Saturday, March 24, 2012

I wonder if I'm dreaming

Our weather has been just phenomenal, and so have my pony rides. Here is the lovely Foggy boy out beside our neighbor's forsythia. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils - everyone is popping out. The temperatures have been in the 60's and 70's for a week! Today is raining and cool air is coming, but how lucky we were for so long!

Foggy sees some fruit trees with blossoms. These little beauties were light pink and smelled heavenly.

Little Foggy had just ducked out to the side before this photo was taken. There was a clump of daffodils on the trail and he could not figure them out. Sovey shied at the same clump back in May of 2009. The horses must not trust daffodils because they just pop out of nowhere and aren't always there.

This is a video of Foggy walking down a lane on the south side of our farm. You can see him flicking all the bugs off his ears. I ordered the Fly Predators already. I am not feeling good about the bugs this year after our mild winter.

And this is one near the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The trucks roar past and Little Fog doesn't care. After I shot this video he wanted to go over to the field right beside the turnpike. So over we went. That is owned by other people and they have two old horses. There is a manure pile out there and Foggy wanted to investigate. I don't think he noticed that there were cars and trucks beside us. He was so involved in smelling and investigating. He is a bird!

Monday, March 19, 2012

that's just about as funky as you can be

Yesterday morning our sweet neighbor Winne, rang the doorbell to deliver hot, sticky buns that she had just baked. Her yummy gift was to celebrate Brian's 49th birthday! Maizie, Brian, and I lingered over coffee and the delicious goodies until 11 a.m.

Winnie herself is going to be 93 years old in April and her husband, Ralph, just turned 95 a week ago. They celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary earlier this month! Here is a photo of them with Pie taken in May of 2010.

They are amazing and an inspiration. They live alone and fill their days baking for lucky people like us!

After our Sunday-morning-Brian's-birthday-lingering, I went to the barn and had a nice ride on my Sovey boy. We were bareback and bitless and both sleepy and relaxed so I just let him graze in the sunshine for most of the ride. I didn't want to get too far from the barn because I was waiting for someone who was interested in buying two round bales of hay from me.

This is a wiki photo, but I had two bales of orchard grass and brome like this in my barn that I had purchased a few weeks ago. My spoiled boys nibbled it a little, but were not interested. They have a taste for alfalfa. I enjoy good things too, so I hear them. I advertised my round bales on Craigslist and a woman arranged to come yesterday afternoon.

Her husband couldn't be there so I enlisted Brian and Maizie and my mom to help us roll the bales out of the barn, down the bank hill, and into her trailer. Brian is allergic to hay, but he said he thought he could handle it for such a short time. When she pulled in the driveway, she jumped out of her truck and explained that she can't back a trailer. She asked if Brian could do it for her. He jumped in and slowly lined up the trailer with our barn bank hill. He had to negotiate the apple tree and tennis court and was in there for a while doing a nice, slow job. As soon as he finished, he put it in park and jumped out laughing loudly and pointing inside the truck. Here, in the backseat, sat two little boys, about 4 and 5 years old! They never said a peep the whole time Brian was in the truck and none of us, including Brian, knew they were in there. Brian must have had his head out the driver's window to steer and didn't use the rear view mirror in the truck. As soon as he shifted it into park, one little kid said, "Are you going to roll the hay now?" and Brian jumped straight up in the air! Very funny!

Our bales rolled right down into her trailer with zero problems. Perfect!

Last evening I went back to the barn around 7 pm to ride Pie. I wanted to go at 6 pm, but Brian got into a long philosophical conversation about graph theory vs. his own chess model theory. Since it was his birthday, I thought it was only right to sit and listen. I could see the sun falling lower in the sky over his shoulder as he described the seven bridges of Konigsberg to me in detail. I saw my bareback Pie ride disappearing before my very eyes, but I stayed and listened because Brian listens to my horse stories until his eyes are crossed.

When I finally got to the barn at 7 pm the light was like this:

Times like this are tricky with horses, because naturally you are a little rushed and adrenaline is flowing to hurry before it gets too dark. I have to exhale long and slowly as I bring the horses inside and act like I do not anticipate anything. I clean Pie's feet and pretend that I am not excited or trying to go fast. I slip on his bitless bridle and we go outside the barn and it was really dark! He isn't the best about seeing things in that light. Sovey would definitely be my Moonlight Ride boy.

Pie was wonderful last night though. We rode until 8:15 all over the big field. I was only scared at one point when I saw three sets of deer ears in a wooded section. They either decided not to jump out or went a different way. Pie never saw or heard them, thank goodness. 

Two bareback rides, Brian's birthday fun, and sticky buns. It was a good day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Come on, meet me in the morning

Pie says, "Anyone for tennis?"

Pie and Foggy think it is really fun to walk across the tennis court. Sovey does not think it is fun at all. Pie used to be scared just like Sovey, but he saw Foggy walk across so now he thinks he is very cute to have a go on our way out to ride. This is from our ride yesterday morning.

Friday was Pie's ride - the day with the curling lip. Saturday was Foggy's ride and he was just wonderful. Sunday was supposed to be Sovey's day to ride, but I didn't ride. Maizie was playing tennis with my mom so Sovey grazed in the sunshine by the court while I groomed him. It was warm and quiet and I think he liked that better than a ride, anyway. He and Foggy both close their eyes while they munch grass. There is nothing so peaceful as grooming a horse in the sunshine while your daughter and mom play tennis right beside. Everyone is having fun!  The other two horses were right outside the court also in a pasture so we were all there enjoying the warm temperatures. It really felt like spring. This one, above, is me on Pie yesterday morning in front of the woodland trail to Sunnyland and the cemetery.

Last March Pie and I made our way to the cemetery too. That ride started out well, but I had to dismount partway through because Pie was acting silly. Yesterday, Pie was wonderful. Here he is taking it all in. Brian's mom is buried here so we visited her grave. 

The trail to the cemetery goes through the yard of this little sweetie, Cletus. This photo of him is from another ride, one when the grass was green, but we did visit with him yesterday. He is a horse friendly puppy!

Our ride was long and on the way back to our farm, Pie left a manure pile in the middle of one street. I assured the neighbors who were out that I would come back in my car and pick it up, which I did after we returned home. Another neighbor lady ran out of her house indignant and voiced her concerns that it was good I was going to pick that up because she has children (they were with her and looked to be middle school age). I can't respond fast enough so I just smiled and reassured her that I would be back. I love the scene in Amelie when the narrator says: 

With a prompter in every cellar window whispering comebacks, shy people would have the last laugh.

I needed a prompter in a cellar window so I could have quickly responded by saying, "If your children can keep from rolling in the manure in the middle of the street for the next 20 minutes, they should be fine!"

Here we are back in our woods. Pie thought he would have a nibble of tree branches, silly boy.

March's browns make our trails look a bit scraggly.

Here is a welcome color - the red of a juicy apple. Just the thing a big horsey needs on a long ride.

And here are the sheets that usually offend, but were quiet in the calm breeze yesterday. Pie says, "I am not afraid of you today!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Let me show you my tattoo

I am an Allman Brothers fan, but I never cared for Gregg Allman's song, I'm No Angel. That said, yesterday morning, I met two new friends at the barn and that song kept playing in my head the rest of the day - specifically, the line about the tattoo. Brian and I don't have tattoos and these people did not have tattoos (or at least they didn't show me if they did) but what they brought with them made silly Pie show us his tattoo - over and over again!  What would make Pie curl his lip and show his tattoo?

A BABY!!!!

My visitors, two organic farmers, brought their sweet baby, Harper, with them. I wish I had a camera because Pie's nose was curling up the entire time Harper was near. Pie LOVES babies. This we know because we have encountered babies before on our rides around the farm. Yesterday, Harper touched Pie's nose (we all were VERY careful to make sure Pie didn't think that baby fingers were baby carrots!) and Pie was so obviously smitten. Actually, Harper was smitten too. I didn't ask them how old she was, and I can't remember baby ages and sizes from when Maizie was little. I was telling the parents about how all racehorses have a tattoo and just then Pie proceeded to show his, for the first of many times. (By the way, this is not Pie's tattoo in the top photo - it is sweet Baja's, an OTTB I used to ride in 2007. Brian took the photos of Baja's tattoo so we could find out his racing name and info.)

Anyway, Pie had a big morning visiting baby Harper and I had the goofy tattoo line from that song running in my head the rest of the day. Sovereign and Foggy did not care one straw about babies or tattoos. They said ho-hum. 

Because of the early morning visitors, my Pie ride got pushed back into the afternoon, and as usual, the wind picked up. It was crazy windy and really not suitable for riding anyone. Pie was a true trouper, though, and stayed with me the whole time. These are the only photos I got because the wind was just too nutty. You can at least see how his mane is flying around. Luckily, he didn't fly around with his mane.

Today, was calm and sunny. Of course it was for the sweet Foggy ride. That is how it always goes. Windy for the silly boy, calm for the quiet one. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

So it's time we take a ride

Yesterday's ride was on sweet Foggy. It was 60 degrees and perfect! I was bareback and headed out through our woods. Foggy wanted to go farther. I don't like going off the property when I am bareback, but with such a willing little gelding, it is hard to say no. Off we went on the walking trail through the woods to Sunnyland. Of course we stopped at my mechanic's so Foggy could deposit a manure pile. Then he went right up to their door and interrupted their lunch break. He stands at the glass door and looks inside. I told them that I would come back later to pick up the manure. Their big bays were open and a mini van was up on the lift. Foggy wanted to go in there! He isn't afraid of anything.

We are in the Sunnyland subdivision in this one. There is a leaf blower to our left, but Foggy doesn't care. He is mad that I am heading him back home. I promised to bring him again with a saddle the next time.

Back on our land and Foggy took one bite of the barstool apple. He is just learning to eat the apple off the barstool. Usually he knocks the apple to the ground. Yesterday he bit a perfect bite that left the center star in the middle! He quickly ate the next part.

Happy March ride on the Little One.

You can just see the tip of my new boot in this photo. Carol from Dressage Training Journal recommended Bogs as the go-to company for warm weather boots. Carol kindly answered my many questions (Bogs should give her a cut - she was super helpful) and I ordered the Classic Ultra High Women's boot. 

With free shipping and returns, who could pass this up?  They arrived the other day and I adore them!  I got to wear them one night to do farm chores and they were toasty. Then our temperatures went up, but they will be queued up for next season. My old Sorels were leaking. These new boots feel incredible. It is like my favorite running shoe or bedroom slipper. I expected them to feel sloppy like my Wellies. They are snug and warm because of the interior Neoprene that surrounds your foot. The base is like you are standing on a trampoline. It was designed for cow farmers who stand on cold, wet, concrete and need warm feet. The temperature rating goes to -40 degrees! (Maizie keeps saying, "Yes, but this one goes to 11." Sorry if my references are too esoteric - we think that is hilarious!)  

When I clicked on the Bogs site the first time I saw these little deadlies. Can you imagine passing these up? I couldn't so I ordered them. They are the perfect in-between boot when my Wellies are too cumbersome. I wore them all day yesterday. They started the morning when the ground was still frozen and I did all the outside chores (hay carrying, water bucket refill, manure pick up) then I cleaned the stalls and did inside buckets. No worry about water splashing just like my Wellies, but not as tall. Then grooming Foggy, tacking and riding. Then, repeat of the morning chores only in mud. I love these boots and they come in all colors!  Thanks again, Carol, for turning me on to this company!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Everybody wants to pass as cats

Pie ushered in March like the lion he is. Big cat Mr. Pie gave me a frisky ride today! Here he is before our bouncy adventure looking demure and sweet and quiet. Ha! Don't be fooled. He was a handful.

Lots of mud beads today. Maybe the pre-ride grooming put him in a bad humor. Pie puts his head up in the cross-ties because it hurts when I try to extract the mud. I am careful and work slowly with lotions and potions and a variety of combs and brushes and fingers. Still, he hates it. I am 5'3" and Pie, well, he is almost 17 hands and his head can really reach up high when he wants to avoid me. The photo above is taken when I am on his back and he is looking around at me. I wish I could work on his mud from up here!

This one shows how I can get all the mud from withers to the half way point. The mud and dust and mud beads at the top of his mane and foretop and ears are out of my reach. I stand on a stool sometimes, but Pie doesn't like that at all.

That photo of his mane shows the empty barstool. (Obviously out of order.) Here are two of the barstool BEFORE Pie got there!

I am not sure why Pie was feisty today. It was chilly so maybe that was it. He was even jumpy when he grazed after our ride. Sometimes Pie is so calm and sleepy and chubby and I wonder if he really has Thoroughbred blood. Then, we have a Nervous Nelly day like today and I stop wondering.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Do you know what I mean?

Today I rode Sovey bareback around the farm for about 45 minutes. It was overcast and cold. I didn't have a camera so I looked in my files for a photo of him bareback in just his bridle and I found this from last March! Same grey day, same cutie boy Sovey. Maybe life isn't moving fast at all. I am stuck in the same place!  How great is that to be repeating good bareback rides on the best Sovey horse in March?

Sovereign was sweet today considering the temperature. It was chilly and spitting snowflakes here and there. My neighbor thought it was a good day to hang out laundry and Sovey had a tiny fuss up - nothing too bad at all. 

Then, on the way back home he started trotting by the tennis court and kept right on until we got to the forebay. I didn't ask him for the trot and I really don't like the idea of rushing back to the barn like that. I gently circled him around and walked him back to the corner of the pool fence so we could redo this part again. I was determined to have him walk slowly without using my reins. I had a nice line from his noseband (bitless bridle) to my elbow, but I did not have any tension on the reins. I sat deep and relaxed my back and asked him with my body to walk slow. Amazingly he did! He went right back around the tennis court at a relaxed pace. I swear I could hear my lesson instructor from my youth saying, "Good girl" to me, but it wasn't me - it was him! We walked down a slope and he kept his head straight. I saw his right eyeball go right in the direction of the barn but he put his eyes back straight in a second and allowed me to ask him to turn right. 

He walked slowly up under the forebay and stood perfectly still until I dismounted. I gave him many carrots - no hugs for our sensitive, Diana Ross boy (I love you. Don't touch me! - I am sorry to report that the Mag Restore hasn't helped his aversion to hugging.) I love him so. I am sure he is psychic. Either that or psycho. Once when Maizie was four years old she and I said the same thing at the same time and she confused the two words psychic and psycho. She said, "Oh, Mama, we are psychos together!"  That we are, and Sovey makes three!