Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Could it be spring?

Glorious spring has come to this corner of the world....at least until Friday when snow is predicted again - boo, hiss! I took advantage of warm temperatures and sunshine to work the boys. What fun we all had...uh, didn't we Pippin? Don't you think so, Doc?
On Sunday I groomed both hairy beasts. Is there any way to groom a shedding animal without wearing half the hair? Warning...whatever you do, do not wear fleece! Oh, and did I mention velcro? I ran to a meeting last night and didn't notice until I was there that the velcro closures of my barn jacket have their own collection of honey-colored hair enmeshed in them. Luckily I was with horse people who would understand! And then there is the annoying fact that no matter how hard you try, the outcome is hair in your mouth as well. And, if you try to remove an offending hair, you end up with at least three more. Bleeechh! Ptoooey!

After our grooming I harnessed Pippin and we went on a walk-about in the neighborhood. I was thrilled with his behavior. He hasn't been in harness since just after Thanksgiving and he was good. Oh, yeah, there was the problem with the pole on the ground."THAT pole has never been THERE before!" Oh, and there was the horse that cantered about 200 feet away from us. "Can I canter, too? Huh? Huh" I never realized that Pippin could perform Grand Prix dressage movements...in harness! Well, I exaggerate, he didn't really do a piaffe, it just seemed that way! After about a mile with Pippin, it was Doc's turn. Again, we had a wonderful walk. With both boys I concentrated on 'easy walk' and 'walk on'. It was interesting to watch the changes in their strides in areas that still had snow on the ground. Walking behind provides a great opportunity to observe the length of their strides.
That evening, as I lounged on the couch only occasionally complaining to my better half about my aching feet from walking several miles in my muck boots and my sore arms from grooming the lovely hairy beasts, I wondered, as I sometimes do, just why I thought having two horses was such a great idea!

Monday was another beautiful day. Not quite so warm and sunny as Sunday, but it seemed like a great day to get the boys out again. Since my better half was away for the day I didn't want to attempt hitching by myself and Lord knows, I didn't want to go on another walk-about since my toes were still screaming at me. So, off I went to a neighbor's indoor arena to take advantage of better footing than we have outdoors. I worked with Doc on transitions and attempted to get him to collect and extend at the walk and trot. I am pleased to see that he is getting better about bending and staying in line instead of swinging awkwardly to the outside on turns. Progress...slow but steady! Then, it was Pippin's turn. Pippin has ADHD. He finds it hard to stand still and likes to move as a person tries to mount. I won't stand for that. So, I asked Pippin to move around me on a long line, change direction, change speed and halt. I'd wait for some lip-licking. I'd approach and go to his side and prepare to mount. When Pippin moved, I'd send him out again and repeat the procedure. After doing this quite a few times, Pippin finally stood. I mounted him and let him know what a fabulous Haffie he is. We walked and trotted around the arena a few times before I dismounted and began the procedure again. It didn't take nearly as much time...so maybe this is working. If any of you have a better idea, or think that I am way off track with this approach, please speak up!

A third beautiful day. Three in a row! Wow!
It seemed like it took forever, but I relieved the boys of more hair, harnessed them, did ground work with both of them and then harnessed them to the forecart for a conditioning drive around the community. We have some gentle hills so for about 45 minutes we walked around, up and down, then down and up and around again. Both boys were happy to return home. They both enjoyed a nice roll and a late afternoon nap in the sunshine.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pippin's Point of View: The Haf Laugh

I pulled a prank on Mrs. Owner! ROTGL (no floor in the paddock...has to be G for ground, instead)!
This morning when Mrs. Owner came down to feed us, I didn't stick my head around the corner of the barn and whinny at her as I usually do. [Giggle] I wasn't in my stall walking in circles waiting, not so patiently, for hay. [Snigger] She couldn't find me! [Chortle] Guess where I was? Do you give up? Huh? Can you guess? I was rooming in with Doc! [Snicker...Snort] I spent the night with Doc and Mrs. Owner can't figure out how I did it! [Yuk, yuk, yuk] Yup, there we were, in his stall together! Mrs. Owner scratched her head. The stall doors were shut and latched. The stall wall was in tact. The Priefert panels were all standing, and none were bent down (as if I'd be stupid enough to try to climb up the panels)! [Guffaw...Hee...Haw] The gates between the paddocks were all latched. [Cackle] And here's the best part [TeeHeeHee] she figures I musta jumped the panel! Me?! Jumping 5 feet from almost a standstill? Now, that's funny! Well, [Hiccup] anyway, it was the best prank and I'm not telling anyone my secret! It's so deliciously funny!

Note from Mrs. Owner: I like to give credit where it is due. I did not take this fabulous picture...it looks just like Pippin, though, and I can just imagine him laughing like this after his prank! Photo came from Those Funny Pictures.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I am so honored! Once Upon an Equine bestowed the "Beautiful Blogger" award upon my site. Thank you for this recognition. If it weren't for Once Upon an Equine I might not be blogging at all! I had never really thought about putting my ideas online, other than sharing brief statements on Facebook, until I met Once Upon an Equine and read her blog. I liked what she was doing and wanted to let my equine boys have a voice, too, as well as to share other aspects of my life with all y'all (my sorta Southern roots are showing)! Thank you, again. You can see Once Upon an Equine's Beautiful Blogger Award post here.

The Beautiful Blogger award rules are:
1. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award to 15 other bloggers.

So, seven things about me....
  1. I love life! I was an educator and I loved teaching and working with teachers to help them become better teachers. I am a mom of two grown sons...well, almost grown, and I love being a mom and watching the boys grow and become independent young men. Now that I am retired, I love having the time to do things I put off when I was working.
  2. I learned two lessons from my dad that help define who I am. My dad would always tell me to A) do something constructive and B) finish what you start. Now, don't get the wrong impression about me! This doesn't mean that I am always doing something constructive or that I always finish what I begin. What it means is that when I am not engaged in some sort of productive activity, or when I leave things undone, I feel guilty! Thanks, Dad!
  3. I love animals. All kinds!
  4. I was ADHD before they had a term for excessive energy! My mom and I cracked up when the FDA came out with research showing that food additives in hot dogs can cause hyperactivity. That's all I would eat, willingly, from the time I was 3 until I was 7. Even now I find it difficult to sit. I don't watch TV...I 'do' TV. I have to be knitting, working on puzzles, reading, etc. And whatever else, don't feed me more than one caffeinated beverage or I can not be held accountable for my behavior!
  5. I love sweets. All kinds!
  6. I enjoy doing crafty things. I do not consider myself to be artistic, however. I am a great copier, just not a great creator. I enjoy knitting and crocheting. I also make greeting cards and have dabbled in stained glass. I smock and I sew, but only so-so. (I couldn't resist that one)! Visiting a hobby store, a knitting shop or a fabric warehouse can be dangerous for my bank account.
  7. I am torn between being a homebody and traveling. I love both - how can that be? What a puzzle. Oh, and I love puzzles as well!
I am supposed to pass this on to 15 bloggers, but I am so new at this game, that I haven't regularly visited 15 bloggers enough to determine if they are truly beautiful bloggers! I mean, I think you all are probably beautiful bloggers, but I've only been following a few of you for a week or so...and some that I've chosen to follow haven't even been active. So, I am going to pass it on to my top 5, and later, after I've had more time following folks, I'll return to the award and pass it on to more.
If you have received this award and don't want to post your 7 things again, you don't have to; I admire your blog, I enjoy reading and learning from your posts, and would like to share your link.

Confessions of a Slave Driver
Green Slobber on My Shirt
I is Roxie!
Life at the Rough String
Nuzzling Muzzles
Oh HorseFeathers & Related Twisted "Tails"

Oh, and did I mention that although I taught Math for many years, I sometimes find that I am challenged by simple problems....like, just how many is 5, anyway?!

Goofus and Gallant

Remember these? Highlights Magazines were the only thing that made going to the dentist at all bearable when I was younger! Well, heck, I still like the hidden picture puzzles!

In thinking about my team I've realized that they should have been named Goofus and Gallant, for they truly epitomize the characters:

Goofus grabs huge hunks of hay, then tries to take more from Gallant.
Gallant chews his hay slowly and only gets mildly annoyed by Goofus' thievery.
Goofus pushes the stall door open and escapes into the barn if given the opportunity.
Gallant stands patiently in his stall, door open, while his owner brings in hay or water.
Goofus upsets the grooming bucket and mouths each tool.
Gallant stands for grooming, even if not tied.
Goofus paws with impatience and has been known to stamp his size 2 hoof to add an explanation point to his statement.
Gallant cocks one hip and waits ever so patiently.

Can you tell Goofus and Gallant apart?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pippin's Point of View: Brand Inspection

The Brand Inspector came to see us yesterday. I was a little confused at first. I looked on my left flank and looked on my right flank and I couldn't see any brands. So, what would he inspect? I was a bit afraid thinking that if I couldn't see a brand, maybe I was going to get one. I think getting a brand would hurt terribly. Are brands like tattoos? Maybe I'm going to get a tattoo. Ooooh, wouldn't it be neat to have some sort of fearsome tattoo? Like a lion. That would scare off other predators if they think I'm a lion. I'm the same color as a lion. My mane is thick and bushy, like a lion's mane.I could be so cool!
Anyway, the Brand Inspector guy turned out to be nice enough. No brands and no tattoos. And....no food. I checked. I snuffled his right pocket and his left pocket while he was trying to color pictures of Doc and me in his little coloring book. He showed my picture to me, since I was kinda curious and hanging my head over the fence to get a peek. The horse didn't really look like me. Its legs were too skinny and it had a long, long neck compared to mine. But, he did an awesome job drawing my blaze.
Anyway, I found out that my Mrs. Owner has to have a piece of paper from the Brand Inspector to prove that I belong to her. If she takes me on a trip in the big rattly noisy box and goes more than 75 miles away she needs the paper. If my Mrs. Owner is going to sell me she needs the paper. Oh, horrid thought! Is she going to sell me? I didn't do anything wrong! Did I? I haven't bucked with her on my back in a long time...I didn't step on her toes...I didn't nip her while looking for treats. Oh, oh, oh. I am going to have to be extra special good from now on! I'll keep my stall really clean. I won't slosh my water all over the ground. I won't push my Mrs. Owner out of the way to get to my hay. I'm going to be really, really good. I'll be just like that goody-goody Doc!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Doc's Diatribe: Rabies Alert

Ok, guys, (and you fillies, too), I know shots probably aren't on your "Happiness is..." list, but please make sure that your owner gets you vaccinated against rabies. Mrs. Owner went to a workshop and the 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' talked about a case of rabies in our area. In fact, the horse lived only about 2 miles from me.
It seems that this horse was a curious and friendly sort. He saw a funny looking black kitty with a white stripe in the pasture and went up to say, "Hi"! The 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' said that the funny kitty was a rabid skunk, and the skunk probably bit the horse. That horse's Mrs. Owner saw the skunk in her yard that day and it is very strange, indeed, to see the black kitties with white stripes during the day, and this one was acting kinda strange. Several months later the horse wasn't feeling so hot. He didn't even want to come in from pasture with his buddies for dinner. And when his Mrs. Owner coaxed him in he was lame. She checked him all over and couldn't find anything that should make his leg sore. The lameness was worse the next day and the day after that he wouldn't let anyone touch his leg. The 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' came on the fourth day and the horse wouldn't even let him get near that side of him, even when the 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' gave him that stuff that makes you feel all woozy and goofy and makes your head feel like it weighs three tons. The horse was afraid. The horse was rearing up, sitting down and beating on his back legs with his front feet. The horse was struggling to stand and ripping the skin off of his knees. The 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' thought it was some sort of neurological problem but wasn't sure of the cause. He took him to his clinic and used strong drugs to calm him and to stop swelling in the brain. The horse got worse. The horse's Mrs. Owner and 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' decided euthanasia was necessary. A few days later the State vet school confirmed that the horse had rabies.
This poor horse went through 4 days of awful pain and and terrible suffering before he died. There is no medicine to fix rabies or stop it from getting worse once it is discovered. There is nothing the "horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary" can do to save you. It can take up to a year (but usually only 2 -4 months) before an animal gets sick from a bite. Since all of the horse's buddies and other four legged predator-type friends were exposed to the sick horse, they had to be quarantined for a long time. They couldn't go on trail rides for 6 months! My Mrs. Owner taught me a new word today. She said that rabies is zoonotic. That means it can pass from animals to humans. So everyone who handled the sick horse had to have shots.

So, like it or not, if you haven't had a rabies shot, have your owner check with the "horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' where you live to see if he thinks you should have the vaccination. Different areas of our country have different situations with regards to rabid animals. This map shows the location of rabid animals in 2008.

Stay healthy!

My Mrs. Owner put some links to Web sites with more information on the right. Check those out if you want to learn more.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happiness is....

I love going down to the barn in the morning to take care of the boys. They warm my heart, even on the coldest mornings (although I do have to admit that sometimes that warmth doesn't extend all the way to my fingertips and toes)! The boys and their care make me happy.

By Charles Schultz

Happiness is....
  • a welcoming nicker
  • bird songs
  • contented munching
  • a dog wanting to play
  • a clean paddock
  • BOGS boots
  • a fuzzy nuzzle
  • the rising sun
  • the smell of sweet feed
What is on your happiness list?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Craft Corner - Bit Warmers

For some of you lucky people this post may be coming too late to be of use this year, but what the heck, you can get a head start on next winter! Many of my friends are already experiencing warm temperatures, flowers, sunshine and spring - I can only dream! Please send nice thoughts to those of us who are anticipating spring snow storms - some of the worst for the year. Last year we had a total of 5 feet of snow between March 15 and May 12!

This was our yard following a storm on April 18 last 'spring'!!

Materials needed to make a bit warmer:

  • 6" x 14" fabric rectangle
  • 1 bag or box of rice
  • sewing machine and/or needle and thread
Instructions for making a bit warmer:
  1. Cut the fabric to the appropriate size and fold it with right sides together.
  2. Use a sewing machine or stitch by hand using stitches no larger than 1/8" in length. Maintain a seam allowance of 3/8" - 1/2" and stitch from the fold going up one side, across the top and down towards the fold, leaving 1 1/2" open at the end.
  3. Trim seams to 1/4" and turn the rectangle right side out.
  4. Pour rice into the opening. Put enough rice in the warmer so that when it is folded the rice remains near the fold. If you use too much rice you can't fold the bit warmer, too little and the rice falls below the fold if you put it over a bit. I used about 1 1/2 cups of rice for each warmer.
  5. Use a needle and thread to close the opening.

Instructions for using the bit warm

  • Heat the bit warmer in the microwave for 1 minute.
  • Drape the bit warmer over the bit.
  • Let the warmer work its magic while you groom your horse.
  • Bridle your horse with a warm bit. (Do check to make certain it is not too hot!)

I recently gave some bit warmers to my friends as gifts. I include the following poem with the bit warmer:

The weather is cold and my bit's like ice.
Warming it up would be really nice.
Put this in the microwave on high for a minute.
The heat will be absorbed by the rice that's in it.
Drape it on my bit while you get me tacked,
And I'll be much happier when you get on my back!

Thanks to Once Upon an Equine for suggesting that I include these instructions on my blog.
Enjoy your bit warmers!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

My wonderful husband came home with a bit of spring the other day. He had been by one of the large 'everything' stores and picked up a few flowering annuals. They look sweet! It is amazing how a little bit of color can make even the grayest day look more cheerful! And best yet, I can enjoy them now and when the frost finally leaves I can plant them in my garden.
Trying to decide what to plant in the garden and where to plant it gives me a huge headache. I just find that sort of planning very difficult to do. Perhaps that is why I have some huge, mounding Achillea right in the front of my garden, hiding some smaller perennials in the back. Maybe I should call my garden the 'Secret Garden' to make people think I purposely planted things that would grow waaayyy too large for the garden and that would push and shove and overtake smaller, slower growing varieties. This spring some plants will be finding a new home....I'm just not sure where. And here we go again with that 'planning' thing that seems to escape me!
We have many wonderful catalogs. It is so much fun to look through them and find interesting flowers and veges, and to dream of beautiful gardens. We do have to look carefully at the time until maturity, however, since our growing season is only about 95 days. Two years ago we lost all of our tomatoes and peppers to a frost on June 12! Catalogs will tell the best growing zone for the plants. Most of our yard is zone 4, with a few protected places creeping into zone 5 and some wind blown corners probably dipping down to zone 3. But, in addition to the planting zone, one must also take into account the water preferences for the plant and shade tolerance - although we have little enough of that to really worry about!
This year I'd like to try some interesting carrots. We had carrots last year and they were the sweetest ever. The horses hardly got any of them! I've also picked up seeds for Chioggia beets. These have alternating bands of red and white and are supposed to be sweeter than the traditional red beet. I can't wait!
So, what are your favorites that you like to plant? Do you have any great ideas for planning a garden for folks who seem challenged in that area?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Farrier Visit

Farrier: a specialist in equine hoof care. Wikipedia n. One who shoes horses.
Word Origin: 1562, from M.Fr. (Middle French) ferrier "blacksmith," from L. (Latin) ferrarius "of iron," also "blacksmith," from ferrum "iron," possibly of Sem. (Semitic) origin, via Etruscan. In M.L. (Medieval Latin), ferrus also meant "a horseshoe." Dictionary.com

Our "specialist in equine hoof care" visited the boys recently. When it comes to my horses' feet I have total trust and confidence in this man. After all he walks on water! He marched right across the slick frozen puddle in front of the barn without falling. Doesn't that count?!

On his first visit, days after I bought (or was it rescued?) the team this past summer, he sat in his truck and shook his head in disbelief as viewed the condition of Pippin's feet... from a distance of 20 feet! He made some comment about the mess his feet were in as I led Pippin up to him. He won Pippin's heart in a nanosecond by proffering cookies as he studied his feet, in silence, from all angles. Although, since he had a pocket full of cookies it wasn't always easy for him to view the feet from all angles as Pippin kept turning to nuzzle the pocket for more goodies! After a period of silent reflection, he pronounced with his characteristic drawl, "Waaalllll, there's not much ah can do raht now but let them feet grow out a bit." He went on to say that, as I had already surmised, Pippin had foundered "bad, real bad" some time in the spring.

The shoes he sported were a bit curious having a bar welded to the heels of the shoe, which was cut from a piece of another shoe. We guessed that this was a jerry-rigged effort to make horsey orthopedic shoes, maybe to take pressure off the front of the hoof. Perhaps the installer (I hesitate to call him or her a farrier) fashioned the shoe, which had quarter clips as well, to try to limit hoof expansion and thus protect the hoof from further disintegration. It was evident from the rough, broken edges of the feet that Pippin had only recently been shod, with nails that found little purchase on the ragged walls of his hooves. His shoes were only hanging on by a wing and a prayer. In less than 2 weeks our wonderful farrier was back to replace a thrown shoe and anchor it with epoxy enriched hoof walls.

It has been six months. The epoxied area has grown out and the man is pleased! He pulled Pippin's hind shoes in August and his front in December. Pippin's feet look so much better, with only some ugly cracks on the front as a reminder of the painful ordeal he faced last year. The abscessed area is just now becoming visible on the sole of his foot near his toes, a small oval area of darker material adjacent to the white line. I'll have to be careful about the terrain that I ride on and watch the wear as this weakened area begins to grow out. It could be that we will have to go back to front shoes for a period of time at some point in the next few months to support the thinner hoof wall until the damaged area completely grows out.

And what about Doc's feet? They are as far on the balance of hoof condition on the good side as Pippin's feet are on the bad! Hooray! One out of two ain't bad!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Signs of Spring

The birds are back! It's one of the first signs of spring I've been told - but judging by our weather I'm not ready to buy that story! We had a tree full of hungry, raucous red wing blackbirds the other morning. The older males arrive before the females, presumably to scout out the best sites for their homes. The males stake out their territory and await the arrival of the females so they can court them and direct the female in building their love nest in tall grasses and reeds along the shores of a nearby reservoir. Since we recently had snow we put out seed for the hungry fellas. It was fun to watch them try to monopolize the food. We put our seed in a 12" diameter dish and one blackbird after another would hunker down in the middle of the bowl, spread his wings to show off his bold and bright shoulder patches of red and yellow as if to say, "Stay away, this is mine, all mine!"
Of course, the Blackbirds had already frightened the smaller birds away. We had recently hosted a Dark-Eyed Junco, Black-capped Chickadees and of course, our darling House Finches who stay around practically all winter and whose cheery song brightens even the dreariest morning.

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....