Monthly Archives: February 2010

New homes and first trail rides

Sea Flip has only been advertised on the CANTER site and was just getting the winter to be a horse. I had a lot of people emailing about him but he hadn’t been ridden so I was holding off.  I got an interesting email from someone looking for a horse to do prelim with and her plans were to bring him along slowly while she competed her older horse. She had great trainers and loved athletic Tb’s. She didn’t seem to be worried when I told her he can be a bit silly at times and he enjoys cracking his back over the jumps just because he can 🙂 She really wanted to come and see him and I was leary because I had only ridden him twice since Nov and he wasn’t going to show his best. Oh well the horses need homes and you have to let people see them even when it isn’t perfect.

I swear he always steps up to the plate when he knows he should. We trailered over to a local indoor and it was cold and windy but he was very good. He was a bit rude on the flat trying to pretend he forgot all the flatwork but he had some really nice moments. She loved his canter which is so nice but the jumping was the highlight. I was riding him first and he came down to the first x-rail with his ears perked and taking me to it. This is a horse who has less than 30 rides on him and has been off since Nov. He is sort of freaky in his knowledge of take off distances. He doesn’t take many bad jumps and he was really trotting down and just patting the ground so softly and then boom a big jump in the air. I couldn’t help but smile!

She got on him and I could tell he liked her. I gave her a few pointers on the flat basically saying keep the contact and more leg than you think you need. If he acts mad don’t give up just insistent that he come forward to the hand and he did. She had a big smile as she cantered him around and then she started to jump. She was trying to get him in a bit awkward but she noted he really didn’t take a bad spot. I made a 2’3″ vertical and he jumped it so big and then let out a big buck afterwards. She handled it well and wasn’t phased so I knew she would be alright as that tends to be the worst of his behavior. He can’t help to be proud of himself and he jumps the jumps 🙂

She emailed this morning to let me know she wanted him and this was the most excited she has been since her first horse. I am super happy for both of them.

Today, I took Dee out for her first trail ride and her first off the farm trip since she arrived. My boarder always thinks I am nuts..well I am but that is besides the point. Nuts because I hadn’t ridden her in weeks yet I wanted to take her for her first trail ride. This is when knowing your horses comes in handy because I know Dee is a good girl and she proved me right. She loaded up with a minute or two of looking around. She unloaded nicely but was a bit fired up. I walked her around a bit and Jane held her while I tacked her up but she wasn’t being bad just looking around.

When I got on she was ready to go but I just stuck her on Jane’s horses butt and within a few minutes she was leading the way on a loose rein just as happy as can be. She was super brave and very relaxed about it all. We did some walking and trotting and she far exceeded my expectations!

A pic of her when we got back. She has put on weight and her ribs are now covered!

Headed back out to take Parker on his ride and well as a few others.

They remembered!

Tonight, I packed up Flip and Parker for a trip to the local indoor. This is a small indoor with a lesson program so I was thinking it could be interesting since Flip only had one ride under him and Parker hasn’t been ridden in a while either.

There were already 5 people in there when I walked in with Flip. He was excited but being respectful. He wasn’t keen on walking so we just started trotting and although his head was up he was listening and trying so hard to be a good boy even though he felt like being bad 🙂 I must have trotted 10 min before he took a breathe and relaxed. Then we had really nice work and he showed that he remembered his training. He has the nicest canter and is so balanced for a horse with minimal training and out of shape. He was tired at the end and totally hanging out and 5 other horses rode all around him.

Parker was up next and he was power walking down to the indoor. I was really eager to see if he had left that grumpy attitude behind. He was a total pleasure horse which was lovely to see. He no longer has the feeling of an anxious horse but was happy to hack around on a loose rein and when I picked up the reins there was minimal fussing. He went to work and was really happy about it. We had forward but not fast stretchy trot work. His canter was unbalanced but smooth and relaxed. He seemed so happy to be doing something and I just love riding him.

Both horses have the best personality and love people. I truly enjoy working with both of them and am so sad that the weather just will not cooperate. There was boot sucking mud that we had to walk through to the indoor and you can barely park anywhere. It is a real mess. Our barn is flooding again and our fields are under water. I am making a pact with myself to trailer to the indoor during the week and do condition rides on the sand trails on the weekend. Horse have to get going as the show season is right around the corner.

I am in such a better mood just having ridden again on a somewhat serious level not just trotting in the muddy snow. Can’t wait to do it again!

I survived!

You just never know what the first ride back will be like on Sea Flip. Flip is not at all mean but he is a youngster who feels good and is eating a ton of calories right now. The first 10 min of his rides are always a bit interesting and after that he settles and goes to work. I figured I would be smart and lunge him a little bit as I know they aren’t moving around much due to the snow and ice.

Have you tried to lunge a 4 yr who hasn’t worked all winter in the deep snow? Well it was just not happening. He was trying but not understanding why I would want him to trot thru this white stuff and he kept trying to pull to the one area that had melted. I couldn’t walk very well in it so I kept getting tangled up in the lunge line. I decided to quit before I fell down or he got loose.

As I predicted the first 5 minutes was quite the rodeo ride but apparently I can still hang on. He was not being bad just wanting to spook and try to buck which was thankfully not that easy in the deep snow. He took off cantering a few times with some antics thrown in heading toward the gate where it was real slippery. That wasn’t much fun at all but I kept my eyes up, heels down and seat relaxed just staying with him as he went along. I keep trotting and 5 min in he got relaxed and happy about it all. We did a few walk laps and then a bit of trotting. I had Kurt do a little video to show you what it looks like riding a 4 yr who is doing his first ride since November in the really heavy melting snow with a lot of mud underneath. He was really good for not being ridden since Nov. He is just so athletic and he felt great. Can’t wait to ride him in good footing!

We also took some new pictures of him. I have no clue how people take good conformation shots. I find it impossible to get all 4 legs in the right position and have the horse looking straight with the ears up. He loves people so he kept wanting to walk up everytime we stepped back to frame up the picture. Here are some of our attempts. Both Kurt and I tried to take pictures just to see what came out.

I ran out of time to ride Dee but took her for a walk down to get the mail. She was a ball of energy on the way back to the barn and pranced the whole way back. She has a ton of energy right now so I plan on getting her out tomorrow for a trail ride. Kurt promised me he would go so I plan on taking 4 horses out to the nice sandy trails. Should be interesting 🙂

Underneath the blankets

I totally admit that I haven’t been doing a bunch with the horses right now. Dealing with the double whammy snow storm has rendered me uninterested in spending one additional minute in the cold.

Over the holiday weekend, I started to get a handle on my emotions and started to get the itch to ride again but with 2ft of snow on the ground it was only something to be done on horses w/o shoes and horses who were going to be okay with you asking them to plow through 2ft of snow.

I figured I could at least get everyone cleaned up trimming whiskers, pulling manes and banging tails. Sea Flip was my first victim yesterday as he looked like something that hadn’t been touched with a brush in a long time. I really don’t think I have had his blanket off since late November. He was really happy just being a horse so there wasn’t much of a need to do a bunch with him.

Wow!! He looks incredible and has grown taller and much wider. When he returned from his travels he  had lost a bit of weight. He was all legs but not a lot of body and we thought it would be best to just give him time to grow. He is now a 4yr and starting to look like a horse instead of a baby although you would never know it by his actions. He spent most of the time trying to sniff me pockets, play games with me and bite me (not mean just playful). He is great to work on all except the clipping of his bridle path which required a helper. We took some pics which I will post later but they didn’t come out very good due to grey sky’s.  I am so excited to get him started again and he really is ready to go back to work. I was tempted to ride him but I had a million other things to get done.

I took off Parker’s blanket and it look like he exploded. Allie had warned me he was an easy keeper but he wasn’t fat when he arrived. I suppose my feed program is agreeing with him based on his new weight gain. We are cutting him back ASAP! Parker just loves to eat and his feed type antics make me laugh every single night. He sees me coming and the minute I walk to the barn he starts hollering. The sliding doors are shut so I have to open them to let the horses in. The minute I open the door he comes running. He MUST beat all the other horses and be the first to get inside. He hollers the whole time I let the rest of the horses in and then starts banging his stall until he gets his food.

The hay feeders I featured in an earlier post work wonderful but we have realized the horses just eat and eat which is great for some of them but the fatties are fat. I might need to move the fields around a bit to make a fatty field and skinny field. Fatty field will get less hay (fatties are Junior and Parker).

Dee is still a skinny but it is going to take time with her. She is a narrow framed horse so she is never going to be a husky girl but she can look better than she does right now. Hoping another month or two will make a big difference. She has gotten used to having oil in her food along with rice bran. Takes her forever and a day to eat but I can live with that as long as she does eat.

The roads are clearing up so hopefully I can get out to the indoor a bit this week.

That was hard work!

Today was the first day that I have even felt like riding. Working in this snow is hard work and we had so much clearing to do on the farm just to get the gates functional and driveway cleared enough to get in and out of. Friday I was trying to go to work but my car was stuck on a piece of ice and just not moving. Tried sand and then cat litter but wasn’t moving. It took a good push to get me out. I am sure my boss thought I was making excuses but I really wanted to go to work and get off the farm.

My boarder wanted to ride so that provided a bit of motivation for me. I saddled up Junior after clipping him up and making him look pretty again. We rode a bit around the ring but just walking was a serious struggle. Junior is such an awesome horse with a great work ethic and he was just plowing through ears up happy to be doing something. We then decided to do a little trial ride so we rode down the driveway and about 1/4 mile of road before cutting back across a field. The plan was to make a big loop back to the farm.

Junior was leading they way and as we came across the field we must have hit a dip or a drainage ditch because he was down to his belly trying to jump up to find his footing. I thought I was coming off but I just stayed in the middle and grabbed some mane hoping he would find his footing. He is part connemara and that right there gives him awesome ability to tough it out so he floundered around and then lurched up finding something to grab a hold of and we are back on our way. WEEEEEE…that was just plain crazy.

My boarder is riding her TB who is so slow so I keep stopping to wait for her. How is is that a 15.2 short legged horse can  out walk and 16.1 h all legs tb going through 2ft of snow? We make our way to the woods which lead back to the farm when we see there is a river running through that we have to go through sort of like you go down a dip and then across the water and jump up. I ask Junior to give it a shot and he wanted a minute to think about it but then he leapt over almost leaving me flying off his tail. You have to sit back not knowing what they are going to do but sitting back when they leap leaves you in the back seat. It was crazy but I was on! My boarder decided to find another way around…whimp 🙂

We get to the gate and I have to get off to get the gate opened. Okay got it opened but am not walking the 1/2 mile back to the barn so I get Junior positioned downhill and get back on. Then I realize our electric fence is up so I have to get off to shut that. I try walking Junior back to the barn on foot but the snow his thigh high and I can’t keep up with him. I ask the boarder to lead him back on her horse and then I will catch up after I get the gate shut. I look up and he is off running back to the barn 🙂 That makes life interesting considering I can barely move through the snow. I had a 200ft walk back to the barn and I felt like I had run a marathon. She caught Junior and stuck him in a stall waiting for me and he didn’t break the reins so all was good with the world.

Got him all groomed up and still had some energy so I decided to get Dee out. I really think the barefoot horses do best..well even realized that more after the boarders horse pulled both front shoes while we were on our trail ride. They can’t move their front feet out of the way so they just yank their shoes off. Dee is barefoot so she was the logical choice. I just adore this sweet mare and she truly is a good mare. She loves her grooming but I am still not liking how thin she is. She is eating a ton but weight gain is slow. I need to be patient but I don’t like my horses being thin.

I get her out there and she is funny because she really wants to leap through the snow but she can’t quite do that. We are doing a mix between a walk and a trot and sometimes a trot and a canter. She is totally game for whatever I ask her to do so we even did some laps of trot and canter with lots of breaks in between. One lap of trotting had her panting that snow is really hard work. I rode for about 10-15 min figuring it has to be really hard on them.

I really want to ride Parker but not willing to risk hurting him at this point. Sea Flip doesn’t have any shoes so I might try him out tomorrow. He hasn’t been ridden since November so the snow will be great for keeping him quiet. I know he is going to love it. He needs a beauty treatment he has a long mane and looks like a wolfman with all his hair. I am not going to clip him but I will get his whiskers and bridle path to start. When he starts working again then I will clip him. He is really wanting something to do right now. He craves attention so I think he is bored.

If the weather stays warm we might even be able to make it to an indoor but the back roads are still really rough and driveways are icy. Not worth risking it for a little bit of riding. Spring is coming..right?

Staying Positive

The horses seem content as long as they have hay in front of them but this winter weather is wearing down on the rest of us who have to take care of the animals and farm. My mantra for this week is just stay positive and look at the good things.

My husband seriously rocks as if I hadn’t mentioned that enough on this blog. We had our paddocks renovated which was a big project. All the soil was dug up and then we had fill put in, layer of geotextile and then millings on top. It was compacted and makes for a nice draining dry paddock area. This will be great for keeping the horses off the pastures when they are wet and keeping their feet dry.

We wanted a way to feed hay out in these areas but something that kept the horses from grinding in into the nice footing we spent a lot of money putting down. I looked around on the internet giving the hubby a few pics of what I thought would work and this is what he came up with.

He bought a hog panel from tractor supply and cut it out to fit inside the box so the are basically forced to take small bites out of the hay.

He attached two small pieces of wire at the bottom of the box where you attach a bunge cord to each side and that anchors down the wire panel so they can’t dislodge it.

They work really well making clean up simple as there is no ground in poop and hay in the paddocks. They also allow the horses to continually eat all day. I can get 1/2 bale in each feeder so if I fill them up at night then I don’t have to refill in the morning which saves me time on morning chores (I am always running late in the morning). I love knowing the horses have hay in front of them but can’t waste it!

Hubby is out working on more feeders for the other side (4 feeders needed). He claims they are really simple to build but he is really good at that sort of thing. They are very sturdy so they should last and the horses can’t budge them.

Here is the footing when the paddocks were dry!

two pieces of wire to attach the bungees
Wire grate
Grind down the edges
Pull up bungee
Throw in hay, place metal grate and bungee

So funny!

Dee (Indy’s Chic) has the funniest personality. I guarantee she is going to be an event horse because she just has the I can do it attitude. She loves water, she has been jumping the snow banks and you can see her here in the purple blanket deciding trot is for dummies. Junior is the pokey one who determines there is no need to hurry!

making her way out there

Tired already

Blizzard of Feb 2010

Most of the time I think the weather men are hyping the weather just to get viewers but this one seemed pretty real. We went grocery shopping on Wednesday and Thursday I filled up all the water troughs and got the barn ready for horses to be in for a few days.

On Friday, I HAD to go move some horses. We had two horses that had been at Delaware Park and we found out they were heading to a bad place. We were able to secure them with some help from great people. They were temporarily boarded up in Fairhill, Md but really they needed them to get moved. I asked to have the day off on Friday to get this all done but I could only get 1/2 day off work so I left at noon on my way to fairhill hoping I could beat the storm. Kurt had only slept for a few hours but he agreed to come along to help. We didn’t know much about the horses or the place we were going to pick them up and he didn’t want me being stuck alone in bad weather.

With the recommendations of some other friends I had found a really lovely farm in Centreville, Md who does field board. This place is huge with the lovely fields of grass and big run in sheds. I look forward as using this place as a nice turnout facility for the horses coming off the track who need their let down time. I felt horrible dropping these two horses off who were obviously really down on their luck, thin, feet looking horrible and kind of shell shocked from their experience.

Both of them got off the trailer quietly and went straight to their hay piles.

The snow had started to come down as we arrived at the farm but it wasn’t to cold yet so we were able to get home and get all of our horses in before it really started to come down.

Our power went out about midnight on Friday and stayed out until 1:30am this morning and let’s just say that was not a fun experience. Our house was in the 40’s and I felt bad for my cats and dog! We used water from the troughs to fill buckets in the barn yesterday and our headlamps to muck the stalls and get all the barn chores done. I turned the horses out for an hour in the a.m and a little less in the p.m. just to get them to move. We have around 28″ if my measurements are accurate. Kurt spent most of last night plowing the driveway and paths in the fields so the horses could walk around.

As long as Sea Flip has his hay he is happy!
The excavator is taunting me as my riding ring will never be built!
Dee is not looking happy with things!
The barn cats seemed happy the sun was out.
from my back door

I think the plan of action today is to cook some good food and watch the superbowl. Barn work in 2ft of snow is exhausting!

Updates on former horses

Yesterday, I was grumpy and stressed trying to figure out how to get everything done before this next storm hits. I had groceries to buy, lumber to pick up, hay being delivered, horses that needed to be transported and the list goes on and on.  This winter has made me question my sanity especially when it comes to owning and caring for a farm with eight horses.

Then I opened my email to see the title “Dixie took me on my first ever snow ride.”  Before I even read it I had a smile on my face knowing how lucky Dixie was to find his new owner and probably vice versa. Dixie’s owner had been reading my blog for a long time thinking about Dixie but wasn’t quite ready to buy. When we dropped the price she took it as a sign and was down to visit the very next week. She was looking for that all around horse that she could have fun with riding with friends, trail riding alone and maybe doing some lower level shows of all varieties. If an email could smile then I would say her’s was beaming. She described how she hadn’t really been riding Dixie due to the weather but had been inspired by posts about riding in the snow. She tacked Dixie up and started to ride in his pasture just in case he was silly but he was so calm she ventured out and rode all around in the hay-field. She sent these gorgeous pics!

Dixie was always happiest when he was out in the open and for day 1 he never cared one bit about his buddies or anything else. I could leave the whole group out foxhunting and he was totally chill about it all. I am so happy that he landed in a great home and can not wait for more reports once the weather improves and everyone can actually ride.

There is more 🙂

I got an email for Calabria Rose’s new owners as well and she is doing great. They aren’t riding much either but she is really progressing in her training and they are very happy with her.

Morethanalittle aka Mick is a horse that was CANTER owned, bought by a client, then sold and then donated back to CANTER. He is currently down in Aiken wintering with Sally Cousins. His owner is thrilled with him and I can’t wait to look him up in the results. I had him at my farm for 8 months in training and he was a personal favorite.

General Forrest is still kicking butt with his teenage owner who lives in NJ. She has been doing a bunch of pony club events with him and I believe she also trains with Sally Cousins.

Flint Hill is still with my mom and is the most awesome horse in the whole wide world or at least that is what she tells me. She is looking forward to the upcoming event season on him.

A few weeks ago at a jumper show I ran into the new owners of Total Wildcat. I didn’t post much about him because he wasn’t at my place very long. Long enough for me to determine he super quiet and easy. His new owners bought him to do both western and english and they told me he has taken right to western. They are roping off of him, doing trail classes and will be introducing him to cows. He also won his dressage class this winter with his teenage owner. Pretty cool!

Top Punch was enjoying foxhunting and trail riding with his new owner when he stepped in a hole and injured his check ligament. He is rehabbing and his owner reports the even on stall rest he is quiet to ride. She loves him and can’t wait until he is fully healed.

Escape by Sea is anything but the chestnut mare sterotype. Her new owner loves her but she has been battling an abscess or at least that is what they are thinking. I am hoping that clears itself up soon so she can get back to work with her.

I think that is all I have for now but there is nothing more exciting for me than to hear about the success of my former CANTER owned horses. I love them all like my own and I work really hard trying to find the perfect matches for them. It is always nice when the hard work pays off.

Damn Groundhog!

I know all of us in the Mid Atlantic region have been complaining this winter and it sure looks like we are in for more bad weather. I heard more snow tonight and another storm this weekend potentially bringing a lot of snow.

I try to keep a positive outlook and tell myself that the horses don’t care whether they get ridden or not. The issue is that in order for more horses to come in we need to sell those that we have and when you can’t train them it is awful hard to sell them! I can already sense that my spring is going to be absolutely nuts with the amount of horses and riding that is going to need to be done. I really look forward to it though especially after a long winter like this one.

The nice thing about the current horses (Dee and Parker) is that they are very laidback. Both are super quiet and sensible so I can just get on them after them having a few days off and not even think twice about it. Dee is barefoot so I could ride her yesterday in the snow and she was very good. She has such a nice outlook on life and really enjoys having something to do. Parker could care less about having a job as long as someone is feeding him he is a happy horse.

My one concern about Dee is that she isn’t a big eater. She loves her dinner consisting of senior feed, rice bran and beet pulp all made into a warm mash but she is a picky hay eater now matter what I give her. She prefers to just stand outside and look around enjoying life instead of eating. She needs to pack on some weight so I try to get as many calories into her without making that based around grain. Some of these horses just take time and I think she fits that category.

My plan is to head over to the indoor tonight to get a ride or two in. All these $15 indoor fees are really adding up this winter!