Monday, November 29, 2010

Escape!

There is nothing like walking outdoors at 6:15 AM and finding a horse loose in the barnyard. Yikes!  How in the world the filly escaped her stall last week escapes me!  LOL!  Thankfully Reva was easy to catch, following me into the barn when I went to get her halter.  She had no scrapes or cuts, and while she did eat a bit of hay stacked in the barn and leave her hoof prints in the driveway, it did not appear that she did any damage.  It also did not appear that she had been loose for very long.

I fully expected to see her stall door off its hinges, or something to that effect.   Oddly enough, not only was the door fine, but the chain hook was not damaged at all!  Huh???  The only thing I can figure is that she played with the doubled ended snap long enough to unhook it from the eye hook???  (Side note: I don't really like her stall door set-up, but it is safe and works.....most of the time!!!  It is a wire mesh stall gate and the latch is a short piece of chain, with a double ended snap on each end that connects to an eye hook.  I hook the chain around the end of the door.)  Anyway, I went to the hardware store that same day and bought two bull snaps like this and connected them to the chain with links.
Hopefully they will work well.  So far, she has not tried to escape again.  If she is able to unhook the bull snaps, well then I am out of ideas!  LOL!

So apparently, not only does Reva enjoy escaping from her pasture, now she has figured out how to escape her stall as well!  :-p  At least the new hot wire (and taller) fence has put an end to her pasture adventures, and I am hoping the new snap will help as well.   Oh mare!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful





I hope all my readers had as wonderful a Thanksgiving Day as I did!  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Refugees

Listen, it don't really matter to me, baby. 
You believe what you want to believe, you see. 
You don't have to live like a refugee..

Yeah, my horses sort of look like refugees lately, a la the Tom Petty's song.  :D  Between the awful fall rain causing tons of mud and the 39497345795 things in my plate lately, they are lucky to be fed.  LOL!  Today I finally got the chance to groom everyone, as I am on school vacation for Thanksgiving!  Wooo!  Best part of being a teacher!

It was super windy today, with gusts up to 30 mph.  At least the sun was out, but with the temps hovering around 35, it was brisk out there!  LOL!  I forgot how rejuvenating the wind chill can be!  :-p  I broke out the winter riding pants and boots for the first time.  Sigh.  I knew Dreamy might be a bit fresh, and she was.  Ha ha ha.  She is not bad and is really easy to control when she scoots and leaps in her excitement.  It is more like she scoots and I am right there to steady her, so she sighs....awww, OK Mom.  She is predictable and by keeping an eye on her ears, I can anticipate any of her maneuvers.  After our first trot, she settled in and was fine.  

We had a productive ride, actually, and I was happy with our trot and canter work.  Being slightly "up" made for some really nice forwardness into the bridle.  She was steady and happy, despite being on her winter break.  I only rode for 30 minutes, fully aware that she is not in great shape anymore.  But I am glad I did ride.  I almost chickened out, thinking that my nice warm house would be a better bet.  Once I got grooming, spending three hours outside this afternoon was really nice!

I knew better than to get on Reva.  LOL!  She probably would have been fine, but I thought I ought to play it safe since I was home alone. No use falling off and having a bad experience.  Maybe in the morning I can get on her before I have to be at my family's Thanksgiving dinner.


At least everyone is clean tonight.  By tomorrow in turnout, they will be caked with mud again.  Ah well.  :D

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Maine Horse Association 2010 Banquet

One down, three to go!  "Tis the season for horsey banquets!  We have four to attend...my Dream Girl had quite the year!  :D


Last night, November 20, we attended the MHA banquet.  We earned three year end awards....this is always exciting because (except for the junior categories) they only award the grand champion and reserve champions at the banquet.

Lots of pretty ribbons and trophies....



We won Champion Training level dressage, Champion 3-gait Standardbred, and reserve Standardbred in-hand!  Yay Dreamy!



Yay for fun banquets with friends!  :D  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Sorority House

A horse friend was teasing me about having a sorority house at the barn.  LOL!  I suppose owning three opinionated mares does equate to having a sorority house in the back yard.  I got thinking the other night and I suppose it would have to be called Σ Λ P or Sigma Delta Rho......the first letters, of course, for Sparky, Dreamy, and Reva.  (In that order OF COURSE!)

HA HA HA HA!  ;-D



Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: The Blessing of the Animals by Katrina Kittle

I randomly picked up this book at Target the other day.  As an English teacher, I normally do not have time during the school year to read anything other than the books I am teaching.  I grabbed this (mostly because it had a horse on the cover) and figured it would have to wait until Christmas break or next summer.  My mistake was thinking I would just read a little bit of it last weekend....thankfully both my boys were gone so I was able to have a marathon reading session and finished it in in a day and half!  LOL! 

The Blessing of the Animals was a neat book.  I really liked the characters and the storyline.  There are moments that made me laugh and others that really made me sad.  The protagonist Camden Anderson is a veterinarian, which of course I liked immediately because I enjoy any story about animals and horses.  :)  From the first page, it hooked me and I was unable to put it down.  I liked Cam immediately...while she can save and fix animals, she is unable to fix her marriage.  I was able to empathize with her, as my own relationship is not always the best either.  :-p  I enjoyed reading about her own mistakes and struggles as a woman, wife, and mother, as I was able to relate to her.  The overall theme of the book played with the notion that animals are often our most reliable friends and confidantes.  I can safely say that my animals (specifically horses) are the one constants in my life and have indeed taught me more than most people.  And of course, there is one special horse that Cam becomes close to and he helps her along her journey.

I think I might read Kittle's other books, too.  I liked her writing style very much.  :)  This is definitely a book I wanted to pass along!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Equine Idiosyncrasies

I got thinking today while filling outside water tubs that I sure do have a lot of weird horse related idiosyncrasies.  None of them really matter to anyone but me, but I got laughing to myself when I realized just how many I have.  I am certainly OCD in my own way, but not so much that I need to be medicated!  LOL!  There is no real reason for any of them, except maybe that I am crazy (YES) and I am superstitious (why? no idea).  The good thing is that it is not like I freak out or anything if I cannot perform these things.  But 99.9% of the time, I can and it makes me happy.  LOL!!!!

Here they are in no particular order:
  • I always put shipping boots on and off in a specific order.  I like to put the near hind on, then the off hind, then the off front, and then the near front.  Why?  Because I can.  And I have this irrational thought that if I don't always do that, then perhaps something bad will happen on the trailer ride.  
  • I fill the inside water buckets in a particular order.  I always do Dreamy in the middle....because if I start with Reva (youngest), then I have to do them in ascending age order.  And if I start with Sparky (oldest) then descending age order.  And if I have to go out back to refill the back two outside tubs, I will start with Reva.  If I am just doing the inside buckets, I start with Sparky.  Again, why?  I have no idea.
  • I always feed the girls a cookie before I go inside after dinner chores.  I ALWAYS give Sparky hers first.  Well, that's an easy one.  She is the matriarch!  :)
  • I put the halters back with the lead ropes doubled up the same way.  I like how all three halters look lined up like that. 
  • I stack my shavings (which are in large brick-like rectangular paper bags) the same way so that the logo matches up on each one.  Again, I like how it looks.  ;-p
  • When I soak Dreamy's hay, I put a rock on top of the flakes so they don't float.  But I always make sure I get the rock wet.  Why?  Because I can? 
  • I always sweep my barn the same way.  There are certain parts that I sweep one direction, then the other, and I have a specific pattern that I like to sweep.  This is mostly to make it easy and it is such a mindless task.  But still, why I am such a creature of habit?
  • I stack the grain buckets in the same order everyday.  (I pour their grain into tiny buckets and set them up feeding beforehand.  Then I just have to take the tiny buckets out to feed them grain).  Sparky is on the bottom, then Reva, then Dreamy.  This is mostly because that is the order they are fed.  But since there are only three, it is not like it matters THAT much.  But I still do it in that order.
  • I always say, "Goodnight girls!" when I walk out of the barn after dinner chores.  I have to do it...it makes me feel better.  (On that note, I tell my dog Lucy, "You're in charge, Luce!" when we leave the house.)
  • When I hook up the horse trailer, I always hook it in the same order.  And then I always walk around it in the same order to check the doors, the hitch, etc. before I drive away.  This is mostly for safety, but still, I am totally neurotic about it.
  • When I show, I have to use certain socks.  Yes, they are the lucky socks. 
I am sure there are more, but those are the ones I thought of this afternoon.  LOL!  The weird thing is that I am not like this with any other part of my life, now that I think about it.  I'm not sure why.  It is just my horse stuff.  And truthfully I can be flexible with  everything with the horses, but I just have gotten myself into these weird little habits over the years, especially having them at home.  And every time I got to do one of these weird habits, I laugh at myself.  But it makes me happy to do them, like I am checking things off a list.

God, I am weird.  There is a reader now somewhere who is diagnosing me, I just know it.  LOL!  So tell me.....what are YOUR weird equine idiosyncrasies??   :D

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dreamy's former owners

Back in 2008, I wrote to all of Dreamy's previous owners, just for fun.  Out of the 7-8 of them, only one responded.  Dr. Hank Schlesinger and his wife are from NY and they owned Dreamy at the end of her racing career.  He was happy to hear from me, it seemed.  He wrote:


I am very sorry that we have not written back sooner concerning "Dreamy Starlet".  When we had her she was a spunky filly with a big heart and a lot of promise!  When she developed her chips I determined her racing time was over.  I was an equine veterinarian then and I could have done the surgery so ending her racing career was the alternative.  She was like a big puppy ready for everything.  She had quite a disposition and a lot of spunk.  We were sorry to let her go.  We are very glad a wonderful person like you has her now.  Maybe someday if it is OK we might come to visit.  Give her a hug for us.  ~Dr. Hank and Cathy Schlesinger 

I thought was so nice of them to write back!  :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dreamy's race history

I have been meaning to type up a post about Dreamy's race history for a while.  I just keeping forgetting.  Her race record is really not good at all, but I think it is neat nonetheless.  Going from a mediocre racehorse to a very good dressage and jumping horse makes me proud.  Dressage and racing have absolutely nothing in common!  Except maybe for the whole "you-use-a-horse" part.  ;-)  I will start with her first race and go from there...it's not like there are that many to list!  There is an obvious trend....she began in the NY Sire Stakes (NYSS) and ended up in pretty low classes at NY county fairs.  Poor filly!


June 25, 1993 
Yonkers - Qualifier (she was two)
4th - 2:04.1


July 5, 1993
Goshen - 2YR F NYSS
4th - 2:05.2


July 16, 1993
Saratoga - 2YR F NYSS
5th - 2:01.1
She was driven by Jeff Gregory, my friend Helene's husband!  Too bad this wasn't a win!  LOL!


August 2, 1993
Yonkers - 2YR F CD
7th - 2:07.4


Sept. 3, 1993
Yonkers - Qualifier
FIRST! - 2:05.1  
Her only win!  LOL!


She was scratched from a race the following week...reason is listed as SICK.  :(


Oct. 8, 1993
Yonkers - Qualifier
2nd - 2:03.2


Oct. 18, 1993
Yonkers - NW2PMCD
6th - 2:04.4


She was scratched from another race in November.

And then again for her first race of her three year old year in June 1994....she ended up with chips in her ankles by the end of the year anyway. 



Aug. 2, 1994
Otsego Country Fair - NW1500 LT
4th - 2:21.0


Aug. 10, 1994
Chenango County Fair - NW 2500
4th - 2:06.1


Aug. 25, 1994
Trumansburg Fair - NW2000 LT
Race 3 - 2nd - 2:14.0
Race 6 - 2nd - 2:12.0
I guess she raced twice that day.

Overall, she had 11 starts, three of which were only qualifiers.  She won $1029 in her lifetime.


So there ya have it!  My girl was not cut out to be a racehorse.....but that is OK to me, since she has been such a good saddle horse!  :)  But I still value her past and think it is neat to have her background.  :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chilly Winter Riding!

Today is a typical November day in Maine....cold, overcast, and raw.  :)  The sun did not come out, so the 40 degree temps felt colder than had the sun been out in full force. 

I cleaned the barn and headed to a riding lesson at 9AM this morning.  I took fairly regular lessons until school began, and then it becomes tough.  This is the first lesson since August, I think!  LOL!  It was cold and I almost thought of canceling, because my warm house seemed like a much better place to be.  But I am really glad I didn't.  Dreamy is a bit out of shape, since my rides are limited now that school is in session.  But we had some nice canter work today.  :)  We tried a canter figure eight, with a simple change at the walk at X.  We tried this last August at our last few lessons and, well, the changes did not go so well.  We can do them pretty well from the trot, but a true simple change at the walk was hard. 

I was surprised but happy when the changes went well!  Going to the left was just about perfect.  I was also able to keep our left lead canter circle to 15 m.  Yahoo!  First Level, here we come!  Going to the right is always harder for her, but it wasn't horrendous.  We got the canter and the first two right lead changes.  Then she got all pissy and had a hard time picking up the right lead canter from the walk.  I finally did get one that Judy and I were pleased with, but it took a few tries.  That was OK to me...as I said, she is out of her "show shape" and I was asking her to do something that is hard for her.  What I did get was still better than August, so that was good.

We did some trot leg yields and a few trot lengthenings.  I have to remember not to rev her up too much for the trot lengthening.  I have to remember that she will go forward for me without much effort.  I get too excited sometimes....like today when she broke into the canter on the first lengthening.  Whoops!  Totally rider error.  Despite that, it was a good yet chilly (!!!) ride.  I hope to go over for another lesson in two weeks....hopefully the snow will hold off until then!  LOL!

I returned home and really thought about just showering and reading a good book in my warm house.   Both my son and husband are gone this weekend (the little one to my mom's house and the latter up north hunting), so it is odd but relaxing to have the house to myself.  Instead, I mustered the energy to ride Reva.  I am so glad that I did!


She was super!  We got some very soft and easy walk/trot transitions.  She is really proving to be sensitive to my aids.  All I have to do is exhale and she comes into the downward transition.  :)  Sometimes she is a bit too abrupt, but I rather have her sharp on my aids.  It only takes a bit of finesse to get her soft and attentive without slamming on the brakes.  Her trot is starting to really come together, rather than her just rushing, rushing, rushing.  I have not been on her nearly as much as I would have wanted this year, but I am happy with her progress despite that.  We practiced trot/halt center lines and turns on the forehand.  I was very impressed with how easily she did the turn on the forehands!  That was huge for her.  I introduced a little leg yielding on the circle at the walk, and she is starting to really get it.  She is really starting to fully understand my leg and seat cues, and her bending is so much better than this spring.  


Then I took her out on the lawn and rode her over the Scary Tarp (which I set up again the same as last Sunday).  She marched right over it.  :)  I took her around the house, and past the outdoor wood furnace, which sometimes looks like a monster.  Her ears were pricked, but she marched right along.  :)  I rode her down the driveway and down the dirt road until the new pavement.  She reached down to look at the pavement, hesitated for a moment, but as my legs closed on her sides, she walked right into it.  We walked along for a few strides and went back to the barn.  I am proud of her for being so brave.  :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: Protectavest

I have not done a product review in a while!  :)  This is one of my most favorite horse inventions.  It is called a Protectavest!  And in honor of the recent start of hunting season here in Maine, I figured it was a timely review!

My mares are all turned out with their Protectavests on during hunting season.  Dreamy and Sparky have had theirs for eight years now and they look great.  I wash them at the end of the season and pack them away until the following year.  They have not torn, faded, or stretched.   What I especially like is how they are made right here in Maine!   I actually went to the woman's house to purchase the first two, as I was working at the high school in her town at the time.  This last one I bought for Reva I just emailed her and bought it with my Paypal account.

Here are the mares sporting their Protectavests back on November 30, 2008!



Side note: I am NOT READY FOR SNOW LIKE THAT!  Ahhhhh!  LOL!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thank Goodness! :)

I have been really worried about the proposed racino up here in Maine.  I have been hoping like CRAZY that it will pass!  AND IT DID!  WOOT! WOOT!  :D

Click here for the full story! 


There are still a few bugs to be worked out, but I am feeling very hopeful for the harness racing industry in Maine!!! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Big Scary Tarp.....is not that scary!

This past Sunday I had only enough time to groom everyone...though I desperately wanted to ride, it just wasn't going to happen.  I groomed all three mares and decided to play for a few minutes with the Big Scary Tarp with Reva.  It is not really that "exciting" to introduce new things to her, because quite honestly nothing bothers her.

I thought I would find something to "work on" with the tarp.  

I spread it out on the ground with big rocks on each corner.  I brought her out and took her for a quick walk around, briefly allowing her to walk past the tarp.  She didn't look at it.  I asked her to halt, back, pivot, all the normal in-hand stuff we practice. 

Then I led her up to the tarp.  I'm all ready to let her sniff it, maybe put a foot on it, and I am even ready to pick it up and allow her to "chase it" in case she is really worried about it.  I have a six year old son who would be MORE than happy to be asked to run around with a tarp!

Yeah well.....she touched it with her nose, lifted her head, and proceeded to walk right over it.  I was standing a bit off to the side, allowing her room, and she nearly walked by me.  LOL!  

So yeah.  Tarp not so scary.  I made her walk over it twice from each side (LOL) and she walked over it each time like it wasn't even there...until she finally gave me That Look.  The withering look she has perfected...."Seriously, Mom?  I'm not scared of it!  Can I eat grass now?" complete with a huge bored sigh.

OK, gotcha.  Walking over tarp lesson complete.  I did let her graze for a while on the nice green lawn.  :D  Next the tarp goes on her head (didn't think of it at the time).  I'm getting the feeling it might not be a huge deal.  :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Miss Sparky is Aging.... :(

My little Morgan mare, Sparky, is starting to show her age.  She is 28 years old this year...I have had her for 18 years.  She was my first horse when I was 13 years old.  She was the BEST first horse and I am thankful for what she taught me.  


Here we are in 1993, the first summer I owned her. 



This was my senior pic from 1997.
 
 
She has Cushing's and DJD/bone spavin in her hocks.  She has been retired from competition since 2006, after doing a little bit of everything with me.  She is looking GREAT this year, with most of her coat shedding out normally and lots and lots of pretty dapples on her chestnut coat.  She inhales the third crop hay I bought for her and seems content in her quiet life.

But lately she just looks tired.  :(  I know that fall is a bad time for Cushing's horses, with their ACTH levels on the rise.  She is on chastetree berries and I know she is fine, but it just stinks to see her age.  I remember what she looked like when she was 10 years old, when I used to event her and she was in really good musculature.  It is inevitable...but I want her to live forever, of course.

Here is Sparky the summer after I graduated from college, 2001.


Here is she at Granite State Morgan in 2005.


Marathon phase of the ADS competition Snowfields in 2003.  She was the "Best Conditioned" horse at 21 years old!  First in marathon, fifth overall.  :D


Southern Maine Dressage circa 2006.


We had a ton of rain last week...the horses did not move out of the barn very much, but preferred to stand just inside and stay dry.  On Wednesday I had an awful moment.  The rain was just mist, so I kicked everyone out so I could clean stalls.  Sparky went down to roll and REALLY struggled to get back up.  OMG.  Instant tears.  All I could think of was having to put her down.  A million thoughts were running through my mind.....

While she is stiff and creaky, she has always been fine jumping back up after rolling and sometimes even bucking.  So to see her struggle was hard.  She did get back up on her own, but it took some effort.

The next morning, she had a big old spot of edema on her belly, left side, in front of her udder.  I know it was edema, as I was able to push it in and my finger indent stayed.  It also did not bother her at all, so I knew it could not be inflammation.  I called my vet that morning on the drive to school, just because I needed to hear him tell me she was OK.  :)

Of course, I am keeping a close eye on her.  I always do anyway.  I have not seen her roll since (of course), but I am hoping her discomfort that day was only because she was so stiff from standing around for a few days in a row.  She seems fine and is eating/drinking/pooping normally.  Her edema is slowly going away and has migrated to the lowest part of her belly.  Her lymphatic system is not what it used to be, so it will take time for the fluid to be reabsorbed. 

Here is her "Mean Mare Face" circa 1999.  As long as she is being crabby, I know she is fine!  LOL!

I hate having a geriatric horse.  I really do.  I mean, I adore my Sparky mare and will do whatever I can to keep her healthy and happy.  But it stresses me out.  I already know that I will not go through "heroic" measures to save her (like no colic surgery or anything like that).  I absolutely dread the day when I have to make a tough decision.  That's not to say I won't do what is right for her, even though my heart will break and shatter.   I would never keep her alive for me, nor will I allow her to suffer.  But last week was a reminder that our time is limited.  

With my son, at a horse show, circa 2005.


Here she is this past summer, August 2010.


Extra hugs and cookies for my mare lately.  Love ya, Spark.  <3