Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three horse day!

Here the little deer face, Foggy, is grazing after a great ride. If you click the photo above you can watch a video of some of our time in the woods.

Three rides on three horses yesterday. It doesn't get any better. Sovey went first in just his halter. Then, the big boy Pie, and last but not least, Foggy. All bareback and all perfect. Hot and sleepy. In fact, I almost fell asleep on Sovey's back! Early morning school bus wrecks the good life.

And, I have to report on funny happenings at the water tub yesterday. Like all horses, my three are characters with three distinct personalities and habits. Sovereign's one particular habit has caused me much worry and extra work by insisting that he "swim" in our big water trough. He puts his front foot in the trough and splashes violently, throwing water up under his belly and all over his pasture mates. In the process, he dumps and muddies all the clean water and makes a swamp of the drinking area. I have tried numerous ways to discourage this behavior, but he foils all my attempts. At this point in time, we keep a big tub for him to mess about with and two smaller tubs far away for drinking proper. His feet end up in those two buckets sometimes, but for the most part it seems to be working.

Yesterday afternoon I saw something I never expected to see. I was at the drinking area scrubbing and refilling buckets. The big trough was pristine clean and ready for Sovey's muddy foot. I was busying myself scrubbing the smaller drinking buckets. Sovey went over to the big tub and got a drink out of it. Pie joined him and I thought it would only be a few seconds until Sovey started splashing. But, he just walked away. Pie stood there looking very strange. He looked at Sovey and then down at the tub. Then, unbelievably, Pie put his front foot in and started splashing wildly, just like Sovey does! Pie switched feet and did it again. Sovey and Foggy looked over at Pie and his antics and I swear I saw Sovereign smirk. Ah, Grasshopper, you have learned well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I hope your turn up is three-quarters half as lovely

The good boy Pie yesterday on the driveway. Unbelievably, there was a lineman up a pole and a utility truck with flashing lights right behind us. Pie didn't mind at all. Gotta love the half chaps with my trail shoes. I don't like when the stirrup leathers pinch me so I wear the chaps.

Um...Grandma Eby...I am a weally hungry boy. Are you going to come out and give me carrots?

Here is our map and stats for the ride. Poor Pie was very tired at the end of it all. We walked and trotted and were lucky to see five deer - two mommies and 3 babies. The babies aren't babies really anymore!

Monday, August 27, 2012

the autumn moon lights my way

This is me on Sovereign yesterday. I ride him most days in just his halter with two green lead lines attached. He is amazingly good and has such a pretty face.

Today was Maizie's first day of eighth grade.  Here she is at the bus stop in the rain. (I made sure no one on the bus saw me taking pictures of her!) I have to walk with her because we can't see her bus stop from our house anymore. A local farmer planted corn in the field beside our house so I will be walking with her until he cuts the corn.  

Since it was drizzling when I got to the barn I washed the boys' tails -the dust and mud makes them dull. Now they are shiny and soft. The sun came out and the day became humid and very hot so I headed out bareback on the Foggy boy. We went to my mechanic's property where there is a sweet, autumn apple tree with gorgeous yellow apples that taste like pears. Foggy gobbled a few and I marveled how all the horses are good about leaving the apple trees now, whether I am on their backs or on the ground. I did a post way back in October 2009 about my difficulty leading the horses away from the apple trees. That problem, like every I have encountered with these horses, worked itself out with patience and time.

I've been writing about this very concept over at my little philosophical horse side project. I believe that throwing out the clock and calendar allows anyone to do anything with horses. I remember worrying and fretting back then that my horses were balking when I led them over lush grass or juicy apples. Now, all three of them will eat apples or graze when I say it is ok. And, when I ask them to walk on, they do. To be honest, I remember worrying and fretting about many "vices" back then. These horses have taught me so much about just working through each day in tiny, bite-sized steps without a preconceived agenda. And, is all going right!

After Foggy left the apple tree, we ran into two nice men who work at the local printing press. They came out to see little Fog and talk. Foggy was following a butterfly that was flitting around his muzzle. Just then, the butterfly darted behind the one man and Foggy followed, knocking the man right upside his head. I was so startled and apologetic that I reach out and petted the man's tan, bald head with a reflex "oh, I am so sorry" action. How mortifying! What a goof I am. Luckily the man was fine and we all had a good laugh.

Pie was next, and the day had gotten icky hot and sticky humid so I chose to ride him bareback too. Recently, I've been riding Pie in the saddle in order to work our roly-poly boy just a little more than usual. The hot summer days and lush pastures have helped Foggy and Sovereign fill out beautifully. They are round and dappled and look perfect. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Pie. He too is round and dappled, but he doesn't look perfect. He looks lumpy and a bit cresty. One thing that I've learned is that Thoroughbreds do not share the same qualities when it comes to their conformations and how they are put together. Our Foggy is a little Arab-y Thoroughbred. He has a small, refined head with a svelte body and flags his tail at every turn. Sovereign is the thin, nervous, quintessential  "racehorse" who never looks an ounce too big or small. Dear, sweet, plump Pie is a hunter-type Thoroughbred. He is a gorgeous mover with a voracious appetite. I giggled back in March when fellow blogger Allison over at Adventures with Shyloh proclaimed "Holy cresty neck, Batman!" Allison's sweet Haflinger, Shyloh had to start a reduction plan and I am sad to report, my Pie also can elicit the "Holy cresty neck, Batman" response. In fact, my farrier remarked that he would like to see less crest on that neck and my giggling stopped abruptly. 

Pie's right front foot is put on his leg at a strange angle like a club foot. We know he did not race because he has a bow on that leg, probably caused by the faulty anatomical structure. Extra weight only adds to the difficulty and our leisurely ambles all summer did not help much in the way of true exercise. Already, with the reintroduction of the saddle and more robust extended walking and added trotting, I can see and feel more spring in his step and his tummy is coming up. But, with fitness comes a new awareness of "scary things" out on the trail. It is always easy to ride at the walk a fat, lazy, unfit horse. This week's shies and jumps and semi-bolts reminded me of my early rides on Pie. I have to pay greater attention to what I am doing now when I am riding which is good for Pie's health and my riding skills, but a little sad to see my easy, breezy rides of summer disappear. S-l-o-w-l-y finding that balance of just the right fitness, just the right calm, just the right momentum and the ever-so-slight pressure - it is a daily pursuit without any deadlines.

As always, I am amazed how my horse life mirrors my everyday life, often intermingling with unbelievable similarities. Brian walked through the living room a few minutes ago and asked, "Did you read Nick's blog?" Our friend, and world class Masters runner, Nick Berra, writes a hilarious, intelligent blog chronicling the training and racing he is doing now as an ultra successful over 40 runner. Brian and I recently had the opportunity to run with him on the Appalachian Trail while our daughters ran their cross country workout with the team and Nick's current post tells of our outing. Brian and Nick designated me as "the leader" on the run which was freaky scary leading a world class runner and my uber-fit husband. Feeling a little like fat boy Pie in the lead of Foggy and Sovereign, I headed out trying to keep the pace reasonable. Nick's kind words give me hope that Pie and I might get our little rotund bodies in shape one day!

Monday, August 6, 2012

So you give it one more try

Our fabulous equine dentist, Rick Samuels, came to town Wednesday and visited my boys. Here he is peering into the sweet Foggy's mouth. I am happy to report the horses were super well behaved and none had too many changes from last year so that is great.

Here is the small golf bag that Rick uses to hold his dental equipment. Pie liked to sniff and investigate this new toy.

Rick is checking Pie after he is done.

Sovey says "My teefies are all done, Julie, and I was a very good boy!"

Little Foggy is my sweet deer.

My rides have been short and buggy and hot since my last post. Blogging recently has taken a backseat to being Maizie's mom. Our full days together are numbered with the school year looming over us. Grrr. We ran into her kind school bus driver at a farm stand and everyone went into deer-in-headlights-mode. Nobody is ready yet. Fall is lovely for my time with the horses, but I am sad to hand Maizie back over to the school for so many hours a day.

Here she is cranking in a first serve. Our tennis junkie daughter took on the boys in a co-ed tournament last week and got second place overall and first of all the girls! She had to play two matches that went to three sets. Her semi-final round was three hours long against a sophomore boy and she won (4-6, 7-5, 6-4) - hooray!

Our new kitchen clock reminds me that the luxurious summer bedtime of elevenish or "anytime" has to move forward to the ridiculously early 9 pm in a few short weeks. Then, riding and writing and blogging will resume in earnest, but early morning lingering over coffees and midday singing with the radio, laughing with Maizie as we travel through the countryside together to another tennis outing, will be on hold until next May.