Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some Inspiration

Watched Some Lessons

Stacie had lessons with Patrice Edwards Tuesday and Wednesday.  I went down to watch on the second day.

Patrice's entire focus on riding is about how the rider influences the horse, and she spends a great deal of time establishing the rider's position, balance, weight, aids, etc. to create a round, engaged, balanced horse rather than more "active" methods of getting a horse on the bit.

In this case, Stacie worked both her horses-- a big warmblood mare and a smaller warmblood gelding, mostly at the walk for the bulk of her ride time.  Both horses tend to be a bit crooked, so the main issue was working on her seat until each horse began to step straight.  This required Stacie to sit perfectly level, no matter how the horse tried to carry her. It was interesting to watch how each time she "found" the right way to sit, each horse started to reach for and work on the bit.

The gelding is a bit stiff in his hind end, so they used repeated leg yields to loosen him and by the end of that ride he was flexing his hocks and using hid hindquarters. He still needs a lot of work finding his balance at the trot, but  that too should improve over time.

One interesting concept I picked up is that, according to Patrice, a horse cannot learn both physically and mentally at the same time.  So, when you are doing exercises and training, your prime goal is to get the horses's muscles to work in the correct way.  So, if you "teach" leg yield, all you are doing is getting the horse to move its legs and body in a lateral direction.  It is only after the horse has time later to process, "Well, I did that a nothing dangerous happened, so it must be OK to move that way," that the horse's mind grasps the concept.  If so, that makes perfect sense to me.  What I have so often found is that an exercise that is extremely difficult to teach on Day One is often no problem to ride on Day Two or Three.  It makes me think it's a good idea to give the horse some time to think between training sessions so his brain can process what his muscles and body have done.

The whole concept of riding is pretty complex, after all.  Riding with Patrice does not make it any easier until something clicks in the rider's brain--humans can think and process physical movement at the same time--and everything falls into place that is starts to become simple.

Now all I have to do is get on my own Boys and apply some of that "simplicity" to get them going again.  At least the lessons inspired me to try.

Although it's going to be hard with 4-6 inches of rain on the way!  (Should soak in a lot as the ground has been rained on several times over the last few days.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rainy Days and All That

Even Busier Than Before

On Monday, I went in to the Academy where I substituted at the end of the last school year, to act as a one day sub for the Mechanical Engineering teacher.  I knew half of his students, so that was good. and all of his classes were great.  The 9th graders, first year in the school, were the only ones who really were not quite sure what kind of work they were supposed to be doing in class, so I set up a little lesson on body language for them.

From what I could tell, they really enjoyed the class.  It's kind of  mixture of psychology and culture where I pick a two students to sit in front of the class and then have the class observe how they sit, move, and simply react to the situation.  We then go on to discuss and notice how the students' body language communicates how they are feeling.  I have a lot of other little things we do such as discovering personal space, how businessmen need to learn how to both give and respond to physical cues and behaviors of people in other cultures, and lots of other related things. I also demonstrate various teaching styles teachers use--teaching from behind a podium, sitting in a chair, standing, moving about the room, etc. and how that influences the class.  It's a fun lesson and the students really seemed to relate.

That was my last class of the day so after school I put on my bathing suit and went for a swim in the college's indoor pool.   I realized how much I missed my summer swimming sessions, so I will definitely sign up for the gym nearby with the current generated pool and once in a while take the longer drive to the County College to use the lap pool.

I rained most of yesterday and most of today as well, so I didn't even think of riding. Besides, today I had a doctor's appointment, and then spent the rest of the day running errands.  I ended up visiting the school from which I retired and got to see several of my friends, making a good end to the afternoon.

Since then, I've just gotten back from a Township Council meeting. Not much going on, but I do need to keep up on the government just in case we do win the election.

Right about now I am ready to fall into bed.  It's been a few busy days and the missing sunshine doesn't help my energy level.  More rain on the way too, but I won't complain.  After three months of hot, totally dry summer, we need the water.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy, Busy

Full Weekend

Spent most of Saturday with campaign stuff.  It was rather hot and humid too. Summer clings on.

But today, Sunday, was quite nice.  Church in the AM, and then a picnic at a friend's house. Trouble was, I copied down his address wrong, drove for over two hours trying to find his house and then came back home.  But then, I found the correct house number and headed back to the very same street I'd already been on and found the party!!

I'm glad I got there eventually as I got to see some old friends.  We had a really nice later than it should have been afternoon into the evening.

The hay I got the other day seems to be a hit with the Boys.  This time, I tried to select a "soft" hay.  It was local meadow grass, just cut this summer and nice and fresh.  All three horses seem to be eating it quite happily.  I hope they are as pleased with whatever hay my regular supplier brings this week.

Hay is an important part of a horse's diet if good grazing is not available.  I really prefer to spend more money to get hay the Boys will eat up than hay that gets wasted.  I've had too many times when the hay becomes bedding in the stalls rather than dinner.

Guess I'll just have to wait and see what shows up in the next load that's delivered.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Motivation

Totally Lacking

Of course, the weather doesn't help.  It's been "summer warm" over the last few days and the one time it cooled off, a terrific thunderstorm came through.  The wind was so strong at the start, I almost thought there was a tornado near by.

But that's not the main problem.  I am finding it hard to get motivated to do much around here, let alone ride the horses.  I am hoping this is a temporary condition due mostly to my knees, but I am a bit frustrated with myself.

Then again, I am kind of busy with campaign obligations too, so that does keep me somewhat busy.

I did go to pick up 8 bales of hay this morning to supplement my supply until my hay man gets his new load.  And I put a piece of plywood over the well for the barn.  The old lid caved in sometime this summer.  Fortunately, I had a piece of wood that fit, but I still need some more to cover the other side where there are some hoses and things stored.   So I did accomplish something for the day.

Not sure what's up with the horses becoming just big pets for the time being...as they have all summer, but I do suspect that once it cools off, I will feel more like doing some riding.  I am definitely in a slump in that department.

Fortunately, aside from their not being fit, my Boys do not pose a huge problem when they have not been ridden for a long time.  While Chance is not fully trained for dressage, he certainly has an easy temperament and I can just hop on to ride, even out on the trails. without any problem.  Tucker never was a trail star, but he works just fine in the arena, and Toby goes most anywhere with some element of reliability.

When I read of people who have to lunge their horses before they get on to work them down before riding, I realize how lucky I am.

But, a good part of that is related to turnout.  I have always kept my horses at barns where they have been turned out either all day or all night, depending on the season.  Now that they are home, they have 24-7 options for turnout and it makes a huge difference in their attitudes towards life.

I always feel sorry for horses kept in stalls for most of the time.  It is just not natural.  As well, while I do understand that sometimes there are logical safety reasons for it, I also feel sorry for horses forced to be alone all the time, especially in turnout.  If they cannot be in the same space with other horses, they should at least be able to see other horses.  As herd animals, it's important for their minds and bodies.

So, while I may not be riding them, my Boys have a pretty good set up here.  They stay a little fit just roaming around the paddocks and pastures, they get to play with each other, and I know for sure they are well fed and have plenty of shelter.

Not bad at all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hot Again

Summer is Not Over

I am so glad I retired from the school where I was teaching.  My room had no air conditioning and in weather like this it was stifling. I do not miss sweating at all.

Which is why I didn't work the horses today either....not that I have been.  My left knee is really quirky, but feeling a bit better with rest. I have a sneaking suspicion I did some new damage inside, but the less I think about that the better. As noted, I will try to ride and if I can do that, I can cope for now.

Right now I have to focus on some basics.  I need to pick up some bales of hay to tide me over until my hay man gets his new delivery from New York State.  I was going to do that today, but I got sidetracked by who knows what--I am becoming very "distractable" lately with the campaign going on.  My calendar seems to be filling up with events, meetings, and candidate things I need to do.

Today I went to the senior center in town and joined up.  I thought you had to be older than I am, but it turns out I could have joined at 55.  They have all kinds of events going on.  Today I watched a group of really nice ladies playing Mah-Jong.  I've been playing the solitaire  game online, so I am familiar with the tiles, but, my goodness, the rules of the game itself are complicated.  The version they were playing was "Charleston," and it was kind of a combination of Scrabble, Gin Rummy, Hearts, several other games.  It did look like fun and they invited me to join them sometime--as long as I promised to lose.  I'm pretty sure I would. *lol*

I still have to try the membership in the gym/pool place too, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.  I do have to wonder if the swimming would be good for my knees.  Could be the exercise they were getting in the summer helped.

The horses do need some kind of attention besides the basics.  My big disappointment is that the apple tree by the paddock does not seem to be dropping any apples--unless the groundhog is getting them all.  The Boys look longingly at me every time I pass by there and I have nothing to offer them.

If it chills off this evening, I'll put on some good knee braces and go out for some ground work with them.  At least they won't think I'm ignoring them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mouser and the Carnivore

An Interesting Contrast in Cats

I have mice in the attic somewhere. Not too surprising as I do live in the country.

In the summer, I leave the interior attic door open so the cats have a place to explore and adventure. In winter, I leave the interior basement door open for them.  And the stairs are good extra exercise for indoor kitties.

This summer, Church, the gray kitty, has taken to spending hours in the attic. Every once in a while, he brings a little mouse down to the living room.  This usually causes quite a stir with the other kitties and a free for all usually results.  I suspect an occasional mouse has escaped, but most of the time, if I don't intervene, we end up with a little mouse corpse on the floor somewhere.  I will often rescue the mouse under a plastic container if I can out of mercy since I hate to see anything die, especially like that.

This time, the equation had an added element--Patchadoodle.

A little background here. DJ, Reggie, and Scooter are all rescues brought here as tiny kittens. Church was rescued from a city street as a kitten as well. Patch, however had lived as a stray in my back yard for at least a year and is now, according to the vet, about two years old. So, he had to survive on his own in the wild for a while.

So, little mouse, which I never actually saw in its entirety, was captured upstairs by Church who proudly brought it downstairs to the living room.  I missed the bulk of the drama but the sound of some deep throated growling caught my attention as I sat at the computer.  I turned around to see all five cats in a cluster with the growling Patchadoodle in the center.  There was a mouse tail hanging out of his mouth.

Heaven only knows if the tail was still wiggling. I don't really want to know, but I did go get the plastic container just in case.

No need. A few more growls to keep the others backed off, and in a matter of minutes, Patches finished the mouse off for a snack.

This was a striking difference in behavior from the other kitties who play with the poor mouse until they kill it and then just leave the remains.  Patchadoodle was the true predator, who long ago had learned to hunt and kill to survive.  While the whole episode was not exactly nice, it was a fascinating contrast in cat behavior.

My four shelter kitties have the hunting instinct, but I guess, never having had to "life off the land" the prey is play rather than food.  Not so for Patch, the survivor.

Poor little guy.  I can only imagine how hard it was for him to have to fend for himself for all that time.  I'm glad he now has the option of a nice dish of fresh cat food whenever he wants it.

RIP, little mouse.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Food For Dogs

I Am Shamelessly Borrowing Too!!

Grey Horse Matters posted this post from Carson at the 7msn.  Since the program ends today, this was the fastest way to get my post in. 
Pedigree® is sponsoring an Adoption Drive – they are donating a bowl of dog food for every "like" they get on their facebook page. If you go  http://www.facebook.com/Pedigree and "like" them, one more shelter dog will get a bowl of food. But that's not all.

For every blog that mentions the Adoption Drive between Sept. 16 through Sunday, Sept. 19, Pedigree® will donate a 20-lb. bag of food to a shelter. If you've got a blog, there's still time to write a post and help a dog. Enter the link to your blog post here :  
http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2010/09/blog-hop-special-edition-pedigrees-write-a-post-help-a-dog/  to participate

Shoe On

But My Knee....

Scott arrived late Friday afternoon to shoe the Boys.  All was well.  I, of course, was obligated to spend most of the visit playing "fetch" with Scott's border collie, Mick.  He managed to find most of his toys around the yard and dutifully brought me a new one when he was finished with a wet soggy one.  Fun.

Scott had a new assistant with him, a graduate of the Kentucky horseshoeing school.  He pulled Toby's shoes and did the finishing clinching on Tuck's and Toby's shoes, but Scott does all the trimming, fitting, and actual shoeing. Scott is very particular about my Boys' shoes and is meticulous about the fit and angle.

We had some good conversations in between hammering and fetching so it was a good visit. Then I had to rush off to a campaign meeting and a "meet the candidates" coffee.  I was there till quite late, but we had a good turnout of twenty or so people who had some good questions which we, I am told, answered quite well.

Somewhere along the way, I tweaked something in my left knee--again. Some steps are OK, and then I must just take a bad one and the pain just shoots up my leg!  We are talking "almost enough to make you scream" pain here.  I do hope this is not the harbinger of the knee replacement event I have been trying to avoid.  Yuck.

I will try to ride a little the next chance I get--maybe today--mostly to see if I can. My barometer of the day I needed to start serious thinking about TKR was when I could no longer ride.  Not being able to walk?  A minor inconvenience. Not being able to ride. Disaster.

Bummer. And here I am with three shod, sound horses too.  *sigh*

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shoe Off

And A Rainstorm

When I went out yesterday morning to pick the riding arena, I found Tucker's missing shoe. So that ended the day for him.

Had a bit of shopping to do, which took up more of the day and then...in came the rain.

Thunderstorms here in my part of NJ did not seem too severe, but there were reports of tornadoes in other parts of the East Coast.  What we did get was some much needed rain--for a good part of the afternoon, into the evening, and again late at night/early morning. Hopefully some of it soaked in, but for sure the grass, trees and plants all got a much needed drink.

Horse activity was non-existent and Tucker is stuck in his stall until my shoer comes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aglity Horses

Well. Sort Of...

A post and some youtube videos of horses doing agility courses similar to the kind dogs do, inspired me to try some fun ground exercises with the Boys.  Tucker's free lungeing the other day was, of course, the other inspiration.

I set up a raised pole, about six inches off the ground--kind of a cavaletti and decided I was going to teach the Boys to "Step over."   Procedure included first leading them over the pole and saying "Step over," and then giving them a treat.  I tried this will all three of them in the arena at the same time, leading them over again and again.  Once that chaos produced no real results, I took each horse in individually and tried a similar exercise.

Revelation. The horse needs to understand the concept of going around me in a circle at the trot first, as if he were on a lunge line. Both Tucker and Toby have had a little round penning, but a lot of lunge/longlining, so the idea was easy for them to grasp.  Chance doesn't quite get it. I never round penned him, and although he's been lunged a fair bit, the habit is not well established with him.

Tucker. Tucker seemed to pick up the concept quickly.  Getting him to trot around me on the circle was easy. Then I simply used my body language to push him into the area of the jump and said, "Step over" as he approached.  While I cannot tell if he fully associated the command with the action, it was a relatively easy thing to get him to trot over the obstacle in both directions. One thing he did quickly connect was that once he'd gone over, he was going to get a treat. He really liked that part and seemed quite pleased with himself.

I took Toby in next as the treat idea was very appealing to him.  Once again, the circling was relatively easy, although at first I did not have the same kind of control over where he was as I did with Tucker. By nature, Tucker seems to want to relate to me and be closer on his circle than Toby.  Toby made a bigger circle and did not always react to my movements. But again, it was fairly easy to get him to steer himself to the obstacle and then "Step over."  However, then, even though I made a noise with the treat bag and called him to walk over to me, he traveled on a bit on autopilot before realizing I was going to reward him. On the last pass, however, he seemed to catch on that going over the little jump was the "thing to do," so before I could give him his treat, he took it upon himself to make one more circle and jump over it again on his own as if to say, "See! I get it! Let me show you!"  Lavish praise and a handful of feed made him quite happy about the  whole thing.

Chance was a whole different story. His general reaction to my spinning the lead rope and urging him to trot on most often resulted in his meandering around in an erratic pattern, alternately trotting a little, walking, and then stopping to kind of look either at me or the scenery.   Unable to get much beyond that, I finally slipped the lead rope around his neck and repeatedly led him over the pole, each time saying , "Step over" and treating him on the other side.  I did get him to go over it once on his own, but it's pretty clear I have been remiss in the ground work with him, so he just doesn't know how to respond as well as the other Boys.

This just means I need to do a bit more work with Chance--no surprise there. But, he's so much fun out on the trails, I'm just not sure I'll stick to it.  Riding through the woods on a crisp autumn day just might be too tempting. *G*

I'll think up a few more little agility exercises as time goes on. If my knees prohibit serious riding at least I will have some fun things to do with the Boys instead.  It's really an interesting challenge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Escape!!

Enough Already!!

This morning when I woke up and headed out to the kitchen, I was greeted with the sight of horses grazing on the back lawn.  What now???  This time, the two sections of fence right by the barn were down, with the fence post split in half.  *sigh*

I bought good wood fencing. I thought it was going to last. This is not good. I need the electric fence charger to put up the electric wire to keep the Boys away from the fences altogether. Bless the gates across the driveway.  The Boys respect them and stayed in the back yard. I will not have to mow this week or do any weed whacking where the grass was actually growing despite the drought.  I will have to become a carpenter.

I spent about 40 minutes fixing the fence. For now it's patched with some nails, a mending plate and some baling twine.  I bought more mending plates this afternoon, but I had to go to a Township meeting so I didn't have time to reinforce the broken fence post with them yet.  Hopefully, my temporary repair will make it through the night.

I don't think there were any splits in the post to start off with, so I guess it was just some good solid horse leaning that did it in.

Good thing I am retired and spending most of my time home here. At least it gives me a 50/50 chance of keeping the Boys confined with some degree of success.  And I have plenty of time to mend fences.  Wish I had the money to put in another line of fence around the entire property. I always thought a ten foot high chain link fence with barbed wire on the top might be nice. Then all I'd need is a guard tower with some security cameras and a siren.  I'd be all set.

*SIGH*  Much work to do tomorrow.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chiro for Me

Grain Pickup First

I threw something out in my back, I thought. It was enough to make me go to my chiropractor in the afternoon.

But, in the morning, I picked up a load of horse feed--grain and alfalfa cubes.  I brought it home and unloaded it around noon.  It was pretty warm out, as if summer was making a comeback.

After lunch, I headed for the doctor's office. It wasn't my back, exactly.  My pelvis was out--could that be due to Chance's wanting me to ride off on to my right seatbone?  H-m-m-m-m.  And, I had ribs out on the right side. Not clear how that happened, but my doctor said it's usually from some kind of twisting motion.  Maybe cleaning stalls?

Who knows, but it did convince me that I need to get back to swimming--which then led me to the gym about three miles from here where my friend told me there was a pool.  The place is actually  primarily a therapy center.  The good part of that is that is is well monitored by therapists who know what they are doing.  It's small, as is the pool.  Not exactly made for swimming laps BUT, it has one of those currents you can turn on to swim against. There is no contract to sign, so you can pay on a monthly basis.  I am thinking I will try it for a month to see how I like it.

I can also go to the lap pool at the college whenever I want to. But that is a 15 mile drive one way, and not exactly a fun trip to do just for a half hour swim.  If I sub at the Academy, of course it makes sense, but just to go for a swim, it's a bit of a trip.  So, what I might do is go there once a week or so and swim several more days a week in the therapy pool close by.

For my knees and back, swimming is an ideal exercise.  I've never tried keeping it up through the winter, so this will be an interesting experiment.

On days like today, especially, when I don't want to ride after a chiropractic adjustment, it's the perfect exercise.

Guess I'll see how it goes in my trial period.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Around the Lake

On A Misty Evening

It did rain, off and on for a good part of the day.  It was enough to wet things down and tease the plants and grass with some much needed moisture, but not enough to make a huge impact.

After I fed the Boys dinner, I waited about an hour and then saddled Chance up for the ride around the lake.  While he was a good boy, he does have an annoying habit or two.  The first is trying to select the trail we are going to take.  He will stop at an intersection and lean in the direction he wants to go and I have to insist we go my way.  The second is a bit of "body wandering": when he looks to one side or the other and his whole body simply follows his head.  This is made more annoying at times when the reason for looking is a nice patch of grass somewhere or a nice leafy tree branch.  I'll admit I have let him browse now and then, but he has taken this as his right rather than a privilege. So I will have to correct the habit before it gets too serious.

Then too, with the "tourist gazing" he also occasionally just loses his forwardness and I have to push  him on.. It's not napping or being bad, it's just a lack of concentration on being ridden and a fascination with something else he sees.  I made a point of giving him a good leg or a little slap on the shoulder with the reins to bring him back into focus and it was OK.  When he's walking out and going forward on his own, he is really fun.  It won't take much to fix these issues, so I'm not worried.

When I got back, Tucker seemed really interested in some attention, but my left knee had cramped up on the ride--have to lengthen my stirrups--so I decided to lunge him.  Well, although he marched into the arena on his own when I opened the gate, he did not want me to halter him.  Apparently he decided he was quite capable of lungeing on his own without my holding a line, and that's exactly what he did.

He went around and around on a nice circle to the right at the trot, and, when I commanded, cantered around on a somewhat more oval circuit.  I had a bit of an issue getting in front of him to reverse him, but I managed. The left "circles" were a bit more silly as by then he'd warmed himself up into a bit of a joyful exuberance.  But I have to admit, even though it wasn't an honest, totally organized workout, he surely did look nice out there on his own throwing in an occasional arched neck head toss and a buck.  We did have a good time and he seemed quite proud of himself for his independent efforts.

Toby wanted nothing to do with halters or work, so, as usual, I catered to his retired rights and simply gave him an apple.

All in all, a fun Sunday.  And again....NO BUGS!!

Lost The Window

Of Opportunity, That Is

I had to go back to my eye doctor in the morning as now my right eye was irritated.  Apparently, my eyes have been dry--something I've never really had to cope with --and that caused my contact lenses to scratch my eyes. I now need to put drops in my eyes, wear my glasses for a week, and then use wetting drops in my eyes after I start wearing my lenses again.  I'll have to be careful to use the drops whenever my eyes feel dry. Don't know if the weather has had an effect or what, but apparently all will be well.

Then, the sun was out and it was warming up again for the afternoon.  But I had a campaign meeting to go to. I thought it would be over by 5 or so and I'd get home in time to take Chance out, but no.  The meeting lasted until after 6 and by the time I got home to feed the Boys--and hour late, I'd lost the window of opportunity.  Once they'd eaten and their tummies rested, it was starting to get dark.

I really didn't feel like doing any arena work in the dust, so I opted out and figured I take my chances.

If I count on riding today, Sunday, that will surely bring on the rain. So, since we need the rain, I am counting on riding after church.

It's cloudy and cool and I will just keep hoping.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Breezy

Cooled Off For a Day??

Hard to say, but it was really nice and cool yesterday.

When I went out to feed, I decided to at least lunge the Boys.  I'd poo picked the arena in the morning, so it was ready to go, except for the broken fencepost where the in gate fastened. This one is going to require some thought to fix as I'm pretty sure it had once been concreted in place. The guys who put in my first sets of fencing, were using hand tools and when they hit a rock, rather than try to dig further, they simply cut the fence post short and poured in some cement/concrete to set it in place. Just about every post that was set that way has either pulled out or broken over time. That leaves an "ex-hole full of concrete which either has to be excavated or avoided.  This one is in a tricky spot. I had to rig a piece of baling twine so I could fasten the arena gate closed while I lunged to keep the other two Boys out.

That done, I lunged Tucker first.  I am pretty pleased with both his general attitude and how willing he is to go forward without much urging from me.  He is sound after all that trouble with his foot, so that's good.  He does get a bit silly now and then and thought it was fun to rush around when I had him canter over the little tiny jump I'd set up just to keep the session interesting.  But he is a good boy on the line and while I kept the time short, it was a good session.

I took Chance in next. What a contrast. He needed to be urged to go nearly every stride. Talk about relaxed and nonchalant. His gaits are loose, so he doesn't seem at all sore or stiff, but he just lazes around.  On the plus side, he is the same in both directions at all three gaits, so I don't see any unevenness and his tendency to run out going to the right is completely gone. And, his canter is balanced in both directions as well. He was equally calm about the little jump and just hopped over it nicely.  All in all another good session, although it's really clear I am going to have to instill the concept of "forward" in him for riding.

Toby, as usual, wanted to no part of any work, so I let him indulge in the carrot and apple anyhow.

It's not exactly back to work for the Boys, but at least I did something with them.

Sooner or later the weather should break for good and perhaps I will do more.

Addendum:
And I did. Since it was still cool and breezy after I fed the Boys dinner, I went back out and took Chance out for a trail ride in the woods.  There were NO BUGS!  And we had a really nice ride on the middle distance trail.

Mind you, this is a horse that hasn't been ridden in weeks, and I didn't lunge him at all before I went out.  Talk about a mellow disposition!  What a sweetie.

I thought about perhaps riding Tucker for a bit but decided to opt out. My knees can only take so much at one time, as can my bottom.  I will slowly work my way back into some kind of more regular riding pattern as long as this is really autumn come to stay.

Tomorrow, if it's nice, I may ride Chance around the lake in back. It might be one of the rare opportunities to do that because as soon as it rains again, that trail will get all boggy. The ATV and minibike riders have cut so many ruts out there that they just fill up with water and make for some potentially treacherous footing.

Hoping for another nice day and then some rain on Sunday!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

So Cute

Horsey Curiosity

This morning when I went out to feed, the Boys were all ready for me...right by the barn.

While they were eating I cleaned the stalls and the west side run in shed.

Then, I went out to the riding arena to poo pick.  Before too long, Chance came out to see what I was doing. He zeroed in on the wheelbarrow, full at that time, so I had to hurry over before he tipped it.  He followed me out of the arena to the manure pile where I dumped it and then made his way over to the fence area nearest where I was doing the next bout of cleaning.

A minute or so later, and Tucker showed up.  He marched right over to stand practically on top of me, insisting on some scratches.  Then he started playing with Chance over the fence.  Needless to say, this was all in the middle of the area I was trying to clean.

It took all of another minute for Toby to show up, requesting his portion of my attention.

So there they were, all three Boys--the elusive Renegades of a few days ago, totally in my lap.

Now I wonder how companionable they would have been if I'd had a bridle in my arms?

Monday, September 06, 2010

My Singing

To Torture Those Of You Who Want to Listen

I have often spoken of my singing in church. My church website has recordings of most of our services.

The duets and solos I sang this summer are posted if you would like to have a listen.

Here is the website address:
http://cranburypres.org/audioarchive.html

Now, once you get there you will see a listing of services by date. My duets were on 7/11/2010.  My solos were on 8/08.2010.

The duets are in the "start" part of the service. That is the first column.  The first selection, just a simple hymn is at  11:50 on the counter.  The second, the Pie Jesu is at 32:28.  I am the high voice.

The solos on 8/08 are in the "start" part of the service at: 4:04 and 22:42.  The final solo is in the "end" section at: 11:03.

The recordings are not enhanced in any way and I'm not sure of what kind of equipment is used but the mikes seem to be in pretty good spots to pick up our voices.

Here's you chance to hear me in real life.

Sorry about that! *G*

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Options

Electric Fencing

I definitely will be putting strands of electric fence along that front fence line as soon as I get the fence appropriately repaired. I may have some good replacement rails, or I may have to buy some. And one fence post needs a bit of a reset. I was hoping I could use a solar powered fence charger but...
1. The solar chargers are very expensive.
2. It's only about 150' of fence.
3. I don't see any place where the sun will shine enough to charge the panels.
So, I will probably use a battery operated charger. The location is across the driveway from the house, so running an electric line would be a big deal and, the barn is about 200' away so running a line from there isn't ideal either. It's kind of a bad spot, but I'll figure something out.

The other option, of course, is another line of fencing so the front of the property is double fenced.  The second fence would have to be less than 4' high, however as local zoning laws do not allow a fence of 4' any closer to the road than the fence I already have. Or, I could put a another line of fence inside the current fence making the paddock smaller by four or five feet.  That could work too, but it is an expensive option and would have to wait until I could get the money together.

I am sure the electric will work, however as that's what I did in the pasture and the Boys simply stay away from the fence line.

I do have some empathy for the Renegade Boys' adventure, however. That grass and those leaves must have tasted really good compared to the hay and dried up grass within their fences.  We have had a drought all summer. As I've noted before, only the very wet winter and spring saved us from all kind of water emergencies around here.  Our water supplies primarily depend on groundwater, and the aquifer was well charged from the heavy snows and spring floods.

I just hope the weather pattern changes soon, however. We really need some good rains.

Mary Lou, your rent a husband idea sounds awfully good, but I couldn't afford the plane fare, let alone the fee. Besides, I do have a few friends here I can usually recruit to help me on some of the trickier tasks.  Don't know if I'll need them for the electric job, but we'll see.  I think I still have some electric fence line and insulators stashed away and there is a battery operated charger my Dad used to use to keep the raccoons out of his corn--if it still works.

Looks as if I have a lot to keep my busy.

Legs are almost back to normal. I had a nice swim today and a good long tour of the Lazy River. There was hardly anyone at the pool complex and I nearly had the lap pool to myself.  It was only in the upper 70's today, so I guess swimming was not on a lot of people' minds.  Tomorrow is the last day the pool is open, then I have to search out my indoor options.  (although I have a friend's pool I can probably use while the weather stays warm)

The lazy, hazy days of summer are on fast fade, I fear.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Who is Earl?

Headlines With No Story

Earl came and went along our area of the East Coast almost unnoticed. Apparently, a few places had a bit of rain and some wind. Here, he kicked up a breeze or two but nothing more.

I have mixed feelings. While I DEFINITELY did not want his winds after all my tree damage with the Nor'easter, we really do need rain and that would have been welcome. But no such luck. We are still dry and now, with the winds coming in--either a backlash from Earl or harbingers of the cool front--dust is kicking up in my riding area in big swirls of sand.  My lawn and paddocks are mostly just dry, burnt grass, and it looks as if the cornfields are ready to harvest, as the stalks are all brown and dry. It's been a bad summer waterwise.

To my amazement, the Boys all do look fine after their great adventure. I don't see a sign of a scrape, scratch or bump on any one of them. I'll still keep an eye on things for a few more days, but so far, so good. The only thing I can surmise is that after their first foray into the woods--having first traveled down the road--they found one of the trails and used them to navigate. Considering where we found them, I'd suspect as well that they were never really too far away from home.

I can just picture them, hiding in a grove of trees out there when I went past, holding their breaths so I wouldn't hear them. As it is, I am rather surprised I never heard them crashing about in the dry leaves and undergrowth.  One of the good things about my woods--at least in the more accessible places--is that there are many places with hardly any low lying bushes and things.  So, until you get into the swampier areas, you can make your way around even when there is no defined trail.

Except for the briars and poison ivy.  Fortunately for me, the dry weather has killed off most of the poison ivy out there.  I was hunting for the Boys in shorts.  To prove it, my legs are covered in briar scratches. Nothing serious, but decidedly noticeable. I was even a little worried at the pool yesterday thinking they might not let me swim, but I got in the water quickly so no one noticed.  There was hardly anyone there because of the dire predictions of hurricane weather.  I had the lap pool all to myself, and a nice relaxing tour or three of the Lazy River. As noted, just what I needed.

However! My legs/knees are really sore. My right knee has some new swelling and every time I sit for a while I have to ease myself back up against the pain.  I'm not supposed to take painkillers due to the prolotherapy either as inflammation is important for tightening those ligaments.  So, I'm just suffering along.  Guess I wasn't exactly in shape to hike through the woods for nearly seven hours.  *G*

I need to get feed today, but have decided to only get perhaps two bags for now.  Monday the store will be closed for Labor Day, and I have enough to last at least until then, but since I'd need it then as well, I have to get some today--if that made any sense.  But I can't unload a full order, so two bags will do.

The weather has cooled off a lot, but the sun still feels warm, so I'll likely go for a swim again and there is a show at the Horse Park I might visit for a bit. Stacie has her saddle booth there and had some luck selling some used equipment.  I have a set of shipping boots that are brand new I might put there for sale....or not.  It all depends on how far I think I can walk. *sigh*

As long as my Boys are happy and safe, I feel fine.  The important things are, for the moment, under control.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Boys Are Back!

Search Parties Fail But Victory Follows! 

I had two riders out for about two hours and someone on a mini-bike as well. I had hiked the forest at least three times and even gone back to the house where they were first spotted to try to track them.

One of the searchers, on a whim, told the farmer who was taking care of the Christmas trees that horses were missing and if he saw them to please call. About an hour later, he did.  They were grazing along the pumpkin patch where the riders had already searched.

The girls caught them and led them home for me. I could hardly walk at that point, my knees, legs, feet and body were SO tired.

I have attached gates to the fence where it was broken until I can do a more proper repair and the renegades are back within the fences.  Thank goodness. I don't see any damage on anyone....

Tucker supposedly told the communicator that he was worried about the weather and felt safer being out and about rather than confined.  I am going to make sure, that as Earl passes up this way, that I go out repeatedly to check on the Boys.  If indeed their adventure was related to the coming storm, I want them to feel safe and cared for should it arrive.

I am going for a swim...or perhaps just a tour around the Lazy River. I need to take my mind off this trauma.

Back later.

Disaster!! Where Are The Boys?

Lost Horses

I have been up all night looking for the Boys. At about 1 AM my doorbell rang. It was a neighbor who was reporting that my horses were in her yard.

By the time we got there, The Boys had taken off again. I have not seen them since. I have been up all night walking through the woods and driving around.

Part of the fence in front was knocked down.

1200 acres of forest. 3 Lost horses. The police have been notified.

I am off on another search.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Earl Is On The Way

Stifling Before the Storm

Hurricane Earl is coming up the East Coast over the next two days. Its arrival is coincidental with a cool front dropping down from Canada.  Earl may bring some wind, and hopefully. some much needed rain. I'm not too keen about the possibility of wind, as I still have some tree branches to clean up--more yard work waiting for the cooler weather.

It was super hot again today with temperatures in the upper 90's.  The Boys were in an out of the barn again, as I had the fans going again. I didn't even bother turning them off last night as it never really cooled off very much. They seem to be coping far better than I am in the heat.

I did some more clothes sorting today, but I really do need to steel myself and just get rid of a lot more. I simply do not need so many things to wear.  I got a bag in the mail from a veterans' agency looking for donations of clothing and household goods. They offer to come pick things up.  Maybe, if I can arouse my ambition, I can get some things together for them to take.

I also, of course, went for my daily swim. The water was lovely and I did 12 laps of the pool and three tours of the Lazy River.  I have two options for swimming once the summer season is over, but I have to check one out. That pool is closer than the college pool where I swam this Spring, but I would have to pay.  I have a friend who works at the gym where the paid pool is located, but she is on vacation right now, so I couldn't find out what kind of deal they might have just to use the pool and not the rest of the gym facilities. We'll see. Either way, if I want to, I can do some swimming all year.

Now, if I could just get myself in gear and do some riding...once it cools off I might actually get fit again--or at least more fit than I am from just swimming.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Eye for and Eye

What Next?

Over the weekend I had some trouble with my left contact lens. Despite changing to a brand new one, my eye still felt irritated.  So, yesterday, I called my eye doctor.  Luck was not with me. He was out of town, so I had to call the doctor who was covering for him.

They gave me an appointment for the afternoon, as it was, essentially an emergency visit, not a regular eye exam thing. To cut to the quick. the doctor took a thorough look at my eye and found a "thread" stuck in it that looked like an eyelash. But there was also a scratch on my eye as well. He sent me home with some medication and said   it should be better in 48 hours.

When I was at the pool today, the eye started to bother me a little again...just kind of feeling "scratchy."  I wear swim googles so it was not the pool water.  Of course I still have some time to wait it out.  The doctor's office is supposed to call me tomorrow to see if it's all better. If not, I guess I will have to go in again.  Fortunately the visits are covered by insurance, to that's a plus. In the meantime, I am wearing my glasses which don't work quite as well as my lenses, especially when I am at the computer. Ah, well. Guess I just continue to fall apart as the years pass. *LOL*

Hot again, with the temp on the garage in the sun reading at 100F.  It was hot in the barn too, despite the fans and the Boys seemed to have decided wandering around outside was much better. But, as always they were right there for feed time.

I am adding oil to Tucker's feed on the presumption that he might have some metabolic issues. And he is accepting it well. When I take his feed in, he stands back to wait for me to pour the oil on and then seems quite pleased to lap it up with his feed. I don't know if that means anything, but as long as he likes it, I'll keep adding it in.

Vegetable oil is not as cheap as it used to be. I guess the move to agri fuels is affecting prices. So when I saw Wesson Oil at $5.99 a gallon, I bought three.  I checked the Internet to see of there were any cheaper prices around, but so far, no luck.  I suppose I can always use it to fuel the tractor if Tucker doesn't want it. *G*

So, status quo at Follywoods as far as the Boys are concerned.

As for me,  "Eye hope to be fine tomorrow."