Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Substitute" Teaching with my Boys

Today I went to visit two of my guys that are leased out while I am not instructing; Red and Cavort. My friend Ann, who has them, asked me if I'd give her two young beginner students their first mounted lesson on "my boys". Of course, I agreed! Two things I love more than anything: my horses and teaching youngsters! Here, we sort out where one's feet should be in the stirrup. This cute little bay horse is Cavort! Cool story about Cavort: I first met him when I volunteered at a Therapeutic Riding Center. He was too crazy for handicapped children. (He is TB/Arab, out of an Arab mare. My sister calls him "Arab-Anglo", instead of Anglo-Arab. Tee Hee.) The director of the center sent him home with me for the summer (I was 15) to work with him. After that, he was used in lessons for non-challenged riders, and I rode him myself for many basic dressage and jumping lessons; till I started riding and showing two OTTTBs. Then the director sold him, and I didn't see him for years, and figured he fell off the face of the earth. (He is in an odd saddle pad combo, as he has a "roached" back and is hard to fit. If it isn't just so, he can get a sore back.)

Then I got a call from the person who bought him years later - she was moving; would I take him an board him till she fixed a place for him? I took him. A few months later she called again - she didn't want him anymore, she was getting on with her life. So, my parents bought him for my little sister Noelle, and she schooled him, took him to camp, and showed his buns off, winning stuff left and right. He is now aged, but still going strong. If I rode him in lessons when I was 15 and I am now 28, he is well into his 20s at least. I have known him 13 years.... wow. My dad calls him "Berserk", as he is a little high strung sometimes. He is also quirky about trailers: he loads right up, but has to ride facing backwards or he freaks out. So we indulge him; loading him up and then turning him around so he can see where he's been on the highway..... he loves it. :)

I haven't been teaching for about a year, but I still love it. It is what I am best at! Communicating and transferring my love and knowledge of horses to kids and watching as they soak it all up and become skilled riders. I love the look kids get when something clicks for them, and suddenly, the get it! It makes sense! Then the run with it, and I just watch in amazement. I am certified to instruct through CHA - Certified Horsemanship Association. Check them out. (When you go to the site, there's a picture of a huge barn with a picture window - that's Zion Farms in Georgia, where I did one of my clinics. Gorgeous place.) My motto is: "Good riding=Happy Horses=Safe riders."

Check out Red's rear end. The girls are calling him Sponge Bob Square Butt". He really does have a weight problem and my vet is always cautioning me; he foundered once many years ago and we have to be careful about his diet now. Ann says she thinks he has lost a little; and with more riding activity, he'll loose even more.
This Little girl is riding in a 150 year old Calvary saddle that was refurbished. A non-conventional lesson saddle, but Red is so hard to fit. I tried the saddle, and it was quite comfy. Great job on your first lesson on the guys, Becka and Allie! (I'm sorry if I didn't get you names or their spellings right. I am terrible with that.) I can't wait till I start teaching part time (or full time?) again. Thanks for asking me, Ann!
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Well, I'll be darned! Juliette over at Honeysuckle Faire gave me a "Honest Scrap Award"! Thanks, Juliette! Juliette retrains OTTTBs in PA. She also is a great artist, and I love her "retro" style paintings! You can buy them at her Etsy Shop This award requires that I tell you readers 10 random things about myself, pass it along to 10 other people (I don't know that many bloggers, I've only been doing this a couple months!) and link back to the person who gave it to me. I had to sit and think of 10 random things about me that you might not know. (Actually, two of you just might know all 10 things, seeing as we grew up together.....ahem....) Here goes:

1. I play classical piano. I started lessons when I was 8 and took till I was about 20. I haven't played seriously in a while though. My piano needs work.

2. I hate wearing shoes. I'd much rather go barefoot. It must come from living in Florida as a kid. If I have to wear shoes, (in warm weather, anyway) I wear flip flops. I even wear flip flops to turn out the horses, and sometimes, to pick out their stalls. I know, gross, right? - but, I hardly ever get stepped on. And I only do it sometimes!

3. I can't drive stick-shift.

4. I snore, talk in my sleep, and sleep walk. There are some funny stories there, let me tell you.

5. I babysat a set of twins, and a set of triplets as a teenager.

6. I met my husband at our favorite horse feed and tack store.

7. I love watching Saturday Night Live; if I can stay up for it. I love crazy, random humor.

8. I love lemon and lime desserts: lemon pie, key lime pie, lemon bars, lemon cookies, lemon cake with lemon icing (My wedding cake was lemon) lemon curd, lemonade, limeade, lemon candy- lemon and lime anything is always my favorite. I like it better than chocolate (GASP!).

9. I have natural blond highlights in my hair, especially in summer.

10. I hate wearing riding breeches, and try to only wear them if I am riding at a show or a parade, or something. They make my seat feel slippery. I suppose I need to try full seat breeches, and maybe I'd like them better.

The people I pick for this award are: (I'm sorry, I can't come up with 10)

Honeysucke Faire (I know, you already got it, but enjoy anyway)
Equus Villa
Riding Aside
Herb of Grace
Further Up and Further In

There is also a picture of the award but I could not get it copied to my blog. I am just too new at this stuff. But you can go get it at Honeysuckle Faire!! Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

4-H Fun

I am a "co-advisor" (Leader) of a 4-H group in Caswell County, NC. The number one advisor is THIS lady, Jane, who instructs in Averett University's Equestrian Program. Jane has been a friend of the family for a very long time; having met her when we attended the same church. Jane has been a great influence in my equine career, and was influential in getting me lessons with her Senior students when I was a teenager, which really inspired me and taught me alot, also. Here, Jane is teaching the 4-H group about bridle parts in the Averett University Tack room.

Here, Jane teaches in the barn aisle about taking apart and putting together a bridle. The dog is Jane's dog, "Flo."

Here, I assist a student with figuring out which part goes where! I know, I don't look so happy, but we were concentrating real hard.
It is important to me, as a horse person, to spend time doing things like this to pass along my love and knowledge of horses to the next generation, as others did for me when I was a youngster.
I want to make other young kid's horse dreams come true; so I volunteer my time to do so; and enjoy every minute.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gunny Part Three

Since this guy has been front page news recently, I thought I would formally introduce him to you readers! This is "Artillery Exchange," who we know as "Gunny." When we got word that we could come up to Philadelphia Park, there were horses available, we accepted sight unseen, as we did our first OTTTB. That is a huge risk, but we took it..... We had no idea what we would be getting, just "some horses." Well, a groom brought out Major and loaded him, and then another groom was leading this one out. I thought they were just moving him to a stall or something, but he walked him up to our trailer..... the trainer was standing there. "This is the one you'll want to ride," he said. It took me a second to realise that this was our horse. He had just been off the track a month or so, and still had that ultra-conditioned, top-notch athletic look, and the aloof, almost "Holier-than thou" attitude to go with the look. He was born and bred in Florida, and this year he is 6. His papers have 12 spots to record races won, and ten are recorded there. That's 10 he won, not just ran in. He also has paperwork from the Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland, where the Preakness is held - so he may have run on the same track as many famous racehorses before him. Several of the races he won were claiming races, so he changed hands many times before ending up with us. And we're so glad he did.

You can see in the photos how sad and forlorn he is right now, suffering with his abscess. I had to wrap his hind legs, as standing around so much is causing them to swell up off and on. You can also see how thin he is looking - I don't have a "before" photo to show for comparison. In the past few weeks, with the heat, bugs, and now this painful abscess, he dropped off a lot of weight. We're working on that, though.....
My niece Abigail was with me at the barn one evening, and we were giving Gunny a nice iodine bath for his rain rot as he slowly ate his dinnertime feed,with his hoof in a bucket of Epsom salt water. I play classical music in the barn for the horses pretty much all the time, and the piece was a "peaceful reflections" piece; very slow, low, and depressing; like a death scene in a movie. It just added to the gloomy atmosphere in the barn with this suffering horse - so we had to switch to another radio station before we sunk even deeper into the depths of despair.

Last night, when I showed up to feed him and the other two, I was delighted that he voiced his pleasure that I was there, and that he wanted to be fed, yesterday! - with loud, piercing whinnies. It was music to my ears, as in the past few days, he had been so depressed, he would barely lift his head to look at me when I was nearby. He is now getting better and better almost by the hour, and we are working on replacing all the weight he lost, now that his appetite is improved. *Whew* ! I am so relieved that he is better. I get so tense when my horses are suffering and I don't know what else to do for them.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update on Gunny

Well, I was right about Gunny, my dapple gray OTTTB. As soon as the farrier cut a little way into the sole of his sore foot this morning, there was a stream of blood, pus, and yucky, brown, smelly ooze. I have never seen an abscess with such a nasty, brown ooze as this. Blood and pus, sure, but this was............... nasty. Poor, poor Gunny. I was so glad the appointment was today; as he could hardly move this morning, and looked like he just wanted to die. He dug a little more into the hoof, and then quit, because the abscess is so big, it could take up the entire sole, and he didn't want to make a hole that big. Of course, we couldn't put shoes on him in this condition, so he put a temporary wrap on it, and we stalled him for the afternoon. He instantly seemed to walk better, and started eating his hay - which he hasn't been very hip on in the past few days.
Kevin is going to pick up hoof pack, diapers, more duct tape, Iodine, and Epsom salt on his way home from work, and we're going to soak and pack his hoof; and make him a classic baby diaper boot. I am debating about getting an antibiotic from my vet........
Jett had hives this morning, and all three are loosing hair on their backs and rumps from the rain rot. Sigh............ but, it is sunny and warm out today!! :)
Today was a great teachable moment for my 4-Hers who just happened to be at the barn for a Officer's meeting. They got to see the whole thing, and learn about what an abscess is and how it is treated; as well as rain rot, and loss of condition in horses like Gunny.
At least now I know what to treat, and now Gunny will start feeling better. And, I feel better because of it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


This sign hangs in my barn, visible to all. I got it as a joke with my students when I was instructing. I bought one for my farrier also, and he hung it in his blacksminth's trailer for all to see.
But I may need a little cheese, as I am about to whine, here.
Here on the east coast and southeast, recently, we have had extremely wet, damp, humid, stormy weather. Weeks and weeks of it. All over North Carolina and Virginia and other states, flooding has been terrible. It has prevented us from getting our hay up, and ruined several raked fields of it that hadn't neen baled up yet. It is simply impossible to cut the hay when we know it will not dry, and be a total loss. It is pretty bad, as hay is our main farm crop, and we are unable to supply our customers right now; let alone fill our own barn.
Yesterday, just bringing in a feeding the horses and feeding the chickens left me soaked through, my boots soggy, and my spirits very grumpy.
Several of the horses have one degree of rainrot or another, and thrush. I usually keep my horses turned out 24/7 in the summertime, and they have a turnout shelter - but do they use it? NO. The horses seem to be damp all the time, causing the fungus. I have to soak all my brushes in bleach water.
My QH filly, Millie, started with a nasty nasal discharge last week, and I have no clue why. She hasn't been off the farm in recent months, or had any changes in her life. I think it may be an allergy, causing the thick white mucus. She has no other symptoms, no fever, no loss of appitite, but it is still disturbing.
To make everything worse, the Thoroughbreds recently started dropping off in the wight department. It was as if I left one day, came back the next, and while my back was turned, somebody with a weight vacuum came by and sucked weight right off their bones.
My beautiful dapple grey OTTTB, Gunny, is just languishing. He seems downright depressed. I suspected he may be in pain, and last week, he started limping around. If I give him a dose of Bute he seems better. I have an appointment with our farrier tomorrow to have the boys shod, which I am hoping will do the trick for Gunny's limping around; IF he doesn't have an abcess, and IF it isn't something much worse. I decided to have the farrier check him out first and then notify the vet if it doesn't help.
On the days the sun does come out, it heats everything up, and everything is so muggy and damp, the bugs are horrible. My three mares are fine with some flyspray, a flymask, and hanging out in the shade in their creekside pasture; the Boys (OTTTBs) get eaten alive. One day last week, I brought in the guys, and Gunny was bloody from his throatlatch all the way down his front legs, covered in bumps, itchy, and miserable. The other two were in similar condition, and baths were in order. Poor Major was rolling in his stall while he waited for his turn in the wash area; up and down, up and down, he was so itchy. Baths cooled them, and made them feel a lot better. Now I won't leave them turned out during the hot day. I felt so awful about it.
I got some high fat Purina Feed, and some corn oil; I have been feeding them twice a day. Gunny's appitite seems to be in the dumps, and it takes him forever to finish his feed. Then, he hardly touches his hay during the day. Last Summer, when we got our first OTTTB Jett, he did this same thing - depressed, off his feed, sore and lame, eaten by bugs, and we did this same treatment; plenty of good feed, staying inside during the day, good hoof care and shoes, lots of nice baths and TLC, and within a few weeks, he was fine and dandy. I hope this will work with poor Gunny as well.
If he isn't better in a few days, I'm ringing up our vet. Our Vet and our farrier work together a lot, so I know if I call the vet today, he'll just ask me "What does David say?" and tell me to call him after the shoeing appointment tomorrow. I'm afraid he might have an abcess. Yuck. :(
If the feed we got and the corn oil don't put on the weight, I am going for the "big guns" with senior feed, and strategy pellets. Kevin doesn't like feeding beet pulp and I dislike feeding alfalfa, but we might have to try both.
We rinsed Gunny last night with a nice Vetrolin wash; which he really seemed to appriciate; and this morning, he actually nickered to me when I went in the feed room to fix his breakfy; so I think he knows we're trying to help him feel better.
When my horses feel bad, I feel bad; but I hope tomorrow, our farrier and I can figure out what is making him so miserable.
Now, if only it would finally quit raining.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

My First Horse

Here is "Red Warrior," my official "first horse." I love this horse more than any other horse I have ever had or known... with a few close seconds, of course.
He was the offspring of my brother Eli's first horse, Cookie, that he purchased in October 1986 when he was in 4-H. I was only 6 years old, but I was in love. June 14 of the following year she had Red. Cookie passed away in 2001 after a long and terrible fight against crippling arthritis. Though she was healthy in every other way, she was in so much pain she simply lost her will to live. My heart was broken over the experience of having her put down, and to this day, the memories and photos of her bring tears to my eyes as all those feelings come back. After all this time, I still cannot bring myself to watch videos of her, and my sister hid them away for another time.
Red was an "obnoxious" foal, but laid back, easy going, and bursting with personality. He was a show-off, and loved it when he has an audience to watch his antics. He is extremely photogenic, and seems to know what a camera is, and it seems as if he poses, and holds perfectly still for shots. Red is a sneaky horse, playful, and calculated. He plays tricks on you if your back is turned, like grabbing a bucket of brushes or the vet's caddy of vaccination shots and coggin's test blood sample tubes and dumping them out, then running off as if he did nothing wrong. Or, playing with our farrier's apron or jeans pocket when his hooves are being done.
Red was sold as a youngster to a family friend, but we bought him back after a few short years, and though he had been sold, he never left the farm we leased.
He became mine when I was 12, and I had a time with him for a few years as he misbehaved and liked to buck me off. Eventually I conquered his wild heart and we became best buds. I trail rode him all over the place as a teenager. I was taking lessons and showing on Thoroughbreds, but always liked hitting the trails with my Big Red.
We have been through so much together, it is unbelievable. I know that seems very teen-novel like, but it is true. Most traumatic experiences in my life were experienced along with my Big Red Buddy.
When I was 15, I decided I wanted to train Red for pulling a cart. I saved up and bought a lovely harness, and began working him in it; teaching him ground driving, etc.
One day, my parents found and bought me a small two wheeled breaking cart. The man delivered it in his truck, and admired Red a lot. He suggested that we go ahead and hitch Red up and try out the cart. I agreed. I made two huge mistakes that day, besides trusting a stranger who didn't know how much training my horse had: It was the first time Red had worn the driving bridle with blinders, and it was the first time her had had breeching used on him. (Breeching goes around the horse's hindquarters and is like "brakes" for the cart. )
We went along for a few minutes, then I asked Red to turn and he freaked out and bolted. My sister who was with me in the cart jumped out and screamed as she fell; I thought I had just killed my sister and blacked out still sitting in the cart. When I came to, I was lying on the ground in the woods with my Dad's terrified face hovering over me asking if I was ok. No, I wasn't ok - I had been thrown into a large tree and had a concussion, broken ribs, and couldn't see straight. My sister was fine, but shaken up quite a bit.
Red was terrified, and had almost been impaled on the shaft of the cart when it broke off the body of the cart. I recovered in a few weeks, but Red took months of training to overcome his fears. With the help of our farrier who also is a very wise horse trainer, Red was soon back to normal. He has never been hooked to a cart again, and I have never driven a cart again.
Years passed and Red became a school horse and a show horse in my lesson program, winning many classes and just being adorable.
Then, in 2004, one nasty, bleak, March afternoon, I was helping the farm owner (we were boarding at their farm and I was running a lesson and training program) feed the herd of 16 horses their hay ration for the evening. I was standing next to the 100 gallon water tank, which was positioned next to a gate adjoining two fields as the horses filed through. As Red came through, I reached over to slap his rump affectionately, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the ER with my mother. My wonderful, gentle, friendly Red had kicked me in the mouth, sent me flying backwards and onto the back of my head. My face was a smashed, bloody mess, my teeth broken, I was completely out of it mentally, and they had no idea what extent of head injury I had. An ambulance and two hospitals later, after MRIs and CAT scans, reconstructive surgery, and lots of drugs, the verdict was that I had a nasty concussion, four broken front teeth, and lacerations inside and outside my mouth. It took me a few days to fully absorb what had happened and to regain full mental ability. It was a miracle that I lived and came through it with only the injuries that I had. It took many long weeks of eating through a straw and a infant spoon, but my face is normal, with just a few scars, and my teeth miraculously healed and the x-rays I got later showed they were suddenly not broken - except for one, which I will have to get a root canal on, eventually.
Red must have thought I was another horse, or something - he never kicked before, and has not kicked since. It was a very strange incident that changed my life in some ways; and I like to think that God used the horse I loved to set me back on the right track. People asked me after - "Are you going to keep him?" "Are you afraid of him?" Of COURSE I kept him; and NO I am not in the least afraid of the horse now.
Right now, Red is living away from me for the first time ever. But he is getting use and being lavished with attention at a friend's farm where he is being used for lessons.
Red will return to me when his time at our friend's farm is complete, and will live out his retirement in a lush green pasture close at hand where we will no doubt have many more wonderful experiences together.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby of Mine

I have been quite lax in my posting in the past week, and have neglected posting "profiles" of my "ponies". But not to fear.....
Meet "Halley's Comet"! Halley is our 4 year old Percheron-Thoroughbred cross mare. She is the offspring of my Mom's Perch, Aurora. When Halley was born, she was by far the most beautiful foal I had ever seen - and I have raised many a foal. (I LOVE FOALS!) She was coal black, and beautifuly conformed. We knew she was going to be a special horse, and so we decided to keep her, rather than sell her. She had the biggest hocks and knees I had ever seen on a foal; they didn't seem to fit her tiny little newborn body. Her ears, also , seemed too big for her tiny head. But it was so darn cute! When our vet Paul saw her, he said, "She's going to be 'Drafty'," and I said "Oh, come on, she's going to be 'Thoroughbred-y'." Well, Paul was right. As a weanling, she was already in a "average" halter. As a yearling, she was 15 hands and 900 lbs. and soon wore a Large sized halter. We raised her on Purina Mill's Omeline 300 growth formula, and she was eating 2 lbs. of feed for each 100 lbs. she weighed during her first year. That was a LOT of feed. Upon the advice of our vet we backed that off in her yearling year, to keep her from getting too fat. Still, we often worried about her odd development - first her legs got long, but her back was still short and she looked "pot-bellied". Then her back seemed to catch up; but then we worried about her neck being too short and scrawny. Paul kept assuring me, every time I worried about it to him, that she would develop a bit differently from other non-draft foals. She turned out perfict, so I had nothing to worry over.
Usually I start saddling a young horse at 1 year, doing work on the ground, then riding them at 2 years old. Knowing that she was getting big at a rapid rate, I began her training very young, but did not actually ride her until she was 3, upon the advice of our very wise vet, who feared for her slowly-developing knees.
With large horses, it is important (for me) that they behave very well, as I am not a large person, and do not like having to "wrestle" large horses around if they misbehave. I was very strict, and firm (but always kind and gentle, of course) with Halley; and never let her develop nasty habits that could eveolve into dangerous behavior. Dangerous behavior from any horse is bad, but a dangerously behaving giant on four hooves was bad new for me, her primary handler, trainer, and rider.
Now, as a four year old, Halley is pushing 17 hands, about 1100 lbs, and a sweet angel. She also is blessed with a brilliant mind. In her yearling year, I worked with her extensively on the lunge line, and taught her voice commands: "waaaalk", "Tr-OT!" "CAN-tuuur," "eee-seay," and "Whoa" are the ones she knows, and had them down pat as a yearling. On the lunge, when I say "Halley, whoa," she stops in her tracks, turns, and gives me full attention. What a dear!
For my convenince, I taught her that when I come into the paddock with her halter, she instantly lowers her head down to my waist or knees, even, so that I don't have to reach so far up to halter and bridle her. She is an perfict angel for the vet, farrier, trailering, standing tied, all those things. I could not have asked for a better horse, and look forward to advancing her training under saddle. I plan on doing all of her basic training and hunter training myself, and then have a dressage trainer work with Halley, and maybe show her in some dressage shows. I plan on showing her myself as a Hunter, by the end of the summer.
If she shows supreme talent in dressage, as I expect, I would like for her to be shown professionally, if we can get a trainer/rider. (I myself have no desire to show professionally anymore.) But, we shall see. Eventually, I would love to ride her aside; that is my pipe dream; if I can get my hands on a sidesaddle without going broke. Heh, heh. I reccomend draft cross horses for everyone!! They are fantastic!!
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Monday, June 1, 2009

If The Boots Fit.......

Boots in my tack room....in the late afternoon sunshine.
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