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- Evidently I can’t write cohesive posts anymore (as my unfinished drafts seem to indicate) so I’m back to my favored form of blogging
- In farm news, we have new poultry much to the amusement and disdain of the USPS.
- They came in waves
- First the French Guinea keets that were met with coos and smiles
- Then the Khaki Campbell ducks that convinced the well-meaning postal workers that they needed water so that I ended up wearing water/duck poo soaked shorts home from picking them up at the post office.
- And then the Novogen chickens which brought the ire of the postal worker/armchair animal husbandry expert that felt the need to lecture me on the cruelties of sending chickens via post. Whatevs lady… I don’t recall asking for your input.
- All the new acquisitions are doing very well and are growing by leaps and bounds.
- It’s been a while since we’ve had ducklings and we all managed to forget how excessively messy they are.
- They are super cute tho…. so that helps
- In other news… It’s been too hot to do much with the horses.
- The heat has been brutal!!!
- So it was probably a good thing that I decided to go ahead and have the lipomas on my forehead removed.
- Surgery was a beast.
- Post op was a solitary nightmare.
- I don’t even wish to relive it to blog about
- in a nutshell…
- facial surgery is painful (all them nerves gotta be feeling things!)
- I reacted poorly to the anesthesia (hello panic attacks and hot flashes for 2 weeks!)
- my family and friends UTTERLY ABANDONED ME for the duration (Love you guys soooo much!)
- but on the plus side… tumors were lipomas (non cancerous) and I’m rocking some pretty bad ass scars… on my face. GRRR!
- I’m in the process of opening an Etsy shop… maybe.
- I’ve been making lots of jewelry and happily people are responding very positively to what I’ve made.
- I’m thinking of making a whole separate blog for that as I don’t necessarily want that traffic over here.
- The boys are still avid cyclists.
- J and B are planning several rides this fall… mini “tours” so to speak
- Aside… Froome won the Tour de France so there is happiness in my house
- He is B’s favorite cyclist
- Along with Peter Sagan who is becoming X’s new favorite as X is becoming interested in cycling as well… particularly sprinting.
- I think that X has always liked the cycling thing he just didn’t think his build was conducive to it, until I pointed out that Sagan is built like a tank (compared to Froome) and he’s a very accomplished sprinter.
- I am coming to a place of peace with cycling.
- We will see how this tentative peace holds once the weather turns and we are all vying for ride time.
- I am feeling optimistic
- School is in session for us and has been since the week after the Fourth of July
- With the exceptionally unrelenting heat we’ve been having I felt that it was in the best interest of all parties to just go ahead and start now so that we could enjoy a few Fall breaks instead.
- It’s going well.
- X and I are avidly reading right now.
- He’s reading Harry Potter (his first time through the series)
- I’m reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth.
- I thought the first two in the series were pretty good, but half way through this one and I’m starting to lose my immersion in the story. At this point I just want whatever is going to happen to just happen already.
- I hate when a novel turns that way for me.
- J bought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which I will be delving into once I’m finished with Tris and Four.
- I almost forgot about Luna!
- We have a new dog!
- She’s a Lab/Staffie/Bully mix (I hate using the word Pit)
- She’s adorkable (typo intended)
- She loves me and is a big 40lb teddy bear already and will probably get even bigger!
- She’s about 4 months old now and is all-elbows and knees and goofy gawkiness.
- I love her immensely and Joop tolerates his “little sister” better than he would like me to believe.
- The gardens are doing well
- We desperately need to put up more pickles as B has eaten all of ours.
- All of them
- As in there are no more
- We are getting really creative with zucchini and squash
- We have a deer problem this year which is annoying.
- X and B have been huge helps to M.
- X has done much of the plowing and B is a pro at picking both vegetables and bugs!
- I’m certain that I’m leaving something out but for now that’s it… hopefully there will be a new proper update (sans bullet post) soon!
Back at the beginning of February I heard about a gelding that had been relinquished in a high-profile neglect case down in the lower part of the state. It was indicated that he was an Irish Draught by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond. Immediately I was intrigued as Guinness is also by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond. I knew that finding RSD babies around the Carolinas wouldn’t be that uncommon since RSD stood in NC for a while, but I was still curious. So I called and talked with the vet in charge of his care and discovered that he had been standing as a sporthorse stud for a farm in the Charleston area and was slightly underweight and in slightly poor condition but would be gelded soon and they really wanted him out of their facility as soon as possible.
I was not in the market for a new horse. Heck, I hadn’t ridden all winter. So I politely asked if there were any photos and she sent me this:
Well… doesn’t that horse look a bit familiar? So I politely asked her to keep me in the loop and quietly walked away feeling that surely some other person would come forward for an ISH. A week later I again hear from the vet. The gelding had been done, evidently no one else had come forward and was I still interested?? Ugh…
Tentatively I spoke with M and J and we reached the decision that this boy had been put before us for a reason and started making the arrangements to bring him home. We rearranged paddocks, set up his quarantine pen and started to fish around for a trailer to use. I will not go into the horrors of trying to find a trailer to bring home a recently gelded stud horse that I don’t actually know. Understandably nobody was eager to have him onboard. So we made the decision to just use the old beat up green trailer. Our wonderful neighbor David did a quick check over it to make sure it was safe and that all the electric components were working and even tho it was a mess cosmetically, it was safe and tall enough to bring home our new boy.
Valentine’s morning we headed out! J and I had a good drive down and realized rapidly why the gelding needed a new home asap. Living between the interstate and an airbase/airport isn’t exactly the most ideal life for any horse. So we pulled up and after parking amid what I think was a dog/cat adoption event and overhearing more than one person ask “how big is the dog you are planning on getting??” we were redirected to the barn were I met our new gelding.
This was my first look at him.
What I saw was a profoundly depressed and unhappy horse. Obviously he and G share a common look, but where G has the look of a horse that has lived the padded life of a privileged, beloved show horse, the new gelding, while polite, looked tired and weary. As J put it “he looks like he’s seen some things”.
So I filled out all the legal paper work while J changed out his halter and put on his travelling clothes (cooler and boots). I wasn’t entirely sure what he would have to say about loading up on the little trailer but after a look around he walked up meekly and munched on hay while I secured the ramp. I couldn’t decide if he was that “OK” with the whole thing or if he just didn’t care anymore.
An so we began our journey back home only to realize that we were insanely hungry and needed to stop immediately for lunch. J, the intrepid puller of trailers, negotiated several multi laned highways to get us into a large parking area behind a Chik-fil-a. I decided to hang out with the gelding while J went in to order. I opened the escape door and stood talking to him, nonsensical blathering of nothingness, just to let him hear me and hopefully keep him calm. Immediately I noticed a change in him. He nosed all over my face, whoofed through my hair, nuzzled my cheek and really latched on to me as a person he was interested in. I took out my phone to update M about our progress and this happened…
I continued to talk and babble on to him and suddenly a car pulled up beside us! I was a little nervous as I had read a lot about his case on our way to Charleston and I knew that there were some hot opinions about it. The couple in the car stopped to comment on how much my horse must love me because they could see how relaxed he was when I talked to him. I told them that he was a new acquisition and they were surprised as they had thought that we were a long bonded horse and rider combo. They wished us luck and safe journeys and again I noticed how the gelding was definitely warming up to both J and me.
So we continued home with me asking J every 5 minutes if the gelding was ok. I think it made for a long trip for J even if he didn’t complain 🙂
Somewhere along the drive home I decided that Fawkes would be a perfect name. I did not like the name he came with and I felt like he needed a new name to start his new life. So Fawkes, the name of Dumbledore’s phoenix, seemed perfect!
Anyway, we made it home before dark and spent a good 30 minutes hand walking Fawkes around to work out his travel stiffness before putting him up for the evening. He was polite and courteous, even with the wind blowing fiercely.
Then next day we spent shoring up shelters as wintry weather was forecast. As I was feeding Fawkes his morning feed I noticed his sheath was grossly swollen. I placed a couple phone calls to the vet and ended up driving to TR as the sleet and frozen rain started to pick up medicine at the vet’s office.
The weather tanked during the night and we awoke to an icy wonderland!
Fawkes didn’t seem to mind at all. He didn’t even think the children sledding on the ice was all that interesting. He did spend some time making kissy faces with Noorah.
Already looking like a different horse!!
The swelling in his sheath gave us several days of concern as did his very ugly gelding incisions. I’ll spare you the pictures, trust me they are gross. I had pretty much daily phone calls to the girls at the vet’s office to make sure we were on the right treatment path. It was a tough time as my instinct said that I should cold hose his sheath area, but my common sense said that cold hosing in single digit temps was potentially dangerous!
A week or so in Fawkes turned grumpy and moody. He was unhappy with the horses in his neighboring paddocks. He was unhappy with me. He was unhappy with the boys changing his water. He was unhappy with J feeding him hay. Everything caused penned ears and unhappy eyes.
I spent some time just observing him and noticed that he was repeatedly pulling at his turnout and biting at his shoulder. So with a modicum of trepidation, he is a big boy after all, I walked up to him and started scratching his shoulder under his blanket. Initially he had his angry face on, but then it melted away and he started leaning into my hand as I scratched. So I took off his blanket and started scratching all over his shoulders and as far down his back as he would let me. Initially he would let me go as far as his withers but after a few minutes he was ok with letting me scratch him pretty much all over. Unfortunately in the middle of our bonding session a car pulled up in our drive-way and I had to leave him but as soon as I came back to the fence he backed up and invited me to scratch his butt. We have daily scratching sessions now and the unhappy grumpy mood has disappeared.
Fawkes has also been having weekly sessions with Nicole of EquiZen Horse Therapies. I really have to say that these acupressure sessions have worked wonders on all my horses and Fawkes is no different.
Fawkes is learning what it means to be a pampered and loved horse and seeing him really blossom has been amazing!! He’s gone from being a dull and grungy, unhappy horse to being a shiny, personable, gelding with a little bit of a sense of humor that pops up from time to time. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!
I’ve never been one to write big lengthy Resolutions. Sure there’s the customary “eat healthier” and “ride more” but those aren’t really earth shattering. This year my only resolution is to be braver. My first act in that direction is signing up for a low level eventing clinic at my friend Nicole’s barn. It’s all the way in March so I’m hoping that I can get back into my riding groove before then… otherwise I’m praying Nicole has the patience of Job!!
I’ve enjoyed the past few years doing the hunter paces, but I think we’ve done enough putzing around and need to make a decision to move forward in our riding skills. So clinics and lessons are in our future! I haven’t had a formal riding lesson since 1993 and Pip is still really green but any step forward is progress so here goes!! I’m excited, tho a bit bemusedly anxious about how Pip will behave. He’s a good steady ride but I’ve not really asked him to do a lot of ring work so I’m not sure how his brain is going to feel about doing the “boring” work instead of clomping along a trail. We’ve been working on consistency at the trot and he hasn’t exactly enjoyed that but at least he’s not doing his “THAT IS NOT SAFE!!!” freak out about trotting over poles.
I’m also trying to think of things to do with Seiji and Legion in the New Year. I’ve been inspired by my friend Mala and her beautiful filly Isabel to actually DO something with my colts while they are growing. I don’t think we will achieve her level (4th in Worlds!) as Seiji and Legion are actually nursemare foals with unclear breeding (TB?check!! whatever else? ehhh maybe a percheron or QH??). I like to think that Seiji has a Mine That Bird look about him which would suggest that he’s a Birdstone throwby and Legion sure has that Tapit zip and zing. The world will never know but it’s nice to think they are descended from greatness (just the wrong side of the barn aisle lol).
Guinness is also on my project docket for 2015. I will figure out how to ride him in this new year! Strange words I know, and to my non-riding friends it’s probably a curious statement. G’s dressage training has made him a bit more complicated to negotiate than I had anticipated but I’m hoping with my patient and kind trainer I’ll finally unlock the secret to my big bored gelding! I know he’s as frustrated that he’s sitting bored in a paddock while lazy-bones Pip gets pulled out every single time. G is the opposite of Pip in many aspects most notably his work ethic. G loves to work… Pip loves to be cute! I’ve toyed with the idea of doing low level eventing with G as well as Pip. I was told that G was a jumper in his youth and moved over to dressage as his former owner moved away from jumping altogether. I will continue toying with that idea as I get to know him better and get more hours and miles in on him.
Woodrow continues to improve. He’s done a Lyme vial series which seemed to push him towards recovery and we bolstered that by starting him on an acupressure and message regime with Nicole. After his first session he was cavorting around his paddock, snorting and rearing and generally being a playful youngster. Within a week he was filling out and visibly feeling better. His next session is in a couple days and I’m excited to see him continue to improve. I’m hoping that this will be the year that he enters into proper riding. He’ll be 5 in May and has been very slow to mature as most drafts are but I’m thinking it’s time for him to have a job.
Other than horses we’ve also been making plans for the summer garden. I ordered M’s tomato and pepper seeds yesterday (I will post that list soon) and we’re all gearing up for a big gardening year. We are in the process of establishing a new kitchen garden in the old pig lots nearer the house. I’m excited to have a kitchen garden again and very excited to see the variety of beets that M is planning to grow. I love beets, especially freshly picked from the garden!
So it’s going to be a busy year and hopefully I’ll be blogging more to document it!
A lot of stuff happened.
I didn’t blog.
Deal with it.
So… the whirlwind trip to VSH to pick up the new babies was awesome! I secretly (or not so secretly) love a road trip… I love the hilarious conversations, the camaraderie, the memories… even the exhausted feeling of falling asleep in a hotel room before starting it all over again. It’s a weirdness. The truth is, in my adult life I’ve not really had the luxury to take a vacation other than day trips or short weekends. It’s hard to find people that we know can manage our feeding and milking routines without screwing it up and therefore making more work which really negates the purpose of a vacation.
So the trip was fun… 85 in VA was nightmarish and the sudden lack of diesel available after midnight made us incredibly glad that I have US Rider coverage… not that I wanted to use it.
We finally got to see Liz’s farm and meet all her babies! That was an awesome experience. My love affair with Sampson continued after he stuck his big head in the car with me to give me kisses. I have serious feels for that horse. He’s awesome.
Unbelievably I don’t have many pics as I was too busy scratching butts and petting noses to bother with photography. There’s something awesome about standing in a field of 20-30 horses in the early morning.
The babies traveled home well. We stopped every 2-3 hours to give them water and give them a break from the road noise and constant vibration and all went well.. no shipping fever or other complications from the long haul.
Their first morning on the farm was exciting!
Until Lucy got mad and reached over the top of the panels and bit Legion. Lucy is now living a paddock away with Guinness… She has been back near the foals with no problems but G seems to like having her in his paddock so we are keeping that arrangement for now.
So far the foals are doing well. Both are leading and allowing their feet to be picked up easily. We have been doing short and simple training exercises with them and they haven’t disappointed yet!
Seiji is very mellow and laid back, while Legion is very spry and airy. Seiji is a snuggler while Legion is more likely to want to play. As different as they are they are luckily very compatible which is awesome since they will often be taken out together!
Yesterday Julie and I took Maddy and Lady out for a ride. It was my second time on Lady, the first was a few days after she squished my foot (which still hurts, but is healing) and I very nearly had an emotional breakdown just getting on her (long story). Happily I was able to swing up into the saddle with only minimal hesitation.
This second ride was decidedly more purposeful than our first. That first ride was more about me being physically back on a horse after such a long hiatus that I wasn’t really worried about what the horse was doing. Yesterday’s ride let me know a whole lot more about Lady. First off, Lady is a very forward horse, until she decides that she’s had “enough” at which point she stops, parks, and politely asks that you get off. Secondly, Lady isn’t particularly brave. She’s quite willing and forward so long as she’s on familiar ground, but the second that she’s somewhere new, she becomes timid and hesitant… not spooky, but not brave either. She’s quite willing to follow (and by follow I mean rest her head on the lead horse’s butt while pushing them ahead of her) and then take the lead on the return, but she’s definitely not a brave leader. For the most part I found her to be solid, if a bit green, and very reliant on her companion horse. If Maddy seemed spooky, then I felt Lady get lighter in her mouth and more tense. If Maddy was calm, then Lady was fully relaxed. We also discovered that Lady doesn’t like dogs (or cats or other small furry creatures). She doesn’t spook, just tries to decapitate them with a deadly accurate kick. The only thing that she did spook at during our ride was a razor scooter that one of my neighbor’s granddaughters was riding. It probably wouldn’t have been a problem at all had the child not raced the thing up ridiculously close to Lady’s hindquarters. She spooked up a few steps but settled quickly… so quickly that I hardly call it a spook at all.
Overall I think Lady is a bit lazy, probably due to sporadic riding at her previous home, but is showing incredible potential. Her trot is big and forward. I have not cantered her yet… partly because she’s out of condition but mostly because I am out of condition!! She does have rhythm issues, but again I think consistent schooling will iron that problem out as well. Currently I’m riding her without a whip or spurs (her previous owner relied on both) and in a Kimberwicke (I never tried the bit that came with her as it’s actually too small for her mouth). I love Kimberwickes for draft horses as they seem much more responsive to that bit than any other I’ve tried (and I’ve tried loads!) Lady’s previous owner had great difficulty with turning and relied heavily upon a German Martingale for “power steering”… I have not had this problem and have seen no need to tack her with the German martingale at all. I am having a problem with “overflex” in her neck which is probably due to the martingale, but we’ll see how that progresses.
I’m not a big advocate for riding with a multitude of artificial aids. I do ride with a long dressage whip when we hack but that’s only partly for a riding aid… mostly it’s a defensive aid against spider webs (seriously) or flies.
Anyway… I think we had a good outing yesterday and I’m already looking forward to our next ride… maybe this afternoon??