Sunday, May 27, 2012

And out in the woods with the badgers and the wolves

Here are the sweet brothers, Sovereign and Foggy, kissing out on a ride! This was their first ride out together all alone without boss-man, Pie, along. I met a wonderful riding friend, Barbara, on our trip to Florida this past year. Barb was able to visit us in Pennsylvania and ride with me on Thursday and Friday!

Here Barb is on Sovereign. We told her to lean forward to stay with the motion in case Sovey skitters around at all. We had one small shy, but Barb stayed with her horse perfectly. She is a calm rider with soft hands and very little worry. My heart was beating when our horses shied because I didn't want to lose her, but she was laughing and said later that she enjoyed the excitement.

Barb rides sweet Titan, a smaller horse that she leases in Florida. This was her first time on a Thoroughbred and her first time riding with a bitless bridle. She did super well. Her eyes popped out of her head when we groomed the enormous Pie in the barn because she couldn't believe we were going to ride elephants like that! Sovey is 16.2 so he isn't quite as big. My Foggy is a tiny one - probably only 15.3 or so - I haven't measured him yet.

Too bad Maizie was in school because we didn't get great photos of our rides. The woods were fragrant and lovely and we had a perfect ride in there, but I only got this blurry picture. Foggy is a fast walker, unlike the molasses Pie, so many of the photos are blurry!

After we finished our ride through the fields on Thursday, four deer jumped through the field and over the new pasture fences. They were amazing, but I was breathing a sigh of relief that we had returned and dismounted before the deer performed their acrobatic maneuvers over the fence!

I met such fantastic horse people in Florida this year. I am delighted that Barb was able to visit and meet my horses and ride with me! In addition, Barb brought her adorable new Miniature Pinscher puppy, Baker, with her. We loved up that sweet puppy at every turn. Baker has the cutest felt toys in the shape of a screwdriver and a saw and a wrench. Barb and Baker came to our house and he brought his screwdriver with him which cracked me up when I spied it on our floor during dinner. On Thursday afternoon, when the horses were out in the pastures, we left Baker loose in the barn. Later, we discovered a tiny "present" in Foggy's stall! Baker must have thought that this was clearly a place for such activities!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oh, Mr. Pitiful

Living a life with horses is real and full and at complete odds with the virtual world of picture taking and video shooting and blogging. Every time I try to capture in photos and videos the amazing interactions with horses that I am fortunate enough to experience, it is over and I missed it. This happened when Maizie was younger too. I would run to get the video camera and invariably she would stop doing the adorable dance, or pose, or song, or whatever it was that I just had to video for all time's sake. Consequently, we have hours of tape of Maizie standing around doing nothing special. And, in my hurry to get the camera, of course I missed the actual real life in front of me.  

There was a morning last week when I could not ride or mow because the fence guys were on the property adjusting the new gates and I had to hear/feel my cell phone vibrate if they had a question. I decided to rake and reseed the grass over the newly installed water pipeline. The horses were grazing with their masks on in a pasture close to me. I did have my mp3 player on and the sun was shining and the air was full of honeysuckle. It was stunningly beautiful and I was thinking how I wished I could capture this all on video. Just then, silly Foggy pulled Sovereign's mask off and started flipping it around in glee. It was the absolute cutest thing I've ever seen. Foggy's delight with actually getting the mask off Sovey's head was palpable. He was swinging it around in Sovey's face and as he did, he would hop and his tail would go up with each swing. The song playing through my earphones was "Mr. Pitiful" by Matt Costa and the beat was in perfect sync with Foggy's antics. Foggy danced over to Pie to show him and hopped back to Sovey and then circled all around the two horses. Dancing is the perfect word. I can only imagine that foals at play look like this. He was laughing, I am sure. Foggy's animation was juxtaposed with Sovereign's straight man reaction. Sovey just stood there taking all the abuse like, "Yeah, ok, you got it off my head. Real funny. Ha. Ha. Are you done yet?" Foggy was hitting Sovey in the face with the mask repeatedly and yet Sovereign kept his stoic pose of resignation like a mare with a foal. This went on for many minutes and I thought how I wished I could have a camera on the top of my head at all times. I suppose I do - it is called my brain.

This photo and the one at the top are two other examples of my frustration with trying to photograph horse life as it happens. I ride Sovereign all over our farm in his halter and he is such a great horse. He listens to my legs and seat completely. Yet I have no good photos or videos of him. He always looks like a llama with a halter. And, my head gets cut off in every picture. 

To add to this continuing theme of the dilemma of real life vs. virtual life, my blog blew up the other morning. That took a huge chunk of time (horse time) to sort out and I am not entirely happy with the results. The blog is now big and oversized and not the aesthetic that I am after. My artist brain is opinionated. My comments are back up except for the mysterious missing comments on the last post. I enjoy blogging because I have "met" so many wonderful horse people and I love the idea that we all share our trials and worries and love of horses. In addition, I enjoy going back and reading my old posts to see what my horses were doing at various times throughout the year. But, I personally have to learn to not lament about the photos and videos I missed. I didn't miss a thing, really. I was right there seeing it and living it. Also, I need to work on letting go of the guilt if I don't comment on other people's blogs. Every time I see a comment from someone on my blog I feel a sense of dread because they were kind enough to read my words and comment and I haven't been so great about commenting lately because I have been working furiously on another writing project. Isn't that ridiculous? I don't wrestle with dread and fear about riding - I wrestle with dread and guilt associated with blogging! Ugh.

On to very exciting real life news: This past winter I met a great person, Barbara, in Florida. We rode every day together and Barb is in Pennsylvania this week. She is visiting me and staying on our farm today and tomorrow! I am hopeful (if it stops raining!) we can ride together these next two days. Maybe I'll capture some photos of our rides :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Triple header today!

Three bareback rides today! Have you ever had one of those days when you got so much done and you just could not figure out how? Today was like that for me. Time seemed to stand still so I could do the barn "work" first, and still have time to ride all three boys! 

When I arrived I groomed Sovey and Pie and then opened the new gate for special grazing in the early morning sunshine. While they munched, I mowed riding paths in the hay field and woods and around the perimeter. I ate lunch at 11am outside beside the horses. Pie and Foggy kept trying to steal my sandwich, but mayonnaise was definitely not on their list of favorites! Pie gave me many views of his tattoo. He says, "icky" to mayo.

After lunch I rode each horse bareback around all the new paths and through the woods. It was a gorgeous, cool, May day with sunshine and light wind and zero humidity! The boys all seemed to sense the beauty of the day. I rode everyone on the buckle of the bitless bridle and no one even flinched once. Pie went first, then Sovereign, then little bunny rabbit Foggy. The woods were heavy with honeysuckle fragrance and wild roses and locust. Sigh. It was incredible. I have lived a charmed life, but this day takes the cake.

I've waited to use the image, above, on a post sometime. This painting was featured as the back cover of the April 1971 Reader's Digest! I found it a few years ago in my grandmother's house and I've been saving it for the perfect spring day. I never imagined it would be a day when I got to ride all three. I rarely have that much time.

Below is the front cover with the list of articles. I dig ephemera and this copy is an amazing little time capsule about our country at that time in history. I hope you can enlarge it enough to see that it has everything from a synopsis of what happened at Kent State the previous spring, to a look at First Lady, Pat Nixon. There is also an interesting retrospective about the Boston Marathon with its $2 entry fee (!) and no official women runners (women were not allowed to run the marathon at that time, although a handful snuck in). 

I've posted this photo of me on Dimples before, but here I am in 1971 - oblivious to the worries of the world outside of horses. Time really does stand still sometimes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

see if it was safe outside

My sweet boys are in new pastures! I have been planning the additions for quite some time and the fence company was able to come out the first week in May. These pictures are from a morning when they were investigating one section for the first time. I was so excited to put them out, that I didn't groom them first. Consequently, there are three muddy geldings in these photos and video.

The grass is actually a timothy hay mix. I have been timing their exposure to the new spaces and increasing in 15 minute increments. 

This is an aerial view of our farm. The previous, existing fence is in red. This made six acres of pastures which was perfect for Pie and Sovereign. Even though they were outside 24/7, the design allowed for good movement and very little over-grazing took place. Sweet Foggy's arrival happened to coincide with the wettest year on record. The old pastures just couldn't survive with three horses full time. Now, I can use the six acres for wet, rainy days as a sacrifice area and the new pastures, in yellow, will be perfect pastures for grazing on dry days. Also, if Brian and Maizie ride with me, we can ride in the pastures without worry about the horses possibly getting loose on the busy road. And, there are many gates on the old pastures and new, so traffic patterns can be changed and rearranged to encourage movement and pasture rotation. There is also a new fence up near the barn and tennis court which is too small to draw on this photo, but gives the boys a shady area for grazing. 

Unfortunately, there are groundhog holes here and there in the big pastures. When I ride the horses out there, all three are very careful about avoiding the holes if I inadvertently go too close. I don't trust their judgement, however, when they are out together playing and possibly racing. So, for the time being, I have put snow fence around the holes. The fences will not keep the horses out, but they are supposed to divert an all out gallop in that section. I have thoroughly scoured the smallest square pasture, so the horses have only been allowed in that one so far. It will take me a few weeks to mark the holes in the bigger pastures. The farmer will cut the hay in the one pasture that does not have our tree seedlings. This should help the horses see the holes better. 

Here is a close-up of one hole. There are larger holes too, which are fox dens. My mom was lucky enough to see a family of baby foxes peeking out of one such den with all their little heads and faces and ears in a row. Our farm is flourishing with wildlife now. The new fencing and pastures are going to cramp the style of some of our furry guests, but I am hopeful we can all share this space without too many problems. I know my horses love watching the busy activity of blue birds, deer, foxes and groundhogs in the fields and woods. 

This pasture is secluded from the road and quiet except for the birds. I am thrilled and I think the horses are too! 

Below is a funny video of Pie and Sovey doing what they do best. Pie is eating furiously and Sovereign is seriously thinking about dismantling my snow fence marker. (Mute your sound to avoid high pitched buzzing.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Someone like you

Today is cutie boy Pie's 7th birthday! He came to us when he was 3 and now he is a big boy - 7 years old! And, because it is May 7th, this is Pie's Golden Birthday!!!  Happy Birthday, sweetie Pie. 

Pouring rain today prevented riding, but he was groomed and got lots of juicy apples. His Grandma Eby bought him four new presents. They are exciting and big (14 acres big!) and Pie and his horsey brothers haven't seen or been out in them yet. Can you guess what he got for his 7th birthday?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This is pure and simple

Here my little Foggy boy is quite worried about something. He was feisty on our ride yesterday. He has been an implet recently, shying at this and that, bucking his little round bunny bucks, pretend nipping at my pant legs. Foggy what has gotten into you? I think he is finally putting on the proper weight and with it comes extra energy! He is a bird. He definitely has a sweet, smart, sneaky, light-hearted way about him that makes him lowest on the proverbial totem pole, but first in adorableness. The other boys won't let him drink and pick on him, but then he wiggles around and always gets his way. I get mad at the other horses, but if you watch long enough, you see Foggy nipping at them and eventually getting what he wants. 

Here he is stretching his neck and head down low in a relaxed walk.

I love this one because you can see his cute eye lashes.

Happy spring rides to everyone!