Monthly Archives: December 2008

Houston, we have a sound horse!

Is there anything better than walking into the barn seeing an abscess that has popped?? Dixie is back in action which makes me oh so happy.

Monday he got a light lunging just to make sure all systems were go. He was happy to work and as I lunged him with just a halter on I realized he had come a long way from our intial lunging sessions 🙂 I really love Tb’s because they love to work. No attitude just happy to be doing something. I let him do a bit of trotting and cantering each way before taking him in and giving him a good curry. He looks like he needs to be clipped again.

Yesterday, the weather was nice so my friend Tara and I tacked up Dixie and Indy and went out for a trail ride. Can I just say it is so nice to be back on Dixie. He is so smooth and just so darn easy to ride. No fuss or drama and it’s like riding in a lexus. There is something about riding him that just makes me happy but perhaps it is just that is he so comfortable? I suppose I have bonded with him and we know each other. Fox hunting has a way of making you appreciate your horses and how hard they try for you.

The fields were still really muddy so we got a bit of trot in before we had to walk for about 15 min. Indy was a bit fired up and wanted to canter. I think I need to keep thinking about the bitting solution with him. He didn’t care for the 3-ring as was evident by the look like he was stuck in one place with no where to go. We found a good dry place and had a nice canter and the boys were happy about that. Dixie snaked his next with a bit of excitement but settled in nicely. Indy was bouncing up and down with happiness.

I feel so blessed to have such beautiful land behind my farm where we can ride (although they were hunting). The horses really enjoy getting out of the ring. My friend Tara is a confirmed hunter rider so riding out of the ring makes her a bit uncomfortable. She just needs a lot more practice. Wait until she goes fox hunting 🙂

I plan on hunting tomorrow and my friend Alison is bringing her horse along with me. It is supposed to be cold!!!! Not sure who I am going to ride yet. Lucky me to have three horses to choose from. I think either Dixie or Indy will go so I will check them over tonight and see who looks ready.

Happy Holidays

I had to chuckle reading Kelly’s CANTER blog and how she forgets what she originally intended to write about. I have a great plan for a post and then forget to write and then when I finally do write I can not remember what has happened during the week.

Overall, it has just been a bad year for me when it comes to horses getting hurt. My personal horses are on a mission to cause me to age way quicker than necessary. One had a hock infection which he has since recovered from but dealing with the joints in the hock is scary stuff. You kinda need hocks to have a performance horse. My main event horse fractured his knee and has been on 3 months of stall rest. We are going to reevaluate him soon to see whether he will get surgery or how exactly we are going to proceed. Then my older Tb got hit my a truck this weekend. Let’s just say you can take as much caution designing your farm to keep horses in but if someone forgets to close a gate to the pasture and then the main perimeter fencing gate your well designed farm won’t protect your horses. My boy is going to be fine but I aged about 10yrs yesterday. Horse will be fine, the person who hit him is fine and I have a feeling that person will never leave the main gate open again.

The CANTER horses are also trying to self destruct. About a month or so ago Indy slid across the blacktop and got the horse version of road rash across his hock. It has looked fine up until this past weekend when it blew up like a basketball. Hocks that look like basketballs are a cause for worry. I have reached a zen outlook when it comes to injured horses so no real panic just concern. My best guess was the cut which is still a bit open got some mud in there leading to an infection or at least irritation. I gave him more turnout (it has been so muddy they have been in the smaller areas), bute and Smz pills. It started draining down into the lower leg but this morning it looks almost normal again.

I had two people who wanted to come and look at him for a hunt horse and he was not lame so I called and explained the issue and one set of people did come. Indy went okay but was a bit green with the jumping. With the endless rainy conditions we have not jumped much so it was to be expected but he smoothed it out rather quickly.  I think Indy is trying to manipulate me so he can live with me forever..not happening!!!

Dixie is still nursing that abscess. Looking slightly better but not 100% yet so still soaking and wrapping. Is there anything worse than an abscess? Total pain in the butt to take care of and time consuming. I have my soaking boot and he just chills out in the crossties with it on and then I wrap.

I have become addicted to fox hunting and my two horses that I have been hunting were now out of commission. I needed to hunt badly so I pulled out horse number three. Not sure if I have talked much about my horse, THE BOPPUS! Well his name is The Boppus but Allie mandated that it must always be said/spelled THE BOPPUS!

Boppus ( pedigree) is a horse I bought two years ago as a resale but I had never seen him. My mom saw him out hacking through a field with a young rider and thought he looked like a cool project. Mmm..not so sure I agreed after I bought him. Big boy, hard mouth, strong and opinionated as all get out.  I got him happy and healthy again and he turned out to be such a cool horse he has stuck around. He still is a bit big and can be a tiny bit strong but he is safe and reliable. He is hubby’s trail horse for the most part and a back up horse for me. Since had the hock infection he has been lightly trail ridden but not much in the way of formal riding.

Nothing like pulling a horse out of the field and going hunting but he was wonderful and I had a great time on him. He is the old style tb..most people think he is of Irish breeding. His head is awful large 🙂

Photographs courtesy of Patricia Nash!

I plan on getting Indy out hunting this week and checking on Dixie to see if he is ready to go.  In the meantime their holiday pictures will have to suffice.

Dixie- ready to kill me the next time I get on him due to the stupid holiday ears he had to wear 🙂

Indy, on the other hand, loves to dress up!

Finding motivation

This weather has been a real downer from the rain to the freezing cold temperatures it makes riding difficult. I am lucky to have access to a beautiful indoor which is about 30 min from our farm. They have a lovely course of jumps and the most amazing footing. It’s like riding on air. I have been trailering horses over 3 days a week to keep them going.

Dixie is still nursing that abscess although last night he looked pretty good. I admit I didn’t jog him out or soak him but it was so cold I just told myself he would be fine. I turned Dixie and Indy out in the front field with the run-in shed. They had been in the smaller sacrifice areas on either side of the barn due to the rain but since it was frozen they couldn’t tear up my fields so out they went. Indy just wandered around but I wanted to see Dixie move around so I was running around like a crazy woman clapping my hands and throwing some dirt at him. At first he looked at me like I was nuts..yep he is right about that but finally he got trotting around. He looked pretty sound and then he went around bucking and it was so funny to watch. I am not sure i have ever really seen him buck in the field but I think they were glad to kick up their heels. As I was running around chasing him my neighbors were pulling in their driveway. I am sure they really thought I had gone crazy. 20 degree weather and wind blowing. I was all bundled up with my crazy hat that has ear flaps and a big ball on top, snow pants, snow gloves and a big jacket. Dixie was more afraid of my puffy jacket and hat then he was of me. Indy..well couldn’t be bothered to run. The ground was hard and he had his hind shoes taken off recently so he was in no mood to run on the frozen ground.

 

The horses have been driving me a bit nutty lately. Dixie is pretty agressive in the field and he was turned out with Indy and my older horse. Indy is the worlds kindest horse to the point of aggravation because he won’t stand up for himself. My older horse is barefoot and does not move as quick as he used to.  Twice I have come home to him having the butt ripped out of his blankets..expensive blankets. I can almost guarantee Dixie is responsible for the rips. Love Dixie but he needs a change in fields.

As a horse owner/farm manager the decision of matching up horses in turnouts is difficult.

Indy- 100% mild mannered

Joe- my older tb who is middle of the road boss of the whimps but not top in the bunch (funny cause he was the worlds biggest whimp as a young horse)

Dixie- top of the pack

Boppus- my 5yr tb also quite agressive

Mick- 4 yr ottb who is middle of the road but accident prone

Charlie- 4yr tb cross who is middle of the road

Junior- my conn/tb is on stall rest but he is the top dog to the point of being over the top aggressive.

So far we have had nothing but rain upon more rain. I like my horses turned out so I have sacrifice areas on either side of the barn off the stalls so they can come in and out onto the stonedust areas so it’s not muddy. These areas are small though so you need to make smart choices about who goes out with who. One side is all open but the other side is divided in half.

I suppose there are many ways of looking at how to match up horses but I tend to figure out their personality and go from there.

My current thoughts:

Charlie and Mick can go together. They are both 4yrs and love to play but aren’t mean to each other and play nicely.

Joe and Indy- Joe is old and although he likes to play when the ground is frozen he isn’t about to run around and Indy is young but not much for playing. He might run a few laps but won’t pester Joe to badly.

Boppus and Dixie- Boppus won’t hesistate to let Dixie know whats up and won’t tolerate Dixie pushing him around. I know he won’t hurt Dixie and he has no hind shoes on. They both like to play and they should buddy up.

I will just have to see how that works out. I am getting another horse in at the beginning of the month to board and Junior either gets surgery or will start getting some turnout (he fractured his knee 3-4 months ago).

Owning my own farm has been an interesting process. I think we set it up really well but I find myself becoming fussy.  I am glad I built the small sacrifice areas because I don’t want the horses tearing up the grass and with all this rain it would be nothing but mud anyway. There is nothing out there for them to eat so they get plenty of hay and are able to walk/trot around their little areas and they all get ridden. If the fields are dry they can go out there. Before I owned my own place I would have said turn them out regardless of the mud. Now I think about having pretty grass come spring time so I can feed less hay.  I set it up for 8 horses but we only have 11 acres. Ideally, six horses would be perfect but that never seems to happen 🙂 Imagine if I had more stalls..we would be in trouble. I only own three of the horses so not to bad and I am going to try to sell one so maybe I will be down to two horses but I really like all three that I own and one is injuried so I justify having the other two. It’s a sickness I tell you 🙂

I like that they have the ability to come in and out of their stalls into their areas right now. When the weather is bad they get shut in but otherwise they can just be horses. Out 24×7 if they want or in their stalls if they don’t want to be out.

I have been taking horses over to the indoor. Dixie has been out of commission but Indy has gotten to go over. Hopefully, we will be hunting this Friday on Wye Island as long as the weather cooperates. I really miss hunting! Indy has some prospective buyers coming to see him as hunt horse.  He needs to move on to a new home so hopefully it goes well. The economy has not been great for trying to sell horses. I am keeping a positive attitude and just continuing to add mileage to all the horses I have for sale.

I am going to try and get some holiday pictures of everybody this weekend.

Indy gets drafted into today’s hunt

Dixie pulled off two shoes and managed to twist one and step on the clip in the middle of a trail ride this week. Kurt was able to get the shoe off him but still ouchy and of course he is now brewing an abscess..well I think anyway.

Indy was drafted so change of bits on the hunt bridle and off we went. Mapquest directions to the fixture offically sucked and got us somewhere near a boat ramp where I met a friend who was also following the same directions.

My GPS did get us to the Easton Airport and from there we could follow the directions on the hunt line. Nothing like arriving with 5 min before the hunt moves off. Luckily, the saddle was on so I stuck on the helmet/hairnet and his bridle and off we went.  We were at Wye Heights which is a gorgeous private plantation in Easton, Md. Lots of woods and huge open fields.

Indy was a bit antsy but he behaved himself. I have only taken him out once with the smaller farmer’s pack so his first time out with a big group. Indy is an opposite ride from Dixie. Dixie has the softest mouth you could imagine where Indy never has had the softest mouth. They are similiar in the brains department which is all I care about! The first field was large perhaps 2o riders? I like to ride on the outside of the group to allow my horses some room to move around if they need it. I have found it helps them settle if you can give them a place where they don’t feel trapped in and then if there are any antics from other horses I am far enough away that it does not set off my horse. Indy is a more forward thinking horse than Dixie and although he does not do anything wrong he would rather canter than trot. He canters nicely so I didn’t fuss with him.

We started out pretty quick and we had to go all the way around the fields once the hounds cut across the woods so lots of galloping.  At one point in time the hounds had went to the left into a thick patch of woods and we got to view two beautiful fox along with some deer. It was incredible to watch the hounds come out of the woods and find that line and follow it across the open fields. We booked it back around the woods edge (no cutting thru fields!) at a good clip. Indy tired about 45 min into the run and I then switched back to 2nd field for about 15 min before deciding he had enough. At that point he was on the buckle but just didn’t have any gas in the tank. I had just pulled his hind shoes b/c I thought he would just be doing light work over the winter so as we got on the stone driveway he started getting ouchy. He had been a good boy so better to end there.

Loaded him up and got to spend an hour hanging out with friends. I would have rather been out hunting but Indy needs some more fitness on him to stay out the full 2.5+ hrs.

I am getting to know the group a bit better so that makes me feel more comfortable. One of the members even lent me a wool frock coat for the rest of the season which was so nice! It’s a beautiful coat and will save me from having to come up with that money right off. I will keep my eyes on ebay.

Dixie got his foot soaked today and we will just keep on soaking hoping that abscess blows out. I love Indy but Dixie is the man!

Lots of people commented on how cute Indy was. He did really well for his second time! I think he will sleep well tonight.

Butterfly award

The CANTER Mid Atlantic blogs recieved the butterfly award from another awesome blogger- Equine Ink
 

Of course there are rules and regulations that go along with this award-

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 other blogs for this award
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs
6. Give a reason why you consider their blogs cool

Hunting is a workout!

Even though I might not look it I am pretty fit when it comes to riding. I ride 2+ horses a day right now during the winter and when we actually have daylight I average around four horses a day. Lots of trail rides, jumping and dressage so I use all the muscles.

I have found myself coming sore after fox hunting and I think the main reason is that you have to balance yourself for much longer periods of time.  You really have to use your abs and back for balance and I am really strict on myself about staying off the horses back as much as possible so that takes a lot of leg strength. Luckily, Dixie is not strong but even so I do a lot of work keeping the balance right.

I am still educating him on proper balance even when hunting. One thing I noticed the first few times we really ran flat out was that he was really on the forehand and leaning into the bit. Racehorses are taught to run into the bridle and lean into the hand so that makes sense. Now even when we are galloping I ask him to lift up a bit and not bear down into the bit so that his balance is more uphill. Sounds easy but that takes me stay off his back but upright in my shoulders. If you lean at them then of course they are going to go on the forehand and into your hand.

Each time we go he has gotten better about keeping a more uphill balance when we are going fast so it is working. I think my abs, back and legs are also much stronger. It sure beats sitting at home watching football which I enjoy doing when I am not riding 🙂

Hunting + lots of jumps = happiness

In the beginning I really didn’t understand why Allie kept thinking Dixie was worth the big money. I mean surely he is a nice horse but why in the heck would people pay that much for a nice hunt horse. Now I totally get it ;D

Headed out at O’Neals at 11am. It was 34 degrees with 30mph wind gusts making it feel much colder. Dixie is just so calm about everything and instead of getting more anxious because he knows what is going on he has found his inner zen. He never jigs even when all the other horses do. As we headed off to cast the hounds we were riding through the open fields and the wind blew the horses sideways. It was blowing so hard it was almost unbelievable how hard it hit you. Not to mention the sand was kicking up and getting in our eyes.

I was excited to be back at this fixture because there are lots of jumps and last time I did not do that many because I wanted to take it easy with Dixie. I figured today we would allow him to show his stuff. I started out 4th in first flight. I believe there were eight of us in first field and 28 riders total but don’t quote me on that. I was suprised to see that many people as I seriously considered not going b/c I can do cold but cold + high gusty winds make me a whimp. I figured I should toughen up after all if I am going to call myself a fox hunter cutting out due to high winds is not a good enough excuse.

We started out slow but the pace picked up as we went on. The interesting thing about riding at this fixture is that you are in the woods riding on paths were you are mostly single file but sometimes you can ride double. The jumps leave enough room to go around and there are a good variety of logs, coops and other types of jumps. Midway through a good run there was somebody in front of us riding a bit slow. The girl immediately in front of me who is also on a big striding Tb passed her as we were coming across jumps and her horse was hard to hold and the other horse was so slow. Once she passed I was not sure what I was allowed to do?? I could package Dixie up and make him canter really slow but we were way behind the front three riders so I decided to pass. I have read that if somebody is moving slower then the rest of the group it is okay to pass so around I went. I did ask the fieldmaster if what I did was okay and she said absolutely you always want to keep up with the group and if somebody is riding to slow they should move back.

At one point in time were were going down this trail that was not cut back. I had some thoughts going through my mind that I was going to get t-boned by a tree and knocked off my horse. I ride one of the tallest horses in the group and I was ducking and getting smacked by trees. I will say one thing which is Dixie is the most agile and bendable horse you could ask for. I just shift one way and he moves right over. He does his best to make sure I keep my kneecaps attached. Gotta love him for that. I was glad when we were off that trail as it was seriously wild riding. That is where being able to really ride comes into handy b/c I was all over that horse doding trees at the gallop and there were times I was flat on his neck just letting him do his thing.

My favorite thing about the whole day was riding Dixie over the jumps. We must have jumped 20+ fences. There was one trail we were on that had six or so coops and they were big coops. I see the jumps and I do balance him up a bit to let him see what is coming but he handled everything with ease. How funny that Mr. I can’t canter jumps while in the ring jumped easily from the canter. He was so confident and boy is he easy to ride over a jump. Soft mouth, never speeds up, always gets to the base and pats the ground softly on both sides but does not rush away from the jumps even if the other horses are a bit in front of him.

He is one class act and I can truly say if he was mine he would not be for sale. I have a full understanding of why people pay good money for a hunt horse and I think Dixie is a horse that is worth a big price tag. I know he will go in 2nd field to and I am sure I will ride back there if I bring a guest along but I like the fast pace for now.

He was so relaxed today and seemed to get why we would stop to stand. He did not even have one moment today where he got anxious and I think he finally got the big picture.