Sunday, March 24, 2013


Are Hard To Break

As I fed the Boys this evening, it occurred to me how both I and my horses have regular habits we seem to rely on all the time.

Some are good.

Some are bad.

I know for sure I have a lot of habits when I ride. One of my trainers called me a "control freak" in that I really need to feel I am in charge of what is going on with my horse all the time. I suppose that stems from the "old days" when I showed hunters and often had to warm up in the chaos of a hunter warm up arena. Or, it might be the product of riding a rather motley collection of horses in my youth who could provide the most unexpected reactions at any and all times. I certainly don't like to be too daring any more, so the unexpected reactions of horses I'm riding now does tend to make me a bit defensive.

Tucker is a good case in point. He is very unpredictable uncertain situations and often chooses bucking as a way of expressing his emotions. As such, I don't enjoy taking him out on random hacks in the fields and countryside. Despite his really good month of "boot camp" with Kenny Harlow, he can still get pretty scary out there when something unplanned happens.  And that's one of his bad habits--his buck as an outlet for his physical or emotional discomfort.

Toby can buck too and his attachment to his pasturemates has brought me back to the barn early from a hack more than once. He's a worrier and I have to make sure the other two horses are within his "control range" if I am going to have any success riding him. This was not always true, but now it's his habit and I need to respect it.

Feeding time brings out all out habits clearly. Toby, as herd boss, needs to be fed first. Tucker, as "wannabe boss" chases Chance off to the far corner of the paddock to make sure he has to wait to be fed last.

Lately, all three Boys have tended to be on the west side of the barn at feeding time. That's the side open to Chance's stall. I first put the hay in Toby's and Tucker's stalls on the east side, and then those two come inter the barn through Chance's door, march to their own stalls to chow down, leaving Chance to wait until they are settled in.

Then, since his own stall door is still open to the barn aisle, Toby wanders out, to nibble on the stray hay that's fallen in the aisle and keenly watch me as I dole out the grain into the feed buckets. More often than not, he moves the wooden step away from the feed room door in search of tasty morsels of invisible hay. Good thing I know that habit of his, or I'd be stepping off into empty space as I head in to put the feed in their tubs.

The routine continues with everyone happily munching grain. But then, Toby starts to crib on the side of his stall and if he's too involved, Tucker will leave his own stall and barge into Toby's stall to see if his "elder brother" has left any grain.  Since Toby gets fed three times as much as Tucker, that is often the case.  Fortunately, herd boss Toby usually corrects him pretty quickly unless he is in the total euphoria of his own cribbing.

Now, I could forestall most of this by closing all the outside stall doors each time I feed, but that breaks my own habit of letting the Boys roam free in and out of the barn. And, as another habit that's hard to break, if I do that, then more than likely I will forget to open the doors again when everyone has finished eating.

Tonight, I made the mistake of breaking another habit by opening the gate by the barn in order to move a pile of hay.  Since I had to go in and out several times, I left the gate open while the Boys were in the barn eating.

Good thing I came into the house and headed back out to put some seed in the bird feeder--we are supposed to get a snowstorm--because as I was dumping the seed I suddenly felt a warm muzzle nuzzling my shoulder.

It was Chance who'd, as always, found the gate I'd left open and sauntered out on to the lawn.

Habit. If I make a mistake, Chance will always take advantage of it. He is never one to miss an opportunity.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Snow


Well, the forecast said snow showers. It's been snowing pretty steadily for several hours now already.

The roads are still clear and likely to stay that was for most of it, which is good, but still, with Spring less than a week away, you'd think Winter would give up.

 The Boys have taken refuge under the run in roof. At least they are not hanging out in the mini-storm.

Meanwhile, inside, Scooter, Reggie, and DJ are making the best of a cold snowy afternoon.  Such misery must be hard to endure. *G*

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Meet Patrick

At Least I Think It's Patrick

I brought home my new little kittymate for Coco today. He is a buff tabby, and for now, I have decided to name him Patrick, in honor of his March adoption. He is a little older than Coco, but very playful, so I am hopeful they will make a great team.

So far there has been a lot of hissing on the part of the resident housecats, and lots of approaches by Patrick who does seem to be quite a confident little fellow. He is also very vocal and chirps and meows at nearly every advance.

I think he's going to be a big cat as you can see from how long he looks.
At the moment, Coco is a bit skepitcal. She and Patrick have sniffed noses, but she is keeping her distance.
Here, she is settled into The Box, which still sits in the living room after I unpacked my new computer chair.
The one thing I love about cats is that you do not need a small fortune to make toys for them. I just cut doors in The Box and it is a perfect kitty condo. String, a dressage whip, and a piece of green fabric make a great chase toy and bottle caps are always amusing.

I suspect it will take a day or two for things to settle down here, but so far I am impressed with Patrick's social skills.

We had several inches of snow during the nor'easter and for t while things were white and coated. But by yesterday afternoon it was already starting to melt and today, with temperatures edging up towards 50F, most of it is gone.

The horse boys seem most unimpressed with the snow and spent quite a bit of time in their stalls. I guess winter weather gets to them after a while too.

I am going to have to do some serious grooming soon as they are starting to shed.  As most horse bloggers have noted, that is one of the surest signs of spring ever.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Cocopuff is Fine!!

Good News!

Test results on Cocopuff are negative for leukemia and aids, so she is in the clear!

That means I am in the process of finding a little kitten buddy for her to play with.  The older boys have played a little with her, but her energy level requires another kitten of her age. The big cats get worn out and bored too fast, I fear. And frankly, dangling green thing toy for hours on end to amuse her is not exactly my idea of how to spend the day.

I have a lead on a kitten just rescued from the Humane Society in Newark. Now that may sound a bit strange, but that shelter is overfilled with stray/unwanted cats and the cat rescue I am dealing with does all it can to get cats out of there into a much more social and better environment.

I am pretty sure that my DJ and Reggie were originally from the Newark shelter, so perhaps they will have something to talk about with the new kitten if he comes here.

Meanwhile I need to make an appointment to get Coco spayed. The little companion will already be neutered and I only waited with Coco until I was sure the leukemia question had been resolved.

Patchadoodle, my long haired black and white boy escaped from the house yesterday and spent the entire day adventuring outdoors. We were caught up in the wind and rain of the nor'easter all day--fortunately not too much rain despite lots of wind. I can't believe Patches was having a good time out there, but I guess the excitement overshadowed his discomfort. I kept calling for him to come in, but it wasn't until almost 9 PM that he honored my request by coming to the door. I snagged him and got him inside where he seemed quite happy to be warm, dry and well fed.

Silly boy.

The horses were rather amusing every time I went outside to call Patches as they kept coming to the fence as if I were calling them instead. I suspect the general boredom of winter made my shenanigans quite the entertainment.

The good news is that Spring is actually threatening to arrive at any moment. Once the weather and temperature settles in to something more moderate, I will start working the Boys again. I simply cannot face going out in the cold weather any more. Time was, I rode all year long. Now I turned into a wimp about it.

Then again, there is another storm heading our way from across the country.

March can be quite a fickle month.