging session instead of riding so I could move around some more and be done quickly if I got too cold.

He wanted no part of it and took off when he saw the lunge equipment. However, he ran into the arena behind Chance and soon I had the two of them corraled in.

That meant it was "playtime!"  They started frolicking and I got the camera for some photo ops.

OK, just how do you get those good action shots?  I have a series of photos with Tucker's hind end passing out of the camera frame.  Then there are some blurs of orange sheet going past.  I'll sort through them to see if any of them are worth posting, but from what I saw in the camera, it didn't look too promising.

Suffice it to say the two Boys were quite silly and really enjoyed the romp.  This time Toby just observed from outside, not at all interested in the game.  We played "chase" for about 15 minutes and then I opened the gate.

Neither Chance nor Tucker hurried out of the arena. They weren't much interested in escaping and probably would have galloped around some more if I'd encouraged them.

But by then it was dinner time, so I fed them and came back inside to warm up.

It's not dreadfully cold--in the upper 30's f.--and the ground is not frozen, but I certainly was. I guess I need to get myself a bit better acclimated to the lower temps.

Winter appears to be getting more serious around here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A "Kneesy" Day

One Ride, Three Stalls

I had to go to the tack store to buy a new water heater for the outdoor water trough.  I had a submersible one that simply did not work any more--one year warranty and I think it lasted at least two years.  My regular store did not have them so I traveled a bit further--just across a very little town--to the Agway and found exactly what I wanted. I also bought six bags of shavings there for the stalls.  The Boys have been bedded with the old hay they didn't eat, but now that they are pretty much cleaning up every morsel, it's time to start adding some shavings to their stalls.

I needed to go to the supermarket as well on the way home to get some milk and a few things for the choir party next weekend.  I lucked out as cat food was on sale so I got some of that too and then headed home.

I unloaded the car, had a bit of lunch, played on the computer for a while and then headed out to do barn chores.

I decided to give each stall an "almost" strip, getting rid of any suspicious old hay and then banking it to the sides so that when I put in the shavings they would tend to stay more towards the middle.  The Agway bags are bigger than the ones from the other tack store, so I only put one bagful in each Boy's stall.  I'll let that kind of fluff itself out and add as necessary.  I don't tend to bed too deep as the Boys really don't spend a lot of time in their stalls.  They have rubber mats as flooring too. If I am going to have to keep them in, then I bed with more but for now, this will do.

That done, I still had some knee energy left to ride.

Chance was "the horse of the day."  And, he was due for a schooling session.

I have to admit, he did remember most of our last lesson, and was much better about reaching down for the bit.  He still tries to drop my seat off to the right and then fall in to the left when he is on the left rein, so I concentrated on some exercises to correct that.

Essentially, on the left rein, I tried to ride him in a bit of shoulder fore with a little more flex to the inside and an attempt to push his body out to the outside, right rein.  It's not easy and takes a combination of mental determination on my part, physical effort to push him over, and sheer concentration so I can feel every time my weight shifts even slightly to the wrong seatbone.

And, I have to fight the overwhelming urge to correct him with a left indirect rein in order to gain control of that left shoulder.  I found that dropping my right hand out and down with good solid contact tended to help keep him from falling to the inside and my whip and leg applied (not hitting him with the whip, but kind of pushing with it) helped, but I had to ride nearly every stride to keep it.  But we made progress as eventually, he started to go over to that outside rein a bit more on his own.  Interestingly enough, because the canter is such a lateral gait, it was actually easier to make the corrections in canter than trot.

Then the brilliant idea struck me that perhaps some leg yields might help a bit.  Well, much to my surprise, at the walk, Chance did two leg yields in each direction with no problem at all. They were not perfect, but the sideways steps were there and he moved obediently off my leg.

OK. I tried it at the trot.  Leg yield to the left, no problem at all. Let yield to the right--moving sideways into that outside right rein...aha! A bit sticky and he "stalled" back down to a walk on the first try.  So, I completed the pass at the walk, picked up the trot again and tried another.  Not bad at all!!  As soon as we finished the leg yield--center line to rail--I asked him to halt, gave him a ton of praise and dismounted.

Good boy and a job well done.  And enough exercise for my knees for one day.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Is Tucker on the Mend?

Feeling Not So Bad

I, as planned, rode Tucker in the arena for perhaps 15 minutes this afternoon.

At first, he laid his ears back and refused to move when I put my leg on.  Then, I turned him so he was going in the opposite direction, and off we went...walking at first.  I gave him a short warm up at the walk--he'd been turned out all day, so had certainly been moving around a lot on his own.  Then I asked for trot. At first, again, the ears went back. Then, on the left rein, off we went in a nice forward, actually springy trot.  But then we made the turn that headed us towards the gate to the woods and he stopped again--same balky reaction.

I made it clear I had no intention of going through the little mud puddle there, coaxed a bit, then insisted and we trotted off again. Finally, he seemed to get into gear and just kept going in a nice forward trot that was really pushing into the rein contact with his hind end.  This feeling gives a lot of "weight" on the rein but it comes from the horse pushing through with his whole body, not through his leaning on the bit.

I made some changes of direction and finally asked for left lead canter.  He took it readily and, I must admit, it was a nice, bouncy, good feeling canter.  A bit of that, and I changed rein again, then asked for right lead canter. Ears back, threaten to kick....but Toby was right there on the other side of the fence and he may have reached out to nip at Tucker.  When I asked for the lead in a different spot, the depart was not ideal, but he took the gait readily enough.  The right lead did not feel as good as the left, but it was a true canter and not much of a problem.

I worked a bit more with a few transitions, then did a test run of shoulder-in and leg yield on each rein at the trot.  No problem and I never felt him take an uneven step.

All, in all, it was a short, but pretty good little session. Aside from the few crabby moments, he seemed quite happy to work.  Could be pain memory at work, or he may well still be sore somewhere.  But overall, there was a decided improvement.  The course of Pentosan is not yet done, so there may well be more recovery to come.

I hope so. Tucker is not the most willing horse I've ever ridden, but when he does work, he is a good ride...not easy, but good.

I picked up some flaked barley at the feed store today for Toby.  Hopefully it will help put a few more pounds on him. He is not skinny, but I'd like to see some more of a fat layer for the winter.  I'll have to see if it makes him more energetic as Mary Lou warned, though. I don't want him bouncing all over the place if I do decide to ride him now and then. *G*  He's bouncy enough on his own.

Threes?

Do Bad Things Actually Come in Threes?

If so, perhaps I will be free of annoying downturns for a week or so.

This time I think I may have "killed" my lawn tractor.  I was mowing leaves the other day and it conked out. My fear is that I let it run dry of oil and it is now "dead" for good. I called the repair shop to pick it up but "I don't know how long I'll have to wait to see.  I just spend a good chunk of change fixing the mower this summer so if it's done for, that money was wasted.  Either way, I will again have a repair bill.

Then, when I sent a load of dishes through the dishwasher yesterday, it failed to wash them. They were nice and wet, but certainly not what you'd call "clean."  I had to call the repairman for that.  It turned out some of the filter thingies were clogged--something he said I could not fix, so that too cost me a chunk of change.

And then, when I tried to load then Internet on my computer, my cable was down. This meant I had no TV, computer, or telephone. Suffice it to say that despite all their advertising to the contrary, Comcast/Xfinity needs some work on their service call communications system. Using my cell phone, I was off and on the call lines four or five times today trying to get them to understand that it wasn't just my system that was out, but everyone on my road.  I finally escalated my call to a supervisor who filled me in on the real story, which was quite different than what the reps had been telling me during the day.

At any rate, as you can tell, my Internet is working again--it was a general service outage that they fixed by late afternoon. But I have no idea if a technician is going to show up tomorrow anyhow. I tried three times to cancel the scheduled service call and kept getting told by the automated computer response system that I could not.

All this on a rainy day when apparently, there wasn't much to do but deal with repairmen.

As I read through this, I realize that not one of my issues--except perhaps the garden tractor--is actually critical in a real world sense. I mean....a dishwasher, cable TV, and the Internet are not exactly the necessities of life.  They are conveniences--luxuries totally unneeded.  No heat, no food, no shelter, things like that are far more important in the world.

Just goes to show how, in this modern world of convenience, how easy it is to get priorities skewed.  But, that's why I called them "annoying downturns" at the beginning.  And either way, they certainly don't help my bank account.

The Boys? Muddy muckers,I fear. Times like this I know why I keep the sheets on them. It was a pretty warm rainy day, so they might have been fine without "clothes."  But I left them covered.  Good thing..  *LOL*

Hopefully I will be able to ride a little tomorrow. I need to see if Tucker is showing any improvement after his third injection of Pentosan this week.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Play Pen

Just For Fun

I had to go for my annual mammogram today, so that kind of broke the good spirit of the day. Not a big deal, but enough to mess up my mental schedule. Reminder to all that such exams are important. They don't take much time and should be part of your regular medical concerns for the year...at least when you reach my age. Younger women can do them less frequently--every two years, from what I've read.

On the way home, I stopped at the local lumber/hardware store.  I needed some double end snaps to hang the new feed tubs I bought the Boys at the tack store sale. No dice! Apparently double end snaps are not a hardware store staple. H-m-m-m.  I also asked about a 4 X 6 post to replace an end fence post.  They only had them in 16 foot lengths! OK...Home Depot had an 8 foot one, so I guess I will go back there. I really only need a 6 foot one, but 8 will do.  I still have to check Lowes.  Now I could take a trip to the fencing store some 20 + miles away, but I'm not too keen about that for one post, unless it would fit in my Durango. It's a long drive to take with a post hanging out the back of a vehicle.  And I'm not  quite ready to hook up the horse trailer to make a pick up unless I get more than one post.  While I  do need more, the wallet is a big thin right now so I can't afford the expense.

If you followed that, you are a noble, faithful reader. Thanks. *G*

When I finally got home, I decided to go out to lunge at least one Boy.  Instead, I saw that the arena needed to be poo picked first. But when I went in to pick, Tucker and Chance decided to follow me.  I closed the gate to keep them inside, did the poo picking and then set them into a play session with the lunge whip.

What silly fellows!  Chance kept cantering along while Tucker would wait for Chance to get a head start and then leap into the air, and take off in a big, bucking gallop after him.  Too bad the arena is only 200 feet long. It would have been nice to see just how fast Tucker could run before having to make the turn.  We played for about 15 minutes.

Toby was on the outside, doing a bit of running himself and when I opened the gate to let the other Boys out, he came in and wanted to join the fun for a little while.

Note here that seeing all three Boys at the gallop, it's clear who the athlete is--Toby.  Tucker is not as fluid in his gaits and somewhat "tight" in his movement.  I am well aware of this.  He has a shorter back, and his close coupling limits the "softness" in his hindquarters as he moves. Chance is a good mover, with nice solid gaits, but in comparison, Toby has much more freedom and natural impulsion in his stride.  His big flaw as a dressage horse is that his top line is too level. His neck is set lower out of his shoulder than desirable and it makes it hard for him to elevate his forehand.

All that being said, I think, with work, Chance would be quite a lovely dressage horse. He has good overall conformation for the sport and some training to develop his strength and balance would encourage some more suspension. He's not quite the mover Toby is, but he's certainly no slouch.

And Tucker? He'd never be a dressage star, but he would be the most likely one to learn more of the collected exercises.  Trouble is, his hock conformation is a problem, and that weakness is a critical issue.  I suspect that, giving time and training, he might actually make a good event horse or even a jumper. He's shown some talent and interest in jumping, but, alas, that is no longer in my repertoire.  So, we will fiddle around with the dressage training and just see what we can do as long as he feels up to it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cold Day

But Scott Showed Up!

Toby lost a shoe last week. Scott was supposed to come nearly two weeks ago to shoe him and trim Chance, but he never came.  As it turned out, he forgot to put us on his schedule.

Fortunately Toby seemed none the worse for wear with a missing shoe. Scott had suggested perhaps, since I wasn't riding him much, that we try Toby unshod, but I am a bit wary about risking it. He is, at age 20 super sound and has been for years with just shoes on the front. I simply don't want to take a chance of making him sore to save the money.  He might be OK,  and he might not, but why tempt fate?

At any rate, he didn't seem sore on the unshod foot, but I'll watch him for a few days now that he has shoes on both feet again. If he did get a bruise, it may not show up right away.  I had to leave him out instead of confining him to his stall because he fusses and frets when he's locked in and the others are out.

Scott trimmed Chance, who is barefoot, as was quite pleased with the condition and growth of his feet. He's a good solid warmblood cross with good solid hoofs.  I'm hoping he will be able to stay barefoot.

Scott's dog, Mick, and I played "fetch" with nearly all the toys I have here on the property for him.  But, after about an hour or so, I had to call a halt to the games.  Mick came running halfway back with the tennis ball and dropped to the ground, panting like crazy. He was totally exhausted.  After a bit, he got up and wanted to go again, but when I told Scott, he told Mick to get into the truck to take a break.  Mick has had some shoulder surgery and when he plays too hard for too long, he comes up lame.  We did play a little more later, but I'm glad we stopped for a while.  The trouble with Border Collies is that they just don't know when to quit.

The wind picked up as the morning wore on and I just couldn't go back outside to ride.  It was kind of cloudy and definitely cold out there. And, to top it off, I heard a lot of gunshots off in the woods.  Not sure what kind of game is in season, but the hunters were out in force.  Since it's a holiday weekend, the guys out are likely the less serious hunters--not the ones who go out all the time--so I do worry a little more about them. They are more likely to shoot at the wrong things.

I'm ending with a few pictures from Chance's and my last trail ride.  In the far distance is the lake in the woods--in the pictures of the trees.  And there's a shot of another one of the trails I ride. This one skirts the edge of what used to be a sand mine and is now a recovered natural area with the lake.


Oh, and of course, those are Chance's ears.  *G*