Friday, November 5, 2010

It's that time of year!

The Monday after Thanksgiving is the first day of regular hunting season, and the bow and blackpowder season has already started. Even if you are riding in an area clearly marked No Hunting, you should take precautions! If you do not already have your bright orange gear, you can pick it up at Bass Pro Shops, or any outdoor sports store. For dogs Petsmart and Petco carry items in their stores and online. Horse items are found online at retailers like Smart Pak and Valley Vet.

Another excellent source for safety gear is the website Don't Shoot Me! Lot's of good items for Human, Horse and Hound.

They also have the best logo..really makes the point, doesn't it?

It especially is important for those of us in MD, because Sunday morning one of our friends had their horse shot and killed in their field. Now this was a deliberate killing, not a hunting accident, but it's a reminder how fragile life can be. One shot, and her horse was gone.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

There's a new girl in town...

Everyone was excited!

Missy and Killian, who live across the road.

Roheryn and Paladin...

Shadow didn't care..

Welcome to Generator's Dixieland Diva.

Dixie looked around, checked out the pasture.

There was a bit of squealing, and ears back.

Some ugly faces from Roheryn.

But they eventually settled down together. Dixie is 3, Roheryn 2, so they are the babies in the field.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pretty girl!

Roheryn, 2 yr old TWH.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ladies Night out!

We have decided Wednesday night is Ladies Night out! So we met at Schooley Mill park to ride.

Symphony, ready to tack up.

Paladin (not a lady, but he was a total gentleman, so we let him come)

Paladin and Lisa

Lauren and Symphony. I rode Shadow, since we weren't going to do much that night.

Everyone else left the park, so we couldn't get someone to take a photo of the three of us. We had a lovely ride, then went off to the Twist and Turn Tavern for dinner and drinks.

Anyone want to join us this week??

Friday, October 1, 2010

Horsepower 2

Part 2 of the series by Martin Clune.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Martin Clunes: Horsepower

I love Martin Clunes. His programs have such a 'joie de vivre' to them. He also is a rider, and did 2 programs about horses. Thanks to Sherrel for bringing them to my notice!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


There was an invader at the barn!

She claimed the fence post as her own.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pony rides!

Today we were invited to a potluck picnic for a young Marine home from his first deployment. Everyone brought their specialty dish, and there was a pig picking! Yum!

We decided to bring ponies. The picnic was on the farm where we board our horses, so it was easy. Just saddle them up, and load on the kids. We decided to use Shadow, who has been rather depressed in her forced retirement, and Paladin because we knew they would be the best behaved.

Here is Bill with Paladin and two of his 'riders'. Both horses were popular with the kids, but Paladin won because he was the calm gentleman while Shadow decided that retired or not she still had all her spirit. It was all we could do to keep her at a walk! She was so excited to be doing something. I guess I will have to start working her a little bit, she is just too bored sitting in the pasture. I also think it is hard for her to see me riding the other horses and taking them places.

Shadow's spirit is not matched in her legs though, and after a while, she was starting to limp, and was hurting, so we stopped. We did rides for about 2 hours though, so she did pretty well for a crotchety old girl!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer Heat and Bugs....

Last night when I got to the barn to feed, I had 4 hot, sweaty, buggy, dirty and itchy horses waiting for me at the gate. I wasn't surprised, it had gotten over 95 degrees yesterday.

But wait, what about horse number 5? No, she was sleek and cool, calmly waiting for dinner. It seems that the 24 year old horse was too smart to stand in the hot sun and sweat, roll in the dirt and get covered in bugs. Shadow has spent her day in the barn or in the grove of trees, with a cool breeze blowing.

Meanwhile the youngsters (2,8,and 9 yrs old) and the lone gelding has suffered, stamped and rolled in the sun and ick. As they were all munching on dinner, I decided to give everyone a quick wash. I had 3 reasons for this. The main one was they were all disgustingly dirty and miserable. The bath would both clean them and cool them off. But also I have been using a wash system, almost like the one you hook to your hose to water and fertilize the grass. The wash solution is a mild shampoo, liniment, and is also bug repellent. It's also really quick and easy, important when you have a barn of horses to do, and it's getting dark.

I pull Shadow out first, and give her the wash treatment. She stands like a queen with the leadline loose, she does love her pampering. Next I get the lone gelding, who is universally scorned and ignored by the mares. He also stands like a champ, I just drop the line and work away.

Next I get Oreo, drama princess. I tie her as it's getting late and I need to move along. She wiggles and giggles when the water hits her, she is 8 and still a bit girly sometimes. But she doesn't fuss, just says the water is cold, and oh it's hitting a bit hard (pout).I turn her loose and get Symphony. I realize I am running out of time, and may not be able to do the terrible 2 year old, who is convinced water is battery acid anyway. I open her stall and let her out.

As I walk Symphony over to the gate, Roheryn (2 yr old) follows right behind. I actually have to shut the gate in her face, and the whole time I'm washing Symphony, Roheryn is standing there at the gate waiting. Symphony is a lady about everything, just an occasional snort as a commentary.

Roheryn is waiting at the gate, plainly saying "It's my turn! I do what the big horses do, I am a big girl now." So I get her halter, and bring her out and tie her. I take it slow, starting at her legs, but all I get is a few snorts, she stands beautifully.

When I turn the last two loose, all of them take off for the far end of the field galloping and bucking. They feel good now! Roheryn has her neck arched and her tail flagged like I have never seen before. She is sooo proud, she got to do what the other horses did!

Monday, August 30, 2010

New technology for rider safety

I found this interesting article about using an 'air bag' vest when riding cross country. Looks like it would work very well, in the case of a fall or impact.

Added Safety in the Saddle

Spectators gasped and expected the worst when the horse ridden by Karim Florent Laghouag somersaulted over a fence and fell on top of him at a prestigious equestrian competition last September in France.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Doug Payne demonstrated how an air bag would work for eventing riders.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Despite their relatively high cost — $400 to $700 — the vests have sold well.

Laghouag had taken a so-called rotational fall, a dreaded spill in the Olympic sport of eventing. At least 13 riders in the past four years were killed and several others were seriously injured in such tumbles.

But soon after his horse jumped to its feet, Laghouag stood up too. He had a dislocated elbow but no broken bones. He attributed his good fortune to an air bag vest, a simple safety innovation that was virtually unheard of in the equestrian world until last year and now is standard issue for the world’s top riders.

“Today, I wear it all the time — even when I’m training,” Laghouag, 35, said in French during a recent telephone interview.

Leaders in eventing — a three-phase competition involving dressage, show jumping and a cross-country obstacle course — have long expressed frustration over attempts to make the cross-country portion safer. They have tried imposing stricter rules on riders and building fences designed to break apart more easily on impact.

But the arrival of the air bag vests has generated the most excitement, even though some caution that the technology is too new to be wholly embraced.

Link to full article.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Teenagers and seizing the moment

There is a moment in every horses life, where they take the step from cute adorable and sweet baby, into entitled, pushy teenager. They all go through it, they all try to see if they can take over the situation.

The problem is, up to now they have been sweet, agreeable, and wonderful to work with. They live in a world of new interesting experiences, cookies and scratches. Then one day they decide they deserve to eat now, out of the bucket in your hand instead of waiting politely in their stall.

Then when you say no, and tell them to back up, the ugly teenager surfaces and you get a temper tantrum with a butt turn and kick in the direction of authority. At that moment, you, as the senior partner in this relationship have 2 choices. You can say "No, no." then go ahead and feed the nasty critter, just like she wants. Or you can assert your Alpha mare status, and have what we used to like to call a "come to Jesus" moment with your errant teenager.

This involves immediately yelling, flinging buckets, and chasing the horse out of the barn and away. This should go on for several minutes, convincing the snorting and scrambling teenager that the fire of heaven is about to rain down on them and the ground swallow them up for sassing the boss mare.

Then invite the teenager to be mannerly, walk into her stall, back into the corner and wait for the grain to be poured. If she does it fine, if she argues, back out of the barn she goes. And those ears better be up and perky.

It usually only takes one time, and my teenager followed me to the gate later that night for a goodbye neck scratch (at a careful respectful distance and with ears at attention).

I think I will get one more try from her, she is at the bottom of the pecking order and desperately wants to boss SOMEONE. But all I have to do is enforce that I am Alpha, and we won't have any more rude behavior.

Hopefully next time I won't break a finger though.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Moving on...

Change is tough sometimes. It's hard to let go of what is familiar, even when it wasn't a good match for what you wanted to do. It's hard to let go even when you know you had no choice, so when there is a decision to be made there is a tendency to second guess yourself.

This past spring 3 riders have had to say good bye to the horses they were riding, each for very good reasons. The first was not so hard. My daughter is off to college this fall, and her horse has been sitting in the pasture for the last year as senior activities and college prep have taken over her rider's life. The times she did get to ride, she also realized her ambitions had grown beyond what her sweet, sturdy packer could do. Meanwhile a dear friend had been borrowing the horse for trail rides, and gradually falling in love with her personality, and eh, whatever attitude to things on the trail. After some serious discussion, the desicion was made to let her horse go to the person who had time to ride her, and loved her for what she could do now.

The second decision was harder. My husband has been riding his MFT gelding for 3 years. He has always been a challenging horse. Green broke with bad habits, over the years my husband has worked with him, and turned him into a solid equine citizen, with impeccable manners. He is good fun to ride on the trails, and has lots of energy. But my husband has also had less time to ride, and our boarding situation has never been ideal for this horse. He was gelded late, and never lost some of his stallion behaviors. Specifically he gets possessive of mares he is pastured with, to the point he gets hysterical when he is separated. When we had geldings, we would pasture them together, and everything would be fine. He would play gelding games, and ignore the mares on rides. But when we got down to just mares and him, his behavior got worse.

It wasn't like he was happy being this way either. He preferred to be with geldings, but when he had mares with him, he felt it was his job to watch, herd, and guard them. This eventually got to the point to rearing and spinning on trail rides, when other horses got between him and the mares. If we rode every day, or we had a gelding field to put him in, we probably could have worked through this; but with our time and situation it just didn't seem fair to him or us. So now he is with a group of trail riders who ride gaited horses several times a week on trails, and only have geldings. Sad for us, we will miss his personality and impish sense of fun; but better for him because now he will not have all the stress our set up was putting on him.

The last one wasn't a decision we got to make, it was made for us. Years ago my horse Shadow fell through a bridge on a trail ride and injured her hip. She was out in pasture a year healing, and learned to compensate for the injury. A little weaker on that side, a little stiffer, but not very noticeable unless you asked for that lead at the canter. She has had good years and bad years, I have known I would have to retire her eventually. I thought I would lose her last year when she got a very bad case of Lyme's, but then she rallied back to her old feisty self! We even competed in a show last fall. But, at the show, she refused a jump, and suddenly felt wobbly. Then with holidays, etc. I didn't ride until the next spring. When I rode her again, she was dropping her hip and limping. I realized both her past injuries, and trying to walk in the deep snow of the past winter had done it's damage. The vet confirmed she had torn the tendon in her back leg beyond any repair. She can hobble around, do a little walking, but that is it.

So we have gone from all of us riding together, to no one riding. I personally have discovered I don't have the same drive to ride I used to. I used to always want to ride, any horse, any where, but now after so many years with Shadow, where it was a close partnership, it's just not as much fun with another horse. I have a young horse to work with, a green horse to train, and hopefully a gelding for my husband to ride. Right now our lives are a bit full, but hopefully the trails will call us back.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Howard County Fair 2

More photos!

Gale Monahan on Montana's Little Joe

Karen Maier

Karen Maier

Water glass class!

Measuring the water...

Tracy Grinestaff on Kentucky Joe

Tracy Grinestaff on Kentucky Joe

Karen Maier

Tracy Grinestaff on Kentucky Joe

Denise Parsons on Heart's Ali Baba

Egg and spoon.