Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Horses and the Farrier

Well, today was every bit as wild as I hoped it wouldn't be...until the farrier arrived. After they saw him, they seemed to sigh with relief--so that's why we've been tied up for two hours! You're not actually going to let the Spring boogie man eat us.

It was windy and cold--it felt like the barn was going to blow down. I had the horses tied up for grooming before the farrier arrived. He called and said he'd be thirty minutes to an hour late--so we got some tying practice.

Tying practice can be scary. (Remember our conversation, Laura?) But I do try to give Beautiful the experience of being tied hard.

So, here she was...

As you can see, she's a big baby putting everything in her mouth. Then, and not pictured because I was standing ready to untie her if things went South, she pulled back hard and got into a tug-of-war with one of the main supporting barn posts. She lost. I should say, she surrendered and came back to stand nicely. Whew.

My farrier said that my horses grew more hoof than any of his other customers. He couldn't believe it.

Now they're all out on pasture again--getting fatter.

There are going to be some changes around here soon. Some people are going to lease the land next door for their horse operation. Apparently, they have eighteen horses and one is a stallion. I really hope to meet them before move-in day so that I can know what to expect and how to handle it on my side of the fence. So far, I'm getting all of my information second hand--the worst way to learn anything.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Spring: My Horses Seem to be Crazy

The horses, at the edge of green grass.

Please tell me everyone else's horses are acting up, too. Is it the Spring grass? Is it the mare's cycles? Ahhhhh.....!!!

Part of it is my fault, I guess. I did leave the stall door open. Oh, and it opens up into the entire pasture. Thus, all my horses were free in my barn breezeway.

Yeah, that wasn't pretty.

I can see the barn out my kitchen window, and I thought it odd so many horses heads were running INSIDE the barn. one free? Two? Three? By the time I got there, there were only three free--running and kicking at each other--vying for the grain. The two oldest were smart enough to steer clear. You could see which ones had the lowest IQ--and my horse, Cowboy, seemed to have the LOWEST.

They've been on pasture, but I kept them off today because it was raining and I don't want them to tear it up. Not good. They have grass fever and didn't want to touch their dry stuff.

To top it all off, the farrier comes tomorrow. I so wish he wouldn't. Please postpone until they get their brains back!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's Blooming Wednesday: April 21, 2010 Spokane

We're in bloom in Spokane, Wa!

The Flowering Plum Tree:

Elsa's Rock:

Daffodils (Tulips are trying their best!):


Climbing Hydrangea:

Swingset almost completed!



Monday, April 19, 2010

Missing Elsa

I know from experience, when you lose something, someone, eventually, the grief subsides and your memory grows dim. That thought makes me sad. I don't want to grieve, but I don't want her memory to dull either.

I wrote about Elsa in a recent post, she was my 13 1/2 year old dog. This weekend her health deteriorated quickly and we made a decision to have her put to sleep.

I have to say, no matter how "logical" your decision is, nothing can prepare you for the pain you experience letting go of a dear life. We sat on the floor together because it was very hard for her to stand or be moved around, and I petted her and held her as she passed. I so, so, so wished she'd have died at home and made the decision to leave me rather than me making the decision to end her pain.

Today I miss her...I miss her barking to tell me to feed her, right now! I miss her sitting at the front window to tell me to let her back in. I miss her barking at the road to protect me every day as I go the barn, and I miss her sitting under the piano by my feet as I play. I miss her.

She shared so much of my life--always there through transitions--often overlooked as I went about my business.

I found a rock on our property that my husband is going to move over to her grave. It's big enough and flat enough that it can be a seat for me, under the Weeping Willow. I'm going to go out and find daffodils to plant around it so that they'll bloom every April and remind me of her. Also, a friend brought me a Bleeding Heart to plant in her memory. This really comforts me because the most important thing right now is my need not to forget her. I don't want to forget--ever.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beautiful's Fear My Fear

I only have a few minutes, but wanted to run in and relate an incident that just happened.

I was leading Beautiful out of her stall to the turnout, usually the barn door is already open--one of those that opens upward--but today it wasn't. I thought, oh well, she needs to learn to stand while I open it. I already know it's scary for horses because all of the others had to get used to it, too, but I figured she could handle it.

She looked scared, of course, when she saw it closed and me starting to open it, and I knew I had two choices--slow or fast--and my feeling about slow is that sometimes when you go too slow you teach them there's something to actually be scared of--so instead, I ripped the band-aid off fast! Not too fast, normal speed, but enough that she started scooting backward and fell into the wheel barrow.

After the wheelbarrow, things could have gotten really bad, but she recovered herself and came back up to me. We proceeded through the 3/4 open door. On the other side of the door--in the driveway--she bolted foward and we were in that tug-of-war position. She started to back up and there was no way I could get to her side. I was like one second from losing the lead--she could have so easily ripped it from me at that point, but I faked calmness and stood still--I figured the only chance I had was her stopping herself. I held on tight and firm. She stopped!!! Thank you!! Thank you!!

Delimma. I thought I'd better use that time for some work going in and out, but when I brought her back up to the door, she'd have none of it and seemed ready to bolt again.

So, here's where my fear comes into play. Last year a friend's filly actually did get free of her and broke down all of my fence, almost releasing my herd. This morning I'd let my herd out to graze and there's only a thin electric wire keeping them in. I use a thin electric because wire isn't a real barrier for horses, and if they're going to go through it, I'd rather it not cut them up--but I'm under NO illusion that it's a real barrier for a scared horse.

I listened to my fears and just took her on in to the turn out.

My thinking is that I'll work her around the doors again tonight when I have someone to back me up and the other horses are locked in their stalls. That way, if she does get free of me--which I'm 99 percent sure she wont', but NOT willing to take a gamble--she'll return to the barn to be near the other horses.

I might also use this evening to introduce her to the pasture with one other horse.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's Blooming Wednesday

Grass Widow in the pasture. Why do they call it that? Sounds scary. (Click to enlarge the pictures--you can see the stems look like grass).

Blue Vinca.

I also put in my summer order for fly predators from Spalding Labs. This will be the first year I've used them, so I'm excited. We had such a mild winter, everyone's expecting the bug population to skyrocket.

What's blooming in your pasture? Any big plans for summer?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Photos

Wildflowers on the way to the barn:

Spring Thyme:

Worms on the Road:

Rock Planter--the 3 year project is finally coming to an end!

Road to Barn:

Rock seats and benches:

Spring Planting & Rain

Pasture management is always my most important concern in Spring. This year, we had a delimma: to plant more seed or not. We planted last year and kept the horses entirely off of it, giving the roots time to establish themselves. It seemed to work well, but there were very large bare spots this year where the seed hadn't taken at all. And this is where the big question mark comes into play, do we seed those areas and put off spraying, or do we spray those areas and put off seeding? You can't do both at the same time.

I opted for seeding and taking advantage of the upcoming rain. My husband probably would have opted for spraying.

I based my decision on observation. The areas where the grass had really taken off, the grass seems to be competing well with weed. The weeds that are there, which is mostly crab grass, are still very small and in their first stages of growth. However, in the large, bare areas, the weed is emerging and there is no grass to compete. My hope is that with the warm temps and constant rain, the grass I've planted will get a good start and we should be able to spray next month. Is this too optimistic? Or, we could spot spray. (In the areas where the grass was doing well, I didn't seed--these areas are ready for spray). Hmmmm...yes, spot-spray seems to be the answer.

And the other answer--rain is my friend--let it rain!

New Computer

There was a time I looked forward to new computers because there was always some GREAT thing newly invented that my old computer didn't have. Those days, however, are largely over. It seems, now, a computer is a computer--so why upgrade? I have the answer: because the old computers die.

A very sad day when the old computer dies--it means transferring over files and programs and putting out lots of $$$ you'd rather spend on horses.

I bought the Gateway NV79: 17.3" monitor (an upgrade from my old one), built in webcam (also not on my old one), 500 gig Hard Drive, 4 gigs of Ram, Windows 7 (always a new windows out there!), and the Intel i3 processor. Gateway was one of my first computers in the old days, around 1994 (I'd owned Apples before that). Gateway used to have a good reputation, but it really went downhill about ten years ago. They seem to be trying hard to regain ground.

So far I really like it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do the Windows Easy Transfer because the Service Packs wouldn't install in my computer. If I had been able to do that, it would have easily moved all my old files and programs over via a double-sided USB cord or network connection. Instead, I bought a 16 gig removeable storage device and transferred everything manually.

I like the computer. The graphics are good, it's fast, Windows 7 seems to offer more intuitive, helpful commands via mouse, the mail program works nicely, I have so much room to store media files with the 500 gigs, and it doesn't get hot at all in my lap.

The con, as always, is the internal speakers--pretty weak if you're listening to audio, but I've come to expect that in laptops.

Viva la Gateway NV79!


Beautiful's doing great. We continue to work on leading, being calm and not-overreacting on the lead, staying in her space, communication, and bending. The balking she was doing was creating a problem, so I decided to get proactive. Whenever we approached the "stop areas", I clucked loudly as we came to them to get her mind off thinking of them. It worked. Some things are just too simple--why does it take so long to figure them out?

Well, enjoy the Spring rains--and happy trails as you plant your gardens, mow your grass and ride your horses!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cowboy's Third Season Post Mortem

If you have time, check out my guest blog about my horse, Cowboy, at GunDiva's site, Tales From the Trail. That's a fun idea, guest blogging, and she's always looking for more volunteers.

I refer to Cowboy as my MYEI (Make You Earn It) horse, and it's so, so true. My vet used to always say (to be kind), This one would survive in the wild. Cowboy was always thinking for himself.

My opinion is that MYEI horses have become that way from lack of trust. In Cowboy's case, the multiple homes, some early mishandling when his second owner kept him a stallion, but didn't know how to manage a stallion, and then the survival instincts kicked in. They may trust their last owner, but that doesn't mean they trust you. In their minds, not all humans are good, only some. For me, those early days of earning it are over and he has so much more trust--I'd like to think it is also correlating to others, or at least others here at my home. I really don't think he'd do well changing families.

My farrier was out yesterday (the man who really saved his life) and he was pounding a shoe over the old P3 fracture without Cowboy flinching, he stopped a moment and reflected on where we were when we started and where we are now.

He said, This horse was in so much pain when I first met him. I didn't know if I liked him. (Cowboy was a piss-ant that day, squirrely and pulled a plant out of my planter--a large day lily. It was quite a scene. His sweet personality definitely DID NOT shine through. The farrier was also new to Cowboy because we'd just moved here to Spokane, misdiagnosed fracture and all, and he'd been the top recommendation from our new vet.) The farrier had his arm around him, Cowboy's head was almost on the ground--like a big lap dog. Who me? Nah, I was never like that, was I?

I told him what a gift it was to have had Cowboy for two riding seasons since the accident (what I refer to now as post mortem since he was scheduled to be euthanized) and to now be going into my third. I told him how Cowboy has reached his plateau in life--young enough to have the energy and smart enough to know better. The golden years for me and him. And then I said, overly optimistic, of course--I want him to be a grandkid's horse someday.

My farrier brought me back to reality by saying, be glad for every year we get. We've already got more than we figured.

But you know, I can't help being optimistic. He already defied the odds by living through that fracture and coming out sound. I have to believe he'll live to old age, too.

Cowboy has a low nicker, much lower than all the horses in the barn. Only Beautiful's is even close to it. When I go out to see him, he nickers for me every time as he stands alone (always alone) somewhere in the turnout. I know his greeting--I could pick it out from any herd.

That horse has my heart. I know this is Beautiful's blog--but she's the younger sister. Who, I should mention since I've brought her up, got a big compliment from the farrier yesterday. He didn't trim her, but she was turned out. He stopped on the way back to his pickup and watched her and said, That is not the scrawny little horse you brought here. She looks like a real horse now." So, hey, I'll take that compliment for her.

Happy Trails, everyone!