Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tucker Is Lame


Tucker is dead lame on his right front leg.  I could not find any heat or swelling anywhere, but he is dramatically lame at the walk. 

This leads me to suspect a hoof abscess as the most hopeful cause.  There is no noticeable heat in his foot, however, and I did not feel a heavy pulse.  But if it is just starting to act up, symptoms my yet develop. 

Of course there are numerous other possibilities as to the cause so I just have to play the wait and see game for other indications to show up.  But he did not react when I palpated his entire leg, elbow and shoulder, so the foot is the most likely problem.  I would not be entirely surprised as that was the leg he limped on once in a while the few times I worked him since he was reshod.  Could be that his very slight and erratic "off" strides were due to some bruising or even the start of an abscess. 

The one plus is that my vet is already scheduled to come Saturday morning, which is good timing--if there can every be good timing for something like this. 

At any rate, my familarity with vets seems to be continuing at a pretty constant pace.  They and my bank account are having a close acquaintance. 

Good thing I am teaching at the moment....small but helpful paycheck.

Chilly and Windy

And So, So Tired

I'm sure you'll get the point here.  I didn't ride....again.  It really was cold and windy, so that kind of put me off.

And I had to stop at the pet food store on the way home to stock up on:  cat food, turkey food, squirrel food, and bird food.  Getting there was a hassle as I had to exit one highway to get on another and the traffic was all backed up.  It's been bad around here lately.  All I can hope is that more people are working and that's where all the cars are going. 

I got the bill from the horse vet yesterday.  Three horses, dental work, first round of spring vaccines, Coggins test, sheath cleaning, and tranquilizers--vet comes to my house, and it cost right around $800.  That is darn close to what one cat visit with dental work cost.  (Slightly lower on the cat only because he didn't have double extractions.)  THREE horses v.s. ONE cat!!  Wish my horse vet worked on cats.

One of the teachers here at school has a vet she insists keeps his prices low, so I am going to check there for Scooter who also needs a dental cleaning.  Otherwise, he will have to wait until my cash flow starts flowing again.  *sigh* 

The horse vet is coming back on Saturday to finish up the Spring shots and take Tucker's hock X-rays, so I will have a bigger bill, but the hocks are something extra, so I am prepared for that.

In the meantime, I will just have to tighten my belt a little more than I'd planned.  I still need to get the barn roof fixed where the water is getting in because of the solar panels. Otherwise, I don't anticipate any other big expenses for a while.....but one can never quite anticipate the unexpected.

Now, let's see, just where did I put that lottery ticket???

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kittyback and Horseout

All Is Well At Follywoods

The vet called me at school before Reggie's surgery asking whether or not I wanted him to do an EKG. Reggie has a heart murmur and he was concerned about the anesthesia.  This, of course would add to the costs.  I finally decided against it.  Reggie needed the surgery so if the test indicated he wasn't fit to be operated on, what alternative was there?  Anyhow, everything was fine.  Reggie had his front two canine teeth extracted and the rest simply cleaned.  (What does a cat need canine teeth for anyhow?? *JK* If they were feline teeth...well that would be another matter.)  It's kind of strange to me that those two teeth were abscessed while his back ones, where you'd think the tartar would collect were fine. 

I brought him home last night with a 14 day packet of antibiotic pills.  He's still not quite back to his old self and his little pink tongue is hanging out a bit--I guess his gums are pretty uncomfortable.  Hopefully he'll feel much better in a day or so.  And, the surgery cost about $200 less than the estimate, so I was somewhat relieved.  At least I got a little break. 

Meantime, on the horsie front, because I had to go pick up Reggie at an odd hour, I didn't work the Boys.

But they, in their clever way had managed to entertain themselves just fine.  When I'd left in the morning, I'd turned Tucker out in the riding arena by himself because the ground was so wet from all the rain we'd had.  The footing in the arena is sand and he's far less likely to pull a shoe off out there than in the mud of the paddocks. 

When I got home from school, he was out, happily grazing in the front paddock with his pals.  What???

I strolled out to the arena to look things over.  Sure enough the top rail on the fence near the gate had been lowered, leaving about a 2'6" jump over the second rail for an escape route.  Apparently Tucker decided to take it.  I guess teaching him to free jump has its downside. *lol*

One does have to wonder who exactly engineered the breakout.  I do tend to suspect some collaboration with Chance on this one since he and Tucker were sparring over the fence line when I left in the morning.

I guess I will have to secure a few more rails the next time I have to limit the big boy's turnout.  At least he managed to get some exercise on his own. 

Saved me a lungeing session. *G*

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kitty Takes Center Stage

And It Was Raining Anyhow

My kitty, Reggie, took up the evening as I had to take him to the vet.  His little tongue had been hanging out on Sunday and he was not really eating.  I suspected an abscessed tooth, and I was right. 

The embarrassing part for me was that it was his canine tooth (little fang) in the front that was causing the main problem.  It was so loose it had shifted and was catching on another tooth so he could not completely close his mouth.  Poor little tyke.

Fortunately the vet had an opening for a dental surgery today (Tuesday) so I left Reggie to spend the night and get his teeth taken care of.  The only problem is the expense.  We are inching up towards $1000 for the surgery and care.  This does include potential extractions, but still!  My own dental insurance only covers $1500 a year for my teeth.  I don't think I've had a dentist bill for more than $200 at a time for me.

While I do understand Reggie will need to go under full anesthesia for his surgery, the cost is still pretty staggering.  To top it off, one of my other kitties will need a teeth cleaning soon too and I figure, with no extractions, it will still be around $500.  If he needs any additional work, that will, of course add to the costs. 

My friend had to take her cat in to the vet this week as well.  Essentially they found nothing wrong, even though the kitty was not eating, and it cost her $500 for the visit and tests. 

With the economy struggling as it is, how many people are unable to care for their pets?  I haven't seen the bill from the vet for my horses yet, and it will be added to when Tucker gets his Xrays, but I've usually found that bill to be less than a kitty visit to the vet. 

Don't know what the deal is here, but it is going to put a big hole in my pocketbook, that's for sure.  Every time I get a little ahead, something happens to put me back behind.  Good thing I am teaching for now and earning a little supplemental income.


Hopefully Reggie will be just fine and come home tonight.  I think the other kitties missed him.

I know I did.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Big News!!

Rosie Has a New Home!!

The fun plan for this afternoon was to go to Rutgers University's Agriculture School and attend the young horse auction.  Each year, students in the equine management program take on young project horses to learn handling, feeding, care skills.  At the end of the school year, the youngsters are auctioned off to the public. 

Stacie was looking for a companion mare to keep her new dressage mare company and also for just a fun all-around horse she could enjoy for trail riding and just pleasure riding.  She went to look at the young horses last month and fell in love with Rosie, an American Mustang captured in one of the BLM roundups. 

Today was the auction.  Stacie had her top price all planned out, and I was with her to stop her should she get carried away with the bidding if she decided she still wanted Rosie.

It's a good thing I don't have room here for another horse, because there were at least two geldings I would have bid on myself.  And the prices were wonderful!! While I do wish the school had raised more money on the sale, every horse eventually was sold with super prices for some really quality young stock.  All of them had good basic ground handling and amazing care over the year.  They really were NICE horses.  Each one also had a beautiful leather halter donated by Purina Mills with an engraved brass nameplate. 

Well when Rosie came in, there was just a small bidding war between Stacie and another buyer, but it didn't take too many bids before the deal was settled, and just around her max price, Stacie has now become the owner of Rosie.
As you can see, she is quite a pretty little girl.  She is around 14.2 or so now and still has some growing to do.  But Stacie is only 5'4" herself so she will fit this girl just fine.  Rosie is only 2 years old, so it will be a while before she is ready to be ridden.

There is, as it turns out, a trainer/owner who has horses just one road over from me and who is an expert with mustangs. So I am sure we will be able to work something out when it comes time to put Rosie under saddle.  In the meantime, Stacie takes super care of her horses and has all the basic skills to continue the groundwork.  I can hardly think of a better home for Rosie or a more deserving owner than Stacie.

It turned out to be a really great afternoon!! Despite the rain and the cold ....yuck.

Boy, Am I Out of Shape

Workout in Increments

I have to rebuild my stamina, that's for sure.  Of course my knees don't help, but honestly, you'd think....

Phase one was a cleanup of the manure in the riding arena.  This took about two wheelbarrow loads if you include the first one that was already partially full from cleaning the stalls.  There were also a bunch of forkfuls that I threw out into the hedgerow.  OK, so then I had to go back inside the house and rest for a bit.

Phase two was to mow the rest of the lawn.  I have a riding tractor/mower, so that is not a great physical task.  It took about an hour max, but that included having to fill three tires on the tractor with air from the portable electric compressor and kind of being down on my knees to reach the valves.  I had to go back inside to rest again. (Had some lunch at that point.) 

Phase three was supposed to be working a horse, but I got distracted by the broken fence in the riding arena and some of the loose boards lying about and a fallen tree in the paddock that had some sharp looking branches sticking out.  I carried a corral panel over and tied it in to replace the broken fence, carried the bad fence posts and extra fence boards out, carried out some more fence boards, then set to work on sawing off the offending tree branches and cleaning up all the other broken off parts that were lying about the paddock.  This time I sat on the tree trunk in the shade for a while to take another rest.  

Then I went out to the pasture to capture a horse. 

Phase four consisted of convincing a horse of any name that I was going to catch him.  Toby has now taught everyone how to elude capture, so even Chance walks away when I approach with the halter.  Fortunately, he really does want to be caught so after a brief bit of exercise where he shows the "Big Boys" that he too is one of them, he stops and lets me get him.  I took him in and gave him a  nice lungeing session finished up by some jumping over about a two foot obstacle.  He was a good boy, as always and has really started to pick up the concept of how to jump softly and easily. 

Phase five sent me back out to catch Tucker, which was a bit more of a chore. He follows Toby's lead with a little more entusiasm, but after trotting around in a circle about four times, I guess he decided it wasn't worth the effort and came in to me for his treat. (Toby had allowed me to put the lead rope around his neck as well by this time, so we are still practicing "capture and release." *S*)  

Watching Tucker work on the lunge, I really cannot see any sign of lameness at the trot in either hind.  He canters well too, but there might be a slight break in the rhythm now and then, especially on the right lead--that's the one he doesn't want to take when I ride.  My vet is coming on Saturday to take X-rays and finish up the spring vaccinations, so if he does have hock issues, I will know soon. I will work him when I can this week, but it's supposed to rain for a few days at least--it's already raining this morning.  A lttle light lungeing and some trot work under saddle should be OK, and he does need to do some exercise to get his weight down.

Both Tuck and Chance are on low starch feed in small servings.  I do think the girth went up some extra holes when I rode Tuck the other day, so maybe the new diet is working. 

I might have something fun going on this afternoon, so if I do, I'll write more.

Meantime, I'll just rest for a bit.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday Follies

And Evening Spent at School

I coulda, shoulda, woulda with the horses but the students at school had two special events planned.  Since the drive there and back is a good half hour plus in some pretty tricky traffic, if I was going to attend, I really needed to simply stay after and not try to go home.

I called my friend Donna who graciously said she'd be glad to feed the Boys for me, and I just stayed where I was.

The first "folly" was the Mr. Academy contest.  Seven young men vied for the title of "Mr. Academy" by answering questions, showing off their talent, charming the judges, appearing in beachwear, and answering a final set of questions.  I must admit, most of it was pretty clever. Most of the boys took the "tongue in cheek" approach, giving silly answers, and even offerning such talent as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or playing/singing a rather dreadful song, but we also had to excellent martial arts presentations, one super vocal number, and a keyboard performance.  In the end the student panel of judges voted for one of the martial artists who was soft spoken and witty.  It was all in good fun and quite entertaining.

I then went to a nearby pizzeria looking for some lasagna for dinner.  Oh my! Not only did I find some, but it was deeeeeliscious!! Meaty, cheesey and with an absolutely wonderful tomato sauce.  This is just a tiny little pizza restaruant tucked into one of those non-descript strip malls, and the food is fabulous.  As long as I teach at the academy, this place is on my list for both pizza and a meal or two for takeout on the way home. No doubt about it.

Then I headed back to school for India Culture Night.  It was an evening prepared by students to celebrate Indian culture.  We have a large population of Indian students in the school and they wanted to share some insight into their country and culture.  There were displays set up all around the building, a very well done slide show running in the library, and food...lots and lots of food.  Now, I do love the taste of Indian cuisine, but after an evening at a gala in an Indian restaurant a few years ago, I also know that Indian food does not all necessarily agree with me, so I was a bit cautious at the buffet table. I tasted a little of nearly everything, took small portions of the foods I knew would be OK and just generally nibbled.  My Italian dinner earlier had certainly satisfied me, so I wasn't really hungry--as I had planned--so I was able to avoid over indulging in all the wonderfully tasty food offered up.  These were all dished donated by students, parents and at at least one teacher.  Yummy!

Entertainment for the evening included five or six authentic Indian dances.  Again our students showed some amazing talent and artistry.  The dances were beautiful and energetic.  It was great.  The evening closed with a fashion show of stunning sarees, tunics, and other Indian garb.  It was really worth staying late to see the talent, dedication, and hard work of these students and to learn so much about India and its treasures.

I didn't get home until after 9 PM, so it was a long day for me.

I do want to introduce you to Patches, however.  This is the sight that greets me most mornings now.  My stray kitty has decided to sit in the tree by the horse trailer in the morning, waiting for breakfast. 
As you can see from this view, this is not a little short tree, but a BIG tree.  I don't know how much time Patches spends up there, but he/she certainly is pretty safe from most danger.
As you can see, Patches is quite a cute kitty, but still pretty scared of me.  Actually, though, Mommacat--the female that had the kittens here a couple years ago--the kitty I captured and had spayed, has taught Patches to "talk" to me.  Momma was always very vocal about insisting I feed her, and she seems to have passed that on to Patches.  So now, the two of us have a "conversation" in the morning as I set out breakfast.  Patches gets a nice bowl of dry cat food and a nice can of canned cat food every day.  Since he/she has realized I am the source of this delightful event, we have been getting closer to each other.  Perhaps, as time goes by, we may even become friends. 

Needless to say, at the very least, I would like to get my little pal a rabies vaccine and find out his/her sex and get him/her neutered.  I am suspicious, though that this kitty once belonged to someone and might already be neutered as my sweet BarneyKat was when he showed up.  Considering that Patches is a long haired kitty and doesn't look too scruffy, he/she may well have once been a pampered pet. 

People see a "farm" around here and figure it's a perfect place for any cat they don't want anymore to find a home.  So, I think Patches was probably dropped off by someone rather than being born in the wild.  We don't seem to have a feral cat colony around here, or else I would have far more kitty sightings than I do now. 

Years ago, we had a kitty show up like this. I named him Clancy, and it took a good six or seven years before I tamed him and, eventually, made him a house cat.  He was the sweetest fellow you'd ever want to know.  Patches, aside from the long hair, reminds me of him. 

Perhaps, with enough time and patience, he/she too will find a real home here. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthday Rides

I Was Finally Back in the Saddle

Although I must admit, my knees did hurt at times.  I guess that's just something I am going to have to cope with. 

I took Chance out for a trail ride.  He was more interested in following the dirt road through the field than going our usual route through the woods, so we headed off towards the tree farm.  I didn't want to ride too far  along the NJ Turnpike border, so we just kind of looped around where they sell the trees, then crossed the field again and went into the woods further along. 

I have to admit Chance is really kind of cute about all this.  When we started out, he just wanted to trot away from home, so I let him go a little and the trot turned into a nice little canter.  But I have to be careful with all the weaving in and out of trees after a stretch of straight trail at the start, so I had to bring his enthusiasm back to a walk.  Once we were at the tree farm, the other side of his personality showed up. There were "things to look at" out there.  But instead of spooking, Chance simply sloooooows way down to a very slooooow walk and looks things over as he passes.  He's essentially pretty brave, but nicely cautious at the same time. 

I had put the bug armor on for the ride and in the woods we really needed it.  The mosquitoes were voracious.  The only problem was that Chance's nose was exposed--he had a fly mask on--and the darn bug were going after him there. So he was occasionally shaking his head and he kept wanting to trot out.  The footing's a bit dicey in there--with spots of slippery mud from the ATV's, so we had to walk.  I did feel sorry for him.  In fact, so sorry that I am planning on ordering another flymask that has an extending piece to cover the horse's nose.  It's the one spot I hate to use that Mosquito Halt to ward off the bugs because the spray has such a sharp smell.

When I got back home, I saddle up Tucker who seemed quite interested in doing something.  He felt quite good at the trot, but when I tried to canter on the right lead, he laid his ears back, swished his tail and slung his hind end to the outside trying to avoid the depart.  I insisted, and he finally did canter, but not as happily or solidly as I like.  The left lead was a lot better, so whatever is bothering him is pretty one sided.

I am pretty sure it's probably his hock, and it could be either one, or both. Theory for stifles is that the horse doesn't want to canter on the lead opposite the affected stifle because that leg has to twist a bit in the gait.  Hocks?  Could be the outside, left hock, because it would have to turn a bit to the inside on the depart to carry the weight, or it could be the inside, right hock, because that's the one that takes most of the weight.  But, in this case, since he was tossing his hind end to the outside to avoid the depart, I'm more inclined to think left hock as he tried to take the strain/weight off of it to canter. 

Either way, considering that Tucker had nearly the entire winter off, there is no reason for him to be simply sore in his hocks from too much work, so I'm suspicious there may be some other issues going on.  That means I need to have the vet out to do X-rays, something I've been anticipating for a while.  The sad part is that Tucker's canter is by far his best gait, when he's feeling fine.  I kind of miss that feeling.  Hopefully, if he is developing or has already developed some spavin, it's the kind that will fuse over time.  But the only way to know is to have my vet look him over and get those pictures. 

I do have to say that if his hocks do hurt, Tucker was rather generous about at least trying for me.  There was a time when he would have protested to the point of refusing to move at all.  I'm at least pleased about that.

Still, I do not want him to be in pain if there is anything I can do about it.  I'm simply not that kind of horseperson.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Well, That Was a Surprise

Soggy Afternoon

When I left school, the sky was dark and threatening.  By the time I hit the highway, the rain was pouring down.

Then I started to worry because there had been reports of thunderstorms nearby and the Boys were out in the pasture--if they so chose to be.  When I got home, they were.  They were "sheltering" under the trees at the top of the hill.  Great....*sigh*  Just where I'd want to be during a thunderstorm.

I called them in, fed them and closed the pasture gate.  Then I went in to have a bite to eat, figuring the forecast that the rain was passing was just about right.

I went out in about an hour to do some lungeing.  I caught Chance, took him into the  arena and managed about five minutes of work when it started to rain down big, cold drops again.  I just made it back into the barn when it started to come down fairly heavily again. 

I guess it rained off and on again until dark.  I had to give up.  It was not only wet, but chilly. 

If it stays nice today, I will go out for a woods ride when I get home, and I'll probably have to put the Bug Armor on whomever I ride.  Usually this time of year it's nice in the woods, but this time, I have a feeling the mosquitoes will be out in force.  They ruin everything. 

It's my birthday today, but I don't have any special plans.  However, if I do think of something celebratory, I will certainly let you all know.  Meanwhile, I will just grow older quietly and not as gracefully as I might like to . *G*

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fiddle Dee Dee

And Phooey

I got home from school a bit late because I went to vote in the school board elections first.  When I got there, my neighbor was finishing up some repair work on my one riding tractor/mower.  He had it running nicely but was having the same trouble I have had with the mower deck's stopping now and then.  We talked about it all for a while, taking up more time, so I ended up feeding the Boys, figuring I'd go out to work someone a bit later. 

When I did go out, I could not resist some mowing so I managed to mow most of the front lawn before the darn deck stopped working again.  There has to be something wrong with the switch mechanism or something.  It's running beautifully, though, so I can use it for other chores and simply mow when it works. I do have another riding mower to use instead, so it's not a big deal, although I do like the way mower #1 cuts the grass much better. 

When I went out to the barn, the horses were hiding inside, trying to escape the mosquitoes.  I was going to lunge Chance but he was clearly not happy with the prospect of going outside.  Instead I put the flysheets back on everyone.  I'd taken them off the other night to replace them with regular sheets because it was cold out.  Then, Monday, it was chilly and a bit windy so I left the sheets off altogether, as I did today.  But tonight was another story.  The bugs were back in force.

The very wet early spring has created a perfect breeding ground for the biting pests.  I do have fly predators for the flies, but nothing to really do much about the mosquitoes.  I do have a fogger, but I think I need some new insecticide for it.  If these darn pests keep up at this intensity, I will start spraying.  I honestly don't know what else to do to keep them at bay and give my poor Boys some respite.

I guess this means I need to work the horses before the sun starts to get low in the sky as that's when the little bloodsuckers seem to come out in numbers. 

I'll also have to stock up on my Mosquito Halt horse spray.  The Boys hate the smell, but the stuff does work.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Crash!! Not Me....But

Heart In My Throat

I came home from a play Saturday night to see flashing police lights right by my house.  My heart leapt into my throat as  my instant fear was that somehow the horses had gotten out and were on the road.  Then, when I got to my driveway, there were two police cars parked beside an SUV that was halfway up the 4-5 foot bank in front of my house. The truck had its front left smashed to bits and was not too far from hitting the telephone pole that sits atop the bank. Wires were down and although the electricity in my house was still on, one of the trees was sparking. 

My heart stayed in my throat as I pulled into the driveway.  What if one of the Boys had been out on the road and gotten hit? Or simply caused the accident.  I rushed out to the barn to see Toby and Tucker, perfectly fine, ready for their late night snack.  Chance was not in sight.  My heart was still pounding as I called and called.  Then, thank goodness, his white blaze appeared out of the darkness, and he was just fine too.  Whew!! Talk about a panic attack.  I fed the Boys, then headed back out to the roadway to see if I could find out anything. 

My mailbox was gone and the telephone/utility pole north of my one driveway was cracked clean through with the wires hanging precariously.  My neighbor was out with one of the policeman, searching around with flashlights.  We had to get off the road as cars were still careening happily over the hill just beyond, completely oblivious to the mayhem just ahead.  The policeman was obviously frustrated at that, but there wasn't much he could do without going far out from the accident scene to do some traffic control. 

Meantime, the other policeman was with the driver of the SUV who, thankfully, was not hurt. 

Now, here's the scenario.  The SUV was traveling south on my road.  Here in the USA, we drive on the right side of the road.  My house, however, is on the left side of the road.  The SUV had crossed the rode into the opposite lane, gone for a stretch along a very soft dirt shoulder, nearly gone off down the 2-3 foot bank into the hollow in front of my paddock, then sheered off the telephone pole, gone along another 10-20 foot stretch of very soft dirt, hit my mailbox, and the traveled another 150+ feet into my bank where he finally got stopped when the front end wedged into that dirt.

I will grant you, that, according to my neighbor, this was a Chevy Suburban, but still that's a lot of traveling and damage.  Just how fast was this guy going anyhow?  I didn't get any details, I although I may pick up the police report as I should have an insurance claim for my mailbox which did--by the way--show up in nearly one piece. (Rubbermaid!! I think I need a new one, though and will buy the same model if it's still available.) 

Anyhow, my mailbox is currently tied to the bracket with baling twine.  Kind of suits the whole farm image, don't you think?

Meantime, the tree people were in partial force again on Sunday, so the work the horse routine was again disrupted.  It was also rather windy which made me think twice about riding out in the woods as I have now learned to worry about flying branches and such. 

But I did give Tucker a good lungeing session and he was beautifully behaved, as well as sound!! Yippee.  I set him over a two jump combination that encouraged some more forward striding on his part and he really got into it, withe perhaps more enthusiasm than I would want were I riding him.  But, it was a joy to see him soar over the two fences set at just under 2'6".   Not big, but enough to require a little jumping effort instead of just a "stepover."  And, he was heading for them more on his own instead of playing around trying to cut out every time I didn't quite set him straight at the line.  I think he was enjoying himself. 

I am still working on the "catch Toby" routine and he is getting better about it.  Chance has been, I fear, a little left out again, but the tree distraction kind of set me off of doing much with him. 

Most of the trees are cleaned up at last, but I still have a rather large pile of maple chunks by the house.  Treeman did not quite get the job done to his usual standards due to some employee issues.  I am not 100% happy with the results as it looks as if I am going to have to do some cleanup work myself, but the biggest stuff is gone.  

Once more, order is slowly being restored at Follywoods...aside from all the dug up ruts, etc. from the truck accident. 

And, oh, yes, my Internet, telephone, and TV are all out due to the fractured utility pole, so I've been offline all since Saturday night. 

That's all for now!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It Rained

But Tucker Didn't Give a Nod

It was raining off and on when I got home yesterday.  I'd locked the Boys out of the pasture fearing thunderstorms--which never arrived some fifteen miles away at school. 

When I got home, I opened the gate and Toby and Tucker decided to frolic on out to nibble on the "almost not there" grass.  As Tucker trotted past, he looked perfectly sound.  He was going on a straight line, of course and the ground there was pretty soft with no stones, so it's not a 100% test, but a good one for now.

Today I have a chiropractor appointment and need to go for feed, so a further test will have to wait.

And the skies keep changing from clouds to sunshine, so I don't quite know what's going on weatherwise.  Either way, I should have a soundness report later.

Oh yes, ever the "I'm busy doing something else, " Chance realized the other Boys had gone out into the pasture about two minutes later and flew by in a mad gallop to get out there too.

He looks fine. *G*

Evening addendum:
When I got home from the chiropractor, the tree men were here in force.  I had to put the Boys out in the pasture so the tree guys could dump the pine chips in the paddock. 

And riding was certainly not a likely option with all the noise and commotion.

So I headed off to the feed store and detoured to the mall on the way home.  I arrived back here in time for evening feed in blessed silence.  Looks like Sunday will be just as noisy, since the trees are still not quite done. 

Ah, well.  Sometimes plans just don't work out as planned. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quick Post on a Gloomy Day

Ouchers Off and On

I gave Tucker a quick lunge last night.  He started off just fine, looking quite sound and striding out nicely on his shod feet.

Then, he suddenly started limping.  The only thing I can figure for the moment is that he stepped on a stone with his previously bruised sole and made himself sore.  I did not press the point with him, so I'll see how he is tonight.  I would like to start riding him, but I don't want him feeling miserable when I do. 

Rain and storms were threatened for this morning. So far, where I am, not much has materialized.  I feel a little bad because I did close off the pasture before I left because I always worry with lightning and the hill out there.  The Boys tend to think its great to stand out there, exposed on top of the hill,  as the dark clouds gather and thunder starts to rumble.  They'll be fine without that grass to nibble as the paddocks around the barn have a little grass as well.  And, of course, they have a nice bit of hay to keep them occupied. 

So much for now.  More, probably later.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Caught in a Time Warp

Sort Of

I went to my old school last night to help out the theater teacher who is currently stuck in bed with a high risk pregnancy.  Her students are putting up the mainstage production this week and needed nights at the school for tech and dress rehearsals.  The school didn't seem to see the need to provide a supervisor/teacher to take my friend's place, so she called me. 

When I got there, her stage manager (student) told her the school principal had nixed me as suitable because now I was a substitute, not a real teacher. (OK, now I have since checked with two certified administrators about this and both seem to think my supervising the students was perfectly fine and legal. )  At any rate, I ended up staying to watch the rehearsal/runthrough and was quite delighted to see the students taking on all the responsibility and doing a totally professional job.  The play is excellent and their work is outstanding.

By the by, I am a fully licensed and certified teacher in the State of New Jersey and am currently employed full time as a substitute teacher--board of education approved--in the district.  Somehow I am rather certain I am fully qualified to supervise students.  There was a school administrator in the building and other teachers teaching night school classes.   Ya know what??? I am insulted.  Gonna write a letter.

This is the kind of thing that added to my decision to retire. The theater arts teacher made herself sick trying to get this show off the ground despite many obstacles thrown in her way by the school, and in her time of need, there has been little support to help her and, more importantly, her students with their showcase production. For a moment, in the brief paradise of the school where I am now teaching, I had forgotten that frustration.  How sad to have found it again. I have time warped back to the past.

The Boys were silly yesterday morning as a squawking wild turkey was out in the pasture, distracting them from...of all things breakfast!! I finally marched out to convince the noisy bird to leave the premises so the Boys could eat in peace, safe from the dangerous and evil winged harpy they were seeing and hearing.

On another note, Tucker was looking much better with his shoes on.  He still had a little limp on the right rein, but looked great on the left. I'll give him another day or so and then try some work. 

Meantime, Toby let me catch him about four times yesterday with just a little of the "run around Jean in circles" routine.  Don't know if he is getting the idea that stopping is better than working himself into exhaustion as I keep chasing him, but we'll see.  He's been naughty about this for years, so I don't expect an overnight transformation.  Then again, he is a smart boy.

Smarter than some school official I know........

Monday, April 12, 2010

Aw, Gee, The Bugs Are Back

Bumpy Boys

Tucker and Chance are showing bug bite bumps.  It looks like mostly mosquitoes, but definitely annoying. 

So, I went out to put flysheets on everyone.  A few minutes task?  Not with my Boys. 

The first challenge was finding the flysheets in the pile of sheets and blankets.  Then, I had to try to figure out which ones fit whom.  Then, from the fit selection, I had to sort out the ones that really were in sound enough shape to protect against the mosquitoes and which were too damaged.  I did sort out the regular sheets, not all the flysheets.

I had two brand new fine mesh sheets, in proper sizes, but the darn things were cut far too high in the neck for the big Boys.  One fit Chance, so he's wearing one now.  One of the orange ones fit Tucker and a blue texilene mesh one suited Toby.  When I have a bit more time to rummage, I'll sort through the inventory and settle on a better combination later--perhaps on the weekend. 

But the time was also consumed by Toby who just absolutely decided he was not going to let me catch him.  He's been a problem off and on for years about this and when he gets a notion that he doesn't want to be caught, well, then it turns into a marathon. 

I finally chased him into the riding arena, locked him in by himself and, in short order, he gave up and let me put the halter on. I caught and released him about ten times, making a fuss over him every time he was haltered.  I doubt it will do much good in the long run, but at least today he submitted.  I've worked with catching him before and had moderate success, but with Toby, things don't exactly last.  He is a smart boy and not prone to learning by rote.  Still, it was worth the effort. 

So now, at least, all three Boys are protected somewhat from the biting bugs.  I would have hoped we'd have a month of freedom from those pests, but alas, it was not to be. 

Spring is too quickly passing into summer. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Sunday

A Beautiful Day

But I needed a nap in the afternoon, so I took about an hour's worth and then went out to ride a little.

I had Tucker's feet taped up and him all saddled, when who should appear in the driveway, but my farrier, Scott.  So, off went the tack and the tape and in short order, Tucker was ready to be shod. 

When Scott trimmed his feet, he found evidence of brusing in the sole, near the toe, so that explains Tucker's being sore.  With the shoes on, he was still a little tentative, but definitely better than barefoot.  I think it's going to take a bit of time for him to get back to 100%, but so far, so good. 

Scott said if there is no improvement in a few days or if, by some chance, Tuck gets worse, I need to call him right away.  Meantime, it's just a matter of waiting it out until his feet recover on their own. 

Interesting note here.  Scott has attended a number of forums on hoof care lately, many of which have had a lot of barefoot people there.  The last one he went to, one of the speakers was pretty straightforward about when horses can go barefoot and which cannot.  He said if the hoof grows one quarter to one half inch in a month, then no shoes are probably going to be OK, but if the growth is less than that, than shoes are on.  Tuck does not grow a lot of foot, and Chance does.  Seems to be a pretty good indication right there. 

At any rate, Scott just left, so it's going on 6 PM.  I fed the Boys and it looks as if I have given up on riding for the day.  Tucker did get about 5 minutes of lungeing after the shoeing so we could watch him go.  I guess that counts for something.

Sunday was definitely a "sun" day, though.  Spring temperatures topping off around 70F, and just a nice day.   Wouldn't it be nice if this kind of weather lingered? 

Brisk Day

Quite a Change in The Weather
The temperature dropped considerably overnight.  The result was a perfectly lovely Saturday.

However, my morning was consumed by a visit to the chiropractor and physical therapy.  Once that was done, I headed for the feed store to pick up the low starch feed I'd ordered for Tuck and Chance.  To my complete frustration, they had none in stock.  This, after I had called on Tuesday to be sure there would be some there.  They'd had two bags then and the manager promised me he would put in an order so I could pick up more bags Saturday.  The girls in the store said he does that kind of thing all the time--promises a customer he'll place an order and then forget to write it down. 

Pain.  I ended up stopping at the other feed store to pick up one bag of their not quite as low starch feed.  I opted out of the really low starch variety because it was some $30 for a 50 lb bag!  I don't know what makes the low starch feed so much more expensive, but that was just too much to pay.  I'll be looking into alternative brands.

I took another ride to the book store to see what kind of videos and CD's they might have on Wagner's Ring operas since I am teaching a little opera at school.  I didn't quite find what I wanted, but I did get something that will work.  When I retired, I'm pretty sure I gave all the bulk of my materials to my Wagner fan friend--once again thinking I'd have no use for it.  So I had to do a bit of a restock. 

Home again, I headed out to the barn.  I decided to give Tucker a break after the boot rub from Friday and lunged Chance instead.  I put him through the same basic routine I'd used with Tuck, including the two little jumps.  I have to laugh a bit about Chance's laid back approach to the whole thing.  Until I put the jump up high enough to make him work at it, he just kind of half trotted over the combination.  The trouble was that it was a canter stride combination, so every time he did that, he had to really struggled to time the second little fence.  He looked like an awkward puppy!! 

Once the second jump was up and he realized he needed to make a little effort, he picked up the pace and impulsion on his own and finally finished up looking like a fairly athletic, if lazy jumper.  Not quite up to his dad's standards--from the pictures I've seen of him, but competent. *lol*

Toby had come in from the pasture and seemed to be looking for some attention, so I caught him and, with a promise that I'd not work him too hard, I took him out for a short lunge.  He does like to jump, so I gave him a short warm up at the trot and canter and then set him at the little combination.  His enthusiasm outscored Chance by at least a factor of ten.  I had to move the one stride combo about two feet farther apart so he could make the striding without having to collect himself too much.  If I were seriously training  him, I'd have kept the shorter distance and insisted he adjust his approach, but this was just a fun session, so I didn't make any demands. 

At the end, I raised the second jump for him too and he flew over it with his usual Toby jumping exuberance.  He really is an amazing athlete to watch.  I'm glad I didn't choose a jumping career for him as he probably would be having some soundness problems now at age 20, but it's always been fun to play with him like this.  He seems to enjoy the challenge and I certainly have fun. 

As I said at the opening, it was a lovely Saturday.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Phooey With the Boots

Tucker Was a Good Boy

Darn hoof boots rubbed Tucker on the coronary band, but he worked through it anyhow.  I feel bad about it, because I think he was trying to tell me something was rubbing when I put the boots on.  But he put on a brave front and still gave me a nice lungeing session.

The weather took an abrupt turn last night, with temperatures dropping back into the 40's and 50's F.  The day may have warmed up to around 60, but it was damp for the bulk of the day.  Thunderstorms had come through during the night and it was still raining a bit in the morning. 

The arena was in good condition, though, so I decided to lunge Tuck.  Aside from the boot issue, he did some really nice work with lots of exercises over the cavaletti, and then some jumps.  I put up a combination with one stride in between just for some variety and he did really well.  It does kind of tease me a bit to see how well he jumps, as I think he could have a nice career in the hunter arena. 

Just for fun, on the last few passes through the combination, I put the second fence up to a bit under three feet, to give him a bit more of a challenge.  Once again, he was marvelous.  He jumped with relaxation, good form, and a positive attitude.  He made it look easy and it seemed he was enjoying it--especially the praise for a job well done. 

I am trying to track down some gaiters for the boots, but I have also decided he really does need those front shoes.  Scott has been trying to get out here all week, with no luck.  He hopes he might be able to drop by on Sunday.  If so, we want to make it in the afternoon, so I can be here to play with Mic.  Scott feels the same way  as I think Mic's devotion to sitting by my back door waiting for me to come out bothers him too. *lol*

At any rate, the barefoot experiment has come to a close.  I have seen virtually no improvement in Tucker's sensitivity since we took his shoe off.  While he is OK for turnout, he is far too "footy" to ride without protective boots.  If next winter shows itself to be similar to this past one, I will consider pulling his shoes again, but for now, it's just not worth not being able to ride and train him. 

By the by, both Tucker and Chance are on diets.  And both are on magnesium.  I am also going to pick up some low carb feed this weekend. 

The fat Boys need some slimming down, that's for sure. 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Descending Order

At Least In Height

I managed to ride all three Boys today.  I didn't get in the saddle until the afternoon as I'd spent the morning working on getting the car inspected. 

There is a new motor vehicle agency just about two-three miles away from here.  It used to be just an inspection station, but now they have the full agency with licenses and registrations, etc.  It just opened yesterday.  But, to get there, I had to detour to the highway, going at least three to four miles out of my way.  They are putting in a traffic light at one intersection of my road and had the cross road I needed to take closed.  *sigh*  I managed to get there however and renewed the registration on both my horse and utilty trailers as well as my car. 

I would have gotten the car inspected right then and there, but there was a fairly long wait in line, so I headed to the Quick Lube to get my car's oil changed and then headed home.  I had some lunch watched a bit of golf on TV--Tiger Woods' return--and then headed back for inspection.  This time the line was almost non-existent, and my car sailed right through with no problems.

Once back, I changed clothes and went out to the barn.  I caught Tucker first and took him out on his nice little trail ride in the woods.  I did not put his boots on, mostly so that he would be a little less energetic out there.  He was more interested in where he was putting his feet rather than being silly, so we had a really nice ride.

Then, since he was in his stall, I managed to get Toby next and took him out on the same ride.  We did have one huge spook, right into a sapling.  I'm not sure where we would have ended up if the tree hadn't been there, but it did stop his momentum.  Otherwise, he too gave me a lovely ride.

Downsizing to Chance was ideal as I didn't have to lift the saddle up quite as far to tack him up. *G*  Needless to say, he was virtually perfect on the trail, and once again, we had a lovely hack through the woods.

It was hot again, though not quite as hot as yesterday and there was a good breeze to ease things a bit.  The breeze also discouraged the gnats so we were not really bothered by bugs this time out. 

No hosing today as all the Boys needed was some sponging off under the saddle and girth area. 

Once again, a good time was had by all!!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Hot Enough to Hose

Working Up a Sweat

I decided to lunge today, mostly because I can watch Tucker go that way.  I put his boots on first, to help him along and took him out to the arena. 

He was bouncy and forward with his feet protected.  I gave him a reasonalbly long session, at least compared to what we'd done this winter.  The idea was to get him to break a sweat and just get a little tired by the end.  I'm not sure about the tired but the sweat was not a problem.  It was over 80F today. 

I set up a small jump for some variety and he took it a good number of times in each direction with his usual athletic style and relaxation.  But, as we were finishing up, the other two Boys decided to come galloping in from the pasture and Tucker took off, tail in the air, squealing and bucking.  Fortunately, he stayed well on the lunging circle to I had no issue controlling him, but if he was at all tired out, he surely didn't show it with that display. 

When we were done, I unreeled the hose and gave him a good rinse off.  No question it was more than warm enough.  He looked great after I scraped him off but it only lasted a minute or so before he took a good roll in the dirt to dry off.

I took Chance out next and did a similar lunging session, just a little shorter, though, as he does not have that unending Thoroughbred endurance.  His jumping style is a little less energetic over the fence than Tucker's and unless I push him on just a little, he doesn't always jump cleanly.  It's not a lack of talent by any means, but he just "overrelaxes" and takes a lazier approach.  When he makes the effort, he too is a nice, athletic jumper as well.  Still, I do like the rather laid back approach to the fences both Boys show as it gives me the feeling of both confidence and quietness I prefer for training a jumper. 

After Chance was done, I put on my helmet "just in case" and took him out to hose him off.  Last year, I did not hose any of the horses much but rather sponged them off instead in order to keep their feet dry.  Chance had acted up badly when I had tried the hose with him and I certainly didn't spend any time trying to settle him down about it. 

Today?  A piece of cake.  He was a little fussy about the cold water, certainly forgiveable, but once he was wet he was just fine.  My goodness he has grown up into a well mannered fellow.

I managed to capture Toby without trouble, mostly by promising him I wasn't going to work him, but just hose him.  He was, as always good--bothered a bit by the cold water as well--but the cute thing was that while I was hosing him, Chance came out to "snoopervise" and seemed to try to get in the way of the spray a bit just so he could benefit again. 

Needless to say, both Toby and Chance took good rolls afterwards as well, so all I have to show for hosing the lot of them are some dirty horses. 

At least they are happy dirty horses. *G*

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Doctor Is In

Spring Vetting

My vet came this morning to do the basics for all three Boys.  This includes a Coggins test, flu and rhino vaccines, strangles vaccine, teeth floating, and sheath cleaning.  While I can do the last myself, it's always easier to clean after the horses have been tranquilized for the teeth floating. 

We ended up working from hardest to easiest.  Any guesses??

Chance was first.  He's fine for everything except his teeth.  Actually, he's not bad, but he does seem to take an extra dose of tranquilizer to get through the whole floating as he starts fussing towards the end. 

Tucker was next and he was generally quite good with just a bit of protest at the end of the floating procedure, but not naughty enough to need more medication.  He was quite well behaved, actually, so I think he deserves a gold star. 

We finished with Toby who was almost perfect.  In fact my vet had to do some of the floating on her knees as he simply dropped his head for her.  And, at times, it looked to me as if he was actually leaning into the float, positioning his head as if to help. 

This was a new doctor from my vet's office as the last partner has moved out of New Jersey.  It goes without saying that she was excellent, both in her professional skill and in her handling of the horses.  My vet office has a super group of doctors and I was really pleased with the entire morning's effort. 

I left the Boys in to recover from the sedation when I went food shopping to pick up a few more things for dinner.  Then I just let them out to spend the afternoon in the very warm--80F--sunshine. 

Both Tucker and Chance need to go on diets and I have already started cutting their feed.  But I am also going to get some of the low starch feed again, and really work on controllng intake.  Of course, once I get shoes back on Tucker, I will start a more consistent exercise program for him.  Chance's work is a given and I'm likely to do some longer trails with him, including some hacks around the fields now that I have gained even more confidence in his level head out in the "wilds." 

I took a pot of my homemade French onion soup, a special salad and some filet migon over to my friends' house for dinner and made them a nice meal.  They've often hosted me and since they are now going through some medical issues, I wanted to share some of my cooking skill with them for a change.  I am pleased to say it was a pretty successful dinner. 

As they say, a nice time was had by all.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Not the Reluctant Schoolboy

Another Lovely Day

Weather to die for with temperatures up in the 70's F. 

I did have chiropractic and physical therapy in the morning and then I went to Kohls to get the adjustment on my purchase from Saturday.  I spent my $10 cash and the $8 back on a cardigan sweater and a swimsuit.  Might as well get ready for summer. With temperatures like this, it can't be far away.  And the swimming pool opens at the end of May--just on weekends.

When I got home, I went out to do some barn chores.  I used the tractor to strip all three stalls, clean the run in shed on Chance's side and start a cleanup of the run in on Tucker's and Toby's side.  I'd been keeping both fairly clean but the storms that came through did me in.  The hay that had been dragged out of the stalls had mixed in with the dirt, and then the rain had whipped in under the shed roof, making a soggy mess.  I am about half done cleaning it out, but I quit before I reached the point of total exhaustion.  The darn stuff is wet and heavy and it tends to roll out of the front end loader instead of being easily picked up.  So, I have to fork most of it into the loader by hand.  It's not an easy job. 

Once I'd managed to recover from that, I fed the Boys.  I'd planned on riding Chance, but the mailman finally came and he brought my income taz refund check.  Something got crossed in the process as I thought I was supposed to be a direct deposit into my bank account.  Then, it turned out the mailman had also left a letter I was sending, so I decided to go to the bank and the post office while the Boys ate dinner.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way home to get some salad fixings and onions to make soup.  I was hoping I could make a pot and take some over to my friend's house. She is recovering from surgery and she and her husband have entertained me more than once. That should be set up, so my soup is currently in the pot, starting to simmer. 

When I got back home there was still plenty of daylight.  I brought Chance in and saddled him up for a ride in the woods.  He is the only horse I have ever had that wants to trot and canter on the way out.  He is so full of enthusiam about trail riding/hacking that he simply cannot contain himself.  Most horses I've had tend to walk on the way out and try to speed up on the way home. Not Chance. No reluctant schoolboy he.  He slows down when he realizes we are on the way back!  Gotta love it. 

I did just a little work in the arena when we got back, but nothing too much. 

The only flaw in the ride was the gnats.  There weren't many, but they were annoying Chance in the woods and he kept tossing his head. 

The plus side was that we also saw deer leaping through the forest.  One ran across the trail in front of us on the way out.  Chance saw it, and simply stared, hardly reacting at all.  Then a bit later, on another part of the trial, three more deer leaped up and dashed off.  Again, Chance just looked and didn't seem the least bit excited about it. 

Wow! What a difference from Toby who goes bonkers when he sees deer, and Tucker??? Well, the less said the better. Let's just say I prefer not to be in the saddle when the "fangtails" show themselves in Tucker's vicinity. 

So, once again, Chance passed the "good retirement horse" test with high marks.  He is just plain fun to ride.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Why Do I Do This?

Shopping Spree

OK, so I met my friend Shelley for breakfast.  This was in North Brunswick.  We had a nice time, then parted, each heading off to get a haircut. 

On my way, I stopped at Kohl's Department store, thinking I might find a short sleeved top to go with my Easter outfit since the weather has turned decidedly warmish.  It took a while to cruise the store's racks where I found two tops--one for Easter, and one for summer.  But I still wasn't quite sure I'd formed the right ensemble.

I got my haircut and stopped at the Mall in East Brunswick--which is conveniently east of North Brunswick as well as east of South Brunswick where I live.  That was a mistake of sorts since I went into Macy's and found a beautiful yellow blazer that fit perfectly.  I also found two more tops on sale, fine because one matched the new blazer and the other one matched a pair of pants I had a home. 

Next stop was the tack store to see if they had new cheek pieces for Toby's bridle--destroyed yesterday by Tucker's and my foolish mistake after we were back in the barn.  He hooked it on the door while trying to scratch his head and I pulled him away before I realized he was hooked.  He panicked and the bridle snapped.   Anyhow, I found them as well as a nifty lightweight rain jacket on sale.

Think I'd be happy?? No.  I'd seen another top in Kohls but they didn't have it in my size. So after a fruitless Internet quest on their website, I decided to drive to the other Kohl's over in West Windsor which is south of all the Brunswicks and about a half hour away.   Well, I lucked out there and found the top I wanted in a good size, a really pretty summer dress on sale, and another top I fell in love with--all at good sale prices.  I managed to find the nearly perfect Easter top in another store at that mall and finally, as the afternoon was fast fading, headed home. 

I made a quick stop at Wendy's for a chicken sandwich only to have to wait while they cooked the darn thing, and managed to get home just in time to feed the Boys. 

Since I've been hiking around stores all day, my knees are totally done in so I gave up the idea of riding once again. 

I am a relentless shopper when I am on a quest.  In this case, it was to find a patterned top that had blues and yellows in it to match the yellow blazer and the navy blue pants I will be pairing it with.  I was going to wear a green sweater set, but the change in the weather discouraged me from that, so I had switched to a blue blazer with the pants--until I found the luscious yellow blazer.  It is much "springier" and will brighten my Easter morning perfectly.  I am a bit superstitious and always wear new clothes Easter morning, just to start off fresh on that special day. 

Amazingly, I did not spend a fortune on all my purchases mostly because of all the super sale prices.  And, when I got home, I found I had another 15% discount card from Kohls which I can apply to the prior purchases from the second Kohls store by going to my local Kohls with my receipt.  (My local Kohls had already given me the disount as a courtesy.)  Obviously that will be my excuse to go back to the store on Monday after I go to the chiropractor. 

And, Oh, yes, I have a $10 cash voucher for the store as well.  Guess I will be spending that on something!! *G*

Friday, April 02, 2010

Somber Thursday And Sunny Friday

Busy, Busy

I got stuck in traffic on the way home from school yesterday.  US Route 1 is not my favorite road through NJ and I need to drive a section of it every day to get to school.  There are other routes I could take, but they lead me out of the way by miles and require my taking the NJ Turnpike. 

A word about the of my other "not favorite roads."  And one entrance is 4 miles south in the direction away from school and the next entrance is off Route 18 which is nearly at the school already.  Hence, despite its being a somewhat better road to take than US 1, there is simply no point.

So, yesterday, on the way home, I hit US 1 at a standstill.  As far as I could see up ahead there were red brake lights.  I have no idea how far the jam stretched.  I had to stay on the highway at least until I crossed the Raritan River, but then I exited on to 18, hoping to take the back way home.  Unfortunately, I was not the only person with that idea.  18 was nearly as solid a jam of brakelights itself.  The traffic was moving a bit more than it was on 1, though, to eventually, I crossed the Turnpike, and managed to get off on a side street through a housing development, wend my way to another side road, across another somewhat jammed more major road, through a small town and onto the country road that crosses mine about 6 miles further on. 

A drive which should have taken me 20-25 minutes was over 45 minutes long. 

No big deal except that I had to be at church for the Maundy (Holy) Thursday service by 6:30.  While I had some time to spare, it certainly wasn't enough to do any but the basic horsey activities. 

That meant feeding the Boys, doing just a little stall tending--though not much--checking to see if everyone was OK, then coming back in for a quick bite to eat. 

The church service commemorates the night of the Last Supper and ends with the vision of Christ on the cross.  It is a tenebrae service, or a service of shadows at my church where the lights are gradually turned off, candles are extinguished, and at the end the whole congregation sits in darkness before taking communion.  It is quite beautiful, and quite sad at the same time.  The cross in front of the church is also draped with a black strip of cloth, creating quite a visual reminder of the significance of the night.

Two churches in town join together for the service as they will today for a Good Friday service.  The two choirs join for an anthem, this time called, "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep."  I had a solo descant, so it was really important that I be there, perky, and on time.  Everything went quite well with the music, so I am pleased, and the service, as I said, was quite moving. 

Afterwards we had a short choir rehearsal for Easter Sunday, and then out little group went out to a diner for a late dinner. 

So far, today is gorgeous with the promise of some nice warm weather.  I will be giving a riding lesson in a bit, and hope to get some work done outside.

I also hope to get something done with a horse or two.  I will be interested to see how Tucker feels now that his shoes have been off for over a month and he's been on the magnesium for about two weeks.  He looks fine tromping through the mud, but the true test is under saddle.  I do have his Cavello boots in case I want to do some more serious riding, but for now, neither one of us is really fit for a good workout.

Friday update:   I gave a lesson this morning and since I had the arena all nicely set up to teach a dressage test, later in the afternoon, I rode my Boys out there. 

Tucker is definitely not comfortable on his feet.  He was very uneven and a little limpy in the well groomed, sand arena.  I took him back inside and put his boots on.  It made a tremendous difference. He was moving out so much more comfortably.  As it has been more than two months since we pulled his shoes, I am not at all optimistic that he will adjust to shoeless.  I have pretty much decided to put his shoes back on in the front. 

At any rate, once he was booted, I gave him a short workout and rode training level test 1, just for something to do.  No problem, of course, although he really wasn't particularly round and on the bit, but he was obedient.  It was surprising to see how sweated he was after a short session, however.  I guess the combination of not being fit, still not being fully shed out, and the high temperatures--I was in a short sleeved tee shirt and felt warm--up around 70F--did us in.

After I rode Tucker, I saddled up Chance for an equally short work session.  Again, he has improved considerably since our last serious schooling, but he is not yet steady on the bit.  When he is down and round, he was quite lovely to ride, but now and again, his head pops up and things fall apart.  He does love to canter, though, and perfers it to trot. 

We also rode through training level test 1.  Obedience was excellent, with transitions up and down right on my cue.  If I can get him steady into the bit and more supple through his body, he will be ready to show early this season if I ever get the urge to go somewhere with him.

Right now there is a worry in NJ about an Equine Herpes outbreak.  Apparently one large show was already canceled.  I certainly don't want to take any risks with my Boys' health so if we stay home that will be fine with me.  Besides, I have no ambition at all at the moment. 

Besides every test I ride here scores well over 80%, so why should I pay a judge to tell me otherwise?? *G*